Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Roller coaster year. Began with the start of a realisation that what I thought it was, wasn't, which led eventually to a heartbreak, not epic, but in part about why and how I'd let myself get to that. I was 44. Not a youthful age. I should know better by now. 

In the middle was a brief dalliance with online dating. Many men contacted me. There were dates. There was the expectation of phone sex. There were photos of people that rendered them unrecognisable in the flesh. There was shock that I looked exactly like my picture. There was possessiveness after good conversation. There were slights. And relief at not having to carry dates through. And there was exhaustion in a very short time of demanding texts and messages from men half my age or with over-egged egos who don't know how to measure in feet and inches. And then there was getting off back to the reality of real life.

And finally when least expecting it, after a night at the opera there was a flash of love that became a compelling and urgent desire that drove the end of the year. And I sit here now on the 31 December 2014 awaiting the imminent arrival of the panther with the last of his things and will begin 2015 living with the love of my life. 

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas one and all

From the mouths of innocents

At dinner today my nephew asked me if K (the current man) was a replacement of  B (previous man), and was B a replacement of E (man before B). Um, yes, I mumbled embarrassedly thinking how this easy-replacing of men in life must look to him. Since we see each other only once every six months or so he has short experience of any of the potential 'uncles' so far. If only the reality of it was as easy as 'replacement' makes it seem, like swapping batteries when they wear out or something. 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Gradually all these gasometers are being dismantled. When I was an art student I took lots of pictures of them - they were structures which you could see through, and I had a mild infatuation with them and scaffolding (in the days before they covered scaffolding always). 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter holiday

Today I am on leave. Until January 5th. Leaving work on Friday didn't really feel like anything. Weekend was great. But it was a weekend. Get those at the end of every week. 

But today I'm popping to the shops and left home at 12, coming through my local high street everyone is at work and at their regular duties (queuing in the post office, elders and their shopping trollies fighting to be on the bus first to bag the best seat, estate agents bored in their windows, banks open). 

And me, I'm feeling like, Yeah! I'm on holiday... It's been some time since I had 2 weeks off together. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Open Plan Hot-Desking

I’ve always known open plan hot-desking is bad for me because I can clearly recognise the impact it has on concentration and increased irritation. Other people’s phonecalls at the top of their lungs, desk-side meetings, talking (well, sort of talking – not quite shouting) to colleagues across the space rather than going over to them, uncontrollable temperatures – blasting air conditioning or way too hot, and the need of the window-seat-hoggers to close the blinds on a sunny day to the detriment of those working further inside the building (if they don’t like the light why do they insist on sitting by the window?). - interesting article by an architect and access consultant (access consultant – no idea what that means) which says

“Our needs vary – but are significantly influenced by:

·         Physical comfort,

·         Our ability (or not) to cut out extraneous noise,

·         Preferences for access to daylight

·         Our commonly held preference for access to views of the natural world, and…

Our need to:

·         Adjust artificial lighting intensity, position and colour,

·         Adjust what is in our visual field and to reinforce a sense of familiarity and recollection to aid our memory”


Its not so much the need for privacy I don’t think but I had never considered that in addition the reduction in concentration there might be an impact on recollection, memory and productivity due to not being able to see a view that includes vegetation or have natural daylight. Our office rules include not eating at the desk (you are allowed a drink and maximum two biscuits, otherwise you are supposed to eat in the designated areas), no plants, no clutter, nothing left on the desk overnight,  no fixed positions, no storing things on top of the lockers. This makes it look nice and clean, reduces likelihood of mice infestation (although we have had visits coming up the cabling of the computers from the floor to have a peek at the working desk situation, but not regularly), and enables people to sit wherever is available when they get in.


On top of which I found a marvellous quote from Einstein (and who can argue with him…) which is a fantastic retort to the clear-desk police (to which we had to convert when we started open plan hot-desking), “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Touche.

From The Evening Standard, 4/11/2014.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Gary Numan

So Friday night was gig night - invited to come by Bails and her fella - joining the Numanoids for a special one off at the Hammersmith Apollo. These days the Numanoids are largely ageing ex-punks or those sorts that used to wear black jeans and old men's overcoats or greatcoats from second hand stores in the late 80s and early 90s. Some attempts to still wear gel-spiked-up hair (hair permitting) but quite a lot of baldies unable to do the style of their youth. One or two brought their kids. Lots of leather jackets and the occasional denim. I'm glad I've left that all behind. I used to wear a floor length black skirt all the time. Wore it until it had holes that needed patching, then patched them and wore it until the patches needed patching. Absolutely no idea why I thought that was a good idea. My mother's friend taught fashion and wanted it off me for her project in distressed fabric. Distressed didn't really begin to describe this rag that I wore. Tortured, would be closer.

The music was good. Reminded me a lot of that time. I don't listen to a lot of punk music anymore... Numan was late on stage - he had a sore throat and had an injection in his ass a course of hours earlier to try to make it better. He apologised if his voice was croaky but did a full gig none the less. The singing only occasionally getting the better of him. 

I like being in a crowd listening to music, people singing along, joining in, doing the arm movements. It's why football crowds are exciting. I love watching when people are really getting into something. And the crowd were friendly. Only a couple of irritating drunks, and one man who went to the bar a lot and could never remember where his mates were standing. Spent ages squeezing in and out of the crowd looking for them each time. So maybe next time it would be more appropriate to dress a la the 90s and take a proper Numanoid standpoint!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Early Saturday mornings

Not a usual time for me to be abroad, most usually tucked up in a sleep worthy of a poisoned princess at 8am on a Saturday. But by 9 the high street is awash with shoppers, busy getting their chores done. Workmen are in the street holes which usually just look like traffic obstacles placed there for more interesting driving. And there is a traffic jam just like a work-day morning. So this Saturday is an extra ceramics class. I'm late already but  as I said, it's before getting up time on a Saturday!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Full rainbow

It's apparently going to be the wettest winter in record. Oh joy. Personally I hate umbrellas - it's not the keeping you dry bit, it's the lugging it round while you don't need it that I hate the most. I think that's why I take pictures of broken ones - reminding me of the Tom Waits lyric "broken umbrellas like dead birds" - all wirey skeletons and flaps of skin, lying dumped and strewn over wet pavements covered with slippery yellow autumn leaf-fall. 

This morning there were showers. By the time I arrived at work the sun was breaking through at its low wintery level and a full rainbow stretched over Peckham. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Love at First Sight

I don't know if anybody believes in love at first sight anymore. It seems like the stuff of fairytales long since discredited like the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. And these stories always start with Once upon a time... Reminiscent of days before.

Anyway, I have one for you. Once upon a time. In a distant galaxy. Far far away.
No I jest.

It was October 3rd of the year 2014. (A month ago). Having just watched the opera Carmen in a church in Shorditch I was walking over a traffic island when I crossed paths with a black panther, who stopped me and said he liked my shoes. I stopped and looked him in the eye. It was a strong and solid look, held totally and intensely by the panther. I cocked my head, thanks. He said he was going into the Cornershop with his friends and he asked me to come, he'd buy me a drink. Eyes locked. I considered it. I should go home. I had to go to my brother-in-laws' wedding the following day.  My head said fuck it, you're single do what you like. My mouth said ok, the panther took my hand and we ran across the street. Standing outside while his friends smoked I considered my actions. And then we went in. I bought a round of drinks and we talked. I can't remember what about. Mostly I remember the intense looking.  Something in the eyes was telling me something. I'm unused to another person doing that. I've been in trouble before for staring too much. The panther went to the toilet. I talked to his friend Dave.  And then he was back. I'm ready to leave anytime. I don't mind leaving this drink. Say 149 and we're out of here. I finished my drink. And helped him finish his. We left.

Outside he offered me the crook of his arm and we walked that way to the bus stop. On the bus we sat with heads turned to keep the gaze while he talked about places he knew on route. And about buses. A vaguely geeky knowledge of buses. Which makes me laugh - I am a bus siren - spent many hours riding the buses from home to the end of the line and back just to be out of the house and seeing the world.  We spent the night looking at each other and stroking. In the morning he needed to leave. It took two coffees and a toilet break before he could finally tear himself away.

I slept for three hours and awoke to banging on the door. Blearily opening the bathroom window and asking who it was. A friend, came the answer. Downstairs I opened the door and there stood the panther in a sharp pinstriped suit and white shirt. I was overwhelmed and stood there in the doorway looking at him. Can I come in, he eventually asked. Of course, I said and stood aside. He said he was there to deliver me to the wedding I was going to and get some lunch beforehand. I got dressed. We left looking very Saturday night on a Saturday afternoon, catching a bus to Islington Town Hall where we found a restaurant. Over lunch we held hands across the table and he asked me if I believed in love at first sight. To which I glibly answered I didn't know. After lunch I went to a wedding. Two grooms, one in red, the other in blue. Lovely and full of love. I texted the panther.

The panther texted me on Monday. We met after work for a meal. We talked. In my head I considered the concept of love at first sight. My parents met on a blind date and got married four weeks later and stayed together until my mother died. I never heard them say a cross word to each other. It was a seemingly impossible romance to live up to. But it was real. Not a fairytale from a bygone era.

On Tuesday I didn't hear from the panther until late in the afternoon. I spent the morning in realisation that if I never heard from him again I would be upset, may even be devastated. Could that even be true after four days. On Tuesday evening he wanted to meet but I couldn't because I was at my dads having dinner. He came all the way there to stand on the street kissing for five minutes. I was totally relieved. On Wednesday I went to a classical concert with Susanna and she asked me what it was I had to tell her without me saying a word. And I told her I met this panther and I think I'm in love with him, but is that even possible? She said it can be. There was time spent again on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday morning he texted me and asked me if I believed in love at first sight. And I replied that yes, since meeting him I did. Then, he said, I'm coming home to galvanise that truth. And then he knocked at the door. I love you he said. And I love you back I replied.

And that, was that.

So it doesn't just happen in fairy stories. It's been a month.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


There can be too much going on in a sandwich. I picked up something called a Swiss chicken today expecting some emental and chicken and lettuce in it. On opening it there was some cheeky ham and a raw onion hiding between the bread as well. Far too many different flavours and sensations. A bit of a shock to the system when the additional flavours exerted themselves. The ham and the onion had to go. 

Monday, 6 October 2014


And it feels like winter hit us in the face. Yesterday there were bare legs and sandals. Today the clouds in the lower atmosphere race across a higher atmosphere whose still clouds are tinged a threatenly dark slate. Dead leaves blow down the streets. Birds fight against the windy current. Coats, tights, closed toed shoes. Toes cramped inside complaining and painful. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Pit firing weekend in Norfolk

Invited on a pottery jolly, back in August, to visit Fran and Georg's new straw build house in Norfolk to camp, and do a pit firing in their garden. Unlike our previous jolly we didn't make anything in advance, so it was also green firing of pots that we made and dried on the day we got there. There was a high likelihood that nothing would survive the firing.

We made pinch pots out of grogged stoneware clay. Ate lunch and homemade bread. Went for a walk while everything dried. Tents were pitched. A pit was dug and filled with sawdust. The dry green pots were placed carefully (being extremely fragile at this point) and covered with more sawdust. Rolls of paper and kindling wood were placed over the top and then it was lit. Love a big fire.  We sat round. Until we were tired and retired to a variety of beds in tents or in the house. A gale started - blowing in from a tail end of hurricane across the atlantic, and it rained. Never that keen on tent sleeping at the best of times but with howling wind and pumelling rain it was both cold and difficult to sleep.

The following day we extracted the pots, its a bit like an archeological dig. Most had survived. They were fired but not to anywhere near the temperature that they would be properly cured at. But - its the process that is exciting and the company that makes it always worth the trip, even when the pots are nothing to write  home about in the long run.

And the scenery was beautiful and I swam in the sea with grey seals.


Its been busy:
  • Watched Salvatore Guilaino by Francesco Rosi at the ICA
  • Went to brother-in-law's brother's gay wedding
  • Saw Carmen at a church in Shorditch
  • Watched Lucy at Islington Vue
  • Watched Pride at Woodgreen Vue
  • Watched Citizen Above Suspicion by Elio Petri at the ICA
  • Watched The Tenth Victim by Elio Petri at the ICA

Friday, 26 September 2014


Passing, in the morning, along the main street of the neighbourhood in which I reside. Most of the shops are not open, the bookmakers are shut but the gaggle of drunks are collecting outside waiting.

A young man, could be handsome, walks down the road talking to himself, with a beer in one hand and holding up his jeans with the other. On the brink of losing his looks and all hope. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Hanging out

Initially we were hanging out in Spitalfields Market while Paul and Simon went to Murdocks in Hackett for some beard grooming. I'm guessing the rise of the Hoxton beard has led to a need for services to the beard. These services include massaging with oils, and moisturisers, hot towels to the face which  enliven the nerves of the face (apparently), trimming and shaping of the beard, including scissors to trim length and cut throat razor to create a neater line around the neck and down the sides, topped off with some further conditioning oils and a bit of combing. And some mustache twizzling. Who knew growing a beard involved more than just standing as far away from the razor as possible.

After that we ate some lunch and then hung out at the Southbank Centre were bails was reminding me of incidents we have had on holidays where we drive. Bails and I have been on a few road trips together. She doesn't drive. I'm always in charge of the car.

There was a trip in France where we flew to Toulouse and then drive a couple of hours to a cottage we had rented in the middle of nowhere. There was one village we passed with cars parked down the whole length of the  main street, and I clipped the wing mirrors of every single car. Perhaps 20 cars. Later that trip we were in our local town on a roundabout and I spotted a couple who I knew by sight from home - we would often wait for the same train at Haringay Station. I didn't know their names but felt compelled to shout out the window as we circled the roundabout "Haringey Folks" without ever stopping to say hi or see if they were freaked out or not. And when I got home I didn't pluck up courage to ask them if they heard me.

Before that was our big drive from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and back. First getting stopped for speeding by two cops with a speedometer. To be fair I didn't know we were in a town which is why I hadn't slowed down. On stopping us one asked me, did I know how fast I was driving? And I told him the speed I was driving. Which he informed me was 20 mph over the speed limit. At which I apologised profusely and got my wallet out asking how much I owed him. And he sternly told me not to let him catch me doing it again. No officer, I won't. Thank you very much. And sped off again. We visited Addo Elephant Park. Amazing to see these huge beasts in the wild. Taking lots of pictures while not getting out of the car. Pulled up near a watering hole with quite a few other vehicles I somehow leaned on the horn that was basically the entire centre of the steering wheel. Much evil eyeing from those around us. Embarrassed, I managed to do that at least two more times. It started to rain after that and the track we were driving on turned to a mud slick. A very nice man ahead of us got out of his four wheel drive and came back to tell me how to safely drive in mud - slow acceleration, no brake if at all possible.  Concentrating so hard on these instructions to get back to the car park I totally forgot about the brake and drove straight into the fence while parking. 

How we laughed. And still do. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Meet me in the slug and lettuce

So I'm meeting my dad in the slug and lettuce. We commonly call it the slag and lettuce due to the old rep it had of being a bit of a meat market. So I'm chatting to my sister and she's saying, so you going somewhere with a knowing glint. Yes say I, meeting pops in the slag and lettuce. Yes she says I know I was just on the phone to him. So are you the slag and he's the lettuce? Astute my sister I think. Bitch!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Hand to arse

Outside the office a man pulls up in his Range Rover. He's meeting a woman in Mercedes Subaru. She's opening her boot. He puts his hand firmly on her arse with his fingers lining the mid seam of her shorts. Uh uh she says to him in a deep throaty sound that makes her displeasure known. He removes his hand. The boot of this flashy car opens and she gets out an old lady shopping trolley filled with cheap-arse blue plastic bags tied at the tops to keep the contents in. Under the trolley are a heap more plastic bags. Someone in Lolaks distracts the man. He jogs off over the street telling the woman he'll be back. She says after him - don't be long now, we have things to do. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Towie has a BBQ

Two very good friends of mine had a BBQ jointly for one of their birthdays and a friends birthday. They live in Essex. When I arrived I felt like I had walked onto the set of  The Only Way Is Essex. All Essex accents, permanent tan, collagen lips, boys who pump iron at the gym. One of the women was footballer Frank Lampard's ex. Gradually I figured out there were sort of two halfs to the party. The women of independent means with the Essex boys and the london, northern crowd amassed from various works, and classes and old clubbing days of my friends. The women of independent means were extremely helpful - bringing out food, clearing up. The gay contingent were hilarious recounting outrageous stories of the past. And then some time after dark it felt like it was time to leave before the  last train left.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Notting Hill Carnival in the Rain

Standing on the side of the road at Notting hill carnival in the rain. Waiting for the friends who invited me down to get reception and text me back. A man in orange asks me if he could stand with me under my umbrella. I spread it towards him and he takes hold of it. I don't let go. There's a silent tussel. I say I can hold it - it's my umbrella - smiling. He says I'm a man I've never had a woman hold an umbrella for me in my life, it'll feel odd if you do that. I let him have it. You won't run off with my favourite umbrella will you? I'm joking. No I have plenty of nice umbrellas at home.  We stand silently for a bit. Then he introduces himself. And I introduce myself. Some youths ask if they can borrow some shade in the umbrella to make a call. I say I guess that's ok. They are giggling and excitable. They blow a kiss back as they leave. We stand together under the umbrella again. Watching floats go past with their associated dancers. Some are trailed by huge crowds of excited young people, grinding, moshing, singing, hands up, running. The DJs winding the crowd up as they go. People are wet through, rain running down their glistening skin. Ignoring the persistence of the rain. Despite all this jubilation he thinks the atmosphere is subdued in comparison to last year. Eventually I ask the man how is the best way out of here. He being local knows that Holland Park is the best bet. We stroll up the hill from Ladbrook Grove, chatting. He is still firmly in charge of the umbrella. I hook my hand in the crook of his arm. He saves me a couple of times when I slide on something wet. And then I do the same for him. Safely delivering me to the station - I thank him. I wouldn't have found it this easily without your help. He hands back the umbrella. I go home. Gentleman. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Drunk love

It's 5 in the afternoon. She's got a big boxer dog, she's thin, wearing jeans, smiling. The dog is leading her. She turns her head and shouts back at someone, in a slightly uncouth manner.

Coming up behind is a tall man looking like Saturday but not scruffy carrying a sainsburies orange bag which he has slung over his shoulder. His legs quiver as he is standing staring after her confused. He cautiously turns around on distinctly wobbly legs and staggers off. 

Who's in control?

So a friend was relaying a story about telling a workman that her brother-in-law liked to be in control. The workman said oh yes I know. Since the workman had barely spoken to her brother-in-law she wondered how? The workman said that when he went to shake hands he had reached out his hand palm down and covered his hand when they grasped. As opposed to meeting as equals with thumb up or friendly with palm slightly raised. 

As a woman I don't have as much experience of handshakes as I expect a man has, and frequently I think people temper their shake when they grip a woman's hand, so I'm fascinated by learning this new body-language... It's like secret coding. 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Jahovah bashing

Don't know where the Jahovah stands first appeared from or even when they arrived exactly but they are there at stations handing out pamphlets if a person approaches them for one. This is not hard sell like chuggers or traditional Standard distributors. Just a lot of meek ladies and men in badly fitting suits. 

On London Bridge today a man, quite possibly slightly irritated from a day in the bank bereted one of them standing quite close to her face - get off the street you are taking up space on the pavement with your pathetic pieces of paper. A man who had been waiting for the bus came over to tell the man he shouldn't be so abusive to her. The first man grabbed his hand and shook it vigorously while dragging the man towards himself. A bit of too-ing and fro-ing to the tune of there is no need to speak to her that way, with the first man saying nice to meet you in a passive aggressive manner. Finally the first man released the hand of the second man and stormed off down the street. The second man retuned to his travelling companion declaring his shock at such behaviour.

The Jahovah woman was shaking and tears formed in her eyes. Her colleague hugged her and told her, I'm guessing, about the evil that the devil bestows in people and we have to feel sorry for them for they know not what waits for them. And how she needs to develop thick skin because there's a lot like that around. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Grey seal

Sunny evening after the heavy rain and wind of the tail end of Hurricane Bertha passing over the UK. Walking on the beach near Waxham in Norfolk. Beautiful clean golden sand. Head of a seal popped out of the sea having a look around. As we walked down the beach saw another one - grey seal with silvery head.  Took a peek. Went back under. Popped up later on down the beach. Standing at the place where the waves reached up to on the beach, watching the seal float along the length of the waves, nostrils breathing. Sometimes it's head turned towards me on the beach to have a look. Followed us up the beach for a couple of kilometres and then back again while the tide came in. Total of five seals seen at one time. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Other than work

A colleague sitting across the aisle from me in the vast open plannism that is our central office is having a discussion with a men's outfitters about when he can bring the morning suit in that he bought from them to have the jacket taken in, and a couple of waistcoats. He has to wait for a time when Monty can come. I think these sorts of things should be arranged in home time. And not in a loud authoritarian voice in the middle of the working day. I'm reminded of the wedding that took an entire year to plan where I used to work. Lots of deliveries recieved and considered in the office. Cakes, menus, kilts, invitations... It went on and on! And when we eventually went to the wedding it was ever so slightly blended polyester, as opposed to 100% silk. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Over hung

Long afternoon drinking on Saturday - watching the world go past in Brick Lane, chatting, lubricating with sambucca. Jolly fun time. 

Woke up this morning. Head unwilling to get off the pillow. Body craving eggs. Preferably with hollandaise sauce. Struggle ensued between the head and the body. Bathed. Full submersion helps the head. Prepares the body. Still not working very fast or coherently. Get dressed. Put on sunglasses while still indoors. This helps. Until I step out the house. Bright outside. Feels early and it's midday. Self inflicted - what gave pleasure yesterday gives pain today! 


Working day - generally walking purposefully, fast even, everyone in the tube corridors know where they are going. Bankers and office workers at London Bridge and Moorgate. Pace set by the urgent need to be making money. This pace helps to shave important minutes off a journey to enable better timekeeping. 

Meeting in Kensington. All the people in the tube, on the platforms and all over the pavement appear to be tourists. Crazy holiday outfits. Massive suitcases. No idea where they are going. Travelling from London Bridge to here I'm caught in that weird thing where you start off at one pace and on coming out the other end you are persistently tripping over people - like catching the tube on the weekend and forgetting it will be full of shoppers strolling rather than the work commuters that are usually down there. Don't know that I could cope with always working in a tourist area. 

Friday, 1 August 2014


At the bus stop at Finsbury Square there is a man waiting. He is wearing black jeans - very slim fitting (not skinny jeans stretched over stick thin legs like gothic punks) so you are aware of the muscles in his legs and an asexual bulge a la Ken (as in barbie and ken). And a faded denim shirt - this is worn slim fitting also. Tucked into his jeans there is no blousing from excess fabric - the buttons lie flat over his stomach which doesn't have obvious abs and flat over his chest which doesn't have obvious pecs. I'm looking at him because I can't figure out why this slim fitted look is so odd. It's old fashioned somehow. None descript in its nothingness. Perhaps this is normcore. Just ordinary in a totally non-styled none-descript manner. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014


I'm waiting at Peckham Rye Station for a train to Victoria on my way to a meeting in Kensington. I'm at a different platform than my usual one and at an odd time of day for me. Two long long trains pass each other - trundling along carrying train track replacement materials, load after load after load. No paint on the containers just rust. An engine with a number plate that the trainspotters will probably be drooling over. A workman all dressed in high vis orange opens a room on the platform. Goes in. Comes out and locks up again. Goes away. Comes back five minutes later with a toilet roll. Staff loo. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014


An old lover passes in the street. A year has passed since I saw him last. He looks happier than the last chance meeting we had. He is strolling with a woman. Talking. It takes me a moment to recognise him such are the changes in his appearance. But OMG it is him. I wave slowly and persistently with my hand at chest height until he notices me. Oh my god he says in absolute shock. And then we've passed. 

Scream if you want to go faster

OMG Thorpe Park. Family day out with my sister, her husband and my niece and nephew. Mostly there was queuing. Between 50 and 85 minutes per ride. All the queues were cleverly hidden from view so you couldn't see how far you would be queuing until you got past the first corner. Lots of chatting and shuffling along. Lots of teenagers and young people. Most popular fashion choice for girls was cut-off-jeans hot pants and bare midriff. 

So then there were rides - big rollercoasters. Feet dangling, upside down, loops, corkscrews, really high drops, g-force 4.2 like a rocket. Those of us aged over 25 were probably not the demographic they were aiming at (as pointed out to me earlier today). Dizzy. Slightly nauseous. Bit shaky. Actually glad to be back on firm ground. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Go Cats

I got cats a couple of years ago because I first had a rat problem and then when I'd gotten rid of them I got mice. Fairly persistently. All food stuffs had to be in tin  or glass containers. And then there was the incident of the mouse falling out of my shopping bag at the checkout in the supermarket. Anyway. The cats were cute. And then they grew up. They love me because I feed them. And we haven't had mice since they arrived. Yesterday evening they caught and killed a mouse. And lay around in the kitchen with the remains until someone came to congratulate them. Well pleased with themselves they were. So GO Cats! Keep at it. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Bus stop compliments

Waiting in Dalston for a bus. Stop crowded with after work shoppers. A thin old man with the blackest skin and false teeth too big for his gums that clattered as he spoke, passed by pointing at me - you, yeah you girl, you have one built body, nice. And because I didn't respond he pointed harder and repeated himself.  Everyone at the bus stop started tittering to themselves. Before I got embarrassed,  I thanked him. He nodded his approval and slinked off round the corner. Compliments are good. From any source. The bus came. We all got on. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Girl in the city - old draft post from 2009

Girl in the City

There's a building site next to my office that I pass everyday. Yesterday the foreman ran over wanting to exchange numbers with me. Which is flatterning but has to be met with the negative. In the evening as I walked back to the station an elderly gentleman called out asking after me, "hey, how are you?"
"I'm fine," I replied, "how are you?" (gotta be polite after all).
"Not as fine as you," he retorted.

Arriving at London Bridge this morning a man with large feet and 60s style slim legged suit trousers engaged me in conversation on the escalator - he was very taken with my matching hair and glasses and coat (I'm very coordinated sometimes).

I'm feeling a little bashful with all the attention.

Two glasses of wine

He arrived at the same time as me, ordered 2 glasses of wine and a portion of chips and told the barstaff he'd be over in the corner. He settled in. I imagined he would be joined by a chic woman. When the woman arrived she was wearing a very short skirt, rather more suited to a teenager. They greeted and proceeded to snog passionately until the wine and chips were gone (I didn't quite notice how they were eaten) and then they left.

World Cup 2014

Germany supporters in Shorditch celebrating their World Cup Win - road blockage, impromptu motorbike wheelspins display in the road. Disgruntled teacher on the bus wanted to pour orange juice on them to make them get out of the way. I didn't think it would work - the juice bottle being tiny and there being a lot of supporters. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Ordering the whole menu

It started off with a trip to a secret gig at No Show Space in which the artist, Giorgio Sadotti, sang songs he had written to accompany his exhibition in a closing event with his band (including his daughter on vocals). His texts and lyrics make use of repetition and plays on words. It was a fun gig, slightly hippy rock with a girl on guitar and another one on drums. 

Afterwards, six of us went to a little Indian restaurant on Redchurch street and decided since there were six starters and six mains that we should just order the entire menu (including the five chutneys and accompaniments). Which is what we did. And great delight was had making the order. And plans were made to make this 'ordering the whole menu' into a regular thing - could review restaurants like that (albeit that for most menus a good number more dining companions may be needed to sample the whole menu in one sitting - but that could be big fun if slightly nightmarey logistics), or make it into a programme of some sort...

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Lunchtime tennis

More London big screen in the scoop showing tennis. Workers flocking to watch in their stolen lunchtimes. Not even sure it's because it is great - maybe just to be in the crowd, outside, in a heat trap. 

And then the Murray match is starting. So perhaps they are actually fans. 

Monday, 30 June 2014


Still trying to sort out the house après le film crew. Painting. All Sunday. Two coats so far. It's nice to get rid of the sort of dingy grey/blue colour they painted. Difficult to cover it being as it was a. quite dark, b. kitchen paint with a sort of wipe clean surface. Glad it's started to look back to normal and matt. In the day light the blue is still impacting through making a colder feel to the paint than the two walls they didn't paint. 

And then paint gets everywhere. My girl cat Philomena somehow got a swipe on her tail even though I didn't see her in the room at all. And I am still picking paint flakes off my arms and out of my hair. 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Annual Val Hugo Memorial Mele

So I spent Saturday playing pétanque on a triangle of ground with an appropriately gravelled surface down Narrow Street in Docklands near The Grape pub. There are trees with broad leaves providing dappled sunlight when it shone and some relief from the rain when it fell. Quite like France in fact. Reminded me of the Tuilleries. It's an annual event in memorial of Val Hugo, a keen player, with a core membership of people who she played with. Serious, good players. It's a tournament. Players span several generations and a wild mixture of abilities. Teams are drawn out of a bag and matches are held between teams of 2 or 3. Then players are ranked by scores and numbers of wins and put into quarter final playoffs. Complex. Long. 

But along the way I was in teams which won and teams which lost. I learned something of how to play, managed to not totally embarass myself and made it into a semi final for runners up. Lots of looking at the boules nestling up to the coche (short for cochonet) to figure out which team's boule was 'on'. Inbetween matches there were sandwiches, biscuits, coffee and some pastis. And a lot of chat about the game, the tactics and the players. It was fun. 

And the final was a serious affair for the best players through the ranks and gave them a properly decent match. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Grass (2)

The last time I came to this cafe to eat there was a man with his feet in the grass. Today sitting looking out of the window of the cafe I saw his saunter up the hillock of the park, kick off his shoes and plant his feet on the grass again. Shortly after he threw himself onto the grass and lolled on one elbow while talking on the phone. Here is a man who needs to feel the earth through the soles of his feet. And does so as often as he can. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

World Cup 2014

It started off pretty exciting - lots of good feeling and summer joy, Brazilian carnival taking over London. Pretty quickly depressed by England's shocking, although not really suprising, performances. Decision on who to support next is pretty key - brazil perhaps, probably not Holland, or perhaps Ghana. 

We have connections to Ghana. We went to watch their match against Germany in a local Ghanian joint. Expecting not much. Got an extremely exciting performance celebrated wildly by a packed bar - drumming and singing whenever the ball went vaguely near the goal. Half time singing, dancing and flag waving in the street. 

And in the middle of the second half some argument got a bit heated and a small scuff broke out. The lady who owned the joint shut it down, everyone piled into the street and dispersed as the police showed up. We went next door for the nail-biting last quarter. Winning for a bit only for Germany to come back. And despite rallying Ghana couldn't get another goal. Probably one of the most exciting games I've ever watched. 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Lunchtime queuing in tescos

Tooley street tesco, down some escalators into the basement. Pick up a quick sarnie and some fruit. Well, that was the idea anyway. The queue snaked round the checkouts, back past the fruit, up the side of the salad bar, round the back of the store all the way to the frozen food section. Pretty much it seemed like all lunchtime would be spent queuing. In actual fact it was quicker than expected. And then was chucked back out off the up escalator to the street. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Gossip from the green room and other parts of the filming

One of the actors flew in from LA to do his part. He had one line. He does a lot of street performance making like a silver statue. And once auditioned to strip for Peter Stringfellow. Without wearing Velcro whip-off trousers, getting caught up at the bottom trying to get out of the trouser legs. One of the others was a bit insecure and liked to talk to other professional actors about how often she was recognised in Romford from her time in Eastenders. My neighbour's bath was used in a scene and the dressers were instructed to dirty it up. In the morning, after a finish at 3am, my neighbour threw a wobbly about it not having been cleaned up afterwards. They diligently cleaned up what they messed up and left behind any dirt that my neighbour had originally had on it (taking the leave-it-as-you-found-it to the extreme).

Making a film

Never had any idea what kind of chaos making a film is. Lent my house for a set. It's doubling as set and base for the film. Kitchen is full of canteen for actors and crew - the fridge is overflowing, milk spilling, counters full of biscuits, endless cups of tea and coffee. A "green room" upstairs where the actors are hanging out watching football. The crew, half of whom are Italian, are watching football downstairs when they get a moment. 

Took about 7 takes to make a couple of minutes intro outside in the street - closing the road, directing a van and some kids playing, elderly man crossing the street and a character crossing their path. After several rehearsals. Close to pissing off some of my neighbours as they are asked not to drive down the road or indeed at times walk down the road to the shop. 

Stuff is all over the house in an organised chaos of moved furniture and house stuff mixed with equipment. Don't know where half my stuff is but am relying in the runners knowing where they put it. 

Sort of interesting but displaced. Roll on the end. Cut. That's a wrap. 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Regrets, I've had a few

Lovely evening spent with pops, bails and heather spaffing on about a number of things while pops fed us delicious dinner and plied us with wine and Cachaça (it being two days until the World Cup starts in Brazil). With Bails and me being only 10 days apart in age (I'm younger believe it or not, and so much more concerned about it than she) there is always a moment when she despairs at me. This evening I was thinking back over turning points in time when I've chosen the wrong path. Regrets, I've had a few, and I'm just going to mention them. 

When I was 18 we spent a lot of time in the Spice of Life pub where I would chat with a particular barman - I was just about to go to art college, he was a film student. He would give me free drinks. On the evening when I met my first serious boyfriend the barman gave me his number. I should have rung him. He would have been creative, he was slightly older, I could have learned a lot from him. Instead I went for a pretend part time punk who came from a small town and never quite shook the small town from himself. 6 years that lasted. Unfortunately.

A very sexy blond Australian with dreadlocks once made a play for me rubbing his foot up and down my leg under the table of the coal hole pub. We kissed deeply on the stoop of the pub until the doorman moved us on for making the place look undesirable. One night of passion ensued. And I stupidly left in the morning without taking a number (pre-everyone with a mobile phone).  Never to be able to find him again.

There used to be a private members bar in Crouch End that my friend Alex belonged to. We went a couple of times. One time I struck up a chat with a girl and a cute man who turn out to be actor Don Gilet. Late in the evening he came back and unexpectedly kissed me full on the mouth. Do you come here often, he asked me breathlessly. I don't, I said, do you? No, says he, but I will now. A big missed cue - he was on the brink of doing some big tv and film. I should have picked up his cue and run with it. But I failed to. C'est la vie.

I guess you can't spend all your time mulling over regrets. Need to keep on experiencing life and attempting to make better choices!

Monday, 9 June 2014

New phone

I've never dropped a phone before. Had it splashed by salt water when a wave swept up unexpectedly behind me and soaked me (it corroded inside and stopped working). Dropped it in the bath before (tried drying it out to no avail). But not dropped it on the corner so the screen broke. But that's what I did. Luckily I was due an upgrade so ordered a new one - asked for the silver version. Forgot to ask what colour the front was. It turns out to be white. I'm trying really hard to love this phone despite its blatent Essex girl looks. I'm struggling... I feel like I should be driving round in a white rhino jeep and getting long straight extensions and a deep orange tan. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014


There was a time when you had to go to a shop to purchase an item and have cash to cover the cost. (I don't have a good memory of these times but my parents used to tell me). Then came credit cards. Then came the internet and the blossoming of online shopping.

In the early days of internet shopping your goods arrived with the Royal Mail in the morning delivery. If you weren't in they would leave a card and you could collect the package from the local delivery office. Mine was conveniently situated directly on my route home. They seemed to stop actually carrying the packages and would only bring the card (occasionally I would be in when the non-delivery proportedly happened). But I didn't mind too much because it was easy to get the non-deliverable. 

Now with the post office losing its monopoly things are delivered with a huge raft of other mail-handlers. Which is why I found myself in Star Lane, Canning Town, further into the east of  London than I have any cause to be, collecting an item from UKmail's depot after 3 days of struggling to find an appropriate delivery time. This is a back of beyond place. One massive industrial estate spread wide to enable articulated lorries easy access to warehouses. One prefab caf set up on the side of the road to service lorry drivers and warehouse workers. Nobody comes here, particularly by foot. Desolate even on a sunny morning. Inconvenience in the highest order. Not sure competitive mail services are really better for the customer. Particularly when you can't just wait at home for 3 days for a potential delivery. 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Waiting for the train

Its late coming in. There's a woman with black hair and huge false eyelashes sitting against the ledge where a screen is kept held in place with a chain padlocked with a combination lock. Her partner is hunched over the padlock trying to get it to open. He steps over to the tracks to spit. He's short, ginger, unattractive in a white boxer sort of way - all has-been-smashed-up face. He is wearing a tracksuit and keeps fiddling with his package - either down the elastic or blatantly - uncomfortable underpants. She stands up - she's shorter than him but beautiful in a TOWIE sort of way, perma tan, pale lipstick, dark sultry eyes. She's wearing a wrap coat of velvet with a real fur collar. They talk to each other without seeing anybody else around them. He talks on the phone to someone telling them they can't take this other person to his dads place no way. He's sort of bouncing around back and forth across the platform. He ends up back beside his woman he shadow boxes a bit and then pretend-spars against her held-out hands. He suddenly sees something in her face and looks deeply at it, wipes something off her. She picks something off his lip. He puts his arm around her shoulder and pulls her to him, her arm wraps round his waist and they wander off up the platform as the train finally arrives. 

Monday, 2 June 2014


Lunchtime June warmer air even though the sunshine is only sporadic. I'm in a cafe eating lunch watching a man with bare feet enjoy the feel of grass underfoot as he talks on the phone. He's laughing in the conversation he is having and pacing around kicking his feet up and gripping the ground with his toes as he places them down. Living in the moment. 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Upsets of the Stomach

Was greatly looking forward to hooking up with bails and getting a few drinks après work on Friday night. Good to let the hair down after a week of work. She had something to do that kept her late. I hung out a bit before making my way to the Royal Festival Hall - it's a good place to meet initially when we need to formulate a plan.

By the time I got there I was a bit hot, and feeling unsettled in the stomach. All the smells of people eating warmed meat sandwiches contributed to a queasiness that I couldn't quite shake off. First drink I had to decline and had a glass of water. Shortly after which I ran towards the toilet hand over mouth and didn't quite make it. Vomited on the floor, ran into the loo with a handful of sick. Grossed out. But felt a lot better. We sat and chatted a bit more, watched the world go by and a youth dance group practising. Only to be struck again with a dash to the loo. Decided we had to call it a night.

Rolled up in bed later with a discomfort that only could be ignored by sleeping.

In the morning there is the fear of eating but the craving of hunger. Can't tell you how lovely it is to eat cereal and milk. It feels sort of clean and comforting. And has no adverse effect. So maybe that's it and it's only a 24hr bug. 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Barrow Boy and Banker

"Meet you at the barrow boy and banker (sounds like a gay porno)"

I've been in the pub before, it's always full of after-work wanker bankers chugging beer as fast as they can before catching their trains from London Bridge to the commuter belt. Lots of male guffawing and banter. Good location to meet but not my favourite pub.

Was rather looking forward to going in there after the suggestion that it would make an excellent title for a gay porn movie. I can imagine the scene - lively crowd, a mixture of cockney wide boys drinking after working all day in the market wrapping up ripe fruit for rich ladies and fancy chefs and bankers in pin stripes and loosened neckties, slowly descending from a mass shedding of clothes to an orgy revelling in their hard bodies. Sadly the venue of the meet up was changed before I got there. So the gay porno will have to wait.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Flicker of recognition

The bars are full of excitable young people spilling out onto the pavements, corralled into smoking areas or queuing sections. Overseen by bouncers in black coats. Walking past I get a thrill, would so like to get involved rather than dodge past it all attempting to get home. Passing revellers coming the other way or dawdling in my direction. Lure of the bright lights of the late city. Pass a group of guys. Laughing as they fall out of a joint and steer round a crowd of people. Four of them. Pass by. And then there's one of those out-of-context late recognition moments. I spin round as the leading guy also turns round smiling and points at me nodding. I smile. Work. This is a man I know only by sight at work. And then we pass. They melt into the background crowd on their way to their next stop. We have never spoken but I had a sudden feeling of missed opportunity here - I could have asked how their evening was going. Perhaps I'll have to ask how it was on Tuesday. 

Saturday, 24 May 2014


"I'm so lucky that my nicest finger is my marriage finger. So lucky. Nicest by far"

Friday, 23 May 2014

Travel writing workshop

Peter Carty - Travel writing workshops

Never been to a writing workshop so I had no idea what it was going to be like. Arrived 5 minutes early but still too late to hide in the back row. It was like being at school again - posturing to find out where we were in the group and trying not to catch the eye of the teacher. There were lots of middle class white young women and then some older people.

We had to do that classic icebreaker where you chat to your neighbour with a view to introducing them to the group. This was where the contest for most-exotic-country-visited was played out. Living in Hong Kong, recently been to Borneo and flew in from Sydney came top. I felt like a fraud - more interested in the writing part of the workshop in an attempt to expand what i write (a blog post is never going to be a short story in my current style) than in the specifics of travel writing. My partner and i both decided we were a little intimidated by the rest of the group - we both were bloggers but by no means felt like professional writers, although she was a copywriter so she kind of beat me.

The first part of the course was about writing itself - making it interesting, balance between fact and experience, the atmosphere of a place. Lots of discussion about the use of cliche, hackneyed phrases of the genre, very interesting thing about beginnings (many of which were actually more like the start of novels - better at drawing me in personally than some of the gushy, over-enthusiastic travel writing we find in brochures - this was a bit of a revelation to be honest, started to feel like there was a path to be followed potentially), lots of discussion about the pieces of writing we had been asked to read before we came - some liked them, others didn't for a vareity of reasons. Then we had to write 100 words on one of three themes:
  • view from a high place
  • beach scene
  • sunrise or sunset

A slow ascent looking out over the green fields of Hyde Park intersected by white paths and milling people shrinking into the distance. Up over the tree tops until we could see Marble Arch and the buildings at the top end of Oxford Street. Grey London rooftops, traffic in Park Lane. Suddenly whipped face down back to earth with the g-force of the Tornado we were riding on.

Some were enthusiastic reader-outers, others of us hid in our seats and tried not to attract any attention! It all seemed a bit too soon for public consumption of my lowly blogger efforts in my own quaky voice. Later we had to do 100 words that would be an introduction to somewhere we had been recently (not having been terribly far recently I thought back).

"Barrier, barrier, barrier" the man hanging out of the window shouts. We pile into the vehicle, people, shopping and live chickens, me the only abronyi on the bus. The conductor slides the door shut and we take off into the traffic on the dusty pot-holed road, quietly crossing our fingers that the string holding the door shut is strong.

Not being called on to read out again, left me with a false sense of security in my own blogging-bubble (nobody needs to hear it, therefore I can avoid being ashamed of the drivel I may be writing - perhaps thats what is comforting about blogging - not that much critical feedback comes in, and you can bathe in the stats of readership that at least someone out there likes to read the drivel, perhaps over and over!).

Final part of the morning looked at structure and how to make sense of a place, quotes and interviews from local people, local knowledge gleaned from 'interviewing' people, some facts, some sense of how the writing experienced the place and neatly rounding up a piece at the end (perhaps returning to the beginning, or a recurring theme) to make it seem whole. And then we were thrown out to get some lunch and write a postcard on one of a number of local places.

Icons of London [I'm thinking of this always in the tune of Werewolfs of London by Warren Zevon - for some unknown reason]
Fitzrovia is a slightly shabby back street neighbourhood in the heart of London overseen by the British Telecom Tower. Once the tallest building in London at 627ft, it was the iconic skyscraper of my childhood - cylindrical, glass and covered in satelite dishes - a prominent pointer to a digital future. It remains one of the better London tall buildings even now with the city's burgeoning high-rising skyscape. In my early childhood I was promised a visit to the famous revolving restaurant on the 34th floor but sadly the IRA bombing of it meant it was shut before I was taken. Opened in 1965 when Fitzrovia was probably a more industrious neighbourhood it is now planted in an area surrounded by student accomodation, neighbourhood restaurants and independent art galleries. Slightly grubby and vacant the Telecom Tower is a much-loved icon still.

Afternoon sessions were about pitching, selling yourself as a writing, writing your first piece, how to get published (market, which publications, type of travel those publications would be interested in, difference between writing for web and writing for print, cold calling). Extremely valuable advice for people getting starting as travel writers. Making it not seem exactly easy - but certainly achievable if you follow the guidelines. We worked in groups pitching ideas of destinations to one another, feeding back as a group. Each individual's idea was given feedback - very useful to get you thinking about how to write travel pieces (what to write about if you are going to a common destination - how to think about what is interesting about your trip, never start with the journey for instance, remember you may be on holiday with your family but you are also working - set the boundaries before you go). Useful not only for budding travel writers, but also potentially for student potters who may want to sell their work.... but I digress.

And then fatefully we had to read out our lunchtime tasks, and I didn't manage to escape this time. Feedback was: more local interest needed - interview people, more of me, fewer facts. Its an issue of a. speed writing and b. not quite knowing what I'm trying to do. Blogging is a short thing, usually for me. And I manage to do it in my head as I go about. This is a proper task. And perhaps I shouldn't have been writing about the tower as much as the neighbourhood, and getting a sense of its atmosphere more than just this is what it is. I don't have to consider any of this kind of thing with the writing I generally do. So its a very useful exercise - think about the purpose of the writing, and who the audience is - write to that criteria, don't pander to your own eccentricities. And with that we were turfed out onto the street again. An extremely thought-provoking workshop.

Thursday, 22 May 2014


A Mini Cooper in red with white bonnet stripes takes an empty side street between tall buildings bathed in evening post-storm sunlight and turns into a traffic jam on Tower Bridge Road. 

Thunder and lightning

Absolutely amazing rain - thick and heavy - huge crack of lightning directly overhead. Rumbling thunder. And then the shard reappears from the grey as the storm moves on.

Lightning hits the Shard

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Modern life

Here is an indictment of modern life - two people come to a cafe together for a coffee and spend the entire time plugged into their own phones, heads down in Facebook, email or some other social media and fail to say two words to one another for an entire half hour. Isn't it one of the joys of company that you can talk to each other? In person. And have a conversation that develops through voice? 

Perhaps we are becoming too concerned about missing out. Unable to focus on the present and what is right in our real sphere for fear of missing something more exciting happening elsewhere. No wonder mindfulness is having to be raised as an issue/idea. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014


It might be a little known fact but I am an arsenal supporter - at least through a succession of dalliances I have grown to consider myself a supporter - perhaps not fully fledged red army (he was thinking I might be red TA). Anyway we went to see them parade the cup (FA cup for those of you who may not be in the know)- and a jolly good time was had by all, waiting on the side of the street at Highbury roundabout, walking along in a throng towards the town hall on Upper Street and then to the pub for a drink before going down to the stadium. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

Length of Service

Paul was reminding Bails how long they had been together. It turns out - six years. Thats a sizable length of time. Especially for some of us. So interestingly her response wasn't, it seems like only yesterday, or, wow that long! Her response was Oh my god what a nightmare! Swiftly followed by the caveat i didnt mean that how it came out. Tactful as always!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Drunk and Disorderlies

Me and the drunk and disorderlies (pops and his cronies including an almost-shared birthday twin of mine divided by a decade or two) went to eat Argentinian steak at the Bariloche Grill in Battersea High Street. Absolutely delicious melt in the mouth meat. Much wine imbibed followed by shots of flaming sambucca. Pops fell off the front door step and did a wide circle of the pavement before his legs caught up with himself and the waiter managed to get a hold on his arm to steady him. Average age of the group was probably 70, mostly not too great in the hearing department - much talking, not so much listening. Carcophany of voice. More drink, more volume. Weird being the youngest and parenting the elderly because you are being the sensible one. Really. What is the world coming to? Feel it might be time to try to reverse this trend. 

Friday, 9 May 2014


There's someone on the bus with bad breath. Dont know if its the young man next to me who is leaning against me while playing a crap phone game. 

Earlier there was a man in a leather coat which had a fur lined collar. He stank of dog. Which was strange - he looked cool and most unlike a street person - y'know trendy, well kept. I had to turn away sometimes because it caught in my throat and stopped me breathing.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


Bright sunny day walking from Bank along King William Street with lots of bankers on lunch breaks, serious suited, women in court shoes and slick american-style dark blond hair. Two teenage girls dolled up a la Towie stars - all fake tan, pitch black hair, and track suits with legging-style bottoms are mingling along the road. One closes on a group of women and barks as she passes making them jump. The girls walk off laughing like hyenas. Passing Starbucks she flattens herself on the glass licking it as she slides down in front if a man in a crisp white shirt and tightly knotted tie sitting inside the window eating a sandwich. He is somewhere between bemused and amused. Moving on along the road she barks at women and propositions men in a manner that has the effect of scattering the serious workers as if they have been suddenly repelled by a magnet. Much to the girls continuing mirth. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

London Bridge Sheep Dip

London Bridge station is being renovated to match the glass and steel look of the Shard. They have gradually removed the Victorian steel and brick train shed that used to let snow through in the winter and replaced it with concrete brick flooring in a parquet style and platform roofs in undulating waves. 

Platform 15 is the current perimeter of the station on one side and still has fencing dividing the platform from whatever major building work that is going on beyond. Platform 15 is therefore very narrow. And serves a popular route. Lots of people off, lots of people on. So, they've introduced a herding mechanism to help with the traffic calming. The last time i saw corralling like this was at the Great North Fair when they are trying to keep handsome bulls calm enough to do a circle of the ring showing off their stocky solid muscles and massive balls. Or at sheep dipping time when the dogs have slinked around and managed to get all the ewes and their lambs through the gate and into the sheep dip in an effort to escape. 

There was a section of fencing today allowing people off the train into the station concourse in single file. To say there was a pile up that wasnt pretty is putting it mildly. And on the other side the  people trying to catch the train were attempting to scale the fences while being told off by the station staff. I thought of a programme i watched earlier in the week when a bull in a bull ring got so mad he lept out of the ring into the bleachers full of fans. 

Its going to lead to trouble. The public only takes so much crowd control before rioting was what it felt like today. 

Finding some peace

Its the day after the 48hour tube strike. A day when i find my resiliance totally depleated. Its raining. Properly raining. I run across the road to catch the 318 bus which is sitting at the bus stop. I shouldnt have - its a little one door bus that goes round the houses and is picking up heaps of local sorry-arse people too thick to move inside the bus properly and allow their fellow passengers to get on after them. This delays the bus. At every stop. It takes a long time to get to the station this way. I am now late. And sweary. 

The tube is packed. Everyone is irritated. A woman wraps herself round the central pole in a way that nobody else can hold onto it. At my interchange at Highbury the train is due in 6 minutes. Too long for my agitated self to wait. Back onto the Victoria line - one stop to kings cross to pick up the Northern line instead of riding the overground to Moorgate. 

The Victoria line train is packed still. I squeeze myself on. Shoulder to shoulder with a man my height and my head bent out of shape by a woman's arm hanging onto the overhead bar. Behind me a tall black man's buttocks fit into the small of my back. His lower back rests against my back. Its a strange in the moment thing. But i find i don't mind. Its a sort of intimate strangers' touch that makes me reconnect with human kind. Touch. It can be very important. And it replenishes my reailiance enough to complete the commute more calmly. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Crossing the river

If you have to cross the river as part of the commute there's nothing better than doing that above ground - over one of the many bridges. This morning i rode the train from St Pancras and it took me over Blackfriars Bridge - part of the new station. Sun dappled the Thames sparkling brightly. The view east included the Millenium footbridge straddled with people walking, and London Bridge with Canary Wharf and her cronies misty shadows as a backdrop. I tried to ignore the awful walkie-talkie building. Monstrosities like that, which take up more air room than their footprint on the ground, shouldn't be allowed - they flout the aesthetic rules for skyscrapers with blatent disregard - and the only fun thing about them (the concave surface focussing sunrays into such powerful light that they can melt jaguar cars) having to be fixed to save the wrath of the banker wankers who may want to park outside them. South london train journeys are above ground which gives a great view of London going past - its mesh of new, victorian and older. And a totally empty train which is a commuting revelation. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


When will the Hoxton Beard thing be over? On the train on the way to work there were two men both with impeccably well groomed hair - short back and sides, slicked quiffs - sporting short beards (trimmed over the upper lip and cut to an even length all over). The beards not really matching the hair for grooming, despite there clearly being work done on them. Not enough work done on the lower neck below the beard line however, stubbly, unattended growth. Not keen on the way the whiskers look around the lips. 

Off the train in Peckham there was a man with the same haircut but a proper full-on long beard - hiding at least half his face, growing length well below the chin, fanning out like it had been brushed. 

This is a look like lumberjacks from the 1930s. It seems inappropriate in the same way range rovers do in the city. What are all these young men hiding from? Or do they think we will be impressed with their hair growing prowess? I'm not averse to a bit of stubble, or even a bit of a goatee. But these big square jaw beards in all shades of brown and orange and white are quite unattractive. And sometimes are just odd when teamed with a waxed mustache or pulled out into strange shapes. It doesnt even seem to be a lazy perspective of not being bothered to shave because there is still quite a bit of looking after to be done.  

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Pub games

Never been very good at pub games - crap at pool, bit of a danger at darts, dont know how to play bar billiards. Used to play Mortal Kombat in the Vibe bar in Brick Lane but was rubbish at it. Was in the Grafton Arms yesterday and apparently they have car racing video games in the urinals (i've been reliably informed, evidenced by pictures of said game not in use). The controls are in tne bowl - hit this spot at the back to go left and this other spot to the right to go right. I was very intrigued to see it but didn't know any man well enough to go in and have a look... And it doesnt seem to be a good idea to ask for film evidence of it in use - men pissing in public tend not to watch so i hear. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


Today the sun is breaking through the crispy white clouds to warm a chilly april day. The rays are so bright passing the glass of the cafe window i have had to take off my glasses to allow my eyes to deal with the light unhindered. The Shard is looming over the street with a glinting sunspot harshly flashing off one of its fascias. People walk up and down the street, fetching lunch, looking about, taking in the daylight. I think of people who are not here right now. Wonder what their day is bringing them. Concern, and hope for good things. I prolong the agony of having to go back to the battery-hen open plan office. So much grey utilitarian desking. So few people of interest. So little colour and spark. Like so much mud to wade through. Maybe it's time to wear red. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Words i learned this week

So i do a bit of pinterest pinning: collecting visual stimulation into groups. Lots of ceramics, photos of the human body that i might eventually draw, quotes and stuff. I learned some new words this way this week. Words that seek to explain or describe aspects of my psyche that i didn't realise had names. 

Sehnsucht (pronounced zEn-'zukt)
"The unconsolable longing in the human heart for we know-not-what"; a yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one identifies as home. 

I didn't know there was a word for this ache - i have it most of the time - particularly when there is not enough stimulation in my life. Bails says she doesn't understand my craving for excitement - she thought i would grow out of it and is suprised that i havent so far. But this is how sehnsucht manifests itself in me, an urge for something more, more than i have, more than I'm experiencing, more, just more. I fear i live a boring life. I don't want it to be dangerous or scary but more eventful and perhaps slightly debauched. Less routine. See more things. I think that might be why i am drawn to people who are edgy. And why i get itchy feet when i've been in London too long without a break. Im currently dreaming of selling everything and taking myself around the world to see if i can find what it is that the heart desires. 

Love of darkness or night; finding relaxation or comfort in darkness. 

I first felt this when i was a child and we drove into Exeter at 2am. Something thrilling about the street lights flashing past the rear window of the car. I didn't know that would become a stimulation in later life. A second wind comes to me frequently after dark, things are more exciting then, in the city anyway. Something in the darkness allows a release that daylight confines. I dont think I have done enough in life to harness this to its most advantage. 

The overwhelming desire to kiss. 

I love kissing. There are people who you know without testing will be good at it. Something about the set of their mouth, or an arch of eyebrow (not that there is any correlation but when a man has good eyebrows they are generally ok - perhaps its just something about attraction). Sometimes its a test of will not to kiss someone, even a stranger - I get that sometimes on the way to work on the tube. Crushed in, focused only on a small fraction of the face - not staring. Then there are times with people known to you where the time or setting makes it inappropriate and that is a harder-still test of will. But it is no longer attractive to snog furiously in public (at my grand age I really dont want to look like middle-aged desperately clinging to youth). I remember a night bus journey home from Leicester square to Enfield Town where the man and i didnt draw breathe once. The thrills of youth. All in the past. But its the worst part about the complacency of a lengthening relationship - less kissing, and less passionately. 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Spring is sprung

Blossom. Its beautiful. A flurry of delicious scent and floaty petals. Sunshine with a hint of heat warming it up and wafting it around. One or two particles hit the nasal passages. Turning the face to the sunshine and feeling the rays for the first time this year. Warmth into the collars of the winter clothes. Enough to know it is now ok to reduce the number of layers. Not warm enough to do as some of the crazy sun worshippers have done and put on short lightweight cotton dresses and flip flops. These peoole are slightly goosebumpy in the breeze. Warm enough for open jackets and no scarf and a teeshirt in case its truly hot in the middle of the day. Obviously lengthening days. Glory of the coming summer months. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Out out

So friday night - went to see Her with pops. Was a good film. Liked it more than i thought i would. After we met Bails and her friend Steve. Had a drink. Cocktails in a little side street bar in Canonbury. Old fashioned's. Warmth of whiskey and sweetness of orange zest. Marvellous on a chilly evening, with good  mixologists behind the bar. 

Being quizzed on the stance of the modern middle-aged woman (supposed to be a joke but sadly feel it may not be possible, any longer, to feel this is far from the truth) by an ever so slightly old fashioned man, as it turns out. He decided we were the right age group to be MILFs (not flattered exactly) and then decided we were probably cougars (still not flattered exactly). And if we are cougar - does that mean automatically that we are preditory and looking for younger? Don't know about the influence of interent porn - seems to give you too many boxes to be put into! Its no longer possible to just be whoever you are - you have to fit into an appropriate category to be able to be understood by the world at large. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Woke up this morning

Woke up this morning to the alarm ringing and couldn't understand why. The phone alarm has gone wrong - just another minor irritation in the slow breakdown as we get closer to the date they will upgrade me. And then it dawned on my dream addled head - its bloody Monday. That's why the alarm is ringing. Bad luck for you its work today!  Whoop. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Night bus

Long evening of drinking and dancing followed by a night bus journey home.I haven't been on a night bus for some time. And especially an N29.

I was lucky the doors stopped right by me so i got on second and found a seat. 

I was sitting opposite a couple of dollybirds who looked a bit worse for wear. Not a coat between them. No tights. Just a thick layer of fake tan keeping them warm. One of them was carrying her extremely high platform shoes rather than wearing them. They were slumped in their seats - one with her back to the other. Hair messed so you could see their extensions sewn in where the outer layer of hair was no longer covering it. 

The one nearest the window was softly whining and crying. There were black mascara streaks running down in furrows through her foundation on both cheeks. Fake eyelashes holding large drops of tears. Her sister (it transpired when she turned back to her) said why does it happen every time? You can't live with me anymore, you're a nightmare, go back to Mum, you aren't ready to look after yourself. She then got up and stood by the door ready to get off. At the next stop the doors opened and she shouted at the tear stained one, are you coming or are you just going to sit on the bus? When her sister just managed to get off in time she jumped back on, in the hope to leave her sister stranded on the street. 

Some how both girls were still on the bus but without a seat. Tearful one was mumbling to herself how she couldn't fucking cope with it anymore. It wasn't clear whether that meant life in general, her sister, this night in particular or having to stand on the bus (she turned to an older woman at one point asking when she was getting off because she needed to sit fucking down - older woman ignored her with distain). The annoyed sister sat on the floor and at some point kicked out at her sister's ankles whereupon they set about each other in a half hearted manner - punching and kicking. The other passengers looked on in disbelief. Eventually they fell out of the bus at Holloway and wended off into the night. Drunk, disorderly and discordant. Bet they had a horrible Sunday - hungover and arguing, or hungover and ignoring each other, trying to avoid one another in a flat. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

Leaving home

Recently my nephew (aged 9) got so mad about having to do guitar practice that he packed a bag and stormed up to the front door announcing his intention to leave. He didn't in the end. He packed his bear-suit onsie and his wrestling figures. His dad gave him a toothbrush and some toothpaste to put in. And then his mum cried and said she would miss him if he went. So he stayed. I'm interested in what the important items to take are, in a 9 year old's mind. I dont remember wanting to leave at that age either. My sister recounting the story made me laugh actually. And that made her laugh also. Perhaps i should provide him with a tag with my address and phone number on it so if he really decides to do it he can come to me which would at least be safer.

Friday, 31 January 2014

The evil of curly hair

We went to see a digitally enhanced version of the black and white film Night of the Hunter at the BFI. Robert Mitchum plays a serial killer who pretends to be a priest. In the beginning if the film he is driving a car along the road and offering a prayer to god,"There are things that you hate Lord, perfume smelling things, lacy things, things with curly hair". As a naturally curly haired person this made me laugh out loud. What is it with all the jealousy of the curly haired that we get all this? Like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead... Don't straight-haired people know how difficult curly hair can be to manage?

Monday, 27 January 2014


Funny places airports, excited and tension of waiting for your party to arrive. Tired people over packed. Endless searching the crowd for recognition. Its exhausting. And i dont think the plane I'm waiting for has even landed yet. Hate that nervousness wondering whether everything has changed or if it will be the same. Experiences can change people. 

And greetings, love and hugs and flowers and laughter. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

New bad neighbours

The neighbours who lived next to me to the left when I moved in have recently moved away. They were chavvy but nice enough. But in some ways it helps me avoid the little embarrassment of my cat names.

When I saw pictures of the kittens I was getting I had an epiphony for names in tbe night - the girl cat was Philomena, and the boy cat was Leopold. My sister said its a good thing I don't have kids because they would be lumbered with some godawful names going by those. But these names suit the cats and you can shorten then to Philly (or Pip if you are my dad and are looking after them) and Leo. Better for shouting out the back door. What i hadn't realised at the time was that my neighbour was called Wilimena. And her 16 year old daughter had just had a baby and called him Leo. You discover these things in London due to proximity of living conditions hearing family life go on over the wall. I hadn't realised I had named my cats after my chavvy neighbours. And was then totally embarrassed to shout their names at all!

Anyway. They moved and in their place a new family moved in. On the day they arrived they had a fight and an ambulance and the police had to attend. Then there were lots of arguments, slamming of front doors, and shouting. Drunk dad would arrive home opening the door saying don't any of you fucking piss me off, not you, or you, or the fucking dog. I feel sorry for the dog. It's confused. They were concerned it didn't bark when people came to the door, so they taught it to do that. Now it does that, they shout at it because it barks when they get home. They also have three or four cats, I can't quite figure it out. But of all the things, the worst is they don't do any recycling and they make rubbish like its going out of fashion. Our bins are only emptied once a fortnight. Once they fill theirs up, they fill mine up as well. Which as long as I can fit my rubbish in wouldn't be so bad, but I can't, so it really gets my goat. Antisocial. Bring back the chavs, would be my preferance!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Alternative employment - the options

What other job could i do, discussion with my sister. Suggesting i teach adults in the kind of setting i already work in. Not that keen. Not enough salary. 

She's been watching The Bridge, and thought i could be a detective. But don't you have to be a policeman first? I laugh. Loudly. Me? A policeman. Hilarious. Wouldn't mind the detective bit. But not sure it would work with my politics and stuff. 
Fireman? just laughing. Not even a need to examine why not (don't love ladders at height, couldn't throw a man over my shoulder to rescue him, might be able to drive the engine...), nah. Ludicrous. Never was that keen on wearing uniforms. 
Maybe i should be a criminal she says. What sort? I'm slightly indignant. Fraud says she. But I'm not a great liar. Could you lie on the phone and be a scammer of some sort? I think. Its a bit shitty though isn't it? And my IT skills arent up to it. 
You could run a house. She says. I pause. Madam, she means. How does she come up with that? Thats one of my joke dream jobs! Hostess. Make men comfortable. Make sure the girls are clean. Don't actually have to shag the dirty mac brigade myself. But i like men. As a gross generalisation. We laugh. I can't believe she said it! I've said it myself before. As a joke! She knows me better than i think. I'm an open book, sadly. 

Monday, 20 January 2014


Jack frost has coated the cars and grass. The bus is crowded with school children. They can see their breath in the cold air, even inside. 

Friday, 10 January 2014


They are filming Youngers in Choumert road today. They have transformed the Internet cafe into 'Shorn Combs' barbers and have parked three huge lorries along the street. Lots of young actors milling about in clean bright urban streetwear, getting tea and soup from the refreshment cart. And cameramen, lighting, sound engineers, etc. Inside the cafe at lunch the regular iPad engrossed clientele ignore the hubub on the street. Me I kinda want to join in! 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Things which delight the mind

Whilst running/walking along Tottenham Marshes (dragging the Christmas dinner belly along for the first time - distractions very necessary)

  • Reeds on the canal
  • A tree full of long tailed tits
  • Seven cormorants roosting on an electricity pylon overlooking the reservoir
  • Canada geese and two swans
  • The cold wind burning my cheeks
  • Looking for a rainbow as the sun glimmers for a few minutes out from the grey clouds as fat drops start to fall

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2014 mistakes

Bad move - lent my phone to someone on our way home (giving them and some others a lift) - he'd run out of credit - he called 15 people at 6am. No one answered. They are all texting me asking me who is this today. And some of them are quite shirty demanding to know who I am. 


Started the New Year's Eve celebrations talking about the last few hours of 2013 - putting it to bed, fresh starts and all that. Celebrated the new year in five minutes after getting into a club having queued round the block for an hour. Danced and wandered around. Got in at 7am. Haven't seen the day at all today! Perhaps it isn't starting as I mean to go on! Happy 2014. Hope it's a good one.