Saturday, January 14

On the bus to Penge

I'm on the top deck. Sitting across from me are two boys aged around twelve years old and a chic young woman who might be their big sister or aunt, they are talking and laughing and sound like they come from south London, she says:

There's this stuff called escargot, it's snails eggs and people eat it

that's disgusting!

it's like caviar which is fish eggs, you eat hens eggs, what's the difference?

Thursday, January 12

I've been engaged

as Drawing Mistress

to teach a Life class

in an old mortuary ...

just gonna leave that there

Tuesday, January 10

Coping with death



is tough and is a difficult concept for a child, my niece (age 5) and nephew (age 9)  lost  two grandparents last year, the 9-year old was beside himself with grief and decided to do something about it by raising money for Cancer Research and have a bake sale. He wrote to various supermarkets and packaging companies to ask if they'd donate ingredients and other things he needed. The local vicar said that he could hold the sale after Sunday service just before Christmas and my nephew posted about his endeavour on facebook (via his mum).

Orders came flooding in and by the end of the church porch sale he'd raised £700 which is bloody impressive.

this is the boy 4 years ago making a Star Wars birthday cake.



My 5-year old niece is still trying to work out what 'death' is and is currently doing a star jump after every time she crosses a road, shouting triumphantly with every leap  


I'M STILL ALIVE  



(photo credit: James Prinz)

Saturday, January 7

Yesterday at 5 am

I drove the Man to  where his filming crew, a big pile of suitcases and a bus were waiting for him to start a journey to Costa Rica where they will make another film about animals.

Today at 5 am I drove Kanako to the airport so she could start her journey back to Japan, we did a lot of crying and then I went home and cleaned our empty house and then I filled the car with logs and jumpers and cake and drove to London. 

I drove to Putney, to the house I am taking care of during school term time - the house with the Rude Mad Man next door. Currently it is also the house-with-a-broken-heating-system-until-a-Man-comes-to-fix-it.

Friday, January 6

Kanako is going back to Japan tomorrow



we are making sure that we have exchanged as much vital information as possible. I have introduced her to oxtail and steak-and-kidney and she has discovered English sandwiches and jam rolypoly for herself. On Christmas day we did crown-wearing at dinner.

Yesterday we held a conference

have you had mince pies?

yes at least seven pieces they are very delicious

Christmas cake was missing from the list but luckily we found some that I hadn't eaten yet, we also covered bramble jelly, fried christmas pudding, sponge cake and marmalade.

We moved on to some Japanese essentials

1) Dried firefly squid tastes densely old fishy and gluey, the tentacles have a nice crunch but the wings and body have the texture of a plastic blister pack - this aspect is a bit sore on the mouth.

2) The Japanese winter sock routine involves four pairs of exquisite white socks, the silk and cotton socks with toes - footgloves - first put on the silk then the cotton. Then the silk foot mittens then the cotton foot mittens until you have a pair of very fat and warm feet.

This is the secret to being able to continue wearing little thin flattering easy-to-move-about-in clothes on the top of your body in winter.

3) The Japanese omelette is a delicious and beautiful thing. 

Put a fish-and-seaweed teabag in a cup, pour on a little hot water, add this infusion to eggs in a bowl and beat with chopsticks.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan (at this point my drawing skills fail)

Pour some of the fishy egg in the middle section of a pan, muddle it around until set then add a small pool of egg mix to one side, as this part sets the middle section can be rolled onto it then you can lay down another side section of egg and roll again, if you add seaweed at each part the omelette spiral becomes more evident and very beautiful. The end result is a fat egg sausage to be sliced up like a Swiss Roll






Friday, December 23

the bus from Bristol to London



is a journey that takes one hour and a half, this is just to get to the beginning of London, if you want to get into the centre of town the bus takes at least another hour to get through the traffic.

Like most sensible passengers I get off the bus at the beginning of London and take the tube


I got on the bus at Bristol on Monday and the driver said You going to Victoria?

I said, Yes but I'll get off at Hammersmith (with all the other passengers)

You're supposed to get a ticket to Hammersmith and you're supposed to pay more to do that !!!!

The whole week went the way of Alice in Wonderland 

After Blind Ken started questioning me about my appearance I became aware that another person was in the house, Ken kept leaving the room to squabble with someone that might have been a housekeeper - should she use a supermarket voucher to buy milk or fish? He'd say what he wanted, come back to where I sat and bring our conversation back to my piratey teeth then he'd change his mind and leave the room again to tell her to buy fish ... or milk.

Clearly she could have been more use in the room to tell Blind Ken if I also had an eye patch and a parrot but I never got to meet her.

Thursday, December 22

Saw this tempting ad


in London yesterday.

In the afternoon I met Ken who is blind and would like someone to go and read to him now and again. 

Ken asked me to describe myself. After I'd said that I was a fairly average sized sort of woman  I felt I ought to try and think of distinguishing features, I described my hair which went down well, then I said that children tend to notice my gold tooth and that I supposed it made me look a bit swashbuckling. 

This bit made Ken visibly anxious

Monday, December 19

my friend is returning to Japan

after living in the UK for nearly two years she now has just two weeks to get everything done. Yesterday she told me excitedly that she had achieved another item on her bucket list:

today I had jam roly poly

Saturday, December 10

Overheard in London last night

I had a vegan breakfast in Whitby then got the train ... seriously double ... no treble beans ... five hours later I could still feel the gas bubbles travelling up my back and coming out of my collar - goodness knows what the other passengers must've thought

Wednesday, December 7

I live near two football grounds and a river

these things can be hazardous:

the river is tidal - twice a month it comes in over-the-road high so I need to keep wellies handy.

The football grounds mean that I can sometimes hear lovely chanting from the terraces but I also need to be careful about when I attempt public transport.  

Last match day I was on an empty tube then suddenly an entire stadium of people poured into my carriage. Sandwiched tight between roaring and singing men was actually quite fun - like a really loud lullaby but then I was coming to my station and said 'excuse me I need to get off' but my feet were a bit lifted off the floor and despite having people trying to propel me from behind I wasn't getting towards the door so they decided to see if they could 'crowd-surf' me me over the top but they were mainly very tall men and it was apparent that I was going to get slapped in the face by dangling handstraps and also I had quite a big handbag which would cause friction and might be undignified - so I declined the offer and went along for a few more miles and several refrains of Lord of the Dance

Tuesday, November 29

The neighbours are comedically awful





Their initial investigations were conducted by inviting me over for drinks and 'nibbles' which was ok, Brenda might be nice but I couldn't tell over Gary's braying. We're British so I had to 'tit' their 'tat' - I asked Brenda to join me in town for supper and Gary decided to join us because he's the sort of man who never misses an opportunity to behave like an arse in public so we had a ghastly time - I nipped over to the front desk and paid the bill before we'd finished eating so I could get home as quickly as possible - I'd hoped they'd noticed that we weren't getting on and we could quietly (Britishly) leave it at that.


... but that isn't to be, I have been included on a very long email list for a twice-weekly 'round robin' update of Gary's latest literary reviews, views on modern music and news of their various family activities

Thursday, November 24

I'm in new temporary accommodation

The house-owner had mentioned that if the front door was left open the next-door-neighbour-in-his-dressing-gown was liable to run in, pelt down the hallway, out the other side and leap over the fence into his own back garden.

I'd figured this could go either way - scary or entertainment - I reserved judgement. 

Chatting with this neighbour and his wife last night I realised that they were trying to decide if they wanted to be friends with me, I'd told them that I normally live in Bristol: 

Have you got a big house in Bristol? 

yes it's a whopper 


and a garden?  

well, more of a park really


Tuesday, November 15

walking through a hideous city building site

near Aldgate East - a woman was coming towards me through scaffolding poles that were taking up the pavement and the roaring traffic was way too close. She looked like she lived on the street and as she was coming straight for me waving a hand that held a polystyrene cup in one hand and clutching a handwritten sign slightly scrunched in the other I guessed she was going to ask for money. We were in a noisy stream of people when she was in front of me I stood still to hear what she was yelling while waving the begging note and I saw the money note and everyone was bumping into us she in a dizzy mix of shock and delight

THAT GUY THAT GUY HE GAVE ME TWENTY POUNDS - THAT GUY JUST GAVE ME TWENTY POUNDS -  TWENTY POUNDS!!

we high-fived and she went on her way trying to tell as many people as possible

Monday, November 14

My mother and I

were out and about in London  

at the pedestrian crossing we waited until the cars had stopped and the man turned green, by which time a crowd of impatient pedestrians had formed   

the cyclist - a man in his sixties - nearly ran us over because he was busy on his phone and hadn't noticed the lights  

a woman crossing with us said angry things to him   

mum thought people should take a more compassionate view 

there must've been something wrong with him - didn't you see he was talking to himself

My new tooth was screwed in last week

I keep needing to remember that there is no big black gap and I can readjust my smile  


I'm sad about Leonard but can't bear to try and decide on a favourite song to post - so here's a speech  


Tuesday, November 8

I went to Paris to buy a chapati roller



I also went to See Things but I was poorly so only got as far as the roller and a bowl of chips before retiring to the bed of my tiny rented apartment.

Here I gained an insight into another answer of how Parisian women  stay so remarkably slim:

A very small kitchen plus an enormous fridge. Only a very slim person can get into the kitchen with the fridge and then the tiny space between body and fridge only allows access to a small amount of food, the bigger you get the less food available - a perfect feedback loop

Wednesday, November 2

I'm living by the river



it's a fashion hotspot  - this photograph is a typical example of daywear in Putney

Today I walked out in one of my Frankenstein jumpers - an orange one. I had stopped at a frantically complicated traffic junction - a car braked hard in the middle of the intersection, the driver wound down the window and, amid a torrent of honking, asked (in a way that sounded like she did actually want one) where I got that jumper.



Thursday, October 27

I have become fascinating





everything I do is scrutinised at close quarters    



the cats have a dirt tray in the bathroom 

which they never use - because they go outside for that ...



 unless I go in there and don't shut the door really tightly


Monday, October 24

my new best thing to do in London


is to walk along the Thames foreshore at low tide - apart from being outsidey and seasidey, it's as social as you want it to be and the beach is full of exciting things -  it is an excellent sort of party.

The foreshore is basically a long established rubbish dump that gets turned around twice daily in the Thames washing machine. I frequently meet people* who show me astonishing treasures that they have found on their beach walks.

I'm a beginner and my eyes aren't in yet so I'm still at the stage of being in awe at driftwood and old bones, I'm also keen on the phenomenon known as 'Thames Spuds'  - my photo shows one very rude example -  soft London bricks that become 'pebbelised' in the churning water

*people who forage along the foreshore are known as 'mudlarks'

Wednesday, October 19

Since March my dentition has been incomplete


BUT NOW, RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT a new tooth is being 3d printed for me 

I hope they make it out of something tasty 

like toffee 

Friday, October 14

I'm temporarily overhoused

and life will be complicated for a while as I shuttle between a south London house with no pets and the ongoing north London house of marauding all-shapes-and-sizes cats.

both homes are loaded with terrors - in trying to balance which is the most terrifying I came up with a point system:

North London

cats that I need to keep alive - 50

pirate cats that want to come in and pee on my stuff - 20

shaky stacks of stuff that could avalanche at any time - 20

knobs and handles that drop off when I touch them - the toll so far includes the fridge handle, 2 X light switches, 2 parts of the lavatory flush system and the lavatory seat  which is trying to make up for it's wobbliness by being fluorescent - 20

levels of extreme unhygienic uncleanness that I keep noticing in my peripheral vision  - 50

terror toll = 160

South London

super neat squeaky clean (like in a hospital) - 50

highly burglarable - 50

a neighbour who is prone to run through the hallway and jump the fence into his own garden in his dressing gown  if the front door is left open -  minus10

there is no kettle here: the hot water tap does that function and will spurt steaming-boiling water if  you use one hand to pump the middle of the tap three times then twist the pumpy thing while holding a mug under the spluttering stream of lava - 500

terror toll = 590








Sunday, October 9

I am the TV


at night the cats sit on the window sill outside to watch the latest episode of Me


Conversation with 5 year old who has decided that she wants to become a doctor


our lungs are amazing! our whole body is made of lungs; our eye balls, our fingers, our hair...

so what are our lungs made of?

pottery

Friday, October 7

The new household



Fred and Ginger are prize-winning visions of sleekness their home is full of toys and play towers


Fat boy and Fluffy are the hobo cats who live outside - Fluffy  is timid and has a very tiny head on her fat grey body, Fat Boy is her father - an enormous tiger-striped champ with a broken ear, his wide eyeballs give him an air of shockedness

I have been instructed to take care of all these cats - there is an entire room full of food for them including a fridge and a freezer packed with prime cuts of beef and chicken from the butcher.






This is Black Pete, the one-eared neighbourhood pirate cat - we are all scared of him


Tuesday, October 4

I'm back at school

the computerised system for timetables etc., still doesn't work very well so there's a lot of tutting going on.

I am catsitting far to the north of the city - in a crazy woman's home. The place is stuffed to the ceiling except for tiny channels of not-stuff that just allows a person, if they are careful, to weave a path through - until today there was no possibility of sitting anywhere or finding a space to stand and chop in the kitchen.

I spent the evening gathering up the dirty underwear which I don't think should live under the dining table even when mixed with Doritos and fag ends. Then I moved a few broken electrical goods and now I have made enough hoovered space to sit nicely with a cup of tea and wonder where the cats are.

Two identical sleek siblings are the bona fide feline residents here, there are also two scared hobo cats. On the half hour a sleek cat snakes through the open window, slides under chairs and table, then with a glance back at me, heads out the door to report to the others what I'm up to now and now and now.


Monday, October 3

I've been asked for more sandwich

here's a round up of things I can remember happening between the end of Spain and the beginning of being back in London:  


unpacking and laundry unpacking and laundry unpacking and laundry

frenetic socialising to make the most of tan and holiday pzazz

attended a weekend conference about the future with 'Play' as one of it's major themes. This included  filmed robot demonstrations - in the 'playful robot' section a robotic puppy is programmed to get infected by a computer virus which makes it behave badly. Then there was a talk about how most people don't actually enjoy 'play' so maybe it's best kept as an idealised concept, religious people do this quite well because most of them think of 'heaven' as a great big playground where no-one has to feel guilty about having fun because they're dead

unpacking and laundry

eating quite a lot of cheese

finally accepted that the stunted plum tree in our garden might be dead - I pulled at the trunk and it snapped in my hand like a big stick of grissini

outings to see family

unpacking and laundry 



Inherited an ancient and damaged rug* - currently working out how to mend it


*rug once owned by a New Zealand homesteader known as Willy Cobbledick, most famous for driving badly  in the '50s










Saturday, September 24

Went to an Catalunyan outdoor boogie woogie concert


met this gang of loud women-with-many-fans-and-one-man





the following day we went to see Vivian Maier's photographs

that was a high point



Best resignation letter ever

Thursday, September 22

Barcelona was hotter than hell







The puppy and I assumed this position A LOT 


I had one great skirt, long and billowy and I wore it constantly  

When it was time to wash it I put the clean billowy skirt out to dry on the washing line which is cantilevered off the balcony -the flat is up at the top of the building.

I didn't put enough pegs on the skirt so when I next looked out of the window my skirt was no longer there.  I went outside and leaned over the balcony - my skirt had caught on the washing line of someone below - but very delicately. Before it blew off again I rushed downstairs and knocked on the door of the apartment and as I waited for the reply and noticed the tumbleweed in the corridors I realised that I was the only person stupid enough to be in Barcelona at this time of year - everyone else has found a mountain to visit.

The puppy and I gazed down at the skirt and decided that it would definitely blow away in the night.

Over the following days I peered down below to see my skirt still just hanging on down there - then about a week later I came in the front door of the building at the same time as a lady with her arms full of ciabatta she looked at me suspiciously and said

where are you?

I said that I was with the puppy in the top apartment

Ah - the two boys - where have they gone?

I told her - then she said

I was in the mountains for two months - I have your skirt would you like it back?




Sunday, August 28

Currently living with a range of beautiful flooring designs



khaki harlequin floor with red braid trim, accessorised here with red chewy



pink-and-white zig zag floor with visible mend


classic monochrome

all floors available with added canine


Wednesday, August 24

I stayed with Mrs Madrigal's daughter

last night in Barcelona*.

She let me into the house,  showed me the bed I could sleep in - which was on this veranda. We exchanged stories and then she disappeared. I'd spotted the kitchen but after she'd gone I needed the bathroom which I knew was behind one of the closed doors along the corridor - the first doors I tried opened onto other bedrooms where young women were reading or doing their hair - we smiled and said perdon/de nada at each other before I closed their door and tried the next one.

I particularly liked these family photographs on a shelf in the living room


*I'm guessing it must be Mrs Madrigal's daughter because I felt as though I'd turned up in an Armistead Maupin tale
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