Sunday, October 4

I am learning so much

my classmates are a lot younger than me - we were sitting together and they were talking a foreign language - the beautiful androgynous girl translated:

Tinder basically means sex whereas Okcupid means notnecessarily sex I like Fetster, that's for people who are into weird stuff like getting whipped or urinated on or eating faeces, with Fetster you can hook up for 'Munchies' which is usually breakfast in a public place so you're basically just meeting people who are into weird stuff without having to do anything

Friday, October 2

I lost Crunchy

In the people ocean

It was a blazing hot sunny day so I bought a slimy sandwich and sat on a wall to eat it

A person wearing skinny black jeans, black multi-buckled biker boots big black glasses, black duvet jacket and black leather flying hat with black side flaps came and sat next to me. From her big black bike panier she pulled out the biggest bowl of dressed lettuce in the world.

I thought she might be a radical vegan so I hid my sandwich and we got talking

she's nice

Thursday, October 1

Second day new school

Young people in shiny purple satin sashes direct new students to their various destinations; crocodiles of shy jean-wearers following beauty kings and queens to get identity cards and sign their lives away.

I need to find a lecture theatre, the address is in a special code, I ask some sash-wearers but they need to be pre-programmed with a destination - they don't just know where things are. I can't decide whether this is dispiriting or exciting - this warren of buildings is forever unknowable?

I passed NewBestFriend Crunchy in the student ocean we were waving (or drowning) at each other - I called to see if she could take a break but she yelled back that she was on a fire drill and I had to go and be introduced to twenty million libraries.

Wednesday, September 30

First day new school

This involves being sprayed with information and paper things that should be booklets but have been constructed as 'fun objects' - ones that are impossible for old people to read

Wore my old leaky shoes as I still have blisters from trying out my new school shoes last week - but I had new pants
Spent a lot of time being lost

Got a New Best Friend - her name sounds like a breakfast cereal - Crunchy took me to the Indian YMCA which has a cafeteria like being in the Taj Mahal - we got fish curry for £3.50!

Saturday, September 26

I'm in Superdrug

When it comes to beauty products I'm as knowledgeable as my neighbour's cat. I inherited a bag of colours a few years ago and I do smear them on my face sometimes but now that I am preparing to go to Big School and I have already bought a satchel, some pencils and a pair of jeans, I think new make-up might give me an extra boost.

So I go to Superdrug and join a five-year old picking up tubes, peering at them and am phased by the fact that there is an entire aisle devoted to things JUST FOR EYEBROWS!!

Only little girls are in the Superdrug make-up aisles, I suspect that grown-ups go to proper lipstick shops but last time I did that I was persuaded to let a lady in a white coat turn me into a smelly clown and I'm not doing that again.

Some little girls, are clustered around a slightly taller one, aged about ten, the others watch intently as she wrinkles her nose and pokes her finger into a tube of beige cream - I stand close, hoping to learn something - a six-year-old, with the seriousness of journalist on her first interview asks

well which foundation do you use?

Tuesday, September 15

Last night I dreamed that I roasted a chicken

Then decided

My sister would like this

so I wrapped it up still warm and greasy and put a stamp on that cost me nine pounds and went to the post office where they weighed it and said that I needed to put another ten pound stamp on

I did register that

this chicken is getting really quite expensive 

and it was already slipping out of the paper

I don't think it arrived because she hasn't mentioned it yet

Monday, September 14

Today I came home

Victoria bus station is chaotic and filthy, a fact I get more time to absorb than usual because I take the cheap bus which always arrives behind schedule.

Crushed in the bus-waiting scrum someone tried to pickpocket my backpack and I shocked myself, and the young man, with the fury of my reaction.

The cheap bus stops further away from home too.

I must have looked like a tired donkey with my little backpack on and dragging a wheelie case uphill (on cobbles) in the spitty drizzle.

I was also trying to carry a plastic carrier in a way that wouldn't tear the handles because it was overstuffed with London-charity-shop treasures*. 

The weather was actually being kind because as soon as I got behind my front door it turned into a torrential downpour.

The good part is that I can clearly see that the drainpipe is still unblocked at the top because the rain gushes out of the broken part and floods round the back door.

*The London Treasures are shown here, you will see that it is basically an entire outfit if I don't mind being barefoot. That wallet is large enough and has enough zippy compartments to be a make-up bag and pencil case as well as hold money. I paid twenty English pounds for all this and the charity shop lady threw in a broken umbrella for good measure

Sunday, September 13

The Cat Process

This week's cat process is similar to the Christmas Cat Process;

i) gradual emergence
ii) stealthy stalking
iii) not-so-stealthy stalking
iiii) constant demands for attention

Wednesday, September 9

On Monday a friend came to visit

she opened my front door and it fell off it's rotten hinges, we had to shunt the door back into the door hole and make it balance convincingly until a repairman arrived.

On Tuesday I arrived at the home of a continental organist to look after a beautiful spotted cat for a few days.

The downstairs of this house contains TWO full-size out-of-a-church-pipes-long-pedals-and-everything organs and a piano. The fridge contains one hundred different bottles of chilli sauce.

I locked myself in this morning and had to rescue myself by climbing out of the downstairs window and engaging the help of a neighbour.

Thursday, September 3

The builder arrived

with a bag full of rods which he screwed together and pushed up and screwed another one and pushed up and pushed up the drainpipe to the roof until suddenly he fell backwards and we were showered with the twiggy nests and feathers of all the birds in the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, September 1

Das Sein

I'm preparing for this new term that is rushing up to meet me,  ploughing through texts thick with references to the thoughts of dead men: French ones, Greek ones, Austrian ones and then those German ones and their very special words.

I've sought to lighten my load by interleaving the heavy boys with joy, such as a wonderful book called Evocative Objects by Sherry Turkle. Also The School of Life chops the likes of Heidegger and Plato into bite-sized pieces for kindergarten philosophers like me.

The mother thrush is letting her son walk around in our garden, she's up on the fence keeping watch. His head is tatty with the remnants of baby feathers and he looks like a drunken uncle at a wedding party, an impression that deepens when a failed attempt to perch on a flimsy branch has him swaying ninety degrees in each direction before he flops back onto the grass. He doesn't fly away when I walk outside and I can see her bobbing around in panic in case I pick him up and eat him.

On Saturday I set off to meet my step-daughter for lunch, passing her father on my way out.

I was wearing one of my re-knitted woolens - it's hairy orange with a la-di-da collar

I said  I'm going to see your daughter

he said  and I see that you're going dressed as a mad woman

Friday, August 28

five word week

saturday: blue dye trousers gardening telly
sunday: papers books neighbours supper
monday: dentist raining drain pipe broken
tuesday: butcher baking caking haircut raining
wednesday: london meeting raining footwear torture
thursday: glad tidings feathers sunny day
friday : raining draining piping blinking broken

art: Kate McGwire at RWA Bristol

Friday, August 21

First thing this week

I was in London visiting a woman who wanted someone to take care of her house while she went away - we got on like a house on fire - it seemed that we had an arrangement ...

... but then her girlfriend turned up and did not like the look of our house on fire at all, no ma'am. Cigar clamped between her teeth she made sure that I would not like to be in this house one moment longer.

Second thing this week I found myself painting two bathrooms for money, one is the colour of dulchey de lechey and the other is mermaid-tail-shiny-green

Friday, August 14

We are at the supper table

the niece wants to whisper something to her mother who tells her that it's rude to whisper

the  4-year old nods emphatically, stares hard at me and says

and it's rude to stare isn't it?


and it's rude to point?


and people don't like being stabbed in the neck either do they?


Tuesday, August 11

The nephew is in Ireland

he is 8 years old.

He called to check that I am taking good care of his cat.

I asked the Nephew if he was enjoying his holiday


What are you doing?

All the things Irish people do

Thursday, August 6

Arrived Edinburgh

niece went on holiday

can't find cat anywhere

Monday, August 3

Today was my last day

at the Brain Surgery

I arrived early. There is a broken bench on a paved area in front of the surgery. It was sunny so I made tea then came back outside, balanced a bum cheek on the wobbly seat and ate my breakfast marmalade sandwich.

Tattoo man has removed the big pieces of junk he used to keep in front of the Surgery including all the pieces of kitchen that were torn out two weeks ago. What remained was a tumbleweedy wilderness of food packaging, broken flowerpots, lumps of dried cement, rotted wood bits, paint scrapings and rusty screws. Long weeds grew between the pavers.

A plastic bag dancing on the wind would have completed the picture but my breakfast bag was pressed into service as a glove so that I could clear away the rubbish and pull out the weeds. My search for a sweeping device in the Surgery yielded a stumpy circular hoover-attachment brush and the final crumbs of rubbish were shooshed into my glove bag at exactly the moment the first patient arrived. We had our last morning together the Brain Doctor and I, then our last lunch. The last patient was one of my favourites, a woman who always puts her child on my lap so that we can draw spiders while she sees the Brain Doctor.

Now I'm off to Edinburgh, another cat ... and the festival!!!

Thursday, July 30

Tattoo Man has left

his home above the Brain Surgery, he's packed his drill and his vests and he's taken the internet with him.

The Brain Doctor, doesn't understand how the internet works and it was a while before I could make him understand that shouting at his computer wouldn't make the emails appear. He  has barely spoken to me since I told him that I would be also be leaving so I find myself missing the sound of boots crashing up and down the stairs and the sight of a too-naked male body bursting into the surgery.

Last night Rabbit took me out for a Last Supper

Tuesday, July 28

Two months ago I watched this great film

about how Cambodia in the '60s was the funkiest kingdom on the planet, how it was so groovy and loved pop music and sex and fun until the Khmer Rouge arrived and killed nearly everyone.

The country is damaged but recovering, 'Not Easy Rock n Roll' is the story of a roaring-woman who is becoming a star.

On Saturday this roaring-woman appeared on my kitchen-on-stage at WOMAD and showed me how to slice a box of ginger as-thin-as-eyelashes so that we could cook Angry Chicken together.

I haven't quite got over it yet.

Saturday, July 25

the WOMAD festival is on

and once again I am working on the Taste the World stage*.

Yesterday it rained and rained but in our tent we visited India and Bhangra-danced the blues away, then off to Columbia for sunny-day crab gratin then on to the bluesy desert-ty atmosphere of Tinariwen who I am in love with:

1: they are unbelievably handsome

2: they wear beautiful long robes and intense jewel-coloured scarves wrapped in the manner of Lawrence of Arabia.

3: they made an astonishing stew, this is how you make it

ask a Halal butcher to chop 10 lamb shoulders into big boney pieces

fry the meat hothothot till golden all over then add water to just cover the meat, add salt

after 3 hours of slow simmer take the meat from the lamb and shred, you will have one kilo (dry weight) of basmati rice just cooked, combine the lamb meat and some of the cooking liquid with the rice. It will be a mush - that's fine

Add pepper and either 500g of rancid goats butter or 250g of fresh butter plus 500g of grated strong mountain cheese like Comte.

everyone eat from the same pot and drink the remaining cooking liquid because it will make you strong.

* I explain my role in this here, if you click the WOMAD tag underneath here, all my previous posts to do with this event come up

Tuesday, July 21

The Brain Surgery was closed for a while

Because the Brain Doctor went on holiday, before he set off the tattooed man who lives upstairs offered to refresh the surgery kitchenette in lieu of rent.

I didn't know about this  until I encountered the broken-cupboard-mountain blocking the path to the front door.

Inside, on the floor of the waiting room are two large cracked boxes, spilling out the things we preferred hidden: Christmas baubles, mismatched crockery, leaky cleaning products, oversqueezed toothpaste tubes and skanky brushes ... men's underwear!

The kitchenette gapes next to my desk like an enormous mouth with several teeth newly extracted - a little bendy tap is perched on a shiny new sink,  there are no drawers - spoons, knives and forks are piled on a draining board that is made of such thin metal the weight of the cutlery is bending it. Rugged patches on the wall mark where cupboards had been .

There is no longer a cupboard door concealing the pipework under the sink which is a good thing because when I turn on the tap I can see immediately that water now flows directly onto the floor.

Sunday, July 19

Ths is my niece

she is four years old.

This is me and her uncle

the sweetie is for me and the snail is for her uncle who isn't here this weekend which means that she can share my bed.

at bed time the niece is tired and looks like this

I put her into my bed
At my bedtime I tuck her up a little then get in beside her
mostly we spent the night like this
I snoozed intermittently then woke up around 6.30 - her face close to mine

seeing my eyes open - she said

I have been waiting all night for you to wake up

Friday, July 17

Sewing with Ivor and Phyllis

I came home late after a movie last night. Feeling a need to do sewing - I looked for a radio show to stitch along with and found this 1990 series made by Ivor Cutler and Phyllis King. So entranced by their sweet weirdness, I gobbled up 3 episodes and made this skirt.

For people who can't access the link here's a taste of Ivor:

My niece and nephew have arrived for the weekend, the four-year-old insisted on showing me all her jewels before coming into the house while the eight-year-old went to inspect the house, apparently it mostly meets with his approval except that my bedroom 'could do with a tidy-up'

Friday, July 10

In the news

In Bristol a blind piano tuner is in trouble for touching the bottoms of his female employees and licking them.

In London I am taking care of a huge hairy cat, a noisy madam with fluffy pantalooney legs who creeps up on me when I lie on the lawn and licks my armpit.

I arrived yesterday during a 48-hour tube strike and had to join all the rest of the world marching through the city overtaking grid-locked cars and buses. At St Pancras I passed this scene

Tomorrow I shall go to Tate Modern to see Sonia Delauney

Saturday, July 4

The valley of cats

I regularly visit a site where crazy animal accumulators place ads for people to come and take care of home and pets in their absence - all of these are unpaid opportunities

Here's today's favourite:

I am an English woman that has an old farmhouse and barns, over the years I have established a cat rescue/refuge with approx. 90 cats, and kittens ... these need feeding/water bowls filled.. litter trays cleaned and the house sweeping and floors washed

What responsibilities are required of house sitter?

To keep home clean, litter trays clean, food and water bowls clean and filled..

Features of the property and location

(photo of tumbledown barn and a yard full of cats)
An old farmhouse, barns, small garden since I had a landslide.

Friday, July 3

The aftermath

There was a big party last week - For one whole month I was clearing clearing away ... everything untidy and/or embarrassing out of sight, cleaning the house, tidying the garden, making room for us all to squeeze inside should the rain come ...

And then it was over - the withdrawal process has involved:

i)  physical infirmities

ii)  cooking experiments  -  a horrible bread salad, some dull cake, nice chocolate/rhubarb/biscuit thing, baked apricots, walnut biscuits and a terrific baked custard (lavender and honey if you're asking)

iii) un-mending - in the first case taking a shirt with too-tight sleeves, snipping it into a short-sleeved shirt, then a sleeveless shirt, then a sleeveless shirt with roomy armholes, then a binful of tiny bits of cotton

In between these performances I am making the house normal again.

Thursday, July 2


1.  a coarse, open fabric of worsted or cotton for flags, signals, etc.
2. patriotic and festive decorations made from such cloth, or from paper, usually in the form of draperies, wide streamers, etc., in the colors of the national flag.

3. flags, especially a vessel's flags, collectively.

Origin of bunting 1735-45; perhaps orig. “sifting cloth,” hence bunt to sift ( Middle English bonten) + -ing

The bunting started last Monday, I triangled damaged tea-towels and bedlinen, zig-zagging across the living-room-sewing-room then pushed out of the window and over the garden

Bristol is thoroughly bunted, now I am heading for Swindon...

Wednesday, June 24

Surprisingly warm weather

has led me to leave the front door open at the Brain Surgery. This is mainly to alleviate the scent of decay that hangs around us.

A surprising number of patients are concerned that this will lead to gangs of n'er-do'wells thundering in and ...?

I wonder what these Bad People might do

Nobody knows

I reassured one man that we would be safe because I was, in reality, a policeman masquerading as a receptionist - he said

Yes - you look like an actress!

Sunday, June 21

For Father's Day

here's my dad playing with a cat  and my mother playing a supporting role

Thursday, June 18


I have been offered an opportunity to study for a Masters at a Prestigious Institution.

This will involve Big Changes and me spending a lot of time in That London*.

My friends have greeted the news with gratifying levels of congratulatory excitement 

The Brain Doctor made a phlegmatic enquiry as to when I intend to leave him

here is a graph indicating where we all stand on the Fear/Excitement Continuum

* if anyone reading this has tips or contacts for weekday lodgings in London do let me know
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