Saturday, February 6

me and Karl Lagerfeld

the day I met David Bowie's sort-of-landlady a man had taken my navy jacket leaving me with his black blazer*.  

[for the full story follow this link and if you're reading on a mobile device I think this blog works better if you can see the web version]

My reefer jacket was a good fit and was an everything jacket, it worked with my skirts and trousers and meant that while I'm in london I can survive with that jacket and the rest of my wardrodbe in a small holdall.

The big black blazer makes me look as though I'm two little boys standing on each other's shoulders in their fathers coat - and that doesn't work with skirts.

I searched the charity shops to find a replacement and after a couple of days settled on a nifty baseball jacket which is great for when I'm feeling a bit varsity but not when I'm concerned about mutton-and-lamb issues and certainly not if I'm trying to look like a grown-up.

Yesterday on my quotidien charity-shop trawl/quest for a neat navy jacket I came across a neat black coat, the sort of thing Karl Lagerfeld wears. I tried it on and looked just like a pale version of Karl Lagerfeld then I looked at the label and it said 'Karl Lagerfeld'

it's black and it doesn't work with a skirt, or any of my clothes except jeans and I'll have to go out and buy a different sort of jeans that work with this coat but it's Karl Lagerfeld and I'm surprised by how nice it feels so I keep it on and go to pay for it at the same time as a lady buying a crochet pot holder she made an impressed face and said


and I said

Karl Lagerfeld

* I asked the bus company to help trace the man and effect an exchange but that hasn't worked out

I took a melon

and, in expectation of an evening spent politely toying with a salad, I ate a hearty supper before setting out to the 'air supper' invitation.

Turns out that when my friend says 'it'll be nothing much' she means that she's baked a big dish of kedgeree.     one of my favourite things!!!

Friday, February 5

I've had a supper invitation

I said lovely can I bring something?

Sure but we don't normally eat in the evening unless someone's coming round so could you bring something that's practically non-existent - like fruit?

this happens most nights

click image to enlarge

Saturday, January 30

I'm staying in a very interesting neighbourhood

the houses are small-to-average sized and it all looks like a neat little nuclear-family zone but now I've been here a few days I'm noticing details like this car and I'm wondering how the rest of the family are going to fit in it and what sort of holiday are they going on.   

Just nearby is Hipster Central - shops selling faux workwear for the cost of a ballgown, hipster barbers where the men in funky spectacles go to have their beards combed and a Wholefoods Market full of groovy folk buying artisan cordial. these shops jostle next to halal butchers and everything-costs-a-pound shops and then the hipster shops stop and there are lots of the sort of greengrocers that burgeon out on the pavement selling the kind of bananas you have to cook and big thick hairy-rooted vegetables that I don't have the confidence to name correctly.

Today I walked east and the whole world was out in the sunshine. After the hairy-rooted vegetable shops came the all-sorts-of-groceries-plus-money-transfer shops and  the population became noticeably muslim; women in hijabs and lots of men out with their sons looking summery in long shirts and white crocheted caps. Suddenly I walked through an invisible forcefield into a jewish neighbourhood, crowds of people coming back from the synagogue, men looking regal in huge fur hats and shiny coats, the women and girls trailing after them in a curious mix of scarves and rainhoods.

Two minutes later I'm in the countryside walking past a huge park to the river where I met a lady with a narrow boat that I am going to live in after Easter.

cardboard boxes

are strategically placed around the floor of the flat that I am currently looking after 

the  cats use them as surveillance posts.

devil-cat is particularly fond of my shopping basket which alllows her to hide while keeping a close eye on me through the handles

Thursday, January 28

I'm looking after two new cats

 one is very quiet and a bit asthmatic, the other is a devil. If I put food out for both at the same time the devil goes over to where the other one is eating, fishes out the food from under her nose and eats it off the floor in front of her.

Sunday, January 24

I have been visiting Bristol this week

-  my stepson came for breakfast and said -  I'm moving to a nice flat soon    

there was a pause then he said      

its not nice because it's nice, it's just nice because it's cheap

Thursday, January 21

It's still all about David Bowie

The day started out peculiarly because the man sitting next to me on the bus to London got off before my stop and took my coat with him.    

By the time I realised, he was long gone and I was standing at Victoria in an ill-fitting blazer. I am really hoping that he isn't enjoying being squeezed into my neat little reefer jacket and will get in touch with the bus station in the same way that I did so we can swap back.  

This evening, possibly inspired by a day in gorilla-ish sleeves I managed to leap onto a bus  just as it was setting off back to Bristol and plonk myself in the front window seat next to a nice-looking lady. We chatted then she dozed and I knitted and then she woke up when we were near Swindon and we talked a bit about me and then I asked about her and she said       

Well I'm busy doing publicity for my book about being David Bowie's sort-of-landlady   

 and I said you have to tell me everything      

she didn't look as though she wanted to tell me everything so I said that I would definitely buy her book (and I just have) and that she should tell me everything because I used to work for Peter Gabriel   

She told me that she'd been David Bowie's sort-of-landlady until Ziggy Stardust, they set up an Art Lab together at the pub up the road and her house was always full of rockstars and fans and she'd been working on the book for two years and was going to launch it at Christmas but then heard about Blackstar and decided to wait until the 8th of January.      

then she told me   
I'd had lunch with Tony Visconti just the week before and he didn't say a word   

this is a sliced-off version of my all-time-favourite David Bowie/Brian Eno/Tony Visconti film

Thursday, January 14

when i placed my jeans inside the freezer yesterday

   i discovered a tub of christmas pudding ice cream ...   

it's not there any more

Wednesday, January 13

It's been a tough week

David Bowie died first thing Monday. In the evening I walked to the bus stop and the top part of the post office tower was spinning with a lit up a message to him  and in Brixton there was a mass David Bowie singalong - it was a very emotional day.  

I sat on the top deck but didn't pay attention to my actual seat until I wanted to get off the bus and realised that the long ride had melted a gob of well chewed gum onto my jean-clad backside.   

Because getting off the top deck of a London bus can be a God-awful affair and because of David Bowie and because I was ravenous, the gum was forgotten by the time I made it to the pavement. Back at the house that I am taking care of for strangers I put David Bowie music on and made supper.  

Then I sat in one of the expensive black leather dining chairs owned by the people who are trusting me to look after their home*, I sat in that chair and ate my delicious supper and then I stayed in the chair for a really long time watching old David Bowie videos. When I finally tried to stand up I couldn't because the gum on my jeans had welded my bottom onto the seat. I peeled myself off gently and then stared in horror at the mess.  

Warm gum smears worse the more you wipe. 

I panicked  but luckily I'm also the kind of girl who reads Top Tips  

I put my gummy jeans in the freezer along with a folded wet cloth that had a nubbly side and then I went to bed  

In the morning I chipped the gum off my jeans and rubbed the iced nubbley brick on the leather seat and it cleaned up like new. 

My essay was delivered yesterday so I have words again   

*bum-crayon cat house

Sunday, January 10


I should be writing an essay but I've run out of words, so I came here to see if a blogpost might dislodge some:

nope ... nothing

Thursday, January 7

New year, old cat

I'm back in London with the bum-crayoner who has now totally associates me with the disappearance of her human slave - this cat is angry

She's not speaking to me at all but waits until I'm out of the living room then sneaks down to wipe her bottom on the white sofa, the mdf skirting boards have melted in the places she goes to urinate in rage at my presence and all this rage is fuelling a huge appetite, she's wolfing food like a ... wolf

I'm sitting in the white sofa right now, trying to avoid the cat's artwork, rain gushing down outside, writing my first proper academic essay.

In an hour my mother will be visiting

Tuesday, December 29

The main point of Italy is the food

 In another life, about a century ago, I took the position of Cook for a Contessa in a Palazzo just outside Verona. A lady called Itsi Maraschino drove me around the neighbourhood pointing out where I must buy food; for vegetables I was to go to a massive barn where farmers dropped off crates of freshly picked produce - rows of aubergine and courgette varieties, vegetables that I'd never heard of, ten different sorts of artichokes - and all that was before I discovered the lettuce barn - or the cheeses.

Last week we visited the Colosseum and then we were too hungry to read a map properly so we kept getting lost and all the while looking for THE place to eat - finally we fell into a cafe run by a Chinese family who served frozen pizza with a comedy sideshow.

Today we got in the car and drove to Frascati, a town apparently full of good restaurants but so full of cars and traffic jams that we drove on past, winding our way up a hill towards another town.

On the roadside we spotted a 'hostelerie' that looked probably-closed. We stopped and it seemed almost definitely closed-for-the-winter but we walked round to a side door that appeared to be the private house section, we were going to creep away but I was so hungry that I became brave and opened the door expecting to surprise a family eating fish fingers in front of their television.

Lo! the door opened to a proper restaurant dining room with a blazing fire and other diners and a kitchen where cooking was happening and a table for us where we were served artichokes and ham and polenta that was crisp outside and soft inside with orange zest, then torteloni with truffles and cheesy cream then an astonishing salad of white crunchy stems dressed with garlic and anchovy.

Home tomorrow!

Sunday, December 27

the pigs won't eat broccoli

but they love apples, carrots and cucumber and they especially love banana

we have fallen into a routine:  breakfast is dropped off at the manpig's estate, the ladypig waddles out with me to the oak tree to snorkel for acorns then returns to remodel the interior of her home

I can now tell the cats apart - this is mainly because the one who's been getting five breakfasts daily since my arrival is now 'the fat one'

My Christmas projects have been to watch the 'Star Wars Trilogy' and to read Naomi Klein's 'No Logo' - all this catching up with the latest in popular culture has emboldened me to consider finding out who the Spice Girls are and how to do a 'selfie'

Friday, December 25

did I mention the pigs?

the manpig has curly tusks - due to excessive boisterousness he lives in a secured enclosure, a sort of overgrown quarry with roman remains in the middle of it. The ladypig lives separately in a wooden house encircled by a wire enclosure, inside the wooden house she has constructed a giant nest of hay.

She lets herself in and out of the enclosure via a spring door that she can manoeuvre with her body, she spends her days trundling around the garden, visiting the neighbouring olive grove or chatting to the boisterous one through his fence.

The pig owners met us briefly to discuss feeding schedules and health issues - they are concerned that the ladypig seems unfeasibly fat and are sure that it's down to her lack of exercise - the Man and I have a strong suspicion that her fatness is due to soon-to-arrive piglets.

This morning the ladypig and I walked down to the oak tree for an acorn-ey breakfast accompanied by cucumber and carrot, she looks even bigger than she did yesterday and she made a very nice leafy nest for her afternoon nap.

I've been scanning the interweb for pig-mid-wifery tips: rubber gloves and iodine and  a special piglet box need to be on hand.

Monday, December 21

we are staying in a house on a hill

about 15 miles outside Rome  - there's a great view over the city

the Man is explaining the Olden Days to me

They used to stand here and look at Rome, and when Rome was burning they said 'Fuck Me -  Rome's burning!'

I am being played

when I get up this morning a cat sticks herself to my legs until I feed her then she disappears outside

the other (identical) cat is nowhere to be seen 

five minutes later a cat appears asking to be fed this must be the other cat so I feed her then she goes outside and out of sight

five minutes later a cat walks in asking to be fed

it takes 6 bowls of food before I am convinced that each cat has eaten at least one bowl of food

Sunday, December 20

currently in charge of 2 pigs and 2 cats

the cats are called Ping and Pong, they seem identical but their human has assured me that they are completely opposite in personality - one hates being touched and the other loves attention - Touchable and Untouchable.

It seems very common for cats to have personality transplants as soon as their human has left the building - both cats throw themselves at our feet demanding caresses as we try and walk around their home

Tuesday, December 15

end of term

 back in Bristol  spending an afternoon knitting with my Japanese house-mate - today was a day off from her job in a Japanese restaurant

she'd been out for lunch

I asked her where she went and what she ate

a cafe for sandwiches, I always go and eat sandwiches on my day off - at work it's so much rice

Friday, December 11

How people behave:

  the faculty christmas party turned out to be two parties, the first was full of new students being garish in the strip-lit common room. The other party was in the room next door, it was attended by  faculty staff and people who'd been students a really long time. In order to keep the second party secret from the first party, the second party turned the lights off and giggled together in the dark.

Last lecture of term

5pm yesterday.  last week's newsletter made passing mention of a forthcoming presentation in one of the lecture theatres by Kate Tempest, a young poet whose prodigious and varied output as a writer and musician, garners awards and accolades in abundance.

she came to Bristol earlier this year and people were murdering each other for tickets

at 5pm I was seated at the front row of a half empty lecture theatre, Ms Tempest seated behind a desk as a few more students trailed in late

we got a show 

it was impressive 

at 6 sharp a booted skirted fierce woman appeared at the door to tut-tut and look at her watch she walked away slightly then reappeared to tut a bit more.

we hurriedly clapped and all got up to go but the next event which involved trolley loads of sandwiches was already being wheeled in and we all got stuck together in the doorway.

Sunday, December 6

Last week

I had a two-day turnaround between cats, these were 'no-school' days so I went home to Bristol, the Man was away in the USA but there was a bar of chocolate on the shelf and bacon and cheese in the fridge, the chocolate contained raisins to ensure a balanced diet.

last week was all about listening - highlights include:

a talk about the pebble-iness of a section of east devon, how it came to be that way and all the things people do with pebbles from Bronze age cairns to the bounding walls of new housing-estates via victorian farmyards

being shown images of brightly painted designs on ritual houses in an area of Indonesia and realising that we were looking at thousands of vaginas

I hostessed a talk between David Attenborough and Tim Flannery*  about what we need to do to halt the progress of climate change, Mr Flannery described trees as being blocks of congealed carbon and how we need lots more congealed carbon - the best ways to do this included growing lots of seaweed and thinking of things to make with seaweed. Methane is also something we need to deal with - in Korea they have worked out a way of capturing methane in used coffee grounds.

I am back in London now, looking after bum-crayon cat who is currently stalking me in big circles but refusing to let me touch her

 * if you have see-in-the-dark vision I can be glimpsed as 'Woman with Microphone' during the Q&A session at the end

Tuesday, December 1


I'm packed and ready to leave my latest home, the cat that I've been looking after, recognising the signs of desertion, is howling mournfully and trying to trip me up

I shall stay until her real people come home - I have told her this but she doesn't believe me!

Saturday, November 28

Thanksgiving meal

My fellow students are much younger than me and frighteningly competent. On Thursday I was invited to dinner by one of them.

out of her tiny kitchen she conjured

squash with walnuts and pomegranate
roast new potatoes with fig
fig and kale stuffing
roast cauliflower
macaroni cheese
green beans
roast chicken

ten of us hunched around the coffee table each armed with a single utensil and an item that could serve as a plate  and we devoured this feast

when we couldn't eat anymore, the coffee table was cleared and a perfectly square Austrian cake appeared: layers of chocolate sponge alternated with layers of chocolate cream and topped with a slick of molten coffee/chocolate.

utensils were rinsed, we crouched, encircled the cake, then spooned/forked (sporked?) this glory directly into our greedy mouths

Saturday, November 21

This week I'm in Haggerston

where the porridge is fancy and the cat is disguised as a giant growling puffball with ears

It's not just porridge that's fancy around these parts, the cake is fancississimo, I have just bought and eaten a big slice of cherrycustardcrumblecreamtart

The weather has suddenly become freezing. I came to London with only two jumpers and a rubber mac that is now torn in so many places that I can't make out which are the armholes so I have been raiding the charity shops bringing home more jumpers, a wool scarf and an excellent box-pleated navy wool skirt who's only problem is that it has flappy woolly wings attached to the thigh area (in case the wearer wanted to appear fatter) but these can be cut off.

This weekend I am preparing for a week ahead that will be mainly full of Pierre Bourdieu

Thursday, November 19

I have been talking to a vet

about animal nutrition, specifically elderly cats with kidney problems and he said

You'll often notice that a black cat with kidney problems has brown fur around her sides and shoulders, that's where she's grooming herself most

Soft Molly is an old black cat with kidney problems, she has gone a bit brown around her sides and shoulders

That's the effect of the ureic acid in her mouth coating her fur and then the acid reacts with sunlight

I said that I had noticed that cats rarely ate anything that looks like actual food these days

That's partly convenience but mainly it's due to a conspiracy between vets and pet food companies

Tuesday, November 17

Today we had a school trip

to visit the store rooms of the Horniman museum*.

The location is so secret that we had to promise to turn off our phones and be blindfolded on the way in so we can't reveal where it is.

The store-room building is enormous and used to be an institution. It is entirely (and beautifully) institutionally tiled inside, the windows have all been tiled over. Most of the rooms are entirely filled with huge cupboards that have to be slid open with little steering wheels, these contain thousands of drawers and shelves with carefully packaged clothing and puppets and poison arrows and shrunken heads and dolls and teapots.

One floor holds the really big things; shelves with big wooden crates full of mummies and mummy-sarcophagi, the crates are chalk-marked with the weight of it's contents. Piled up beside the mummies are harpsichords. Big items like the harpsichords and elephants that don't fit into crates are covered with fitted shrouds to keep the dust off, there is a volunteer lady who has been going to this secret building to sew big fitted shrouds for the last ten years.

The Horniman was created by an Eminent Victorian, having filled his home with collections from his travels and opening this to the public, he built the existing museum for the collections which he left in perpetuity to be enjoyed for free by the British Public for ever.

Monday, November 16

This is Soft Molly

she spent the entire weekend sitting next to me helping with my homework

today's lectures are all about bones, exhumations and leaky bodies

Saturday, November 14

Delaying my essay-writing assignment

I visited Verbatim Poetry

and found this song to encourage Singaporeans to procreate

I’m a patriotic husband,
you my patriotic wife,
lemme book into ya camp
and manufacture life.

Only financially secure adults
in stable, committed, long-term
relationships should participate.

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