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.

Friday, November 13

The weeks have flown by

my highlights since the bum-crayon cat

i) visited sister-in-law - we talked so hard the roof started leaking

ii) attended lectures on themes including:  'Dirt and Excrement as Political Resistance', 'The Game of Rugby as an Embodied Phenomenon in Tonga', 'Polynesian Funeral Wrappings', 'Why Merleau-Ponty is Worth Considering' and 'Look How Useful Archives Are!'

iii) returned to Bristol for a few days, two young women are now living in my house, one of them is Japanese, she dresses in stylish monochrome and sews beautiful jewel-like textiles, the other is an Indian film-maker, she wears bright jewel-like clothes.

iv) visited friend in Newcastle: three months ago her heart stopped for no good reason and for two weeks she was almost dead but then she made a miraculous recovery - this is partly due to Kate Bush

currently back in London and have embarked on a whole new cat-cycle - starting with Soft Molly in Hackney

Tuesday, November 3

Going back to school

has sent my my menopausal body barometer into orbit. I have to dress in a way that I can be almost undressed really quickly at any time - even jewelry burns me when I'm blazing

Currently I am staying with my mother-in-law she watched me fanning and sweating and said

I've got some left over HRT patches from when I was a girl would you like to use them?

I said yes please and stuck one on last night

today I am almost a normal person

Sunday, November 1

I've run out of cats

until mid-November

to fill the void in my life I went online and arranged to look after some pigs

in Italy

over Christmas

One of them is dangerous - his food is lowered down to him in a bucket!

New Language

I've been struggling in this country of Ackedemia with its words that sound like words I already know but which have been ascribed completely different meanings - the made up words and words that mean one thing when one man is using them and something else entirely if another man is talking

Here there are miles upon miles of corridors in which I clatter around like a extra from a Monty Python movie saying the sort of things that made sense in my own country but apparently no meaning here

I need to assemble the appropriate audio-visual equipment quickly - before my head drops off

Wednesday, October 21

This week's cat

is small and sleek and nervy

sometimes she pees against the wall

The disadvantages of MDF skirting boards has become most apparent in the kitchen where the compressed sawdust has expanded to create a beige and fluffy edge between floor and wall

Tuesday, October 20

I cycled to school today

It was the first time and I was so nervous cycling through That London.

I tagged on to some other cyclists which felt safer so I carried on following them, we were like ants in a Game Park scooting alongside herds of migrating vehicles and I lost track of exactly where I was but I was cool in the bike pack so I figured that they probably knew the best way to go.

Unfortunately this meant that I took a very long way to school and I'd have got there quicker if I'd walked.

When I got back to this week's lodgings I walked into the living room and discovered that this week's cat had used her bottom to draw a long skid mark all along the arm of the fat white sofa - it's like a child with a box of brown crayons came to visit.

Thursday, October 15

Ushing for a living

I am employed as a some-time usher at an institution that hosts public events. Tonight we debated the question of  ‘Are Things Getting Better or Worse?’

The two main speakers were a gentleman with exquisitely sculpted hair and excellent trousers and a physicist with a pudding-bowl haircut and floppy leisure pants. The physicist said things are getting better because we know more stuff and will make really good robots to fix everything then the well-trousered-gentleman said things will get worse because of all the ways people could easily use technology to do bad things and anyway climate change and population growth.

I had to dart around with a microphone so that the audience could join in. An orange-haired woman pointed out that better and worse is not at all a clear-cut issue:

there could well be people here who want London to be a clean city full of bike-riding vegetarians - this is my idea of hell

At the end of the talk I stood smiling at the door as everybody filed out or stopped to complain, there was a lady who’d had to sit next to someone eating a muffin and getting drunk and another with deaf aids who couldn’t hear a thing but had hoped for a bit more philosophy.

Sunday, October 11

This week's cat

has pale blue eyes and maintains a posture of permanent outrage, she is the hairiest cat I've ever looked after. I've had to zip all my clothes inside my suitcase except the outfit that is the least cat-hair sticky.

She's very vocal - her language mainly sounds like when you dial the knob across the stations on shortwave radio at night but she also mixes in the sort of noises the girl with the swivelly head made in The Exorcist.

Once in a while she clambers her way up on to the table, it means that she wants to be brushed -  I do this and she rumbles in a way that suggests she could explode at any moment.

Friday, October 9

top deck of bus

adolescent girl with strong east end accent keeps up constant stream of chat to woman sitting beside her

... when i grow up i wanna be an actor but if i can't be an actor i wanna be in the acting area, like if i have to be a set designer i'll do that or a director that's telling people where to stand 

i'd be a good director

woman realises that pause is for her response but she's been thinking her own thoughts for last 5 minutes

director ... at a marketing company?

an acting company

Wednesday, October 7

My home

this week is in the far depths of London - so far away that I'm not even sure if it's still in England.

to get to school I take a bus then a train then the tube and a change on the tube and if it all goes well I can do it in one hour

but there's always a thing.

today when I was nearly there the tube got stuck and stopped. I got out and walked and got lost until I found a bus going in the right direction and the whole operation took two hours.

when I get back to this outer sphere there are two pretty grey cats waiting for me. One is fine-boned and affectionate and  slightly camp, the other one is stout and won't speak to me during the day 

but he comes and sleeps on my feet at night

oooh i was poorly yesterday

Tuesday, October 6

heavy and slippy

new thinking new people new routes to new homes new ways for the worldwideweb to frustrate me

a heavy pile of new is sitting on my head


there are also too many things in my bag because i don't know what i need yet

brain heavy and shoulder-achey heavy

and it's raining and london pavements are slippy when wet

see that guy in the photo - put him on ice in rain - that's me

photo: John Paskievich

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 an Indian eaterie which has a cafeteria like being in the Taj Mahal - we got fish curry for a farthing!

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 am thinking

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
Related Posts with Thumbnails