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

Monday, June 15

Refreshment Events

Last week I took tea with Bird Lady, we looked at her carpet moths and then we walked on the path encircling her garden. She tests how good her legs are by doing ten laps of the garden which is the exact same distance as from her house to the shop, that way she knows if she's OK to go out for buns.

Today I met my new New Best Friend for coffee - a sculptor - her current work in progress is a large heart, knitted in sections while travelling on public transport or when taking coffee with friends

She produced a right ventricle while I ate a piece of parkin

Saturday, June 13

Today we are mostly crying

Violin practice in All Hallows Church, Easton

The rain has been heavy since last night.

This morning I found tiny eggs on the ground and a torn nest hanging under the hedge. Two squashed shells each containing a perfect baby robin lay next to a single unbroken egg on the wet black soil.
Pink and each one the size of my index fingernail.

Then I went to a church to listen to a choir singing songs so beautiful that I cried all over again.

After the choir, a music teacher used the residual audience as a rehearsal opportunity with her young pupil - more tears.

I seem unable to turn the taps off - I'm currently taking a break from boohooing at the telly.

Friday, June 12

Building Site Art

A building site has erupted on the next street, I had no idea what was going on so I checked the posters which had useful information

Juno: everybody has hard hats

Aradiya: It's the school. It's a big big school and it's not going to fall down. I do like it.

Thursday, June 11

There's a new bike in town

Not sure if he's staying or just passing through


Ice Boy is leaving

I shall miss him grooving around the house in my sweaters and making his multi-stack-Scooby-snacks.

Ice Boy arrived with no clothes apart from the ones he had on, his sister took him to a shop and filled many bags with vegetables and tomato sauce and underpants and t-shirts.

Instead of bringing a suitcase, Ice Boy brought his bike which he checked on to the plane at Iceland and flew all the way here to Bristol. Ice Bike is baby-blue-and-white and ... like a dolls' bike. First day in the UK Ice Bike gave up the ghost, a pedal dropped off and it hasn't been used since.

Ice Boy says that he's going to give it to a charity and I asked if he was fed up about bringing a bike all the way to the UK and not be able to use it

No not at all the bike box was huge, there was so much space - I fitted many boxes of Cheerios in around the bike

Saturday, June 6

I have new neighbours

they are two men who are not as young as they'd like to be, one is filmstar handsome, the other is fair-haired and puts me in mind of Winnie-the-Pooh

A stone wall marks the boundary between our properties, it is built to waist-height. On top of this wall is a broken-saggy trellis and a heavy tangle of ivy - someone is coming to build a new trellis and I must take down the old one along with the vegetation. I called to Pooh when I saw him through the ivy curtain and I warned him that we would soon be very visible to each other but only for a short time.

Then I took down the old fence and it was so exposing like we were in each other's gardens and then my step-daughter walked out of next-door's house talking to the filmstar neighbour who, it turns out, is her new boyfriend.

My stepdaughter makes the proper introductions between us - the two men  are not so much younger than me but because one is the boyfriend of my stepdaughter I am cast as the mother-in-law and they are very polite and careful.

A new trellis has been erected but it is currently bald, we can still see through into each other's gardens quite easily.

This morning Pooh brought all his friends home after a night out clubbing. I was outside, watering the garden, hanging up washing and listening to their chatter and their disco music until they all passed out - except Pooh who was standing on his own near the new trellis with a cigarette and a can of beer, I was also near the new trellis so I said hello - he looked surprised and confused and he pulled up his t-shirt to scratch his big stomach in puzzlement and the smell of alcohol and chemicals was so strong that I was intoxicated and then he tried to talk to me - through his haze he was remembering that I was someone's mother and inbetween words I couldn't quite grasp I heard him ask if I'd like a cup of tea and a sandwich.

We continued each in our sides of the garden trying not to look at each other but it is so difficult not to look, he is fascinated by my washing line and my scrubbing of the outside table and I am trying not to look, his belly is still exposed and he is making the sorts of breathing sounds that tell me he is feeling more and more ill and I have to try really hard not to be a mother and tell him to go to bed with a good drink of water.

Tuesday, June 2

Style tips

Today my favourite patient came to see the Brain Doctor, Bird Lady  is several hundred years old, her hair is orange

I do it myself  ... henna ... costs nothing ... then chop chop

I admire her raspberry scarf

I spend no money on clothes except cashmere, I threw all my skirts and dresses out a century ago now I just have trousers and cashmere ... it makes everything so simple

We have arranged to take tea together next week...

Saturday, May 23

One of the nicest things

about Hairy Cat's home is that the backyard is totally private. Also the whole of the terrace opens up to reveal - A JACUZZI!!!!

This morning I washed in the outside shower then listened to my favourite podcast from the tub in the sunshine.

Friday, May 22

I'm back in Crouch End

with Hairy Cat who has aged since my last visit - a baby compared to my friend Rebecca's cat, The Hairy One is just 16 years but I think that still adds up to at least 100 cat years.

He's crotchety with arthritis and renal problems but I've got the hang of how he likes his food and which bits I can stroke AND NO PICKING UP OWCHOWCHOWCH!!!

Crouch End is part of London and I shall now go to see Art - in Bloomsbury a girlfriend has lined a room entirely with folded coils of fabric and this afternoon someone will sing in this room.

Wednesday, May 20

My bike was stolen last week

and I've been pretty glum about that.

The Man accumulated several bicycles last year after he snapped one, then got it welded and then bought a few more off Gumtree so I was hoping there might be something in that pile for me.

When I told the Brain Doctor about the theft he was sympathetic and said

I've got just the job for you - a nice little Raleigh, it's a spare no-one uses it - you have it!

I said that's very kind but I think I'm fixed thank you.

A week later I've discovered that none of the Man's big bike pile are roadworthy, so - after walking several miles and remembering how slow feet are when you've got used to wheels - the Brain Doctor repeated his offer today

Come on! - that Raleigh is sitting around my house doing nothing, it's just the job for you


He went very quiet and when he was between patients I said
that bike -will your wife mind if you lend it to me?

and he said

Actually it is hers, I probably shouldn't let you have it


I still share the control panel at the Brain Surgery with Rabbit, sometimes the Brain Doctor picks up a call when one of us is out on a break, I can tell when this happens because appointments are blocked in with wavy patterns instead of patient details.

Yesterday when we got to the bit of the appointment book with a wavy doodle there was no-one waiting to be seen in the surgery

I asked the Brain Doctor who the doodle signified

A new patient
Do you know him?


Do you have his number?

he talked so much, he just rambled on and on for so long I couldn't bear to ask him to say anything else

This was the point that Tattoo Man came downstairs in his vest to update us on the status of his internal bleeding

Tuesday, May 5

A very wise friend

pointed out that if a boy was placed in a bag with a banana the boy would eat the banana before ripening occurred.

But the banana would have been fine in this case: 

The Boy was delivered to my house by an older sister along with ten thousand bags of food; things like broccoli and oranges and bags of pasta and onions and bottles of tomato sauce... the broccoli is now yellow, the packets and bottles unopened, an unloved cabbage has weepy brown edges.

At the weekend Ice Boy went off hunting and came back triumphant - from a store that I have been trying to hide from him. Our fridge is now full of vacuum-packed slices of square cheesy-meaty things, all designed to stack flatly between slices of perfectly square bread - he is busy constructing a city's worth of tower block sandwiches in our kitchen - he has also started smiling.

Also he is wearing my charity shop cardigans with slacks and slippers and looks like a '60s matinee idol.

Thursday, April 30

The new boy from Iceland

looks as though he has stepped out from that painting.

He is raw and green as a newly hatched cabbage. Nothing makes any sense to him; not how to make a padlock work on a gate, or what things constitute food. His luggage was a toothbrush and a bike, he doesn't own a coat and he has had to go and buy himself some stouter shoes -  I have a bet on how long the bike will last (less than one week) because he secures it with a rubber band and forgets to bring it in behind that gate he must learn to lock and unlock.

I don't know how much of this is about the difference between our countries and how much is about him being twenty years old but I daily resist the urge to put him into a brown paper bag with a banana to ripen a bit more.

Tuesday, April 28

lyfe wythout aye contnues

Have had busy week:

Just done transformyng a bubblegum-pnk-cardy to short-sleeved shell-top

Then went to see Farey-Godmother-Aunt and salute her new orange garden, we ate salmon and strawberry lunch then she heaped my arms wth fabryc and knttng wool and also lots of aynchant cotton sheets, foxed wth orange spots like pages of old books - I fynd them very beautyful.

A new young man has come to stay at our house for a couple of months, barely twenty he answered our advert for a mddle-aged woman to take the spare room. He's from Ayes-land (north of Denmark) and frozen n my draughty house - geothermal hotness bursts out of the ground where he's from, heatng houses so hot that they all go around n just t-shrts up there - he's currently bundled up n several of my jumpers and can barely move - but at least no hyperthermya on my watch.

Tuesday, April 21

Splt tea on my keyboard

and have lost the use of some keys ncludng the one that sounds lke 'eye' - bear wth me untl eye fnd a workaround.

Drected all my fury at not beng n another country to cleanyng the ktchen floor, spendyng whole week scrubbyng, mendyng and oylyng.

Now have lovely, shyny floor and have beeen gettng chums to polysh even brghter by removng shoes and skatng around on tea towels that are left out for the purpose. My grlfrends alternate between ballet glydes, norwegan skatyng and black bottom boogys but the Man shuffles pengwynshly on a syngle cloth askng when we can just walk on the floor lyke normal people, he says am remyndng hm of an uncle who always kept the protectve plastyc on the sofa.

Wednesday, April 15

I should be driving to Italy

right now, annoying the Man by singing Cliff Richard songs and arriving somewhere near Verona in time for supper.

But that didn't happen.

I'd already arranged for Rabbit to cover my Brain Doctor days so here we are having a 'staycation' which in my case involves cleaning the kitchen, washing my jumpers and sulking. I am also knitting a garden chair with electrical wire.

The Man has channeled his disappointment into bee maintenance; having planted lots of 'flowers for bees' - his slug-defense strategy is getting progressively aggressive, he is photographing and logging all the insects that come into our garden, particularly the solitary bees and has identified around FIFTY different species of bee just in our tiny city centre patch.

This intense scrutiny also means that he has become an expert in bee First Aid, frequently placing tired bees near a source of food and rescuing rain-sodden bees. On Sunday I saw him taking a tiny glass of water out to clean a bee that was muddy and couldn't fly properly.

Sunday, April 5

In London

I saw this graffiti which reminded me that I was going to invent a rain hat - it would be  like that girl's wearing the newspaper except that it would be rubber and styled like a wig

I'm mainly spending time on my own which suits me quite well.

Then someone suggested swimming at Hackney Lido at night when the moon was full - I don't much like swimming but I do like moons and I am told that I ought to get out more

I said yes ok

The day before the event we discovered that the Lido was closing early on full moon night which was last night because they wanted to go and eat Easter eggs so we met for this swim at the end of a vague grey afternoon which is not the same thing at all as a full moon swim

and I don't much like swimming

and then we were hungry so when food was suggested I said yes ok

Hackney Lido is attached to London Fields which is attached to Broadway Market which is full of food shops and restaurants. I pointed at one that looked nice to me and we looked in the window to see that it was just the right amount full and the menu had a lot of things that I like including quite a lot of things containing no meat but one of the girls pointed to a kebab place over the road and said that looks good and everyone else agreed so we went there

One feature of kebab places is that they serve meat so we ordered the METRE OF MEAT speciality of the house  - a METRE OF MEAT is a long plank piled high with meat

except the girl who wanted to come to this place - she just had humous because she is a vegetarian

Friday, April 3

It's always about food

Crouch End Cat has poorly kidneys and must eat bland medicinal food with a tiny amount of cooked chicken breast - he eats the chicken but leaves most of the medicinal food. He is pointing at the dish and looking at me and sticking his tongue out.

Wednesday, April 1

Today I had lunch

in central London.

The lights went out while I was mid-brocoli - I guessed that this must be normal in austerity-ridden London.

We carried on talking and the waiter said that coffee would be impossible because there was a fire on

The streets around the cafe were jammed so I walked halfway to Crouch End then got on a bus. A well-dressed woman with a bouncy talkative child sat across from me - after 10 minutes of noisy bouncing the child slumped against her mother and said

you know my life's not in a good place at the moment

Back in Crouch End the cat is waiting for me

I haven't got the body language yet, he doesn't much like being picked up or sitting on my lap but I can tell he wants something - he keeps sitting under my chair and then he comes out and fixes me with  a look.

Tuesday, March 31

My fingertips are hairy

with clumped up cat's hair  - the more I brush myself down the longer my hairy fingertips become, my clothes and footwear are also coated. I have to put in a half hour of stickyroller-ing before heading downtown.

Looking after houses and animals can get stressful; today I thought I had broken the internet and that the cat might starve to death -  by the end of the day I'd figured out how to make the plug be properly switched on and that the cat likes eating his food cold from the fridge so right now I'm feeling pretty successful and celebrating with a beer while he sits on my lap getting his neck rubbed and covering me in another thick layer of hair.

Monday, March 30

I'm staying in Crouch End

with an arthritic and very hairy grey cat  - in the space of a single day I too have become hairy and grey, the house is painted white - this must be what being a yeti is like

Saturday, March 28

Birthday gift

the man doesn't like wrapping his sandwiches in plastic

it's his birthday

I have given him one thousand paper bags

Thursday, March 26

Sugar for carnivores

... contains

I raise my eyebrows at the assistant - she says it is called 'red' sugar because red is lucky

Tuesday, March 24

The Brain Doctor is back

but not in a good way

he's full of aches and pains and his foot has swollen up.

I'm worried and say so and that makes him irritated so I move on to other topics and he becomes upset about my lack of sympathy.

We shut shop early

Thursday, March 19

The Brain Doctor is away

so I am busy making things and visiting friends. I am reknitting a cashmere jumper donated by a friend because 'the colour is ugly' -  raw-sausage-pink. It is also too small for either of us.

In Cornwall this weekend, I walked in oak woods awash with a hairy lichen rumoured to be an excellent dyestuff, I put some in my pocket and for the last two days I have been boiling the lichen then adding urine and vinegar-soaked cashemere. The wool transformed into beige spaghetti so I continued with additives including and entire caddy of tea - if this doesn't work then at least we have something for supper.

The Brain Doctor will go away again soon and I think it will be safer if I go and look after someone's animals for that period - checking through the 'wanted' lists again, today's best advert is this one:

Responsible Couple needed for 6 cats in July

...We have 4 females and 2 males-2 mothers, 2 daughters and 2 fathers! One of the fathers is feral and hides so you will have to look for him in various places of the house and garden ... Although there is a garden it is lawned with no place for the cats to go to the toilet. The cats are enclosed in the garden but they do try to escape. It's important that a cat count is done periodically throughout the day.

Wednesday, March 11

I keep hearing about crippled women

who hadn't realised that if only they had worn a correctly fitting bra they wouldn't be suffering this way now.

I've been feeling a bit crippled lately

it was time to visit the big shop famous for it's bosom-measuring service.

I was given an appointment for in 10 minutes time so that the assistant behind the counter with the appointment book could put on her bosom-measuring face.

Maybe the assistant was on loan from the fish department - she was not comfortable with bosoms. Eyes averted she put a tape measure over my clothes and measured the middle of my rib cage then she went and took a lunch break.

She came back with arms full of ugly beige boulder-holders in a variety of sizes, instructed me to try them all on until I found a comfy one, then she disappeared for ever.

Friday, March 6

It's sunny and I've been to a place

where I can sit outside surrounded by students and unemployed people. To my left are some tattooed lads trying to do the quick crossword but they can't spell 'Memphis' or 'leotard' and they think the five-letter word for a leg joint must be 'thigh' so they're not making much headway.

On the other side are some female students discussing housemates, most of the girls agree that having to share with boys is the worst but then one girl describes her housemate.

... I'd had a romantic evening with Rob because he was heading off to Cambodia the next day but in the night I started projectile vomiting - fair play he'd had it a couple of days previously and gave it to me so he had to look after me but it carried on the next day and I was lying in bed listening to my irritating housemate parading her family around the house showing them all the rooms and she just opened my bedroom door without knocking with all her family there saying this is Julie's room then she saw me and said oh - are you still ill? then she stepped in a bowl full of my orange sick tipping it all over the carpet.

Thursday, March 5

On the reception desk

at the Brain Surgery

is the latest copy of New Scientist featuring the latest news on head transplantation

I discussed this with one of the lady patients - we agreed that the idea was probably being marketed to women as most of us wish we had someone else's hair - I'd give anything for curls
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