Wednesday, October 28

Being in London

This week I’m back in my friend’s creamy-carpetted London apartment and wondering whether I should get one those hooded, paper boiler suits like they have in cop shows to protect this perfect place from me.

The London neighbourhood is not at all like my Bristol one; take the local sex shop, in Bristol it's all blacked-out windows and bad typography, here in London the window is swathed in pink satinette and doubles as a joke shop, so you can pick up some bloodshot-eyeball fairy lights and a severed hand with your gimp mask and spanking paddle – it just makes sense.

I'm struggling with the concept of this one, it's a bit like shops we have in Bristol called Pound Shops, where the deal is simple - everything costs a pound. In London they have shops that look identical, stock the same brightly-coloured tat, but the crucial difference is that they promise everything will cost more than a pound, but 99p or PLUS - I ask you!

Saturday, October 24

Awards and Eye Sores

Stills from must-see movie Casus Kiran

Highlights of the week:

Saturday: Invite friends for supper, at the end there is rice pudding with coconut milk, cardamom, and baked pears, there’s a long curl of lemon zest in the pudding and toasted almonds on the top, it instantly wins a Dish of the Week Gold Star, hail self as genius then accidentally poke same self in eye with wooden spoon.

Woke with head cold, the eye is swollen and gummy-looking. Total disaster as must look totally gorgeous in exactly three days time.

Monday: Whiplash is back (Cheers from the gallery!) her rash has cleared up and she has discovered a local source of custard tarts baked by Portuguese person, they go exceedingly well with coffee from lesbian café.

Eye looking a bit better

Tuesday: Go to London and stay in friend’s cream-carpetted apartment - she is away. Scared of spoiling immaculateness so confine self to kitchen. Have boiled egg for tea while holding a cold wet flannel on eye. Check an email that is already sent as tender for cooking work, note that I make claims to have catered large pubic events

Wednesday: Eye looking good, set off for interview, wearing chic outfit and proper grown-up make up. Get caught short while approaching Westbourne Grove so nip into the local designer gorgeous public lavatory.

Try to wash hands but soap dispenser nozzle blocked, push harder on soap lever, suddenly soap becomes unblocked, resultant jet of liquid ricochets off my open palms into eyes, rinse energetically, there are no towels. Emerge looking like I’ve been in a fight.

Thursday: Bristol and a gig: Andy White, is very good, here's one of his videos

Friday: Film and dance event in converted church, a spinach and peanut butter wrap served during interval wins Interesting Food of the Week Award.

Sunday, October 18

Autumn Colours

Been revelling in the sheer autumnalness of Bristol since coming home, the farmer’s market is very exciting, partly for the vegetables but also, surprise autumn-only stalls have appeared; there’s a chap who sells apples and cider, a squash man and the game butcher has more variety at this time of year, I had a look to see if he was selling squirrel yet - unfortunately not, so I bought a bag of pigeon giblets instead. Miss Whiplash and I tend to eat even more cake once summer's over and the Women’s Institute stall were having a competitive parkin bake-off, made sure that I capitalised on that one.

Last week on market day I had lunch date with PH, was planning to lure him into one of the the market cafés where they serve cooked-up versions of the stall produce. Seems that PH is frightened of vegetables, he suggested that we attack a mountain of smoked salmon that he’d recently caught at Loch Fyne. The salmon was delicious but then he made me sample a fruit salad that he was apparently going to distill once the fermentation process had completed, regular readers might know that I’m fearless on the experimental food front but I can tell you that I was quite careful not to go near a naked flame for the rest of that afternoon.

Wednesday, October 14

Coming Back To The Marie Celeste

I’m back to work. The office is very quiet because Miss Whiplash ran off to Sharm el Sheikh with a new lover a week ago and has now picked up some sort of disease that is apparently keeping her in bed until next week. The boys are away filming in Kenya, except for the youngest Camera Boy who did come back with the German trophy (and it really is made of sand), I can't actually tell when he's in though because he disappears under a massive pile of cables in the kit room that all need cleaning and untangling.

My Turkish holiday is already a distant memory, just before I set off on the trip I had this exchange with my hairdresser;
She: Are you off on holiday then?
Me: Yes, Turkey
She: Lovely - a beach holiday?
Me: Not really - there'll be a lot of loafing about and eating though, I don’t think I'll be spending loads of time looking at monuments
She: Well you don’t go to Turkey to look at monuments do you?

Hilarious, but she was right, Turkey might be crammed with impressive monuments but it is also a country full of the loveliest people - the best bits of my trip were definitely the bits with Turks in. Nice thing about Turkish people is that they’re as nosey as I am, and wonderfully direct, a lady on the bus to the airport asked my nationality then, What sort of education have you had?

Most surprising moment was after an earnest young man came to my rescue in Istanbul then took me to a cake shop owned by the city’s mayor and made me try the chicken pudding (Tavuk göğsü). This fat white tubular dessert is made with finely minced chicken breast, I tried the one in the picture and can report that it is a very sweet, rubbery sort of thing (like Turkish Delight) and I could have handled it better with a knife and fork than the dainty spoon I was given, meat fibres are a strange thing to see in a pudding.

Wednesday, October 7

Better Stop Looking Now

The party at Bonjour Pensiyon (see last post) went on most of the night and involved a lot of singing and dancing, even Grandma forgot her humming and danced and grinned like it was the best party ever – which it was. Next day I loaded their computer with the movies and photos I had made during the evening and they loaded me up with a big bag filled with olive oil, jars of olives and olive oil soap (because the olives in Ayvelik are the best in the world!) and the following evening I staggered on to the night bus - bound for Istanbul.

My baggage consisted of little more than a skirt, a summer dress, some t shirts, swimwear, spare knickers, a hat and a shawl - and a lot of olive-based products. The weather in Istanbul is in the 20s and feels like the height of a British summer but the residents of Istanbul are swathed in their autumnal woolies and I was looking ridiculous.

Yesterday morning I went to Taksim, the area one goes for shopping.

An escalator brought me, and a pile of other people, into Taksim square from the underground station, there was a demonstration going on and several of us stopped to watch, the crowds were perfectly well-behaved, marching nicely through the square with their banners, then the police started firing tear gas and the demonstration was made chaotic, I got swept up running with all the protestors, filtering off down side streets stopping finally by a shop to buy lemons and water which helped ease the burning.

Finally today I managed to get me an autumn outfit, a frock and some shoes, all I needed were some black tights - could I find some?

There are countless shops selling hosiery but none have plain black tights. The shop assistant, determined to sell me something, produced a pair the wrong colour, I said these are brown

the shop assistant replied no not brown, light black

Saturday, October 3


I’m staying in a small fishing town opposite the Greek island of Lesbos (famous for inventing lesbianism). Now that I have been assured that staring is perfectly acceptable behaviour in Turkey I have embraced the concept wholeheartedly and stare as hard as I like as I wander around, and I must say that I’m thrilled with the results. I passed a bakery today and stopped to watch several men, all with cigarettes firmly clamped in their mouths, working together to load the oven. They asked me in and I photographed the handsome brutes. My staring drew stares from the rest of the square and soon there was quite a crowd of us. Next door’s, extremely young, male hairdresser came in with tea -there are loads of hairdressers - and there’s always tea. This hairdresser gave me a bracing infusion of eucalyptus, a flavour I wouldn’t ever actually choose, but I’ve put worse things in my mouth so I swallowed bravely and now feel quite medicated.

Wanting to communicate something and failing a bit, the Hairdresser ran off to fetch an exercise book, in which were hand-written all the English phrases that could come in useful to a hairdresser

Hello, How are you, Would you like a haircut, a shampooing, how much to cut?

We leafed through the book but there was nothing that matched what the Hairdresser wanted to say. Actually I would have quite liked a haircut but he was redecorating the salon and his hands were all painty, also I would have had to climb over the piled up chairs to get to the shampooing sink.

I’m staying at the Bonjour Pensiyon, a guesthouse straight out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. A large, crumbling and beautiful house from the Ottoman period with painted ceilings and fabulous light fittings. The central courtyard is paved with marble and piled with plants, this is where breakfast is served and where the sultry girls who run the place spend their time, smoking, gossiping and looking after grandma who has been suffering from Alzheimer's for 20 years now, the old lady is like a baby bird with her shock of fluffy white hair, she hums constantly and tends to wander off when nobody’s looking.

Yesterday there was another guest, a silent Turkish commercial traveller. Now the sole paying inmate, I spent lunchtime with the family and have been invited to the birthday party of a member of the household this evening - the large man who had manned the reception desk yesterday. I remembered him because he was naked apart from his red satin underpants.
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