Wednesday, March 31

And Now For Something Shiny

Christmas is one of the many things that I refuse to acknowledge the existence of - for as long as possible - then somewhere around the 24th of December, my inner Trash Queen smashes through the carapace of my outer Grinch and I go into a frenzy of strewing holly and ivy around on random ledges as a prelude to the rearrangement of my collection of shiny stuff.

At some point in the new year the vegetation rots and I remove it but the shiny things remain until either the dust conceals the shininess* or I'm in a mood to move them around a bit.

Hence, as we approach Good Friday, I am typing this post next to the fairy light net that I installed on 24th December 2002, suspended among the lights are the jewelled Joy and Happiness Angels and a bloody-faced felt wolf in reindeer's clothing that were made by Ange last December.

I'm not the only one to do this obviously; along the Portobello Road is a shop called The Last Place On Earth. Last December I took photos of the owner sticking boxfuls of old gift ribbon bows around his frontage, I thought this was just for Christmas - but no, yesterday morning I passed the shop and saw that now the entire shop front is covered in bows and he has expansion plans up to the next floor!

*the shiny things are then banished to a box - I believe that the dust will drop off after a few years and I will bring them back out and rehang them.

I left the Pop Flat this morning and had a farewell breakfast with Half a Pop Group and The Child. The Child started scratching her head energetically, her mother's face looked horror-stricken, I said

Oh dear what does an itchy head mean?

The Child was triumphant

Nits and I've got curly ones!

Monday, March 29

Head Gear

In Bristol the protracted editing frenzy has finally died down, the editor has moved on to edit someone else’s film, Zena is on an Arctic Ice Tiger Wrestling Safari and Cake Boy is attending a cake-eating marathon on a European ski slope.

This leaves just myself, two Camera Boys, Miss Whiplash and The Director in the house/production office.

The two Camera Boys are young and excitable, they went through an excessive hair phase recently. This spring it seems that it is all about hats; Miss Whiplash is getting concerned about the proliferation of electricity and has been acquiring amulets, I do like cacti but the orgone accumulator is quite bulky and the office is getting a bit cluttered so we are looking for other ways to make her feel happy. Buoyed by their recent success in inventing a new lighting system, the Camera Boys are now developing a special hat for her

This has exposed a curious side of Miss Whiplash; a woman fearless in the face of litigation and all known body fluids. When she’s not looking after the production office she is on the road with her fierce band of rockers, wearing animal-print leotards and feather accessories - this is a woman who shoots flames from her fingernails.

Whiplash has suddenly been plunged into a domestic emergency where she is helping to look after a pile of children. Listening to her account of the weekend I was struck by the difference in our sense of the ultimate Nausea-Inducing-Experience. Hardened by 15 years of life with a man who thinks it’s normal to breed cockroaches to feed to his spiders, I was surprised to hear how upset she was by a few head lice,

I’ve had to spend my weekend combing them out – LIVE NITS!!!

followed by
there’s always a turd on the floor in the morning but I can cope with that!

I’d go for nit-combing over turd-between-the-toes any day – am I alone here?

Wednesday, March 24

My Life Among Top Celebrities

I have no more cooking jobs booked in until next month so I've returned to Bristol to make myself useful and hang out with the stars.

I do have previous form as a celebrity chauffeuse so I was the natural choice to collect John Lynch from Bristol Temple Meads and deliver him for a voice recording on a film about lions. I donned my best chauffing uniform to take him to the recording studio and he did tell me loads of really good juicy celebrity gossip - but I was so star struck that I didn’t pay proper attention and now I can’t remember who is running off with who on the film sets these days.

Not content with just the one celebrity this week, I spent yesterday with Joey who is not only movie star glamorous but also extremely talented, she is a vestment-maker extraordinaire and definitely the person to go to if you need some new clerical outfits - and if that’s not enough to impress you, I have first hand evidence that she is the best macaron-maker in the world.

We spent the day improving our porn site app for the iphone and I’m fairly sure that I convinced John to appear in some of our videos while I was driving him back to the station.

Saturday, March 20

Lonley Men

I still keep my eye on the small ads;


I am living in one bedrom flat
in Queensway Bayswater. I am
looking a lady who gone clean my
flat and share my lonely time.
No charge for staying at flat.
No smoker please.

Who could resist?

Thursday, March 18

Erasing The Evidence

There was an incident back in January, the evidence in the form of a big discoloured splash on the wall has remained to taunt me long after the yellow and purple bruises on my nose faded. My time at the Pop Flat in London is coming to an end and I must leave my room in the condition that I found it - this morning I wielded a brush loaded with white paint.

I’ll be sorry to go, Half a Pop Group went away for a month during my time here. Since they’ve been back the house has been full of the new tunes they made up during their trip, the Child has not yet been emptied of the helium produced by the excitement of her adventures so we have all been testing the songs loudly for singalongandanceability.

I am also less likely to wake and find myself engulfed in flames these days. My housemate Felicity has a habit of starting to make her supper then wandering off to gaze at the patterns on her bedroom floor - the Child has a sharp young nose and is very good at banging on Felicity’s door and yelling


Malick Sidibé

On my table is the evidence of a photographic exhibition I visited a couple of days ago in West London; Malick Sidibé is well known for his photographs taken at clubs and parties in Mali during the 50s and 60s. This show is a selection of studio portraits from the 70s that Sidibé has reprinted with additional handwritten titles which give an extra, often comical, dimension to the images.

It seems that the entire population of the country piled into Sidibés studio to have their photograph taken in their grooviest clothes against a backdrop of stripey African cloth, the men flaunting their fashionable slim-fit shirts (the collars, the collars!) and their wider than wide flares (pantalon aux pattes d'éléphant), the women combining traditional ‘wax’ fabric head and body wraps with chic sunglasses and western-style tops, this is a portrait of a nation at a particular time in their history. Every subject, gazes intensely, proudly out of the frame, even the dribbley-faced child clutching an oversized comb has a dignified solemnity about her.

There is so much to love about this show, superb photography, great printing - and these are the best fashion images I have ever seen.

Lichfield Studios, London W10 from 11 March-16 April

Tuesday, March 16

Gardening Leave

1, Osmia; 2, Anthidium; 3, Panurgus; 4, Megachile.

I’ve just had an extended weekend back in Bristol. My husband (known on this blog as The Director) is a very dedicated naturalist so when the blackbirds wake us up with a blast of new season competitive singing at four in the morning his response is to get up and stand outside the front door in his pants with recording equipment. My role in this enterprise is to defrost the man-sized ice block that rolls back into bed an hour later.

I miss not having a garden when I’m in London and I love sitting outside with my coffee. However, our garden mustn’t be disturbed because our house houses a production company that makes natural history films and it’s quite handy to have a film set outside the back door. I am forbidden from doing any digging or planting apart from a very small area the size of a child’s sand box right at the end where I am allowed to plant a bit of salad (for the caterpillars).

One community that is being groomed for greatness in the garden is a colony* of solitary bees that started making burrows in our lawn a few years ago. Year on year the number and variety of species has increased and as these creatures arrive in ever greater numbers so do gangs of reprobate insects; parasitic bees and wasps coming round to steal the bee holes and lay eggs on the bee larva, a whole soap opera of naughtiness and cheating is going on down there.

Once the bees start their activity no sitting on the lawn is allowed in case the bees get a bit cross waiting to get in or out of their holes so The Director and I teeter together with our morning coffee on a bit of wobbly wall by the edge of my sand box.

*Strictly speaking we shouldn’t say 'colony' the correct word is aggregation, none of the bees are related, they just like living around each other in dense populations.

Friday, March 12

Thank You Katrocket

Look what arrived in the post today from my gorgeous Canadian friend Katrocket!!!

This Glorious Artifact is a belt buckle immortalising my gurning nephew in pure Titian Crystal®, surrounded by diamonds and blue fairy dust from Mars. In years to come I plan to gift this treasure to his future spouse as a wedding gift.

You too can commission the supremely talented Beevers to make you a customised wearable item featuring your favourite person/dog/vase.

Sunday, March 7

Tardis Belly

Sourdough bread, butter and honey

Apricot tart

Argentinian empanada

Pastry filled with Dulce de Leche

Chinese ribs with fresh noodles

Salt cod rissole

Portuguese custard tart

A Morroccan chicken pasty the size of a big man’s fist

Rice pudding

That’s what went in to my stomach today and unsurprisingly it is making low growly noises, I embarked on a weekend of eating my way around the London markets starting yesterday at Broadway Market in Hackney. This morning I made an early dash to Chiswick Farmers Market to buy lamb and cake with Half a Pop Group before joining the seething masses along Brick Lane.

Fortification is needed for Brick Lane, among the sci-fi film extras and stoned rocknroll types with their big coats, bigger hair and wacky hatsneyewear there are a phenomenal amount of people dragging suitcases along.

And there is an overwhelming amount of food - I wanted it all – well lots of it, not the lump of mashed potato that was being stirred around in tepid oil but I did want warm pepper and chorizo rolls and latkes and samosas ... but most of all after a very short period of squeezing my way through the crowds I needed to sit down.

Seeing a vacant chair placed at a table covered with a rose-printed oilcloth, I asked the lady standing behind the counter if I could have whatever she was serving. She turned and shouted at the curtain behind her, a man emerged and picked up a lump of white dough from a floured counter top, he swung it around, fast, forming long ropes which he drew out to make thinner. When he had made a whole skein of fat string he threw it into a boiling cauldron, fished it out a minute later, placed it in a bowl, added broth and ribs and put the ensemble on the rose-printed cloth where I was sitting - it was the most delicious thing in the world.

Thursday, March 4

Smelly Yoga

It’s Thursday - yoga day at my local Asian Health Centre for the Elderly. Us non-members come in first and push the chairs and sofas to the edges of the room, when we’ve finished our class the seniors arrive for a session with the same teacher - they all seem to be men. While they are waiting for us to gather up our things and leave, they get on the exercise bikes at one end of the room and gossip while pedalling.

Our yoga room is on a busy street; heavy traffic, children and mad people can be heard screeching at volume on the other side of the big windows. Inside we have an extractor fan which starts rumbling when the kitchen staff arrive, the fan circulates the pungent lunch smells but keeps them trapped in the room with us. There were more incense sticks than usual this morning because the oldies are making model planes involving the use of strong solvents, some of which has leaked into the carpet.

Our teacher is very keen on breathing and making sure the air flows in and out through the correct orifices, we are instructed to concentrate on our bottoms

Keep your mind on your anal sphincter - and any other apertures underneath, make sure none of your energy escapes!

This was a particular challenge today because I have reacted badly to last night’s eel and quite a lot of energy was requesting release.

Wednesday, March 3

Topsy Turvey

In the Pop Flat, where I stay during the week, The Child has partly grasped the idea that travelling can make time go backwards. When she went to bed tonight she showed me her Christmas stocking.

I felt it only right to say that I didn’t think Santa would be along any time soon

Well I’m putting it up just in case.

I am not working this week and my body is confused. I’ve lost my routine and I’m not sure what I eat when I don’t have to cook. I wandered into a shop and got stuck in the tinned section, mesmerised by stuff that should never be put in cans, things like pasta and sausages. But they tasted so good when I was a child - I bought a can of macaroni cheese.

Later I was in an area with a lot of Asian restaurants, I decided that this would be a good idea for supper, I chose the gaudiest looking place on the street, the others looked a little too smart or too hip for my mood. I should’ve walked straight back out when the smell of incense knocked me sideways, but I am British and we soldier on. It turned out that the best thing in the restaurant was the little patch of bright green turf placed under the glass in the table, I did also enjoy reading the menu which was separated into sections;

Frog & Eel

Just as the restaurant was filling up, three men in dirty overalls walked in and went upstairs, soon the sound of intense drilling from above obliterated the harp muzak and made our tables vibrate.

Tuesday, March 2

Return Of The Child

I guessed from the pile of luggage in the hall that my landlords had come back from the other side of the world - it didn’t take long for audible confirmation.

The Child used to keep me under silent surveillance but now appears to be filled with helium. Bouncing off the walls with excitement she couldn’t decide whether to be a giraffe or a star as she tried to explain what she’s been doing for the last month.

The parents and The Child went to bed early but their body clocks weren’t going to let them get away with it that easily, I heard animated chatter around midnight and then all went quiet.

This morning I heard that The Child and her father were so wide awake they decided that they might as well go to the big 24-hour supermarket. A member of staff found their behaviour curious and they were taken in for questioning, the father being under suspicion of abduction.
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