Monday, March 31

Visited Space Lady ..

.. this morning she is on the sofa under a duvet exactly as I left her two weeks ago but smellier. The space that was cleared in front of the sofa is now full of new-looking but slightly damaged books - she gestures triumphantly

Christmas presents!

I turn my head to catch a few titles; Canal-Building in the Midlands, Walking Your Dog... Looming above them are three unattractively presented volumes of fairy tales 

That's a bit late, who sent these to you?

No silly I've just bought them - for next  Christmas

The lump of overcooked rice lies untouched by marauding wildlife apart from the large snake of cat poo that has been laid near it.

The smell of burning is lingering persistently I'm chasing it off with an oven stuffed with beetroot and sweet potato packed with bay leaves and my biggest pot is filled with enough chicken in rosemary to feed me for the rest of the year.

Sunday, March 30

Burnt to a Crisp

I've  never thought of myself as a mother so it's always a surprise and delight when a stepchild turns up with a Mother's Day gift.

The Boy is crisp and clean in a white white linen shirt and sharp black black trousers, his being in the house makes me notice that I appear to be living in a student slum. The useless remnants of my Great Screen Scheme litter the hallway and the dining table is spread all over it with the rusty screws and spanners that are my tool kit.

Usually I blame the Boy's father for the mess but I have been living mostly alone in the house this year, so it must be the house goblins.

The Boy and I sat outside with cups of Earl Grey tea and talked and talked so much that I forgot that I had put a pan of rice on. Finally we went back inside  to look at the computer and fought our way through acrid smoke to a pan containing a neat black disc of charcoal.

Saturday, March 29

Happy Day

I can’t cut, measure or draw straight and I avoid touching power tools. When I need to solve a problem I do it within the limits of my skills, concentrating on problems that can be solved with wool, paint or cardboard or a nice warm bath.

The view into my kitchen is too public. If I can just work out how to support the honeysuckle outside the window and make it grow more vertical I could burn cabbage in privacy.

I pulled out all my pieces of wood and screws and thought of things that I could make that would support a trellis plus heavy plant. I knew this would take at least all weekend.

My neighbour, alerted by the high pitched noises coming from my head, came over and suggested the sort of simple elegant scheme that only a man with a pneumatic drill would think of. 

And then he got out his pneumatic drill and made the thing 

And I have a whole weekend left to admire it

Friday, March 28

Happy Trike

Drunk Trike was out today - looking perkier than I've seen her in a long time.

I say so to her and mention that she no longer seems to be with child

I didn't want to be pregnant - I had a termination and moved on

There's a storyline you never see in the movies

Thursday, March 27


Manning the desk at the Brain Doctor's today. I took one of my charity shop finds with me - a bubblegum pink belted cardigan - if I put it on and tie the belt I look like a pair of raw pork sausages on legs. 

I unraveled the garment on my lap trying to be discrete about it while chatting with the crazy people who sit on the sofa in front of me. When I was alone I viewed the pink crinkle on the floor and thought it looked like my own innards were leaking out

Two big trucks are parked outside my house running a generator. It's late in the evening and I'm too cross about them to concentrate on anything else

Maybe tomorrow I'll discover that a life-saving operation was being performed - one that needed lots of lights and other electricity.

Wednesday, March 26

Things I Saw Today

Wheelie Bin has left  Drunken Trike - now she's in the family way

here they are in happier days

then I found this shrew corpse nearby

I tried to pick off the last bit of skin but it's what's sticking his head on

On Friday or Sunday I listened to Murray Walker on the radio talking about his days in advertising during the sixties the interviewer brought up the fact that he was photographed eating dog food

We wanted the housewife to stop feeding the dog on scraps and go out and buy a tin of dog food, in order to convince her that the stuff in the tin was good enough I'd open one and eat some in front of her

First there was the disturbing image of a man on the doorstep spooning dog food into his mouth

but now I keep thinking about all the things that have been invented that we never knew we needed: fitted kitchens and body products and party bags and little dresses to go on the chairs at wedding celebrations

I've had to open a box of stale panetone to cheer myself up

Tuesday, March 25

Today at the Brain Doctor's ...

... there is a note asking me to call Mrs Scott and remind her that she has an appointment this afternoon. Apparently she phoned yesterday asking the Monday receptionist for someone to call her

I dial

Hello is that Mrs Scott?

I'm sorry I can't hear you

Hello ... Mrs Scott? (louder)

I'm deaf I can't hear a thing

I'm calling from the Brain Doctor's (shouting)

Who are you? (sounding terrified)

I'M    LULU    AT    THE    BRAIN    DOCTOR'S    YOU    HAVE    AN    APPOINTMENT   THIS   AFTERNOON  (shouting fortissimo)

Are you the Brain Doctor?

YES (bellowing)

I'm coming in today




When Mrs Scott arrived this afternoon she said

Did you call earlier?

yes I did

I can't hear a thing - I asked everyone who phoned this morning if they were the Brain Doctor and I've got no idea who they really were 

Monday, March 24

In Out In Out ...

I'm fussing over the many little pots of earth and seed trays that cover my outside table top. The weather turned cold so I brought them all in. Then I worried that I was giving the seeds a false sense of security so I took them all back out again.

Currently they are outside encased in big clear plastic bags.

I may need to shake them all about

Saturday, March 22

Water Recycling

I've just worked out how to get my not-too-soapy bath water into the water butt out front where my plants always die because I can't get enough water to them.

Claudia Winkelman is on the radio playing her 'inheritance tracks' and talking about work and family

What people don't realise is that television is really easy - anyone can do it, you just paint yourself orange, go on, read something then you can go home and do tea - the perfect job for a mother

I put my tiny rocket seedlings out in the sun yesterday which made the weather laugh at me and throw icy stones down on  them. I slipped in my rush to save them.

I am planning a getaway

which I might have to do on my own and this always focusses my attention on the issues of being a lone female at home and abroad. But I’ve had enough of being a broad alone at home

Many places frequented by wholesome family-types regard a woman circulating unguarded by a man with alarm. Startled gazelle-eyes wondering whether I'm a needy parasite or a sexual predator. In northern Spain I was once asked to leave a bar where I had the nerve to sit without consort.

The answer of course, is too visit the less genteel neighbourhoods. Watch this space...

Friday, March 21

Lining the Stomach

from the futility closet

n. food, provisions

n. the art or science of cookery

n. an expert or skilled eater

When working as a cook I noted that boys doing the same job as me usually called themselves chefs

I wish I had called myself a magirologist

photo by Dan Cretu

Trying to be Patient

This morning is full of impatience.

It’s sunny and I want to be out making my new front garden but I have applications to write. Also I'm waiting inside for the crack plumber to return and replumb my lavatory. The ceiling below the leaky bathroom is decorated with an onion ring drying out pattern.

Out of all of my sown seed trays the only thing showing is rocket, I’m resisting the temptation to pick through them to see if there are any tell-tale threads of germination. White mouldy looking stuff has gathered on the dead-looking trays in the living room - not sure if that's a good sign.

I shared a carroty beef stew and rice with Ted. An old blackandwhite film is on the telly - it’s in the sixties and a man who looks like young Dustin Hoffman is solemnly reciting poetry. The narrator speaks in reverent tones about this man - clipped in the way they spoke back then. Next scene and we are riding around a city in a car with Dustin and another man they are laughing together and pointing at things. The narrator tells us how Colin enjoys Paris

Who’s Colin?

Cohen ... the film’s about Leonard Cohen

Photograph: Denis Brihat

Wednesday, March 19

Swam in the Ocean ...

... that is the community radio station today

The host is trying to stimulate a phone-in and hurls random topics into the ether

bruce willis – it’s his birthday today – but is he any good - is he the kind of bloke you’d have a beer with

art deco or art nouveau – which style do you prefer do you have a favourite building in one of these styles – or a nice brooch

prince – apparently he’s considered a sex symbol – do you think he's sexy or does he wear too many ruffs or is he too short - was he wise to  wear a raspberry as a beret


On Sunday I was taken to lunch at the hippest eating place in Brighton. The menu offered cauliflower with house egg and pangritata I was keen to see the size of a house egg.

turned out to be the sort of thing a dolls house might lay

Later I walked up the promenade past the marina where a lady serves hot drinks from a small wooden shed. Pinned askew at the hatch is a scratchy notice on a piece of cardboard that I didn't dare photograph:




Tuesday, March 18

Visiting the Young Ones

The man with the cool black dog and his teenage son live in a medium-size house in Brighton. The man is half Labrador half teenager and the three of them live together in a house ripe with the smell of dog, adolescent boy, fried things, unwashed bedlinen and the poo that lies in wait in the lavatory. Cables trail along hallways  and down the stairs converging in the centre of the living room. Walls are hung with guitars and bikes and the supermarket shop stays in it's bags on the table until the ice cream leak becomes conspicuous.

They are very happy in their boy fug letting me stay in the spare room with it’s duvet made of soggy cardboard and yellowed pillow with permanent head dent.

We scrunched together on the sofa watching scifi and adventure films interfering with the plot and who had been in which films before and eating pizza and then meringue and cream mixed with a little bit of fruit so we could say – YES THERE WERE VEGETABLES

Monday, March 17

William Ralston Sheddon Ralston M.A

We visited a church near the sea, a small church it's ceiling painted with a pattern of doves and olive branches densely like a tapestry.

There were memorial tablets on the walls.

I hope that William Ralston Sheddon Ralston named his son Patrick William Ralston Sheddon Ralston Sheddon

A Walk in the Park

We took the black labrador to a large park outside Brighton she immediately produced and ate a poo then found a headless baby rabbit and tried to gulp it down but my friend caught her and tried to stop this ingestion - there was a wrestling match which the dog won.

We walked on and the dog ran off and caught up with us again - now with a thick layer of another animal's excrement on her back.

Did you get a black dog so the dirt wouldn't show?

No I just thought black was cooler

Hair Watching in Brighton

glossy auberginenearlyblack hair cropped all over except for a thin curtain around the edges - like a bed valance

basic number 2 clip around the main part of head silky bantam plume across the top - over-ear hair cut to resemble bushy eyebrows

Sunday, March 16

Shopping Channel

i am in brighton where you can buy  blow-up  daleks,  a selection of jesuses

and a some strange angels

should you so wish

Friday, March 14

Preparations For Leaving a Town

It will be a sunny weekend so I have seeded soily trays in my sunniest room to get germinating while I'm away. I'm going for chili and mixed leaves and once again I will try my luck with chervil and parsley although they hate growing for me.

Meanwhile I keep replacing sodden towels with dry ones to soak up the water that is still trying to hide in the wooden parts of the bathroom and underneath it.

will visit toilet shop and order new lav on my way heading out of this city to the seaside which will be misty because I can see it on the map magic that exists on the internet.

Thursday, March 13


affluent (ˈæflʊənt
- adj
1. rich: wealthy
2.  abundant; copius
3. flowing freely
_ n
4. archaic a tributary stream

related words
backwater, brook, brooklet, creek, rill, rivulet, run (chiefly Midland), Streamlet; fountainhead, head, headstream, headwater, source



For the last month I have alternated between blaming the weather and the bath for the sometimes-sometimes-not water that makes it's way through the ceiling downstairs.

The plumber rowed in today and listened patiently as I explained my expanding-hot-pipes-hypothesis. He flushed the lavatory then put his hand inside the inspection hole I had made in the wall. Then he told me to put my hand in the hole while he flushed again

And  lo! water did fountain forth from the cistern

It's also wet under the bath because the pipes there aren't quite joined up - this is producing that red herring effect that was driving me crazy and there was also water coming out of another bit of toilet plumbing which wasn't helping matters and now the floorboards are properly up we can really appreciate the smell of the fungus that has been growing in there.

The other thing I did today was mix farmyard manure into the compost heap

I would like tomorrow to be less about effluent

Image: Feather fountain by Kate MccGwire

Wednesday, March 12

Trike Romance

There's often a trike passed out in the road near my house

She brought a friend home last night - wonder how long that's gonna last

up at 4 to wave the man off to India - I'm being brave

Last week my teeth finally persuaded me to see the dentist she said take these antibiotics then eat a lot of yoghurt. I heard on the radio today that it's common to get thrush after antibiotics so I've put some up my hoohoo too.

I'm missing my old bacteria - not sure these new ones will cut the mustard.

Tuesday, March 11

Life is a Palamino Pony

My man is waltzing off to India again and I'm trying really hard not to be bitter about it but it's seeping out of the edges of me and a bit of it came out of my mouth this evening

he said

why can't you just appreciate the palamino pony that is your life you should be seeing all that lovely beige colour on top you're just looking at it's underbelly .... where it laid on a cowpat

Shun the Sandwich-Eaters

Bob Crowe, was a union leader who died today. The radio keeps playing a clip from a recent interview regarding his colourful reputation

At the end of the day, as general secretary of a union, you've got to be larger than life. You don't want to mooch around in a grey suit and eat a sandwich every lunchtime. You want someone with a bit of a spark about him.

Monday, March 10

Hiding Places

The redhead showed me a spoon that was somewhere between a teaspoon and dessert spoon in spoon capacity but with an interestingly long handle

This is my husband’s favourite spoon I hate it I’ve been hiding it in my bag for two years I worry about what I should do if he becomes old and ill and misses his spoon

I said that she could also look at it in the way that she could now do something really bad and then before he got cross she could hold up the spoon and say - Hey look what I've just found - it's your favourite spoon !

No he knows I’ve got it

Then she said
a backpack’s a really good hiding place because it keeps moving around also behind the bottom drawer in a set of drawers that’s a good hiding place too.

Then the other woman in the room told us that a really good place to hide alcohol is the space between the bin liner and the bin.

Image from Lui Bolin's  - Hiding in the City Series

Sunday, March 9

Dominant Spinach

spinach 'dominant'
healthy dark green erect leaves
quick to mature and slow to bolt

that's the kinda spinach I like in my bed

The cardiganengineeringproject is done spring is here and it's all about the garden now.

I have a brand new career as a doctor's receptionist where I will be sitting knitting little squares with mimsy needles so I don't take up too much behind the desk space but right here right now on this sunny day in my garden I will be digging for victory.

Yesterday I attended a seed swap, I didn't have seeds to swap but I had smallbeans money which I left in return for handfuls of DEREK'S RUNNER BEANS - NICE AND EARLY and SHIRLEY'S SUNFLOWERS and a packet of that dominant spinach which I shared with the freckley girl in shorts.

A man in the seedy tent showed me how to make an origami seed envelope out of a quarter sheet of newspaper and once I had my confidence up I was folding and tucking and the only thing I was in too much of a hurry to do was write proper notes on them so now the kitchen table is littered with things that I'm not quite sure what they are.

Saturday, March 8

Correspondence III

I’ve just been in the glory hole and pulled out an old portfolio where there is a painting I made when Bob was briefly married to Lara, it is a portrait of Lara holding a squirming child

Before Lara, Bob shared his flat with Pete who only appeared occasionally, always stoned and always complaining at length about his girlfriend and the over-intimate relationship she had with her dog:

Bob wrote:
blahblahblah ... do you remember pete who i used to share the flat with before the great era of mistake - he moved down to your part of the world in france that is with his lady and 2 kids - but unfortunately has since taken a fatal fall off a cliff one night at a party and he wasnt even drunk - tragic - he was loving it down there too . so watch your step. we spent a year in italy as it goes and that was really fab although i  was quite pleased to get back in certain respects.
will bang on about italy next time. gotta go busy with a patio redesign that never should have happened and is costing me dear.
oh yeah but the recipe especially is the one with the pasta and the chorizo and the parsley butter oil black pepper jarlsberg or emmental no too thinly sliced and cooked on the hob together in a kind of bain marie and then egg yolk at the very last minute. – bob jr’s absolute favourite and i have promised to introduce you to him when he is old enough to learn!!

And I wrote:
blahblahblah ... poor pete! (didn’t he date that girl with the jack russell that always licked his bollocks when they were in bed?) good luck with that patio!

I've just heard from Bob - I'm going to give him that painting when I see him 

Friday, March 7

Correspondence II

Today's Future as read by Miranda July  

I see lots of Bs in your life. Could be people whose name begin with B, or Boston, or a bee. Or maybe you need to let it BE.

good luck,

So here I am in Bristol planning a trip to Brighton and reviewing the last correspondence I had with a long lost friend called Bob who used to teach maths and was really good at fixing stuff.

in 2008 Bob found me through email and asked me to fill him in with my news 

I said
I'm living in France...
… you still got that goatee? wearing the leathers? still the coolest maths teacher?

He said
… clean shaven no leather trousers although ive still got them as i was thinking of chucking them yesterday- and couldnt ...glad to be out of the teaching actually although it had its great moments - wasnt really the kids more the wanker staff who were more childish than the kids...that life is gone...coming to France

I said 
Blahblahblah come and visit…
My place in France (doesn't that sound great?) is an hour's drive south  of Toulouse.… looks very grand as you drive up to it … and even when you first go inside you might think it's  impressive it takes a while for the shortcomings to become apparent mainly the running damp, and some people don't like mice also we don't have doorknobs and it's always 5 degrees colder inside than out

Here's a link to one of my posts about mice 

Thursday, March 6

Correspondence I


The day I moved to Brighton a guy turned up to fix something in the house. Looking like he’d walked out of a Jim Jarmusch movie six foot six and skinny as a vanilla pod in his leather biker jacket, razor sharp side burns and weirdly cool shades he was immediately rude and funny and we became the best of friends. 
He got married, I moved to Bristol, we lost touch.

In 2008 - Just before I started this blog there was an email

hello - are you Lulu that used to live in brighton - get back to me if you are, otherwise apologies

and I said
Yes it's me - how are you?

fuck me that was a long shot - i am good kiddo. we are celebrating 15 years of wedded bliss or something like that and are inviting everyone from the wedding to our house … would love to see you whether you can come or not. havent seen you in ages but I still cook your dishes and they are the family favourites.

i hope you are well - fill me in


Tuesday: over enthusiastic making pancake batter 

Yesterday: mixed excess batter with sourdough starter and a bit more flour and water

This morning: added allspice and pepper, oiled some small oval pie tins and sprinkled with rosemary and sea salt, a ladle of wet dough in each, baked hot for 10 mins

I have successfully interbred a crepe with a pitta

Wednesday, March 5


For one year I have known a man who’s voice comes out in burpy spasms and air gasps. When I first met him I assumed that he had a bit of a cold then I guessed there must be something more serious going on and it seemed rude to mention it. 

Today I asked him if he had a sore throat.

No it’s been like this for fifteen years - my daughter passed away and then some months later I woke up with no voice at all, just this much has come back.

Monday, March 3

Style Blind

I have nearly finished knitting my reknitted cardigan. I can't tell if I like it because I made it or whether it is actually quite good

Sunday, March 2

Words of the Day


v. to represent by a picture or sculpture
That custard tart looks so good  someone should effigiate it


v. finding that someone else has already eaten the second tart

That's the hedge trimmed I'll go inside for a coffee and custard tart
I'm sorry but you appear to have tartilated

Saturday, March 1

Digging Around

Sunny afternoon in the community garden forking manure over the raised beds followed by orange cake and E. Coli.

this is just in case there are no future posts you'll know what happened to me

The birds have just changed their melodic evening song to a repetitive chuckchuckchuck response to the cat that has invaded the garden

Sun, spring and bird song have made me yearn for the coast, I've decided to go soon and visit Brighton, a town where I went to art college and then liked it so much that I stayed on for another five years.

In those days I paddled a canoe in the sea a lot. Every evening I'd start at the marina and head for Worthing (but never got further than Hove).

Last time I visited Brighton it was to attend the funeral of a friend who used to live two streets away from my house, we saw each other nearly every day for seven years then one day she stopped talking to me and I couldn't find out why - many years later we met and she told me and it seemed such a strange thing to be so upset about for so long that despite efforts to mend this great friendship it was too broken and next time I heard about her it was to hear that she was so ill.
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