Tuesday, 31 October 2006



Foot and Mouth walking tours did a special for halloween. Friends being invited to hear Chris Roberts stories of the dank and seedy world of london myths and legends (embellishment suspected). We strolled along the embankments between London and millennium Bridges with stories of the patron saint of prostitutes, old London Bridge exported as an antique brick by brick (with ghosts) to Arizona, Walbrook Stairs where you could once hail river taxis (site of the Marchoness disaster) and the boundary of the Roman city, Boudicca decapitating the soldiers of a particular stronghold letting their heads float down the river - their souls lost forever, the cat mummified in the walls of St. Michael's Paternoster church built by Dick Whittington, ghosts of a bear escaped from where bear baiting took place in Bear Lane bear. Still a fine way to spend Halloween now we're too old for trick n treating.

Books by Chris:
Heavy Words Lightly Thrown
Cross River Traffic

Saturday, 28 October 2006

New House

This week I have mostly been dealing with...house stuff. I've just had two weeks off. I have physically worked harder than I ever do at work and struck more important deals than I ever do at work.

In my first week off I lifted worn red carpets from every room in the downstairs and the hall, rolled up and chucked out. I started taking nails and screws out of the walls and filling holes. Thinking about what I would prefer it to be look like (I was crushingly depressed about it when I first walked back in as the new owner - it was empty and smaller than I remembered).

In the first week I had electrical people over to change the meter, gasman to reset the gas meter, visits from 3 kitchen fitters (two good, one horrible), quotes from two floor sanding companies, and a vist from the ADT alarm people. Much hand shaking. Plenty of patter. One awkward conversation with a man intending to press us into making a decision that we didn't want to make. He left pissed off. I was sorry he ever invaded my space.

In the second week I had all the downstairs floors (bar the kitchen) sanded, filled and varnished. The kitchen surveyor round to check the drawing of the winning kitchen, the ADT engineer in to upgrade the alarm, and the plumber in to remove a radiator and a pipe which fed water to an american wardrobe-style fridge.

I am now broke. I haven't completed the painting I wanted to get through, but have got some nice floors and a date for a kitchen installation (my parents moved into their house with avacado units in the kitchen which they hated, probably with the intention of changing them at some point, over time they stopped noticing how awful they were and consequently the house still has them). I have also refound my fondness for this house. Oh, and I was offered an apprenticeship by the plumber.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006


Sometimes I just want to go to bed. I imagine it as me being y-shaped sliding between fresh sheets under a feather-light duvet, not being able to touch the edges. Usually I huddle fetally trying to warm up a body shaped patch of bed while the boyfiend warns me not to put my ice-pole feet on him.

Sometimes I imagine, as I walk up the dark cold street, that the boyfiend has come round to mine to suprise me by cooking my dinner and that when I walk through the door he will greet me with a kiss and a plate of spagetti.

I put my winter coat on today. I was much warmer than yesterday.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Saturday Night

Its dark and damp. Earlier in the day there had been two rainbows. I sit on the bottom deck of a 341 trundling along Philip Lane towards home. Through the rain spattered windows, passing a parade of shop windows, I notice other people doing nothing special, like me. A man sweeps the launderette before closing up. A boy with a big afro hangs in his dorway talking to a friend. A girl orders fried chicken in the chicken shop. She holds her money against the counter, and turns to watch the bus go by as her server dishes up. Two doors down a man sits in a forlorn burger joint on a plastic seat that is fixed to its table, as he waits for his burger to be cooked. Yellow light from these windows seeps into the wet street. And then we turn down Black Boy Lane away from any signs of life, past house fronts with net curtains, closed off to prying eyes, past the park (really dark) with its huge shadowy trees all along the edge.

Monday, 16 October 2006


Its been quite a while since I last went to drawing class, but this drawing class at the Tate Modern interested me. Didn't come away with anything particularly great but did get to wonder at the scale of those helter skelters (truely death defying) and try to do something that spoke of the scale of the space vs the small cold figures in the space (bit cruel but they had the models lying naked on the concrete floor, and later on the metal slides).

Sunday, 15 October 2006


A mouse has moved in. I was sitting chatting to Pops during Prime Suspect when I saw it casually running up the centre of the kitchen floor and then dart under the cooker when I pointed at it. We moved stuff - cooker, deckchairs, gardening tool rack, swept (tell tale droppings) but didn't see the mouse. I lost faith in my vision and we decided perhaps it was just a peripheral shadow. A little while later I saw him again creeping out from the cooker. And later still darting across behind the TV. I don't think he's been there long - I would have seen him before.

We'd like to evict him, but we're not sure how. Cat - would be good but we haven't got one. The ones we used to have were notoriously poor mousers, infact they were terrible at catching anything (pampered, well fed and lazy). Traps - just worried about the types at work which they fill with poison and the critters die under the floors and stink but can't be found. Sonic plug-ins - I've heard about them but don't know where to get them.

Saturday, 14 October 2006

Something Found

In my new house behind the mirror fronted white wardrobe that I dismantled while waiting for the electric meter man (white pvc coated chipboard) I found a pair of double-bladed gold windscreen wipers. Probably picked out lovingly for a much-cared about souped-up vehicle, stashed on top of the wardrobe where they dropped behind and were forgotten. They were never rediscovered because the wardrobe didn't fit in the new place. They did take the TV (almost as big as the living room wall) and the monster fridge which overhung the doorway.

I've left the windscreen wipers on the wall someone will love them (although people don't take stuff away as quickly as they do at my Pop's house).

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Big Dave's Gusset

In June 2005 I wrote a poem that started with a piece of graffiti that I saw sprayed in a building on the train journey from London Bridge to Waterloo East. Its a great journey - over rooftops of ye olde London, interspaced with derelict signal buildings that would make great hideaways (typewriter laptop, kettle, perfect).

London Bridge to Waterloo East

Big Dave's Gusset
sprayed on a derelict building.
Chimney pots of Borough.
A black cat sleeps
like a king
on a discarded sofa.
A platinum blond
watery blue eyes
fluffs her Marilynesque hair.
Sunlight golden on brick.

Many people must have seen the grafitti and searched for big dave's gusset out of curiosity for what it all means. No answers were forthcoming from my blog....

Until now. I have been emailing with Big Dave himself, I suspect because he must have come across my poem. And I am pleased to be able to splash the scoop of this little bit of underground London.

So I quote Dave:

I worked as an Engineer on the Jubilee Line Extension Project on London Bridge station's expansion between summer 94 & summer 97. I was based in an office set up in the roof of the big shed you can see from the Southwark St railway bridge. Adjacent to this, at the end of the shed was a concrete batching plant which me & my colleagues in our little department were responsible for managing, it produced all the concrete that went into the structural linings of the tunnels. We also ran a materials testing laboratory on the ground level below our office, adjacent to this plant.

Now the concrete batcher was operated 24/7. 3 shifts of two men operated it so we had a responsibility to manage these guys where the quality control of the concrete was concerned. Working, as you do, with people like this, day & nightshifts, weekends etc some good friends were made and it was one of the batcher ops, Jason Gregory, who daubed the slogan ‘Big Daves Gusset’ across the end wall of the shed. There was an open gantry which he will have stood on to do it (it has been dismantled now).

The slogan was a homage to myself as I was known to some as Big Dave, or ‘The Biggun’ (that got a bit tedious actually but hey ho…) because I am a big guy & called Dave, and a placid even tempered character so very easy going and good for a laugh. The gusset reference was to my taste in underpants at the time. I had bought a job lot of Champion brand y-front style undies from TK Maxx and wore these most of the time. At the beginning and end of each shift we would change in or out of our civvies into our regulation orange hi-viz outfits and this is when folks caught a glimpse of Big Daves Gusset, it was often remarked upon as of course these trolleys weren’t the most fashionable, but comfort was the rule.

It was actually a mistake on my part that I bought these pants though as I had meant to get the same brand's trendy trunk style however I realised I’d picked up 7 – yes one for everyday of the week – pairs of the Y-front style.

There you go. I'm loving this story. And this is what I love about blogging - all the coincidental tying up of loose ends. Fab!

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Blond bombshell

Stick-thin platinum blond goes to the toilet. All the men let their gazes trail after her. She's not particularly gorgeous, has slightly knock knees and is developing a slouch accentuated by her haircut. But she knows everyone.

On her way back a man at the bar attracts her attention by asking her something. She leans in to hear him. His eyes wander over her white mini-skirt, long legs and come to rest on her black camisole top. He grabs her hand and kisses it, leaving his lips just too long. She slides her hand out of his vice like grip, just short of snatching it back, and slopes off back to her drinking companions.

Thursday, 5 October 2006

Ceramics Class

So moving on from rudimentary pinch pots, we made coil pots last week. Rolls of clay built up in a sort of spiral, smoothing (to some extent) the vessel walls on the inside and outside as you build up. I used thin coils. Fat coils build faster. Mine was lobsided, but pot-like. Then I did some throwing. Much raising up a column of clay and squashing it back down. Lots of balls of clay whipping off to the side. Much squeezing too hard so it came off in my hand. No pots created. Damn hard it is, despite looking so easy.

This week I put a pre-firing glaze (called something-or-other velvet) on the pot I made last time. Y'know, just to see what it'll look like. We also built jugs out of wet-slabs. Don't be fooled by its infant-school styling. I can see potential in this method. I may be able to build a birdbath afterall!

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Bus Dramas

The 341 bus driver forgot he was driving a 341. As we failed to make the appropriate turning at Tottenham Green, round in front of what used to be a hospital, I got up to check with him that it was a 341 and not my tired mind playing tricks on me when I got on. He braked suddenly and I lurched forward. Yes he said I forgot to make the turn. We drove on passed Tescos, to the junction at West Green Road. He decided to turn into West Green Road and then did a three point turn. In a bus. Full of passengers. Never seen that before. And before you knew it we were back on course, but not before a number of bemused passengers came down to investigate and a seemingly normal woman lost it in a split second when he wouldn't let her off the bus (despite the fact he wasn't even on the route, never mind at a bus stop).

Tuesday, 3 October 2006


First I was at the London Assembly sitting watching out the window across the Thames at the Tower of London. Dreaming of working in such an area, loving the building and watching people meandering through along the spiral slope rather than taking the lift. Then, after a while, the speakers droned on enough to make my bottom ache and fidgitiness set in.

Eventually it was time to go and we were released back into the open air, craving excitement, we took a Thames Clipper along the river to Embankment.

Late Later Latest

Why is it that when you are late its never the bus you are waiting for that comes first?