Friday, 28 August 2009


Today was the sort of day that I speak to the boyfiend and he is having torrential rain and I'm having glorious sunshine even though we're in the same city but on different sides of the river.

On my way home I'm on the train that goes overground to London Bridge - good view across the London towards the North. I can see a huge traingle of dark grey cloud and in the distance over Parliament it looks like rain - misty downward lines. Round the edges is golden sunshine. Off the train walking through the station it starts raining so hard its coming through the roof and raining onto the platforms, hammering down. Standing under the bus terminous outside the station there is a downpour on one side and one of the steeling grey skys lit by bright sunshine on the other. Two rainbows form - a bright clear well defined one tightly arching and a feint one arching over it.

Nearly home at Bruce Grove the light has dropped even though it is an hour or more before dusk, the sky is dark dark grey with that weird yellow electricity tinge. I'll be lucky to get home before the deluge. I run to catch the bus, the driver kindly waits for me. As we set off a crack of lightning flashes across the underside of the clouds. And again later on. I worry about lightning striking the dead tree in my neighbour's neighbour's back yard. Before I get off the bus huge drops of hot rain start to fall. The ground is quickly soaked, puddles form fast. I get in just before I'm drenched.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Recording Life

20th century had an explosion in the mechanisms for ordinary folk to record their lives - the sepia studio photos of our grandparents (with running trophies, with siblings in white dresses with wide black sashes, wedding photos of the bride and groom); 8mm film of funny family events (funny smiling people running round in strange environments, dark colours, oddly flat); photograph albums (poorly labeled square photos with white edges, scratched, curling - mum as a child swimming in a pond wearing a woollen swimsuit, young dad leaning proudly leaning against his first car - reportedly dark and light green with chrome, or standing next to his plane in the navy, granny as a girl with long hair in ribbons, babies from all over the family, graduation pictures, yellowing and fading photos from the 70s - slightly too short flares and fake fur jackets); slides (dreaded grandad slide shows of a variety of badly-composed groups of relatives on their trips to South Africa, interspersed with pictures of the local flora, grandfather in his shorts safari suit, aunties and uncles with their feet, head or half the group chopped off the edge of the frame). This was the heyday of capturing the family's history. There are still enthusiasts from whom you can pick up a slide projector to see the old stuff. The photograph albums are tangible weighty tomes dragged out for viewing together, old stories oft told entering into the folklore of family.

Now everything is digital, throw-away, kept on the computer. I'm worried that we will loose a mass of social history because we don't back up our data well enough, or we hate all the images and trash them, or the computer busts and we loose it all, or the media will become obsolete and therefore un-accessible. I forget how nice photograph albums are.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


London's serious cyclists stream past the bus stop - all Lycra clad, rucksacks, go-faster-helmets, some with rear view mirrors on, courier bags, reflective strips, single speeds, panniers, cleats. Then a girl rides past on a sit-up-and-beg bike wearing a summer dress that is wafting up in the wind so you can see her knickers. A bit 70's flake advert.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Age Appropriate Activities

I think I'm going to die. I will be 40 next year and I've just spent lunchtime in the canteen at the Unicorn Theatre listening to a 50 year old talk to a 41 year old about getting older (this did include divulging their ages). The 50 year old was talking about clinging to his 20s in the past but now does the garden and other age appropriate activities. He still manages to get to a few gigs each year, but nothing in comparison to the number he used to go to. I look at them and they look like adults. Grown up people, who have proper magazine houses and perfectly organised lives. Adult in a way I don't think I am. I don't feel I look like them at all. I'm probably deluding myself. 41 year old was waxing lyrical about her weekend spent travelling down memory lane in Wakefield, old haunts, B&Bs... I hope I never get that old.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Open Plan Working

Plus points: swanky new office near London Bridge - close to Borough Market, better lunchtime eating, clean, new, nice lavs, cool. Negative points: lots more colleagues in an open plan space, many of whom are easily distracted and talk too loudly on the phone and to one another, there's nowhere to hide apart from the toilet.

The Flirt
So many more people, 5 floors of potential. First pass-by the kitchenette he's there at the coffee machine, chatting up some woman. "I thought we had a connection - I'm trying to send you something now..." (fingers on temples, intense thought-transmission stare into her eyes). She wasn't getting it, but seemed to enjoy the gaze. Lunch-time at the lifts, he's there waiting, chatting to another woman about her family (single parent, baby with mother, going on holiday in two weeks). After lunch, he's by the vending machine talking to Miranda...

The Shirker
Hard to hide when you're working in a huge open plan air hanger with 300 desks. Corner of my eye is caught by him popping up over his computer again. Its screen is strangely high - higher than any other. He has ants in his pants, can't sit still for more than 10 minutes. Does lots of printing which requires a trip over to the printing hub. Walks past my desk, comes back with a coffee. Half an hour later, walks past again (could be more coffee, could be a trip to the loo, could be a fag break). By lunchtime there have been at least that number of passbys. After lunch there is time for a bit of desk-visiting around the building with colleagues from the team who are spread around.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


The shed of the previous owners had a certain amount of Little House on the Prairie charm but in the two years that I owned (and neglected) it fell into a state of dilapidation from which it was unsalvagable - what had already been a leaning and vaguely rotting structure, began to loose roofing, shiplaps and got woodworm. It became the home of a local stray cat and a snail haven.

Pops decided to buy me a replacement one for my birthday. I ordered it online. Six weeks for delivery. Instructions said they would only put it up on a level base.

Tore the old one down - wood worms fell out, water sodden and underneath it was propped on broken bits of paving stones. I decided to build a plinth to raise the level up away from the rain. Built it from breeze blocks and bricks. Amateur night bricklaying. I made it as level as I could manager and prayed that they wouldn't look too closely.

Two weeks ago it arrived on the back of a lorry. The driver and his work-placement nephew put it together in 15 minutes. It was very blond pine. In my head I was thinking about Derek Jarman's house in Dungeness - black wood, yellow window frames, sculptures made of rusted metal, driftwood and beach finds. I stained it walnut first - nice but too woody, not dark enough. Over-stained it with black ash. Liked it better but then gave it a second coat. Now its got to be a mini dungeness house.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Coming Home

After driving home from Northumberland with my Dad, dropping him off at his house (unloading the car of his belongings), I got back home. Stepping through the door it felt alien, not like home at all. The wooden floors were echoey and hard sounding. The place was empty (of people). Closed off to the street (I purposefully have the paper blinds closed at the front windows always). It didn't feel like home. I wasn't sure why that was, perhaps I like having family around me all the time (despite having needed some personal space when I was away with them), perhaps I like a fuller house than it was at that second. Perhaps it was the sense of place. I've felt strangely dislodged on coming back. Drawn to something I have never been drawn to before. Very much enjoyed the sea, walking on the rocks everyday, collecting stuff. Liked the scenery. Liked the sense of freedom (particularly from work I think).

Its taken a week to get back into the swing of regular life. Going back to work wasn't half as bad as I was imagining. Home is starting to feel a bit more homely. The boyfiend is upstairs asleep - I'm waiting for the gasman and my new shed (Dad bought it for me for my birthday last may)...