Monday, May 31, 2004

White goods, sweet music and a first birthday.

1. I have been putting off cleaning out my fridge. I finally did it and afterwards felt good - it looks whiter inside; and it smells better; and opening the icebox doesn't cause an avalanche any more.

2. Jay trying patiently to teach me The Butcher's Boy on his penny whistle.

3. It was Tally's first birthday. His mother Laura read a poem that his father Andy had written when Tally was a few weeks old. It made her cry, and me too.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Whisked not stirred, mysterious excitements and I'll pencil you in.

1. Hot chocolate made with real squares of chocolate in a thick mug.

2. Johanna aged 8 months wriggling with excitement in her mother's arms at something that none of us could appreciate.

3. Paul V taking a moment out of his busy schedule to sit in my flat reading the papers and catching up.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Bees, birds and babies.

1. A bumble bee noseying round the Christmas tree outside our office window.

2. Swallows messing around overhead.

3. Seeing a man carrying a sleeping child up the street and kissing it when he thought no-one was looking.

Friday, May 28, 2004

White flowers, mother's ruin and yellow flowers.

1. For the last few days, I have been smelling something heavenly on my way to work. It was sweet and heavy, a little hayfevery and drowsey. I couldn't place it, and then I realised that it was philadelphus. When I was little, I had a swing next to a philadelphus bush. As I swung, I would kick its clusters of golf-ball-sized white flowers, and the scent would follow me back down to earth.

2. I showed a writer friend how to send attachments with emails and she rewarded me with a chat over a gin and tonic made with her secret stash of Bombay Sapphire.

3. Buttercups growing in the shade.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Aid parcel, summer sounds and pied beauty.

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1. Coming home and finding my mother had filled the fridge with food, including a huge bunch of fresh herbs from her garden. There was also a little sea bass, some chicken, some mince, a bag of cereal, a jar of homemade marmalade, a piece of holey cheese, some fruit and a packet of digestive biscuits. I feel like the very hungry caterpillar!

2. The sound of a cricket ball on a cricket bat.

3. The feathers on jackdaws' backs and the silly squeaking noises they made while fighting over a crust of bread.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Little rays of sunshine, post positive and darkness visible.

1. The heat of the sun on my back as I lay on the common at lunchtime.

2. Getting an email from the one of the writers, proving that the newsletters arrived the day after I posted them second class.

3. My bathroom light is not working and today one of Big John's friends came round to inspect it. He couldn't work out what was wrong, so it is actually broken and I'm not just being girly.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

A job well done, a bowl of soup and a quick kip.

1. Finally got the writers' newsletter safely into the post after a hot, dusty day of racing backwards and forwards to get it copied, to buy stamps and to pick up leaflets for an event I'd left out. Felt smug and satisfied as I poked the last one into the letter box.

2. Safeways Thai chicken and coconut soup.

3. Fell asleep over The Fortean Times at 8pm and woke just before 9pm feeling bright, refreshed and ready to do my last thing at night tasks.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Strawberries, stillness and naughty dogs.

1. The smell of strawberries.

2. Towards evening, the wind got up and made it too cool to sit outside. We walked down to the lake to warm up and found that the hill kept the wind off. The air was almost still.

3. Katie's dog Milly is one big grin. Most retrievers are, I think. She ran round and round the lake, in and out of the water, up and down the bank as if it was the most exciting game in the world.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Mirror, market, maroon.

1. I have inherited some grown-up things from my grandmother. It includes a slightly battered gilt mirror - decorated with dancing girls and a smug-looking shepherd lounging on a couch playing the flute. It arrived in my flat yesterday and is now standing on the mantlepiece. My neighbour Fenella came round to inspect it and didn't quite know what to say. 'It's very... it looks like something out of the palace of Louis 14th.' We agreed that it didn't quite go with the rest of the flat... but how can I not love it? The rest of the flat will change - it'll have to if I'm to use another of the grown-up things: the 14-man dinner service.

2. A French market came to the Pantiles for the weekend. I went round with my aunt, Janey. We bought sausages and admired oilcloths and breathed in caramel from the sweet stall. Then we bought chicken and potatoes provencal and ate them on a sunny step.

3. My grandmother's garden has run wild for the last few months. It has put out paeonies of astonishing vulgarity. They are an intense, luminous maroon - the sort that you see in pigeon's feathers.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Sweets, silver bullets and the way through the maze.

1. I bought a caramel slice from the bakers. A caramel slice is about the size of the palm of your hand. It is a layer of soft shortbread, a layer of thick caramel and a layer of chocolate. We used to have them when we were little - but they always had to be cut into three and shared between us. Now I am grown up, if I want a whole caramel slice, I can have one.

2. When I made a martini just before dinner, I loved the way the ice rattled in the shaker. And I loved the way the martini tried to crawl up the glass.

3. The fliers for our latest book at work came in. I thought up the idea for them, which was a labyrinth, and the suggestion that our book can help you find your way through. I thought of it because I've been doodling mazes for months now. According to a graphologist I met, this is a sign of feeling lost in your life. So I've taken my quarter-life crisis and made it into an advertising campaign. Take that, angst.

Friday, May 21, 2004

The rain arrives and a coin departs.

1. The weather broke with a proper thunderstorm. The office window looked straight into the clouds as they rolled in. We watched the sky turn brassy, and then slate blue and finally an underwater green.

2. The smell of rain on dry ground.

3. Wolfy put a penny and a pound coin under a pint glass. He jerked the glass sideways and the penny vanished. For a moment, I believed.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The see-through pub, keeping up the conversation and an ash tree.

1. Passing the Compasses pub and seeing straight through it because both the front and back doors were open.

2. A friend telling me I'd been very contemplative lately, and that he hoped the old "chatty Clare" would be back soon. That made me realise I missed her too, so I tried my best to be talky, and sure enough, she sidled over and slipped into the conversation.

3. Street light shining through an ash tree in full May leaf.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

More sky, red shoes and new leaves.

1. The sky was that smoggy and smoky blue - we need some rain, but I love that colour.

2. Saw a fat lady dressed all in brown apart from her shoes which were the colour of almost ripe tomatoes. They had kitten heels and tiny silver bows. Madam, click your heels together three times!

3. This year I have noticed how vulnerable normally thuggish plants like holly and laurel and Christmas trees look with their soft new leaves. They are like people falling in love.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Pansies, pasties and holiday sky.

1. The weather has just turned towards summer, and as I walked to work this morning the colour of the sky made me feel as if I was on holiday.

2. Chris went to get his pastie out of the fridge in our second floor office kitchen. He tripped and it flew out of the window. Happily it survived the fall, and made Ed and me giggle occasionally for the rest of the morning.

3. Spotted three tiny deep purple pansies with bright yellow centres growing where the pavement meets a white garden wall on a sunny street corner.