Thursday, March 31, 2005

Music, Googling and tidy.

1. I'm going to the Isle of Wight Festival. Caroline texted me yesterday and asked if I would join her and Ian as they had room in their car and a spare tent. I said 'Yes' without even thinking.

2. Giggling for ten minutes after discovering that someone came on to this site on a Google search for 'force fed cock'. NB - don't run this search - I have already done it in The Interests of Science and the results are frankly disgusting.

3. A freshly made bed, when the duvet is smooth and the pillows conceal my nightie, blanket and the piles of books I sleep with.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Snooze, fame and confection.

1. Having a kip between breakfast and leaving for work.

2. Chris' story of how when he was 14 he met up with Jonathan King - who has just walked out of Maidstone jail after doing three years for messing around with young boys - for a chat about DJing. They went for a drive in the pop mogul's brown Rolls - stopping at Harrods to pick up a turkey. Nothing happened although King did ask Chris to fill out a form detailing his tastes in pop music and his sexuality. Looking back, Chris thinks this might have been a bit odd. Apart from that, he has nothing but praise for the pundit. And a few years later, Chris met up with King again. This time he took along a friend and a demo tape, which the great man didn't like.

3. Chocolate eggs from Konditor and Cook. They have crispy sugar shells and soft hazelnutty chocolate inside.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sweet, sticky and you darling.

1. Star anis because the pods are such a cool shape with shiny brown seeds peeping out.

2. The smell of white school glue - the sort that dries in a clear skin that you can peel off your fingers.

3. My printer doesn't chew up and spit out unusual bits of paper, making a lot of noise and fuss. It quietly and quickly decorates them with words - exactly as they appear on my screen - in ink that dries almost immediately. I could kiss it.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Inheritance, sauce and red-legged scissorman.

1. The wisdom tooth is better - but apparently my protectiveness towards it when offered extraction is very much like Granny Nichola. And my aunt says that my handwriting gets more and more like my father's. So yay for the miracles of genetics.

2. Mushrooms with sage and apple.

3. My cousin Laura's frankly disturbing art - if she is babysitting for you, ask her to leave her interpretation of 'Little Suck-a-thumb' at home.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

On its way, shopping and TV event.

1. Walking out of the house without a coat on and feeling the sun on my back.

2. In a chaotic chocolate shop the day before Easter a nervous young man taking a lot of trouble - in a very, sweet, polite way - to get the best possible present for someone. 'Will these flowers last until tomorrow? Yes, they're lovely, aren't they. And I know you guys are really busy, but could I have a little extra ribbon?' I wonder who it was for? And I hope it made them smile!

3. Getting together with Fenella to watch the new series of Dr Who. Almost too exciting for words, I watched a lot of it through my fingers.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Hols, making it and hush.

1. Taking a rest day to let the antibiotics work is a bit like being on holiday - you don't have to do anything you don't fancy and you can spend hours reading any book you like.

2. Finding an email from The Write Coach, Bekki Hill, saying that she is using the idea of 3BT for an exercise (titled It's a kind of magic) in her new Creativity Gym - which is 10,000 times more enticing than the sweaty sort of gym. I am unbelieveably flattered to have my idea picked up by a pro! Stroll (being careful not to exert yourself) down to Bekki's and give some of her exercises a go. Creating each day makes you happy.

3. The silence after a late-night alarm has finished going off.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Soup, sick and herbs.

1. The warmingness of a thick and spicy soup.

2. The huge difference lunch or a kip makes when you are ill.

3. Hummus with coriander in it.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Dandy, bean and pliers.

1. Green carnations - favoured flower of Oscar Wilde.

2. Bean sprouts because they are so soft and forgiving.

3. My dentist's enthusiam at the thought of extracting one of my wisdom teeth. I said I'd think about it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Columns, ow and nipple.

1. Rain dropping out of the sky in straight lines. I once saw a poem - it was arranged letter by letter down the page - that said something like: 'When the rain is falling in long columns we are inclined to forget how wonderful it is.'

2. I've got a sore wisdom tooth. Not really sure what to do about it. Then my dentist rings. 'Our computer's down. Do you know if you've got an appointment soon?' 'Nope,' I say. 'But can you tell me what to do about this wisdom tooth?' 'If you pop in, we'll have a look and maybe give you some antibiotics.'

3. I'm reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. I love popular science books about the origins of life; and I love Bill Bryson's eye for interesting details - there are giant concrete dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park and a dinner party for 21 was held in the iguanadon; Marsh and Cope discovered the same dinosaur 29 times; mastodon means 'nipple tooth'.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tweet, lookout and squish.

1. Spotting a blackbird collecting grass for a nest in a buddleja bush on the side of the railway.

2. Meeting up with John and Jay for lunch at the Beacon. As you might guess from the name it has a view of nearly half of Tunbridge Wells. They always have some exciting project going, and some good advice to share.

3. The way toddlers eat bananas - by grabbing a handful, smearing it on anyone within reach and then when this is taken away, sucking the rest of the banana in as if they are not expecting to be fed ever again.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Palms before my feet, sticky and feathers

1. Travelling by bus through all the villages and seeing a donkey surrounded by children outside every church because it's Palm Sunday.

2. Treacle tart. Also, the word 'treacle'.

3. My father's extreme close-up photos of pheasants.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Lowry, fish and cock.

1. Fenella, Andy and I took an afternoon stroll across the Common. It's the first really hot day of the year and the place was packed with people disporting themselves on the rocks, batting balls around on the cricket pitch and loving feeling the sun on their skin. It looked like a Lowry painting. We finished up with a bottle of wine in a pub garden. Summer is on its way.

2. There is a new sushi place in Tunbridge Wells - it's called Kitsu and it's really very good. Caroline and I took sushi virgin Ian along and force fed him stunningly fresh raw salmon. 'It doesn't taste of fish at all,' he commented. Kitsu is on Victoria Street - round the back of the shopping centre, and the phone number is 01892 515510.

3. Watching cocktails being mixed by a pro.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Silver lining, manco and IZ.

1. My boiler is broken, but not so badly that I need a new one.

2. My Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More soundtrack LP. The stranger sneers satisfactorily from the cover and while it is playing the cold, damp English spring fades into the dry heat of Mexico.

3. Coming home from work and finding a new Interzone on the doormat. I love short story magazines, because short stories should be ephemeral. A throw-away medium allows writers to experiment; and it encourages the reader to dip in - if it's rubbish, what matters it? It's just twenty minutes of your life. I love sci-fi, too - specially the English sort.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Two dogs, ooops and eggses

1. A pair of immaculate Rhodesian ridgebacks that I see coming down off the Common on my way to work.

2. A woman in very clicky shoes walks too close behind me. I speed up, hoping to lose her but she speeds up, too. I slow down, hoping she'll overtake but she doesn't. Then I hear her stumble a little. Hah.

3. The shine on a properly tempered chocolate egg. Specially when you have decorated and moulded it yourself.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Zzzz, scrub and veggies.

1. Switching off the radio and sleeping in.

2. My new toothbrush because it clicks if you brush too hard. Also, the one I had before was hateful, being cheap and flimsy. This new one has shaped bristles and a sculpted handle - never again will I dismiss these things as gimicky.

3. The hard noise when you flick a squash with your fingernail.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Red, little moons and sit com.

1. A woman walks down the path on the Common that runs parallel to my road to work. She is walking a tiny dog and wearing dull brown colours and bright scarlet gloves.

2. I sent my pearls off to be cleaned and restrung - and now three weeks and £30 later they have returned. They definitely have a moon-like glow about them, and they feel a lot less sticky and the string seems less likely to snap at any moment. Their flaws and individualities are a lot more obvious, too - but it's all part of their charm. Ladies, it's good to have you back.

3. I greedily watched the entire first season of Spaced, which was hugely enjoyable. I love the way it blurs the lines between reality and imagination. The way Tim and Daisy would like the story to go is followed by what actually happened. It is a fantastic portrait of a male-female friendship. I also love the film references.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Little flowers, points and toms.

1. Spotting some tiny dark pink blossoms on the hedge between the office carpark and the hospital next door.

2. Loyalty schemes that yield their goodies with a minimum of fuss. Boots is specially good - at four to the pound, points accumulate pretty quickly and you can use them at the till to pay for your shopping without fannying around with vouchers and customer service desks. Hurrah. And they never send me any junk mail.

3. As I cut up a few tomatoes for supper, the smell made me think of summer. They smelt like proper tomatoes, not the poor watery things that come from the supermarket. The man who sold them to me - they are grown on an organic tomato farm on the Isle of Wight - said 'It's the earliest season in living memory.'

Monday, March 14, 2005

Time out, peal of bells and tease.

1. In the middle of a weekend so busy my feet don't touch the ground there is half an hour for breakfast in bed.

2. Walking through the woods and seeing little stars of bluebell leaves. It's one of the tiny changes that tells you Spring is coming.

3. The way James' dad still teases me about marrying his son. I feel so approved of.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Flow, smooch and reflection.

1. I had a session of reiki, which I've never done before. It's all about helping energy flow through you, and I felt a lot lighter on my feet afterwards.

2. Rodin's The Kiss - how did he make chilly white marble resemble something so soft and human?

3. Mirror mazes, because they make it possible to get disorientated and lost in a small room. The London Dungeon features a splendid one, with the added attraction of cage rattling skeletons and a costumed guide leaping out and shouting at you.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Check, paint and flowers.

1. Ticking tasks off a to-do list.

2. Eating lunch with the ever-charming James and hearing all about his new house. Buying your first house alters you in so many subtle ways. For starters you start to really care about decor. James is an illustrator with incredibly good taste, so I'm agog with excitement at the thought of what he's going to come up with.

3. At He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named's request, I have been searching for sunflowers for the office flowers project. I finally spotted some on the station flower stall. I will buy them tomorrow because it won't be open when I'm walking to work on Monday. That way I get to enjoy them in the flat for a whole weekend.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Dust biscuits, fish and lukewarm.

1. Ryvita crispbread because the pattern of dots on the top looks random but then you realise it includes a circle with a dot in the middle.

2. I love having a bit of cold cooked trout or salmon in my lunchbox. I like the colour, and it's very light on the stomach, but feels like a bit of a treat.

3. My shower isn't doing properly hot water at the moment. I think the pipes in the flat are really badly lagged, because there is hot water in the kitchen and the heating are both dandy. It that means tepid showers, which is unpleasant; but then when I get out, there is a towel warming on the radiator, and wrapping myself up in it is just the nicest thing.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Plateful, good riddence and puff.

1. There is a new Chinese buffet in town. The food is good and colourful and the waiting staff are attentive but unobtrusive. Plus it's only £6.50 for all you can eat. And being self-service there are no lunch-hour reducing waits for your food. Who could ask for more?

2. The moment smug twangy-voiced American Beth told Ed Grundy that she would be leaving Ambridge. For good.

3. A line of four serious runners passed me in the street. A couple of minutes later, two stragglers ran past panting and chatting.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Efficiency, cocktail and slips.

1. Owning a steamer because it means you can cook an entire meal on one gas ring.

2. Tinned fruit cocktail - the sort with dyed red cherries.

3. Ironing silk because it starts out so scrumpled and crispy and comes out shimmery and soft.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Temptation, waxy and reader.

1. The juicy thwock of an apple falling on to a hard surface.

2. Candles on sale in our local supermarket. They are so temptingly full of potential atmospheric lighting.

3. People who sit in the pub with a book.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Waiting, going green and biscuits.

1. Anticipation.

2. Now that the snow is mostly gone, everything looks rather colourful - even muddy grassy and dead leaves.

3. Nice biscuits - they are the plain coconut ones with grains of white sugar sprinkled on top. And they always have Nice printed on them, no matter what brand you buy.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Swimming, big flakes and ladies who...

1. Overhearing a woman saying how much she had enjoyed her weekly swim while watching snow falling outside.

2. Snow falling in flakes the size of pingpong balls.

3. Having lunch cooked for you.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Destruction, scramble and all red.

1. The sound of glass smashing in the bottle bank.

2. Unexpected dinner invitations because you have to think on your feet about getting ready.

3. The Cricketers pub in Brighton. It has red flock wallpaper and red lamps and almost more pictures than you would have thought possible.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Avalanche, pass it on and walking out.

1. Snow sliding off the roof, making an almighty roaring and rumbling. Hope it means there's a thaw on the way. Snow is lovely, but there's only so many days you can enjoy.

2. Selling my old desk to a lady who really needed it because her computer was cluttering up her dining room table.

3. At the end of work it was light enough to walk home across the Common for the first time this year, so I did. The sunset was doing something long and low to make the bare trees look pink.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Snow noises, Chris dogs and soup.

1. Walking on snow and all the different sounds it makes. We've got the wrong sort of snow for that lovely crump crump crump sound, but I try to take comfort in the swooge of slush and the crunching of ice.

2. Chris summoning me downstairs to look out of his office window at two little dogs frollicking in the snow.

3. I cooked borscht. I've never done that before. Isn't it red! It's not a bad way of dealing with beetroot - the vinegar and the salt cuts through the cloying sweetness.

Talking shop, treasure and teatime.

1. Sitting up until 2am talking about politics and philosophy with Christopher who has a fearsome intellect.

2. At the end of the afternoon I strolled down to the end of the street where there is an antiquarian bookshop. Sitting on the bargin shelf outside was a copy of The Swiss Family Robinson illustrated by Mervyn Peake. I love Peake's whimsical and sinister illustrations (trust him to pick out the tiger being crushed by a snake, the dead whale and the family's donkey being terrorised by a boa constrictor); and I have a lingering affection of the Robinsons' cavalcade of self-improving yet strangely improbable tropical adventures. This edition was published back in the 50s, so I never really thought I would ever find it. Naturally, I was at it like a lynx, and when I went to pay I carefully concealed my excitement - just in case there had been some mistake.

3. Teatime noises - the traffic dulled because the curtains are drawn; the pouring of tea; the clink of silver on china and china on china.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Ducky, no go and din-in-in-inner.

1. There were seagulls in the lake, so we fed them as well as the ducks. They were sitting on a slab of ice, and when we threw bread out, they flew up and grabbed it before it landed, which was a bit unfair on the ducks. Although from the leisurely way they swam towards our crumbs, I imagine that they are so well fed they can hardly float.

2. There are so many awful, awful things about commuting. But today one of the good things happened. The awfulness was so awful that there was no commuting. Fenella and Andy got to stay at home, which meant we could all go to the pub at 6pm. Yay.

3. Doing dinner for an elastic number of people. I get so excited when people bring extras, turn up early and turn up late so I have to be creative.

Bonus beautiful thing to celebrate PaulV's birthday - Finding a Boney M album in a secondhand music shop. Where we overheard this: 'Have you checked the alley? Those hiphop people love that alley. So long as they've got an alley they're happy.'