Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sibs, sardines and writers.

1. Having lunch with Robert and Rosey, who are home for a little while before they disappear again - Rose back to Bath and Robert to Peru. Afterwards we sit in the park.

2. Sardines. There is something pleasing about sardine tins. It could be the picture printed directly on to the metal so that the colours and bright and glossy. It could be that they stack so well; or that they open with a key. I also like sardines themselves - they go down lovely on a biscuit when mashed up with a bit of yoghurt and pepper.

3. Last year, there was something sad and flat about the writers' circle. The AGM was a depressing affair and there were whispers that the group might fold. This year, ideas sparked around and the future was discussed. Someone volunteered to host a Christmas party; the treasurer vowed to go into battle against the bank.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Dirty weather, sails and calm.

We spent this day at the Trafalgar celebrations from a colleague's yacht.

1. Watching a rainstorm come in across Portsmouth harbour. The sky started off clear and blue; filled with lumpy clouds like scrambled eggs and then turned evil school uniform grey. The rain followed - enormous, stinging drops pocking a peaked up sea.

2. Tall ships against a mass of bristly destroyers.

3. Coming off a choppy sea and into a still harbour.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Biscuits, ball and to do.

1. When the ginger nut fairy visits at work. He leaves a packet of biscuits in the kitchen and no-one knows who he is.

2. Ed's football because it has 'do not lick' and 'do not kick' written on it.

3. I have let some tasks build up around. I have let them build up so much that they seem insurmountable. However, I wade in, and sooner than I would have thought possible, an expenses spread sheet is printed out, an email to a friend who owes me money is written, enquiries are made about a meeting and an agenda has been drafted. Now there's just the grill pan...

PS: Happy birthday, Bumface. Which leads me a fourth beautiful thing... I have had a little sister for 23 years.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Letting things slip, giants and princesses.

1. Having breakfast so late that it's almost lunchtime.

2. James and I caught the steam train back from the High Rocks. We wandered into the exhibition and saw a little boy almost hyperventilating with excitement over the model track. Then we got a tour of the engine shed with a steam enthusiast. Among bottles of white spirit, wet paint, puddles of oil and greasy rags, we talked trains for an hour - steam engines in various states of undress, an ugly Polish pile of rivet-spotted rusting iron that had been brought to England on two lorries, the 1960s diesels with their huge turbines. Then the buffet car man joined us. 'This young lady's got strong shoulders,' he said about me. 'She could be a driver.' I was tempted...

3. There is a chocolate shop on the Pantiles that is run by an African princess. There has got to be a fabley little story in that. And their icecream is very good, too!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Bunches, flying and redemption.

1. Buckets of cornflowers and sweet williams and dahlias at the Farmers' Market.

2. Scaling a fish for the first time - don't the scales get everywhere!

3. Sin City, which is a horribly violent film, but really intriguingly shot in B&W but with little slashes of colour as needed - red shoes, golden hair, yellow bastard, turquoise car. It has three stories that touch each other and then veer apart. And it makes you care about nasty, nasty men, too.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Picture this, under water and storm.

1. Getting a mystery film processed and finding pictures from before Christmas on it. Including some of Rose asleep on the sofa.

2. Driving home through dark Sussex lanes bellowing out Yellow Submarine

3. Thunder rolling around and then the rain coming.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Open, run and cool.

1. In the precinct there are quite often Bolivian buskers in bowler hats and ponchos. They play breathy pan-pipe music. Walking home I spotted the street sweeper teaching them a new song. He sang it quietly and rather hesitantly and they piped along.

2. A very small boy racing his dad down the street: 'Run, Daddy, run.'

3. People sitting on their doorsteps last thing at night.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Shh, ready to go and poplar.

1. Sleeping in as much as I wanted - I woke up properly at about 11am, then had some lunch and did some tasks before another kip until 4pm.

2. Letters ready for the postbox, specially if the envelopes are thick paper, and the stamps are pretty.

3. The way poplar leaves flicker at the tiniest breath of wind.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cooler, plans and Captain Jack.

1. Walking in the shade.

2. Eating icecream and talking weddings with Fenella.

3. Captain Jack Harkness in Dr Who. If it moves he will try to seduce it - this includes a robotic version of Trinny and Susannah.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Talk, flowers and veggies.

1. Eating lunch and gossipping in the shade on the Common with Katie.

2. The Mother has filled my flat with flowers - there is a vase of Gertrude Jekyll (comforting pink with tight layered spiralling petals and scent you could get drunk on); a vase of Rosa moyesii; some daisies in a Coke bottle; a vase of Alchemilla mollis and roses white and red and a vase of ranunculus ranging from butter yellow to orange squash colour to creamy white to regal purple.

3. Courgettes cooked in mint.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Red hat, how does he do it and toasty.

1. Went to a Midsummer service at Brighton Unitarian Church. There were three chances for the congregation to go up and share something summery. One lady in a parrot print dress walked to the front and said: 'I've brought my hat. Well, it's not my hat. It's a family hat.' It was red straw with long green ribbons. She explained that one day her daughter, who is a bit of a worrier, was walking to school with a friend and fretting over the latest whatever it was. After a bit, the friend got tired of being worried at and said: 'Here, if you can't stop worrying, you'd better take my hat.'

2. A man playing the fiddle while walking on a tightrope.

3. I am a chilly mortal, and sleep really badly if I am too cold. I sleep year round rolled up in a winter duvet and wrapped in a shawl, but last night it was warm enough that I could sleep in just a sheet.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Boys, furniture and more boys.

1. It's 10am, and the mercury is quietly creeping up, so we go to an an air-conditioned cinema and see Batman Begins. It features the most beautiful villain in film history - Cillian Murphy. I am smitten.

2. Antique Chinese wardrobes. I am going to have one when I have a bigger place that needs a wardrobe. They are solid, blocky and rather modern looking in form, but have all the friendly scuffs and stains of an antique. Some of them have little pictures on of people, landscapes or dragons.

3. Revenge. It's not a dish best served cold; it's a welcoming gay club where you can hang out with the boys and do whatever you feel. This includes painting your nails (Pat, Barry and PaulV); stealing sailor hats from pretty boys (Bluety) and removing your shirt (Barry, PaulV, Jon, Jay, Ross, Bluety and Pat)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Lots of Cs, jelly and zzzz.

1. After a haircut, looking at the curls left on the floor.

2. Pink jelly babies.

3. Dozing on the sofa while waiting for the phone to ring.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Red, squares and waxy.

1. Freeze dried fruit - at the mo I'm eating Special K red berries. It has strawberries, raspberries and cherries in it, and they are pleasingly sharp.

2. Those caramel wafers that you put over your mug of coffee until they go gooey.

3. New potatoes with skin that peels off when you wash them.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Dusk, green fizz and Mrs Hauksbee.

1. Light evenings.

2. Lime and soda 'than which there is no prettier tipple,' according to Selsea Bill, the narrator of an Eleanor Farjeon story. I like mine with gin, though, and it must be Rose's Lime Cordial, or it's just not the same.

3. Kipling's Plain tales from the hills. Mrs Hauksbee is one of my favourite heroines. She gives way gracefully if women want their husbands back, is not above forgery to advance those she likes, puts her riding crop to her mouth while she's thinking of ways to save young men from the likes of Mrs Reiver ('There was nothing good about Mrs. Reiver, unless it was her dress. She was bad from her hair - which started life on a Brittany's girl's head - to her boot-heels, which were two and three-eighth inches high. She was not honestly mischievous like Mrs. Hauksbee; she was wicked in a business-like way.').

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fragrant, pussycat and banged grains.

1. Bought a new pair of rugged sandals. They claim to have antibacterial soles. How useful is that? Ha ha, take that sandal stink.

2. Radio 4 is presenting a dramatisation of Mapp. E. F. Benson's books about middle-class oneupmanship and shameless snobbery are great favourites of mine, and this version by Ned Sherrin has captured Miss Mapp's wicked old pussycatness very satisfactorily.

3. Popcorn - the salty kind.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Sparkling, bounce and nice cup tea.

1. Drinking a bottle of fizzy cranberry juice after a bacon roll for breakfast.

2. Podding peas into a saucepan. They make a good boingy noise.

3. Tea for which I didn't queue or pay £1.50.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Yah, last of the sun and sickle moon.

1. A very little girl with red cheeks and very blue eyes attacking a fierce Taz balloon before it attacked her.

2. Black clouds had been racing across the sky all afternoon but just before sunset they cleared covering the crowd with a long, low light.

3. For REM's very last song they turned the camera on the sickle moon and the screen was so high res that we could see the craters.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

It's time to leave home, I'll never drink again and solid by Clare.

1. Sitting under an oaktree watching bluetits skrawch and scrabbit overhead teaching their babies to catch insects, while the babies try to convince their parents that they are so young they still need feeding. They do this by sitting on a branch and flapping until they seem to vibrate.

2. A boy with an eyelinered on mouse face and a broken leg so drunk that all he could do was fall over, grin goofily and throw up. He was surrounded by girls, who stroked his hair and let him lie with his head in their laps. Then his sister shouted at him, threw water in his face and called the paramedics. He was taken away on a stretcher to face his mother.

3. Everyone pissing themselves at Welsh crew Goldie Lookin' Chain: 'HRT is what I need. I'm growin' tits cause of smokin' too much weed.'

Oli again:

Bread, Castles, and Jumping Fountains by Oli.

1. I bought this parmesan and sun-dried tomato bread mix yesterday, made it, and had it for lunch. Home-baked bread, you see. Mmm. Sweet.

2. Knights and maidens used to live in them. In England we have loads of them. Turrety, flaggy and hard. Castles. Everyone likes them.

3. Water features, sculptures, gardens etc., in particular the jumping ones. Nothing was cooler than that as a nine-year-old at the EPCOT centre. Except maybe Space Mountain.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Tent, cup and shake by Clare.

1. We saw men carrying 20ft poles into the campsite and then a tipi went up. A chap shinned up a pole monkey-style, hanging upside down to adjust the canvas. 'Bet they're on the pull,' remarked Ian.

2. Pimm's tents with no queue.

3. Faithless had the crowd and everyone was dancing ecstatically.

Here are Oli's beautiful things

Joni, France and trust by Oli

1. She's not appearing at the Isle of Wight festival. I don't even know if she does live dates anymore. But MAN, this hippy chick can sing. And she's beautiful. Listened to Blue twice this weekend already.

2. It's big, its hexagonal, it's full of mouthy socialists that cook great chips. They make terrible pop music and they don't care. They have elevated daily living to a high art. It could only be France.

3. Letting a near complete stranger play around with your precious site. Oh the power. Some more beautiful things from me might follow if I behave.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Damp, you know me too well and cake.

1. Walking across dewy grass in sandals.

2. We visited a possible new office. It's on a farm. Chris commented that 'Three Beautiful Things will go mad for this: cows, manure, asbestos.'

3. Festival food shopping is different to normal food shopping. It involves jaffa cakes and popcorn and chocolate biscuits, not carrots and low fat yoghurt.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Slurp, mash and fairies.

1. Nougat milkshakes in tall, thick glasses with special milkshake straws - they have a sort of a scoop cut in the end so you can spoon up the last bits.

2. Potatoes mashed with yams and onion and garlic and fresh herbs.

3. Richard Dadd's painting the Fairy Feller's Master Stroke.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Garamond, numbers and green guides.

1. The typeface Garamond - I like it because it is gently old fashioned-looking, but very spacey, so its pages are light and airy.

2. Automatic page numbering. Anyone who has ever worked on a system that for some reason or other doesn't do page numbers by itself will know what a pain it is -- one little change means forty little changes.

3. Magnetic ruler guides. In publishing software, they help you to line up text boxes by catching hold of them when you move them about. They are usually green, and my screen is always criss-crossed with them because on paper text at different heights drives me mad, but on screen I just don't spot it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Pink roses, herbal and jam.

1. On my way to work I pass a Rosa moyesii growing over a wall. It is the one with ribbed light green leaves and dark pink flowers with yellow-gold stamens. It is my favourite rose ever for its deep, non-hayfevery scent. In Autumn it will put forth enormous bright scarlet hips.

2. The little crunchiness when you snip tiny bits of chives with a pair of scissors.

3. A teaspoonful of confiture chataignes a la vanille. This is chestnut jam. It is beigey brown and slightly gelatinous and a bit gritty to eat. It smells of marron glace. As I type this, I have to keep stopping to taste - to make sure the description is quite correct - and now my keyboard is slightly sticky.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Dinner, sweet tooth and fizzy.

1. A proper brightly coloured meal of gnocci, sauce, green salad, tomatoes and mozarella after a day of light eating.

2. Cats that eat fudge.

3. A tall cold glass of soda water.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Yapping, to sir with love and yo disco.

1. A bent old man in too short trousers making baby talk to a puppy tied up outside Morrisons. The puppy ignores him.

2. Home Truths this week included a report from a newly-retired teacher. His innercity students present him with roses stolen from the sixth form garden, and as he cycles off into the sunset, he thills because 'I'll never improve anyone again.' And when he meets his tutor group on the train, he thinks 'I know thee not young hoodies.' Finally, he concludes, 'They're all right considering. I'll miss them enormously.'

3. Dancing last thing at night with PaulV to dire disco records. I was particularly impressed by our impromptu routine for Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Cash, stories, dawn.

1. Massive cheques that you have done nothing to earn.

2. Story magazines (Interzone) can be a bit of a mixed bag. But this issue (May/June 2005) was flawless.
  • First there was a far-future story, Piccadilly Circus, of the last real humans descending into senility among those who have chosen to upload themselves into a computer-generated London. Loved the image of a batty, determined old lady riding into the centre of London on her mobility scooter, flicking between the potholed physical world and the twinkly Consensual Field.
  • Then Go Tell the Phoenicians by Matthew Hughes, a detective story about a mysterious new alien race - one of my favourite genres. Bastogne V.9 is about soliders who suspect they are a computer simulation.
  • The Court of the Beast Emperor (John Aegard) is beautiful - it's about judges who take on the pain of the judged. It's told through the eyes of a petitioner who wants his love released from a bond to the army.
  • Finally, Dominic Green's terrifying The Clockwork Atom Bomb is set in the aftermath of a war between the People's Democratic Republic of Congo and the Democratic People's Republic of Congo. It tells, with sharp wit, of horrendously frightening weaspons technology and how it was used in peacetime. It also lampoons the UN's ugly acronyms - UNPERFORCONG; UNTASFORDEMRECONG.

3. Setting the alarm for Saturday time 8.30am instead of 6.30am.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Roots, knot and jaybird.

1. Radishes - bold crimson colour and bold taste.

2. I am embroidering quietly, and suddenly the thread shortens dramatically. On the back of my fabric a knot has appeared strangling a long loop of thread that will get in the way of any other stitches I try to do. Curses. I give it an experimental tug to see if it will come apart on its own. No luck. The only thing to do is to patiently tease it apart and work out where it came from. I like the moment when it all falls apart and thread comes free.

3. On last few walks home from work, I have seen a jay hanging about in the same spot. I am hoping he will drop a blue and black and white striped feather for me to find.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Olives, recognition and mending.

1. Eating a few olives before supper.

2. Playing a record bought because I liked the cover and realising that I know the music on it.

3. The hot water suddenly turns cold in the middle of the washing-up. Tomorrow, the man is coming to fix the boiler once and for all.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Bed, iron and jelly.

1. Sleeping diagonally across a double bed, rolling myself up in the entire quilt and using both pillows.

2. Raw spinach.

3. Making jelly requires faith because it seems so unlikely that it will set.