Sunday, July 31, 2005

Blue-grey, luxury and after hours.

1. My new fleece, which is the colour of a very clear sea reflecting thunder clouds.

2. Having lobster and steak cooked for us - thank you Andy. We didn't have anything to crack the lobster with, so it was all a bit savage with people passing round greasy bits of meat, saying 'have a bite of this.'

3. Lock-ins at the pub.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Here's how, ash and space.

1. Writing instructions. I'm writing a help file for work and the words go down very easily. I think it must appeal to my bossiness. Or possibly I get it from my grandmother - her seaside house was full of instructions: 'Window keys on piano'. 'Close lid on loo before opening cupboard or contents may fall in.' 'Kettle may be hot.'

2. Vacuuming up the little piles of ash and matches left after burning incense.

3. The way a good tidy-up makes the flat look about four times bigger.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Caffeine, DD and editing.

1. Coffee with cinnamon.

2. Utilities by direct debit, because by the time you get your bills they have already been paid.

3. Finding a writing competition with subject matter that really inspired me: The Editor From Hell. You have to write 600 words, and it gets printed on a T-shirt.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Low cloud, less travel and social conscience.

1. A damp mist has fallen over town, which is not usual in summer. It is curious to see trees in full leaf but veiled and indistinct with their tops disappearing into the whiteness.

2. Tesco for labelling their frozen peas as British. Well done for helping us keep an eye on our food miles. Hope you'll think about adding a county soon - or better still, the name of the farm.

3. Fenella and Andy for standing up to a man-pig caught trying to turn our block of flats into a pissoir.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Willows, piebald and indulgent.

1. Walking into a charity shop and seeing a beautiful 1950s Wind in the Willows illustrated by E.H. Shepard. Wind in the Willows is one of those books I like to read and re-read. I have had an edition illustrated by Michael Hague since I was seven, and flipping through this new copy I've already spotted some familiar compositions.

2. I saw five magpies, and it reminded me of the counting rhyme One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy. Five for silver, six for gold and seven's a secret that's never been told. I like counting rhymes because they have a good walking rhythm. And the ones to help you remember the alphabet, too.

3. Walking home across The Common and seeing other people out enjoying the rain, too, including a lady walking a big white poodle, and someone far off with a bright crimson umberella.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wet, stars and Lark Rise.

1. The smell of woods after it's been raining.

2. Spotting six-pointed stars moulded on the drainpipes at the Church of King Charles the Martyr.

3. Lark Rise to Candleford. Flora Thompson's autobiography is a very readable account of farm labourer's life at the end of the 19th century. My father introduced me to it when I was about seven or eight and it was probably one of the first 'proper' books I ever read. I'm not sure why he lent it to me - possibly because I'd been reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books - but I was very impressed by its thickness, and I remember being puzzled by a paragraph about a bull 'justifying his existence'. I loved the accounts of children's games, too.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Moving up, lair and monks.

1. I am trying to do 100 pages for Project Gutenberg's Distributed Proofreaders in July. I like seeing my name creep up the league table for number of pages completed.

2. Saw Fantastic Four - their lair is in the Baxter Building, which has these beautiful inlaid wood-pannelled lifts and a dramatic domed top that sparks satisfyingly whenever Reed carries out experiments.

3. Sitting in bed with a Cadfael novel. Brother Cadfael is Ellis Peters' Medieval monk detective. The history is so well explained and the setting so carefully researched that the books really do come to life. I also like the skilfully dropped hints and neatly laid red-herrings. As with any good detective novel, once you've read a few and got a feel for the author's style, you can often solve the mystery.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bread not bombs, books and ink.

1. I dreamed about walnut bread, and when I got to the Flour Power stall, there was one loaf left, so I bought it.

2. Selling a few old books and spending all my profits at the deli.

3. It's about time I had some new pens, so I go into the stationer's and spend a happy half hour deliberating over the merits of roller balls and gel in pens - fine and broad - in a selection of colours, before leaving with the same brand I have always used.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Numbers, nibbles and lift.

1. Oli teaching me how to do sudoku.

2. While eating tapas and drinking wine on the High Street, we rescue Joe who is sitting by himself - he is friends with one of the waiters.

3. I set off for home, but PaulV comes racing after me in his car so I don't have to walk alone at night.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Gadget, flag and Mother Hubbard.

1. Discovering that I can put an MSWord document on my personal organiser; and they actually come out on the little screen looking like the original.

2. The building opposite me has replaced its grubby St George cross flag with a shiney clean red, white and blue Union Jack.

3. Discovering a last tin of sardines in the back of the cupboard after a brief panic about supper.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Zoom, purple and dinner at last.

1. Work took us all go-karting yesterday. I was pretty apprehensive, being someone who doesn't much like driving, but when it came to it, we had a really good time. They never turn the engines off, so you don't have to worry about stopping and starting; and there are no gears, either. All you have to trouble with is two pedals, one for go fast and one for go slow.

2. Buddleja in late sun. There is something about low-angled sun that makes the mauve flowers almost glow.

3. Being fed when you are really, really hungry.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Best of Now, greys and Star Wars.

1. I like reading Best of Now because the writer, Joe Hyam, lives near me. I imagine we must pass each other in the High Street or in the park without knowing each other, but both on the look-out for beautiful things.

2. Watching a squirrel eating a nut. I know grey squirrels are plaguiferous tree rats, but this one was posing five feet above me with his fluffy tail curled up over his head, nibbling on an acorn.

3. The Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series. I love the blocky artwork; and I love the fourteen to one action to talking about stuff ratio. And also the awesome moves that you just can't do in live action.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wordplay, awe and salon.

1. The word rambutan. It's a sort of fruit.

2. The strange street sweeper (see previous post about South American musicians) leaving his barrow and, brush still in hand, wandering into the greengrocers with a beatific smile on his face. I'm thinking that perhaps he likes the colours of the fruit and veggies on display -- and who doesn't?

3. Getting people together who can help and advise each other. I had PaulV and Jon round to dinner, and they schemed and plotted all evening, pausing frequently to gawp out of the window at passing 'totty', leaving me in peace to get on with the cooking .

Monday, July 18, 2005

Feeding, job done and artists.

1. Being bought lunch by my mother.

2. When people ask how the proofreading is going, being able to say: 'I've reached my target for the day.'

3. Going to an art exhibition and seeing paintings by people you know.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Red, midges and duties.

1. A slice of cured beef from the Italian market. It is a deep, glowing red, and it tastes of the best, juciest, tenderest roast beef imagineable. It's almost too nice to eat with anything else.

2. Midges dancing in golden end-of-the-day sunlight.

3. Discovering that as bridesmaid I have to organise Fenella's hen party. Chocolate cake and waterpistols all round.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Post, tickets and absorbed.

1. Posting a parcel.

2. Picking up tickets for a journey.

3. Realising that an hour has gone past and you've barely noticed because you've been quietly absorbed in something.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Class, off the train and got to tell you.

1. People who always look stylish and elegant because they carefully match their jewellery to the rest of their outfit.

2. At 9pm there are still some families sitting in the park. Most of the fathers are wearing shorts and T-shirts, except one who is in smart casual and carrying a briefcase - he must have come straight from work.

3. PaulV waking me up with a phone call at midnight because he wants to tell me that his archnemesis is about to be dumped but doesn't know it yet.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Stone, rice and sweet.

1. A cool stone floor under bare feet.

2. Wild rice.

3. Marks and Sparks puddings - particularly the diet ones that actually taste of what they're supposed to. I had a mocha thingy that came in a real drinking glass. It had a cloud of chocolate mousse on top, and then a puddle of chocolate-coffee custard underneath.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Pennies from heaven, journey and eggses.

1. Because of the travel plans and various other things (saving for a new boiler, moving my mortgage, expensive tastes), extra pennies are very welcome now. So a beautiful thing is when freelance work falls into your lap right when you need it even though you hadn't been looking because you're in full-time work. I'm checking corrections to a fat book on human rights for the data management company next door.

2. Big fat envelopes from travel agents. The one I am particularly thinking of confirms that Rosey and I will definitely be going away to Africa for nine whole weeks, covering darkest, dankest part of next winter and the horrible biting wind part of Spring.

3. A box of speckly brown eggs.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Good spot, all together and sleep.

1. The rewards of virtue. I took my bottles and tins to the recycling bins, and what did I find sitting on top of the book bank but a little pile of unwanted singles - vinyl and CD. I had a good fertle through and ran away with a stash - a Thin Lizzie with a striking over-exposed photo cover; a Bananarama single with a scribbly birds and fishes design on the label; Shangrila and This Man He Weeps Tonight by The Kinks; and some Indie sampler CDs.

2. When you have everything you need -- passport, selection of payslips, other forms, recent bills, certificate of hygiene, bronze swimming award, pen -- to fill in an important and complicated application form.

3. Going to bed early -- in clean sheets -- with all chores down.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Get out, fairy queen and food.

1. Waking up and realising that it's a hot day and you have a line-up of outside things--a workshop in the park and a play on the Pantiles.

2. The fairy costumes in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this performance, Titania wore an ivy leaf bustiere and she had green sparkly eyelashes.

3. Here are the nice things I have eaten and drunk today: A tall mug of milky coffee while doing my morning computer duties. Some dolce latte cheese, a tomato with salt and pepper and some particularly good olive bread for late lunch. Martini Rosso and lemonade on the Pantiles. And bottles of beer and a handful of strawberries in the small hours.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

OJ, sweetpeas and beer.

1. Drinking orange juice when you have a hangover.

2. The colours and the scent of sweetpeas. I have a bunch which includes blood red, white and mauve. The scent is presently filling the flat.

3. Beer in the fridge. It is the nicest thing to pull out a 300ml bottle and drink it with your lunch on a Saturday.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Castle, manly and contacts.

1. Fenella and Andy took me to see the castle where they are having their wedding reception. It is a private home and has a winter garden (conservatory to you and me) full of tender vines and a library with dark carvings that look like they might click open to reveal a secret cupboard containing a will and evidence of the young hero's legitimacy. Upstairs is a pink and green flowery room for the bride to use if she wants to dab at her make-up, change into her travelling dress or have a little cry when she feels overcome. It has a bathroom en suite through an archway - no door because this is a properly posh house. Outside there is a manicured law, finishing with a ha ha for amusing drunks to fall over. There is also a walled kitchen garden, complete with decaying hothouses, growing nothing but grass and weeds.

2. One of my mates has over the last few years been somewhat emotionally constipated. Last night in the pub I spotted him dabbing away a little tear with the edge of his shirt.

3. Discovering that one of the writers is a friend of a friend.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Stitch, limes and screenplays.

1. The way knitting gets longer and longer.

2. I've mentioned this before, but I love the smell of lime blossom. It's around for such a short time each year so I make a special effort to spend time among lime trees. It's best up at Wellington Rocks if you stand in a sunny spot in the late afternoon.

3. Watching a film based on a book and spotting the changes and trying to work out why they were made.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Swish, walk now and I'm all right Jack.

1. The sound of water being swept off a patio with a stiff broom.

2. Walking out of the Post Office and on to a crossing that has just that second changed to the green man.

3. My copy of Avram Davidson's Limekiller finally arrived. These six short stories are set in a mythical colony, British Hidalgo where slightly unreal things happen. I love them for their lush Caribbean setting, and the laid-back, easy-living yet scholarly hero Jack Limekiller, who putters up and down the coast in his yacht Sacharissa solving supernatural mysteries along the way. I first met him in a fat book of sci-fi novellas, which included "Manatee Girl, Ain't You Coming Out Tonight", a tale of fear and inbreeding. I wanted more Limekiller, so hunted down two Avram Davidson anthologies, only to discover that Manatee Girl was in both.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Tourists, courtship and wool.

1. Japanese ladies gathered outside a hotel. One of them was making notes about a flowering bush.

2. Blackbirds and what they might be saying:
Him: I am going to ravish you.
Her: Oh oh, my wing is broken, I can only hop. I will just have to submit to your rough masculinity... nyah nyah, not really. (flutters across the path)
Him: I mean to have you, even if it must be burglary.
Her: (from the next patch of grass) Shyah right. This worm is bigger than anything you have to offer.

3. I am knitting a tension square for a pair of socks. I am using it to hone my knit-two-purl-twoing. I like the moment when the knitting is long enough so you can see the ribbed pattern for the first time.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Pop, con-cen-trate and touch.

1. I walk under a wild cherry tree. The pavement is covered in fallen cherries, which pop and crunch under my feet.

2. There is a shop being done up near work. A plasterer is sealing cracks, poking his tongue out as he works.

3. When I write I press too hard, so the backs of my notepad pages take on a lovely nubbly, veiny texture.

Monday, July 04, 2005

I can hear music, comfort and advice.

1. Walking home from a party as the sun comes up, I hear chill-out music coming from an open-windowed flat in the High Street. I sit on the kerb for a moment listening.

2. I have a hangover. James brings grapes and a Katie Melua CD.

3. PaulV loving me enough to tell me off when I've been bad.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Whee, juicy and party.

1. A very little girl on the train almost expiring from excitement when we went into a tunnel ('Dark!') and then again when we came out ('Dayli!')

2. A handful of really tasty Kentish cherries.

3. In a garden full of little fairy lights we sit round a table that is steadily disappearing under a coat of bottles and cans and discuss favourite Dr Who stories.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bedding, water and orange.

1. Robert slept on my floor on Thursday night. In the morning he asked 'What shall I do with all this?' I watched in amazement as he packed up the air bed and put the sheets in the washing bag.

2. Waking to the dripping sound of just-watered hanging baskets and the whirr of the water bowser going past.

3. Smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Chocolate, ants and music.

1. Kinder Bueno - they are creamy, wafery, chocolatey and have two fingers.

2. Project Gutenberg's Distributed Proofreaders. Everyone works together, page by page, to put out-of-copyright books on the net for all to read.

3. Listening to a band in the pub down the road from the sofa in my flat.