Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ox bow, yellow submarine and whistler.

1. Flying over London and seeing the loops of the Thames. And later seeing the shadows of loops whose rivers have moved on.

2. The Yellow Submarine has apparently crashed into the forecourt of the John Lennon Airport. Oli noticed numerous signs directing people to it

3. The happy messages from BBC Radio 2 listeners about David Morris, whistling world champion.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Porcelain, film and leave it for someone else.

Two recent posts that I have enjoyed about 3BT -- one on Now's the Time marking Joe's 500th entry; and one in Coulter's Heaven.

1. Oli's excitement about his new bathroom.

2. Going to the cinema with people who play 'Guess what this is advertising.'

3. The wanton destruction in James Bond because no-one appears to worry about who is going to clear it up.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Small person, men at work and joyous.

Items of interest
And now, back to normal service.

1. Being allowed to hold the nephew of He Who Shall Not Be Named. The baby was very sweet -- even if he did posset, hiccup and suffer from a bit of wind. It was also good to meet HWSNBN's sister, having heard so much about her, and it's always fun to have a baby to pass round the office.

2. A mysterious noise outside my window turns out to be the Men From the Council stringing Christmas lights across the High Street. They were working just a couple of bay windows away from me.

3. Being told that 'joyous' is a 'very Clare word.'

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mole rats, lost treasures and crowd.

1. A wildlife documentary involving naked mole rats. I like mole rats because they live in bee-like colonies, with a queen running the show. I think this shows an admirable determination to do their own thing.

2. A programme of BBC radio shows believed lost but then recovered. My favourites were The Green Machine -- a factory worker bonds with his vibrating sprocket press causing chaos on the factory floor; and The Great Fire of London -- a collection of eyewitness accounts of historical events.

3. Something Andy said to me on Saturday -- the more I think about it, the more I like it, which is why it counts for today. He pointed out that the 180 hits each day on Three Beautiful Things is about the same number of people as a primary school assembly. So... uh... play nicely, and please note that the loos by the adventure playground are out of bounds until the plumber removes the tennis ball from the soil pipe.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Afternoon tea, cowshed and heels.

1. Being invited downstairs for afternoon tea with scones and jam and cream and teapot tea.

2. Ellen saying that when she was little, she used to go into the cowshed on the farm where she grew up and sit with the cows. Because of this, the smell of cows and silage makes her happy

3. Not falling off my heels all evening.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nearly home, just made it and synchronicity.

1. Towards the end of a journey, spotting 'Tunbridge Wells' on a roadsign.

2. Getting back to the office moments before Oli, who usually gives me a lift to and from work, leaves for the day. This mean that I didn't have to make anyone go out of their way.

3. Katie calls and she sounds as tired as I do. We chat for a while discover that we are both about to curl up with comforting DVDs -- Nanny McPhee for Katie and Kiki's Delivery Service for me.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Snap, meeting and sea views.

1. Our director talking about his photography -- more particularly, the pictures that he missed because the traffic was bad and he couldn't stop -- and sounding just like my father.

2. When waiting somewhere cold and damp for a friend, seeing them pull up in their car.

3. Being shown my hotel room and discovering that it has a view of the sea from two sides.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Watching for mother, swift Douglas and Newfoundland

1. A little girl peering round the school gate watching her mother walking back to the car.

2. Every lunchtime Douglas drops in on us on his way to the shower so we can tell him how wonderful he is for going out running in his lunch hour.

3. The Shipping News -- this time the film version. It's one of my favourite books ever for the eccentric local newspaper and because it is the story of a man learning that he is allowed to be happy. The film is fantastic -- it looks exactly like the pictures I imagined while reading book.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Duvet man, userfriendly and old songs.

1. On my way to work I see a man apparently naked apart from a duvet and a pair of shorts sitting on a bench shaking and muttering. It's a pretty cold morning, so I stop to see if he's OK. His eyes snap open -- they are twinkly and clear -- and he smiles at me, showing a mouthful of discoloured teeth. 'I'm fine,' he says cheerfully. 'Just having a pray. I choose to live like this, but if you happen to have a couple of quid so I can buy some food...' He isn't at all grumpy about having his prayers interrupted. We chat a bit about Sainsbury's and where he might get his breakfast. He reminds me of the holy men I saw in Nepal -- at a certain time in a man's life, he hands all his responsibilities over to his sons and goes off for a wander. He grows his beard and hair and lives on whatever people give him. In due course, he comes home and settles back into the household as if he has never left.

2. At work we have had a new website installed. It's a huge change and has caused chaos, with lots of new skills to be learnt. Things are starting to settle down and we are learning the site's ways. Yesterday a new feature that users have been clamouring for was added, much to everyone's relief. Now we just have to teach them how to use it.

3. Finding an ancient mixtape of mine. It plays some songs that I haven't heard in years, and I find myself singing along, remembering the key changes and the tricky rhythms as if they'd never been away.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I owe you, anything might happen and chatting.

1. He-who-shall-not-be-named driving me all the way home from work so I could turn the grill off. And hardly teasing me at all about this. We are thinking of something I can do to return the favour.

2. Changeable weather -- distant showers blowing in across the fields; the sun lighting up the raindrops on yellow oak leaves and a rainbow over the barn.

3. Phonecalls to and from: My grandmother; Katie; Claire M; Rosey; Lou and Rosey again. We were gossipping; organising; catching up and checking up.

Ideas, textile and comradeship.

1. The row of Christmas card proofs pinned to my notice board. I giving myself time to get used to the wording and typography.

2. Looking down at my cross-stitch and feeling as if I've achieved something. Cross-stitch scratches the same itch as sudoku and jigsaws, but at the end (if I've picked a good design) I have something pleasing to look at.

3. Being walked home on a revolting night of rain and high winds. Good company makes me bold, so we take all the shortcuts across the Common that I don't dare to use at night by myself.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Twinkle, convenience food and gravy.

1. One of my favourite Christmas-is-coming sights -- a council man in a cherrypicker carefully winding a string of lights round the small branches of the lime trees on the Pantiles.

2. Apples -- because I can eat them while I'm typing or reading without worrying about stickiness.

3. Sherry in a beef stew. Beef gravy and sherry are made for each other.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

New baby, repairs and good neighbours.

1. He-who-shall-not-be-named's video of his very new nephew. What's this talk of miracles and the wonders of the hiccups of a five-hours-old baby? Surely the nameless one isn't broody.

2. My computer has been wrong for a while. I keep tweaking and testing, but the error keeps occurring. What I like is when I test for the umpteenth time and the pause between clicking the icon and something happening is just a bit too long; and then it works.

3. Very slightly pissed Fenella and Andy draped over my sofa telling me that I can't move out.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Father, grandfather and bread.

1. It was a sad day today because it was PaulV's dad's funeral. But the packed church was a tribute to a good and friendly man whose pride in his son's achievements have helped Paul blossom. My favourite bits were the vicar handing cough sweets to people with November caught in their throats; and the story about PaulV's dad taking a shortcut over the wall when he was late for church.

2. Reminiscing with my grandmother about my grandfather. I remembered him rolling down the lawn in their garden with me, Robert and Rosey when we were tiny. She said that he did the same at Dunorlan Park once.

3. Fenella brings me some French bread back from her business trip to Paris.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ten minute's grace, meeting point and stillness.

1. I race out of the house late and hurry down the High Street, jabbing at my phone to call John P who is giving me a lift. 'I'm late. Please don't leave without me!' 'That's fine, I'm just getting out of the bath. I'll be about ten minutes. Go and have a coffee.' So I go for a stroll round the park and admire the leaves which have suddenly turned yellow and gold.

2. A schoolgirl waiting for her friend in the middle of the park. All the secondary schoolgirls round here have a short skirt for their uniform. It makes them look very leggy and a bit awkward.

3. Before yoga, our hall is used by a very noisy children's group. They always run late, so we've taken to going in as they are clearing up. There is always shouting: 'Whose is this jacket?' 'Whose rubbish?' 'Pick up that bag and take it to the car!' 'Come on Becky! Hurry up!' and I really like the silence after the door bangs behind the last one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Carpool, office sounds and homeward bound.

1. All the people who are happy to ferry me to and from work.

2. The cheery beep of the sandwich van's horn and the cries of 'Sandwiches!' 'Sandwiches!' that chain around the building.

3. Late at night the sound of someone whistling as they meander down the High Street.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Marmalade, going down and dark.

1. Hilary brings a marmalade cake into work. We eat it for elevensies at 9.45am and then again for elevensies at 11am.

2. The sunset call. At this time of year, at around 4.20pm, one of the people sitting on the west-facing desks will say: 'Look at the sky!' and we all run to the windows -- or out into the carpark if it's an especially good one -- to admire the orange and red and pink stained sky.

3. Proper darkness -- living in a town I don't often see proper, pitch black, can't see my hand in front of my face. I grew up in the countryside, and I really miss it. However, now that the nights have drawn in and we never leave work, which is in the middle of nowhere, before nightfall, my darkness craving is satisfied.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Well red, vicar's bicycle and boots.

I don't mention Now's the Time nearly often enough -- Plutarch 3BTs here in Tunbridge Wells, and in my opinion, he is one of the most skilled 3BTers.

1. I've mentioned guelder rose and its gleaming red berries before; I'm going to mention it again because the leaves have now turned crimson.

2. A bike leaning against the back wall of a country churchyard at service time.

3. My Berghaus walking boots. Since I bought them back in 2000, they've taken me to Nepal, China and round Africa. They've been up and down mountains and tramped across the mud of Kent and Sussex farmlands. They've protected my feet on a volunteering holiday and walked me safely to work on snowy days. They've been paddled through streams and shuffled through sand -- desert and beach. They've moved house three times with me. They've waited patiently in ski lockers for me to come back and marvel at how light they feel after a day in ski boots. So far, they show no signs of wearing out, so I hope they've got a good few miles left in them.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Discovery, style guidance and stand still.

1. There is something new on the apple juice man's stall. Bottles of pinkish Discovery juice. Being a sucker for anything pink, I put some bottles in my order. 'Have you tasted it?' 'No.' 'Have a try. Normally it doesn't make good juice, but this year...' He's right. It has a fantastic appley smell and it's sweet and sour all at once. While I drink it, I can imagine eating a Discovery apple and feeling the juice running down my chin.

2. Woman of a certain age overheard in a shoe shop: 'I've got to be tactful about what I wear: I'm a twin, you see.'

3. Everything stopping for the two-minute silence on the 11th of November at 11am. Gradually the stalls stop serving and everyone turns towards the war memorial to stand still and think about all those who died protecting our way of life.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Wonderment, vocals and ready meal.

1. He-who-shall-not-be-named is normally unmoved by anything; but a random gust of wind whirling leaves past our first floor window makes him marvel a little.

2. Ellen comes in to say that Douglas-downstairs is alone in the office and singing 'and he's rather good!' We crowd to the top of the stairs to try and hear him.

3. A neat little homemade shepherd's pie in an earthenware dish. I made it last night with some leftover mince and mashed potato. Much more satisfying than a ready meal.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Knife, assistance and tunes.

Note: Norm Geras has interviewed me on his eclectic Norm Blog -- it will appear sometime today. I've never been interviewed before, and was tremendously flattered, but also a bit blinded by the lights. If I sound like a moron, that's why. But anyway, I recommend poking around beyond the interview on Norm Blog as there seems to be something for everyone.

1. The easy way a brioche loaf slices. The knife seems to slip through it as if it wants to be in slices.

2. Now that Ellie is taking all our phone calls, it's much easier to concentrate on the work that I really enjoy.

3. Finding a CD that I've forgotten I own. Looking down the track list, I can't recall any of the songs; but once it's playing it all comes flooding back. The Coral -- The Invisible Invasion

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Shoot the messenger, long view and local news.

1. Responding to the office next door's cheeky request for a share of our biscuits by sending their messenger back with an handful of broken pieces.

2. Looking out from the carpark at work across the dark fields and woods to Crowborough, a mound of twinkles and sparks rising out of the mist.

3. Reading The Framley Examiner and spotting knowing references to all sorts of things. I'm convinced the writers are rogue subs from a middle England newspaper. Who else would know about community news correspondents who try to file their copy by emailing you an 8MB bitmap scan of their minutes?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Crumbs, computer whizz and snore.

1. The free box of biscuits that came with our 7.5kg tea bag order at work.

2. Ellie's story about a schoolfriend who somehow managed to put a macro on MSWord that closed it down every time she tried to launch it.

3. The chance to have an early night.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Warm comfort, shadow play and steamed buns.

1. Rolling over in the night and finding a still-warm hotwater bottle with my cold back.

2. Sunbeams slanting through trees so that the almost bare branches make shadows on the mist.

3. Showing James, Kim and PaulV the ways of Chinese steamed buns. They are light and sweet and fluffy, and I imagine that when we have evolved into Eloi this is the sort of thing we will pluck from trees and eat.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

House in order, been here before and reflection.

I've posted on One-at-all. That is all.

1. Feeling that my blog housekeeping is under control... if only the same could be said for real housekeeping.

2. While listening to a radio play, getting a very strong mental picture from it. Then I realise that the picture is the cover of the book version that I read when I was 13. The Blade of the Poisoner is on Radio 7 this week. The story is the efforts of band of adventurers to save a boy marked by a poisoned blade. The scratch will kill him in a month unless... unless... my memory doesn't go back that far, but I'm sure it involves a disparate band on a mission apparently doomed to fail through a lavish fantasy landscape, all the while pursued by the Poisoner, his stupid guards and their trained spiders.

3. I know there is a wonderful sunset visible from the back window on the landing because the white walls of the buildings over the street from the window in my flat take on a warm pinkish glow.

Valued customer, little indie boys and one mind.

1. My favourite vegetable man has not been at the Farmers' Market on Civic Way recently. It was a relief to find that he has defected to the Pantiles Market and that he hasn't forgotten me. And while browsing in one of my favourite bookshops, the Pantile Papertole -- it's the sort that stocks a jumble of used and new -- I am offered a cup of tea by the owner. That's service for you.

2. At the Dunorlan Park fireworks, a little indie boys wearing a long striped top and his hair gelled down into a lank fringe at the front and up into tufts at the back. He had his arms around two girls. He made me think of a Rolling Stone. They almost fell over three more little indie boys who asked in cracking adolescent voices: 'Are you gonna stay in town after this?' 'He's got to be home by 10 o'clock,' said one of the girls.

3. The joy with which the crowd greeted the fireworks. At first there were some sarcastic oohs and ahhs, but these were quickly replaced by genuine gasps of amazement at high rockets exploding overhead in umbrellas of coloured stars and smoke; and clouds of bright fireflies falling slowly earthwards before twinkling out one by one.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Letters, children's classic and still alive.

1. Two lovely long emails from friends, and text message full of news from another friend, and a note from Fenella's mother with a wedding photograph.

2. The bit in Swallows and Amazons where Titty is left alone on the island to put candles in the leading lights. I like it because she enjoys her own company so much, but then wishes she could go back to Holly Howe after her mother comes to visit.

3. My neighbours coming round to check that I'm still alive; and a get well soon note from work in the comments for yesterday's post.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Biscuits, cranes and small things.

1. The venue we use for our London conference has a conservatory with a glass roof. While we had lunch there, we saw a crane on a nearby building site moving a skip high overhead. My father always says that while there are cranes in the city, everything's all right.

2. The biscuits at the conference venue, and seeing one of our speakers pocketing a few packs. He said he'd come back because he'd forgotten his coat.

3. The O. Henry story, The Head-Hunter.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lucky pills, hear no evil and Welsh myth.

1. Ow ow wisdom teeth alert. My jaw hurts, my ear aches, my throat is sore and I am hot and cold all over. Woe is me. Then I remember talking to my dentist about wisdom teeth-related emergencies while I was in Africa earlier this year. He gave me course of antibiotics just in case. Are they still in date? Yes. And the capsules are a cheery and reliable-looking red and yellow.

2. My work computer has no speakers. Boo. But this means I have to use earphones if I want to listen to the radio at lunch time which means almost no interruptions by the phone and people wanting things, because I can't hear them.

3. BBC Radio 7 had a dramatisation of The Owl Service. It's a novel by Alan Garner inspired by the Welsh Blodeuwedd myth. I read it when I was very young and didn't really appreciate the whole love-triangle class tensions plot, but this time I got a lot more out of it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Arrogance, praise and flying fish.

1. The special kind of arrogance required to be a writer. If I don't have it, I don't believe my work is worth reading and therefore I don't write anything. When it's in full flow words come out of my fingertips and know that what I am saying is fascinating and compelling. I imagine this is what being a man is like.

2. The people at work who oh and ah over my cross-stitch. It's easy to forget when I keep my nose to the fabric, thinking only of the next stitch, just how much I have done.

3. The fish that swim through the air in Mirrormask.