Saturday, March 31, 2007

Handover, ohh sparkly and look what I found.

1. Struggling with a piece of work and having someone take it away.

2. A client rings because she wants to be talked through opening a course. When it works, I hear someone ohhing in the background. The client says: 'I think she likes the pictures.'

3. The satisfaction of, for once, spotting an error that He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named missed.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Good morning, shared blossom and over the valley.

1. Waking up to Radio 3 in the middle of a piece of music. At 7am, Susan Sharpe comes on to end her six-hour shift on Through the Night and she always thanks the listeners for their company.

2. A couple of branches of delicate pink cherry blossom hanging over a back fence.

3. Having a moment to turn and look back over the whole of Tunbridge Wells before I walk down the back of Mount Ephraim.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Roller, spring scents and marks of achievement.

1. We are puzzled. John's car has rolled backwards right out of its parking space, despite the fact that the brake was on. It is blocking twenty cars in, so it can't have been there all that time we were eating lunch. Can it?

2. The smell of a lawn being mowed.

3. The man we are meeting refuses a biscuit because he is on a diet. The sleeves of his jacket are much too long and his shirt cuffs fall over his hands. These are badges of honour.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Apple cake, ears and weekend plans.

1. Charlotte has saved me a slice of the apple cake that she brought in on Monday.

2. Pip the dog ambling over to have her ears rubbed. She is very understanding, that dog.

3. Rosey rings, wondering if I'd like to join her for the weekend.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hope, open or shut and fresh start.

1. I tell the doctor how I am feeling and he gives me some flash cards to look at. I put 'I am so lonely' and 'I often think about suicide' and 'There is no hope' on the false pile.

2. The sun is warm but the air is cool and shopkeepers are arguing about whether to have the door open or not.

3. Among pink camelia flowers browned by last week's icy weather, a single perfect bloom.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Baby, down tools and I've heard so much.

1. Running into our neighbours and their new baby, because they are so happy.

2. Deciding that I have written enough pages and done enough playing resurrected ancient point and click adventures and that I am going to spend the rest of the evening with the lights off listening to the radio.

3. A radio programme dedicated to characters and places that are always off screen. My favourite clip was from a series in which Peter Ustinov and Peter Jones drove round looking for Copthorne Avenue.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Opening up, transport and all in one go.

1. Among the wizzened rosehips and whippy briars below my window are green leaves are unfurling.

2. Boys rolling down the hill sitting on their skateboards.

3. Thanks to the marvels of web radio, listening to four episodes of a radio play on the trot.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Busy, buns and Princess.

1. When He Who Shall Not Be Named goes quiet, and we know he's up to something.

2. Hot cross buns -- the posh sort that taste of spices and freshly baked bread.

3. Princess Mononoke -- another animation from Studio Ghibli. In particular, the mist and the scene where spots of rain fall on dry rocks.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sticky, plums and architecture.

1. Nutella chocolate spread.

2. Purple and yellow plums in our veggie box.

3. Catching the motifs in a film, and spotting the source of a plot twist.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Talking time, droll and what line.

1. Being driven to work by Oli because it gives us the chance to chew over work issues and to discuss writing.

2. He Who Shall Not Be Named offers to let me do a scratch card. It shows a win of £50,000. I am dubious as the back suggests it should be 'filled in with invisible ink'. I caught him browsing jokes on Ebay recently. I wonder if this is one of them.

3. The quote from an Independent review on the front of Minotaur. It's by Barbara Vine (better known as Ruth Rendell). 'Vintage wine from the Rendell Vine.' I can imagine reviewers clawing at each other's faces for the chance to use this line.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Smoke, dancing shoes and where did that come from.

1. The smell of rosemary burning under the grill.

2. I call Lou to see if she's going to salsa. Secretly, I hope she's not because I'm tired and cross. She doesn't want to go either; so we decide we better had go. As it happens, the lesson is great, with a couple of fun men to dance with; and we come out feeling much more cheerful.

3. Before going to bed, I need to race down the draughty hall and into the icy cold kitchen to fill my hotwater bottle. Still damp from my shower, I sit on the edge of the bed to ponder this epic journey. As I lean back, my hand finds something warm -- Katie has done it all for me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On the edge, Irish and hot and cold.

1. The persistent rumour that Angostura Bitters is poisonous gives me a reputation for dangerous living among some of my colleagues.

2. The barman has finished serving us, and as we go back to the table, Ellie whispers to me 'God I love his accent.'

3. Sharing a pudding of warm brownie, hot chocolate sauce and icecream.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Forgive, my room and fairytale.

1. Feeling cross with someone, and then not feeling cross with them and getting the chance to say so.

2. We all crowd into my room for breakfast because the sitting room smells of sleeping men. Katie and Peter take the sofa, while Ben has the desk chair. I'm sitting up in bed wrapped in layers of shawls and quilts. Peter says it's like an audience with an aged aunt. I look for something to throw at him.

3. The cicada fairy in Pan's Labyrinth.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Provisions, scrubber and that's rock 'n' roll

1. The butcher at the market comments that 'You girls always shop well.'

2. Walking across a kitchen floor that is no longer sticky because I cleaned it.

3. Watching a band and spotting their mothers videoing them.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bee, escape and pink.

All those curious about poledancing (particularly ye of little faith -- would I ever lie about anything on Three Beautiful Things?): here is an info page about the school. And here is our teacher's blog (the kitten who can't -- c'est moi.)

1. A large bumble bee on Oli's window. It's sitting still, so while Oli puts on his shoes, I get to admire his cellophane wings and his yellow and black coat. I've seen a few bumble bees already this year -- they're one of my favourite signs of spring -- but this is the first time I've had leisure to stop and have a good look.

2. A clump of sophisticated tan primulas has escaped from a garden on to the footpath bank.

3. He Who Shall Not Be Named going pinker and pinker as he gets drunk.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hand-in-hand, G&T and Rose.

1. At the end of the day, a couple sitting on a hill in the park watching the sky darken.

2. Gin and tonic made with Sainsbury's expensive variety of tonic water -- it doesn't have any artifical sweetners in it, and tastes so good.

3. The chance to have a long chat with Rosey. We spend a portion of it panicking because we can't remember the name of someone who went to Africa with us.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Darling buds, reject and yes you can.

1. Lying in bed listening to H.E. Bates' A Little of What You Fancy on BBC 7. The Darling Buds series is the ultimate in feel-good novels. The first time I read one, I couldn't believe something awful wasn't about to happen. I love Pop Larkin's luxuriant descriptions of the expansive Ma.

2. Getting a rejection slip from Mslexia. This might seem like a bad thing to non-writers, but it's not. First, every rejection slip is a badge of honour: It means you have sent a piece of writing out into the world, and that is an achievement in itself. Second, this was a very good natured rejection slip -- it said that the story had been shortlisted, along with 59 others and that 'Some submissions were rejected in order to create a balance of contrasting items. It may be that yours wasn't included because, by bad luck, it had exactly the same subject matter as a slightly stronger piece of work.'

3. In the (paraphrased) words of my poledancing teacher: 'That bit at the end where you stopped yourself falling. You were supporting your own weight on your arms, which you said you couldn't do. Now I know you can. Busted.'

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cake, oh ha ha and fairies.

1. Spotting a cake tin on a colleague's desk.

2. The simple amusement of changing the sounds on a colleague's computer and waiting for them to minimise a window, start a programme, receive mail etc etc.

3. At 11.30pm I crawl out of the book I've been proofreading -- eyes bleary, hands aching, text dancing before my eyes. I realise I never hung my washing out. I drag myself to the kitchen... only to find that the washing machine fairy has got there first.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cold feet, detective and mystery.

1. When you are hot from walking, standing in a stream and feeling your wellies cool down.

2. Towards the end of my lunchtime walk, I spot a man in black and white. Turns out it's a policeman doing some good old-fashioned tracking. He asks to see my boots so that he knows to ignore my footprints. I offer to walk up the field so as not to damage clues, but he says: 'It's all right, the prints I'm looking for are very distinctive.' I have visions of: a loose bear; a man with one leg shorter than the other and wearing stiletto heels; a barefooted doctor carrying a heavy load; a dog walking on its back legs in the company of a child with a wooden leg.

3. In the quiet part of the afternoon, somebody spots our boss working at the lock on the door of the cowshed opposite. We all run to the window to see what he's up to. He finally pulls the bolt out, goes in, and then comes out again. At this point, he spots his slack-jawed employees lollyganging at the window and shouts at us to get back to work.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Going green, red meat and Gunnerkrigg.

1. Katie has painted half of our living room in Summer Lichen -- it's a sort of a dirty light green. The other half is coming soon, but the two walls done look very fresh and cheerful. We are enjoying the way the paint has changed as it dried -- the first coat was suspiciously like institutional green, but the second coat made it look much more homey. It changes depending on the light in the room -- by day the colour is cool, and by lamp light, it's much softer.

2. A juicy piece of steak that is pink inside.

3. The more I think about it, the more I like Gunnerkrigg Court. It's sort of Harry Potter and sort of Series of Unfortunate Events and sort of something else entirely.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Vinefruit, shelves and clouds.

1. Sweet, dark purple grapes among oranges and apricots in the fruit bowl.

2. Our neighbours give us some shelf boards that they no longer want. They are perfect for our cloakroom, which needs more storage space. Once they are up, we might even be able to use it as a loo.

3.Settling into a bed among great clouds of new pillows.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

One ring, dinner on the go and blue grey.

1. The new guy at work has a tattoo in Elvish on his arm. And I recognised this.

2. Coming home and hearing cooking noises in the kitchen -- thanks Katie for taking on household duties while I get my proofing done.

3. Katie has celebrated my new bed by producing two blue and grey silk cushion covers. I find them on my bed when I get in from work.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Timing, basement baby and redolent.

1. PaulV is late, which means I get home from work in time to accompany him and Katie on a recycling and hot chocolate mission.

2. Baby Oliver from downstairs. His parents brought him up to visit so we could wonder at his thick black hair and his tiny, almost translucent fists. He kept his eyes screwed tight shut for the whole visit -- possibly a good thing because the shock of our red hall might have been too much.

3. The company downstairs at work has given me a book to proofread for some pocket money. The pages smell faintly of the director's cigars. It reminds me of university, because two of the tutors smoked cigars in their offices. I would have tutorials in a haze of blue smoke, and my essays would came back with a tobacco smell on them. For me, it's a good omen -- if there's a smell of cigars in a building, I'm going to be happy there.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Support, catch-up and fear.

1. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named has made a playlist for me and Katie to celebrate our new dance class -- it's called Now That's What I Call Poledancing 37. And someone has edited the first few business cards in the box on my desk. They now read:

Clare Grant
Healthcare Editor
And Exotic Dancer

2. A former colleague is doing some work downstairs. She comes up for a chat at lunchtime.

3. Poledancing is terrifying, and I'm really struggling with the idea of supporting my weight, letting go and sliding. So we try a move I definitely can do, and suddenly sliding down and landing on my knees is easy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Grunge, bed and contrition.

1. I am squatting awkwardly, jammed between the door and a planter, reaching through the balcony rail with a trowel to scrape grunge out of the gutter. A man walking past hears me scraping away, looks up and smiles at my grimace. This makes me smile back.

2. I got my new bed. After three months of sleeping on the floor, I don't need to explain how glad I am to make up a bed with sheets, pillows and a duvet.

3. Overhearing the bed delivery man ringing the florist and asking her to send £20 worth of flowers to his girlfriend. 'I'm in trouble. Put "I'm sorry and I love you" on the card.'

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Two wheels good, in the bag and batter pudding.

I scan a few blogs every day using Google Reader. I've added some clips of things that might to appeal to the sidebar -- they're at the top today, but I'll probably move them down later.

1. On most mornings, I am passed by a little boy on a wooden bicycle. It doesn't have any pedals, so the going is slow, until he comes to a hill when he lifts his feet and zooms away. He uses his feet to brake, which is hard on his shoes, but what a thrill to leave your yummy mummy jogging behind you as you fly down the wide curve of Madeira Park on your way to school.

2. Getting a text from my cousin Laura containing a beautiful thing: 'I just saw a man sprinting down the road like he was being chased by a mad axe man. I went round the corner and saw a paper cookie bag blowing after him!' There has got to be a story in that. What was in the cookie bag? Or what did he think was in the cookie bag? Or maybe it was some kind of message... Any thoughts?

3. Watching toad-in-the-hole rising through the glass door of the oven. It's better than television.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Cuff, mint and cleaned.

1. A cunning bracelet made from a bent silver fork.

2. Mint tea with fresh leaves floating in it.

3. Our newly cleaned cream sofa covers make the living room seem brighter and higher.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Customer service, you have them and wonderful flight.

1. Working on a website, I know that users often imagine that everything is automated. They wonder why when they ask for something at 5pm on a Friday, it doesn't get done until Monday morning. So 'cheers' to Fictionwise for processing a request to use Paypal within a couple of hours at the weekend.

2. Lou and I are shopping. We find a pair of shorts that we both want, but there's only one left. Lou lets me have it.

3. Laputa: The Castle in the Sky. Another tale of wonderful flight from Studio Ghibli, Laputa tells of an orphan boy who catches a girl floating down from the sky on the power of a strange amulet. Sky pirates and the army are chasing the girl because they believe she can lead them to the treasures of Laputa. The animation is sophisticated and beautiful -- my favourite scenes were the flapter chases, the constellation-like crystals in the darkness of the mines, and the floating cubes that powered the castle.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mechanics, mixers and landscape.

Hi to all the people coming in from The Courier. Check the links to the right for more local bloggers.

1. The lady at Neff Customer Services who gave me instructions for fixing the dishwasher, and the noise of the dishwasher working once more.

2. The colour of angostura bitters in soda water

3. A film with rain and fog and smooth seas and dark forests.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Where are my sunnies, spring is coming and going down.

1. Walking out of the house and wishing I had my sunglasses on.

2. Birds sitting in blossom trees with their feathers fluffed up. And where the sun had got into the trees, there were birds singing.

3. As I leave work, the sun is still well above the horizon, but it is showing red gold through gaps in the clouds.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Red hat, papers and bedding.

1. Nearly everyday some little girls go past the office window on their walk round the farm. One of them was wearing a bright red hat with two tassles sticking up on top.

2. The chemically smell of the Sunday Times Magazine.

3. Pulling the covers up around my ears and rolling over on to my hotwater bottle.