Monday, July 30, 2007

Blue, tick and time out.

Here, at long last, is a picture of the wonderful 3BT birthday cake made by my talented aunt. Go here for a more explainy version.



In other news, Lauren B has been hard at work inspired by 3BT -- see All the Good Blog Names Were Taken for more. Isn't it fun?

1. At lunch, as is customary on hot days, there is a small group of men sitting the gravelled car park discussing important man things like table tennis tactics. I spot a piece of ancient broken blue china on the ground, pick it up and put it on the table. Then I see a larger piece of Willow Pattern in the hedge. Next time I look up, more people are searching for bits of blue china, wondering aloud if this piece belongs with the Willow Pattern, or a different plate.

2. The faint tick that weather-boarded houses make when the sun is hot and the air is quiet.

3. A sofa, an open door, a glass of wine, some trashy women's magazines and graphic novels and a free evening.

Films, flannel and final phrase.

1. Kino, the cinema and cafe in Hawkhurst because the seats have enough leg room and no-one talks during the film.

2. I ask to borrow a flannel, and The Mother says not to tell anyone that she can only offer me a choice of eleven. I pick the one with a spotty dog on it.

3. My father comes in to say goodnight just as I am reading the last words of the new Harry Potter.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A story, boudoir bras and bats.

1. On a street corner Katie spots a Champagne bottle, three full plastic cups and three red roses. Our thoughts were: 'God bless Tunbridge Wells for its civilised drinking debris'; and 'There has got to be a story there.'

2. Going underwear shopping and discovering the concept of the boudoir bra. This is a piece of underwear deliberately not intended to brace, scaffold and restrain. Katie and I like Aphrodisia.

3. I meet Nick's parents for the first time and they show us the squirrels scuttering along the top of the board fence down the side of the house; and tell us about the bats that fell out of their roof and had to be rescued by the Bat Conservation Trust.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Take that, cucumber carving and walking home.

1. Oli has written a song celebrating Charlotte's policemen boyfriend -- it would be the theme tune to the TV series about him; and he's doing another one for me called He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named don't like my shoes (but I don't care) (except that it's got HWSNBN's real name in there, but I'm not allowed to mention it. He says he didn't say he didn't like my shoes, but that's just because he's cross that Oli is writing a song.

2. A crab carved out of a cucumber with antennae made of chilli pepper tips.

3. An umbrella to shelter under, an arm to hold and a light shower of rain.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Trousers, first aid and soft spot.

1. Putting on a pair of jeans in a shop and knowing straightaway that I want to buy them. They are slim fit boot cut in faded denim with some fancy tailoring so that the bright yellow linings of the pockets show a little. They have a decorative striped zip on the waistband, which could be used for smuggling contrabrand shoelaces, and there is crimson stitching on the back pockets.

2. Flatmates who gently and kindly extract splinters from my finger.

3. Katie wants some peace to finish Harry Potter, so I can get away with having a comfortable nap among the cushions on the sofa.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Choices, watermelon, gardening.

1. At the sandwich shop, they ask me to choose my piece of bread pudding from the dish.

2. The watermelon of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. He sliced it up and brought it round to our desks in green bowls. It looked beautiful and it was as cold and sweet and crisp as a watermelon should be.

3. Almost smothered by the bean vine and the tomato plant, our squash has flowered.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chorus, saving and camping.

1. At lunchtime I practise putting up my new tent. I am treated to a chorus of bawdy remarks about Clare creating an erection in the field.

2. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named hiding behind the woodpile with his camera, trying to capture instants of my life that will never come again.

3. The chemically smell of a brand new tent, excitement at the cunning features and the coolness of the tent pegs as they come out of the earth.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Worker bee, efficiency and luxury.

1. A confident but not cocky temp who picks things up quickly and then gets on with the task. Thanks Jo.

2. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named brings us freshly ground coffee in a Nutella jar.

3. An evening with spent eating dinner and lying on the sofas with friends, gossipping and throwing cushions at each other.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Prism, golden flower and kisses.

1. Having the time to watch rainbows from the crystal in my window dancing round the room.

2. An opulent costume drama. The Curse of the Golden Flower reminds me of Gormenghast with its secrets, endless corridors, clockwork rituals and poetically-named terraces. I loved the scale of it -- the picture often focused on one servant working and then pulled back to show the same task repeated over and over again.

3. A few kisses snatched in a darkened hallway.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Actor, charmer and flying.

1. At a book fair, I hear a familiar, rumbling voice: 'Have you got anything about trees?' It's Tom Baker. He chats to my companion, but I retreat in fan-girlish disarray to hide behind a book about cricket in Kent.

2. Babies, it would appear, think Nick is funny. Anonymous Nephew grins broadly every time their eyes meet.

3. A small witch's broom propped outside a front door. I wonder if it belongs to someone who had just returned with their copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Singalong, a soaking and snuggle bugs.

1. We pass a lady singing along to her iPod. It makes us smile, and she smiles too, and says 'Good morning!'.

2. Mr Cock-up pays a visit, is invited in and offered a cup of tea -- I went out last night without a raincoat and wearing unsuitable shoes. In the morning I walk home through rain so heavy that my underwear is wet before I reach the High Street. I pass Katie on her way to the station. She looks at my soaked skirt, dripping jacket and shoes through which water is flowing and says: 'You're not going to work like that, are you?' On reaching the front door I discover that I don't have any keys. So I ring Katie, who wonders if I can make it to the station before her train leaves in five minutes...

2a. The chance to say 'In these shoes? I don't think so.'

2b. The kindness of station masters who are willing to hang on to sets of keys for wayward housemates.

2c. The pleasure of putting on a set of dry clothes after being soaked to the skin. I spend the rest of the morning enjoying this.

3. The normally impeccably turned-out Ellie describes how after a rain-soaked fun-run, she and her mother put on 'all our fleeces and hooded tops and I got a duvet down and we sat on the sofa with cups of tea and our hair all curly because it had got wet.'

Friday, July 20, 2007

Stop, baby and where did they go.

1. It is so still that everything seems to be holding its breath. A slight haziness and a closeness about the air makes me feel as if they world is holding me and the town in cupped hands.

2. Being asked to 'have another go' at a headline on my weekly news stories -- this hasn't happened since I was a junior editor at my first job. It makes me feel the same way I do when my mother refers to me as her baby.

3. Every day I pass a garden that seems to have been vacated minutes before. The hammock swings gently and there is often an open book, a toy and a rug on the grass.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Eavesdropping, look and fresh air.

1. Swallows' nests made of bobbly mud under the eaves, and the twittering of the babies.

2. During yoga, I open my eyes and spot a classmate silently pointing out the sunset to the woman next to him.

3. For the second time this year, it is warm enough to sleep with the window open.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Comics, new moon and cordial.

The last post has gone up on 12 Old Masters.

And here are some mela pictures on Tunbridge Wells Photographer.

1. A copy of Astro City: Life in the Big City arrives and the washed-out colours, character-driven stories, Golden Age nostalgia and mysteries unexplained lead to love at first sight.

2. There is a fingernail of new moon. It is low in the sky, nearly behind the roof line. The only way to see it is to stand on sofa in my room and lean out on to the balcony.

3. A bottle of elderflower cordial among the shopping.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Papers, beans and daydreams.

1. I take a proofread chapter down to John and he tells me to add it to the pile at his feet. It is satisfying to see the heap of blue-tabbed pages growing.

2. Finding two beans on the runner bean vine that is draped over our satellite dish.

3. Katie says she thinks about Jules on the train, and Nick says he thinks about me on his commute. I imagine daydreams about lovers bobbing about the carriages like balloons on strings, expanding and nudging each other as the train gets into London. When the doors are opened, they jostle out and escape over the city. Katie adds: 'It's better than being grumpy.'

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dancing girls, so TWells and hoop-la.

Pictures here: Street Photography in Tunbridge Wells: Tunbridge Wells Mela.

1. Tunbridge Wells held a mela, a free multicultural festival of music, dance and food. Best of all, I liked the tiny Bangladeshi girls dancing to folk tunes. They were wearing bright red and gold saris, and they looked so happy and proud to be on stage in front of all these people. After their turn, they danced in front of the stage to the other acts.

2. One of the borough council minions suggested that between acts, we might like to sit back, listen to some music and 'cool out... ahem, I'm told that should have been "chill out"'. So Tunbridge Wells.

3. A lady in red and black brings an armful of hoops into the park. She picks a gold one and starts to hula, oblivious to anything but the music and her dancing. People, mostly children, start to join in, taking hoops and dancing too.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Souvenirs, comedy value, furrier and spike-heeled boots.

1. I am having a bad scar day -- this means that when I look in the mirror, I can see a faint white line under my right eye. And on the left side of my nose is a tiny bump, even more un-noticeable. No-one else can see it -- I know, because I've asked. But I check with Nick anyway because he is there, and because he hasn't heard the story yet. He is suitably horrified -- no, he doesn't want to see the pictures. He suggests he might congratulate the plastic surgeon on a job well done. He says he's kissed that place about a hundred times and never seen the scar.

2. Little Jason dancing with very, very tall Luke. Jason is wearing a kilt.

2b. Jason's bathroom is apt to be surprising. 'There's two dead birds drying in the sink and a rabbit pelt curing on the towel rail.' I go in to have a look, and as I leave the room, I hear someone saying: 'I can't think of any other girl who would...' Later, I am told a story by Paul: 'I went to the bathroom, and he said, "You can help me out by going in this bucket". It had this roadkill squirrel skin in it that he was preserving.'

3. A pair of spike-heeled boots flops against the doorframe of the kebab shop. Inside, two girls, one in socks, flop against each other.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oli, extra audience and whisper.

1. Oli had the worst day ever yesterday. Work problems, followed by his car being written off -- he only went in to top up the break fluid and was told that a small accident could have made his car burst into flames -- which resulted in him missing a gig. So here are three beautiful things about Oli: a. He is looking forward to being a father and writing lullabyes. b. He understands what Ellie and I see in the new sandwich man. c. When it's raining, or I am in a hurry or indisposed or heavily burdened, he drives me all the way down the hill and then battles back through the rush-hour traffic.

2. Children peering round the fence to watch an outdoor production of Romeo and Juliet.

3. Having something whispered in my ear.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cat on a bike, do no harm and shock.

1. Despite the drizzle, a tortoiseshell cat sits in her usual place on the saddle of a parked motorbike. The rain shines in her fur.

2. An adder enjoying the sun at the end of the field. I surprise her and she surprises me. I let out a squeak, and she hurries off into the bracken.

3. Since always, I've been afraid of touching electric fences. Today, I touch one by accident and find that it's not so bad -- it doesn't hurt. It's just a bump.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Father goose, sailor man and deer.

1. On most mornings I see a father on a bike taking a selection of kids on scooters to school.

2. A Popeye post on Classic Cartoons. Looking at the stills, I can almost hear Popeye's 'Ack ack ack' laughter and his 'ommnyum-nyum-nyum' as he eats the spinach; and Olive Oyl crying 'Aw Popeye, hayulp.'

3. By chance coming across a TV programme about Johnny Kingdom. He was filming stags with their antlers still covered in velvet -- the layer of skin that protects them while they grow. He got them on the skyline so that the light hit the velvet just so, and it looked magical.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Breakfast, hot water bottle and summer fruit.

You can see the birthday picture on my Flickr account. Thanks again to everyone who contributed.

There is a new post up at 12 Old Masters.

BT Bear has a short video and some photos of the Tour de France going through Tonbridge.

1. Gooey Nutella on soft, sweet brioche.

2. The work hot water bottle. And Ellie giving me a handful of painkillers.

3. The Mother has bought strawberries for supper. They are larger than Victoria plums and far too big to eat in one go. She cuts them up so we can get them in our mouths, apart from the two biggest, which she puts on a saucer on Daddy's table mat so he can see them as soon as he gets in from work.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Flock, clean air and new dad.

1. The sound of sheep running down the road. Their hooves make a soft clicking sound, which multiplied by 100 makes quite a stampede.

2. Walking down the lane after a rainstorm to enjoy new-washed air and sparkling hedges.

3. Katie's brother proudly taking his day-old son off to change his nappy. 'He's just exploded.' Welcome to the world, small red wrinkled Rory. You're a bit early and this place must seem puzzling, bright and noisy; but you've got plenty of kick, and you're very much loved, so things aren't all that bad.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Riders, arch and good news.

1. The Tour de France goes through Tunbridge Wells. A moving wave of cheers follows the peloton, swelling as it gets closer to where we are standing. The cyclists pass in the space of about seven minutes. The rest of the day is a festival, with people picnicking where in the parks, listening to bands, watching plays, spilling out of pubs, trying circus skills and chatting to strangers. Pictures on Street Photography in Tunbridge Wells.

2. Nick and I take a short cut up a narrow alley. A little girl walks towards us intent on the line she is following. We raise our hands she she can walk under them.

3. Getting a text from Katie that says: 'I'm an aunt'; learning that both mother and nephew are safe; and a brief visit from the shocked but rejoicing father because he needs a shower and some dinner.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Two languages, limes and laughter.

Thanks to Christine over at Really Bad Cleveland Accent for a pretty compliment.

1. A little girl being carried by her father asks a question. He says: 'I don't know. Ask Mum.' He puts her down, and she runs back along the path, shouting her question in Spanish.

2. The smell of limes being cut up for dubious cocktails.

3. Sitting round a kitchen table drinking dubious cocktails and laughing until my stomach aches and I can't catch my breath.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Lair, light and grand dame.

1. A series of misunderstandings has left me in a foul temper. I take myself off to the roundel so that the temp we have got to help clear up the mess can use my computer and so that my colleagues don't have to put up with me and my. However, a stream of well-wishers, a raspberry flapjack and a compliment from the editorial director about my commentary writing make it hard to stay in a bad mood

2. An ordinary white stuccoed end-of-terrace house that has gables trimmed with black fretwork. When the sun in the right place, it makes interesting shadows on the walls.

3. Honor Blackman for her pussy-cat voice. She compered a concert of music from the James Bond films, wearing a splendid white fur cape.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Laughing water, appearing boy and taking stock.

1. Standing on a bridge listening to a stream -- I decide that the cliche about laughing or chuckling water is actually quite appropriate.

2. PaulV does his usual appearing act at dinner. He has gone blond, and looks like a Scandinavian. We squeal at each other for a bit, and then he vanishes into the night as he has a leaving do to attend.

3. Talking over a friend's old life and seeing how she has blossomed since.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Full house, outside in and box of chocs.

1. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and Char are now both back from holidays that seemed to last forever. It feels good to have a whole team again.

2. The greenery outside the meeting room is reflected on the surface of the table.

3. A parcel containing a large and expensive box of chocolates -- Fenella and Andy's birthday present was a subscription to Hotel Chocolate. There are two of each variety, so Katie and I will work our way through each month's box, comparing notes and making pretentious remarks on the comment sheet.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Today's achievement, to do list and after the rain.

New post up at 12 Old Masters -- St Michael triumphing over the devil.

1. Nick emails to say that because he was thinking about me, he got on the wrong train.


2. Neil wanders into the office wearing a hat made of stickers. A few minutes later, he returns wearing a mask made of stickers. Is it possible that, because his colleagues (and most of the tiling industry) are at a show, he is short of work?

3. To the south west, wet Crowborough is sparkling in the after-shower sun. To the east is a rainbow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

DJ, showboating and we don't care if school falls down.

Here is a link to Susan Hill's blog where further news on the loo book competition can be found. I really am very excited.

1. This week, on Radio 2 Sarah Kennedy has been taking messages from people who say that her show is the only thing that gets them through the daily grind of a job they can't love. It is touching to hear delivery drivers say 'Thanks for your company'. She is a presenter that one either loves or hates, and I think that a lot more is written on the BBC message boards by those who don't like her than by those who appreciate her 'warm syrup poured into your ears' style.

2. We are kicking round the office teasing each other and recounting past adventures (the whale game, how I became a stylist for an office safe porn website). It is hard to concentrate because the window cleaner is doing the insides of our windows and his squeegee makes disgusting noises. When he has finished, he says 'Thanks for the entertainment. I've never heard anything like it before.' We have a temp -- perhapswe tend towards verbal acrobatics if there's an audience (particularly of the young, impressionable kind).

3. It was the last day of term for script-writing, which is sad, but it'll be good to have my Monday's back again.

Monday, July 02, 2007

More sleep, down the hill and ironing.

1. Going back to bed after breakfast.

2. Walking down the drive at Pembury Hospital and seeing between the red brick buildings and Portacabins, a fragment of the view across the Medway valley.

3. Watching TV while Katie does her ironing -- the smell of hot cloth and the gasps of steam are very homey.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Remember the horses, tiny soldiers and back in time.

1. Two white-haired men on the train discuss their memories of the horses at their school. 'I rode Twinkle.' 'Twinkle was the fat one... and then there were the two Welsh ponies.' They recall with some laughter one horse (whose name I don't catch) that would always throw his rider and 'arrive back half an hour before you did.'

2. We stop at a table of model soldiers carrying vivid banners. Each one has a different expression. I am told that these are the Russian soldiers -- craftsman-made and priced accordingly.

3. Nick watches Dr Who sitting cross-legged in front of the telly. I imagine that this is how he must have looked as a little boy -- same show, different Doctor.