Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wildlife, helpline and dinner.

1. I take my lunch out to the seats in the back of the carpark. Within minutes, I have seen a dragonfly.

2. A new scarlet ethernet cable in a coil on my bedpost.

3. A housemate cooking spag bol and unpacking the Abel and Cole box.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Multitasking, work food and treat.

1. I walk to the end of the platform and a blackbird flies across scolding and holding a blackberry in her beak.

2. A salad bright with red lettuce, tomatoes and pickled peppers. Jules says 'Got to feed the working girl.'

3. A cup of tea and a biscuit.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Welcome, my place and messing about in boats.

1. I arrive at a new job and am handed a welcome pack full of forms, style sheets and supplies (including Post-it notes!) that I might need. Among the papers is a card from my beauticians at Serenity, just round the corner from where I live. At my last appointment, I'd mentioned that a had a first day coming up, and they'd remembered -- wasn't that kind of them!

2. A new desk with deep drawers where I can keep all the things that make the working day easier to enjoy.

3. At home time, PaulV says if I wait, I can have a lift. He takes me home the long way round, by Dunorlan Lake, where we hire a boat and drift around gossipping, trailing our toes in the water, and enjoying the quiet at the end of a long, hot day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pressing, passing and puzzles.

1. The smell of ironing and the deep, damp sigh of an iron letting off steam.
 
2. I used to babysit for my parents' neighbours. The girl who used to claim endless bedtime stories by refusing to let me finish a book today walks up the road with a dog, a horse bucket and a boyfriend.
 
3. We all lie in bed with the mother doing puzzles. Everyone wants to be first with the answer.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Excuses, fruit and galvanise.

1. A child on the bus crouches down under the seat. His father tells him to sit up properly. 'But Dad, I'm hiding from the police.'

2. Sitting in the sun eating strawberries and crushed up meringues. Later, Rosey serves pineapple in mint leaf sugar.

3. The rainstorm we have been longing for all day changes our aimless Saturday movements to a race to bring the table undercover, unpeg the washing and pick up shoes from the lawn.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sesame, new hair and salt and sweet.

1. Slices of toast cut from a loaf with sesame seeds on the crust.

2. Katie comes in from the hairdressers and says of her haircut and half-head-of-foils: 'But the best thing about it is the smell.'

3. The waiter at Palm Kerala recognises us and comes over to chat. I wonder if he remembers us because I like salt lassi and Nick likes sweet.

Friday, July 25, 2008

White stuff, choc-ice and in a box.

Another fantastic radio play, Sunbathing in the Rain -- sounds like a downer, but it really isn't.

1. Putting a drop of cream -- rather than milk -- in my coffee.

2. Biting into a choc-ice and feeling the chocolate crack, and finding that the icecream inside is slightly melted and speckled with vanilla seeds.

3. Katie gave Jules a locked box for his birthday. He knows the key is coming, but he doesn't know when, and he doesn't know how.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pink whizz, shooting up and shout and shake.

I humbly offer a dancing street cleaner which might brighten your day.

1. Making a smoothie from a banana and some strawberries.

2. On my way back to the park, where the local primary school is celebrating the end of term, I follow a girl who must be one of the leavers. Strong and fine, she is shooting out of her blue-and-white-striped dress in all directions. It is not hard to imagine myself as a reception infant again, looking up at her with awe and wondering if I would ever be so tall.

3. It's like the Mary Celeste -- a bench, a jacket, half a bottle of rum, some beer cans. Then we spot a drunken sixth former crouched in the bushes. I think of Tom Reynolds' 'Shout and Shake' rule. I talk to him, and when he doesn't respond, I hesitate. I am afraid to find him stone cold, or aggressive. But I am more afraid of being the person who walked on by, so I call louder and give his arm a shove. He doesn't move. We go and ask to borrow a phone from the circuit training group. Their first aider comes back to look at the lad. By the time, we get there, he's awake and lying on his side. 'You all right? Just drunk?'
'Drunk as a... a... I'm drunk.' He gives us a huge smile.
We decide he's fine, and the first aider says they'll keep an eye on him.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The album, labour saving and happiness.

I got a Postcrossing card yesterday, and the sender, Ron, shared three beautiful things from Memphis, Tennessee:
1. My friends (we had a big cook out and sat around camp fire drinking margaritas).
2. My horse.
3. Summer.

1. I go to the stamp shop and ask for some stamps -- the picture sort. The chap behind the counter got a faraway look in his eye and said: 'I'll show you this year's issues, and then you can have a look at 2007.' He handed me two large albums and added: 'We go all the way back to the 1860s.' I spend a happy quarter of an hour ohhing at the pictures and then buy far more first class stamps than I intended.

2. Feeling unmotivated by a pile of runner beans that need stringing and slicing, and then remember that we own a device for doing this very task.

3. My feet are in a bucket of warm salty water scented with lemongrass and peppermint, and on the radio an Irish actor is reading a creepy story that has been converted from a French to an Irish setting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Read on, file and an evening.

I've added a couple more links to Mela pictures -- see yesterday's post.

1. I leave a couple of books on a bench for the purposes of Bookcrossing. As I saunter
innocently away, an elderly man walking sticks his way to the bench and bends over to have a good look at them.

2. A rough edge on my nail keeps catching. I file it off.

3. On my way through the park to the post box, I meet Matt carrying Oli. 'Dinner's ready, but it's so nice out here that we don't want to go in.'

Monday, July 21, 2008

Six weeks, up front and a place to go.

1. Nick tells me 'Six weeks' and we smile to think of all the changes that will have happened in that time. The new bathroom will be in; the kitchen floor laid; and I will have 23m of shelves on the left of the fireplace.

2. We sit right under the stage at the Tunbridge Wells Mela so PaulV can take pictures. In front of us, little girls of all colours and sizes copy the Bangladeshi dancers, and children rest their chins on the stage, entranced. Here's Plutarch's take on it over at Now's the Time. And you can see what Anonymous Bosch made of it at in three posts at Street Photography in Tunbridge Wells: part 1, part 2 and part 3.

3. In the evening park, two sturdy teenagers sit on the swings drinking bottles of beer.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Occupied, examination and sky matters.

1. A book in one hand, a jam sandwich in the other.

2. Archie seizes my finger, puts it and several of his own into his mouth and gives the whole a good gumming.

3. I read a poem about clouds today in qarrtsiluni and turn my eyes to the sky. 'Did you feel rain?' someone wonders. 'No. Just looking.' And throughout the evening the conversation turns again and again to the changing sky. As we are leaving, Pete points to the west at grey clouds with orange bellies.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not going far, my toy and coriander.

1. The oriental supermarket on Upper Grosvenor Road. I feel as if I am on holiday -- nothing is familiar, everything wonderful and exotic.

2. Two women talk. Below them, their babies smile at each other -- one teasing the other by waving a toy.

3. While queuing in the greengrocers, I put my nose into the lush and generous bunch of coriander that I am about to pay for.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Scribbles, easy on and profligate.

1. As I flip through my prompt-writing book, I wonder at all the different colours and styles of my early morning writing -- all the different colours of ink and types of pencil I am happy to use. I am not a person who MUST have their mechanical pencil or special fountain pen. I grab whatever is to hand -- this is because demanding a special tool will stop me writing, as the chances are, it will not be where I am. There are pots of pens and pencils everywhere I am likely to write -- on my desk, by my bed, near the front door, on Katie's desk; as well as stashes in my bags, tucked into the spines of notebooks and at Nick's. The pens and pencils are liable to move around -- when one depot is full, it's likely that another is empty.

2. Choosing a posh ready meal for supper, knowing that it will be delicious and that I don't have to do anything except put it in the oven (and Nick will probably do that).

3. Using the last of a bottle of bubble bath when there is slightly more in there than one portion -- it feels rather decadent to rinse out the bottle because that last drop is not worth saving for the next bath.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

For a rainy day. pride and white noise.

1. I have savings, really I do -- whenever I get unexpected money, I put it somewhere safe where it will grow. I have always felt vaguely guilty about not putting away a little each month, but never guilty enough to do anything about it. But now, for the first time in my life, I really do want to put something away each month, and feel as if I can afford to; and I've opened an account to do just that. Feeling so sure that this is what I want to do makes me think that perhaps when I resisted this in the past, I wasn't being stupid or lazy -- it was just not something that I needed to do.

2. Sarah comes in to look at her filing and says that she feels very proud of her five-year-old collection of notes and teaching aids. I think she has every right to be.

3. Websites that have muddled, half-heard white noises playing while you browse -- Rethink Daily does it and so the JK Rowling site.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New view, knight in armour and pink roses.

1. The finials off our roof are lined up on the scaffolding. There is a strange dragon and a cone like the roof of a fairytale turret, about the height of a small child. There was once a famous brickworks just down the road at High Brooms -- perhaps that's where they came from.

2. In our catch-up chat while we walk round the block, Nick tells me proudly that he has done battle with Sky and got his broadband working again. 'It took two hours and I had to speak to five different people before they put me through to an engineer who fixed it in five minutes.'

3. In the evening sun, dark pink roses growing through a rowan tree.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Leave-taking, it goes this way and girl's night out.

1. I kiss Nick goodbye at the station -- letting our fingertips slip apart -- and set off home to begin my working day.

2. Sitting on a bench in the sun, I realise that I can flip my A6 notebook sideways for a whole new writing experience.

3. Celebrating Louise's birthday by watching the gloriously silly Mamma Mia! and eating icecream.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The room, paint and anticipation.

1. Time and kitchen table space in which to scribble at my notebooks.

2. Trying tester pots on the bathroom wall.

3. Nick puts our pudding on to plates and makes me wait until it defrosts before we eat it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tiny lines, salvage and very big meringue.

Today we took a walk out of Time Out London Walks, Volume 2.

1. When I first wake, there are tiny hyphens of light on the ceiling where the sun has come through the blind.

2. At John Soane's Museum we pick our way through the architect's townhouse. Every room has wonders in every corner, and the place is a cross between a museum and a salvage yard. Classical marbles -- complete statues stand and shards of decoration -- are displayed so closely that
it is almost impossible to move without touching them. I can look unobstructed at the intricate vines and curlicues carved on a freize.

3. In the depths of the house lies a limestone sarcophagus decorated in and out with heiroglyphics.

4. Spotting a vast cake in a shop windown, we cross Theobald's Road to take a closer look. Bea's of Bloomsbury also has plates of meringues, some chocolate-swirled and some splashed with bright crimson raspberry juice. As the shop assistant packs one for us, she says: 'We had a little girl in here yesterday, and I think it was bigger than her head. Her eyes went so wide when she saw it.'

5. We sit in a park before a bed full of wild pink geraniums. A small wiry dog passes carrying a red ball and grinning to itself.

6. Where two roads meet outside King's Cross Station, the wedge-shaped building is topped with a lighthouse.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Aerial, the ring and the tower.

We went to Cirque Surreal last night.

1. Two storeys up, a man hangs by one hand from a canvas strap. He holds with his other hand his partner's foot. She is upside-down, her hands on his feet. Suddenly, she drops. And catches herself by her feet, on his feet. I have been holding my breath.

2. An acrobat in white holds his partner, who has bent herself into a ring, above his head. He proudly rotates to show us all this wonder. Then he drops her and catches her, still in a ring, around his waist.

3. Three acrobats balance on each others' shoulders, a three-times high man. We cheer, and they grin at us, meeting our eyes with swaggering, smouldering virile pride. Then, almost un-noticed amid the thunder and the set-up for the next act, the man tower tips forward -- three perfect bodies heading for the floor. But they catch themselves in forward rolls and the thunder rises with our whoops and cries.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Specks, hairy beast and ice ships.

Hen over at Domestic Hiss has given me a You Make My Day Award. I'm passing it on Rosey (see below for why).

1. Days when its sunny and tiny bits of lime tree flowers are flying around catching the light.

2. My birthday present arrives -- Rosey has commissioned a picture from The Daily Mammal -- a warthog to remind us of our trip to Africa. I'm so pleased and proud to own one of Jennifer's original pieces. Her 14-year plan to draw all the 5,000 (give or take) mammal species is an endeavour that I admire very much.

3. Nick has a small stack of military history magazines to pass on to Andy. 'Look, there are two articles on pykrete,' says Nick, surprised that such an obscure and wonderful subject could come up in two different magazines dated a decade apart. When Andy arrives, we proudly tell him about Habakkuk, the proposed aircraft carrier made of pykrete -- a mixture of ice and sawdust. I imagine that ships and islands of ice dot the oceans in the same reality where airship is the only civilised way to travel long distances.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Colours of fruit, stuck inside and summer hours.

1. Red strawberries and yellow nectarines for breakfast.

2. Columns of rain line the view from my window. I am so glad that I don't have to go out in it.

3. It is minutes to nine and still light enough for a turn around the park.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Big red, victory is mine and licence fee.

Sanchosser has made me a 3BT Wordle.

1. Our neighbours' grandson walks to the car clutching a toy fire engine almost as large as he is.

2. Trouncing Nick at Wii tennis (I think it was because let my computer tennis partner do all the work -- but I still won) and then improving my Wii fitness age from 74 to 38.

3. The sarcastic laughter and be-quiet-I-really-want-to-like-thises running under our viewing of the BBC's new archaeology drama, Bonekickers. Reaction: we were very disappointed that they didn't find any post holes; but we did like seeing the heroine dodging a nutter with a Medieval sword while dangling on ropes under a dovecot built for 666 doves over a pit full of burning crosses. Class.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A distraction, a moment of sunlight and can't stop.

1. Arriving very early for a job interview, I go over the road for a coffee. A former colleague, his wife and baby are at the next table. We chat; the baby and I make faces at each other. When it's interview time, I find my nerves have settled.

2. Minutes after I get home, the sky darkens and it starts to rain once more, this time so hard that the sound is just one angry hiss.

3. Linda shows us the opening of Death and the Maiden and then doesn't know when to stop the tape because we are all riveted.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Goals, try again and letting go.

1. Setting my writing goals for the week. Sunday is when Tania and I tell each other about our plans for the week. I tell her I have and haven't done, and make bold statements about what I am going to do.

2. 'I can't do it today,' I wail, waving the remote at my sad hungover scores on Wii sports. 'Let me hug you,' says Nick. I want to wiggle free and tell him to leave me alone, but I give in because I don't want to be a person who refuses to accept love. And he's right -- I've relaxed, let go of my frustration and so my scores improve.

3. This season finale of Dr Who brings tears to my eyes.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Confiscation, disordered eating and wellies.

This is my birthday present from James and Kim -- we went to the Mighty Boosh Festival.

1. It turns out that we can't take our bottle of cider into the festival, so we drink as much of it as we can in the security tent. Among the other confiscated items, there is a sad bottle of Benylin for chesty coughs on the table. Later, we spot a goth carrying a black leather coffin handbag. I wonder that was what the Benylin was for. I'm so sorry.

1b. The flat Kent countryside makes the sky look enormous, and we lie on our rug looking up at the clouds shifting. 'The sky's a lava lamp,' comments Kim.

2. A gentleman of size wearing a T-shirt reading 'I beat anorexia'. Later, in the queue for food, an annoying girl is bleating about not wanting anything to eat. Her two male friends say: 'We are not avoiding food today.' and 'You are having a dish to yourself and that's the end.' She continues bleating. They blow a loud whistle at her.

3. Kim's wellies -- they are turquoise and decorated with tattoo designs. She tops off the ensemble with a pink halter dress decorated with black flowers.

4. Peaches has a bottle of Champagne on her DJ booth. She occasionally swigs from it, then raises her arms high to show off her gold wings.

5. All over the festival are fans in costume -- tentacled Tony Harrisons; Hitchers of all sizes; lots of Vinces and Howards; even a Bollo in a gorilla suit who gamely stands at the front of the main stage for the whole show.

6. A new moon comes up behind us -- just a fingernail. Then Noel Fielding's Moon appears in the cavern of the stage, projected on to an enormous round screen. We all cheer, and you can feel the Boosh love washing up against the stage.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Shop talk, rolling and dragons.

1. While I am working at Sarah's, the cleaner comes in to do the floor. She recommends Spiderwick Chronicles. The other cleaner prefers something more racy. I suggest Scarlet magazine from WHSmiths and she says 'Is that all right for someone who's 40 to read?'

2. Crossing the park I am held up while a little boy shrieks with laughter at his father pushing a toddle truck down the path and chasing it.

3. Exotic fruits. Today I notice a dragon fruit -- a rosy pink I associated with silk, adorned with rows of lime green scales. A cut fruit nestles in the display --the white pulp is dotted with black. It looks a bit like frogspawn, and the cut surface bears fingermarks where the curious have poked it.

PS: Cat called to chastise me for mocking slash fanfic as a whole -- there is a big difference between 'slash' and 'real person slash'. Writers of slash are pushing at the frontiers of what it means to consume a story; RPS writers are just rude, and trying to consume celebrities as if they are commodities and not human beings. I do appreciate this difference -- I was being flip for amusement's sake.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Contacts, cooking and evening do.

1. I have been Postcrossing again -- I like getting an email saying my card has arrived, particularly if the person adds a little note about the card.

2. I have always wanted to try serving gooseberries with mackerel -- so I did. I made a Medieval-looking mess of onion, gooseberries (which go interestingly opaque as they cook) and breadcrumbs fried in butter. This, while still warm, I squidged between the two halves of mackerel fillets. The instructions said to secure them with cocktail sticks, but as it also said to use rhubarb instead of gooseberries I felt safe ignoring this. I jammed the lot into a dish lined with greaseproof paper and made a parcel. I baked it at 200C while I had a shower and dressed. It was messy, but good -- oily fish and sharp fruit are a brilliant combination. Next time, I would toast the crumbs, and maybe butter the paper -- or I'd use a dish with a lid.

3. At Sarah Salway's Soiree I meet people I don't know, but who know me through 3BT. It is interesting to see how much I give away in these little snippets. People are most intrigued by Nick: one lady had been interested enough to go right back to read the whole story. She said she wasn't a stalker, she just had a crush on me, which made me feel very appreciated. So long as no-one starts writing peculiar fanfic* based on 3BT, I'm just going to enjoy the love.

I read a piece -- a selection of beautiful things about classes and courses. I felt a bit shy because everyone else was reading works-in-progress, short stories and poetry. Then I thought that actually, 3BT is a work-in-progress. I am starting to draw on it more and more for projects.

* This link goes to a sensible Wikipedia article that will not make you want to put your brain in the washing machine. Please do not Google this term if you are of a sensitive disposition.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Delayed pleasure, a changed cat and homegrown.

Today I am hosting a tourist: Fiona Robyn, who drops a Small Stone into my inbox each day. She is celebrating her book of the same title with a blog tour.

1. Enjoying my 'thank-you-for-having-me' gifts a week after Alex has gone: a wine glass of sparkling pear juice, hot pink gerberas on the window-sill, a square of Green and Black's dark ginger chocolate.

2. The warm weight of a curled-up purring cat as after seven years of choosing the sofa Silver develops a sudden preference for laps.

3. Sitting outside and craving fruit and knowing there's none in the house, before I remember to take four steps to my blueberry bushes where I pluck eighteen plump fruits and pop them into my mouth where they set off tart-sweet explosions.

And these are my beautiful things.

1. As we potter around the house, Granny sings 'Some Enchanted Evening' from South Pacific. 'People don't write romantic songs any more,' she comments sadly. I try to explain to her about Hey There Delilah, but she's more interested in 'We Joined the Navy to See the World' from Follow the Fleet.

2. There is now scaffolding outside my window and I can look straight down one of the cross-bars to see a circular picture of the trees beyond.

3. Nick tells me that he was just thinking about what he would say when he comes home from work when I move in.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sleep, clouds parting and my generation.

xckd loves The Discovery Channel.

1. I've been sleeping badly because I'm worried about the flat selling, and the lack of paid work, and the lack of writing and the grandmother. It was a relief to give up on the 6.30am start and sink back into my pillows.

2. Instead of complaints that the wildflower meadow ought to be mowed short and anxiety about my bare feet, there is joy yellow hawksbit heads are all turned to face the sun.

3. I read Letters from a Lost Generation and feel very lucky to enjoy being in love without being afraid that it will all be snatched away.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

On the line, uniform and that really is the way to do it.

1. A feeling of joy about living in the GMT +0 zone.

2. Sarah hands me a silver and pink tiara and a radio to encourage me to work harder.

3. Kate in my script class shares wonderful news: that thing that our teacher tells us about phoning radio producers and pitching to them, and then they ask to see your script? It's true.