Friday, December 31, 2004
2. When streetlights go on while it's still just about light. It makes me feel as if the days are getting longer again.
3. While I was in Oxfam an assistant came downstairs with an Asia earthquakes flood disaster collection box. He handed it to the chap behind the counter, saying: 'There you are. I've emptied it again. I've never seen so much money in my life.'
Thursday, December 30, 2004
1. Water - from the turquoise sea where we've snorkeled and seen octopus, dived amongst the coral, canoed (or in Andy's case sat back while I did all the work - no really) to the crashing cascades of clear sparkling water of the 975 foot Dunn River Falls which we climbed to the top of.
2. Food - copious amounts of fresh, yummy food - papaya, watermelon, pineapple, seven-course candle-lit dinners, open-air beach parties and Andy's first (and last) sampling of lobster.
3. Swimming with dolphins - we are doing it tomorrow. Need I say any more?
I made them tell me all about this last and they showed me the pictures. It was hard to say who was smiling most - Fenella, Andy or the dolphins. 'We conducted and they sang to us.' And 'Male dolphins have rough skins and female dolphins have smooth skins.' And 'We made smoochy faces and they kissed us.'
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
2. Takeaway food.
3. Clean handkerchiefs.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Monday, December 27, 2004
2. A whole new Terry Pratchett book to read. And as I get into Going Postal I realise I am going to enjoy reading it again one day.
3. The strange and vivid dreams you get from taking paracetamol against a fevery cold and then having a small drink just to be sociable on Boxing Day.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
2. Drinking fizzy wine at 10am.
3. The windscreen of a burned-out car at the top of the road had melted into stalactites. The passenger window flopped over and hung down the inside of the door.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
2. As people arrive, presents pile up under the tree. We look at the heap wondering. 'That's too many for just ten of us. How can we be giving and getting so much?'
3. Wreathing ivy around the chimneypiece and holly along the beams so it looks as if the old wood is sprouting a-new when all is dead outside.
Friday, December 24, 2004
2. A normally shy and retiring co-worker pulled on a mask and hitting the dance floor.
3. Basement flats with miles and miles of sofa and large televisions showing French films. And I'm pretty sure there was some gin involved.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
2. The boiler man taught me how to undo a bolt with a broken thread. This is the bolt which was preventing me from repressurising the boiler. Being defeated in this way made me feel like a weak and feeble woman, and not being able to repressurise the boiler made me worry that it might explode at any moment, so that was two loads off my mind. He also fixed the leak which has been giving me nightmares about downstairs paddling knee deep in water, which was a third load lifted. Yay.
3. I was trying to work out whether the thought of going without supper was less desirable than a trip to the supermarket. Then I opened the fridge and found a box of eggs.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
2. Going through my Christmas shopping and wrapping a few gifts in white paper with a red and gold retro design of Russian castles and fairytale forests. I have to leave the rest for now because they are shared with my brother and sister.
3. Hot stew on a cold night.
Monday, December 20, 2004
2. Having Christmas dinner cooked for you. Fenella roasted a chicken and we had roast veggies, carrots, mash, courgettes, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts - which is probably more than I normally eat in a week of suppers. Later, I heated a little brandy in a ladle until it caught light and then poured the blue flames over the Christmas pudding. As I washed up and Fenella hovered anxiously round her best china, Andy suggested conspiratorially to PaulV 'Do you want some ice cream?' I suppose it makes a change from port and cigars.
3. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I don't think I've mentioned how much I like these subtle and imaginative books. The film is great. It is fantastically gothic and has a squalid, timeless beauty. It's a smashing yarn, too, with plenty of action, inventing, reading and biting.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
2. A bizarre exercise in my writing course - it asked me to contemplate a single blade of grass. 'If you are doing it right, you will understand the point of this exercise.' As it was dark and the nearest grass is on the Common, I contemplated a leaf of my spider plant: the blade is part of a whole, and it is itself made of cells. It made me recall squinting at a sliver of onion tissue through a toy microscope, astonished that the cells were laid out like tiny bricks. It made me remember learning how cells are tiny factories. And it seemed wonderful that this was repeated throughout my body and throughout every living thing.
3. Being seized by a sudden yearning, longing desire for anchovies and then being informed that I was to join friends for a pizza.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
2. Playing board games and drinking wine and laughing hysterically.
3. Eating Quality Street and really enjoying them - specially the orange crunch and the malt toffee. I love the bright jewelish colours of the wrappings. Some come in plain tin foil (the green nutty triangle ones) and some come in cellophane-covered foil (the purple hazelnut caramel). Either way, the wrappers can be scrunched up and used to amuse the cat.
Friday, December 17, 2004
2. Baked potatoes because you can just stick them in the oven and forget about them until you are ready to eat. And they don't dirty any pans.
3. Those moments during pub quizzes when you suddenly remember the answer you couldn't quite recall five questions ago.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
2. Grey doves sitting in an oak tree.
3. The smell of tangerines.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
2. My new fruit bowl. It's lathed from a slice of maple by Ross Lockhart, who is going to be famous one day. The base is squared off inside and out, but the top has been left. At the moment it is full of satsumas, amber beads and purple Christmas balls.
3. Failing miserably at writing a difficult letter I call Fenella and suddenly it all seems much simpler.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
2. Buying poetry books as presents - it's the thought that the person might find something that really sings to them.
3. Using tiny threads of saffron in risotto. I love the sunset orange colour and the squeaky new shoes smell.
Monday, December 13, 2004
2. Walking on the common I smelt woodsmoke and heard men chatting quietly in the middle of a holly thicket.
3. Just as I decided it was time to stop working for the day, my doorbell rang. James had come round for a catch-up.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
2. 'Come on, George.' A child coming out of a shop was holding everyone up bumbling along attending only to the world at the level of our knees. The thought made me smile and I caught its father's eye and he smiled too, sticking his tongue out a little to pretend he didn't think his child was completely perfect in every way.
3. Buying three handmade chocolates to eat in bed while reading a magazine.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
2. Trying to relax and finding it harder than expect. By the time I get down to my ankles, my jaw is clenched again. It feels so good to let go of a muscle I'm holding on to without realising. And once you've got them all to settle - even if it's just for a moment - it is fantastic.
3. Wrapping myself in a woollen shawl to read before going to sleep.
Friday, December 10, 2004
2. The Idler squeezed through my letterbox. A whole big book full of subversive writing and cartoons offering alternatives to living for work.
3. Cats with big round eyes.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
2. The speckles inside a nutmeg.
3. I edit a newsletter for my writers' group, and after the last issue it was suggested that I might like add two more pages. My heart sank a little as I looked at the blank sheets. But after a couple of hours in the pub with another member, they are are covered in scribbles that will shortly become articles, announcements and notices.
Monday, December 06, 2004
2. Opening a new tin of coffee. I love the tearing metal and the hiss as the pressure equalises and the smell that rises up.
3. Bacon that goes crispy and makes proper fat instead of weird white foamy stuff.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
2. When people understand how important it is for a girl to be allowed to share their pudding even though she didn't order any for herself.
3. Walking in the dark because your feet know where to go.
Saturday, December 04, 2004
Friday, December 03, 2004
2. Poaching an egg in smoked fish chowder. The bright yellow yolk is very pleasing to look at and the saltiness of the soup compliments such a heavy, bland proteiny flavour.
3. Pulling a duvet up round me on a cold night.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
2. At my grandfather's funeral, they told the story of how my grandfather proposed to my grandmother: he used the words 'Let's get married and get the hell out of here.' They met in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which my grandmother described as 'the arsehole of the world.'
3. Brightling Needle.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
2. Clean windows.
3. My mother's linen chest. It's carved with oriental scenes and made of camphor wood that makes the bed linen smell medicinal and clean and homey.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Monday, November 29, 2004
2. Breaking a fast with beer. It goes straight to your head.
3. An ancient man in the pub. We went to see a band at the top of town, and the crowd was all ages. The oldest man - whose name is Jack - is everyone's favourite. People come up to him and shake his hand. He is very short and bent, wears thick glasses and a big hearing aid. He wears a trim grey jacket and a knitted tank top, with old man trousers right up to his chest. He has more gaps than teeth and he mumbles terribly. He pretends to shove some of the bigger men around, safe in the knowledge that everybody loves him. Every time he passed us, he caught my hand and made me dance with him.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
2. Fenella has been having a clear out and passed on to me a dozen short stories published by Travelman as crisp pamphlets - perfect fit for a handbag.
3. Squash seeds. Whenever I bake a squash, I put the seeds on a tray and toast them in the same oven. They are yum with a little salt. I always try to save them for the next day's trail mix, but I have normally nibbled most of them while I wait for the squash to cook.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
2. Randomly buzzing off a note to a friend using a guessed email address and being told that not only had it had arrived but that he had only got that email address the day before.
3. A highly respectable journalist informed me that my cleavage was the best he had seen all evening. I explained that this was the point of my top and he said felt slightly ashamed at being caught out by such a trick.
Friday, November 26, 2004
2. We found a parade marching up town to a samba band. Everyone above waist height was carrying a wax flare.
3. Fireworks when you didn't expect any. These were splendid ones, too. They were launched from the roof of the town hall so that the bangs boomed back and forth around the crossroads. They had fireworks that puffed out blue and red and yellow stars and ones that made fireflies waggle about the sky and ones that threw showers of tiny sparks high above the crowd.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
2. Trekking round the shops at lunchtime looking at horrible coats that were the wrong colour and the wrong shape and the wrong price and not being helped by snotty shop assistants and then suddenly coming across exactly what I wanted in Kew - it's charcoal grey in the softest, snuggliest cashmere.
3. Looking at a piece of free range chicken and finding that its darkish colour and firm texture made it much more appetising than the pallid, floppy lumps of gloop that come from the supermarket.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
2. A martini unwisely poured into my empty stomach plunged me into a brown study about single life - which I normally thoroughly enjoy. About to fall into a miserable doze at 9pm, I was pulled up by a sharp 'This won't do!' from a bossy part of my brain and within minutes, HMS Pinafore was on the record player and my sewing was in my hand.
3. Stitch by stitch my little piece of aida is transforming into something quite different.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
2. Coming down the foetid, miserable commuting smelling stairs at the station you walk into the middle of a flower and fruit stall. Last night, they had anemones in bright crimson and velvety purple and royal blue. And metal bowls of enormous russetty English apples - fruit scoops all £1.
3. Biting into a little cake covered in sesame seeds and being zoomed back to a trip I to China back in 2001. I recalled a dark cake shop in Xian where I was told off for not helping myself quickly enough. But the cakes - little balls of pastry covered in sesame seeds - were delicious.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Sunday, November 21, 2004
2. Old postcards. I love the ones with messages - 'I have worn the yellow nylon blouse nearly every day.' and 'I only know four words of English - "I love you"' and 'It's full of foreigners'. I think my favourite are the two from a little girl thanking her great aunt and uncle for presents - I suppose they were written in two successive years, because her hand writing improves!
3. Delia Smith's cheese and onion soup. It is creamy and sweet and savoury and sustaining.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
2. A mother trying to persuade her toddler that a nice bench a bit further on is much more comfortable for lunch than a low wall on a street corner.
3. Reading that House of Joy has had her baby. House of Joy is a 'Mommy blog' set in Israel. I love it because the writer knows how to find happiness in simple pleasures like swimming, coffee shops and smoothing away a household friction.
Friday, November 19, 2004
1. He was always absurdly modest about his carpentry. He made me a doll's bed and table when I was about eight and took as much care over them as if they had been for his own house. I imagine that my children's great grandchildren will still be playing with them. When I mentioned this to him once, he scoffed and changed the subject.
2. He built swings. The best one was in an enormous oak tree in his garden. It hung on two strong chains so you could twizzle round and round on it, and it had a seat of polished oak that was lovely to touch. I remember him testing it himself before we were allowed to use it.
3. He wrote about his war and gave it to me to edit. It made me understand the Second World War better than anything else I have ever read.
4. When we were little, he always had a pound coin or three on hand, and as we got older, overpaid us for working in his garden and woods. He also always shared his Mars bars with us.
5. He kept his woods, garden, stream and fields immaculate but wild-life friendly. I reckon this must have contributed to my interest in conservation.
6. He would take us round the fields in his smelly and tempramental old Land Rover - this was a massive treat because there was room for all of us in the front and it lurched and bumped like anything.
7. He was always gentlemanly and kind.
8. He taught us all to ski and to love the Alps in winter. I remember going down the nursery slope between his knees. And I remember him skiing backwards while filming us.
9. He made miles and miles of cine films, and later videos of us and my mother and aunt.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
2. The electrician has been in and put new bulbs in the hallways at home. In doing so, he boinked one of the lamps so it makes a shaft of light fall through the doorway on my landing. I have visions of an accident with something reflective bouncing the beam down the stairs to open a secret door.
3. My plants now make a silhouette on my curtains. I think it's because they've put the Christmas lights up.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
2. Audio books - just like reading, but you can do dull tasks at the same time. At the moment, I'm listening to Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari.
3. Drive-In by The Beach Boys. I love the asides sprinkled through it - 'Remember only you can prevent forest fires'.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
2. A seriously ginger child escaping while his mother was busy in the library by walking his pushchair backwards towards the doors.
3. Two scottie dogs - one black, one white - playing in the dark. The white one leapt up with all four feet off the ground.
Monday, November 15, 2004
2. Spotting an olive green ceramic frieze on the wall of a house. It showed a fat cherub face and some vines. On the same walk, I saw a real grapevine droopy from the frost but still covered in grapes.
3. Dinner with PaulV and James and James' mother's house. She does the best roasts and the conversation is both hysterically funny and quite challenging.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
There's the time Katy befriends a counterfeiter's wife; an important visitor finds and reads aloud Katy's story about Bop the blue poodle and Lady Edwitha of the Hebrides; and her sister Johnny's 'baby', a chair named Pikery falls ill and must be dosed with stolen medicine.
I love the underlying message, which is that good deeds begin at home - think globally, act locally. After Katy falls ill, she lies in bed fretting that she will never be able to perform all the great deeds she hoped to do. However the saintly invalid Cousin Helen points out that because Katy is ill, the household will always know where she is and so will come to her with their problems.
I love the honesty of it - although at the end Katy is adored by her family, she is still sometimes headstrong and impatient, and there are times when being good is an effort. I also love that although Katy has changed for the better by the end, her joyous, impetuous side have not been consumed.
2. Tomato salad with feta cheese, basil from the pots on my windowsill and homemade herby olive oil.
3. Eating chocolate late at night.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
2. Ameretti because I always imagine they taste romantically like cyanide.
3. Italian waiters who turn on the charm.
Friday, November 12, 2004
2. Discovering that if you fry curly kale with hardly any oil it goes like crispy seaweed.
3. I'm going skiing in January - bought the tickets and now it really feels like I'm on my way.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
2. When I come to transcribe my shorthand, there is always a horrible minute or two when the squiggles make no sense. And then they resolve themselves into words and I can breathe again.
3. An old colleague came to give a talk at my local writers' group. It was good to see her again and to hear all the gossip.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
2. Making caramel. I love the way the sugar melts - one minute it's little crystals, the next it's liquid.
3. Going to bed in a tidy flat. So tidy in fact that I woke in the middle of night and for a dazed moment, couldn't believe it was mine.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
2. Being so absorbed by a book that I don't notice how cold I am. My joints are cracking and my fingers numb and a hot shower is a relief, but all through it I am still thinking about the book.
3. The smell of rosewood. It's supposed to be comforting and uplifting. I think it smells of clean house.
Monday, November 08, 2004
2. In the park, the leaves have been raked into neat piles so the paths are clear. At least they were in neat piles, and then PaulV and I went for a stroll before it got dark.
3. You put dumplings in stew and they are clammy and sticky and lumpy. But twenty minutes later they have puffed up all fat and round and light.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
2. Sweet chestnuts boiled with Brussels sprouts.
3. Putting things off until tomorrow.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
2. Chatting with a ticket man on the train. He remarked on the book I was reading. I replied that it was a little impenetrable, being written by two Frenchmen. 'But they have some wonderful science fiction,' he said. And then told me all about a story he'd read about a planet where reality shifted. One minute the characters were in this universe, and then the tide would turn and they were in a different one, where they could only observe, helpless as sea anenomes. 'He really earned his pension, the man who translated that.'
3. At a party, someone put a bag of spent fireworks on the bonfire. But they weren't quite finished and one of them exploded. Babies yelled and guests scattered, dropping their drinks, diving behind tables and falling in streams. No-one was really hurt but Everyone Agreed It Could Have Been Much Worse.
Friday, November 05, 2004
2. A jay in an Atlantic cedar.
3. My grandmother recounting how she told a builder in the room over the corridor that there were deer in the field outside her window, and he came through and had a look because he had never seen deer in the wild.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
1. Habitat's Christmas range - it has a fairy tale theme and includes a gorgeous intricate metal Christmas tree to slot together.
2. Passing a little aviary full of twittering birdies.
3. Stamps with pretty pictures on them. They fool me into thinking postage isn't that expensive.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
2. BBC Radio 2 is so talky I can't work with it on, so we've started listening to BBC 6 Music. It's pretty cool - unusual tunes and lots of them.
3. The temperature in my flat dropped below 20C so I put the heating on for the first time this winter. This means dry, crunchy towels and plenty of hot water.
Monday, November 01, 2004
2. As our fire caught, its light picked out bright red yew berries on the branches above us.
3. Holding a blođ to mark Samhain. Three drinking horns went round and round the circle. We toasted absent friends, our ancesters and those who have gone on before. As the horns emptied, they were filled again and again - with honeyed beer, mead and cider.
Sunday, October 31, 2004
2. Went for a walk with PaulV through town. We looked in through people's windows and alternately giggled about and envied their living rooms.
3. Watching fireworks from my window.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
2. My hair felt so strawish and yuck that I avoided my reflection almost all day. But I happened to glance in a mirror late afternoon and it looked perfectly all right.
3. Warming my hands on a mug of camomile tea last thing at night.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Thursday, October 28, 2004
2. Victorian-style gothic novels - I'm listening to The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill. So far a man has got lost in London and been frightened by a parrot.
3. Starting a new piece of cross stitch. I've designed this one myself, so I'm a bit apprehensive. But it's all part of life's great adventure - one woman, a needle and a vast tract of 12-count aida. Actually, it's about 10cm by 4cm.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
2. Discovering mail art on A1 Mail Art Archive. Altered envelopes. Cool.
3. When the ironing pile is not nearly as big as you thought it was.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
2. I crammed a couple of garlic cloves under the chicken at the bottom of my casserole. I cooked it under a sauce of leeks, potato, onion and celery. The meat subtly absorbed the flavour of the garlic, but the sauce was not overpowered.
3. My shower was grim and now it's not because I've cleaned it.
Monday, October 25, 2004
2. Sheep in a puddley field. Their reflections came and went as they wandered around.
3. Ten swans sitting in a cabbage field on Romney Marsh. There is a choice of collective nouns for swans - you can have bevy, lamentation or herd. If they are flying, they are a wedge.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
2. Gossipping with Fenella for so long that her boyfriend got worried and texted to find out where she was.
3. My nearest supermarket has changed to a Morrisons. During the transition, stock has been very low and I've been stamping round furious at not being able to find my usual groceries. However, I discovered that they do amazingly cheap candles. Also, there were two treaty things in the reduced-to-clear shelves - a bottle of fresh orange and raspberry and two smoked salmon terrines.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
2. Aniseed balls.
3. My pink silk trainers. They are gloriously impractical, being un-waterproof and too tight.
Friday, October 22, 2004
2. A lone surfer on a very brisk day.
3. Discovering that Boris Johnson - who is rather a hero of mine - has a weblog. I don't care what he said about Liverpool. I still think he should be prime minister and lead us all into a new age of glory.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
2. Wet days in autumn.
3. In Bournemouth, among all the pale cream and white and pale pink stucco and pebbledashing is a surfers' hostel with flowers painted on it.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
2. Physallis growing at Sissinghurst. These are the 'Chinese lanterns' that every other restaurant is dressing pudding plates with these days. The brown papery shell hides a yellowish berry that just tastes sour. However, in the garden, the lanterns are bright, beautiful orange.
3. Learning to see my aura.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
2. I inherited my jewelry box from my grandmother. Its red velvet lining is marked with the star imprint of a cut-glass scent bottle that was broken long ago.
3. While tidying my dressing table a plait of intensely bright rainbow strings reminded me of a boy called Hamish Lemmens, who complimented me on it when I was 12 or so. I was at school with him from three to 13 and he was always doing or saying something that made people laugh.
Monday, October 18, 2004
2. Discovering that Hastings is going up in the world. I've always been fond of the town even if they do call it the suicide capital of the south east. In the past, it has reminded me of a relative who has lost the will to live and just sits about in a dressing gown all day eating all her meals off the same plate. But yesterday Bruv and I wandered through the Old Town and thought we'd slipped into another dimension. There seemed to be a whole load of new shops - a teeth-achingly cool retro furniture shop; vintage clothing stores; art galleries; an independent cinema; a micro brewery. Everything looked freshly painted and loved and cared for.
3. Walking down a street towards the sea and noticing a long sliver of nearly new moon.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
2. The block opposite me has a balustrade round the roof. A filthy
balustrade. I woke up to see that a painter had started work on it
and it looked as if snow had fallen.
3. Was watching the street instead of writing and saw a chap I used
to adore achingly and wordlessly from a distance. He has pudged up
and the cheekbones I used to so admire are no longer on show. And he
was walking hand-in-hand with a sour-looking... yeah, I'm almost sure
it was a woman.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
2. The Malaysian lady who cut my hair didn't speak English so well, and I ended up getting more taken off than I normally would. I just said 'yes' to everything - she seemed to know what I ought to have. I like it. I keep smirking every time I pass a shop window. I think that when her English improves, she won't stay long with a cheap-chirpy walk-in hairdresser.
3. Plus, despite the difficulties communicating over the hair, we had a good hair-cut conversation about travelling and mosquitoes. I always feel shy about chatting to people with whom I don't have a common language (i.e. anyone who doesn't have much English) so it felt like a good achievement.
Friday, October 15, 2004
'I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.'
2. Conkers in my pocket.
3. Toad in the hole. It's made of things that look unappetising raw (batter and sausages) but once it's baked, it is a thing of beauty.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
2. A full house at meeting that I was responsible for publicising.
3. Expenses cheques.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
2. An amusing and eccentric pharma rep made John take us out to lunch. He told us good stories, many of them opening with: 'I shouldn't be telling you this but...'
3. When you are working on a story that almost writes itself.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
2. At the end of work, I walked home a very long way to warm up. At first I was stiff and every step jarred, but gradually my muscles loosened up and the blood came back into my extremities.
3. A comforting supper of bacon and lentils.
Monday, October 11, 2004
2. I set out to get a newspaper. But the newsagents at the end of the street was closed. So was the one on the Pantiles. In a monumental sulk, I turned round to go home. But lo and behold, there, propped against a wall, was a copy of the paper I wanted.
3. Eighths of an orange with chocolate sauce.
Sunday, October 10, 2004
2. Except this one thing... which doesn't count because Katie bought half of it. Bean on Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, does special chocolates like chilli and marzipan; Earl Grey tea; mango truffle. We bought 12 between us to eat with our tea.
3. I was trying to have a quiet day with Katie. But... Lunch was interrupted by a phone call from Cat. Tea was crashed by Rob. And PaulV arrived in the middle of supper.
Saturday, October 09, 2004
2. Pollarded trees. The older plane trees on the street where I work have had their branches taken off. They look like they've been packed up for winter.
3. Fly agarics - those red toadstools with white spots so loved by fairytale illustrators. I found a good patch of them in a clearing on my way home from work. The older ones have perfectly flat tops, while the new ones push out of the matted grass like little fists.
Friday, October 08, 2004
2. I have a new phone. It takes pictures so now I might just stand a chance against Ed and his shooting from the hip photography.
3. Paul V revealed that he is a secret charity shop record fan. 'You go through the boxes and you find something and you think: "how could anyone have not wanted this?"'
Thursday, October 07, 2004
2. Ed leaves work half an hour before me. I noticed that it was chucking it down with rain and laughed. He replied:
As Clare walks home down the lane
Let there be a hurricane.
Obviously I couldn't let that go and cursed him with:
Cold winds batter Edwin Birch
To make his footsteps veer and lurch.
3. A call from my neighbour Fenella. 'When you get home, can you do me a HUGE favour? Can you pop down and let Andy out of my study?' Apparently, the doorknob had 'come off in his hand.'
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
2. Selling four of my unwanted books in two days.
3. A colleague asked about 'themymble' - my username. I told him about the character, The Mymble, from Tove Jansson's Moomin books. Here she is, pert as ever. Her boots are red.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
2. Conkers. I can't pass a horse chestnut tree this time of year without wanting to fill my pockets with them. I love the way they bounce when they fall and they are so pleasing to hold - polished smooth and slightly yielding.
3. I can't get to sleep and I don't feel tired. So I get up and potter around. It feels as if I've been given some extra hours.
Monday, October 04, 2004
2. I spent most of the day reading - mainly Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf) and A Clash of Kings (George R R Martin).
3. Absinthe. It requires equipment (sugar lump, special spoon, jug of iced water); it louches (this fantastic word is used only of spirits that turn cloudy when water is added) and it tastes of aniseed. Plus it seems so dangerous and with every sip I feel as if I am on a downward spiral to destitution and disrepute.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
2. James has been having a torrid time in Australia. I have missed him terribly, and now he is home. He comes to lunch and we eat bread and cheese and catch up. Then Paul V appears because he doesn't want to be left out.
3. The front door appears to be broken. Badly. It won't shut except when you slam it, and then it won't open. The neighbours are not quite sure which is worse and are considering locksmiths. I hear my voice saying: 'I'll just fetch my screwdriver.' I take the lock off the door and hand the screws to James. I jiggle a joggly bit and put it all back together. And then it works. From the hall side and the street side, both opening and shutting.
Saturday, October 02, 2004
2. We drink tiny cups of coffee in the airport at Alghero.
3. England’s greenness.
Friday, October 01, 2004
2. We drove out into the country to visit a nuraghic ruin. The tower is built of huge basalt blocks – no mortar – and stood two storeys tall, watching the coast. We realised that we were directly above the beach where we had left Robert and Rose climbing – when the sea level was higher, this bay would have been an important strategic landing place. Apart from the tower, no other structure stands more than four courses tall. Much of the site is overgrown with tough bushes and olive trees block the tower’s view. It is strange to think that 3,500 years ago the surrounding hectares were covered in a village of little round houses full of people who didn’t know about writing. Then 2,000 years ago the Romans chased them out and took down some of the beehive houses to put up a few square buildings of their own.
3. ‘Where’s the moon?’ Each evening so far, we had been treated to a fat full moon rolling out a silvery path over the sea. But it was a little cloudy and we were eating early, and it hadn’t risen. Just as the waitress took our order, the moon appeared bright red through the clouds above the harbour bar. ‘The hunters’ moon,’ I commented darkly. ‘You’re just making that up. It’s an omen of doom.’ But by the time our pasta arrived, the moon was well away across the vault of the heavens and a friendly silver once again.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
2. A tiny sage grows among the shattered limestone. Hummingbird hawk moths bob like boats at anchor, their tongues deep in the tiny mauve flowers and their wings a blur. When the flower is empty, they move on so fast you can’t see where they’ve gone.
3. In a shingly cove, one hour’s walk and one hour’s boat ride from civilisation, two middle-aged men share some grapes. The older man wallows in the water while the younger man washes the bunches in the sea. The older man holds out his hand and is given a sprig. They spit the pips into the water, not saying much.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
2. We drove across the mountains, zigzagging round hairpin bends and then along narrow, unshaded roads to a flat, sandy bay. It was our first properly hot day and we changed into our bathers and swam to cool off.
3. Sea holly pokes out of the sand. It doesn’t look like holly much, apart from the spikiness of its leaves. It’s an annual growing not much higher than a wine bottle and it has bluish, chalky leaves. I believe it’s a sort of eryngium. We also saw sea daffodils growing directly in the sand. They crouch right down and their lily-like trumpets seem too big for their height.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
2. I like fig trees – apart from the amusingly-shaped leaves and the figs, there is also the smell. But this particular tree offered something else. Its splitting fruit was a feast for ginormous butterflies. Their plain-chocolate-brown wings were the width of my two palms and were decorated with a flashing purple and white pattern. They were so numerous that the tree rustled with their wingbeats.
3. The colour of the sea. I grew up playing on a muddy shore lapped by soupy brown waves. I thought pictures of blue water were all lies until I first visited the Mediterranean. The sea is so blue that I wonder how it can make white foam and I am mesmerised by the waves.
Monday, September 27, 2004
1. Each place in the Mediterranean smells different. Coming off the plane, we snuff nosefuls of Sardinian air, guessing the scents. The first one I recognise is cistus, mossy and medicinal but warm and sweet. We grow this crinkly, papery, shocking pink rock rose in the garden. If you put your nose right up close to the tiny leaves on a really hot, still English summer day, you can smell it. We were given its resin, labdanum, to sniff at an incence workshop I went to recently. It is harvested using goats. They drive flock through the bushes and then comb the resin out of their coats.
2. Foreign supermarkets. We raced round looking for familiar food in unfamiliar packaging: 'They've got Nutella in JUGS!' Treaty foods like grapes and Parma ham were very cheap, while breakfast cereals were rather expensive. And other things were just scary: 'Can we get some frozen octopus?' 'Time to leave...'
3. We scrambled down to a white beach in a rocky cove. On a rock just out to sea, someone had made three neat stacks of rounded pebbles.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
2. A late Gertrude Jekyll rose, still scented and still packed with perfect petals despite heavy rain and cold nights.
3. Walking round my parents' garden, we found a patch of almond smell. But where it came from, we couldn't tell.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
2. Naughty dogs frollicking on the cricket pitch. There are three of them, and the lady with them threw a ball on a cord. She baby talked at them and fussed them like anything.
3. I am going down with a cold, so I feel quite justified in having a short kip before supper, and then another one after supper. When I wake up, all warm and soft, it's time to start thinking about going to bed.
Friday, September 24, 2004
2. Downstairs from our office is a jewellery maker. Sometimes you can hear them tapping away with little hammers. Their security is really tight, with alarms and buzzy doors and we hardly ever see them. I imagine that they might be goblins or svart elves who have moved with the times.
3. Tinned pears in chocolate sauce.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
2. I got my glasses corrected and everything is clearer and more colourful. It's like being on drugs.
3. Eating tiramisu really, really slowly.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
2. I was all lined up to write a quiz for work - this is a particularly fiddly task that takes far longer than it should - but when I got into the system, I found I'd already done it last week.
3. Until I got under a hot shower, I didn't realise how cold and stiff I was. It was lovely to feel warmth creeping back into my bones.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
2. I picked up this week's organic vegetable box. It was a bit like a Christmas stocking because the contents is selected for you. I'm planning my week's menus around locally-grown chard, fennel, leeks, potatoes, orange pepper, carrots and green squash.
3. Walking past a friend's house, I see her at the window but she doesn't see me because she is reading a letter. Her boyfriend comes up behind her, notices me and they call me in for a cup of tea.
Monday, September 20, 2004
2. When your father offers you a gin and tonic before lunch. It's the ultimate symbol of adulthood.
3. Finally having room for my childhood books. Welcome home Mary Poppins, Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna and the rest of the gang.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
2. I went to a Flat-owners' Association meeting and Fenella served cookies fresh from the oven so they were squishy and full of melty chocolate chips.
3. Walking across The Common in the rain.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
1. Clinking rigging on moored yachts.
2. On Peter's yacht, the stove sits in a cradle so that it is always horizontal, whatever the angle of sailing.
3. When the engine is off you can hear water lapping and wind filling the sail.
Friday, September 17, 2004
2. My new skirt - it's reddish brown with ochre chevrons slashed in it across the hips - very slimming. It's knee length, so quite respectable for work. And it's warm, so it's practical, too.
3. Being surprised by a taste of blackberries in white wine.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
2. A news story about Jane Howorth who rescues battery hens from 'retirement' and re-homes them so they can spend their remaining days as pets in happy, grassy places. 'Chickens are like little dogs with feathers,' she says. Visit the Retirement Home for Battery Hens and see if there is anything you can do to help.
3. The shadow of a squirly cast-iron gate.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
2. Putting olive oil on boiled potatoes.
3. In George R R Martin's book A Clash of Kings he mentions a society of assassins called The Sorrowful Ones. As they kill you, they whisper 'I am so sorry.'
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
2. White tomato. It's quite mild and tastes faintly of parsley.
3. I got stranded after a meeting in a village outside town so Paul V came and rescued me.
Monday, September 13, 2004
2. I bought a basket of plums from the farmers' market yesterday. They weren't very good. Some were green and hard. Some were bruised and swollen. So I converted them into plum and cinnamon slices - using Delia's recipe from How to Cook Part II and they are now yum.
3. Eight of us spent a cheery afternoon at Ross' flat drinking wine, sniffing rare resins and mushing unguents and wood into incense.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
2. Putting my key in the lock of my own front door after a week away.
3. I love the silence of my flat after a week living in close quarters with the gang. But if I am still for a moment, I can hear their voices and laughter clear as anything.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
2. At Watlington the church doesn't have a steeple. So they cut one into the chalk hill above the village, and if you stand in the right place it rises above the church tower as a good steeple should.
3. An enormous rubbery fungus the colour of not quite ripe apricots. It was hidden among the roots of a beech tree and grew upwards in petal-like layers - it reminded me rather of a giant rose that wasn't quite open. The rims curled over slightly.
Friday, September 10, 2004
2. The teeny-tiny youth hostel at Bradenham. It has fiendishly complicated opening hours. Just the way a youth hostel should be - I bet the door is locked at 11pm sharp and anyone trying to sneak into the other dorm for a little flagrante delicto is tarred and feathered and run out town on a rail. No really, I'm sure it's a lovely place to stay. The village is like a calendar come real.
3. A spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) with berries on it. We found one in the woods below Pulpit Hill, but there were no berries. This one, growing out of a hedge by a stile, was covered in three-cornered silk-pink berries. In a while, they will burst open to reveal seeds the colour of 1970s orange squash. The last time I saw a spindle tree in full glory I was being taken for a walk in my pram. It was such an extraordinary sight that I have never forgotten it. Picture from Antiquariaat Jan Meemelink flower books & prints.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
2. A series of bright - almost garish scenes from Sleeping Beauty by a Russian artist. They were a gift from one of the Rothschilds to his wife. The characters are all friends of the couple, including the man himself as the prince and his sister-in-law as the princess.
3. Another piece of Waddesdonia (above). Garrick between Comedy and Tragedy by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Garrick was an upwardly mobile theatre owner. He was the son of an impoverished soldier but when he died 50,000 people came to view his coffin. Poor man - Comedy looks a right little minx who will bring him nothing but trouble, while Tragedy looks as if she's tearing him off a strip for leaving his newspaper lying all over the kitchen table.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
2. Bella the sheep dog. She is obsessed with things in the sky and snaps at flies and watches birds. She is nine months old and belongs to Matt, the warden at the Bradenham Estate.
3. Shiny scarlet bryony berries hanging in swags over fences and hedges
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
2. We climbed Pulpit Hill. The summit was once an iron age fort. Banks and ditches are all that remain. Ranks of pine trees crowd in on three sides, and giant beech trees shade what must once have been an important centre for a large area. Our historian, Richard, said that these forts were used for storing food rather than for defence. The place feels as if it is waiting for people to come back and use it again.
3. A cream coloured ladybird with orange-brown freckles.
Monday, September 06, 2004
2. Jerry the National Trust warden taught us how to fell scrubby trees by using a bow saw - 'A two minute job'. My first was an ash as thick as my forearm. It took longer than two minutes and left my arms aching, but the creee-crash as the tree came down felt like a real achievement.
3. A small girl lying along a branch six feet off the ground at Coombe Hill. 'It's nice to see people enjoying themselves,' commented Jerry. The chalk hilltop has an almost panoramic view over fields and towns - from Waddesdon Manor on one side to Didcote Power Station on the other. On a day as fine and hot as this people use it rather like a beach, enjoying the sun and hoping to catch a breath of wind.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
2. When train journeys go like clockwork.
3. We didn't know each other at lunchtime, but now the twelve of us are sitting round a long table playing a very silly game involving a die and a bar of chocolate.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
2. A buddleja bush squeezing a few more blossoms out in the last weeks of summer.
3. Coming out of work and knowing that I'm off on holiday.
Friday, September 03, 2004
2. A baby with a huge head, big round eyes and her bottom lip sucked under her top lip leaning right forward in her pushchair and concentrating really hard on something.
3. At sunset we went to the fieldy bit of Dunorlan Park, as far from houses as you can be, with four drums, two tin whistles, a guitar and a mandolin. We bickered about what to play. We disagreed about the version of the tune. We tried starting with the drums and we tried starting with the tune. But suddenly, as the stars came out, the sounds fell into place and we played together.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
2. Dolly mixture pink cyclamen growing out of the dry leaves under a hawthorn tree on The Common.
3. Reading that Notdonnareed at American Mom has been trying Three Beautiful Things.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
2. My new coconut palm seedling. It's burst out of its coconut and grown to nearly six feet tall. The leaves are as long as my arm and split down the middle as they grow. I don't know how long it will last - my fears that it will reach 20 feet and incur the wrath of the flat owners' association are probably unfounded.
3. Owning a really good sharp kitchen knife.
Monday, August 30, 2004
Sunday, August 29, 2004
2. Farmers' market time again. There were apples everywhere - I bought worcester pearmains, which are crisp and sharp.
3. Making crab apple jelly. Drops of juice hung on the outside of the jelly bag waiting to fall into the bowl below
Saturday, August 28, 2004
2. Watching fish watching me from inside a large glass globe.
3. I spent the evening at Caroline's. We had supper and drank wine and watched The Olympics, screaming abuse and encouragement at Paula Radcliffe. Because I don't have a TV at home, even adverts seem slightly miraculous, let alone a stadium full of athletes and cheering crowds..
Friday, August 27, 2004
Thursday, August 26, 2004
2. A random whiff of baking coming from one of the flats under the offices next door.
3. Crumble made from blackberries I picked myself on the Common. The berries are very tart and the juice and topping are very sweet.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
2. Went to Habitat looking for storage ideas. I wanted a desk kit cupboard for a 16in space. But then I fell in love with this Cos CD rack. It's made of birch plywood and it comes flat and slots together like a building toy. Being grown-up, I made the shop man get his tape measure out. It's exactly 16ins wide. So I bought it and moved my pens and sticky things to the shelf previously occupied by CDs.
3. Getting in trouble with my little sister Rosey (more usually known as Bumface) because I haven't mentioned her in Three Beautiful Things yet.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
2. Hummus with raw carrots.
3. Aniseed sirop.
Monday, August 23, 2004
2. The Course of Honour by Lindsey Davis. It's a love story set in ancient Rome involving a feisty slave girl - Caenis - and a nobleman who eventually becomes the emperor Vespasian. One moment we're rejoicing in late afternoon liaisons, letters and wine, and the next, Caenis is living alone in a filthy tenement and being harassed by a pasty schoolmaster. Lindsey Davis is hot on the little details make historicals come alive, and she's definitely got a knack for luuuurve that makes your heart beat faster. I've got a weakness for novels about interesting rather than beautiful women who claim in chapter one that they're not interested in romance, but by chapter three have fallen into the arms of an unconventional man. I feel so exploited.
3. Drinking rose wine with Lou and Nicky to celebrate the half moon.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
2. Ran into an old... um... friend. His girlfriend asked who I was. Neither of us was sure what to say.
3. Ali, who was at Durham with me, came to stay. We had dinner, went the pub and then we chatted about contented things until we fell sleep.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
2. I hate supermarket shopping, but this week I've got no choice - I've missed about four farmers' markets in a row because of too much excitement and supplies are running dangerously low. Luckily PaulV swoops out of the sky and carries me off to Sainsbury's. We share two-for-one offers, giggle like fiends at off-colour jokes about sausages and race our trolleys around the carpark. I hope there are always people like PaulV in my life.
3. Having a fridge so full of food that I can't see the light.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
2. I bought a second-hand creative visualisation book from Oxfam. It includes some exercises, including Think of a person you especially love or admire. List all their positive qualities. Think about how those qualities mirror you. A previous owner has written: 'Devi - Centred, kind, funny, stimulating, compassionate, fascinating, powerful, successful.'
3. If I hold my penny whistle in a particular way I can feel the air inside it vibrating under my fingertips.
2. Puddles in the road reflecting the night. I'm looking down at the pavement and they make me recall that Oscar Wilde quote - 'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.'
3. Walking home after a rainstorm and seeing the great bear through a gap in the clouds.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
2. Everything went quiet for a moment in the High Street and I could hear the rain.
3. PaulV coming round just before midnight with chocolate cake. We ate it in bed.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
2. The feeling of relief when my books are returned to me.
3. Lou has asked me for Cretan maze instructions. I find that drawing up a step-by-step page improves my own understanding.
Monday, August 16, 2004
2. Manhattan Sour at Sam's, High Street, Windsor. I think it involved whisky, lemon juice and orgeat sirop.
3. The extraordinary chateau-style Royal Holloway University. It looks like the sort of place that would froth local peasants into a slathering mob, baying for aristrocratic blood.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
2. Flags - people bag their spots in the arena field early in the day and mark them with home-made flags so their friends can find them. I spotted a pair of silver and black boxers, a red tee-shirt, a banner thanking the organisers, some giant sweets, three wobbly seagulls, rainbow whirly things, a jolly roger, flying pigs and wide mouthed fish.
3. Giant bubbles. A stall - which I never found - was selling a cunning device that made bubbles bigger than your head. They floated off in the twilight, reflecting a ring of stage lights.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
2. Lou explaining how at last year's Cropredy Festival, she tried to sober up her husband Rob with coffee, unaware that it was laced with brandy.
3. Hot chocolate with brandy after an evening standing in a field with 12,000 other people.
Friday, August 13, 2004
2. A jug of sour sugary mint-leafy mojito at Cubana with friends. Cubana is achingly Che-chic. Cocktails for all come the revolution.
3. A learning difficulties lady kept talking to me at Waterloo East. Although she was sweet and shy, normally I would have run away covered in confusion. But tonight, I was the sort of drunk that gently fills you with love for everyone. So we chatted away about the difficulties of catching trains and I helped her on board when it arrived. She asked me to let the guard know she would need help at her station. He was lovely too - 'Short lady? Oh she's a regular. I dunno what she does, just rides up and down all day. We never ask her for her ticket.'
Thursday, August 12, 2004
2. Walking home with black clouds piling up in the sky behind me.
3. Origami mouse. This is one of the first models I learnt. This traditional design is simple but it has something essentially mousish about it. I prefer the traditional designs because of this. And being simple, it's easy to do a good job of them. This one is particularly good with thickish paper.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
2. Opening a packet of thick and beautifully patterned origami paper and using it to make a couple of models involving pleasing moves.
3. Washing your hair after a sticky day.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
2. As juicy a piece of steak as I've ever had the pleasure of putting on my plate.
3. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro which I read in one sitting and enjoyed hugely. I was intrigued all the way through by the love story and fascinated by the manservant-gentleman relationship. The story-telling technique was masterly, too - Stevens is writing as his journey unfolds, so we really have no idea what is going to happen next in the outer story.
Monday, August 09, 2004
2. Swimming in the sea on a hot day.
3. Mr Men ice lollies - small, cheap, tasty and free from artificial colourings, they are as welcome today as they were when I was at school.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
2. A man sitting in the window of a cafe. Sunlight reflected off his cup of coffee rippled on his face.
3. Finding the perfect pair of shoes on the morning of the day I need them. They match my new undies.
Saturday, August 07, 2004
2. The security of knowing my new spider plant (courtesy of Jason) is absorbing harmful radiation from my screen.
3. Laura suggested I might get the shine back in my hair by applying almond oil and leaving it for two hours before washing it out. I spent the early evening looking like a chav and wondering what I would do if it wouldn't wash out. But it shampooed out beautifully and my hair felt softer than it has in ages. So that was all right.
Friday, August 06, 2004
2. A parcel from Katie containing two pink hair bobbles. Each has two plastic spheres the size of the large kind of marble full of water and sparkly bits.
3. Being woken by a fight below my window. It involved three belligerent girls, a fat bouncer and the police. There was proper swearing 'Look what he's done to her!' and 'I'm gonna take you to court!' and 'Just go home now!' and 'If you don't move on I'll nick you.' I could even hear the policeman on the radio describing what she saw on CCTV. If only I'd had some popcorn.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
2. A few drops of rain falling after a long hot day.
3. Talking novels with Peter, a writer my own age.
Monday, August 02, 2004
2. Explaining the train announcement ticker to two nervous Japanese tourists and feeling oddly proud. The trains may be late, but at least we know by how many minutes, damn it.
3. Sandy dust under bare feet.
Sunday, August 01, 2004
2. Falling asleep in the shade over a book.
3. The squeaky noises that guinea pigs make.
Saturday, July 31, 2004
2. Meeting Paul V for lunch. We sat in the sun under the house on the rock and he ate an e-nor-mous salad bowl from Safeway. I had a salmon and cucumber sandwich and an apple.
3. Northern Exposure. When my friends first started driving, we used to gather at Glen's house on a Sunday evening to watch this quirky and slightly magical show about Cicely, Alaska. It's a place where a 20-year-old girl can get together with a man old enough to be her grandfather and it doesn't seem weird. It featured the lovely, lovely John Corbett as layabout DJ artist Chris 'in the morning' Stephens. Sigh.
Friday, July 30, 2004
2. A serious- and sensible-looking man picking and eating blackberries at the side of the road.
3. A garden full of sunflowers alive with hoverflies.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
2. Saki's short stories, in particular Excepting Mrs. Pentherby and Shock Tactics.
3. Going to the theatre outside. It combines a celebration of summer evenings with a special kind of optimism about the weather. We saw Garden, which is half of an Alan Ayckbourn play titled House and Garden. House was being performed simultaneously inside the theatre.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
2. House of Leaves - a labyrinth in book form. A photojournalist gets lost in his own house and makes a film about it. A blind man writes about the film and then dies. His editor, a troubled trainee tattoo artist, is discovering that drugs and random sex are no substitute for a firm grip on reality. The text twists around the page and footnotes lead you astray.
3. Christopher sent me a draft of a short story which made me laugh out loud.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Sunday, July 25, 2004
2. Heliotrope. It smells like cherry pie.
3. Two fat ladies leaning over a fence by a busy road to feed horses with quarters of apple.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
2. The smell inside the old slam-door trains. I think it reminds me of my parents coming home from work.
3. London on a hot evening just before the pubs close. It's quietly busy and no-one seems in much of a hurry.
Friday, July 23, 2004
2. My mother sneaking into my flat and leaving a bag of herbs and a big bunch of marigolds.
3. Drinking a glass of rough red wine while supper cooks.
Thursday, July 22, 2004
2. Sitting in my flat at 6.05pm and - even after six months - rejoicing at not being stuck on the train back from work in London.
3. Rob turning up at ten to midnight with a bag of potatoes from his allotment.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
2. Malteasers. One sweet, so many dimensions. They're chocolate. They crunch. You can suck them and they melt. Yum.
3. Finding a book with instructions for an origami pig. A chap at uni made one for me once, and I could never work out how he did it. I think this must be the same book he had, because he told me about a ring of 12 cranes made from one sheet of paper. I didn't believe him, but it's there in the book! Step-by-step Origami by Steve and Megumi Biddle.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
2. Supper in the park with mozzarella, tomatoes, cheese and bread.
3. Vanilla sugar - put vanilla pods in a jar. Pour caster sugar over them. After a few weeks, you too can make everyone think you are a domestic goddess. It's good on strawberries, or in cakes. It also burns as incense and makes the whole flat smell of baking. It's a very homey, comforting smell. Apparently it's good for seducing men, too.
Monday, July 19, 2004
Sunday, July 18, 2004
2. Ten-minute trifle made with mascarpone, raspberries and bananas.
3. Teaching Niamh age three the dangerous words to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Saturday, July 17, 2004
2. I got a bus from Brighton station to Cat's parents' house. The moment on that journey when I first glimpsed the sea.
3. Cat, who will always be small for her age, appearing from behind the enormous front door. She's on a flying visit from Germany, and I haven't seen her since before Christmas.
Friday, July 16, 2004
2. Green and Black's cherry chocolate.
3. My apron. Katie made it from curtain material off-cuts. When I wash up last thing it stops me soaking my night dress. It also gives me somewhere to wipe my hands and it has a useful pocket in which to lose the corkscrew.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
2. Bruv ringing to be excited with me about The Streets album he gave me for my birthday. He told me he thought the language and the story telling would fascinate me - he was so right.
3. Soap bubbles bigger than my head.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
2. Seeing my little brother for the first time since Easter.
3. Hearing Radio 4 coming faintly from a parked car. Even though I can't hear the actual words, I know it is Radio 4 and couldn't be anything else. I think it reminds me of being picked up by my father after Saturday school.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
2. The tunnel between Eridge Road and the Pantiles. One moment it's hot, bright, noisy roadside, and the next it's the quiet, shady and cool Pantiles.
3. Cherry tomatoes. They taste like tomatoes but as small enough to eat in one go so I don't end up with pips and pulp all down my front.
Monday, July 12, 2004
Sunday, July 11, 2004
2. Flour Power chocolate brownies. They are huge, sticky and very chocolatey.
3. Watching the High Street in a hail storm. The traffic slowed right down. There was no noise but the rush of hail. Everyone - even people with umbrellas - sheltered in doorways and under shop awnings. The flag on the estate agents went limp. Shopkeepers stopped work and stood in their doorways looking on. When it was over, everyone hurried on with what they were doing pretending that nothing had happened.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
2. Waking up from a kip and realising that I have three minutes to dress for a party; and then getting a call from Paul V to say that he is running late.
3. My Wonderbra.
Friday, July 09, 2004
2. The BBC pips.
3. The taste of butter when you haven't had it for ages and ages.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
2. We drew faces on balloons and let them out of the office window. The wind snatched mine and it flew away over the hospital.
3. I've been struggling for *weeks* with a specially tricky dungeon boss on Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I finally trounced him and his master sent him between dimensions as a punishment.
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