Saturday, July 31, 2004

Chocolate, Lunch and Northern Exposure.

1. While hunting for breakfast in a strange house, I found a jar of Nutella.

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

Walking the dog, blackberries and sunflowers.

1. Sprite's obvious pleasure at being taken for a walk.

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

All set, avocado and summer night.

1. Leaving for work knowing that everything is ready for what I'm doing when I get home.

2. Avocado that is properly buttery.

3. A heatwave co-inciding with me having somewhere private to sit outside.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Sam Lawrence, Saki and stage.

1. I finished reading the article (Sam Lawrence Told Me So) that a friend, Rich, has written about the beginnings of Mormonism. Through meticulous research, he has uncovered the history of a shadowy character who would otherwise have been forgotten. I hope someone does the same for me!

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

Sun, leaves and stories.

1. The way the sun shines into my flat. It's like being woken up by someone who is all excited about whatever it is we're about to spend the day doing.

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

Lemon, rodent and flittermice.

1. Earl Grey tea with lemon in it.

2. Jessica's spotty hamster. It looks like the Dalmatian mice in The Royal Tenenbaums

3. Watching bats from a rocky outcrop in the woods.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Hunger, bedding plants and horses.

1. Fenella and I walked through St James' Park and Green Park before breakfast. When we got our juice and muffins from a refreshment stand in Hyde Park, they tasted yum.

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

Payday, trains and a hot night.

1. Putting my paycheck in the bank after what seems like a 40-day month.

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

NICE, yralgrub and vin rouge.

1. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence. It decides which drugs the NHS should be dishing out by asking everyone to comment on new treatments in a big free-for-all of healthcare professionals, managers and academics. This week, experts have been saying that if it's going to recommend such expensive treatments, it should jolly well pay for them itself.

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

It's gone, yay and spuds.

1. Small boy chasing crickets in the long grass under Wellington Rocks.

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

Grotesque, scrunch and pigs.

1. Len Shelley's frankly peculiar art. He beachcombs bits of dead fish, bird skulls and driftwood and arranges them in a box. Bizarre google-eyed creatures are frozen in the snippets of overheard conversation that title each box: They Brought Children for him to Touch and In Summer there are Wasps and He bought a harpy from a petshop in Japan. There is an exhibition on now in Tunbridge Wells library. Don't forget to read the guestbook - 'Twaddle - like a first-year art student' and 'disgusting' and 'the poor horse' and 'as a vegetarian I was very offended'.

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

Out to lunch, supper in the sun and vanilla.

1. Being driven out to a pub in the country at lunchtime.

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

Drowsy, breakfast and dancing queen.

1. Feeling soft and sleepy.

2. Toast and marmite and tea.

3. Dancing with Paul V.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Laughing boy, trifle and subverting the young.

1. A man with a pushchair laughed to see me, Cat and Jen wearing borrowed waterproofs - one red, one white and one green. We were scurrying along the promenade behind Cat's dandyish husband Alan.

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

Floristry, I can see the sea and old friends.

1. Flower stalls at stations.

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

Crash, comfort food amd domestic science.

1. A skater fell off his board and landed in a nettle patch. I was far enough away that I could smirk in safety.

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

Tart, narrative and bubbles.

1. A Round Heeled Woman by Janet Juska.

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

Tar is not a plaything, Bruv and Radio 4.

1. The smell of tar used for repairing roads.

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

Seeds, magic door and tomatoes.

1. The seedheads of hawksbit (Hieracium). They look like thuggish dandelions.

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

Baby powder, peas and meditation.

1. Johnson's baby powder.

2. Fresh peas in their pods bought from the Farmers' Market.

3. When I meditate my body goes heavy and light at the same time. Then I seem to forget I have a body at all.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Small boy, chocolate brownies and a hail storm.

1. A boy of about eight with hair growing straight from the top of his head. It lay flat like a helmet - apart from a little tuft at on the crown. He also had a face full of freckles and front teeth a bit too big for his mouth.

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

Grease, time keeping and foundation garments.

1. Bacon sandwiches made on malted brown bread.

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

Privet, pips and butter.

1. Being puzzled because the hayfevery, sickly, loo-cleanerish smell of privet flowers makes me feel vaguely happy, then remembering the reason why.

2. The BBC pips.

3. The taste of butter when you haven't had it for ages and ages.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Dirty weather, toys of the wind and end of level.

1. We had been promised dirty weather by teatime. There was something unreal about the sky all day - grey clouds piled up in rolled waves.

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.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Elegant dog, gone to seed and lurking cats.

1. A woman with thick grey hair enjoying the sun on the bit of grass between the road and common. She had her elegant doberman pinscher lying down beside her with its head up like a sphinx. Its coat was glossy black black black and its nose and bum were the colour of brandy with the sun shining through it.

2. A patch of rough grass run to seed, all different species, with low late afternoon sun shining through it.

3. Walking down a quiet street of houses and seeing cats hiding in front gardens.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Misasmas, tea and dried herbs.

1. Long shadows and early morning mist.

2. Being brought a mug of Earl Grey tea first thing.

3. The smell of drying raspberry leaves - they are faintly nettley, and faintly fruity.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Weather, caterpillars and jam

1. Rain is falling straight down and the world is still, apart from when a drop lands on a leaf and shakes the branch.

2. Cinnabar moth caterpillars eating ragwort. They are dirty orange and look as if they are strung with black rubber tyres.

3. Home-made gooseberry jam.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Nesting, blackbirds and fruit.

1. There is a spotted flycatchers' nest just above the door of my parents' shed. It's cunningly hidden behind a rambling rector rose. Daddy says it's a absolute textbook nest - 'A scruffy nest of moss on a ledge on a building behind creepers,' according to the book. Mr Flycatcher sits on the fence tutting if you approach. 'I've never seen him do anything constructive.'

2. A blackbird swallowing wild cherries.

3. Red currants. Their skins are translucent and glossy, so they seem to shine like jewels. They squish easily though, so picking them stains your hands.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Up the garden path, two for one and salad bowl.

1. Peeping through an iron railing gate into a grand garden on my way to work. It has two weeping pussy willows in circular beds on either side of a neat path. I felt like Alice and her door that was too small to get through.

2. The coffee man stamped my loyalty card twice by accident. I did think of mentioning it, but then thought it best not to: it would fluster him and hold up the queue.

3. Tomato and cucumber salad made with properly red tomatoes.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Out, not now and more new clothes.

1. Escaping from a stressy office into bright sun and dancing shadows.

2. Not feeling embarrassed to demarcate my writing time by telling people I'm not up for chatting.

3. My new trousers, which are almost too long and made of slightly crispy linen in thin blonde, sandy and camel-coloured stripes.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Berries, chores and exotica

1. Glaucous berries on a berberis bush. And the opportunity to use the word 'glaucous'.

2. When tasks you've been dreading are easier than expected.

3. 'I'm gonna wash that man right outa my hair', 'Happy Talk' and 'Honey Bun' from South Pacific

Art book, gossip and watermelon.

1. Among my birthday presents is a new book of Tove Jansson's art, featuring lots of bits I've never seen before. 2. Stopping for a ...