Monday, June 30, 2008

Heads, found and praline.

1. Among the trembling grasses at Wellington Rocks, two small blonde heads.

2. Three men hunt backwards and forwards on the cricket pitch boundary for a lost set of car keys. They are found in a pocket -- much to everyone's relief.

3. A bite of praline in a spoonful of icecream.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Time of day, passing on and the grasses.

1. A morning chat with my little sister on her birthday.

2. I've been Freecycling books, and I get a note from a lady saying that she wishes I could have seen her little girl when she got home from school and discovered the pile of children's books -- apparently she is devouring one or two a day, so new ones are always needed. I'm really glad to have helped out another bookworm.

3. Looking across the long grass on the Common. I love seeing the wind turn the stems like waves on water.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Substitute, massage and it keeps us going.

1. Baking savoury muffins because we've run out of bread for breakfast.

2. Dana gives me a head massage in exchange for writing advice.

3. 'How're you doing?' a man asks his friend who works at the chippie. 'I'm all right. That guy just made my evening.' He gestures to a chatty and slightly odd drunk with a babyish face and a cloud of curly hair. He is now waiting for a taxi -- that he made the chip shop call for him -- on the corner outside with his open chips.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Red/green, coming back and competition.

1. Salt and pepper on a cucumber and tomato salad.

2. I have given so many books away in the last few weeks. In my darker moments, when I remember how little money-earning work I am doing at the moment, I wonder how much I have spent on these books. But then Katie clears her shelves, too, and asks if there's anything I want. I see clearly how many books arrive in my life like this -- gifts from friends, 10p boxes, special offers and charity shops. And I compare a full-priced paperback to a cinema ticket, and they don't seem so expensive after all.

3. Our second Wii controller has arrived, which means that Nick and I can play together. He beats me smartly at tennis, and hugs me tightly after each set. I am less gracious when I trounce him at bowling.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Snakes alive, he started it and tapir

As a birthday treat, Nick took me to London Zoo.

1. In the reptile house -- sometimes it's hard to see if anyone is at home in the cases. We look for a while, and sometimes spot an eye looking back at us, or a scaly green body curled round a branch. I like seeing a coiled snake move -- I love the way the circles slip over each other in different directions.

2. The zookeeper told everyone off for waving at the gorilla and touching the glass, but the gorilla definitely started it. Gorillas look like men who are puffing out their chests because they're trying to hold their stomachs in.

3. The tapir enclosure seems empty, but I spot a dark corridor down the side, and we discover a window that looks right into a room where the tapir is munching on the last of his lunchtime leafy branches. He chews thoughtfully and then stretches out his snout to sniff the air. The sign says that he is related to horses, and there a horsy smell around. Then, having checked out the smells, he lies down on his side in the sun that pours in through his door and window. The light falls on him so his white saddle appears the same colour as the black parts of his body.

4. The extra-tall stable doors in the giraffe house, and the salt-lick eight feet off the ground.

5. I could never grow tired of looking at the treacle-coloured rumps of okapi. They seem to change colour in the sunlight, from black to deep orange-brown to dark plum.

6. At the end of the day, after the crowds of school children have gone home, we sit on a cool concrete bench listening to the bactrian camels eating hay.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Great work, bracken and to ourselves.

1. We have been sitting in the sun stuffing envelopes. I can hear a clipping noise, but cannot see anyone. Once the envelopes are stuffed, Elizabeth says: 'Come and see the great work.' She leads me under the low branches of a shrub to the top of the wall that drops into the garden behind. Christopher is balanced on a trestle trimming the hedge.

2. The Common paths are newly cut and there is a smell of drying bracken.

3. Being in the cinema with only a few people.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flying, bathroom and broadcast.

1. Sitting with Granny watching a buzzard's wings change from black silhouette to brown and back again as it turns in the sky above us.

2. My father looks into the skip at his dismantled bathroom and bemoans forgetting to use the loo for the last time that morning.

3. My writing teacher recommends a radio play based on Kressman Taylor's Address Unknown. It was only broadcast on Friday, so there's still a chance to listen to this chilling piece -- set in 1932, it consists of letters between a German and his Jewish business partner back in the US.

Monday, June 23, 2008

On the wind, conveyance and wild mint.

1. In the station car park, the wind scutters a leafy willow branch across the ground, whirls the tarmac smell into our faces and whisks clouds into mares' tails high above us.

2. New car smell, a door that closes firmly behind me with almost no effort, and firm new car seats.

3. We walk up the track in the dust and the smell of wild mint comes and goes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tunes, notebook and choice.

1. Playing with my blue and orange ceramic ocarina -- it has a mellow sound, softer than the penny whistles, so I feel less self-conscious tootling when Katie is in the flat.

2. Someone has put a parcel through the door. It contains a Moleskine notebook and a small card made from Joe's pictures. An encouraging present from one writer to another.

3. In the supermarket, we can choose strawberries not only by variety but by county and by farmer's name.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Birthday morning, riffing and people of the forest.

1. Waking up and feeling a the weight of an exciting parcel on my legs. Later, I eat one of my birthday chocolates as I write sitting up in bed.

2. Ellie, two and a half, is at a slightly bonkers stage. Words are tremendous fun, and as Cat and I chat, fragments of our conversation are repeated and riffed on underneath. We're trying to come up with a title for a steampunk radio play.
'What I want is brass and cogs and clockwork and tick-tocks.'
'Clockwork clockwork clockwork clock tick tock work tick.'
Horology... That's watch-making. Or mechanism... what about German Kraft?'
'Clockwork watch clockwork clockwork tick tock German kraft.'

3. I go to my cousin's degree show and arrive to find her buoyant with joy -- a lady has come by and suggested that she get in touch with a children's book publisher about her pictures and her little rain forest people.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hallo Joe, looking out and birthday treat.

1. Passing a garden gate, I see one of my favourite bloggers at work. We chat about 3BTing, and Joe speaks in praise of the notebook as an antidote to that uncomfortable feeling I get at about 3pm when I realise that I have missed something wonderful off the day's entry.

2. Clean pink roses pushing over a garden wall look like children's faces crammed against a classroom window to see an excitement outside. I imagine their teacher and the gardener both trying to persuade them to turn their attention back in.

3. There's no-one at home to tell me not to open my birthday cards before the actual day -- present have to wait, of course. And later, Nick brings the tea tray in with a few more cards.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not lost, travelling, books away and dinner out.

There has been plenty of 3BT action over at Applehouse Poetry Workshop -- check out the comments.

And all you writers -- Fiona Robyn is running a workshop in August: Developing your writing practice.

1. Bookcrossing -- I put my stuff down in the Post Office, and when I leave 'forget' to pick up a labelled book. I wonder who will find, and if they'll like it.

2. Freecycling -- piles of books disappear off our doorstep, carried away by readers.

3. The words 'dinner' and 'my treat'. And little dishes of tapas.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The return, three minutes and peas.

1. I go back to the newspaper where I started out for a day's subbing. I'd forgotten how satisfying it is to piece together a page; and how easily the work absorbs me.

2. Getting to the station and seeing that there will be a train in three minutes.

3. Eating a few peas raw while I wait for the potatoes to cook.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Street papers, story time and our house.

1. I have been beating myself round the head for failing to pick up a copy of The Guardian on Saturday -- my own brother had an article in it. But Nick calls to say he has found a still-wrapped copy in the street.

2. I am keying a typescript, and I lose track of time. I have to dash off at an intriguing moment -- a stranger in a tall silk hat has just asked the little girl (the author of the memoir) if she sleeps in her white kid button-up boots. What will she say, and who will he turn out to be?

3. I never get sick of people walking into our flat and exclaiming at how large and airy the living room is.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A luxury on washing day, sweetpeas and supper.

1. Hanging my newly washed dress on an outside washing line in the sunshine, with the smell of hot cupressus around.

2. Nick's mother takes me by the hand to show me how the sweetpea seeds I gave her for Christmas have grown.

3. Cooking a simple supper and chatting with Nick as I work.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Stocks, breakage and clams.

1. The cinnamon scent of purple and pink stocks.

2. In my quest to reduce my possessions, the strangest things become blessings: While cleaning the kitchen I go to wash the two plastic trays on which the oils and vinegars stand within the reach of the stove. They break in my hands, brittled by age and heat.

3. When spaghetti alle vongolle is on the specials menu at a restaurant because it implies that fresh clams might be forthcoming.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

There all along, beans and object of desire.

1. In my pile of morning reading, a list of homographs makes me perk up -- I'd never noticed evening and evening or moped and moped.

3. Popping broad beans out of their pods -- I like the foamy lining.

2. A Freecycle pick-up. At 9am, I decide I want a soldering iron to fix my hairclip. At 4.30pm, I find one waiting on an assigned bench.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Working together, lunch and memories.

Lynne Rees is using 3BT in her AppleHouse Poetry Workshop -- can't wait to see some of the results.

1. Tania and I write from the same set of prompts at the same time. As she points out afterwards, we're thousands of miles apart, but sharing creative energy.

2. Tender gnocchi in a green sauce, a bottle of fizzy water and a tiny cup of espresso.

3. We watch Ray Mears interviewing Torres Straits islanders. A toothless former pearl shell diver reminisces about scaring sharks by blowing bubbles at them. He laughs as he describes driving them towards a rival, and the rival scaring them back again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sleep, revolution and job done.

1. Taking a snooze in the middle of the day.

2. Persepolis. A very beautiful animated film about growing up during the Iranian Revolution. It reminded me of the freedoms I take for granted -- such as going to the theatre and sitting with Nick, and then walking home with him.

3. A pile of edited pages marked with pink tabs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Salad, knitting and in the dark.

1. Dressing a pasta salad so the pieces slip apart.

2. At the end of the evening, the waiter comes up and says: 'I just wanted to say well done. I think more people should do this sort of thing.' Having met on Ravelry, we have been nursing drinks in the corner, chatting while our knitting grows longer.

3. The night smells of flowers -- I can't place them though. It might be honeysuckle on the Common; or it might be night-scented stocks and tobacco plants in window boxes above us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Campaign for real bread, embrace and a family.

1. We are low on bread again, and I complain to Katie that there is nowhere at this end of town to buy real bread -- unless I am prepared to trail through the entire supermarket, or buy olive / raisin / rosemary artisanal knot bread from a deli at £4 a pop. But when I run into the newsagents after milk, among the plastic sliced bread I find two proper loaves.

2. I am standing chatting to a friend and her little girl puts her arms around my leg and gives me a hug.

3. Hurrying through the park to writing I see Matt, Anna and small Oli enjoying ice creams on a balmy summer night. I stop to say hi just as Anna offers Oli a lick that lights up his face.

Monday, June 09, 2008

English weather, a sweet spot and escape from the garden.

1. It is a day of tight hard shadows and strong light. I think it's too near noon for walking up the hill, but I need my half of the book for proofreading. The light is hot and bright, but the air is cool, which makes me glad to be in England.

2. I hear music from Oli's yard. He is sitting in the half-shade with a jug of juice and his guitar.

3. A fence on a brick wall divides the dust and roar of the road from someone's home. At eye height, a row of tiny strawberry plants has crept under the fence to offer strangers refreshment for mouth and eyes: sweet scarlet fruit on spindly stems.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pop, falling with style and escape.

To anyone thinking about posting a spam comment -- don't waste your time. I see comments before they go live, and if they're not relevant, they get deleted. If you want to advertise in a post or on the front page, please get in touch and I'll tell you how much it costs.

1. Breaking the skin of a tomato with the tip of a sharp knife.

2. A park full of people watching unlikely flying machines throwing themselves into the Serpentine.

3. In the Grove a tiny person in a green jumper escapes from its mother and, shouting 'Da da da da', runs towards the stream of people coming up from the station.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Routine, teacher and a night of TV.

1. The ten minutes between the first alarm and the second alarm, which are dedicated solely to cuddling. After that is around 15 minutes dedicated to writing-two-sides-from-a-prompt, listening to Nick shaving in the bathroom and then pretending to be still asleep so he can wake me up again.

2. We are eating lunch on the Pantiles, Fenella and I, when I spot someone looking at me. 'Are you Clare?' I recognise my old Latin teacher -- 'Mr Badcock!'

3. These are the things that made me laugh last night: Sea otters riding ostriches in a Buck Rogers-South Park. Rowley Birkin QC in the Fast Show; and The Mighty Boosh.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Red on bread, halva and dark path.

1. Putting squishy sliced tomatoes from last night's salad into my sandwich.

2. Cutting a slice of sesame halva -- I love the flaky crystalised texture.

3. Now that everything is in full leaf, the Common paths are dark and cool and secretive -- a relief from the bright look-at-me look-at-me street.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Breakfast, make room, make room and Gemma.

Still getting spammy comments, so I'm still moderating, but hoping to switch back soon.

1. I love taking my breakfast tray into my room.

2. I'm moving again, so the time has come to shed some stuff -- in particular, books. I go through the shelves and am surprised that I can pull about nearly a meter-and-a-half of books that I'm never going to look at again.

3. I crouch in bed totally absorbed by Gemma Bovery. I love its shameless middle-class setting, and I am in awe of Posy Simmonds' ability to make us both despise and love the characters -- Joubert is creepy and bumbling, yet brave and kind; Gemma is ridiculous and cruel, yet beautiful and deserving of love. I occasionally stop reading to seethe with jealousy at the power of illustration. An artist can draw a person in 25 lines and a bit of wash and you know what they look like like, how they stand, what they wear. It would take a writer pages to do that -- and I'd probably cut it all out for being 'showing-not-telling'.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The rain, a homonym and how summers used to be.

1. I am shaking the water off my umbrella when the sun comes out.

2. 'What's time?' asks Jules.
'About ten to seven,' I reply, without stopping typing.
I don't understand why he's laughing, until Katie calls: 'Get some sage and fennel, too.'

3. I smell honeysuckle before I see it. It reminds me of a day in the summer I finished my GCSEs -- James and Glen and PaulV and I were walking in the woods. It was hot -- a proper June day -- and the world smelt of dust and honeysuckle. Someone picked a vine of it to twist round my straw hat.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The juice runs out, book and the pages.

1. Slicing up an orange for breakfast, and tipping the juice from the board into my bowl.

2. Elizabeth gives me a book I have wanted to read for ages. It's Posy Simmonds' Gemma Bovery.

3. Stapling my scripts for writing class. It's all very well seeing the lines on the screen, but having real pages makes me feel as if I've really done the work.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ellen's extras, that dress I wore, icecream, job done, there are spiders and a public information film.

Ellen-who-I-used-to-work-with shares:

On a walk through a country lane. The humid air is mustering some fragrant smells from the hedgerow. It is escaped hop all throughout from a historically known Harveys (Sussex beer) hop field that no longer resides there some five years past. The hops live on defiantly.

The look upon my father’s face when I hand him his smiling grand daughter who is sporting new teeth.

3. The neighbour’s confident son. He’s putting up a shed in the back garden. All’s well until I discover a large panel the size of the roof to be a spare part. “Oh knickers” he says.

And mine are:

1. Putting on a frock because Nick has offered to wash my jeans with his own laundry. It's the same dress I was wearing when we met.

2. Choosing ice cream for supper -- we settle for strawberry. Later when we are eating it, Nick announces: 'I've found a strawberry!'

3. Feelings of satisfaction at the amount of writing done.

And this is a beautiful thing I forgot from yesterday:

A small girl shrieks and runs to her father, who says, 'No there is not a spider on your back.' And then: 'Izzy, don't tell your sister she's got spiders on her.'

And this is a video, courtesy of Salway, S.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Woman at work, new kit and look out.

1. As I work, I can hear Katie down in the garden clipping and pulling up weeds. She has opened the doors to the balcony to let air into my room and so she can call up for advice or another tool.

2. Katie lets me unwrap her new plastic bead box and fill the compartments with the kit she has just bought for making knitting markers. I add some extras from box into which I throw small items like broken jewellery and shells.

3. We turn down a footpath and find ourselves looking over an unexpected view of town -- the green domes of the Opera House, and the shopping centre -- 'A Spanish prison', according to Nick.

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 ...