Saturday, December 30, 2006

Back to London

Again, blogging when I get the chance. Back to London in a moment or two, just as soon as I get M's Christmas present finished. It's been a busy week, visiting two sets of families and assorted cousins and friends. Have braved the sale shops in Southampton (and actually found a nice coat) and have ordered my birthday boots. I am looking forward to them arriving.

And best of all? I'm not due back at work for another week!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Crime In Primrose Hill

Thank you to those of you who have been supportive over the last week. I always thought that Primrose Hill was a pretty safe area to live. I've only seen one mugging incident in the park and one smashed car window (for a phone, as the charger lead was trailing out of the window). But I have been doing some reading since last week, and I have discovered some disturbing facts. Crime is in fact much higher in Primrose Hill than almost everywhere else in Camden (especially where burglaries are concerned) and is the 5th highest in London.

Wat Tyler at Burning Our Money writes of his friend who lives in Primrose Hill and the repeated crime that he has encountered and the measures that some people have gone to cope with the apparent disinterest on the part of the Police. I can only comment on how we were treated but in response to M's call they appeared within 20 minutes and the forensics came first thing the next morning. Not that they found anything of any use on the door, just an ear and shoulder print. I've left them there as a warning to anyone else who might think of trying. There's nothing left of any value to steal.

Will try and blog as and when I get access to a computer but if it's not for a few days, Happy Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Stuck in the office

No time to blog at all as am too busy this week trying to sort everything out before Christmas. The lack of computer doesn't help matters either.

Scrolled down the page and saw that on Weds I had commented that burgulars were unlikely to be able to get into the house if even I couldn't get in. Well, they proved me wrong. I stand corrected. I just wish it didn't have to be pointed out to me in such an obvious fashion 2 days later. I think I will have to stop going on about it now. But still, it really makes me angry.

And another thing, there are lots of annoyed travellers stranded in various airports because the airlines have deigned to suggest that passenger safety is important and due to there being no visibility, the planes have to leave much bigger gaps and so less of them can take off and land. What do people expect? That just because it's Christmas and they want to go on holiday, that the weather will be great and there will be no chaos. Would have made a rather different film, wouldn't it, if in The Holiday Kate Winslet had become stranded at Heathrow and Cameron Diaz had been left circling before being diverted to Manchester...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Motorbike Man

It wasn't the lack of time which prevented me from blogging this weekend rather that a criminal broke into the flat on Friday evening and stole the computer. He kicked the locks off the main front door and then took a running leap into our flat door, shouldering it so hard that the locks both smashed off. The forensics came and dusted for prints. No such luck. They know that he pressed his ear to the door to listen and then shouldered the door rather than kicking it, as they found an ear-print and a shoulder mark. He took a paperbag with baubles and tinsel from the kitchen and the laptop from the desk in the other room. The police say that he would have been in there less than a minute and then he was off, discarding an item of my clothing that was in the bag with the baubles, past the damage he had caused to the doors, possibly picking up one of the locks, tipping a few baubles over a wall, dropping a few more in the gutter, loading our possessions into his motorbike storage hatch, meeting M's eye and then speeding off on his bike.

It makes me angry and it makes me sad. All that effort and damage for a computer. An average PC Notebook, fairly slow, no real software. A computer, a phone charger and some tinsel. What kind of a person do you have to be to spend Friday evenings smashing through doors that you have no right to open, so that you can look through stuff which never has and never will belong to you, even if you do take it. But there's no point wasting time on him. The thing to do is learn from it and be glad that it wasn't so much worse.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

18 Doughty Street

Am watching Rachel on 18 Doughty Street and drinking champagne whilst I wait for supper to cook. Have spent the early part of this evening watching Cameron Diaz bounce around a rather orange and part labotomised Jude Law in The Holiday with T. Had a lovely evening and did enjoy going to the cinema, but did wish that the film had been a bit better written.

Am looking forward to my time off over Christmas, as I plan to do some more writing. This blog has no obvious political angle and I rarely write about current affairs, but there are some issues that I do have opinions on and would like to have some time to write (and research) them properly. I also need to start visiting and writing about the boutiques in Primrose Hill.

Again, a busy week. We are celebrating J's graduation tomorrow evening, another Christmas Party on Friday, a birthday party on Saturday and then a carol service on Sunday. I hope to find some time to myself (which increasingly means time to blog) at some point over the weekend.

This and that

Just a quick post as am in urgent need of some sleep. Went out for a quick post work drink with C and ended up at B's house having supper until 11pm. Taxi home and then spent ten minutes trying to unlock my front door. Still, I suppose if I can't get in with a key, it's unlikely that the burglars will fare any better.

Spent the weekend not quite managing to see my Annie. Work party Friday, work itself on Saturday, so finally managed to spend some time together on Sunday. Tried to have a coffee at Cachao on Regent's Park Road but left when they tried to make us eat some food in order to sit a table (after we had sat down). So we had a pot of tea at Le Tea Cosy instead. Bought a few presents and some tree decorations and then headed to Camdem to try and find some fairy lights. A successful trip to Argos - a rather unsuccessul attempt to make them work. Will have to take them back next weekend, so for the next week the tiny tree in his little red pot is looking rather bare and sorry for himself. But we couldn't resist him, especially as he is pot-grown, so we should be able to keep him all year, all being well.

Rachel has posted details of the last mass lone demonstration this year. Follow the link here to view what she has to say. I will try and write some more on this when I am not having to prise my eyes open to see the screen...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Georgina Coleman Fine Art

The above photograph is by Boyarde Messenger and further details can be obtained via Georgina Coleman Fine Art.

More on this later (as am very busy) but attended Georgina Coleman Fine Art's first exhibition last night. Featuring three very different artists (Boyarde Messenger, Sophie Morgan & David Hawson) the work was exciting and individual, filling the gallery space with the beautifully displayed photographs, line drawings and watercolours. I was particularly taken with Boyarde's work - and will write more on this at a later date.

Update: As promised, a quick update and I will republish this so that it is at the top of the page. To set the exhibition in context, Georgina Coleman Fine Art was set up by Georgina Coleman within 6 weeks. An article charting her story can be found here and I was sent some tickets to the preview evening. The gallery in which she chose to exhibit the work was in Fulham and although rather tiny upstairs was much more spacious down the extremely steep staircase. Georgina had chosen to display Boyarde Messenger's photographs upstairs, with watercolours on one side downstairs and ink drawings on the other. Although I enjoyed the other work, it was particularly Boyarde's work which I found most interesting.

The theme was clearly a celebration of women: most of the photographs featured a woman, usually naked. The picture here was one of three - each featuring different coloured knickers - and some of the most vivid. Most were black and white, or at least more tonal. My favourite however was of a girl (my age I suppose) facing away from the camera, in a wood, naked save for her wellies. Just the sort of thing that I think would look good in the bathroom. I think I might have a bash at something similiar myself...
Lennox Gallery (77 Moore Park Road, SW6 2HH)
Thurs 7 - Sun 10 Dec (10am - 9pm)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

10 simple things you can do to help stop global warming

Via Mimi in New York. I hope that you can read it.

Christmas Parties

And so it was the dreaded 'office party' last night, at the hotel pictured above. A far nicer venue than we have ever been to before. The food was actually rather tasty and I had a much better night than I expected. After suffering terribly with IBS all day, I had feared that I would have to go straight home to bed and miss out on the one free evening that work provides. But I managed to get there nonetheless, with some of my colleagues and sampled the free champagne (ok) the free wine (terrible) and the one beer that our free drinks tokens covered.

The evening highlighted several things to me:

(1) Dress Codes - the theme for this party was 'smart/casual'. As my work is based in London and the majority of my immediate colleagues fall into the 25-35 age group, I decided that smart jeans, 'cocktail' shoes and a dressy black and gold top was appropriate. (And the latest Debrett's publication is in agreement). A number of my colleagues evidently agreed, as they too were wearing similar outfits. Other attendees attire ranged from jeans and trainers to pretty much full black tie via cocktail dresses, kilts and suits. On the whole, we appeared a rather motley lot, as no-one ended up looking appropriately dressed. Even the host's dress to my mind did not fit into a smart/casual code; I long for the day when this awful dress code is obsolete.

(2) Behaviour - I was surprised at how many of my colleagues did not feel that they should be taking to our overall manager. To my mind this is foolhardy on many levels. First, it is rude. To deliberately exclude someone from the conversation or by refusing to meet his or her eye so as to avoid conversation of any kind is unnecessary and hurtful. Secondly, in a work related context it sends a message to the boss that they are unable/unwilling to maintain any conversation outside their immediate social or work-level context. Translated into the office environment, a person who does not even talk to their manager at a party is unlikely to be remembered or considered for promotion or leadership roles.

I think I will leave the list there for now as I have tired of whinging and reflecting on negative things. Instead, I am thinking of sunshine and of the impending festivities. I have still to finish purchasing my Christmas Presents or write any cards. The first of ours have begun to arrive and we shall go and buy a small tree on Sunday, which I hope to decorate with lights and candy canes. Goodness knows where it is going to go - I think that we better have a table top one.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The sound of silence

Have just made it. This morning, when I finally managed to prise myself from underneath the sheets and into the bath, I promised myself that I would be home and in bed the same day. Much like cinderella, but with marginally less stress. So I am in bed and drinking tea, reflecting on the day and listening to the sound of London. I would expect to hear people, cars, sirens, buses. What I can actually hear is the sound of an occasional black cab driving down Gloucester Avenue whilst the church bell chimes midnight. The people upstairs move around softly and the water tank refills. Some nights, I hear footsteps along the pavement outside and muffled, comforting conversation as neighbours return from an evening out. Now, an engine idles outside and then turns off. Doors open, close and high heels tap up the steps. A key turns and a door slams and then it is peaceful once again. A few minutes later the sleeper train from Euston to somewhere northern passes along the railway track and another taxi can be heard softly, a door bangs and someone else is returning home; there are more footsteps, laughter and then silence falls once again. This is one of the things I love so much about Primrose Hill - it is quiet and dark and I can sleep easily. Sirens do not blare past the door every few moments, as they did in my previous flat near London Bridge, where the orange street light glow penetrated even the darkest curtains and fighting, shouting people crowded past my window. It's London, but not as you know it.

Spent the evening in a little Italian restuarant in Angel with C, A and J. Cheap but good pasta, wine and a free lemoncello with the bill, as the other girls know the manager. A lovely girly evening and not too drunk. Not like yesterday's antics. Met TJ after work for a couple of pints to celebrate his new job before heading to the art exhibition. And then out for a meal afterwards, just like old times. TJ, M and I, eating curry and getting drunk, spending hours discussing religion whilst the poor waiter just wanted us to finish eating so he could go home. And then to work, and then work again, and then, finally, Friday evening and the work Christmas Party. At which we are reminded that the usual standards of dignity and behaviour apply. I can hardly contain my excitement. Especialy since the dress code is 'smart/casual - the sparklier the better'... But one never knows, and the drinks are free. Perhaps it will be great.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Georgina Coleman Fine Art

The above photograph is by Boyarde Messenger and further details can be obtained via Georgina Coleman Fine Art.

More on this later (as am very busy) but attended Georgina Coleman Fine Art's first exhibition last night. Featuring three very different artists (Boyarde Messenger, Sophie Morgan & David Hawson) the work was exciting and individual, filling the gallery space with the beautifully displayed photographs, line drawings and watercolours. I was particularly taken with Boyarde's work - and will write more on this at a later date.

Update: As promised, a quick update and I will republish this so that it is at the top of the page. To set the exhibition in context, Georgina Coleman Fine Art was set up by Georgina Coleman within 6 weeks. An article charting her story can be found here and I was sent some tickets to the preview evening. The gallery in which she chose to exhibit the work was in Fulham and although rather tiny upstairs was much more spacious down the extremely steep staircase. Georgina had chosen to display Boyarde Messenger's photographs upstairs, with watercolours on one side downstairs and ink drawings on the other. Although I enjoyed the other work, it was particularly Boyarde's work which I found most interesting.

The theme was clearly a celebration of women: most of the photographs featured a woman, usually naked. The picture here was one of three - each featuring different coloured knickers - and some of the most vivid. Most were black and white, or at least more tonal. My favourite however was of a girl (my age I suppose) facing away from the camera, in a wood, naked save for her wellies. Just the sort of thing that I think would look good in the bathroom. I htink I might have a bash at something similiar myself...

Lennox Gallery (77 Moore Park Road, SW6 2HH)
Thurs 7 - Sun 10 Dec (10am - 9pm)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

City Slicker

Just a quick lunchtime post - I saw this mocked up photo by Peter Kennard on City Slicker's blog. And thought I would share it here on my blog. Hope City Slicker doesn't object...
And her blog is worth a read, especially if you're stuck for things to do in London. It's part review, part gossip and is full of interesting things to see and do in London.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


It has been a day of three parts, three roles, three 'me's. First thing in the morning until about 6pm, I was 'working Rachel' - corporate in a casual way, efficient, busy, healthy and hard working. Slightly stand-offish perhaps, but then at the moment in the office, one has to be or risk achieving nothing. Rushing from meeting to a desk lunch to frantically ensuring letters would make the last post.

Then, at about half past 6, I re-touched my make up and put on some perfume and headed to Sketch, to a MarmaMeeting. We met in the Parlour, a room which is the embodiment of a MarmaLady - elegant, contemporary, fashionable, stylish and comfortable. And then I was 'MarmaRachel' and drinking mojitos and discussing my new role.

Finally, it was 'LibertyRachel' and I was choosing Christmas presents at the Liberty Cardholders Christmas evening, pretending that money was no object and I was simply being discerning. I saw many beautiful things, including a washing-up brush which I bought for our kitchen and a gorgeous diary, which I did not buy, because it was £50. I think I will have to wait for the sale. And I finally managed to buy M the jeans which I have been promising him for several years. So he is pleased, am so am I, as the cardholder discount made them just about affordable.

And then, just to round off the day perfectly, M and I went back to Sketch for a drink on the way home. A totally different experience, even though it was the same bar, the same waitress and even another mojito. And possibly, a slightly incredulous Rachel after a visit to the loo. There is an upper level which is all white with two sets of stairs, one lit in pink, the other blue. And at the top, the best kind of festival loos possible - egg shaped individual pods, each one containing it's own loo. The basins are sort of drifting against the back wall and the mirrors are distorted, in one I appeared large and round with froggy eyes, the next, elongated and far away. Not the kind of place to get high in; I think it would be extremely disconcerting.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bentwood chairs and Mince Pies

A moment to reflect before the start of a busy week. Yesterday's concert went well and my guests all at least appeared to enjoy themselves. As soon as the concert ended it was straight off to H's 'The Beautiful and the Damned' party at Nordic Bar. Everyone there had made a real effort so I felt a little out of place in concert dress. Was great to see H but as I was so tired we decided to leave relatively early. B & C drove us back to Primrose Hill where they gave us an early Christmas present: 2 dark and 1 white bentwood chairs. They are beautiful and a welcome addition to our flat (as 3 of our present dining room chairs are held together with tape; victims of one party or another). We have put the white one in our bedroom. The room is white with light curtains and bedding and dark wood dressing table and shelves, so the white chair looks striking. I am half considering finding some beautiful silk underwear to hang over it.

It was a pleasant surprise to wake up this morning at 10am, refreshed with no hang over in sight. As we do not usually go to be until well into Sunday morning, our recent waking times have been rather later, so it was a real pleasure to have a whole day. M brought me tea in bed and then cooked a beautiful breakfast. We undertook several household maintenance tasks including re-hanging the curtains before venturing outside for a walk and then to an advent service at the local church. We have then spent the evening cooking. I made a Christmas style ham and 2 dozen mince pies. Boiling the ham in cider and with a clove studded onion before baking it makes all the difference and I look forward to my sandwiches tomorrow.

So Monday will bring the December meeting of the WI and the annual mince pie competition. I have selected 6 from my 2 dozen to take along as my entry. I am also looking forward to the port tasting, as I am a big fan of port. Tuesday will see tea at Parlour at Sketch (possibly more on this opportunity at a later date) followed by the Liberty Card Holder Christmas shopping evening. Wednesday is the preview of an exhibition and then Friday is my company's Christmas Party at a hotel on Park Lane.

Therefore I am enjoying the peace and quiet of this Sunday evening; I am sat here with a pot of tea with the gentle sound of the cricket in the background. M is sat in the kitchen with a glass of wine watching the action and periodically the commentators are punctuated by his exclamations. The air smells of roasted ham, mince pies and mulled wine mingled with the scent of clean washing, which is hanging on the radiator. And for once, it is beautiful and warm. This flat benefits from high ceilings and large windows, both of which conspire to inflated heating bills. But in the summer, the light is wonderful and pours in. The bathroom, a tiny but exposed room is a particular victim. In summer, I can lie in the bath in the sunlight looking out of the window; in the winter, I spend as little time in there as possible (even with the radiator, candles and M popping in with a boiled kettle, it is hard to spend any time relaxing in the bath). But it is our flat and I love it. And this will be our first Christmas together, both in terms of living together and actually together, as previously we have each gone to our respective parents. So I am very excited and enjoying every minute of the planning of trees, cards, cake making and present buying.

But for now, I think that it is time to stop writing and instead time to get ready for bed.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Beethoven's 9th Symphony and other interesting things...

So I have unexpectedly found myself alone in front of a computer for a few minutes and what better use of this time than to update my blog. I am 'in limbo' at present; we have spent this afternoon rehearsing Beethoven's 9th Symphony and we are to perform it this evening along with two of Bruckner's Motets Os Justi and Virga Jesse. Little parts of all three are swarming round my head like gangs of bees and I hope that my brain is able to sort them out and remember which instruction belongs to which piece before the concert starts.

This week has been indicative of the Christmas season to come. I have already written of Monday's 'work' drinks; Tuesday evening found some welcome downtime and we cooked two lasagnes and a cranberry and apple pie to see us through the rest of the week. I fell asleep watching Sabrina (the Audrey Hepburn film rather than the TV show about a witch) so please don't tell me how it ends. Wednesday saw the arrival of a friend from university, up for a job interview on Thursday. We duly rounded up university friends and went out for a few drinks, a night which ended up with whisky drinking and guitar playing/singing until 2.30am. How I expect our neighbours love us.

I had somehow had the foresight to take Thursday morning off work and had a lovely relaxing morning: a bath whilst listening to TJ play the guitar, lunch at Melrose & Morgan followed by cupcakes from Primrose Bakery. And then to work, where I managed to cram a whole days work into 4 hours. And then it was off for the first rehearsal with the orchestra (a very tiring experience) and suddenly, it was Friday. TJ left at 5.30am to return to work in Gloucestershire. M left for work and I dragged myself into my office and sat at my desk wondering how on earth I was going to make it through until lunchtime. Coffee and paracetemol. A long meeting. A walk at lunch and then finally I was able to escape. Straight to the pub for a colleagues leaving drinks.

And then to Angel, to the Island Queen and M's brother's 28th birthday party. By the time C and I arrived at nearly 9pm everyone else seemed to be already wasted. Goodness knows what time they got there, but when we were kicked out at 12.30am, one or two were unable to find their way home. And as for M and I, my navigation ability clearly wasn't what it usually is. In an effort to save money, we decided to get the bus. Only instead of just walking to the bus stop we managed to walk what felt like half way to Highbury before I realised my error. In the peeing rain. I was not impressed with myself, but we duly retraced our steps and caught the bus. I think we only wasted an hour. So we finally fell into bed, drunk, wet, cold, tired and me with all my make-up still intact at 2.30am. And there ended the week.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Have spent tonight rehearsing for Saturday's concert, so no time to blog properly. In fact, haven't really been in at all this week. A friend from university has been staying, so spent last night in a pub in South Kensington with some other university friends and then rehearsal, pub and takeaway with friends tonight. Tomorrow evening is J's 28th birthday party and Saturday is the concert and H's 'The Beautiful and the Damned' Party, so it will probably be the weekend before I manage to have time to post anything.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


It is a beautiful day here in London. This morning it was cool but very refreshing and I sat watching the sky at the bus stop on the way to work- it looked like someone had dipped a dirty paintbrush into water and was then swishing and circling across the clouds. And now the sun has come out and the light is just brilliant, reflecting off every metal and glass part of the buildings surrounding the office in a way which seems almost summerish. In about an hour the light will have faded and retreated to reddish gold and the sky will have turned darker and softer, but for now, for a few minutes, the light is intense and yellow.

10 Things I Would Never Do (cont.)

Just in case you're interested, Prague Tory has undertaken a little research into just how far Iain Dale's meme spread. I think he got bored after a while (unsurprisingly). Reminds me of the beacons that were used to pass messages. Anyway, here's the link...


So have just returned from what started as 'post work' drinks and ended as 'still being in the pub at closing time' drinks. Not perhaps the best start to the week, but still, it was an interesting night. Met C's colleagues (it was really her 'post work' drinks that I crashed) and realised that it is always interesting to be able to picture the people that someone works with.

Had a great weekend. Parents and sister came up on Saturday for lunch, followed by a view of 'Manet to Picasso' at the National Gallery and tea and pastries at Harrods102 before they returned to Berkshire. We then went to Hampstead on Sunday to watch Manchester Utd almost beat Chelsea at football before supper at an oriental restaurant. A lovely, busy but ultimately relaxing weekend as we managed to return home in time to catch Planet Earth and then watch a lovely film together (Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astair in Funny Face.

I know this is brief and hastily typed, but M is cooking supper and I really want to join him. Today would have been great if not for people not being able to hold a 'discussion' without the need to involve personal insults...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

10 Things I will Never Do

So from Iain Dale, via Rachel, 10 Things That I Will Never Do:

10 - Become a scientologist;
09 - Mug someone;
08 - Vote/agree/sign anything that promotes joining the euro;
07 - Read Cosmopolitan, Company or Marie-Claire magazine;
06 - Become a politician;
05 - Live in a student style shared house again;
04 - Give up on my dreams to be a debt-free lawyer;
03 - Skydive/bungee jump or similiar unless death was the alternative;
02 - Buy non-charity Christmas Cards; or
01 - Stop drinking tea.

And now I tag: AdminGirl; Susie LawStudent; Lucy MarmaLADYa; Rachel Emma; Bunsen Burner; City Slicker; and MarmaLADYAwrites. I know it's not 10, but I don't have any others...

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope everyone in America is having a nice day off. Popped into Primrose Bakery this morning for a cheer me up pink cupcake (I've got a cold, which is why I think I couldn't get warm last night) and noticed that they had made a beautiful range of thanksgiving themed cupcakes with American Flags on and so forth. We are going to have a Thanksgiving themed dinner party on Saturday night, where I plan to make cornbread and pumpkin pie, just like we used to eat when I lived in California.

And thanks to Rachel for her tag - I will post my list and tags after work. Contain your excitement.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


The internet is a marvellous invention but it can also be extremely frustrating. I don't own a digital camera, so to get some holiday photos from a friend, I was introduced to yahoo messenger. The files were transferred in a matter of minutes and I was able to upload them to facebook with no problem. The issue now though is twofold: First all of all, everytime I turn on the computer yahoo messenger loads. And I can't work out how to stop it. And secondly, I wanted to print out some of the photos. So, I joined jessops and got 20 free prints. I worked out how to upload the pictures, but it won't let me print them because they don't have a high enough resolution. But two do. And I can't work out why some do and why I can't change the others. And now I am bored and frustrated. Ggrrr. So I have stopped and I might have some supper.

I am also going to watch Rachel on 18 Doughty Street again tonight. I really enjoyed watching her last week, so am looking forward to see what she has to say about the 7/7 Report published by the London Assembley today.

So I might post something else in a bit but I have to go and warm up as my hands are so numb I can't type. The heating seems to be on, but is really not making it much warmer in here. Moan moan...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mince Pies

Spent the evening experimenting with mince pie fillings. Am hoping they will taste nice enough to enter in the annual WI mince pie competition, so made a test batch to take into work for the boys in my office to sample tomorrow.

M is in bed watching Jerry Maguire so I think I will make this my shortest ever post, make myself a cup of tea and join him. Night night.

Monday, November 20, 2006

London Calling

So we arrived back in London late this afternoon, having enjoyed a pleasant train journey catching up with one of M's friends from school. Our flat was cold and smelt of vegetables, but it was lovely to be home.

Not that we has a bad weekend; in fact, the very opposite. It was wonderful, peaceful and relaxing. M played golf with his father while I curled up on one end of the sofa and M's mother the other and spent the afternoon knitting. We watched my Songs of Praise (and I noted how odd it is to see ones self on television) and went to a black tie dinner dance at the Golf Club. We also went charity shop shopping and acquired some bargains and wondered around some beautiful Shropshire country towns. We also caught up with M's grandmother and took her shopping. All in all, a hugely enjoyable weekend.

And now, back in London, looking forward to the rest of the week. My parents are visiting next weekend, as well as possibly Alexandra. It is the final rehearsals of the choir before our concert on the 2 December, and there are mince pies to make for the annual WI mince pie competition. Must get practicing!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Postcard from Shropshire

Am posting this from Shropshire - M and I have taken a few days off work and have gone on a mini holiday. We left London directly after work on Thursday - the fast train only took 1 hour and 20 minutes, which is unbelievably fast. So fast in fact, that I began to feel 'sea sick'. Anyway, we are currently with his parents at their house and his mother is cooking supper.

But back to the week in London. On Wednesday after work I met a friend who is a lawyer in a hotel bar she suggested so we could chat in peace. The staff were wonderful, we only had to finish a drink and they were on hand to offer another. Bar snacks (really nice ones) appeared from nowhere the minute we sat down and there was a lady playing a piano around the corner, so it was peaceful but not silent. An inspired choice of venue for post-work drinks (and so different from the O'Neills where my colleagues usually insist on dragging me. I then went from Holborn to Holland Park to meet M and a friend of his, L, after they had finished supper. We ended up chatting until past closing time, so once we had got a bus home and frantically packed for the weekend, it was 1.30am.

Thursday morning and I had to walk to work in the pouring rain, carrying overnight bag, handbag and a putter (to join the rest of the golf clubs which currently reside in Shropshire so that we can play a round on Sunday). I was juggling said items and trying to swap shoulders with the bags when I realised that I was stood outside the Engineer, and who should be sat inside at the window but Russell Brand. We made eye contact and he was wearing the smirk of a man trying not to laugh...

Today has been spent pottering and shopping. Managed to get some shoes to wear with the dress that I had bought in London to attend a dinner dance on Saturday night, as well as a jumper dress for the pricey sum of £8 from Primark. It really is a ghastly shop - it looks far more like a jumble sale than anything else - but occasionally it does produce some bargains. I also bought some pick'n'mix for the first time in years! A wonderful and relaxing start to the weekend; so enjoyable to not have to get up and go to work.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


After reading Rachel-Emma's blog and seeing her questionnaire I thought I'd have a go too. So unless you want to know what colour crayon I would be and my shoe size, you'd probably be better off reading something else. Here, here and here are a few suggestions of alternative reading material.

I'm now assuming that everyone is busy swotting up on what the Queen had to say earlier on, but just in case, here are my answers:

1. First Name – Rachel

2. Do you wish on stars – no, but I enjoy looking at them, particularly from the beach.

3. When did you last cry – last night (after opening another rejection letter)

4. Do you like your handwriting – Yes, I think I do.

5. What is your Favourite lunch – Sandwiches containing Mum’s Christmas ham, Daddy’s apple & chestnut stuffing, bread sauce and wensleydale cheese

6. What is your date of birth – 5 January

7. If you were another person would you be friends with you – I hope so! I try and treat others as they would like to be treated, so I hope that I would like me.

8. Do you have a Diary – no, I have a blog. Some would say they are the same thing.

9. Do you use sarcasm a lot – yes.

10. What are you nicknames – Rachie, Rach, Rapel, Garden Rake, Rah-Rah (I know, charming sisters…)

11. Would you bungee jump – I think it would depend on what the alternative was

12. Do you un-tie your shoes when you take them off – I don’t wear many shoes with laces. In fact, other than running shoes, walking boots etc I think that leaves a pair of Converse (which I do untie).

13. Do you think you are strong – In some situations, yes. In others, I’m getting better.

14. What is your favourite ice cream flavour – I’m not a huge ice cream fan, although I do make exceptions. I think I prefer frozen yoghurt, but if pushed to eat ice cream I’ll choose mint choc-chip.

15. What is your Shoe size – 5.

16. Red or Pink – I think it depends on what the object is and the situation. Each have their place.

17. Who do you miss the most – M when we are not together, my family, Annie and Alexandra when they are/have been travelling

18. What are you wearing at the moment – Black suit, long sleeved cream top, stripy v-necked jumper, black pointy shoes, black tights, underwear, black coat, red and gold Chinese pashmina.

19. What are you listening to at the moment – The sound of people typing.

20. What was the last thing you ate – A chocolate cornflake cake which I made on Monday evening and a cup of coffee.

21. If you were a crayon which colour would you be – blue (turquoise)

22. What is the weather like where you are today – Dark now but was relatively warm, slightly windy and occasionally sunny earlier.

23. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone – One of our panellists.

24. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex – Shoes, smile, hair, clothes, smell, subject of conversation

25. Favourite Drink - Tea

26. Favourite sport – Surfing, sailing, gymnastics, ballet (although I really only do the first two these days and not even much of them now that it’s Winter and I am in London). I like going snowboarding and I enjoy watching 3-day eventing, gymnastics, ice-skating, ballet and tennis.

27. Hair colour - Blonde

28. Eye Colour - Blue

30. Favourite food – Christmas ham, satsumas, Daddy’s apple & chestnut stuffing, Wensleydale cheese.

31. Last Film i watched – Breaking and Entering

32. Scary films or Happy endings - Happy Endings

33. Do you like Summer or Winter – Both. During the summer I am convinced it is my favourite season, but when the leaves start to turn and there is a nip in the air and it is cosy in front of the fire, I am convinced that winter is best. Then the days start to draw out, the blossom starts to form and I am back with my summer conviction. At least I am always pleased…

34. Do you like Hugs or Kisses – Both but it really depends on who they are with.

35. Roses or Daises – Neither really. Some forms of roses, especially the very dark ones that are almost black and the daisies which made the GA go mad (!) but in general I prefer tulips.

Now don't you feel you know me a little better? This is an idea I was considering earlier and wondering whether or not one could truly 'know' someone if you didn't know what they looked or sounded like. I reached the conclusion, that to me at any rate, physical sound and sight are important. I like to be able to visualise what someone looks and sounds like. Lain argues that she is often disappointed when she meets or hears someone whom she feels that she 'knows' through a written medium and that to her, looks and sound are less important. This disappointment is a familiar one. But I have not been on television recently, so if you, like me, find you need this visual confirmation, you will be unfulfilled by this questionnaire.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I fear that this blog is getting boring. I find that since I decided to stop blogging at lunchtime, I have not managed to find the time to write something every day. And when I do, each entry seems to start "it's been a busy week..." etc. But this is true. I have been busy. I have been for a job interview and spent many hours in fruitless preparation. I have been to visit Alexandra at university and friends in London. I have walked many times round Hampstead Heath and drunk many glasses of wine in cosy pubs and busy bars. I have also cooked many cakes, many puddings, read several books and entertained many friends. But this was all shunted into perspective when I received a message on my blog from Rachel Emma. Who found my blog by searching for other bloggers called Rachel and who is suffering from a rare form of stomach cancer. And is only 20. Rachel also writes a blog and takes photographs, beautiful photographs. And (this may be presumptuous of me) who longs to be busy and leading a 'normal' teenage life of shopping and bars and parties and friends. So I am thankful for my life and those whom I love who fill my life and hope that Rachel finds something through the marvels of the internet which make her feel more 'normal'. And my heart goes out to her and her family and I pray that she is healed soon.

18 Doughty Street

Am sat here watching 18 Doughty Street TV and reflecting how interesting it is finally seeing someone 'in the flesh' when you feel rather as if you already know them. I am of course refering to Rachel North, a blogger who I frequently refer and link to in my own blog. Her blog was one of the first that I read and which I have followed (to the extent that I wonder if she is ok of she doesn't post something new after a few days) and which inspired me to set up my own blog. But I have said this already, elsewhere, in other posts, and do not need to gush again here.

I read and tried not to cry when I read of Rachel's experiences, of being attacked, beaten, raped and left for dead. Of 'recovering', facing her attacker in court and providing evidence to see him jailed, to find love and happiness, only to be blown up by the thoughtless and cruel selfishness of another teenager leading an empty and unfulfilled life last July. I have also read of her holidays, her home, her dancing and, on occasion, what she eats. I also know her political opinion on a number of issues; in short, I feel I 'know' her. But I don't. Not really. And although I'd seen her profile picture, until this evening I didn't even know what she looked like. She looks slightly older and fuller than I expected (although they do say that the camera adds pounds), less clothes conscious (although I shouldn't be surprised given this post) but infinitely more human than ever before. And that's really saying something, given how the level of human detail that seeps out of blogs.

But what really got me thinking was this: I feel that I 'know' Rachel better because I know what she looks (and sounds) like, rather than simply what she thinks about things. It is as if my mental picture of her is complete. So, if I couldn't see (or hear) someone, would I really 'know' them? Or is it because I, also Rachel, realise the concept of 'knowing' people through a combination of visual, audio and intellectual stimulation? So does this mean that blind and deaf people relate to people in other ways - perhaps smell and touch are much more important - or do they simply not 'know' people in the same way that a person with all senses. Or, is it personal to me that I need to know what someone looks and sounds like before I feel I 'know' them... I rather think not - it is much easier to create an illusion if something is kept back. Take Kate Moss for example. We all know what she looks like; a very few people know what she sounds like (although the Virgin and Agent Provocateur adverts have dispelled this somewhat) and even fewer people know what she actually thinks about (most) things. And, I would imagine, therefore, very few people would claim to 'know' her. Do we need to experience ‘everything’ before we can ‘know’?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Spent last night at Vinoteca drinking wine and sampling their bar food. The wine was lovely and, so I am led to believe, well priced. I was also pleasantly surprised at how nice the food was. I had read some pretty shocking reviews earlier in the day, so ordered a cheese souffle with some trepidation. And it was actually very nice.

This evening went to the pub at the end of our road with C to have a couple of drinks after work. Managed to time my arrival home nicely - just as I walked through the door, M took a beautiful joint of roast beef from the oven. It was excellent and I look forward to eating the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Have spent rather too much time this week on a website called Facebook. It is fascinating looking up old friends and boyfriends and seeing what everyone is up to. This months Vogue, however, exclaims that if I am a social butterfly who still uses Facebook to communicate, I am not only last season but also very american. Well, it may be last season and american, but where else can you join a group where everyone in that group has the same surname as you do, American and English people and you can debate the origins of your family. Which is apparently related to pirates...

Sunday, November 05, 2006


The theme of the weekend has been fireworks. Metaphorical ones between two friends on Friday evening and actual ones both Saturday and Sunday. Battersea Park's organised display was spectacular; set to music and well executed, it was exciting and beautiful to watch. We took a thermos of mulled wine, a hip flask of whisky and a packet of sparklers - all the ingredients for a perfect bonfire night. We then headed to the Kings Road for a few drinks before returning to Camden and Marathon bar for beer, chips and a spot of late night jazz. It's what living in London is about.

Sunday and after a lie in we headed to Hampstead Heath for a walk. Watched the sun set from Parliament Hill before wandering back to the Well House for a cup of tea. As we walked back along Well Walk we managed to pass a garden just as some fireworks exploded over the top of the wall into the road. I thought I was going to have a heart attack... We decided to walk back to Primrose Hill - it was a beautiful walk on a wonderfully crisp and clear evening. Fireworks were going off around us all the way back to the house (it sounded rather like a warzone, although rather prettier). M cooked a wonderful supper and I made cornflake cakes whilst we watched Planet Earth (and I cried over the dying polar bear) before I chatted to my sister on-line. Oh the beauty of technology! And now, tea and to bed. Work and WI await.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bonfire Night

It's been such a busy week. I realised this morning that I had not posted anything for most of the week. I also realised when Vogue arrived this morning that I had not bought any other magazines since the last issue of Vogue was delivered. This is perhaps the first month since I started purchasing magazines that I did not buy one. And the weirdest thing? I haven't really missed them. I can get celebrity gossip and fashion (free) from the internet and I am so much better informed. Where I would once have read InStyle in my lunch break, I am now reading political blogs, newspaper websites (both UK and US) as well as other publications.

Spent Thursday night rehearsing Beethoven's 9th Symphony for performance on 2 Dec. I then rushed to a cafe in Camden called the Green Note to watch a friend play an acoustic set. I was really pleased that we managed to get there in time. The last time I had seen Tim play was at the Purple Turtle in Camden, which was a bigger but grottier venue. Somehow he seemed more suited to an intimate acoustic setting. Check out his website here or his myspace page.

Friday night and B & C came over for supper. M had brought home some wine samples which we proceeded to taste. He also cooked a beautiful supper based on a Heston Blumenthal recipe, which was delicious, followed by apple crumble which I made from a combination of Berkshire and Shropshire apples, grown in our respective parents' gardens.

And now I am waiting for M to get out of the bath so I can have one myself before we head out for a spot of shopping on the Kings Road, followed by a drink and then Battersea Park Fireworks with L & B. Must go now as M has emerged from the bathroom, branding me a "lazy monkey" as I am still in bed at 3 in the afternoon...

Monday, October 30, 2006

The History Boys

Set in a Grammar School in Sheffield in the early 1980’s, The History Boys follows a group of boys preparing for their Oxbridge entrance examinations. The film, adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play for the National Theatre, directed by the National Theatre's director, Nicholas Hynter, and featuring the original cast of actors, begins with A level results and ends with the outcome of the admissions exams, the action centred in the school during the admissions term.

The boys are taught by their History tutor, Mrs Lintott (Frances de la Tour), their English tutor Hector (Richard Griffiths) and Irwin (Stephen Campbell Moore), the new inspiration which the headmaster (Clive Merrison) has employed to achieve results. Despite none of the staff having attended Oxbridge (Durham, Sheffield, Bristol and Hull respectively) each member of the staff provides education and inspiration to the boys in equal parts. The action centres mainly in and around the school grounds; the narrative is intelligent, witty and amusing but with an edge of realism. “The journey of the History Boys becomes as much about how education works as it is about where education leads”.

Bennett emphasises the different teaching styles of Hector and Irwin, something that does not go unnoticed by the boys – “we don't know who we are, sir. Yours or Mr Irwin's”; Hector, allocated the task of teaching the boys ‘general studies’ although he says that “nothing about education is general” and “If heaven forefend, I was ever entrusted with the timetable, I would call these lessons A Waste of Time” teaches “sheer calculated silliness” - quotations, music, language and encourages the re-enactments of various old films – the ‘gobbets’ which will eventually make their essays stand out from the accurate but dull fact stating.

Irwin, a fan of facts but also the unexpected,”whose deconstructive approach to knowledge suggests a scholarly version of political spin”, teaches the boys to look at issues from the alternative angle. And then there is Mrs Lintott, the fan of facts, which must not just be learnt, but learnt inside out, who asks, “Can you, for a moment, imagine how dispiriting it is to teach five centuries of masculine ineptitude? History is a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men. What is history? History is women following behind with the bucket.”

And so, as the film progresses through the term, the boys realize that they are learning more than they will need for the examinations. They are learning about life; how to present things as something that they are not, how to love and how that there may be occasions when actions, although unwarranted, are harmless. The acting is excellent, the narrative beautifully constructed. Some of the lines made me roar with laughter, others were almost moving. I have not had the opportunity to watch the stage version; I am led to believe that having watched this, I need not. One reviewer wrote “Admittedly, it's a rare pleasure to see any film where intelligence matters, let alone one that's actually an extended advert for the pleasures of thinking. Still, this isn't a film, but at best, a superior example of set-text cinema.” But I would have to disagree; The History Boys is not just ‘set-text cinema’; it is intelligent, funny and a pleasure to watch.

The History Boys (15) - On general release

Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's the weekend

It's been a long week. Was very pleased to have a lie-in this morning. Went out with work colleagues last night for L's leaving do. He started at the same time that I did, so it will be strange not to see him in the office on Monday. No doubt he will be having much more fun though - he is a musician and is leaving to concentrate on his band. He and another colleague of mine are collaborating and have their first gig next Thursday in Camden. Anyway, we went to a pub near our work and it was a real old re-union of staff past and present. You know you must have been popular when the managers attend the leaving party! M managed to join us after he finished work and we left when the pub closed. Texted Alexandra to see if her essay deadline had arrived without trauma. She reponded in the affirmative, adding that she was just about to go out for the evening. As M and I were heading home for bed, it once again made me feel old...

M had to work this weekend, so I got up at 8.30am to run him a bath and make him some coffee. Headed back to bed as soon as he left and slept for a few more hours. Ate lunch whilst reading some more of Debrett's Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners (much to M's amusement - "Rachel, are you reading that like a novel?" ) and am about to start cleaning the flat and doing some research.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Songs of Praise (filming)

Have just returned from the camera recording of Songs of Praise. It is an exhausting business, recording things. Each take has to be done as if it is the only one, but there are hundreds of takes - different lighting combinations, different camera angles, re-taking when a wierd shadow is present or one of the crew can be seen. And so on. Anyway, I will post more about it when I am not needing to fall into bed quite so much, but it is being screened on 19 November if anyone is interested.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Songs of Praise

Have spent tonight recording the audio track for the BBC Songs of Praise in which I am singing with the London Lawyers' Chorus. Another interesting experience - the church of St Bartholomew the Great is one of the oldest churches in London (it was built in 112o something) and absolutely beautiful. Apart from an enormous number of quite discreet microphones it was rather like being at a normal rehearsal - apart from the silence before and after each take and the fact that the conductor and the organist were both wearing DJ style headphones. All directions were coming out of a speaker - the voice of the sound producer, sat in his sound van and doing the recording from outside the church. We managed one of the hymns in one take and the others in two or three, so we were able to leave early. It was exhausting work though, but somehow very fulfilling. Must remember to tell my Grandparents about it so they can watch it.

The camera recording is on Thursday, so still have to try and work out a camera friendly outfit. Was planning to do some washing tonight but think I will go to bed instead. Burnt my omlette whilst chatting to my mother on the telephone so I think I will curl up in bed with a slice of apple cake and a cup of tea and wait for M to return from work.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Things to do before I die

Have enjoyed another domesticated evening. Met my good friend, H, after work. She is a teacher near Cambridge; luckily for her, it's half term. Unluckily for the rest of us who have to put up with children everywhere for a week. We had coffee in Starbucks near my work and then got the tube back to my house, where I cooked Cottage Pie with green beans and peas. As H needed to get a train back home, she left about 9pm. I spent the duration of Wife Swap producing apple sauce from the apples which M and I brought back from our respective parents' houses last week. Tonight, Shropshire apples; tomorrow, Berkshire apples.

Only tomorrow I will be at the audio recording for the Songs of Praise in which I am singing. So perhaps Wednesday. Anyway. I digress. The point of this post was to make a list (as suggested by Rachel) of some things I wish to achieve in life. So this is the start of my list:

1. Get a Training Contract and qualify as a solicitor;
2. Make enough money to pay off my Law School loans;
3. Buy a house;
4. Marry M;
5. Have a family with M;
6.Travel around the world;
7. Sail across the atlantic;
8. Publish a book;
9. Earn some money as a model;
10. Write a newspaper column;
11. Surf in a bikini;
12. Visit New York;
13. Work a ski-season.

That's enough for now. I need to go and take my cake out of the oven and have a cup of tea before going to bed. I think I'm getting old!

The History Boys (Part 2)

And I think that gets better every week. It is glossy and fast paced, but filled with interesting and useful advice on a variety of subjects in a way which other weekly on-line magazines are not. Both Glamour and seem to try to fit in this category, but neither satisfies so well, to me at least, the lunchtime fix for well written interesting articles and suggestions focusing on local places and people. Sadly both Glamour and seem to have gone down the 'celebs and gossip' route, which I find has less and less interest or relevance to my life. And while I might still have a quick, cursory, glance at the gossip headlines (old habits die hard) it is certainly not something I spend my whole lunchtime reading.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Spent Saturday morning baking cakes and making soup with M in preparation for S's visit. She arrived about 11.30 am and after a relaxing lunch we headed to the Tate Modern. After spending some time admiring the slides in the Turbine Hall we headed up to the bar on the 7th floor. I know I've said this before, but it really is one of my favourite views of London (the other being the view from Primrose Hill). Once we tired of tea and the sun had left St Paul's, we wandered back along the river as far as the London Eye. Back on the tube to Paddington, where I saw S onto a train to Berkshire and then headed to B's house in Maida Vale.

Spent the evening putting a further dent into the tequila which C won at T's fashion show before heading to sleep in B's recently vacated second bedroom at 5am. This is the room which M used to occupy when he and B shared a house and it was rather strange sleeping there again. Had a gloriously slobby Sunday watching DVDs and eating pizza. Wasn't able to attend church or play my flute because period pains so bad - didn't leave B's until 9.30pm - home to our flat, to bath and to bed - where I am writing this and waiting for M to finish his bath. And now to sleep.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Can't believe that it's Friday night already. It's been a long and busy week. Attended the Songs of Praise rehearsal, which was led by the choir master and organist of St Paul's Cathedral, Malcolm Archer. He was brilliant and the rehearsal went well. I believe that he used to teach at Wells, which is where my cousin was at school, so will have to check with her. It went so well that we finished early and so was home before 10pm.

Thursday night and the Topshop/Vogue Autumn/Winter Fashion show. It was a ticketed event on the lower ground floor of the Oxford Circus branch (although if you weren't worried about the goody bag, 20% discount or free Perrier Jouet then you could have stood behind the barriers and watched anyway). It was an interesting experience - for a promotional event it was acyually well organised, worth making the effort for and worth the goody bag. They also (almost) made you feel important. Anyway, it was nice to see a fashion show featuring the current season - that you could see what worked, current trends and how to interpret them - and then be able to go into to the shop, inspired and find the pieces on the shelves that were on the catwalk. Key pieces were black opaque tights, high waisted shorts and trousers, ankle boots, platform shoes in vibrant colours, blue, mustard, black, red,white, tartan and layering. Accessories were featured in the form of patent shoes, slouchy leather bags, vintage looking head scarves, beanie hats (in beret and cloche styles), long woollen scarves, skinny patent belts worn around the waist and arm/wrist warmers. Managed to pick up a couple of cheap pieces which I can wear both to work and at home and then left to make it to choir practice.

And finally, Friday arrived. It felt a long time coming this week. Have spent the evening at home with M, watching television and eating sausages and mashed potato with peas followed by chocolate rice pudding, courtesy of Nigella via Sainsbury's magazine. Even though I made it myself, it was delicious and I highly recommend it. And now, writing this, I feel that my eyes are closing and that the sound of the television is becoming increasingly loud and annoying. My bed is calling and I really need to sleep. Night night.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Songs of Praise

Only time for a quick post as am off to the singers rehearsal for Songs of Praise. Am intrigued as to what goes on in the making of a BBC production, so have agreed to sing in the choir. Next week I have to attend a sound recording and a camera recording; this is only the rehearsal.

My profile has also been uploaded to the website - there ends my remaining sliver of anonymity and the whole world (or those that read Marmaladya or this blog at any rate) will know who I am and where I live. It's a pretty amusing profile as well - I was interviewed early on Saturday morning in a cafe in Primrose Hill at the end of the summer, which is why I talk about flip-flops and some of the information is out of date. But still, nice to be in print!

History Matters

Am having some trouble uploading my diary to their website. Has anyone any idea what I might be doing wrong? I've checked word and character count and both are under the stated maximum. Help!

Update: Who knows why, but this afternoon after work it suddenly starting working again and I was able to upload my diary after all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

History Matters - 17 October 2006

This post will be slightly more formulaic than usual - it is my offering for the history matters website and therefore is an account of what I did today...

The alarm rang at 7.30am and as usual, I pressed snooze and fell back to sleep for another hour or so before dragging myself out of bed to run a bath. The bath takes at least five minutes to reach a level high enough to wash in, so sneaked back into bed for a cuddle from M. He didn't have to work but I did. Bathed and washed hair, put towels into tumble drier, made tea, dressed and blew dry hair. Made M a cup of coffee and applied make up. Left the flat at about 9.30am and walked (and then ran) to the bus stop. Unusually, the bus was empty so was able to sit down and recover from the run in high heels. Arrived at work, switched on computer and purchased latte with caramel from the staff canteen. The morning passed very quickly as was extremely busy organising the hearing which is taking place in the Manchester office, for which I am responsible. Liaised with Legal Team and Investigation Officers and prepared documentation. Met M for lunch at the pub just round the corner from the office at 1pm, but in an effort to save money he brought with him ham and tomato sandwiches which we ate outside on the benches and drank beer (M) and tea (me). He also brought some of the cake I made last night, which I took back to the office to have with a cup of tea mid afternoon. Spent the afternoon catching up with e mails and post as well as answering queries and saving transcripts of recent hearings to the case management system. Left the office at 6.10pm and rushed to the tube station, picking up a free copy of thelondonpaper, which I read whilst waiting for the tube. Circle line was running with delays but eventually managed to reach destination of Notting Hill Gate to meet E. We had arranged to go to the cinema; unfortunately so had lots of other (more organised) people and the showing was already full. (It transpired that on Tuesdays, all showings are half price, so booking was essential). Rather than go straight home, we decided to drown our sorrows with a couple of cocktails and some chips in Trailer Happiness on Portobello Road, a bar which looks like it should be in California/Hawaii/Cuba but actually smells slightly of caravanning holidays and surfing trips. It sounds a little unpleasant but really isn’t – the cocktails are amazing and the bar staff are wonderful. Most of them are antipodeans, laidback, and if they don’t have the drink you want on the menu, they’ll usually make it for you anyway. Left the bar at about 9.15pm before walking back to the tube station, where I topped up my Oyster Card at the Quick Ticket machine. Tube home, minor delays, arrived at Chalk Farm at about 10.10pm. Walked back to the flat and found that M had been food shopping. Made another cup of tea, checked e mails and updated my blog whilst waiting for M to return from football. And so to bed about midnight, and the end of another day.

Set out in this fashion it seems a little dull, but that appears to be the point. I wonder what people will (a) be doing in 100 years time and (b) make of this exercise and all the (very boring) entries...

History Matters

The History Matters blog compilation starts today. Don't forget to note down what you do today so that you can write up to 600 words and post it on the History Matters website.

And to all those people who have told me that their lives would make incredibly boring blogs - you only have to write one entry and the idea is to compile an overview of what the nation was doing on 17 October 2006. And if that was getting up, feeding the cat, getting a latte, driving to work, doing some work, having a ham sandwich, doing some more work, drinking a cup of tea, sending a few letters, driving home, cooking spaghetti bolognese and eating it in front of Supernanny (or whatever), having another cup of tea and then a bath and bed, then so be it. This compilation is about the mundane, the ordinary, the everyday. It won't seem so boring to historians in 100 years time.

Update: BBC Article

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rachel and the two A's

I managed it... This is me with Annie and Alexandra in Berkshire yesterday afternoon.

Might post a few more when I'm not at work!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday Afternoon

Have spent the weekend in the country recovering from the latter part of Friday 13th. Bought some pasta and sauce in the work canteen and it ended up being poured all over my wrists and down my legs (it looked like I'd vomited), so spent some time being bandaged by the first aider. To recover from the trauma I went out for a few drinks after work with T and C. Finally made it home at 12.30am on the last tube and spent my first night alone at our flat.

Early Saturday morning I headed to Berkshire to the family home, where I was supposed to spend the weekend with my parents and sisters. As one had vanished to Reading, I headed to A & A's flat to see how A was coping after her operation. J also popped over so we spent a lovely few hours catching up and gossiping. Then back to J's for a glass of wine before home to supper and Time Team in front of a log fire. Just before bed, Dad remembered the present he had brought me from China; I am now the proud owner of a gorgeous scarf, fan and little evening bag.

Church this morning with Mum. Helped man the leprosy mission stall and bought a few Christmas presents. Family lunch and then spent the afternoon helping Dad plant tubs and tubs of bulbs, pick apples and tidy up. He then took several thousand photos, as this is the first time in almost 12 months that all his girls have been together in one place. If I can work out how to get them off his camera, I might try and upload one.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Centenary Post

Have just met one of my oldest friends, E, for coffee. Oldest in that we have known each other for twenty years, rather than her being 65 or similar. Anyway, she mentioned a project which is running on 17 October 2006 called History Matters (Pass it on). The idea is that as many people as possible will submit a blog entry, which will be stored on a central server in the British Library. The general public will then be able to search and read through the entries, and there will be a record of what the general public were doing in October 2006. It will form a historical record different to any other; the subject will not necessarily be earth shattering, royalty or celebrity based (although I think that if those things didn't form part of the record it would not be a true reflection of our culture in 2006) but will feature the mundane, the everyday and the monotony of life in the UK in 2006. This way, in hundreds of years time, people or historians will be able to see what a true cross section of the nation were doing in 2006 - something which we struggle to find out about our predecessors. Get involved yourself here.

And the idea that we are not permanent, that we are just a line in the history of the world reminded me of the lines with which The History Boys ends: "Pass the parcel. That's sometimes all you can do. Take it, feel it and pass it on. Not for me, not for you, but for someone, somewhere, one day. Pass it on, boys. That's the game I wanted you to learn. Pass it on." (Hector)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

18 DoughtyStreet

And I've immediately discovered one of the benefits of broadband - I can watch and listen to 18 DoughtyStreet television whilst doing other things on my (well, M's) computer. It doesn't cost a penny to watch, because this is free broadband. It feels almost like being part of television history, watching such a new and innovative show the week that it goes live. And it should have been the night it went live, but I couldn't the silly thing to work. It can join my list - I'm exactly the same age as Channel 4.

It's playing through the Windows Media Player and the pictures not half bad. Occasionally some of the guests appear to be speaking faster than their mouths are moving, but that well may be them rather than this computer. This is the link if you can't be bothered to scroll down to the last time I mentioned and linked to 18 DoughtyStreet.

And, as they're currently discussing the Times and articles written about tax, I am immediately on familiar territory, as I have read the paper and have it in front of me, so am able to refer to the articles in question immediately. Most blogs and conversation that centre around politics usually only discuss the Guardian and Independent. Good papers, but not like my favourite.

I think it's love

Broadband. We're finally connected; on the same page, in the same place. Committed to each other. In a wonderful relationship. I think it's love (especially as I can simply dial 150 and a lovely lady called Angie resolves all problems for the price of a telephone call).

It also means that I can blog from home. No more rushed lunchtimes, trying to compose well-thought out and reasoned arguments (ha!) or musings about the happiness of shoes. I can post in peace from home, just like all the other bloggers, although I don't expect I'll be getting up early to write before work like some people...

And just think of the possibilities: job applications, on-line shopping, e mail reading and writing, Glamour magazine flicking and travel-idea dreaming, all from my bed not my desk!

The History Boys (Part 1)

Attended a preview of The History Boys last night. Am in the process of writing a review of the film as well as my thoughts about it. Have spent some time researching and reading discussion forums, but have not had the time during my lunch break to fully formulate these ideas in writing, so will have to finish this later and post it this evening.

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

PDO and PGIs

It's been a busy week. Spent last night having supper with people from my church. Met several new people including a teacher who has spent the last year working at the International School in Paris but who now teaches at a private school in Sloane Square. As teaching is a career which M is considering, and several of my other friends are also teachers, it was interesting to hear of two widely different experiences.

Finished the evening off with a glass of wine near M's shop with two of his colleagues. One reminded me of a friend from university: not just his slightly unusual appearance but also his extreme enthusiasm for every subject and his ability to argue, passionately, about any subject (including ones of which he has absolutely no idea). It was odd; on the one hand I felt that I already knew him, so similar their characteristics were, but on the other, I felt he was an imposter whom I needed to keep at arm's length. We fell into lively debate: all three work in the wine trade and we discussed the pros and cons of legislation preventing fortified wine produced outside Portugal being called Port and so on. Further debate raged as to the method of legal protection given to such products; both patenting and trademarks were considered as options, but in actual fact, the protection is offered by EU law (Council Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 of 14 July 1992 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs) where a list is compiled and held by the European Commission . Fascinating stuff.


A few days ago, I read that the Pope is currently considering a proposal to abolish the state of “limbus infantium”. His conclusion is due to be published on Friday. A quick poll of my friends (including one who is an RE teacher) elicited nothing more than blank looks, so I was pleased to find discussion of the issue in the blogosphere, although it is not as widespread as I thought it might have been. Perhaps it has been overshadowed by events in North Korea and other religious discussions concerning veils. Or perhaps the concept is not one which people spend time worrying about.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wife Swap

Spent a relaxing evening at home with M, much of which was spent trying (and failing) to set up my new broadband. Anyway, I happened to watch an episode of Channel 4's series 'Wife Swap'. The programme followed the usual format; two families with opposing ideals trying to impose their way on each other’s lives. I won't go into much background detail, as quite frankly it's too dull, but one particular part of the programme rather took me aback.

Family A's wife was Debbie Doody, a 'full time mum' with 2 boys and a husband married to his computer. Being a ‘full time mum’ transpired that Debbie stayed at home, cooked meals and acted like a skivvy (as no-one else did anything in the house) whilst her idea of spending time with her children was little more than being under the same roof whilst they occupied themselves. She went to live with Family B, where Angie Townsend, billed as a 'part-time mum' (which I found rather unfair, as whatever else one does for employment, it is a full time role) and 'full-time owner of a hair salon' managed a full time job and the household of three girls and a husband. Angie orchestrated household tasks, on which the whole family worked together. Her children may have moaned a little that she was rather busy, but they were also unstinting in their praise and admiration for her as a mother, wife and role model.

After living by the house rules for the first week, the 'wives' are able to impose their own rules for the second. Debbie, who had never had a full-time job in her life and manages on "whatever is left of his wages when all the bills are paid" announced on rule-change day that what the Townsend girls needed was a "proper mum". A what? And then went out and purchased several PSPs, a karaoke machine and a deep-fat fryer. She also banned all housework, cooking, cleaning and general household helpfulness, announcing that she would do all the cooking and cleaning from then on whilst the girls enjoyed themselves. She even went so far as to ban them from the kitchen and threw a tantrum when she realised that one of the girls had made their own bed.

Astounding. Debbie, whose husband couldn’t even afford to repair his car, appeared to think that this was a how ‘proper’ mother behaved; yet she was unable to hold a rational conversation or debate, favouring tantrums, abuse, crying and storming out of the room. Her sons had inherited this trait and during Angie’s first week refused not only conversation but to even leave their beds on several occasions. And for her to even suggest that banning household participation and providing food fried in a deep fat fryer to be consumed watching DVDs was what ‘proper mums’ should do, is quite frankly insulting. And I’m not even a mother.

I’m not suggesting that she didn’t love her sons, or that she didn’t believe that she had their best interests at heart, but extolling the virtues of a ‘proper’ mum in such a fashion suggested to me that she was not acting in a way any mother should. She paraded herself as the model mother, yet rather than listen to Angie’s praise for her children (who after a fashion had been open to activities other than electrical and had albeit grudgingly, actually learnt from the tutor Angie provided) Debbie screeched and wailed, shouting that she hoped her kids had given Angie some “real sh*t” and threatening to take Angie ‘outside’. And her reaction to learning that her seven year old son was unable to carry on a conversation? “He doesn’t know you from Adam…”. He might not, but that doesn’t prevent him from being taught to be polite and respectful. Debbie, on return to her home rubbished all Angie’s rules and suggestions, ripping down the sheets amid shouting and cursing. It is perfectly understandable to disagree with another person’s suggestions to one’s family – but what did it show her children? That tantrum throwing is an acceptable outcome, that there is no point being polite, pursuing learning, taking advice or being open to different opinions? It made me rather sad. Angie on the other hand, returned to her family willing to try and re-arrange her working hours and spend more time with her children on an individual basis. Two very different reactions to the experience and it left me feeling that there is an awful lot more to being a ‘proper mum’ than most people think.

Footnote – I realise that if you watched this programme, you might well be thinking ‘but what about the roles of the husbands’ or indeed, ‘what about the children’? I think that Debbie’s husband had been backed into a corner where he felt that his role as breadwinner but nothing further was, and was therefore expected, to remain. Once it had been suggested to him that perhaps he should take a more leading role within the house, he was willing to give it a go and he ended up changing more about the Doody household than his wife. An interesting development as far as the programme was concerned, but not the point that I was really trying to make about women and their (perceived) roles as mothers. Angie’s husband too was an interesting character; one felt that their family might be less successful if he had a viewpoint or was less willing to be dominated entirely, but that again is a separate issue. The programme also made a point of portraying Angie’s eldest daughter Kelly as rather rebellious, and yes, she did not go out of her way in the second week to make Debbie’s life any easier. But she made some interesting points: Debbie was unable to debate rationally with her, resorting to tantrum throwing and backing down in an angry and blameful fashion. And if you’d been told that you didn’t have a proper mother, banned from helping look after the house and family and been made to eat food from a deep fat fryer, wouldn’t you perhaps come over as a bit unfriendly as well?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Weekend Report

Spent 11 and a half hours at work on Saturday. A hateful hangover after an evenings drinking with no supper but managed to get to the office for 8.15am. Thankfully, B & C were driving past at 7pm and called to see if I was ready to leave (which I was) so I had a lift home. After a quick change, it was off to Maida Vale for supper with B & C and B & L. A lovely evening with wine, pizza and interesting discussions. Which ended when M woke me up at 4am (I was sleeping in B's bed) to take me home. Our new budget meant bus rather than taxi, so I finally fell into my own bed at 5am. Having bought the Sunday papers on the way.

Anyway, I digress. My point was that M brought to our collective attention a post he had read on Harry's Place concerning the arrest of two white men in Lancashire on suspicion of terrorist activities, namely storing chemicals and other bomb making equipment. One of the two men arrested was "an ex-member of the BNP" who was supposed to have stood for election last May. The interesting thing perhaps was that this story hadn't, at the time that M found the post, been picked up by the mainstream media. Intriguing. Anyway, I was going to have a look at this when I had my usual look at Rachel's blog. And she had already picked up the story and written an interesting article on the subject. How is wish that I was in the position she has managed: to be able to make a career from writing...

Carole Caplin

I hadn't expected to see Carole Caplin in the news so soon after meeting her at last month's WI. The Sunday Times ran an article yesterday speculating that Caplin is to become one of Blair's staff when he quits as Prime Minister. The article indicates that while Blair and Caplin are still in close contact (participating in long phone conversations with Blair accepting fashion and health advice), Caplin and Cherie are no longer on speaking terms. It also suggests that Caplin is no longer in contact with Cherie after she banned Caplin from Downing Street and formally dispensing with her role as a personal trainer last year.

Although I found meeting Caplin interesting and intriguing, the subject was not my interest in the article. My interest was the way that it was reported. Granted, I do not know the Blair's perspective; I have only heard Caplin's, but it differs widely to the reported version, even in this article. And it made me think. That I should be rather more aware when reading the media; instead of simply taking things at face value, I should be giving a lot more thought to the subtext and the angle and reasons the article (or publication) is written from.


I first heard about this in September when Rachel posted that she had been asked to be an e-reporter. Set up by Stefan Shakespeare and political bloggers including Iain Dale, 18 Doughty Street is set to be the first political Internet TV channel. It will be supported by a collection of blogs centered at the 18 Doughty Street website.

I am clearly very ill informed. I tried (and failed) to write what I know of this project, its aims and my own response. I have read several articles on the subject, in the Sunday Times last week and again on 8 October 2006 as well as on the BBC's website, but am still finding it hard to articulate anything remotely interesting or intellectual on the subject. Perhaps I shall give it another try one evening when I can spend longer than my lunch break researching and writing. Roll on the day when our broadband is installed...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sainsbury's Magazine & the WI

At last. Publication in a national magazine... Well, standing and posing for Sainsbury's at least.

My local Sainsbury's oddly doesn't seem to sell the magazine (the staff were rather bemused when I asked if they had a copy) but thankfully, Lucy posted a preview on the WI website for us all to admire.

Turn off your office computer

I was appalled to realise that I am (was) one of the 1.7 million people in the UK who fail to turn off their computer before leaving work each night. Again, an article from the Independent brought to my attention by M.

I consider myself to be a reasonably ethical minded and conscientious person. We turn off lights (with energy saving bulbs), we don't keep the TV on standby, even though this means a chilly dash to the other side of the room before putting out the bedside lamp after watching a late night film. Our fridge is A grade efficient, we recycle, buy local and avoid excess packaging. But if my computer at work has been on continuously for the best part of a year, have my other efforts simply been in vain?

Friday, October 06, 2006


mongchacha has pointed me in the direction of this article. I haven't had time to read it properly as am snowed-under with work and am not really having a lunch-break. It looks an interesting concept though and as soon as I get some time, I will post further thoughts on Froogling and it's potential relation to my shopping habit. (For further thoughts by Mongchacha see here)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Champagne and Rose Petals

It was a night of free champagne. Started the evening with a Grazia/Reiss evening in the Kensington Church Street branch. Met L and left an hour later having drunk champagne and holding a goodie bag containing Aveda products and some Reiss earrings.

Was very nice to see L; she has been somewhat occupied with her marking of late. I don't envy her the holidays any longer - she left to get into bed with 32 essays describing (to varying degrees of success) ways in which Christians describe God. I left to meet M and his father for supper.

After waiting at least half an hour for a bus (something was very wrong with London traffic) I arrived at the Hilton in Green Park to attend a collaboration between the Hilton Hotel chain and the Malaysian tourist board: a Malaysian themed buffet. Beautifully presented with rose petals on every table and including my second free champagne of the evening, the food was interesting and unusual. I particularly enjoyed the spicy chicken soup, which was more along the lines of a broth, to which one added whatever one wanted. I added finely chopped spring onion, cubes of chicken, peanuts and dried meat. The main course included fish, beef, mutton and seafood - the buffet style presentation allowed one to try everything. I wasn't so keen on the pudding however; everything was flavoured with coconut. I tried cold green pancakes containing what tasted like maple syrup and rice and a cold steamed coconut dumpling. I had an enjoyable evening, but left feeling pleased that I enjoy British food so much.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cleaning up my act

As I am on a new very strict budget, I decided it was time other areas of my life were tidied up a little too. No money = no drinking in expensive bars, so my alcohol intake is vastly reduced. I have also pretty much given up smoking. In the last 5 weeks, I have smoked a few cigarettes on a handful occasions. In the past week: none.

I have also decided to try and reduce my caffeine addiction. On an average day, I drink perhaps 10 cups of tea or coffee. And some water, but largely tea and coffee. Given that I am also having trouble waking up in the morning, I have decided to conduct a little experiment. No more than three cups of tea (or coffee) per day; instead, fruit tea and more water. I am also trying to eat less processed food (such as crisps), although I don't eat an enormous amount anymore as it is. It's all about the baking and making of food in our house now. Homemade pizza for lunch, 'fake fruit cake' for elevenses, teatime and snacking. I am also trying to force myself to get out of bed in the morning at a sensible hour, regardless of how much a lie-in I desire. I'm giving it a week or so to see if I feel any better and then I'll re-assess.

And money. Have been offered some overtime at work and have managed to sell one of the books I listed on Amazon, so it is trickling in, albeit rather slowly. Which is pleasing, but what I really need is a sideline project. I wonder if there is anywhere I can sell articles? How does one go about these things?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Carole Caplin and the WI

October meeting of the Fulham WI and a room full of women are greeting each other and catching up on a months worth of gossip. It is always a rewarding and interesting experience, the monthly WI meeting; the speakers are informative and it is always great to meet new people, especially such interesting and diverse women that comprise Fulham WI. But I digress. Last night, one of the two speakers was Carole Caplin.

Immaculately groomed and well made up, with long dark hair worn loose over a brown fitted jersey cardigan and a pair of brown jogging bottoms (which were more flattering than they sound) with pockets that she spent much time pushing her hands in and out of, she paced and gestured to the room. On her feet, a pair of those MBT trainers which help posture and burn calories when you walk. She looked as you might expect; a well-groomed, good looking, fitness and lifestyle advisor. A little too perfect perhaps: she appeared to have had a nose job and perhaps botox and must have been wearing an excellent bra...

And so she began, explaining the ethos of her company, Lifesmart, describing the background to her extensive career and why she was so passionate about what she does. She starts work at 7am and clearly works very hard. She mentioned her mother's experiences in setting up some of the first public dance studios when she was a teen and how this had fueled her interest in fitness and health. Very open, very friendly. But also very evasive. She deflected questions seamlessly and answered others not asked. But she was strangely compelling, charismatic and charming. She stressed the importance of a holistic attitude towards health: there is no one answer or cure, that all aspects and angles need consideration. The orthodox way should not be discounted out of hand; it is a useful diagnostic tool. But so too is questioning oneself honestly and openly and starting with the basics. Enough water, enough sleep, the right diet for you, correct breathing and the right exercises. This is the Lifesmart promise.

And it does sound compelling. The idea of someone guiding all aspects of your life and looking so good whilst doing so is certainly appealing. But something didn't sit quite right with me last night. I felt almost that I needed to remain cynical so as not to be taken in; that if I admitted that she was making some valid points I would be seduced by her claims and would end up parting with vast sums of cash to be told some things I probably could work our for myself.

And finally, she was asked about the 'Downing Street Debacle' (her words). She explained some of the background and told a few 'antidotes' (again, her words. I think she meant anecdotes). Obviously this being her life, she knew more about it than I did. But she told her point of view in such a fashion it seemed she expected we would have known every aspect of it already. People were mentioned by first name only, dates were vague and issues glossed over. She mentioned, several times, that a £1 million book deal had been turned down many time, as too appearances on celebrity reality television. And then moved on, as swiftly as she turned to the subject, outlining her plans to take her 'blueprint' of Lifesmart to other walks of life. Starting with school children. To which it was suggested she should combine forces with Jamie Oliver(!).

I left not really knowing any more than I did to start with. Is she what she seems, a charismatic, compelling, well presented woman with a genuine desire to improve people's lives, who found herself in a situation which became too big for her - or is she a social climber with a desire for fame, making the most of her friendships and the situation (after all, she now writes a column for the newspaper which exposed her)? So I did some research on the Internet. Is she a lifestyle guru on whom successful and independent women find themselves reliant, or, is she just someone you can't help but find yourself liking?

Or, as my friend C puts it: "(meeting Carole and seeing her charisma) makes it much less easy to dismiss her out of hand... I don't think Cherie Blair is an idiot by any means and she seems to have been drawn to her quite strongly...".