Friday, September 29, 2006

The eternal dilemma... go home, to a comfy chair, cup of tea and the last volume of Sex and the City Series 6, or to go to the wine bar?

Made it into bed at about 3.45am and was awake again at 7am. Although I am not especially hung over, I most certainly am tired. Silver was a bit something of nothing; the reviews were quite accurate. It would like to think that it will be the next big thing in the London club scene (and that is an almost direct quote...) but it tries too hard. A photographer taking your picture on the way in, overpriced drinks and a clientele of posers and people who would like to think they are important (but aren't). But please, don't get me wrong; I had a really good night. But I think that was mainly due to the presence of Alexandra. We would be able to have fun anywhere.

And yes, I did wear something other than my usual jeans. I wore my American Apparel T-shirt dress. With leggings. Yes, you did read that correctly. They weren't mine and I won't be repeating the look, but it was nice to wear something different. And, it meant that I could wear my pink suede shoes without looking a total slut.

Footnote: I have discovered that someone has used one of my posts on a different website. They've credited to me, and put a link to this blog, but I've no idea why they chose that piece, or for a shopping site... The mind boggles.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Am I too old for this?

Am just finishing at work before meeting my sister and two of her friends. We are going out to a 'trendy' night club tonight. I'm very much looking forward to seeing her, but I'm feeling a bit old and tired. My Thursday evenings, where once I would have been going out, getting drunk and rolling into work tired and hung-over the next morning having had 4 hours sleep, are now spent rehearsing with my choir. Not tonight. I have to go home, find an outfit (I still remember yesterday's promise) and then GO OUT. When all I really want to do is go home and go to bed.

I'm sure it will be fun though. Everything seems a bit of a chore at the end of a busy day. I feel like I have achieved quite a lot, although my budget is getting tighter and tighter. I just don't know where money goes. Once I have paid rent and law school loans, council tax and my phone bill, I have about £100 per month to live on. Which is clearly impossible. £100 a week is about average. Something needs to be done. I need a sideline project (which does not involve taking my clothes off). Ideas please?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

At long last, the film of The Devil Wears Prada will be opening in London this week. I have booked tickets for Saturday afternoon for M and I. I can't wait, and I bet he can't either...

Am pretty busy though right up until the showing: tonight I am having supper with M and his father in Mayfair. I also have to clean the flat in preparation for Alexandra and two of her friends who are coming to stay on Thursday. Alexandra is coming so that we can all attend a party at a new (and rather badly reviewed) nightclub called Silver. It is in Hanover Square, so at least it will be easy to escape from and get home! I am going out on Friday evening as well, so there are a lot of outfits to be considered.

TDWP inspires me when I feel that my boss is being unfair; well, at least she isn't Miranda. And working in an office full of men, there's no-one watching my appearance or dress size or the number of calories that I consume on a daily basis. Thankfully, 'Emily' doesn't exist in my team, as I think she'd find the biscuits and cakes that I consume on a weekly basis a cause for downright worry. What it does mean though, is that I have to make an effort with appearance and aesthetics for myself. The boys might not notice - or then again they might - but I know when I've worn the same trousers three times in a week and flat shoes for the second day running.

So, I try and put together different outfits, within the 'work wear' parameters. We don't have to wear suits, but we are definitely not casual either, which makes it all the more difficult. Especially on a budget. I was therefore pleased to read a piece called Life Laundress on which dealt with this issue: an expanding wardrobe but never anything to wear. The aim of the piece is obviously to draw attention to the service provided, but is is an interesting point. How many of us have wardrobes filled with beautiful clothes that we never wear?

There are the clothes that need handwashing, so are sat at the bottom of the laundry basket; there are some which need mending, some which have been pushed to the back of the drawer or to the floor. And there must be many more that we have simply forgotten about, or need to try wearing in a different or more up-to-date way. So this will be my challenge for the next month:


I am going to follow Honor Marks' advice and sort out my wardrobe, the handwashing, the dry cleaning, the 'cleansing' and tidying. And who knows what I'll find, but I'm sure I'll feel the benefits.

Unending Domestic Upheaval (Part 2)

Yesterday’s problems have ceased: The hole in the ceiling has been patched. A very nice builder came yesterday morning to fill it in. Now, I've not much experience with builders as my father tends to do all the work on our house himself, but I expected him to be loud, brash and take over the house. Instead, he was extremely polite, asked me if I minded him playing his radio and he tidied up afterwards as well. And he locked the flat, as requested. It's still cosmetically ugly as it is brown not white, but I think it is the best we can hope for.

And the new fridge was delivered this morning, with no real hassles either. They unpacked it, wheeled it into place and took away the rubbish. It was all over very quickly; we just have to wait until this evening to turn it on and put our food inside.

No, the real problem is this: M has allergies - to dust, to feathers, to damp places. His sinuses have been bothering him for weeks and he has been plagued with a rash on hands and feet. But we live in a flat full of dust, brick and plaster from the ceiling in addition to the usual fluff (which I just can't seem to get rid of); he works in a fine wine shop with a damp and dusty cellar and my favourite thing in the whole world is my goose feather duvet and pillows. Clearly, we are incompatible. I don't mind spending the weekend clearing the flat of all dust and cleaning it from tip to toe, but buying new bedding? I fear we'd be better off with separate beds...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Home Time

Am too tired to write about the excellent Breed 77 gig at the moment, so it will join the list of things that I will blog about when I summons some energy.

Promised topics which I have yet to deliver:

  • Elaborate on the Jewish wedding I attended
  • Set out my thoughts on the importance of the WI in the 21st century
  • Discuss manners and why I still find text messaging to be an inappropriate medium for informing one that one's services are no longer needed
  • Expand my view on the need to shop (and why Liz Jones is so bloody annoying)
  • Breed 77 Review

Writing which is on my laptop and not yet on this blog (a situation I must rectify):

  • Size zero models
  • Vogue - advertisers dream or well-written articles?

Instead, I will use my time for a brief link round up whilst waiting for M to come and collect me from work. That's right. Link. I looked at all of the blogs that I usually read after work and this was the only thing that caught my eye: City Slicker voicing her thoughts on the 'man-bag' and how this is a useful indicator that David Cameron is NOT set to become the next PM. An interesting theory...

Lunchtime Musings

Just a quick post now - will post in full after work. I know it's 3pm, but I was trying to finish a project before lunch. And I managed it by 2.15pm. So this is still, just about, lunch.

Left a builder in the house this morning, mending the hole in the ceiling. That's one less thing to worry about. As long as they deliver the fridge with no hassles tomorrow, our unending domestic upheaval may be getting sorted.

Good news for my new friend Susie Lawstudent - she's finally gained a Training Contract. I'm pleased for her as I know the struggle, but it's making me a bit depressed. Especially as I was called to a meeting to discuss why I've been late a bit recently. I guess when enthusiasm for the job is waning, it gets harder to get worked up about it. I must try harder; I must not get sacked. And I must get back into doing Training Contract applications.

And I'll stop moaning now. This evening, I'll post about the amazing Breed 77. Now that's worth looking forward to!

Monday, September 25, 2006

The weekend

Another enjoyable weekend and the return to work on Monday morning, safe in the knowledge that its only 3 months (or 91 days) until Christmas. A dank, wet and gloomy day, although not cold. It looks autumnal, it sounds autumnal, so therefore it should be autumnal. Yes? No. It's 22 degrees, wet, dark and gloomy. Is this Britain? Or just the effects of global warming? It's warmer than most of August...

Went charity shop shopping with Mummy on Saturday, just like we used to. This is the way forward I think, now I'm on my new budget (or rather the £5 left each month after paying my law school loan payment and my rent). And for £13.99 I am the proud owner of a wool skirt and two merino wool jumpers. All barely worn and perfect for work. Now all I need to do is find the dress that I'm after.

Returned to London late Saturday afternoon. Was due at B's 26th birthday dinner at 8pm. The train suffered from a 30-minute delay and my precarious financial state meant tube not taxi. A frantic wash and hunt for an 'outfit'. Being ill meant very little clean washing, and such a packed calendar lately (!) meant my usual such outfits have already been viewed far too many times in the last few weeks. Still, I found an old silk top which I quickly ironed and managed to layer with another one. Such was my success I was asked where I got it! Was lovely to be out and about again after lying in bed for three days, and I managed to get there for 8.40pm. The meal was beautifully cooked by B and expertly served by L. As I walked there and M&I walked home, we spent no money. The downside, it took ages and we didn't roll into bed until 3am.

Sunday afternoon and Marylebone High Street. Lunch at The Prince Regent and then a cup of tea and the rest of the Ryder Cup at the Marylebone Tup. Followed by a spot of browsing in Cath Kidson and a few other shops. Such was my restraint I even managed to buy my shampoo and other toiletries from Boots rather than SpaceNK. Then up to Kenwood House for our now weekly walk. We had a cup of tea in the walled gardens and then ambled round Hampstead Heath. Until we realised that the car park closed at dusk, and the grounds at 7.15pm. And it was 7.10pm. M & B raced for the car park and just rescued the car before it was impounded. C and I followed at a more sedate pace. It was so warm I was wearing a mini-skirt, but this is September and we had forgotten how getting dark is now like turning out a light switch. Still, we made it out of the woods in one piece and even had time to stop and watch the rabbits.

Back to Primrose Hill and supper. Roasted vegetables and rice followed by bread & butter pudding made with the remains of last week’s loaf. M working at the weekend means more organisation food wise is needed...

'Twas on a Monday Morning...

... the Gas Man came to call', goes the Flanders & Swann song, The Gas Man Commeth, that we used to listen to on holiday, when it was too wet to picnic on the beach and too windy to sail. A song of unending domestic upheaval; I think I could probably write an updated version detailing the saga of living in our flat. Men are supposed to be coming to patch up the hole (in the ceiling). That's right. Patch up the hole. Not replace the ceiling, as the builders suggested. Still, that’s landlords for you. I have no further details, except that it's supposed to be this week. It only happened three weeks ago, so I suppose no desperate rush.

Some other men are supposed to be delivering our new fridge freezer on Wednesday. Sometime between 8am and 8pm. Which means a day off. But no, they call the night before and give you a 4-hour time slot. How convenient, not knowing until the evening before. So, a half-day then? But no, they will call you at the start of said four-hour time slot and tell you which hour. So Madam, you can just leave work for that hour. Assuming that it's convenient that you can leave work at no notice for 'an hour', which will probably be more like two or three, and that you work and live in the same street. Most people don't work and live in the same postcode in London. Sainsbury's obviously believe in putting the delivery people first, not the customer.

So, bets to be placed on whether either happens as planned this week; I wonder what the odds are for both on the Wednesday? But I'm sure it won't be as easy as that. As I said, unending domestic upheaval.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Postcard from 'home'

Haven't posted for a few days as have been confined to my bed with a tummy thing. Finally dragged myself out of the house and back to Berkshire. To the dentist. And a bonus evening to see grandparents, uncle, mother and sister. Father is in China and the other sister is currently at a beach party. Only the happy party got rather delayed by a flash flood somewhere near Leatherhead on the way home from a funeral. So, Annie and I did what any self respecting, somewhat abandoned siblings would at such a time. We headed for the retail park. No, I can't believe it either. We tried on hideous things in New Look, including some beautiful patent leather platform shoes; in a magazine, looked ok - on my feet, like a stripper. And then to Tesco. Where I actually found a black v-neck which I will be able to wear to work. For £10. I don't usually like to support supermarkets, but given my current financial crisis and need for work clothes, I was in no position to refuse.

Have spent the past few days watching Sex and the City, series 4, 5 and most of 6. I'd forgotten my old friends Carrie, Charlotte et al. It was like a reunion. And speaking of old friends I actually know, took calls from both H and S whilst residing au lit. Was lovely to hear from both of them and I am looking forward to meeting up. Also spent some time writing something about size zero models and the contents of Vogue. Two separate articles, you understand, although I suppose I could equally combine them. Sadly, both are on my laptop in Primrose Hill and I am here in Berkshire. So I will have to finish them another time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Shikasuki - Primrose Hill

"A candy box of vintage delights blended with mouth-watering contemporary art. Two floors of treasures... Pick 'n' Mix your own selection!" is Shikasuki's tagline. Owned and managed by Rachel Sheridan Ducker and her parents, this little white and Perspex shop is crammed full of vintage clothes and accessories. And if you can't quite afford any of the Ossie Clark dresses, there are greetings cards, original artwork (some by the owner herself) and a huge number of sparkly accessories for even the smallest of budgets. I ended up with some cards to send to friends featuring some of the bags for sale in the shop and a gorgeous sparkly red beaded cocktail ring with roses. It cheered up my day no end this morning when I had to go to work.

And I'm wearing it now, typing this, during my lunch hour. I've got stomach, PMT and am feeling a bit rubbish. But with my hotwaterbottle and my sparkly ring, I'm managing to cope.

Monday, September 18, 2006

"The city of London is so pretty, Mommy"

Sunday afternoon and a walk on Hampstead Heath. M & J were ensconced in a pub in Primrose Hill, watching Chelsea beat Liverpool and then were joined by another J to watch Arsenal beat Manchester United. Sadly, M & J support Liverpool and J Manchester United. So T and I retreated to Hampstead and walked on the Heath in the afternoon sunshine. We watched people swimming in the bathing ponds and admired the view over London from Parliament Hill. Which is where a very tiny boy on a scooter, accompanied by his American father and French mother and elder sister, made the remark which provided me with this title. And he was right. It was an inspiring view.

Another inspiring view is the one from the 7th floor bar of the Tate Modern, where M & I met S for drinks on Saturday afternoon. As we sat there drinking our tea and catching up with each others lives (S has been away since we graduated from Law School last year) and our respective jobs and new houses, I suddenly realised that I was sat looking out at the view, but not really seeing it. It is an amazing panoramic skyline view over London, my beloved London. And it left me feeling satisfied but a little guilty that I had been taking such a view for granted. And itching for a sketch book. Next time M is working on a Saturday, that is what I am going to do.

We then went to Angel to meet another M, a friend from university. We went to a noodle bar for supper and then to the pavement tables of a bar called Cuba Libre. And we were joined by D, another friend from university who has been living in Rome, B&C and a few other friends. We ended up going to the Old Queen's Head; a bar which feels a bit more like a house. It is full of random sofas and the upstairs dance floor makes you feel like you are dancing in someone's sitting room. And the Scratch Perverts were playing - which was great - and all for £3!

Food (for thought)

Settling down well into a better weekend pattern. Once again, food dominated; although a reverse of the traditional meal scenario. Once upon a time, housewives all over the country cooked a roast joint of some description on Sunday. This then became the basis for the weekly evening meals - e.g. cold on Monday, minced into Shepherd's Pie on Tuesday etc. And so on until Friday. M & I however, cooked our roast on Friday evening. Beef, with roasted potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions and some braised cabbage. We then ate cold beef in sandwiches for Saturday and Sunday lunch and finished the weekend with homemade soup, quiche and apple pie.

Attended the Farmers' Market training on Saturday. We had been asked to show up for 8am; we did and found that we were expected to work all morning and afternoon. Although it was an interesting experience, both M and I independently realised that it was not for us. Our real interest is the food; buying fresh, local, seasonal produce on a weekly basis - not running the event for other people. It was a lot of work, for very little pay; not something to look forward to after a week doing my 'day job'. I'm glad that I explored the opportunity however, as so often one doesn't and then always wonders what it may have offered. Am still going to write an article about the market for MarmaLADYa though. Tonight though, when I can think in peace.

And speaking of; I found this rather interesting article. Written by Elspeth Waters (Deputy Editor of Fresh Produce Journal) it explores some of the issues surrounding fresh fruit & vegetables and the dilemma we face balancing our own health (buy organic) and buying local and in-season (a mixture of both traditional & organic) with supporting the poorer countries (fairtrade) and reducing airmiles. Do we stop buying bananas thereby reducing airmiles, or should we continue to buy them, fairtrade, therefore supporting farmers and tradelinks? I'm not sure that she poses a better answer than the standard response, some of each and what one can afford, but it's worth a look (and some consideration). As is the rest of

Friday, September 15, 2006

File under Miscellaneous

thelondonpaper published a comment on the Cuckoo Club yesterday. Amongst other things, it noted that this was the venue of Paris Hilton's 'flower' bombing incident at the hands of PETA. What a joke!

Friday seems to come round quicker and quicker at the moment. The days are speeding away. Soon it will be winter. Alexandra starts university this weekend; I am not worried for her (as any problem she faces she will face in the knowledge that she encountered worse on her travels) but for my mother. My wonderful mother who has to take and leave Alexandra on her own because my father is at a conference in China. Just as soon as one returns, another leaves and my worries start all over again.

Attending training tomorrow morning - M and I are considering applying to manage the Primrose Hill Farmers' Market. Not sure how I will manage to get up at 7am every Saturday morning throughout the winter but the job does sound interesting. Well, we'll see how it goes tomorrow...

Will post some more thoughts in answer to my previously posted ponderings when I get a few minutes.

Label launch - Chelsea

Attended the label launch on Wednesday evening. And what a bizarre evening it was. It was the event I was asked to model at before being told that 'there aren't enough outfits... we're having trouble getting enough for the catwalk'. I mean, it's not like they were launching a clothing label or anything.

So, we turned up and the lighting crew were still setting up; the free tequila bar ran out early on as there wasn't anything to watch so everyone drank instead. Smoking was only allowed on the staircase (small, narrow and metal) as the launch was in the studio. Fair point but it meant that most people were squashed on the landing.

Then, finally, the models presented the clothes - which was all very nice but a bit dull. There was nothing that was truly original, yet nothing one could really wear on a day-to-day basis either. There were a few interesting blouses, but a lot of the things were too see through for practical use, but would look odd with anything under them. An interesting experience though.

Then down one set of stairs to a nightclub to watch a band. Who managed to be an odd mix; musically a bit bland but with vaguely charismatic members. Drinks were hugely overpriced but it was Chelsea. Then a raffle where C won a magnum of tequila. I've never seen so much tequila in one container and despite our best efforts, we managed about an inch or two. Between 10. That's how much there was. Goodie bags were handed out – containing an odd assortment of things (including England winning the Rugby World Cup in 2003 on DVD). And then it was 10pm and everyone had left. Except T and her charming boss.

A bus to Sloane Square and then from nowhere - the heavens opened and it was as if we were standing under a fire hose being used on a film set. Soaked through in seconds and one ruined pair of four inch pink suede round toed shoes. Sheltered drunkenly in a bank doorway and a mad dash into the tube station. Bakerloo and Northern Line suffering (again) so disembarked at Camden for some supper. And then home, to bed, to sleep.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The art of tea

The New York Times published an article today about teabags. Or more specifically, a new type of teabag for tea connoisseurs. These new bags are made of nylon and allow fresh long leaved tea to infuse inside, giving the drinker a beautiful cup of fresh tea without the need to use loose leaf tea and a tea pot.

What a waste of resources. I was under the impression that we needed to save the environment rather than trying to find innovative new ways of creating more waste in answer to a problem that we didn't know existed. And to add insult to injury, the article continues:

Somewhat surprisingly, English tea companies appear to be the slowest to catch on to the trend of fine tea in tea bags. The English often drink tea with milk and sugar, so they like it dark and strong, just the way cheap tea bags make it. “The English consumer is less adventurous than the American.”

Or, those English people who drink 'fine tea' already use a teapot and therefore have no need for a new type of teabag. And as for us being less adventurous...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday - the day of... badly written blogs

Just a quick post today as am very busy at work and anxious to go home. Keep writing a list of things to write about but have yet to find time to sit down and expand on my initial thoughts. So far, I still need to elaborate on the Jewish wedding that I attended, set out my thoughts on the importance of the WI in the 21st century, discuss manners and why I still find text messaging to be an inappropriate medium for informing one that one's services are no longer needed and expand my view on the need to shop (and why Liz Jones is so bloody annoying). All that and send some job applications, find an outfit to wear to the label launch tomorrow evening and turn the remains of the roast chicken I cooked last night into a tasty supper. It looks set to be a long evening...

No time to add these to my list on the side bar, but today I discovered the blog I considered writing until I decided it would be too boring (and depressing) to write everyday. Yes, the ups and downs of an aspiring lawyer in search of an elusive training contract. But no need, it's been done for me. That and her American counterpart . I assume they are not related, although I can't be certain. They both have used pictures of a certain Miss Woods as their profile image.

It's not the mundane aspect of personal blogging I find aggravating. It's the writing. When the bitching of the Fugly writers becomes a better read than some blogs I've read recently, there must be a problem. Even some of my favourite bloggers have started to rant in a rather unbecoming fashion. Let's hope its only temporary.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Farmers' Market

It's been another weekend of domesticity. M spent Friday evening making soup. We had French Onion for supper and then the vegetable for lunch on Saturday. Saturday morning was spent at the inaugural Primrose Hill Farmers' Market. There was a huge range of beautiful produce for sale including bread, sausages, fruit & vegetables, cakes, eggs, milk, cheese (some wonderful goats as well as cheddar) and herbs and plants. We bought some oak smoked garlic which smells amazing, as well as some onion bread. Next week I shall go before I do any shopping. Combined with our Abel & Cole vegetable box, we should hardly need to visit the supermarket at all. Thankfully. If only it wasn't so expensive.

Spent Saturday afternoon baking scones, quiches and bread pudding, which M, B and C helped eat. Had invited Alexandra and Annie to come for Sunday lunch. Both bailed on me though. Understandable I suppose as one is jet lagged and the other spends her time looking after a screaming two year old and cleaning someone else’s loo for £5 an hour. So, we went to Richmond Park instead. The weather was absolutely beautiful and the place was enormous; it rather reminded me of California, especially the colours and still air and herds of deer lying about in the shade of the trees. It was just what we needed after the stress of last week. We ate cold quiche and scones in a clearing in the trees and went for a walk. B drove us back to his flat, where he cooked us sausages and mashed potato for supper. M and I returned on the bus happy and relaxed. We didn’t spend much money, didn’t drink too much and for once it was great for the whole weekend to revolve around food!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Kate for Agent Provocateur

Having read much hype regarding Kate's debut film performance, I jumped at the chance to watch it for myself courtesy of my parents' broadband connection (my own dial up deemed too slow and the work broadband too risky). After registering with Agent Provocateur the first part of the series, Shadows, flickered into sight. There was Kate, lying in a tousled state in a rumpled bed, wearing bra, knickers, suspender belt and stockings, all black-eyed and blonde kitten hair, whispering, in a very soft south London voice, the details of a dream from which she had just emerged. The shots were soft, black and white night vision; the retinas of her eyes clearly and disturbingly visible. The combination of her movements, gaze and voice were unnerving. It was as if the page had suddenly sprung to a sleepy, sexy life. And the underwear looked amazing. Mostly clever makeup and the use of a night vision camera, I suspect, rather than the actual bra, but if her breasts look that good wearing it, I want one. Rather clever advertising; first, everyone is familiar with Kate's naked self and she looks even better in the underwear; secondly, Kate's entire persona is comprised of her image- until the Virgin advert I had never even heard her speak - which in this film is brought into a unique three-dimensional reality.

Blog Problems

Am having some difficulties. My sidebar and profile no longer appears as a right hand column; it has disappeared to the bottom of the page. I find this annoying. If anyone knows how to rectify this, please let me know.

UPDATE - I have managed to work out what was wrong. By deleting my thoughts on Kate and re-posting them (above) the dotted line causing all the trouble has gone. Yay!

And I will post something more interesting soon. I promise. It's just been one hell of a week. Ceiling, Alexandra's return, M ill etc. Ceiling is still shedding small pieces of plaster and wood into the kitchen. Especially when the people upstairs use their washing machine. But what can we do - ask them not to? M has been hassling the landlords today, but with little success so far. Oh, the joys of rented accommodation. If we owned it, it may be expensive, but at least it would have been sorted by now.

At least my new telephone has arrived. I will be able to send text messages

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Small thoughts

It's been a hard day. The hole in the ceiling is still there, the kitchen floor still covered in plaster dust. M has been ill and I have been away. Returned to London on a credit card ticket as have essentially run out of money. M is hot & cold, achy and disjointed. The doctors can only offer an appointment in a week’s time. I am worried and frustrated because I can't do anything.

The list of things to do piles up; people will not return my calls or e-mails and the frustration grows. No fridge, no broadband. The new mobile telephone I ordered hasn't been delivered. I call. "There's been a problem with dispatch". Yes, I realised that. "It will be with you soon". Why didn't you call to let me know? "Oh, dispatch is not linked to our call-centre". "It'll be with you today or tomorrow". You said that last week. And so it goes on.

Maybe it'll be better tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Return of the Weary Traveller

Alexandra has returned. Annie and I picked her up from Heathrow this morning. Home safely; a little taller, browner, blonder and older. How I have missed her. Wasn't prepared for how sad I would feel once I was back in London. I feel like the youngest now, not the eldest. She has seen places I'll never see, experienced things I never will and met people that I'll never know. She's fallen in love. She has witnessed amazing sights and coped with horrific ones. She has spent money in currencies that I have never heard of and done things I'd never dream of. And finally, she has returned home; still the same but imperceptibly different.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

thelondonpaper v London Lite

Monday saw the launch of a new London free afternoon paper - thelondonpaper, hot on the heels of the launch two weeks ago of London Lite. Yesterday I read both papers. I did the same thing today. I found it interesting that each tried at the same time to be different yet fill the same market gap. Both are free, handed out in the street (as neither has won a tender to exclusively handout papers (Metro style) at the tube stations) and feature purple in the banner lines. thelondonpaper is slightly smaller, more akin to the Guardian but with a larger reference to the sport pages; London Lite is reminiscent of its sister paper, the Metro. Lite makes much of the fact that it was free and first, with 'free' imprinted on the top left hand corner and marching across the top middle; the cover features a light weight picture (Eva Longoria in a bikini) in addition to a large headline, a small portion of text and some taster lines of inside articles. It's overall look screams 'tabloid'.

Of course, both carry much of the same type of news albeit packaged slightly differently. That is to be expected as both papers feature local and some national news. Both headlines refer to the same topic but inside the articles are portrayed rather differently. Lite in many ways is what it says; there is a good deal of snippets of celebrity behaviour, parties, premiers and the like. There also appears to be some tabloid style scaremongering and generalisation: an article concerning a disposable hospital gown designed for Muslim women (it allows them to completely cover up) is published underneath a large headline Muslims feared on the Tube since 7/7 . Intended for the article next to the hospital gowns, but reinforcing some kind of opinion on both Muslim fear and lack of faith in the NHS - as the article concludes that no doubt these gowns will be unaffordable due to the crippling debts with which the NHS is struggling. thelondonpaper relegates the gown issue to page 15, granting it 2 sentences. No mention of cost and certainly no large photo. Not that thelondonpaper is without criticism - much of the 'lighter' issues have already been written, better, elsewhere. I was particularly unimpressed by the double page feature on pole dancing exercise classes, not least because the woman taking the lesson was large with bad shoes. In general the writing is rather sloppy and brief does not have to mean insubstantial.

It seems rather a shame that such potential has not been fulfilled. Given that both papers claim to relate to London, leaving aside the listings and celebrity gossip, much of the news is not really about London. The vast majority of the sport is related to a national scale - surely room for a page or two on the thriving sports scene across London. These papers are clearly aimed at the working Londoner; someone who likes their news bite-sized, up-to-date, celebrity ridden and free. In a society when people can download worldwide, quality, up-to-the-minute news to their work PC whenever they want to read it, any paper that wishes to compete is going to have to produce something better than I have read over the last two days.

Things that go bump in the night...

It's only 2pm, but I've been awake for 10 hours. On my usual time scale, it should be time to leave work, not have lunch. The day started with an almighty bang at about 4.15am, when a sizeable part of our kitchen ceiling decided enough time had been spent trying to hang onto some rather damp ceiling boards and descended into the kitchen accompanied by a large amount of rubble. The cornice (which was apparently the catalyst: being too heavy for the surrounding wet-then-dry plaster) was found sat proudly on the front of the washing machine in a bed of two tea towels and a huge amount of dust. Everything else in the immediate vicinity (i.e. up to the bathroom and the bedroom) is covered in a neat film of plaster dust, including the 'clean' washing up, the 'clean' washing-awaiting-ironing and all my shoes, handbags, books and other assorted paraphernalia which sits on and under the kitchen sideboard. I am not impressed. A suitable answer phone message was left for the landlords (at 4.30am) and a builder eventually turned up. Thankfully he assures me the rest of the ceiling is safe, but the whole thing will need to be replaced. Which will take about a week and will require us to leave. And I can still taste plaster dust.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Primrose Hill Farmers' Market

At last! We are to have our own Farmers' Market. The first one is on the 9 September 2006 at the junior school on Princess Avenue. It starts at 9am and only sells products from farms situated within 100 miles of the M25. I can't wait...

Simon Armitage

In memory of the 5th anniversary of the Twin Towers Attack, Simon Armitage has written a poem, to be read on Radio 4. It is too long to publish in full here, but this is the link to the pdf. And here is the link to the article published on the Times website.

I found the poem rather moving and a little jarring, not least because Armitage never settles into one particular rhythm; moving instead between rhyme and free form prose to create a sense of familiarity coloured by panic and finality, repeating imagery and themes as emphatic reminders that each person who died in the atrocity died leading an innocent, normal human life.

It's been a long time coming...

... but on Wednesday Alexandra will be home. It must be autumn. Although, you wouldn't really know it, as it's been warmer the past few days than it has in weeks. I am so excited. Annie & I are going to meet her from Heathrow (if we can work out which terminal her flight lands at).

Spent the weekend in fully-fledged domesticity; cleaning and baking on Saturday and attending a friend's wedding on Sunday. It seems the wrong way round, but then it was a Jewish wedding. In central London. It felt all wrong wearing a dress, heels and a hat on Oxford Street. Will post more about the wedding when I have a bit more time, as it deserves a bit more detail.

Baked scones, two quiches and apple crumble on Saturday. The apples were from Mum & Dad's garden and the filling in the quiches came from our vegetable box, so all very healthy. L brought her handbag over for supper and finally received her birthday present (which was bought in time for said birthday, but somehow I never had it about my person whenever we've seen each other). All in all, a good day.

Off to WI tonight, should be an interesting evening. Sewing and nucleur waste disposal. What a combination!