Monday, May 28, 2007


This will be my last post for a few days, as we have now got to sort out all the tedious details of swapping our telephone line and broadband accounts as well as going to work (that is on the assumption that I can find any of my work clothes in the numerous bags piled in the corner of the bedroom), cleaning the old flat and attending the Christmas Ball planning meeting that I have lined up this week. Also to be fitted in somewhere is making a start on the unpacking, attending a 27 birthday party for a friend, helping another friend move house and sleeping. I think it looks set to be a busy week. Good job that I went to bed at 8.30 yesterday evening and slept for almost 12 hours in preparation.

Hope that everyone is having a nice bank holiday weekend and that it has stopped raining. We are going to have afternoon tea at my parents house this afternoon and off load an old wardrobe. I am rather looking forward to seeing them.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Moving On

So, finally, after three van loads, we are in the new flat. Thankfully, two wonderful friends helped us out with some of the packing and heavy lifting, so M and I didn't have to manage on our own. Even though we filled an entire bag for the charity shop and many many bags of recycling and rubbish, the new flat is absolutely full. I am resigned to the fact that I am a horder; how many other girls can say that they own an entire bin full of back issues of Vogue? And that is only the copies that I have saved since living in London as all the other are being stored at my parents house. Or that they have enough of those paper bags with handles to fit all their shoe boxes, shoes, books, folders, underwear and other miscallaneous items in? In fact, I had so many of those paper bags that I even brought with me a bag of bags. Yet somehow, I just can't part with them. I'm making myself use them though and then recycle them, so gradually I am culling my collection.

The flat is lovely: we have a full sized wash basin, shower, a bathroom door, ceilings which are not only intact but painted and with beautiful victorian decoration and an actual sitting room. It's wonderful. Less wonderful is the burglary of the house with which we share the garden, but we have been burgled before, we coped and claimed on the insurance. It was not the end of the world.

All in all, an excellent weekend, despite the rain. We even made it to a friend's birthday party last night at a bar in town, albeit rather late and as some of the other guests were leaving. But still, we managed to move house and go to a pary on the same day, something I have never managed before.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Jeeves & Wooster

When packing becomes a little too tedious, what better than a spot of Jeeves and Wooster to distract us for an hour or so? Makes me wish Jeeves would do some of the organisation for me.

Cyber Stalking

Sadly the stalker which I mentioned who has been bothering Rachel is still at large and causing problems. Rachel has written about this here but also says the following:

"Okay, here's where you can help...
If you see her - she is believed to be using internet cafes in London and periodically travelling to Oxford - please do not approach her.

Do not respond to her blog.

Instead, please immediately call your local police or CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 with a description of her and her location, (grab a pic on your mobile if you can) , and say that you have a sighting of Felicity Jane Lowde, convicted stalker/harasser - who is wanted for arrest and sentencing.

(Maybe someone can make blog buttons? And perhaps bloggers can pass this on?
I will try and get some more recent pictures so people can report sightings of her to the police.)

Remember, stalking and harassment are crimes, and she was found guilty under the ten-year-old 1997 Protection From Harassment Act. Voluntary or imposed internet use regulation codes do not work with someone like Lowde.

Therefore I say that the best way to protect free speech and blogging from the damage done to it by people like Felicity Lowde is to use the internet for good purposes. We do not need to be regulated, we can look after ourselves and our own, and we can self-regulate. Here is an opportunity to help the police bring a woman who brings blogging into disrepute, to justice, and to do so safely and legally.

Please do not do anything that could jeopardise her arrest and sentencing. Please do not respond to her or anything she says. Please just help the police do their job of bringing her to justice.



(quoted from

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Au Revoir Primrose Hill

And so, at last, the time has come. I have always known that we were living on borrowed time, M and I, in this run down little flat. I have kept looking the other way, finding other things to occupy my time with, but the end is nigh. On Saturday we move out our possessions and next week we hand over the key.

Yes, our time in Primrose Hill has come to an end. It happens to all good things (and the not so good) eventually. I will miss having 4 pubs within a block of our house, having Melrose & Morgan, the farmers market, Primrose Bakery and Shiksuki all on our street and the park so near. I won't miss the people, the unfriendly neighbours, the expense, the traffic wardens or the surly shop keepers. I won't miss our flat too much either, enjoyable though our time has been. Our regular Friday and Staurday night parties will probably have to stop as well.

But before the moving comes the packing. I have been trying to do a little bit here, a little bit there, to ease the burden and prevent a repeat of my last move, which took all night. To no real avail. No matter how much I do, the more there seems to be to do. And it always seems to descend into shouting. I must try harder. Baby steps, tells me. I'm starting to worry that I should be sprinting or else I'll run out of time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Boyarde Messenger & Henrie Haldane at artspace galleries

Panoramic #1 by Boyarde Messenger

So after I finished work this evening, instead of crawling home and collapsing in front of The F Word, I headed to meet a friend in Mayfair and attend Boyarde Messenger's new exhibition. Avid readers of my blog may remember a past exhibition of hers which I attended and was so inspired by her teddy bare collection that I took my own version for M's Christmas present.

Photograph by Boyarde Messenger

The exhibition also featured the work of Henrie Haldane. I thought her work was enjoyable but rather fell short of some of the artists that she reminded me of, namely Kurt Jackson and Paul Klee.

Fulham WI in Stella Magazine

Attended the May meeting of the Fulham WI last night. Was an interesting mix of speakers - a couple of 'modern day pilgrims' who told us about some of the journeys that they have completed following old pilgrim trails in Europe and what they have got out of the trips - followed by Marcus from the London Kaballah centre. He was an interesting and compelling speaker who drew you into his arguments rather successfully. To my mind though, he set up many questions for which he never managed to provide answers.

And, if you were so inclined, you could read a little more about the Women's Institute and it's more modern, urban, London face here, in the Sunday Telegraph's Stella magazine. There is also a small mention of Marmaladya as well. The article features my branch of the WI, Fulham, as well as the Islington branch. They have their photo tags wrong though, as the picture above is of some of my friends from the Fulham branch, not the Islington one as they claim.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Goodbye Mr Blair

And so, after months of speculation, Tony Blair has announced that he will stand down as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007, ten years after he was elected. The BBC news featured a slightly rose-tinted look at his life in power, accompanied by the Oasis track Don't look back in Anger and claim that after 10 years the general public will know whether they think Blair was a success.

Which got me thinking - what does this mean to me? So here goes, the Labour years as relevant to me. I have done my main period of growing up to the backdrop of Blair; I was a child before he came to power, I am an adult now he is leaving.

In 1997 I was 15. It was the end of my fourth year, one year away from GCSEs. Politics didn't mean a huge amount to me in 1997. I remember my parents staying up to find out the election results and there being a general sense of excitment - that there was a new party; a new vision for the future. A New Labour. It didn't mean too much though - my knowledge of the conservative years was gained later, at university. But for me, well, I suppose I was more concerned with teenage issues than national ones. Getting a boyfriend, getting good grades, gymnastics, sailing, friends, parties. Those were my daily issues, not politics. I didn't really give university much thought, other than the fact I knew I wanted to go to Exeter and I wanted to read English. Fees weren't something that even entered my mind. Maybe they should have done. Two of the schools in the area merged; our gymnastics club had to be moved. Local issues - national problems, but again, not something that really bothered me.

In 1998 I started sixth form; I started to become more aware of national issues, of politics, of economics. More aware, but uninterested. Too many distractions. I suppose I was aware that the Americans had attacked Iraq, but if I was, I don't remember. A levels, parties, drinking, learning to drive and university applications were more prevelant.

In 2000 I went up to university. My parents paid the fees and I signed up to the student loans company to pay for the rest. In 2001 foot and mouth disease struck and I worried for farmers, particularly my aunt and uncle. I voted in my first election (more out of a sense of obligation to women dying for the vote than because I favoured one party or that I was particularly interested). In September that year I sat in a restaurant in Gran Canaria and watched terrorists fly planes into the World Trade Centre. I didn't know where it was until Bush came onto the television to make a speech as the commentary was in Spanish. My main thoughts centred on friends and family - we had lived in America for 2 years in the late 1980s and we had many friends still there, as well as worrying that a simultaneous attack would occur in the UK. My flight was the first one allowed back into London and I suddenly felt very small and vulnerable in a large world where I had very little control.

In 2002 I moved into a house in Exeter with 3 friends. One was studying for an MA in Middle Eastern Politics, another dating a Royal Engineer. We sat together on the sofa one evening in March 2003 glued to BBC New 24 watching the allied troops invading Iraq, wondering how it was that England had become involved in such a war, and praying desperately that Stuart would survive his time in Iraq unscathed. 4 years on, Stuart has returned but many other of our friends have qualified as officers and are currently in Iraq leading troops in form and another. My interest in politics increased through personal fear and an amazing resource of information living in the next room.

In 2004 I moved to London, to start Law School. The government announced top up fees for university and I took out loans to pay for my continuing education. Interest rates were still low - I gave little thought to what would happen if they started to rise (which of course they did and still are).

In 2005 I graduated from further education and started to look for a job. In an emotional few weeks, we went to the Glastonbury festival and joined in with the Make Poverty History campaign, watched people protest at the G8 summit, celebrated when we won the 2012 Olympic bid and then sat in front of the TV for an entire day on the day when 4 British men who had been known to MI5 blew themselves up on the tube network, killing 52, injuring many many more and affecting every single Londoner. I made a promise to my grandfather to get on the tube again, which I did, but it still didn't stop me walking everywhere for the next few weeks. On 21 July, I was sat in the law school library when the second wave of bombs hit. I had a call from my sister in Spain before I could even tell my mum that I was ok. In our consumer driven, media hyped generation, news travels fast. Later in 2005 I watched as David Cameron was elected leader of the conservative party and I began to think about politics in relation to me, and which party I actually wanted to vote for. I still don't know.

In 2006 I joined the Women's Institute. In July I started this blog. I was more worried about issues such as global warming and how we could all do our bit to reduce it than I was interested in national politics. I made sure that I was more informed; I read papers, websites, blogs, opinions. I discussed every issue with friends and family but I can't really say that my view of Labour and of Blair was anything more than ambivilent. We went to the St John's College garden party and my father commented that it was probably for the best that Blair didn't show up. Members of the Labour party were questionned on the 'cash for honours scandal'. I worried about whether I would ever find a training contract, about interest rates and house prices; whether I would be able to afford to have a child or go on holiday.

And now, in 2007, I am a trainee solicitor, with bills and debts, a rented flat and an oyster card. I am more cynical, more aware and it is only recently I have started to use the tube again without thinking twice. Interest rates have sunk and risen again; I know that the NHS is better than it was, yet my friends who are nurses and doctors still complain of the long hours, poor pay and shambolic junior doctor application systems. I am able to see my doctor if I turn up and wait, but I can't get an appointment until the next week. I pay almost £7 for a prescription. Yet I know that the NHS is better than it was (although I can't understand why my sister at university in Wales gets free prescriptions). I did have a pension but in changing jobs I have to transfer it (there is no pension at my new job) and I don't trust the state pension scheme.

I believe Tony Blair when he says "hand on heart, I did what I thought was right". Hindsight is a wonderful thing; it is lucky for many of us that we don't have the press and public scrutunising our every word, move and decision. But then, I suppose our decisions and mistakes have slightly fewer repucussions. I find it hard to decide, one way or another, whether Blair has done a good job. It is impossible to please all of the people all of the time. I can't say that invading Iraq was a mistake, as I cannot for certain say what would have happened if we hadn't. I think the world is less safe, more unsettled. I think people are, or believe themselves to be, more aware and less willing to be spoon fed information without questionning it. People are more eager to demonstrate their opinions, to march, to write, to discuss, to sign petitions. But whether a different Prime Minister or different leading party will make England any better, I don't know.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Remembering Morocco (4)

An enforced day off, so finally catching up with some of the things I have been meaning to post for months. First up, the rest of our trip to Morocco.

But after four days of wandering through souks and sitting in gardens, we decided that it was time to do something a bit different. We rose early on the fifth morning, earlier than usual, about the same time that we would do at home to go to work. By 8.30am we were sitting in Djemma El Fna, waiting for Omar to pick us up. All we knew was that we were going for 3 days. One night we were to stay in a riad, the other a tent. We knew we were heading over the High Atlas, across the desert the other side, eventually for the sand seas of Erg Chebbi, near to the Algerian border.

We had been told 8.30am. It came and it went. The minutes ticked by towards 9am and we began to wonder if it had been such a good idea after all. And then, there was a white landie pulling up. A man jumped out. He loaded our bags in and we climbed aboard. An English voice greeted us.

"Hi" she said.

"I'm Fizz".

And that was the last time we doubted Omar.

And so ended the last entry, which can be read in full here.

I paused, awkwardly balanced on the step of the landie, not yet used to the height off the ground, looking up at her. She was wearing Gucci glasses and the early morning sun was reflecting off them. Blonde, pretty up turned nose. I suddenly felt scruffy in my already grubby trousers and plain long sleeved yellow top. I could feel M, impatiently waiting behind me, eager to get in and for us to leave.

"Hi" I replied, "I'm Rachel".

I hauled myself into the back seat and tried to find a place to stash my rucksack.

"This is Ben" she said, gesturing to a straw hat on some blonde straggly curly surfer hair, sat facing away from us in the front seat.

And so began our strange journey to the Sahara. We left the small, red, dusty streets of the medina and joined the wider grey straighter roads of the outskirts. No real road markings, occasionally a set of traffic lights, the purpose of which was hard to ascertain. Bikes of all shapes and sizes flooded past on the edge of the road. Palm trees lined the sides, their roots pushing up cracked and barren soil. We turned towards the mountains in the distance, the snow caps which were visible from all round Marrakesh.

And then, we were pulled over by the police. It was the first time, it was certainly not the last. They wanted papers. Our driver got out and they argued. I thought we were going to have to turn back, but then, as suddenly as it started, there were smiles, patting on shoulders and we were back on the move.

The road began to get steeper and we started to climb through the foothills of the Atlas mountains. We paused every now and then by the side of the road to look at villages built into the side of the mountain, clustered around river beds, to take photos and to use progressively worse squat loos. At each stop, people would appear, as if by magic, trying to sell us fossils, jewellery, tagines. And we would take photos. Omar, our guide, told us to pretend to be Japanese and take many photos.

The air began to get cooler and patches of snow appeared on the ground. The drivers knew the roads well, too well, I thought on occasion, as they overtook on bends of a road with no barriers and a several hundred metre drop to one side. But we made it across the pass safely and were soon dropping down the other side of the mountains and back onto flat land. A complete contrast to the mountain range - this was red, dusty, cracked flat-ish dirt.

We drove for hours across the desert, there were no roads where we were driving, just an occasional barrell or marker. Every now and then there would be a piece of human created rubbish -if it hadn't been for that, there was no sign of human life as far as the eye could see. Until the land got slightly hillier and we rounded a bend; a small settlement appeared out of no-where and we had reached our first destination: Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah.

As we all piled out of the landie, Omar and the two drivers watched with amusement the preparations of 2 english girls. Handbags, suncream, water, a hat. It's hot out there in the desert, you know, our english skins aren't as used to the sun as you Berbers. But wait, lip gloss Fizz, surely not. Omar leads us down towards the river, winding through the small lanes of the little settlement. Suddenly we pop out on the river bank and stand for a moment, taking in the imposing majesty of the kasbah on the other bank, before our attention is drawn to the procession of donkeys in the fore-ground, ferrying passengers from one side of the bank to the other. Some of them seem a little small for the work - one man is so big that his feet drag in the water and his guide is almost having to carry the donkey across for him.

This kasbah is now used for filming; Gladiator and Troy both used it to film town scenes. In the past, this is where the pasha used to live with his hareem. The construction of the buildings is remarkably simple, but is why it does not last forever and has to be re-built; it is red mud mixed with straw to make a sort of concrete and turned into the walls. Bamboo poles are then laid over the top and covered with more of the concrete mix to make the roof.

And then, just as quickly as we arrived, we were off, driving again through Quarzarzate and pass the film studios, through the valley of the roses and finally reaching the Dades Gorge at sunset. We stayed the night in a small riad/guesthouse which was right on the bank of the river. Lying in bed we could hear the water rushing past, but we were too tired to stay awake for long. Besides, in the morning we would be setting off again for the Erg Chebbi sand seas.


The news this week seems to have been dominated in part by the story of the 3 year old girl who was abducted from a locked room in a hotel complex in Portugal whilst her parents were elsewhere eating supper with a group of friends, returning to check on them every half an hour. Now, I'm not a parent, and I know that balances have to be struck, but, to my mind, a 3 year old is too little to be left on her own for half an hour, even if she is asleep. I have read that this child is 'extra special' in that she was conceived via IVF. Well, I think all children are special and once one is born, they have to come first, or at least their safety does. A child can achieve a lot in 30 minutes. It might wake up, terrified that it's parents are not there and be scared for another 29 minutes waiting for them to come back; it might get up and wander about, potentially harming itself in some fashion. I admit that it is an unlikely senario that in that 30 minutes it could be abducted (indeed the reason these things clog up the papers for so long when they do happen is because they are so rare) but it is still a possibility that something could happen.

The parents were at a holiday centre which apparently offers a babysitting service, which they hadn't chosen to use. It just strikes me, not being a parent, that if you have kids then you either take them with you, ask someone else to look after them, or you stay in with them. Surely the fact that you have to return to the room every thirty minutes throughout the meal negates any positives that leaving the child alone in the first place offers? I don't know, because I don't have any children, but I think it borders on irresponsible, leaving babies and toddlers alone for up to thirty minutes whilst you, the parent, do something unnecessary.

I don't think that abduction of the 'abandoned' child is the justified punishment though, no parent deserves that. I feel desperately sorry for this child's parents - I am sure that they were simply doing what they thought was the best compromise on their holiday in Portugal. I hope that she is found quickly and safely - although she has been missing for a week, kidnapped children have been found alive, so they must not lose hope. I bet they could do without premiership footballers jumping on the publicity wagon and pleading for the child's safe return though.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bank Holiday

I love bank holiday weekends. Three days off work in a row, followed by only 4 working days until the next weekend. Barbeques seemed to be the main theme this time round. One each day.

Watched Arsenal Ladies team win the female FA Cup Final this afternoon, beating Charlton to win all the possible ladies football titles this season. Was rather an odd affair, ladies football. Somehow it doesn't really seem 'right'. I was, at least, expecting them to behave like ladies, even if they play like men, but no. There was spitting, there was arrogant celebrating after a goal was scored (yes, Kelly Smith, I am talking about you, pointing to the back of your shirt, repeatedly) and there was undignified chanting of 'Champ-ee-o-nay' when they were awarded their cup. It was all rather embarassing really. A rather sad portrayal of women showing they can do everything a man can (except be a father). And then the commentary. Stating the b***** obvious the entire time. Such as "2-1 down is an easier mountain to climb than 3-1 down" and other such pithy remarks courtesy of Gavin Peacock. All in all it would have been enough to make me turn it off it it hadn't been so awful it was actually rather amusing.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Quick Update

Just over a week into my Training Contract and things seem to be going well. Suffering rather from a cold today but still managing to be at my desk on time and enjoying the (much heavier) work load. As it is only the second week I am also benefiting from still having enough time to take a whole hour for lunch - have been sitting in a garden and enjoying the sun whilst reading a book.

Am also managing to get away from the office at a fairly decent hour and this evening met a friend for a quick bite to eat. Have returned home and the boys are out watching Manchester United lose so I have the place to myself. It could do with a bit of tidy up but as I feel a little under the weather I really can't be bothered to do more than a cursory tidy. I think I will make another cup of tea and eat some of my easter eggs whilst watching Desperate Housewives. (It's either that or start researching some points on Contract Law and I think that is best left until tomorrow).

Lastly, something I meant to write about last week but never got round to. Had the misfortune to catch a BBC1 programme regarding the making/putting together/hash that is Grazia magazine. Grazia is a magazine that I used to read regularly but following a promise to my father I now no longer buy, reading it only if I find it on the tube or if C lends it to me. No more. After watching that programme I don't think I will ever buy it again. No matter how tempting the cover line. It is put together by a bunch of women who are boring, arrogant and sheep-like, full of their own self-importance and who spend the weekend cutting things out of the papers so they can feature them in the magazine. They have a folder where they fill up the pages with things that are happening but are so deviod of actual information that they are thankful when (for example, as in the show) they are rung by a 'contact' in Thailand to say that Kate and Pete took part in a beach ceremony. They spend the vast majority of the weekly budget on grainy paparazzi shots. They claim that their main competitors are Vogue, Elle and Marie-Claire magazines; I would assert that their main competitors are the tabloid rags and free London papers. The editor, Jane Bruton, is a whiny middle aged woman who alone was possibly responsible for my dislike of the programme and magazine the most. She came across as shallow and uninteresting, feigning a mucking in perspective by choosing to sit at an open plan desk rather than her own office. She must be something right though, as Grazia wins award after award and sells hundreds of thousands of copies a week. Enough, rant over.