Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Wise words from John Ruskin, in a letter to Charles Eliot Norton, 4 November 1860:

When I begin to think at all I get into states of disgust and fury at the way the mob is going on (meaning by mob, chiefly Dukes, crown princes, and such like persons) that I choke ; and have to go to the British Museum and look at Penguins till I get cool. I find Penguins at present the only comfort in life. One feels everything in the world so sympathetically ridiculous; one can’t be angry when one looks at a Penguin.

Friday, 11 September 2009


starbucks seems committed to making me think of you. whenever i go in there, the first song i hear on sitting down is always house of cards by radiohead. it's funny, because this is your least favourite song on the album; this is why it will always remind me of you. when it plays, i can hear you tell me - your voice overlapping thom yorke's - that you think it's an unspectacular track in the midst of the sublime. i can see your shrug of dismissal when i play it (because i love it and want to listen to it with you).

i am constantly surprised by this, even though it keeps happening. the little shock of remembering you, as though your hand (that i didn't see coming) had just touched my shoulder. as though i knocked for you the one time in ten you happened to be in, or awake, and the door was suddenly open, and you were standing there wearing a silly woollen hat.

our brains keep people wrapped in particular places, or poems, or songs, and with one word or note, with no warning, they come (uncontrollably, shockingly) swooping forward in half a second, sweep us off our feet. and we try to control or arrange these associations - alway without success. i remember one boyfriend and i choosing 'our song', trying to carve a little niche for ourselves in the chorus. it didn't work in the slightest; i could listen to teenage kicks for seventeen hours on end on not think of him once. and yet, this one song, that you don't even like, that we listened to together once, makes me catch my breath.

when it has finished, i listen to it again on my ipod to keep the feeling a tiny bit longer. it makes you clearer - brings you into focus - and i am worried that you are fading.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


it has been a long time since a what i wore post. voila - and yes, the moody face was part of the outfit. as you can see, my fringe is the same length as the entire history of humanity. i think it has some kind of sentience, coupled with a vendetta against me (since it does its best to blind me/make me walk out in front of cars). i am getting it cut in two weeks, and that day can't come soon enough.

i spent some of today in the british library, as i have done for many days recently. i get to do a morning commute, which i love. travelling on a just-after-rush-hour train is great, as the train isn't like a can of sardines, but it is still early enough for a few business type people to be journeying to work. when i am dressed somewhat smartly (translation: in a blazer) i pretend i too am an adult person with a proper job who Reads Newspapers and has Responsibilities (the job changes daily: today i worked in an small, eccentric architect's office, as a PA). the library visits are because i am doing some research for the Guardian newspaper. this is incredibly exciting because:
1) i love the guardian! it is the middle-class leftie paper of choice.
2) i get paid to sit around reading about kings and queens, picking the most quirky or scandalous things to write about.
3) um, did you see the two above points?

i love the british library. you get a seat number and you have to collect your books from the front desk (leaving me to imagine the labyrinth within. i do like searching about for books myself, but this is the one place i will embrace other people doing the fetching. sometimes things are better left to the imagination). there are reading rooms on three floors, in a kind of receding balcony arrangement; this means that one wall reaches from the bottom to the top, a white cliff face, giving the rooms an airiness and sense of magnitude. when the sun shines through the windows, it leaves little bars of light on this wall, like DNA coding. it is very lovely.

today i was reading about queen victoria, who is actually quite amusing, and william iv , who once complained that he missed england - because the nice westminster girls didn't give him the pox when he fucked them. oh, you dignified royals. i am slightly concerned about my ability to finish the project on time... i shall just breathe deeply and (thankyou, hitchhiker's guide) not panic.

Friday, 4 September 2009


last friday somebody stole my coffee.

wandering from euston to waterloo, i decided to curl up for an hour in caffe nero. i have started to drink soya milk in my coffee, and always feel silly asking for a white americano, which are black by definition. ah well. i ordered my drink, waited for them to make it, and watched the barista put it on the counter; the man who had ordered just before me took it.

oddly, i didn't feel i could say anything to him. i watched him walk to a table and settle down, then turned around and asked for another coffee. the barista was happy to oblige, muttering something along the lines of 'what kind of person can't tell the difference between a cappuccino and an americano?' - a very good point, seeing as one is covered in milky foam. this time, the cup didn't have a second's rest on the countertop before i snatched it up, raced away, and folded myself up into a squishy brown armchair.

soya milk acts very oddly in very hot coffee. it separates, from itself and the coffee, settling just under the liquid's surface. the milk particles jostle with each other, grouping together and constantly moving in tiny circles, the way starlings flock in the sky before roosting. dark veins run through these clouds, coffee for some reason untouched by the soya. looking into the cup, it is hard not to see a small brain, those dark coffee ribbons the sulci that ruffle the brain's surface.

considering this quite distinctive effect, as well as the nutty taste of soya, i did not believe that the man would fail to notice that he was not drinking a real-milk cappuccino. so i watched him. i watched him drink the entire cup of coffee, waiting for a look of confusion/disgust/anything to pass across his face. it never came. he stirred it, took sips, looked around, crumbled a muffin, sipped more, gulped down the last mouthfuls, and did not react in any way to the fact he was drinking something totally different to what he had ordered.

i hope he enjoyed it.

Friday, 14 August 2009


almost makes me want to smoke.

listening to: taken by trees, written by tracyanne campbell

Monday, 3 August 2009


recently i have been simultaneously busy and unbusy; that is, although i have nothing very productive to do (being an unemployed graduate) i seem to have no time. days fill up, pass by, and mostly i am left wondering what exactly i have been doing. photos are easier than trying to find the words, i think, so - recently (this means the past month and a half): 



exploring (on which i shall do a proper post)

and of course - 

add to the mixture: art, museums and books. i am reading my first sebald - how have i not before now? and now that i am, he seems to pop up everywhere i go, even the Tate galleries.

Sunday, 28 June 2009


today we went to the horniman museum in forest hill, perhaps my favourite museum in the whole of london town:

nice, nice.

Monday, 22 June 2009


sleeping is a skill, and one in which i feel unpracticed: recently my sleep has been more staccato than usual. my nighttime is a routine of sharp dreams and clock-checking half-consciousness. even with the window wide open, i wake up sweating, the bedclothes snake-coiled round my legs and my t-shirt half pulled off. i feel oddly violated, the victim of some ethereal assault: muscles hurting, breath shallow, body wet.

in my dreams, the metal stairs that spiral up the sides of buildings unwind, become gigantic mechanic millipedes; they are huge and heavy, but lithe, twisting fluid through the streets, with a terrible sound of grinding joints.  i am immobile, can do nothing but wait for them to reach me, and crush me. the sky starts to strobe, and with each cymbal flare the insects appear paradoxical- static yet always moving closer. and then suddenly, stood in a small room, with green chairs and floral curtains (pulled open to let in a desperate, dying, half-light) i watch real millipedes circle the floor around my feet, becoming and unbecoming shadow. they move so fast that my eyes can't fix them; they move so fast that i see them only in sound: a long, high, hissing, the noise of angry, boiling water.

wake up.

Friday, 22 May 2009


my life orbits coffee shops and libraries, the pull of caffine and books sending me in certain, slow arcs across the city. the staff at caffe nero can serve me before i order; although, since i always drink americanos, and not some complex concoction of cream, coffee and chocolate whipped up to a frenzy, there is little memory work to be done.

in the morning:

i leave my room as the market is being unpacked from the back of trucks, the frames of stalls being dressed by strong-looking boys in hoodies. A couple of men huddle round a van that sells hot drinks, steam rising from the cups in their cupped hands, and chatter from their lips. it is barely seven, but one of the cafe-restaurants is already unfolding out into the street, promising alfresco lunches- very continental- if the weather holds.

Sunday, 10 May 2009


this is what my justhandedin coursework looks like in wordcloud form:

Wordle: Untitled

by wordle


this is one of my most favourite photographs.

Sunday, 5 April 2009


stand dead centre of london bridge, and look down at the river. here, it stretches 265 metres wide, all brown and murky from the churned-up silt. that's what thames means: dark. darkness. it used to be far, far wider. shallower, too, but still daunting. count how many steps it takes to walk that bridge, times it by five and you'll get the idea. we hemmed and tamed it, building embankments and barriers to keep that dark water at a distance.

the city grew around this sprawling of water, with celts and romans and anglo-saxons all settling and resettling the land: Plowonidonjon, Londinium, Lundene. letters shift and disappear but something remains in each name, the thread of an idea, an echo of impossible water, saying: ‘too wide to bridge’. here, we cannot cross. the city is named for the thames. london is not people or buildings, but a memory of humans defeated by a river.

whenever i sit by the thames, i think of you, of us, years ago, bellies flat on the embankment wall, watching the water, watching it swell, and break. do you remember the boy we saw, how beautiful and sleek he was, like a fast running stream? and how, when he saw us staring at him, your hat, an old army cap you found in your garage, fell from your head and sailed downwards? you tried to catch it, arms flailing like those cartoon characters who run straight off a cliff edge and scramble in the air, trying to hold on to nothing, trying not to fall. by the time it reached the surface of the water, the boy had disappeared. later, breathless from running along the bank, following your hat until it got dragged under a boat-restaurant, we called him angel, spirit, nymph, and your hat a votive offering for us having seen what we were not meant to. it could be worse, you said, we could have lost our sight, been turned into spiders, been turned into men. the gods, you said, had a strange sense of justice.

in certain places, when the tide is out, i climb down onto the bed of the river, to be where the water was, will be, imagine being under it. i pick up shells, and later at home i put them to my ear and hear the river moving, embedded in me, keeping me here.


from the girls rock! movie, via frl.zucker.

Friday, 3 April 2009


my sister has red hair; people never believe we are related, because i apparantly look greek/italian/spanish/romanian (sometimes i think people just pick nationalities out of a hat and assign them to me), whilst she looks more like a renegade leprechaun. for as long as i can remember, i have wanted red hair, or jet black hair- it was a toss up between the two, and more and more often i come down on the ginger side.

despite my hair's determined brownness- even attempts to dye it fail miserably unless copius amount of bleach are involved- i do think i have the ginger gene. i'm 97% sure of this. in the absence of some genome reading instrument, my belief is based on a solid foundation of instinct and fingers-crossed hope.. though, i do have some pretty convincing evidence: pretty much whenever i see a ginger man, i think 'PROCREATE PROCREATE QUICK' regardless of his attractiveness, and despite the fact i do not want children. what else could this be except the deep urgings of my ginger gene, desperate to repopulate the (allegedly) flagging redhead population?

because redheads are, according to some, a dying breed: over the past few years, the rumour that gingers are going extinct keeps appearing, like some delphic prophecy. julia baum, a photographer and redhead, was inspired by this rumour (which has proved both false and remarkably persistant), and created a series of beautiful portraits 'as a way of documenting and preserving the legacy of redheads'. she continues:

'As redheads, we are used to being one in a crowd and regularly noted for our appearance. Experiencing life in this way from infancy through adulthood influences who we are. As a natural redhead, I know our hair color affects more than just our appearance. As only 1% of the entire human population, our distinctive coloring is a relevant topic from day one.'

i had come across some of the photographs before, ages back, but forgotten about them. i don't know how, because they are stunning.

see more here.

what i wore today:

nemo has heard of the ultimate accessory group on flickr, and is desperate to get involved. fame isn't everything, i've told her, but will she listen? no. she just wants her picture all over the internet.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


what i wore today:

inspired by:
aleksandr rodchenko

mark rothko

egon schiele


new camera obscura album. twentieth april. squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeee EEE EEEeeeeeeee eeeeeeeee. i have already downloaded the new single. verdict: squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee EEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeee eeee.

i think this calls for a 'musicians with great sounds AND great style' post, part the third. well, i think it's the third one. anyway, camera obscura. just like the christians use BC and AD to divide their calendar to recoognise the significance of jesus, i should use BCO (before camera obscura) and ACO (um, you can probably guess this one), to properly acknowledge the unenlightened, monochrome existence i lived before discovering their music. and then, when i saw pictures of them, i properly understood that they are SO UNBELIEVABLY COOL and that i really want to be friends with them.

i have to admit, i do have a soft spot for geeky, unpolished looking bands. it makes them seem more real, like they want to write and play music rather than be popstars.

oh hi, giant swan brooch. you are the best. oh hi tracyanne campbell, i have a massive crush on you.

why do i not have that furcollared coat? why do i look hideous in berets? could that teddybear be more endearing? so many questions.

songs to play on repeat:
Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken
let's get out of this country
books written for girls
happy new year

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


words cannot quite describe how much i love this necklace

it's based on prokofiev's peter and the wolf. i don't know the story that well, though i did catch a splendid stop motion version a couple of christmases ago. from what i remember, the bird has a damaged wing and cannot fly, hence the balloon and rope, and the fat ginger cat wants to eat the two birds, and the wolf wants to eat everyone. tch. they should just take up veganism and have nut roast, it would save all the palava.

look, there's even the duck in his belly! oh,what detail.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009


k.a. applegate changed my life.

i must have been nine, or ten, when i first came across applegate's animorphs series, and it captivated me. the story goes something like this: after meeting a dying alien, a group of teenagers are given the power to morph into any creature they touch, and have to use this power to save the world from a body-snatchers style alien invasion that is happening, in secret, all around them. the bad aliens (yeerks) have greater numbers, more advanced technology and a whole friggin alien empire behind them; the american teenagers have pluck, the power of nature and some pacifist, canine-like android friends.

guess who wins.

okay, okay, so the unlikeliness of the final outcome isn't the real point, i know. there are some brilliant ideas on the uncertain nature of morality in war; the dehumanisation of oneself and one's enemy; sanity; how different individuals react and cope with war (each book is told in first-person, and applegate cycles through the six protagonists across the series). perhaps more important than this thought provoking, moral-questioning aspect, however, is the fact that THEY CAN TURN INTO ANIMALS. how fucking cool is that. yeah, they almost got killed in every book, their families were hunted down, they were traumatised by all the death etc etc but they got to be cats! all kinds of cats, from domesticated kitties to big old tigers! how hard can war be anyway, when you have intervals of felineness?

okay so obviously i dont actually think that, but the amazing coolness of animal-morphing was a big part of the books' appeal. i was a bit of a loner child, a little bit at odds with myself, and the idea of transformation was arresting; the descriptions of experiencing the world through the body of a totally different creature had such a powerful effect on me as to be almost intoxicating. i spent hours imagining myself as the different characters, being a hawk, a wolf , a cockroach with and through them. i used to make lists of the top five animals i would choose to become, if someone came along and told me they'd give me the power to turn into five different animals, because you never know, it might happen, it so might happen, at any moment soon, right, right? i even remember ambitiously trying to turn into a peregrine falcon one afternoon, just in case i unknowingly had the morphing talent (okay, so there may have been concrete reason for my loner-ness).

like anything you love as a child, i grew out of the books. i forgot about the animorphs and their battles. but yesterday, reading my book about whales and, more specifically, about the sperm whale, i suddenly remembered the total, uncompromising love i had once had for these books (the mysterious sperm whale was often on my top-five list; they are puzzling, amazing creatures, and we know very little about them). it took my breath away, that forgotten love, and for the rest of the evening i basked in it, carefully prodded and poked at it, laughed and gasped again at the characters and stories.

it was really wonderful. here's to old favourites, to all those tales and fictional friends that make up a part of life, and a part that is just as important as all those people and events in 'reality'. what books/films etc etc did anyone out there adore as a child, what characters were as close as friends?


my sister gave me a waterstones gift voucher for my birthday- with forty pounds on it, wow. and my brother gave me thirty pounds worth of book tokens. that's seventy pound of books. seven-oh. hang on a sec whilst i explode from happiness. now i have to work out how to spend it....

i bought philip hoare's leviathan or, the whale a couple of days ago, and today i got the bell jar by sylvia plath (i have been intending to buy it for about a year now, i do things very slowly), and ordered the cheese and the worms by carlo ginzburg. i love browsing in bookshops (yes, even the big corporate chain ones), even (especially) when i don't have anything particular to search for; i like the messy rainbow of bookspines, the jumble of fonts, the little handwritten staff recommendations- alas, this only seems to be a feature of waterstones stores. plus, at the moment there is a cute guy working in my local (i talk of bookshops like they are pubs...oh dear) even if he does tuck his tshirt into his jeans. oh cute bookshop boy, why do you do that?

the only problem i have is that my local waterstones is far too small. when i say this, please bear in mind my slightly skewed version of small; after all, it has two floors, and i spent about 45 minutes milling around in there today...still, compared to the mammoth inner london stores, it is but a baby. i was fantastically pleased, therefore, to find out that i can use my giftcard ONLINE. i do not have to rely on the limited stock of the nearest waterstones. oh the wonders of the internet! i prompty ordered the book of other people, edited by zadie smith; i borrowed this from the library a while back and it is glorious, but apparantly not popular enough for my suburban waterstones.

have i mentioned waterstones enough to apply for advertising fees yet?

now i have nought to do but sit and await its arrival. let's hope royal mail doesn't lose it, or misdirect it, or decide that packages are far too much hassle to deliver because, you know, they're heavy and all.

this is what i wore today:

the little darling on the ladder is nemo. she is the loveliest, dribbliest little cat in the world.

Sunday, 29 March 2009


i woke up at twenty to nine this morning, lazed around in bed for ten minutes (you know, that lovely bit of time between waking and moving that involves nothing but duvet appreciation), got up, went to the loo, then rolled downstairs for a hello-world-good-morning cup of coffee, just as the clock was chiming ten.

headspun to look at clock.

what are you doing, clock, i said.

dad, what is the clock doing, i said, why does it think it it ten o clock?

thoughts in head: have i gone mad did i black out did i actually just wee for an hour it was just quarter to nine definitely nine but i just heard the ten o clock bird (NB. our kitchen clock chimes with a different birdsong for each hour. they sound more like gary numan studio outtakes than birds).

dad, have i gone mad?

dad stands there with his thoughtful face on, hmmm, i wonder what could have happened, what could possibly explain this.

i sit at the kitchen table going thorugh every possible way i could have just not noticed an hour disappear. being quite a worrisome and imaginitive person, the list is long and somewhat unlikely. most of the situations involve injury and/or fatality.

dad stands there looking worried by his daughter's possible brain rupture/insanity/memory loss.

i sit at the kitchen table getting more and more frantic and confused.

dad stands there.

dad stands there, and waits a full five minutes before telling me the clocks went forward this morning, and i'm not mad or concussed, and that i have not been drugged in order to have my DNA harvested by a mad scientist to create a clone that would one day seek to kill me.

HO HO HO. evil git. he was so pleased with that joke.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


my mum handed me a bundle of old postcards yesterday, said that she thought i might like to keep some of them ; my, she was so right:

the insect ones are my favourites, i love the colours of them, and the beetles themselves are just beautiful creatures. it's made me want to watch david attenborough's life in the undergrowth again (who knew that slug sex could be so eerily beautiful, and a bit weird, and a bit icky, all at the same time? david attenborough enriches my life SO MUCH). the righthand beetle is my bookmark at the moment, a highly coveted position.

tried to work today, but my heart wasn't in it, my eyes fluttered away from the page every five seconds like indecisive butterflies. not good.

what i wore today: i spent a very long time trying to find somewhere in the house with enough light and space to take a full length photo- we are having building work done so everything is in chaos. i bounced around on all the beds in the house, but my parents' won out in the end. i felt like some strange goldilocks...

Monday, 23 March 2009


the good weather broke today. laying in my bed this afternoon, reading, i watched as bluegrey clouds colonised the sky, squat and hunched, and listened to the rain's steady drum.

the wind changed too, became spiteful and sharp, a wronged friend. walking back from the train station this evening- i went to see dancing at lughnasa, at the old vic- my fringe my coat my legs were slapped and tugged, my flesh made tense as an exam. at the top of the hill near my house, i started to run, trying to outpace the cold cold punching air. i flew downhill, legs spun wild, like the cars that highspeed down the road late at night, like the bike i could see freewheeling just in front of me. running fast- too fast- crossing roads- not slowing- hoping for no cars- i imagined falling, saw my body slow arc through the air, saw the concrete of the pavement hit my cheek.

suddenly i am in cornwall, a summertime years back, racing down a hill on my bike, going fast, too fast, no brakes fast, terrified and overjoyed at the race, the pace of it, the out of control speeding down into the valley. i fall, of course, when the smoothconcrete of the road changes to gravel, a slipsliding surface, uncertain beneath the wheels. i fall to the left, graze my knee, thigh and arm, stop breathing for the shock of stone on skin. my whole body shakes as i walk back to our holiday cabin.

the wind seems less cruel at high speeds. i reached the bottom of the hill, slowed to a walk, breathless, intact. i looked up and found orion, the only constellation i know. walking to my door, i could smell the blossom on the trees that line my street.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


today i turned twentyone. it was bright and sunny, and i went to osterley house, an old manor with gardens, lakes and cow-filled meadows.

i found myself walking behind the most amusing dog i have ever seen. he less walked, more waggled along, bottom bobbing up and down like an apple in water. when he came to the edge of a puddle his owner shouted 'no! no! not in the puddle. stay. STAY! NO, STAY!'; unperturbed by this, he went and stood right in its centre.

inside the garden house:

the temple of pan (because who doesn't have a neoclassical garden cabin in which to pass the spring and summer days):

by the lake:

mum- 'pretend to be reading, look interested':

what i wore today:

what i wore today, pt.2:

(oh, to be an eighteenth century man!)