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.