Monday, 28 February 2011

one hundred and seven

When my mum came back to London to celebrate her birthday, she stopped off at her sister's to pick up a big box of old photos.

It is strange to think of people I know or knew - my grandparents, my mum and her siblings, my mum's best friend - being alive in decades that I cannot help but think of as slightly fictional.

My granddad and uncle

one hundred and six

Animals that I have recently encountered in the street

the friendliest cat, my street

A white rabbit, Stratford upon Avon

Friday, 25 February 2011

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

one hundred and four

After lavish Christmas come the lean days of Lent
when the flesh is tested with fish and simple food.
Then the world's weather wages war on winter:
cold shrinks earthwards and clouds climb;
sun-warmed, shimmering rain comes showering
onto meadows and fields where flowers unfurl,
and woods and grounds wear a wardrobe of green.
Birds burble with life and build busily
as summer spreads, settling on slopes as
                                          it should.
from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, trans. Simon Armitage

Oh, summer.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

one hundred and three

This morning, the train to work was so warm I almost fainted. When I found a seat, I cleared the condensation from the windows and realised I was wiping away other people's breath.

Listening to (and pretending to be in the mid-nineties):

Monday, 21 February 2011

one hundred and two

The week ahead:
  1. A feminist meetup in a pub in Southwark. So excited!
  2. A trip to the Science Museum, but in the evening and adults only. If you've ever been to the Science museum in London: imagine Launchpad, with no children hogging all the fun. Oh yeah. There's even speed dating (because every adult event has to be about finding romance. Sigh. Saying that, I bet I end up doing it).
  3. Something, somewhere with Lizzie (this counts for well organised in my messy head).
  4. Maybe some music in a church on Saturday.
In other news, I applied for a job today. My fingers and toes are twisted and cramped from being crossed.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

one hundred and one

I have started to notice people on my commute, or walking round the market on my lunch break - though I haven't quite reached the smiling-at-attractive-strangers point, yet. It feels good.

Tonight I am listening to The National (late to the party, but how amazing is High Violet?) and writing the letters and emails I have put off for too long (as well as watching Glee. Yes, I know). Is there much better than getting something through the post?

My wonderful friend Jennie sent the biggest bunch of white roses and a fruit (plus yellow pepper and goblet) basket to my office on Valentine's Day; it made the day beautiful. Sometime all the hollywood focus on finding The One makes me forget that friendships are just as crucial. Romance isn't the only thing worth having.

one hundred

Today's Guardian has some nice pictures of the work of Saul Bass. My favourites:


half planning my summer holiday to amsterdam already... any recommendations?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


I've been listening to a lot of Bonnie Prince Billy this evening - why have I not before? Will Oldham writes beautiful lyrics, has a heartbreaking voice and perhaps the best beard in music (why yes, that is crucial and relevant).

A mixed day, today. I am scared that I am not good enough to stop hurt turning into hatred.

Monday, 14 February 2011


every word is shaped by the mouth that speaks it. physically, of course - the tongue rolling sounds and pushing them through open lips - but more than that: each person attaches their own little significances to every word.

speech, a code to decipher, and it is much harder than we are led to believe. so many layers: a past event that frames the way a person conceptualises a word; an imagined future hanging from the letters of a particular phrase (integral to one person, invisible - or nonexistent - to another). how do we ever understand each other? or is the idea of shared language little more than false comfort?

we say the same words all the time, we overlap and seem to agree. but a word is almost meaningless when its consequences - and words should always have consequences - are not similarly perceived by the people using it.

So what should we do? define as we go along? each have a personal dictionary to prevent speaking at cross purposes? to prevent misunderstanding and disappointment?

Or just speak, and hope?

Saturday, 12 February 2011


I should have known, when he said he wanted to be with me but quoted a song about love that won't work, in spite of everything.

Friday, 11 February 2011


I'm off to Stratford-upon-Avon for a weekend adventure, as the Royal Shakespeare Company is having a costume sale (I will be able to afford a bootlace from a 1986 production of King Lear, I'm sure). The press release mentioned Egyptian headresses; if I don't come back looking like Theda Bara I will be disappointed.

1917: Promotional portrait of Theda Bara (1885-1955) wearing an Egyptian headdress and breast plates with a snake design for director J Gordon Edwards' film, 'Cleopatra'.

Theda Bara (1885 - 1955) posing for promotional pictures for director J Gordon Edwards' film, 'Cleopatra'.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


I'm a bit late to the party, but I came across this song today, an offering from Beck's Record Club (Beck! I loved you! you turned out to be a scientologist. what is that all about?). The idea of the club is that group of musicians come together, record an album in a day and post the results online.

This is a version of INXS's Never Tear Us Apart, by Liars, Annie Clark and Daniel Hart from St. Vincent, Sergio Dias from Os Mutantes and Brian Lebarton. And it is glorious.

What are you favourite cover songs? Any that you (gasp) prefer to the original?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


I spent a few hours of Sunday wondering around my local library (picking up books, putting them back, touching spines, judging by covers) - yes, my library is open on a Sunday, because it is great. I love being able to pick up a book (because I've vaguely heard of the author, or it has an intriguing title) and know I could take it home for free.

If you don't live here in Britain (or even if you do), you might not know that our public services are being stripped back by a Tory-led government glad to be able to reduce the state with - supposedly - a good economic justification.

One of the upshots of this is that - depending on your local authority - you might find your local library being closed. Cuts have to be made, you see, and in some areas a library may not be seen as crucial. The Government have told local councils the amount they have to save, and the councils theselves have to decide what services to lose. Cases will be made; services pitted against one another in bids to secure funding.

It is terrifying. I do not know what my country will look like in four years time. This speech by Philip Pullman (full transcript here) is amazing, powerful and sums up everything that scares me much better than I ever could.
'It’s imported the worst excesses of market fundamentalism into the one arena that used to be safe from them, the one part of our public and social life that used to be free of the commercial pressure to win or to lose, to survive or to die, which is the very essence of the religion of the market. Like all fundamentalists who get their clammy hands on the levers of political power, the market fanatics are going to kill off every humane, life-enhancing, generous, imaginative and decent corner of our public life. I think that little by little we’re waking up to the truth about the market fanatics and their creed. We’re coming to see that old Karl Marx had his finger on the heart of the matter when he pointed out that the market in the end will destroy everything we know, everything we thought was safe and solid. It is the most powerful solvent known to history. “Everything solid melts into air,” he said. “All that is holy is profaned.”

Market fundamentalism, this madness that’s infected the human race, is like a greedy ghost that haunts the boardrooms and council chambers and committee rooms from which the world is run these days.
In the world I know about, the world of books and publishing and bookselling, it used to be the case that a publisher would read a book and like it and publish it. They’d back their judgement on the quality of the book and their feeling about whether the author had more books in him or in her, and sometimes the book would sell lots of copies and sometimes it wouldn’t, but that didn’t much matter because they knew it took three or four books before an author really found his or her voice and got the attention of the public. And there were several successful publishers who knew that some of their authors would never sell a lot of copies, but they kept publishing them because they liked their work. It was a human occupation run by human beings. It was about books, and people were in publishing or bookselling because they believed that books were the expression of the human spirit, vessels of delight or of consolation or enlightenment.
Not any more, because the greedy ghost of market madness has got into the controlling heights of publishing. Publishers are run by money people now, not book people. The greedy ghost whispers into their ears: Why are you publishing that man? He doesn’t sell enough. Stop publishing him. Look at this list of last year’s books: over half of them weren’t bestsellers. This year you must only publish bestsellers. Why are you publishing this woman? She’ll only appeal to a small minority. Minorities are no good to us. We want to double the return we get on each book we publish.
So decisions are made for the wrong reasons. The human joy and pleasure goes out of it; books are published not because they’re good books but because they’re just like the books that are in the bestseller lists now, because the only measure is profit.
The greedy ghost understands profit all right. But that’s all he understands. What he doesn’t understand is enterprises that don’t make a profit, because they’re not set up to do that but to do something different. He doesn’t understand libraries at all, for instance. That branch – how much money did it make last year? Why aren’t you charging higher fines? Why don’t you charge for library cards? Why don’t you charge for every catalogue search? Reserving books – you should charge a lot more for that. Those bookshelves over there – what’s on them? Philosophy? And how many people looked at them last week? Three? Empty those shelves and fill them up with celebrity memoirs.'

Monday, 7 February 2011


I am bored of distractions. I miss him.

Sometimes in the half-awake morning I imagine I see his hair curled on the pillow next to mine.

I have been listening to a mixture of love songs (hopeful for a person whose idea of love does not leave me diminished) and melancholy ones (because it must be my fault). I am very tired.


The moon was nice tonight, a proper Cheshire Cat grin. I love the way the stages of the lunar cycle are named: we are currently on waxing crescent.

I stumbled across these photos by a man called Jim Olive in my meanderings round Flickr (nice surname, Jim).

I can't quite get over the first photo. Those colours. There really aren't enough places like this near where I live. You can see more from the same assignment here.


I very much like this song by Jesca Hoop (with Guy Garvey! he has one of my favourite voices in the world and writes lovely lyrics, plus he hosts a very good and eclectic show on bbc radio 6. So, all in all, a brilliant man).

 I think this picture sums up some of my recent moods very well.

Thursday, 3 February 2011


Turner, Margate (?), from the Sea


Ben Cranke, Storm riders

Why go home when you'd rather see me?
Feels like all my heart can do now is bleed
We should go down to the sea