Sunday, April 30, 2006

What The Hell

Shit, I've regressed - I am twelve again. I went out to buy glamorous clothes to dance in and came home with a pair of slouchy jeans, a rainbow striped t-shirt, and a pink sequinned belt. If there'd been a pair of red Kicker boots I'd have got those too. This is wrong, wrong, all wrong.

I had a 'What The Hell' moment and booked evening tickets for the Ceroc Championships, home of black lycra, sequins, muscled gentlemen and small blonde ladies who can put their feet into third position. I am none of the above. I don't even know what third position is.

I am trying to give up 'What The Hell' moments as they generally end in trouble, strife, panic shopping and staying in with one's head under the covers gently moaning 'Oh noooo why ever did I do that?', but this one managed to sneak under the wire before I had the chance to identify it for what it was and beat it to a bloodied pulp.

Tears before bedtime, mark my words.

Monday, April 24, 2006

56th and Wabasha

I dreamt about an old friend. We were sitting next to one another on a padded window seat, watching people dance. As we sat my body relaxed against his and slowly my head settled upon his shoulder. The heat from his body seeped through into mine, and I inhaled the mingled scents of his gingery aftershave and clean clothes. I felt safe, comforted and sleepy.

There is an ache inside me now where I miss him; and sleep eludes me.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

two sides to the coin

I stand on the station at midnight.

No-one knows where I am. No-one knows who I am. No-one knows where I'm going, or where I've been. I try to decide whether this is frightening, or liberating. I decide that sometimes it is one, sometimes it's the other.

Then I catch the train home.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

things can only get better...

At last - some good news. :)


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

summer term

Back to school. I like my job, really I do....but....ugh.

Monday, April 17, 2006

little boxes

Me and my hangover went to the Tate Modern; a rather scary double act (well I was scared, hangovers do that to me) in a big coat which kept flapping at people.

I was surprised to see that the Rachel Whiteread installation 'Embankment' was still there - I thought I'd missed it. I've heard a few opinions of this installation, mainly of the 'What the bloody hell's that all about?' variety. Some people regard Whiteread as a one-trick pony, who stumbled upon the fabulous idea of casting the negative spaces of things and has failed to do anything much else ever since. I don't really have a problem with her singular approach: you don't hear people complaining that Monet never got past impressionism, do you?

Having said this I found 'Embankment' difficult to warm to. The installation comprises multiple casts of the insides of cardboard boxes and (apparently) explores the concept of storage of unknown personal items as well as relating to a trip to the Arctic. The problem for me was that the inside of a cardboard box looks much the same as the outside so I 'read' the boxes as..boxes. I also took personal umbrage with the polyurethane used to make the boxes. It's lightweight and it looks it. I'd have been happier if the boxes were of their original plaster or cast in resin, though I can see that producing 14,000 of these might have been less than simple. I was also slightly obsessed by how many repeated boxes I could see. She cast ten. I wonder whether there are 1400 of each, or whether it's a random number that comes to 14,000. Did someone count them? This is the sort of stuff that gets in the way of the art for me. When I see pics of 'House' I just think 'wow', and then later on start wondering about the practicalities. For me that makes it a better piece of work then 'Embankment'.

So: interesting but somehow not satisfying.

I wonder how it was all delivered?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

amazing soup

Mole and I walk down the hill from the Observatory, talking about food.

'You should try [Thai name which I have forgotten] soup' says Mole 'It's amazing'.

I get a mental image - of a deep silver tureen filled with a clear liquid in which there are jewel-like fronds of gently swaying soft green seaweed. The light reflects from the surface of the liquid and sparkles as steam rises gently. Floating in the tureen are four naked mermaids in a Busby Berkley/kaleidoscope style formation, their long shiny tails pointing towards the centre of their pool, their arms outstretched and their long blonde hair rippling with the liquid.

'Does it have mermaids in it?' I ask

'No....' Mole says. 'It doesn't seem that amazing now'.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

not about music, not about love

I wanted to write about Nat King Cole, about the sublime song ‘L is for the way’.

I wanted to write about the smooth sparse vocals, the empty sound of voice, piano and cymbals and the way that the long, low notes of the violins enter the first verse, the soft sliding trumpet instrumental over a restrained big band sound, and the way that the solo continues quietly in the background of the second verse while the double bass comes in. How the trumpet notes in the second verse underpin the letters in the lyric, building to a big hit at ‘anyone’; and how the mention of love in the second verse signals the moment when the song finally lets loose and runs away to it’s big, wild, passionate musical conclusion. How it’s two minutes and twenty nine seconds of heaven.

I wanted to write about how the words mean almost nothing when you listen to them: L is for the way you look at me. O is for the only one I see. V is very, very extra-ordinary. E is even more than anyone that you adore. Hardly Shakespeare. Hardly means anything at all. How that makes the song even better, somehow.

I wanted to write about how the song epitomises romance for me, how the music sweeps me up and along, how I love to dance to or sing along with it because I feel as though I am in the music; experiencing the romance. I wanted to write about how I recently realised that I’d spent a lifetime chasing that feeling of romance, and how I came to the conclusion that perhaps it had been a mistake, the act of someone who hadn’t yet grown up, who was living in a fantasy world which involved more grinding lows than it did sweeping highs. How life was not about romance and ‘we were meant to be together’, but about paying the car repair bill and going to work, about planting primulas and going to the cinema with your friends. How this depressed me terribly because when you’ve spent your life chasing invisible sparkle then the world without it seems lonely and flat and dull. How taking photographs and laughing with my friends and pumping up my bicycle tyres has gone some way towards rehabilitating me, and about how maybe, just maybe it’s going to be OK after all.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

see a better day

tree and clouds
Originally uploaded by etcher67.
I decided today in a rush of sunlit enthusiasm that what I really wanted to do was take my book and some lunch to Greenwich Park and sit reading in the sun. Never mind the tourists, never mind the nagging voice whispering about bookshelves, I was going to sit and look wistful in the park, goddamit.

I did pretty well. I got some Masala Vada from a Plumstead supermarket without worrying too much about whether or not I was creating a special Indian influenced Polari, and set off.

Massala Vada is a thing of great lovliness which my hips are never going to thank me for. As far as I can tell it's dal and onion and chillies and a load of herbs and spices, pushed into a round pattie and deep fried. Bloody delicious, let me tell you. There appear to be several different kinds of Vada and it's taking enormous strength of mind not to go down to the shop and buy them all and try them straight away. I've never tasted anything like it. As good as Ganesh Corner.

So. Clearly I was never going to make it through the bottleneck which is Woolwich without starting to eat them, was I? There's quite a lot of traffic between Plumstead and Greenwich Park; so by the time I parked I was one Vada and one Samosa down (oh, didn't I mention the Samosa? *cough*). Picnic without any food: no problem, I still had my book.

I wandered about in the park a bit, stoping to admire the view and wishing that it wasn't *quite* so windy. I even spent a good five minutes on a bench hunched over my book. Perhaps not quite as bucolic as I had imagined, but it was blimmin freezing. The only way to keep warm was to keep moving.

Eventually I settled upon the cunning plan of buying myself a cappucino to warm my hands on, and I did then spend a nice ten minutes sitting in the sun sucking froth through the hole in the lid. It was lovely. I watched people chivvying their children about and taking photographs of tourists. Then I identified the nearest steep hill and walked up it. A small but significant act of defiance in the face of Indian snacks.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

can I see you in the bathroom tonight?

Last night over to the Hammersmith Palais to see Graham Coxon.
It was odd to be at the Palais, as the last time I was there I was competing in the Ceroc Championships nearly two years ago. It has to be said that last night the demographic was distinctly different, the noticable lack of black lycra and sequins being a major indicator. I hooted a bit about how the DJ booth wasn't normally a bar and Miss Forever mentioned that the floor was perhaps a little sticky for a double spin.

I felt everso slightly as though I was in the credits for 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks'. Most of the other people there seemed to be boys. Tall boys. We had a short and cheery conversation with the very tall bloke in front of us about how tall the very very tall bloke in front of him was, and he reassured me that when it started then everything would 'loosen up'. It being a very long time since I last went to a gig I was slightly nervous about precisely what was going to loosen.

Once Coxon started loosening became apparent as the crowd good-naturedly shoved and jumped. I managed to stay at the edge and tap my feet in a sedate manner apropriate to a woman of my age and community standing; until 'Spectacular', at which point I embraced my inner teenager and joined in. Reader; I was overtook with excitement. Fortunately for myself and my excitement the moshing (is it still called moshing?) pushed me forwards until I was squished up against someone who was squished up against the barrier at the front, with someone squished up against me. Strangely comforting it was, and largely responsible for the achyness today, I fear.

I am a latecomer to the genre which is Graham Coxon. Basically I fell in love with the CD 'Happiness in Magazines' after hearing the 'Bittersweet Bundle of Misery' on the radio. As it happens he fits right into my slight obsession with self-depreciating British songwriters, but it's a parallel drawn in retrospect. I just remember listening to the CD and enjoying the multiple musical influences which for me created something new. When in January I was making a list of 'stuff I want to do' the single from the new CD was getting airplay and I decided it would be a Good Thing to see him live. I was not wrong. It was a Very Good Thing. A thing of great excitement and happiness. I am now compiling a list of other people I want to see live and contemplating stalking coffee shops in Camden in case Mr C fancies a latte.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

reports of a pack of smashed tealights have been greatly exaggerated

I awake with a strange sense of purpose.

Well, actually I lay in bed listening to Woman's Hour with the duvet wrapped around me and slowly develop a sense of purpose which I suspect is directly related to my lack of interest in the Polish Women's Movement, but essentially a sense of purpose appears, as if from nowhere.

I leap out of bed and complete my ablutions. In the bathroom.

Downstairs, I check my email, scowl, and go into the garden to read. Half an hour or so later I remember my sense of purpose, and come back to the living room to find my tape measure. Which is precisely where I left it. A small but important victory in the tape measure wars.

I have a dream of pristine shelves, with books on. Books that have languished in boxes for the last ten months, unloved and unwanted. Books which frankly are still mainly unwanted but would look a damn sight better if they were on shelving, and might get sorted out if they were to be removed from their boxes.

This meant one thing. A trip to That Place. A trip to IKEA.

I bloody hate IKEA, or to be more precise I bloody hate the fact that IKEA is filled with people and their children. On the whole I am a fan of both people and children but in combination with furniture shopping I develop a strange and almost immediate connection with violent tendencies that I usually keep reasonably well buried. In short: going to IKEA makes me want to kill people.

However. I had a dream of pristine white shelves, and pristine white shelves are to be had at IKEA for a mere smear £35, so it needed to be done. Over the years I have developed a guerilla approach to IKEA: get in, grab things, get out. As I knew precisely what I wanted I did not see any potential problems ahead. I even checked that the item was in stock. And it was.

A couple of hours and a small traffic jam on the M25 later, I was in the store, all kharmic calm. So pleased with myself was I that I floated through the kitchen area and picked up rainbow tealights, even stopped to browse the small dining tables. I wandered through the new 'summer area' silently thanking all available deities that I was single and childless as I dodged bad-tempered parents and their excited offspring. After a slighly frustrating few minutes trying to find the right aisle for my self-service flat pack, I reached my goal. Me and Billy; Billy and me. Shelving. Pristine. White. Marvellous.

Only I forgot one tiny little thing, didn't I.

I forgot that a 5ft3 and three quarters 38 yr-old woman who weighs less than 150lbs canonot actually LIFT the sodding flat pack onto the trolley, let alone wrestle it from her car and get it up the steps to her house or indeed the stairs to her spare bedroom.


Anyone want to go to IKEA? I promise not to be too homicidal.....

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

gate of the day

red wooden gate
Originally uploaded by etcher67.
I am on holiday. To be honest, it's a bit of a struggle. Much as I might moan about working and spend an awful lot of time staring out of the window wishing to be anywhere else than right there right then, the structure of work holds me together at times. It takes me at least a week to get used to being on holiday and the idea that doing nothing is acceptable behaviour. I blame years of conditioning and parents that ring and say 'have you achieved anything today?'. (Oops, there goes the resolution not to moan about personal stuff on this journal.)

So; one comes up with bizarre projects like photographing closed gates on the estate to keep oneself from going mad.

Today's gate is red. See the red gate. The gate is good.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

the nellie

the nellie's ceiling 1
Originally uploaded by etcher67.
There isn't really anything right about this photograph. Maybe that's why I like it so much. About 8ft below that ceiling fan was a woman wearing a quite extraordinarily short skirt, and resting her hand on her velvet-jacketed companion's thigh. Yes, of course I have a photograph of that too. Sadly she'd uncrossed her legs when I took the pic, so the effect isn't quite as spectacular as it was live.

Oh yeah, and...much of yesterday was spent looking for the next cafe to sit in, the next beverage to try, the next thing to eat. Sometimes I had to go as long as an hour between eating or drinking something else; which as you can probably imagine was a stretch for me. Definitely a reason to be cheerful.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

some of buddy holly

1. sunshine and showers
2. staying in bed 'til 11
3. books through the post
4. bhangra hoovering

chaiyya chaiyya

Inside Man = good film. Go see.