Wednesday, November 29, 2006

flight IC408

I am trying to do year 6's maths for Friday, so that when Chief Sir comes into the class to observe me teaching I am able to do a reasonable impression of someone who knows what they are talking about. Generally I do not mind looking like an arse in front of the top maths group when they are better at it than me, but on this occasion I have a feeling it might be prudent to look vaguely competant.

It's time zones, and I have the answer book. The first half of the page involved working out what time the prime minister's secretary rings him and where he is. Not peasy, but manageable: I didn't get any wrong, which made me feel rather proud. I am not exactly rubbish at maths, but have spent a considerable amount of time in my life delegating it to others who do not have to go through the pain barrier to work stuff out.

The second part of the page involves looking at four flights all in local time and working out how long they took in total. The answer is 31 hours. Unfortunately I keep getting 28 hours. Three hours out: three lousy hours. Where are they? Did Moscow steal them? Are they tucked under New Delhi? Has Rome hidden them? Beats me. I just tried (in desperation) converting all the times to GMT, and now I'm six hours over. Bugger.

I think my head may be going to explode, and there are two more questions yet.

I have a sudden and rather desperate urge to do the hoovering.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

jump back in the alley

1. Being able to see the bedroom floor.
2. Not dying when cutting through the wardrobe wiring. Not even nearly.
3. A mouse with a brick.
4. The forum (bizarrely).
5. 4P being unexpectedly and unusually lovely.
6. Sleep.



Saturday, November 25, 2006

cake du jour - chocolate

My mother made a chocolate cake probably every other week. Chocolate cake made from a victoria sponge recipe with cocoa not drinking chocolate in the mix. The buttercream filling included Nescafe (dissolved in water at the bototm of a tupperware cup and poured into the butter and icing sugar - a plum job to make as the bowl required scraping after), and on high days and holidays there might be something involving melted cooking chocolate on the top. It wasn't very rich, it wasn't even very chocolatey, but there is no chocolate cake in the world better than one made by my mother. I remember shortly after I'd left home carrying half a cake back up to London, and putting it under my bed when I finally arrived at my damp bedsit. In the middle of that night I had to get out of bed to eat a slice, sitting on the floor in the dark, wishing I were still at home. From the age of about 10 I gave up requesting a traditional birthday cake of any description and settled for the chocolate. Even now if I remember I still send a request for chocolate cake ahead of me whenever I go home.

As kids we'd get a regulation thin slice, followed inevitably by another thinner one (spot the puritanical streak), and then it'd go back in the tin. Stacked in the cupboard under its matching blue biscuit tin. Later on I'd sneak into the kitchen and open the cupboard to ease myself inside and gently pull out the tin, levering off the lid then running my finger down the cut side to scoop out the buttercream filling, or even cut the thinnest slice possible off to eat some more. My silence would give me away. 'What are you doing in there?' she'd shout, and I'd stand there behind the cupboard door swallowing guiltily so I that could tell her 'Nothing'. She wasn't fooled. She never was, though I never got into trouble, exactly. I was just out of favour for a while. One of the advantages of age and my prolonged absence is that cake filching is now acceptable behaviour, and I no longer have to hide behind the cupboard door. 'What are you doing in there?' she still asks 'Evening it up a bit?' I reply. You can get away with a whole lot more after the first 30 years, I find.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

knickers to you: two

I receive a text from Phildar:

'I forgot to put on my knickers today. And it's quite nice.'

I pause briefly to wonder whether she actually meant to send this text to me, how on earth she has managed to forget to put on something which goes on first, and then consider my response:


When I see her later at dancing I enquire about the state of her underwear. I am relieved to learn that should she have an unfortunate incident involving public transport, then her family will not be shamed. And then, sort of by accident*, I mention the knicker incident to Dancing Boy; just as they are about to dance together. He is inordinately flustered, and actually blushes. He might have even fluffed his first-move-hatchback-comb-crab-combination**, which is unknown.

The next day I get another text from her:

'My elastic has gone and I have had to tie a knot in my knickers. It's true.'

It is at this point that I remember the first time I went to the pub with her. I am beginning to sense a theme. I reply:

'I left my phone at home today but am enjoying the underwear soap opera'

Today's episode, sadly, is unpublishable.

*I was unable to resist, what can I say?
** I made that move up.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I must not spell Gordon's name wrong, I must not spell Gordon's name wrong, I just not spell Gordon's name wrong, I must not speel Gordon's name wrong, I must not spel Gordon's name wrong, I muft not spell Gordon's name wrong, I must nott spell Gordon's name wrong, I must not spell Gordon's nam wrong, I must no spell Gordon's name wrong, I must not spekl Gordon's name wrong, I must not spell Gordon;s name wrong, I must not spell Gordon's name wrong.




Monday, November 20, 2006

honkeytonk parade

I am standing in the middle of the classroom, handing out pieces of paper following a particularly insightful discussion* about the nature of bullying with my once-a-fortnight year threes. I have put several fabulously inspiring phrases on the board, and they are about to design anti-bullying posters to decorate the coridoor for anti-bullying week. As I turn to hand a stack of paper to the next table I catch the following behind me:

'This paper would make a lovely hat!'

I contemplate turning back and enquiring how, but decide to leave well alone. There are creative minds at work.


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Sunday, November 19, 2006

when the autumn weather turns leaves to flame

Phildar has rung me to ask why I'm not going to the Rivoli. 'Is it a man?' No, it isn't. We get off that subject and consider instead her compulsion to put policemen into jumpers. 'How are they supposed to press the trigger if their little hands are frozen?' she asks. I hold an image of her handing out cable knit jumpers and fingerless mittens to the boys in blue. We pause to contemplate the affect of aging. The pausing mainly involves helpless laughter.

I tell her that I saw a jumperless policeman on Long Acre on Friday Night. He was shouting directions to somoene in a South London accent and looked as though he was out well past his bedtime. I mentioned it to Mole at the time. They're getting younger; they definitely are. Mole was more concerned with the boy's use of language. We'll be writing letters to the broadsheets yet.



Saturday, November 18, 2006

getting out of chokey

1. Jukeboxes which play 80's indie hits.
2. Director's bitter (in the absence of Pride).
3. A Bristolian horticulturalist, and his comedy facial hair.
4. Mole's stripey t-shirt.
5. My scaffolding.
6. My house.
7. My bed.
8. The return of the Unreliable one.



Friday, November 17, 2006

put another log on the fire for me

I admit it, I don't understand my new central heating. I spend a lot of time wondering whether it's working properly or not. I've got a new condensing boiler, and it seems to me like it makes too much noise, but perhaps the house is just quiet. I am confuddled by the fact that the radiators have thermostats and the boiler has a thermostat, and I don't understand whether or not they should be working independantly of one another or not, and if so how. Perhaps this is the reason that the boiler fan never seems to go off. Perhaps I am worrying unnecessarily. Perhaps I should just put another jumper on. Or take another off.

What I actually ought to do is ring the blokes who fitted it and ask them again to come round and check it for me. Unfortunately this involves letting on that I do not understand, which I am loathe to do, because I might be a girl, but I don't like admitting it. What I can admit is that this post is all about putting off that phone call yet again. Who knows; maybe central heating engineers read my blog.

In other news: my signing teacher tells me that my signing is improving. I am both proud of and scared by this revelation. I can communicate! This means that soon I shall have to go out and talk with deaf strangers. They may point and laugh. This would be bad.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

when I get home

Hurray! The roof is fixed (er...fingers crossed).

This means I can get back to demolishing my bedroom and negotiating with plasterers.



Sunday, November 12, 2006

simple pleasures (6)

A glass of wine makes everything more civilised, everyone slightly more relaxed. I prefer my wine white and very cold in the summer, red and reasonably light in the winter.

I used to drink a lot of wine. There was a time when drinking a bottle or more a night was not unusual, and I was still able to get out of bed in the morning and go to work*. Nowadays I rarely drink more than a glass a night, and have a hangover if I have more than two. I am informed by my Mother that this is a result of my advancing years, but when I mentioned it to Little Friend Susan the other day her retort was 'Well, obviously you need more practise'. Perhaps she is right.

* frequently in an exceptionally bad mood, though admittedly this had little to do with wine.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

colouring in

As I walk through Boots I ponder one of the make-up counters. I pick up something that I saw in a friend's bathroom yesterday and examine it, trying to decide whether I actually want it or if I'm just being sucked in by the packaging. It's the packaging, I decide. It gets me every time. Perhaps I should have become a graphic designer and spent 'all day designing perfume boxes' as my art teacher warned when I was 16. The contents of the packaging are brown eyeshadows in colours that I have already, and don't wear often because I think they look slightly peculiar with my neither-green-nor-blue eyes.

A lady appears; as if from nowhere. Can I help you?' she asks. 'No thank you' I say, dropping the box as though it has suddenly become hot. 'They're lovely aren't they?' she adds brightly. I nod non-commitally. They look like brown eyeshadow to me, and I have trouble with describing brown things as lovely, unless they are foodstuffs.

'Would you like to see how they work?' She asks. 'Would I?' I wonder. Well, I'm not doing anything else, and she seems keen. She sits me on a stool, and begins to remove my hastily applied green eyeliner. I worry that she is only going to do one eye and that I will spend the rest of the day walking around with one green eye and one brown. I do not want to look that foolish. Fortunately she removes the eyeliner from both eyes, only poking me in the eye once, and begins to apply the make-up. I watch her in the mirror, on the basis that she might know more about putting it on than me. I am an amateur. I have never quite got past the idea that make-up is worn by Other Women. When I go out wearing lots it feels as though I am someone else, although sometimes that is the whole point.

Once the eyeshadow is on it looks OK (though it still doesn't really go with my not-quite blue-nor-green eyes). I am quite impressed, and feel informed; especially on the subject of blending (use your fingers). Then she starts adding other stuff to my face. Foundation. High Beam Something-or-Other. Blusher. This is a step too far for me. She says she is 'adding some colour' to my face. 'I quite liked it the colour it was' I think silently, and try to edge off the stool. She shows me myself in the mirror. I am slightly yellow, and look like a slapper.

I smile politely and say thank you. 'Are you going to treat yourself?' she asks. 'Not right now' I say, and bolt for Superdrug where I buy make-up remover and scrub off the layer of yellowness. Later I go back past the counter and a different lady pounces. 'Have you come back to buy something?' she asks 'Your make-up looks lovely'. 'Not right now' I say, and run away to the relative safety of the hot water bottle section.



Wednesday, November 08, 2006

cake du jour - brownie

Right, let's get something out of the way. Strictly speaking, I do not regard a brownie as cake. However it definitely cannot be regarded as 'biscuit' or 'pie', and so it remains in the 'cake' category until I have a better idea of my criteria.

Brownies did not enter my life until my teens. I have this idea that they were an American import, and I am not altogether convinced that anything American reached Totnes before 1980. (Unless you count Leonard and Dorothy Elmhurst, of course.) I am pretty sure that my first encounter with a brownie occurred when I took over a friend's burgeoning breaktime refreshments business for a brief period at the Totnes School of Language while she and another friend went on holiday. I was handed a recipe and given instructions to turn up with brownies and dispense tea, which I duly did. I am amenable in that way, and I strongly suspect that there was money in it for me. I made the brownies in my Mother's kitchen and seem to remember that they went down a storm. People still mention those brownies to me, I kid you not. Admittedly those people are relatives but let's draw a veil over that.

I also vaguely remember having brownies laced with hash at some point during my college years. It's a scandalous admission but I was an art student so these things are to be expected. I remember sitting on the sofa with my friends and giggling incessantly, and then watching 'The Cotton Club'. I've been meanig to watch it again ever since (a mere 20 years) as I'm sure the giggling got in the way of the storyline.

Whilst working at Printspace I used to go and buy utterly fantastic brownies from Konditor and Cook (oh, what it was to have money) whenever friends were coming to visit the studio. This helped to draw attention away from the fact that the stools were fabulously uncomfotable and the place was cold beyond belief. It may also have diverted the palate from the distinct tang of parrafin in the tea, as those brownies were top notch. When friends weren't coming I would buy the slightly cheaper and distincly inferior ones from Borough Market instead. They weren't as nice but were much bigger which helps make up for a lot.

Nowadays I am partial to a brownie in times of stress and PMT. I go to the supermarket, buy a pack of three for 99p and tell myself that they will last all weekend. Without fail I end up I scoffing the lot in an evening. This aptly demonstates the affect of a glass or two of wine on my willpower, and leads me to conclude that it would be a dangerous thing for me ever to cook them again unless there are friends coming round.



Monday, November 06, 2006

reasons to feel foolish

1. Doesn't everyone put things on their heads?
2. ...and take pictures which include their never-quite installed smoke alarm?
3. Haven't you once at least practised your spins in the kitchen and tried going the 'wrong' way on the 'wrong' leg, resulting in painful bruising and a near-repeat of the coccyx-breaking incident of January '06?
4. Or at least foolishly decided to drive across Blackheath on bonfire night at precisely the moment when the display is about to start and the whole population of Greenwich is standing on the heath?

You haven't?

Just me, then.



simple pleasures (5) [moving swiftly onwards]

Of all the foods which begin with 'ch' cheese is my favourite. I like cheese which comes arranged on a board with a curvy knife, or offered from large baskets in French restaurants and then placed on your plate in strict 'eat this one first' order. I like posh organic farm cheddar, epoisse, and darilylea and spent much of my childhood hankering after edam and later babybel, but mostly I like sneaking to the fridge repeatedly after dinner to cut slices from the supermarket cheddar and stuff it naughtily into my mouth while I stand in the middle of the kitchen floor looking out of the window. Last weekend this habit led to my falling flat on my arse in the kitchen, but that is another story.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

when payment due exceed accounts recieved

I feel like I owe a post. I feel like I owe a post that is not about cake. I feel like I owe a post that is not about cake and that is cheerful. I feel like I owe a post that (which?) is not about cake, is cheerful and is also witty. I feel like I owe a post which is not about cake, is cheerful, witty and intelligent. I feel as though I owe a post a post which is not about cake, is cheerful, witty, intelligent and well written. I feel as though I owe a post which is not about cake, is cheerful, witty, intelligent, well written and will make people add me to their blogrolls. I feel as though I owe a post which is not about cake, is cheerful, witty, intelligent, well written, will make people add me to their blogrolls and then I won't feel such an almighty arse at blogmeets*.


Fuck it. Am going to go back to writing about cake.

*this post is not really about blogmeets. Honest.

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