Monday, January 29, 2007

you must get a lot of wrong numbers, Mama

This weekend, about two pints into the pub gig, I developed a strange and possibly unnatural urge to learn the ukulele. Here I am three days later, and the urge persists; I have even googled it. I am on the verge of looking up second-hand ukuleles on ebay*. This may well be the result of too many decongestants, but the thing is, the ukulele is such an relentlessly cheerful instrument and it is such a long time since I hatched a bizarre as-if-from-nowhere ambition** that I am almost tempted to indulge my fancy.

It's all a bit worrying.

* Shit, you can get red ones. I am really in trouble now.
** Apart from running away with the circus; but that was over six months ago, so barely counts any more.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

too short to be haughty

the king and queen
Originally uploaded by etcher67.
1) Pub gigs
2) Minestrone soup
3) Day Nurse
4) Relay cooking
5) Falling asleep on the sofa
6) Not falling asleep on the sofa
7) Long lie-ins
8) A walk in the woods
9) Jessica's toes



Thursday, January 25, 2007

cake du jour - battenburg

Battenburg. I'm sure we called it something. Chess cake or something like that, but I am full of cold and my synapses won't snap. I used to pull it apart before I ate it, I know that. I still would, come to think of it. I like food that I can play with. I'm a fiddler.

We ate it at Grandma's. I remember sitting next to her on the sea-grass stool, eating Battenburg from one of the marbled cake plates on her little round oak table. The living room was a haven of toys from the late fifties, and card games. There were matchbox cars whose rubber tyres you could chew off, and tanks that fired spent matches. My favourite was the wooden tiles that you could arrange into different patterns. Some of them had been chewed by various dogs over the years, which made the corners a slightly funny shape but didn't dent their attraction. Grandma would sometimes run through a variety of names including the dog's before she got to yours. You could sit in her living room at that table for hours, and never be bored.

Nowadays the sea-grass stool is in my living room, the oak table under my window, the cake plates in my dresser. I don't ever eat Battenburg though, and I've forgotten how to play Rummy.

*If you too have been having trouble uploading images to Blogger you need to change your Blogger dashboard password so it points to ww2.blogger instead of blogger.beta. Like magic, it is.



Monday, January 22, 2007

good intentions

1. I'll go for a lunchtime walk around the park. God knows I need the exercise and the fresh air is good for me too. Only I have stinking period pain and it was cold and I was on duty this morning so maybe tomorrow. Though it might snow; so maybe next week.

2. I'll eat fruit when I get in from work instead of toast. The toast thing must stop. Then after the fruit I will eat bread and marmite. Oops.

3. I will do at least one drawing a day. Or a week. Or something. Goddammit, I'll draw. Maybe I'll just check my email reply to some comments write some comments have a bath do the washing up cook some dinner write a daft post and there's something on TV I want to watch.

There's always tomorrow.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

tea for two

Little Friend Susan and I walk down Great Russell Street. We are supposed to be going to the pub, but I am gasping for a cup of tea.

'I am gasping for a cup of tea' I say. 'Can we go and get one before the pub?'
'Sure' she says, 'Though I'm not sure any of the cafes will be open. They shut at about 5'. She is right. All the bright, warm cafes that I noticed on the way to meet her are pulling in their chairs, wrapping cling film around their mexican chicken sandwich fillings and turning off their Heartfm. 'How very foolish' I say.
'It's your culture' says LFS with a wry smile. She is not from 'round here, and banters occasionally with me about things in the UK which she considers to be silly.
'You can't blame me' I say, 'I was only born into the culture. I didn't set it up.'
'I think that you are complicit, though' she says.
'Oh dear, ought I to have been standing outside cafes protesting their foolish opening hours with a placard?' I wonder aloud. We leave it at that, as I have clearly (and unusually) won the argument.

We have been walking around looking for cash machines and cafes for about half an hour. All the cafes have shut. 'We'll just have to go to a pub' she says. I agree, and fortuitously we are standing at the door of The Plough, a very fine establishment (as it turns out). 'I don't mind if you drink tea' says LFS as we push through the heavy door.

'Don't be silly, it's six o'clock!' I say. You can't drink tea after six o'clock - you have to drink beer! It's virtually the law!'


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Saturday, January 20, 2007

service interruption

I've had a couple of emails from people saying that they can't comment on my blog at the moment. As a major comments-whore whose day can be lifted or crushed according to how many comments I've had (oops); obviously I consider this a Major Nuisance, and am trying very hard to find out what's wrong.

Sadly this mainly involves me thinking 'Hmm, I wonder what's wrong', but I'm hopeful that the Haloscan forum will come through in the near future with something more useful than my idle head-cocking.

P.S. if everybody else could comment twice as much in order to prop up my fragile ego I'd be very grateful :D

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

sooner or later

I get ready in a hurry which makes me unusually decisive. Usually I throw clothes about and then leave the house wearing what I always wear, this time I stick with first choices; slick my hair to one side, not really caring. I need to get out and dance off the irritations of the day and that is all I am focussed on. Almost ready to leave, I squirt myself quickly with perfume and take a last look in the mirror. The hair needs more glue, it'll never stay that way while it is so thick. I rummage about in a box, find some hairspray and spray it in the vague direction of my hair.

I run down the stairs towards the front door. Somehow as I move I catch the scent of myself.

It's 1972, and I am lying on the sofa with my Daddy. He is reading me the Ladybird version of Cinderella. My mother is upstairs getting dressed to go out while we look at the pictures: the bluebell-coloured dress, the sparkling gown of white and gold, the fat roll of flaxen hair that falls over Cinderella's shoulder. The pictures are the best bit of the story.

She comes downstairs, ready to leave. She is wearing a long empire-line dress which swirls with pinks and oranges, and her hair is piled on top of her head. She bends over to kiss me goodnight before they leave. Hairspray and perfume.

I rush out of the door to the car.



Sunday, January 14, 2007


Originally uploaded by etcher67.
Blogger's image uploading capacity is broken, apparently. In the meantime I can only blog photos direct from flickr. The fact that I cannot currently upload drawings means that of course I am rather desperate to do so. Which sort of implies I've done some: incorrectly, as it happens.

In the meantime, here is Grandma's cake, in all its marginally undercooked glory. I should like to apologise to her for describing it as slightly dry in a previous post. The memory plays odd tricks.
'Let us then be up and doing, with a heart for any fate'* is my new favourite quote, and connects nicely with the fact that today not only have I baked a cake but also hoovered, changed the sheets, rearranged a bookshelf, made a lampshade and cooked a proper dinner. Again. It must be all the drawing that I'm not doing.

*The rest of the quote 'still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labour and to wait' could be my family motto, really. It's Longfellow, by the way. Do not however be fooled into thinking I know about these things. I just remember words I like and google well.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

another highly intellectual film review


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

cake du jour - cut and come again

Blogger won't let me upload a drawing of the cake I was going to write about, so what the hell; I'm going to write about one I don't have a drawing of. Fiendish, or what?

Cut-and-come-again was Grandma's recipe. It sat in the recipe box on a yellowing index card, written in her careful pharmacist's handwriting. I don't actually remember ever having it at Grandma's, but the evidence that it was hers is there in the inky handwriting, stuffed between folded pages from magazines and pieces of grease-spotted scrap paper. Unlike Christmas cake it was a delight to eat direct and uncooked from the mixing bowl: a loose batter lumpy with cut peel and scented with mixed spice. Cooked, it was a light fruit cake from which fat raisin crumbs would drop as you sliced and then sliced again as its name demanded. A very slightly dry, dark-golden cake which perfectly accompanied a cup of tea and the interminable wait for the football results to finish on a dark winter's Saturday afternoon.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

you can count on me

' 459 there are 9 units. That's the same as nine ones. How much is nine ones altogether?'

Long and considered silence.


Long intake of patient (ha: who am I kidding?) breath.

'No, Not ten. Look again...nine ones....'

Personalised learning. That's what we need. Please be aware that engaging me in conversation about this may result in screaming and the renting of hair. Yours, probably.

My staff meeting was cancelled tonight. I was on the playground playing 'it' with seven year olds in a rainless moment this afternoon. It almost killed me, but I still managed to leap into the air with happiness when I heard.

I come home and spend some quality time with my bed. A day's relentless cheerfulness has worn me out but half an hour heading down towards sleep helps. At the point where I would fall asleep were it late I wake up, then spend a groggy 30 minutes resurfacing.

I force myself to draw, because I have this strange idea that I might go back to the print studio and begin to work again, at last, and I want to. I really, really want to. I have had long, sensible, optimistic conversations with several people about how I will have to 'bibble about' (Jones) and 'produce shit' (P) for a while until I am back in the habit of being an artist. It all makes perfect sense. I completely agree. I might have even introduced the idea. The only problem is, the work is utterly horrible and it makes me want to cry and throw things. It's not unreasonable to expect that I should be brilliant all of the time, is it? Don't answer that.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007


Originally uploaded by etcher67.
Some days, I crave vegetables. Let's draw a veil over the slice(s) of panettone I ate afterwards though, eh?



Thursday, January 04, 2007

this business of love

The children are in, and it changes everything. The school is once again a living organism. I pace around it gathering paperwork which I am intending to do a slash and burn job on*. Haley is standing in the corridor, sniffing and looking red around the eyes. Saul is doing the ritalin twitch outside his classroom. As I pass both of them I am filled with the almost irresistable urge to grab hold of them and hug them, kiss them, even. Welcome back, I want to say - Welcome back: I've missed you.

*I fail at this rather miserably and instead produce at least half as much paper again, which at least proves I'm a proper educationalist.



Wednesday, January 03, 2007

yellow and small

I sit in the meeting and doodle frantically as though it might help release me. Tunnel vision. Erialc notices and nudges me; 'Going well, then?' she asks. We dissolve into silent schoolgirl giggles at Trouble, who sits opposite us rolling her extravagant eyes and signing. I constantly expect someone to tell us off in staff meetings: we certainly deserve it, but oh, they are dull.

Later on I try to hide downstairs but a stream of people come in and ask me inane questions. When I realise that the ability to be polite has deserted me I grab my coat and leave, come home and spend half an hour hitting the wardrobes with a hammer. A little directed violence. It doesn't help; I end up leaning against the wall in the halflight with the hammer in one hand, despairing at the bloody mess that I have made. Even though it was all a bloody mess in the first place. I excuse myself on the grounds of growing darkness and slide downstairs, guilty at the unfinished business and work-related frustration. Write about it. Does that count as doing something useful with my day? (Not really.)

Thursday tomorrow. Nearly the end of the week. Good.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007


No resolutions. Here is a list of things I did last year, some of which actually happened on purpose:

Stayed mostly sane.
Recovered from a deep and profound misery.
Got up and went to work on a disturbingly regular basis.
Made some lovely new friends.
Kept some lovely old friends.
Formed a deep meaningful relationship with a plumber.
Formed a less deep but equally meaningful relationship with a roofer.
Started several house-related projects which might even get finished in 07. Might.
Completed several minor house-related projects which give me pleasure every time I notice them.
Started dancing again.
Went to a lovely wedding and a lovely christening but no funerals.
Did quite a lot of drawing.
Did quite a lot of writing, some of which even got read out loud.
Decided not to run away with the circus.

There may be more.



Monday, January 01, 2007


Martinis, red wine, champagne, marc. We lie under the covers and wait for the hangover to kick in. When it hits like a marshmallow juggernaut the only solution is to lie on the sofa all afternoon listening to the silence and watching television through slitted eyes. Wrapped up, warm, perfect.

Happy New Year.

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