Monday, February 26, 2007

no regrets, coyote

Intellectual film review #786:
'Hot Fuzz': funny. Probably funnier if you aren't headachy and a bit bad-tempered.

Unusually rare music review #1:
Joni Mitchell - 'Don Juan's Reckless Daughter': genius. Why I stopped listening to this record between the ages of 19 and 39 is completely beyond me.

Slightly less rare cake review number n:
Rosemary sponge: Not brilliant, but nevertheless difficult to stop eating. Lots of fun to make, which I suspect has more to do with the company than the cake.



Thursday, February 22, 2007

days like these

flowers in the fountain
Originally uploaded by etcher67.
I don't really have the energy to stay in the huff for too long. Maybe a day, maybe two. A surge of efficiency is almost inevitably followed by one of those dark moods when I decide that no-one actually gives a toss; and even though I ought to know that they follow one another like night after day I'm never really prepared for the night-time section. Fortunately my proper friends get to know the routine. They chide me lovingly, and feed me kind words and sweets. Thank goodness for those proper friends.

I sat in the classroom this afternoon stapling dragon-covered Chinese lanterns together for my year threes and feeling the slow parting of the clouds. We played a game - 'Who can stay quiet for the longest?' They were fooled, which is always a marvellous surprise. I kept them in after the bell had rung not because they had been naughty but because I'd been enjoying them too much to notice the time and clear up. We'll be fine, that class and me. It always takes three sessions to get to know a group enough to like them for who they are, and today was the lovely fourth when you realise that it's going to be OK after all.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

work it*

I admit defeat. I need a builder. I have become a DIY disaster.

The survey when I bought this house said something innocuous (or so I thought) about old and cracked plasterwork. I thought nothing of it, as small cracks in a 100 year old house don't bother me. My bedroom however was covered in purple textured wallpaper which bothered me a great deal. Some time over the summer while I was still attempting to recover from the quote to re-fit my bathroom I decided that it'd be better to take on a simpler job that required much less builder-related input. I'd stood and looked at the walls on the room when lit from certain angles and knew that my walls would probably need skimming. I heard pleasantly low figures, and I wasn't worried.

A few weeks later I invited a plasterer round to quote for skimming. He told me that he couldn't really give me a proper quote until the wallpaper was off and the wardrobes down. Fine, I thought, I can do that. So I set to removing my wallpaper.

The first indication that things were not going to be as simple as I had thought (are they ever?) came when a gentle rain of plaster hit my head as I removed the wallpaper. It seemed that the glue was stronger than the plaster. Slightly bigger job, then, I thought. I can manage that. I called a friend with a background in plastering and he advised me that I might as well pull off the loose skim 'if it wants to come down'. Which it definitely did. Regular readers of this blog (both of you) will recall that this little episode resulted in me finding damp in the corner of my bedroom and the ensuing painful saga of finding a roofer to fix the leak. I now have nice new flashing and my bedroom corner is dry. It cost me twice as much as I expected of course, but I did have twice as much roof fixed as I thought I would, too.

Several months later I finally finished removing the wardrobes. They were big, the screws were tight, and I have an attention span of approximately 20 minutes for boring jobs involving tight screws (fnah). Now it is the holiday and my mother has asked the perennial question 'are you having a productive week?' which as any fule know actually means 'have you sorted out your bedroom yet you wastrel, I want to come and stay'. I (of course) admitted that my productivity mainly involved reading nice comics about Iranian girls, and so felt duty bound this morning to go into the room of doom and survey the damage. Usually I keep the door shut - I mean you would, wouldn't you?

I looked at the big huge bits of wardrobe laying on the floor. I looked at the piles of plaster skim laying on the floor. I looked at the dry yet strangely rotten (oh, fuck) previously damp corner, the ceiling which threatens to come down at any second and the holes in the party wall where the hair of Victorian children has failed to keep even the render on, and I decided that this job was bigger than me.

I rang my builder (who hates me, I swear). He told me that he was 'No longer in the business'. I rang npower, because I am the queen of diversionary activity, and then I got out my yellow pages.

I need a builder.

Is it too early for a gin and tonic?

* honestly the tune on my ipod right now - from 'Under Construction'.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

just an ordinary girl

I have just realised that my left hand is on upside down. Oops.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

with apologies to Marjane Satrapi*

Andre: being sensitive and a drama queen with a terrific imagination...I am never sure what is real and what is not.
Me: mate, I so know what you mean.

P: You know what you want to do, you want to draw a comic about your life, like Harvey Pekar.
Me: No I don't!**

Damian: for fuck's sake, go for it!

* I have just read Persepolis. You should too. I loved the drawing. It shows.
** As well as thinking too much I am also horribly contrary.

PS This entry wins the prize as the most linky, ever.
PPS I have quoted everyone without their permission. Please don't shout at me, boys.

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Monday, February 12, 2007


Most of the people that I know go to their jobs and then come home again. Whether or not they enjoy their employment they do not in the main spend much of their spare time worrying that they ought to be practising artists. The teachers amongst them have holidays, which I imagine to be filled mainly with daytime TV, shopping and reading. I could be wrong about this, but I am reasonably sure that the majority of teachers do not spend their holidays stressing that they are wasting their time and ought to be working. Really. Do they?

Today I went to see an open access printmaking studio. I will confess that I was intimidated by this studio, as one is by new places and new people, and the thought of going back to something that one used to be reasonably good at. The journey home involved crawling through the Blackwall Tunnel for an hour or so, during which time I managed to convince myself that the whole thing was an entirely terrible idea.

It also occurred to me (before the traffic incident of horror) that If I'd just got on and done all the things I have thought about doing but disregarded because I decided they were entirely terrible ideas, then I'd be able to consider myself a practising artist.




the outside world beckons (2)

Bad on so many levels, but the thought required finishing, and the rule for today is 'do it anyhow' *shudder*.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

the outside world beckons

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

no songs in my head for a week or so now. worrying.

I stood in the classroom this morning singularly failing to distract children from the falling snow. In the end I had to concede that all I really wanted to do was stand in front of the window and watch it coming straight down like heavy feathers. 'Heavy feathers' I thought to myself. 'That's how it looks.' I wanted to tell someone, but I didn't think the seven year olds would get it, and besides I was supposed to be distracting them.*

So I'm telling you. I've managed to remember it through to the end of the day, which is some sort of miracle.

I snatched three quarters of an hour in bed this evening by skipping sign-language practice. Several texted traffic updates prevented me from sleeping so instead I lay there and watched the sky get darker out of the window. How rare this is, I thought: just nothing for a moment.

An artist needs mental space, I thought. A space to find the creativity. A teacher is always engaged, whether in answering a hundred identical questions or breaking up conflicts or explaining something again or pursuing a cup of tea or teaching, even. The two things do not go together very well, really.

An image popped into my head, words in a thought bubble. I'll draw that later, when I have another moment, I thought. I'll post it to my blog. I worried briefly that people might think I was plagiarising. I considered several other images, about engaged teachers and constantly chasing sleep and spending all my spare time rushing from one place to another. They wait in my head now, for some time to get them down on paper.

I'd do it now, but I'm in a rush.

*We gave up in the end, and made snowmen. It was fun.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

buy words! make art happen!

Miss Tickle is selling words. She has to raise four thousand two hundred pounds in the next two weeks for a lovely theatrical extravaganza.

And being the creative type that she is, she has invented a Clever Thing.

Would you like to buy a word? They are only a pound and you can choose whichever one you want.

You will be the envy of your friends!

"I own a word!" you will be able to shout all over the place.

"I have contributed to The Arts!" you will be able to say a bit more quietly.

All you need to do is click here.

P.S. I have bought 'food' and 'eat', know.

P.P.S Please paste this in your very excellent blog (if you have one, and if you don't why not get one?) in order to encourage more nice people to sponsor the arts. Just think of the lovely warm feeling it will give you.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

the people vs mouse

Cheerful One: 1
Mouse: 0

Sorry mouse.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

the cake that refused to go away

Cut and Come Again (with resolutely imperial measurements)

1/2 lb self raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 round tsp mixed spice
4oz butter or marge
4oz demerera sugar
30z currants
3oz sultanas
1oz mixed peel
2oz glace cherries, washed and chopped
2 eggs + enough milk to make the liquid up to 1/2 pint
grated rind of an orange (add this to the milk and eggs)
7 inch cake tin

Grease and line the tin (always my job aged about 8). Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (moderate, or 350 F.) Rub the butter or marge into the flour and other dry ingredients until it looks like breadcrumbs. This is very satisfying but if you are in a hurry I think you're probably allowed to use a mixer these days. Stir in the sugar and the fruit, then add the egg and milk mixture with the orange rind and beat until you have a smooth batter (which is full of fruity lumps, obviously). Pour the mixture into the tin and sprinkle a little more sugar over the top (for the crunch). Cook in the centre of the oven for about 1 hr 20 mins (it's worth checking after an hour if you have a fan oven). Once cooked, remove from the tin and stand on a rack to cool. In other words, have a slice while it's still warm, it'll give you indigestion but it's delicious.

Cake cooking is generally best accompanied by something on Radio 4. I recommend 'Just a Minute'. Plays are also good, but you'll have to find something else to do in the kitchen after the cake so that you can hear the end. If Radio 4 is unavailable,
Radio 2 will do at a pinch but it'd better be Jimmy Young.

Happy cooking!

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

I want to see people and I want to see life

I probably have something in me to write. Something with an arrangement of words which pleases and amuses me if no-one else. Something which pulls a string or two, or raises a smile.

I'm not finding it, though. Just as I came home last night promising to make up for the fact I hadn't invited anyone out for a beer when I really really fancied one by working on those ideas I had had on Sunday night. As though I've ever worked like that. Instead I sat inevitably in front of the computer working myself into a mild melancholy over the fact that everyone else was achieving and here I was merely sitting in front of the computer working myself into a mild melancholy.

I'm fine, though. Fine. I suspect that the dip is more a consequence of things going better than they have for some time, and the sudden awareness that it is in fact possible to raise my head above the parapet of financial and emotional panic and be creative; at which point (inevitably, being me) I panic like mad and freeze because I've been running fast in the opposite direction for the last three or four years. It's a slow ship to turn around, it would appear, and I've never been known for my patience. This and the dose of fluey cold which has kept me indoors and therefore too much in my own company leaves me gazing at my navel rather harder than I normally would.

Besides; tonight I went out
, and the world already looks a little lighter.