Sunday, April 29, 2007

i could tell you about the river, or we could just get in

I have spent a lot of my weekend sitting: on sofas, folding plastic chairs, leather seats; the train, the tube, my garden bench. We sit at tables, in halls and restaurants, living rooms, by the bar. We sit looking and listening: we talk, we read, we laugh.

Sometimes, we just sit.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

nanny goats

Look! Look! Mr Witness has immortalised me in scrabble. I am officially thrilled and more cheered up that one would have thought possible. This says worrying things about my ego, I am well aware.

In other news, my walls are three-quarters plastered (just some jiggery-pokery with a radiator to deal with) and as a consequence my entire house is covered in a thin layer of plaster dust. It isn't desperately pleasant but the flat and hopefully slightly more robust walls more than compensate. It may soon be time to go to the DIY shop and gather great armfuls of paint swatches.

I am trying to decide what to do about my camera. I could claim it on the house insurance, which probably means a new camera, but also means paying an excess and a possible rise in my insurance payments next year. Alternatively I could post it (to flipping Colchester of all places) for repair, paying slightly more than the excess but with the very minor chance that they won't charge me at all. Little Friend Susan pointed out that the second is the more environmentally responsible option. It still smarts that less than a week into owning the thing I'm going to have to spend nearly £100 on it, so currently I am mainly leaving it on my computer desk and sulking.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


remortgage application - stalled
new camera LCD - shattered
plasterer - sucking teeth and shaking head at state of walls
sleep - disturbed




Wednesday, April 18, 2007

maybe he's crying for me

Ukulele update!

The ukulele obsession continues apace, and I am now suffering from a lesser-known disease called 'Ukulele thumb'. My left thumb hurts sommat awful at the bottom joint. This might be the result of unaccustomed ukulele neck grippage, or it might be something much more serious and indeed fatal. Only time and bad renditions of Patsy Cline numbers will tell.

Apart from that, I'm struggling with buzzy chords. I know this is because my fingers are touching strings they oughtn't, but I'm rubbish at correcting it. How chaps with big fat fingers cope is beyond me. I did this very evening form the idea that the problem might be the result of playing too quietly, though. As a result of this I should like to apologise to my neighbours, especially the ones who brought me biscuits back from Argentina (not cake, but Oh So Close).

Apart from that, and the growing suspicion that I may not be an Ukulele prodigy and might in fact be a bit crap, I am still thoroughly enjoying myself and urge you all to buy Ukuleles right away now.



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

you say potato

I have deleted my twitter account. I don't think this an earth shattering-decision that anyone's going to give a flying hoot about, but if I censored everything that wasn't earth shattering there'd be no blog, would there?

Firstly, I believe that twitter is a brain-suck. It's one of those things that you can spend hours doing when you have nothing to do. Increasingly I think that this is a bad idea. What's so wrong with having nothing to do? I'd rather spend my time doing something productive, such as staring out of the window or going for a walk. Both of these things are 100% more likely to result in me thinking creatively than hanging about on twitter, and heaven knows I already have enough time-wasting activities. I'd prefer to be thinking creatively.

Secondly, I've been getting too much information from twitter. There is something about the format that twitter encourages which I find irritating. People whose blogs I really like drove me nuts on twitter. Repeat posting got on my nerves. The things that people were saying sometimes got on my nerves. Better to leave, as I think trying to tell people how to use it is a hiding to nothing.

Thirdly (I knew there was a thirdly but only remembered it when I took the opportunity to stare into space for a while), with twitter you aren't really communicating with your contacts, it only feels like you do. I know that you can send direct messages, but in the main the messages you see are sent into space by people and not really aimed at anyone at all. There is something about this that feels not very right to me. Whilst blogs are arguably an extended version of this, there is at least usually the opportunity to interact through the comment box, or through email with the blogger. In my experience this doesn't happen with twitter, and ultimately I get far, far more pleasure from spending time with my friends, or on the phone to them, or emailing. It might be intermittent contact, but the quality is far higher. I think I'll stick with that.

Anyway, I'm not expecting or hoping to be missed: this isn't a big flounce. I just thought about deleting it, and then I did, and it feels good.



Monday, April 16, 2007

la maison gaie

I was going to write an entry about mortgages, but it was so dull I lost the will to finish it.

I am waiting for my new camera to arrive. Hurry up. Hurry up!!



Thursday, April 12, 2007

the dreams that you dare to dream

Private views used to excite me. The prospect of a free glass of wine and the possibility that one might meet someone really interesting, really arty, really rich who might offer to give you a one-woman show in Central London with all expenses paid: they were worth getting all dressed up for. It quickly became apparent that this is not the case. Private views are strange events where your friend the artist is too busy to talk to anyone for longer than 5 minutes because they are trying to sell their work. You hope that some of your other friends might turn up, but they've all gone to the pub/are still in the studio/wanted to watch something on TV. So you stand and look at the work you've mostly seen already and nurse your cheap white wine whilst trying to strike a balance between drinking it and leaving so quickly that it seems impolite; and holding it until it gets warm. If you are very lucky, you can stand next to the crisps and eat most of them. You begin to rate private views by the crisps on offer. Really good ones have dips.

So the prospect of a private view this evening was little more than a diversion from the terrible telly and the terrible temptation to play Ukulele until my ears bleed. It was only a short journey away, and I was flattered that the artist still sends me invitations, it's been so long since I actually went to one of her shows. There were plenty of people there when I arrived (none rich enough to offer an expenses paid show in Central London as far as I could ascertain), but I still managed to have a proper conversation with Carole, and as the evening ticked on it turned out that every person who arrived after me was someone I knew, someone I hadn't seen for at least a year, and even more gloriously; someone I liked. I spent a very happy hour and a half talking the kind of shop I haven't talked for quite some time.
I was terribly pleased that I'd worn a nice necklace.

If you're in the Greenwich area, go and see the show. Unfortunately for you, I've eaten all the crisps.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

she cried so when I left her

Ukulele flash! (This'll never last beyond the first week of term, so don't get used to it.)

I have been to the Duke of Uke. It was a bit like its website - full of promise, but ultimately not as exciting as one hoped. Where was Marilyn Monroe? Where was Tiny Tim? Where was Martin White? (Martin White is really an accordionist but can also play the Ukulele and has the distinct advantage over the other two of being alive). I wanted swagged red curtains, dimmed lighting, and perhaps a few glamorous women in burlesque-esq clothing.* I would have settled at least for some music playing. What I got was two trendy-looking types who were staring intently at their computers. As it happens it turned out that the woman was wearing very small shorts, so at least she'd made some effort.

Still, I soldiered on through my shattered daydream. I bought a pitch pipe (which has a flat E, but it's from Brazil so maybe it's temperamental), a felt plectrum and another teach-yourself book. As I left the shop a man in a suit came in and was asking whether the many ukuleles on the walls were guitars, so I also got a moment of musical superiority. Guitars?! Silly man.

Since I have been home I have spent a happy hour or so (when I haven't been on the phone to Those Mortgage Bastards) stumbling through 'The Yellow Rose of Texas'. You'd be amazed by the fun there is to be had with old Rose. She has three chords and a strumming pattern; as apparently one does not make these things up, there are Rules. I also have new and exciting marks on my right arm from where I am holding the uke differently, having studied the diagram in the new book (it's bigger, for the hard of seeing) carefully.

I am quite thrilled.

*I wanted Coco de Mer? I worry about my psyche sometimes.



Tuesday, April 10, 2007

don't look down cos it's far to fall

This morning I received a letter, and one of the things on the list of 'Things to not quite get around to during my holiday' suddenly shot to the 'Emergency! Deal with now or lose loads of sleep!' section. I hate it when that happens.

Remortgage. Heavens; how grown-up. I prefer cake and bike rides. However as my mortgage provider wants me to furnish them with an extra hundred plus quid a month and charge me an eye-watering 7.39% on my loan, it seemed like a good time to read the thirty-page document on remortgaging which I've had kicking around the dining table for a couple of weeks; and to learn acronyms such as SVR (standard variable rate) and BoEBR (Bank of England base rate: are you asleep yet?).

So I've rung my lender and asked for a redemption statement (sadly little to do with my sinful life), and I've called a mellifluously-voiced broker named Damian who promised to ring me back at 4ish and tell me how I can keep my hard-earned for necklaces and meals out. He hasn't rung, of course. They never do. I'll hassle him tomorrow.

Then I rang the plasterer for good measure, and got up a ladder to steam scraps of wallpaper from my ceiling. It's all go here. Nothing would get done around here were it not for my talent with the diversionary tactic.

I reckon I've earned the right to go to the Ukulele shop though, eh? While I can still afford it, like.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

go on, have a slice

Emma and Cake
Originally uploaded by Liz G.
See! I have made a Simnel cake. I made it like my Mother did and then served it on my Grandmother's plates, which makes it in my estimation a multi-generational cake. As my camera is still broken I then forced Liz to photograph it when she came round with Matt for tea. I paid her with cake though, so I reckon I got away with it.

Happy (belated) Easter.



Friday, April 06, 2007

i've told him once or twice to stop playing cards and shooting dice

I give up. I shall write a blog post about things what I have done. At least I am reliably inconsistent.

Here are the things:

1. I have begun stage two of 'slay the bushes' in preparation for the moving of the compost bin. There would be photos if my camera was working.
2. I have mown the lawn; something I have been getting around to for about a month now.
3. I have made a new bit of fence out of bamboo and cup hooks (no, really).
4. I have re potted the palm thing.
5. I have put up a new and excitingly wobbly bit of trellis.
6. I have weeded the front garden a bit.
7. I have put up the bird feeder and am anxiously awaiting great flocks of birds. Where are the birds? Send birds now! (I know, I know).

Ukulele update:

I now have the actual callouses at the end of my fingers where they make the chords. I am able to play 'In the Jailhouse Now' slowly and exceptionally badly (including yodelling). I am dealing rather well with the fact that P can pick up the Uke and make it sound like an actual instrument instead of something used for torturing small children and musical types. I think the 'D' chord (or is it D7) is the hardest of the four-and-a-half that I know. Plans for world Ukulele domination seem a way off yet.

In unrelated news I have plans for a Simnel cake, it being Easter and all that.

Oh, and last night I went to see Bryan Talbot talk about his new book (er graphic novel er comic er thing) 'Alice in Sunderland'. It was most enjoyable. So was the second brandy.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

all nature was in tune

I have been on holiday. My camera broke and I lost all my photos, I left my favourite scarf at the top of a mountain, I caught a cold and the water in the house we were staying in stopped working.

It was brilliant. I wish I were still there.