Monday, 29 November 2010

November, Last Days

Bare branches, cold skies. Dark early, twinkling lights on Oxford Street, crowds of shoppers, too many. Winter salads, chicory, apples. A weekend of bitter cold, spent largely indoors, calmer than last. Nights in with flatmates, friends, making crumble, watching films, drinking mulled wine from Moroccan tea glasses. Clementine juice for breakfast, an attempt to counter the early signs of a sore throat. Bust Craftacular on Sunday, a thermos of Earl Grey in the queue. Stamping feet, gloved hands, clouds of breath in the cold sunshine. So many talented individuals inside. Carrot cake and multiple purchases. Harry Potter at the cinema in the afternoon, crying my eyes out with Anna, loving the vast, desolate landscapes, loving the knitwear. A pretty mediocre day at work today, but off for fish and chips in Angel with the girls now. And M is back for Christmas three weeks today...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Punch Bowls, Postcards

Halfway through the party, when tangerine peel has started to litter surfaces and there are more dirty glasses than clean, but before the crowds have started to thin, I start a conversation with G and H, friends of C's I have just been introduced to. We start talking about 'old things'. They admire the punch bowl that S bought me at auction and which is now sitting in pride of place on the table. It turns out G has a blog, based around old postcard messages, so I take them to my room to see a couple of old postcards I have picked up recently (I also start showing them my dressing table, re-upholstered nursing chair, 1960s party forks, rotary dial telephone and so on -possibly a little too enthusiastically, but they seem to be on the same wavelength...). On Monday G sends me the link to his blog, Postcardese and I spend the tail end of my late shift at work scrolling through the archives.


Old postcard after old postcard that G has collected, and each with a story, or a hint of a story that leaves me longing for answers, for a fleshing out of skeletal narratives. This is partly frustrating, that one can but speculate, yet also, in this age of relentless status updates intrusive media coverage, a small respite, and I am glad that there are some areas where room for the imagination is preserved. This one and this one made me laugh, and this one gave me a lump in my throat, but they are all so very intriguing.

If you have a moment, have a look.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A Party Just Because

Somewhere between the frantic last minute preparations, shoving flowers into vases and tea lights into jam jars, making popcorn still in my pyjama bottoms ten minutes before people are due to arrive, slicing a layer of skin off my ankle in the shower, blood flowing down the drain like a scene from Psycho, pulling on a black dress found in the bottom of my wardrobe, eventually emerging ready from my room half an hour after the first guests had arrived, somewhere between all that and finally making it to my bed, sleepily, dreamily, in the early hours of Sunday morning, I manage to have a wonderful time. We pull it out the bag, C, C and I, and, even without M there to mix the cocktails and do the post-party washing up, we manage to throw a damn good party. We drink mulled cider, gingerbread Bellinis, and a pear punch which halfway through the night morphs into a rum punch due to lack of vodka. Our lovingly hand made Hokey Pokey collapses in the heat of the packed rooms, we find it, stickily melted, in all sorts of strange places the next day. Pizza is brought triumphantly from the oven at 1am, to great delight. My camera is appropriated at some point during the evening, in the morning there are photos on it I didn't take, I know I didn't take this one. Non of the neighbours complain, no glass is broken.

The clean up takes the best part of Sunday but afterwards the three of us collapse contentedly onto the sofa to watch the first part of William Boyd's Any Human Heart.

Monday morning I wake in the half light, realise the weekend is over, Saturday night just memories, and feel deflated, entirely unenthusiastic about the week ahead.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Flashes of Colour

As well as the sea of grey this last weekend, there was also colour, brief flashes of it. Lara Harwood's wonderful inked figures, seen at an open studios night. We stumbled upon her studio and fell in love with her work, but there were also some other amazing artists on display, and we felt very cultured absorbing it all. Late night tempura afterwards in Finsbury Park, waiting with C, C and C outside on the pavement for a table, liking the lights of the nearby bowling lane. Lunch at St. Pancras station with M's parents who were down for the rugby, vaulting glass roof lifting the spirits. Budgies that told the fortune of passers-by on Southbank, highlighter green, lemon yellow, selecting brightly coloured scraps of paper with their beaks, an antidote to the grey sky, grey river. A fairground at the base of St. Paul's Cathedral, flashing lights, the sugar-sweet smell of candy-floss. Ladyfest on Sunday, J's shoes, Red Riding Hood socks, making me smile.

And I finally did some hand-washing that had been sitting in my laundry basket for an age.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Skylines, Sunflower Seeds

On Saturday I walk from Waterloo, along the Southbank, past the second-hand book stalls near the BFI, past the National Theatre, to the Tate Modern. London is grey and cold, flat-looking. I am hoping to see the Gauguin, to immerse myself in bright colours, lush vegetation, exotic Tahitian women, but it is booked up until the evening so instead I wander through the Turbine Hall to Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds, part of the Unilever Series. One hundred million sunflower seeds stretch out across the vast hall, each one unique, hand crafted from porcelain.

I find it hard to comprehend the enormity of the project, the time, the patience.

Friday, 12 November 2010

A Weekend Away

Last weekend as well as the mist, the fireworks, the sparklers, there was also Norwich with my sister, S. The Union bar on Friday night, an open mic night, student bands. Posters for Wednesday's top up fees march. Pints of cider, Snakebite. Nothing like a night out with 20 year olds to make 24 seem old. Sleeping late on Saturday. Wandering into town, exploring the lanes, lots of wonderful vintage shops, charity shops, independent cafes. Hot chocolates with marshmallows, Welsh rarebit, banana cake. Buying intentionally kitsch flowers at the market. Having a much needed catch up with S, walking, talking. Roses in the bathtub, strings of butterflies.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Black and Gold

After the fireworks on Saturday we walked back to S's house though the mist.

Do any of you know the story of 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses' in which each night the princesses pass through three woods, one with leaves of silver, one with gold, and finally one with diamonds? I used to love that story as a child, and these photos I took reminded me of the gold wood, only darker, more mysterious, probably with Tim Burton at the helm.

Sorry for including the sparkler image again, just thought it fitted.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Remember, remember

Two firework displays this weekend, one in Norwich where I was visiting my sister, the second on Sunday night in Victoria Park. The first was hampered somewhat by the weather - low hanging mist and a cold, still night meant that the smoke from the fireworks didn't clear. Instead it hung low with the mist, obscuring most of the display, so that all we could see were blankets of colour and the occasional flash. Novel at least, and it made for some interesting post-apocalyptic style scenes as viewers trudged away afterwards, zombie like in the mist, spotlights breaking through the trees. We went on the waltzer at the accompanying fairground, once, found it disappointing. Walked back through silent streets, leaves and pavements wet beneath out feet, then lit sparklers outside S's front door, wrote our names in the air as they burned.

Sunday night was delicious apple and plum crumble at some friends' house, followed by a walk to Victoria Park for the firework display, which was spectacular. I didn't take too many photos, was too busy jumping up and down with excitement.