Friday, June 29, 2007

The Grand Tour

When I first started working in the West End, I thought I'd spend my lunchtimes in the great galleries - the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the Photographers' Gallery - which are all pretty much on our doorstep. Whilst I do probably make it into the Photographers Gallery every month or so, I've only been down to the other two a few times in nearly three years. I have the best intentions to be more cultured but I usually get sidetracked by the shops!

But there is now, there is a solution - Grand Tour. The National Gallery has hung masterpieces at various points around Soho, on the outside walls of shops and restaurants. So I can take in a bit of culture whilst I shop!

I was initially a bit confused by this project as the captions claim that they've hung "priceless masterpieces" which made me concerned about how they were surviving in this weather. Was somebody taking them down at the first signs of rain, or holding a brolly over them? Or were they unconcerned with the damage in their quest to bring the art to the people? Actually, none of those - it turns out they are merely copies - the real deals are still safely in the National Gallery, away from the unseasonal weather.

In Bloom

The tomato plants have blossomed.

I was rather worried about leaving them when we went away, but they obviously didn't go short of water in this weather. The wind has given them a bit of a battering but I think they are going to be ok.

The OH has renamed them Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy because now they are bigger they are more gang like, like the Ramones!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The New Cabinet - Some Thoughts

After the recent trivia of hats and crocs, something more serious. Gordon Brown's Cabinet no less.

Alistair Darling, Chancellor - its juvenile I know, but I can't take him seriously - the name just reminds me of Captain Darling in Blackadder too much. I think we need someone with a more serious name for such an important role.

Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary - unbelieveably the first time a woman has had this position! (a bit of casual sexism there). Not to be confused with Jaclyn Smith of the original Charlies Angels as has already been discussed at length in our office today.

David Miliband, Foreign Secretary - he should be suited to this, afterall he is MP for South Shields, which is like a foreign country. (I'm allowed to say that as I'm from there, if anyone Southern says it, its a different matter).

Tessa Jowell, Olympics - glad she's gone from Culture and this makes sense since her loyalties quite obviously lay with this to the detriment of the other aspects under the Culture remit. Perhaps her husband could find some extra funding for it from Italy?

James Purnell, Culture - from a work perspective, this is the big one - to the rest of the population it isn't. According to our boss man, this is a good appointment as he is an incredibly bright young man. His biography lists film and theatre amongst his interests and it was written before the appointment (when he was in pensions, where listing tea dances and bingo as hobbies may have been more relevant), so perhaps he might actually have an interest in the area he will representing.

Seriously though, I do have a tiny glimmer of optimism that this time things might be better. Although my 'glass half-empty' side thinks that I'll look back at this post in a year's time, amid scandal, corruption and spin, and wonder what I was thinking.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ascot Fashion

We set off for the New Forest by train from Waterloo, which coincided with hundreds of people going to Ascot. While we waited for our train, it made interesting people-watching, mainly looking at the women's outfits and hats. Some looked stylish, some looked acceptable, some looked terrible but I think I spotted the worst offender.

She was wearing a black dress (so far, not so bad) and a purple hat - a bit like a top hat. The purple was the shade of the hazelnut in caramel Quality Streets. On her feet she was wearing a pair of purple crocs. Here is a picture of crocs for anyone who (sensibly in my opinion) has allowed this trend to pass them by.

I'm sure someone will tell me how practical and comfortable they are ("Great for your holidays!" as no doubt somebody's mother would say). But they are an ugly, crudely moulded lump of plastic and have no place on your feet at the bottom of an elegant little black dress. And I did check, she wasn't carrying a bag large enough to contain another pair of shoes to change into and considering how well they matched the hat, it was definitely intentional. And it was definitely very wrong.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Quote of the Week

We are relaxing in the hydrotheraphy pool, bubbles bubbling around us. Very relaxing.

The OH turns and look at me and says "This is what it must feel like to be a carrot.... Or pasta"

Its not how it was described in the brochure and I doubt they'll be using it in the marketing in time soon, but its an interesting comparison.

Hello, I'm Back

Back from the New Forest. Unfortunately, there was no cycling down forest lanes wearing a pretty dress and the hat. As anyone in the UK willl be aware, that was because of the rain. It rained, it rained somemore, and then it paused for a bit, just long enough for you to get your stuff together and outside, before it rained again. Still we got off lightly compared with many parts of the country and as we are were staying in a spa hotel, it didn't matter much - we just did lots of swimming, sitting around in steam room, pools and saunas instead and had a lovely time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hat is the Question

I’ve been deliberating whether to buy this hat:

(Bronze metallic floppy sun hat)

The picture doesn’t really do justice to quite how wide-brimmed it is – on a romantic stroll down narrow country lane wearing this, it would be single-file only – its that wide.

Its from Oasis and is reduced in the sale to £4, so we aren’t talking high end millinery here. But I’m still not sure whether to splash out and buy it.

I’m not really that much of a hat person. Apart from practical winter hats and (shudders at the thought) baseball caps, hats tend to be rather attention-seeking or attention-attracting. Whilst I don’t particularly want to look just like everyone else, I equally don’t relish being stared at either. Or more to the point, I don’t want random strangers asking if they can try my hat on (why do people do that with hats? Nobody does it with scarves or gloves but hats seem fair game for being passed around). Nor do I want to run the risk of youngster throwing missiles aiming to knock the hat off.

But it will fold easily for travelling, hats are good protection against the evils of the sun and my mother loves me in a floppy hat (not that pleasing my mother has ever been high up on my list of consideration in choosing clothes, especially since she is 300 miles away, so will hardly benefit from my hat-wearing). But on the otherhand, will I ever really wear it outside of the safety of my own garden?

(If this post doesn't win some sort of prize for the weakest pun ever, I'll erm... eat my hat! - Good grief that was dreadful too!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Beautiful Laundrette

I've long harboured a secret love of laundrettes. From an aesthetic point of view that is. (I realise its probably easier to feel that way when I own a shiny brand new washing machine and don't actually have to use a laundrette myself, but nonetheless I do love them)

I've always loved the smell of them from outside too - a warm clean smell. But mainly it the sight of the rows of washing machines, the repetitive pattern they make and their essentially retro-ness.

It may have started after seeing the film with the above title, one of my all time favourites, especially the scene where the uncle and his lover dance in the laundrette. And I've been coverting the work of Corinna Radcliffe that features laundrette images for quite some time.

When I got my hands on the digital camera, one of the first pictures I took was of the laundrette near our home - surreptitiously snapped on my way to work so no great work of art. But I was pleased to have the picture of what, to me, was a thing of beauty!

I thought I was alone in this penchant until a couple of weeks ago, one of the winning pictures in the Guardian magazine's photography competition featured a laundrette. Then today, whilst browsing (how easy it is to lose hours on there), I came across a group dedicated to this very subject. And then several more for the American term, Laundromat. veritable feast!

It seems I'm not alone. And whilst I feel (a little) less weird now, I feel that something that was once just mine is now perhaps not that special.

You're Gonna Miss Me (Pt 2)

So to the Southbank again last night.

First up, Clinic - the carrot with which I'd lured the OH there. Clinic are the sort of band that you either like or you don't - they have a very distinctive sound so if you like one song, you'll like them all, but the reverse is also true. The OH maintains that they are a quintessential pop band there are four of them, they dress the same, their songs last less than 3 minutes. I'm less convinced by this argument - they might dress the same but their outfits are surgery masks and the quicker songs were described by the OH as 'death stomps' so I don't think they'll be gracing the Top 10 anytime soon. Despite this, I do actually like them and enjoyed their set last night.

I was rather apprehensive about the main act though - I really wasn't sure what to expect and it had been my choice - ordinarily the OH takes care of music and sport and I do films, theatre and art, so the pressure was on!

The crowd was pretty similar to the film screening, but more of them. The Psychedelic Couple were there again and were seated directly in my sight line from my side aisle seat throughout the show. Jarvis Cocker came on to introduce Roky Erickson and the Explosives, giving a little speech about how the word legend is overused etc. The crowd cheered. Roky came onto the stage, looking smaller than in the documentary but healthier.

So what was it like? I'll admit I made a fundamental error in that whilst I love the 13th Floor Elevators, I knew nothing of his other work, except what I saw in the film the previous evening and that wasn't really my sort of thing - a bit heavier, reminding me a bit of Hawkwind. And now he's in a new band, so obviously it was stupid of me to expect end-to-end Elevators songs - like going to see Sting and expecting him just to do Police songs or something. Also the Elevators distinctive sound (mainly from the electric jug) wasn't really re-createable with just guitars and drums. So he played mainly songs from post-Elevators - I didn't mind 'Starry Eyes' but was less keen on most of the others - not that there was anything wrong with them (his voice and guitar playing were, thankfully, still excellent despite his wilderness years), they just weren't my thing - a bit to middle of road rock (I was more interested in the psychedelic side of the psychedelic rock).

But he did play two Elevators songs - Splash and then 'You're Gonna Miss Me' at which point the crowd went wild (well as wild as a crowd of middle-aged people at the Royal Festival Hall can). Psychedelic Man was first out of his seat and down the front (we remained in our seats as we were on side balcony, not that I'm sure I'd have mobbed the stage anyway) and soon many others followed. The song still sounded great (I could feel tears starting to form - I seem to get weepy at concerts far too easily) and I was very pleased that for him that he was able to enjoy this evening of success and appreciation.

Anyway, here (if it works) is a bit of in their prime 13th Floor Elevators.

Monday, June 18, 2007

You're Gonna Miss Me (Pt 1)

Last night I went to the Royal Festival Hall to see the film ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, a documentary about Roky Erickson, part of the Meltdown festival.

As I’ve mentioned before, Roky was the singer with one of my favourite bands, the 13th Floor Elevators. The Elevators (as I’ll call them from now on to save typing -I don’t know if anyone ever uses this abbreviation – I certainly don’t) were the first band to use the term ‘psychedelic rock’ to describe their music. Of course (as is often the case) they didn’t achieve much in the way of commercial success but were hugely influential - ‘Slip Inside This House’ on Screamadelica is a cover of their song. Their only ‘hit’ ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ is on the soundtrack to the film High Fidelity.

Besides this, I knew very little about them until the line-up for Meltdown was announced. If I’d given it any thought, I would probably have assumed that the band had split in acrimony and drug-induced paranoia as that is usually the way these things go. But from what I read in advance and going to see the film last night, Roky’s life post-Elevators was terrible – including a stint in a high security mental institution for possession of cannabis, where he formed a band with other inmates who were all raping murders (someone in the audience last night laughed at this part as details of their crimes were listed – whilst I could appreciate the irony, I didn’t think it was particularly funny). He has been diagnosed as schizophrenic but until fairly recently, he was living with his mother, who did not believe in the use of any kind of drugs or therapy – her reasons against therapy seemed to be based on having seen Frasier on the television.

Besides the actual film, the thing that I was intrigued by last night was who else would actually be there to see the film last night. There was a pretty good turnout – it was nearly sold out. There were lots of Nick Hornby-esque men, hair thinning, stomach spreading but squeezed into fading band t-shirt. There were also quite people on freebies, probably somehow connected to the festival who behaved (as these liggers often do) as if the even t was all about them – talking throughout, swapping seats to be next to their mates and in one case, taking their shoes off and putting them up on the empty seat next to me (yuk). Typically, I was sat next to the most psychedelic couple in there – the warm smell of patchouli oil and lager cloying but taking me back to my younger days! He was wearing a garish pink swirly shirt and had hair that was rather like mine had been until The Cut, giving me a case of hair envy. But he was obviously a real fan, and kept joining in with the songs and doing a seated dance, which annoyed his girlfriend, but I thought was quite sweet.

Anyway, the film was interesting, although sad in the way that tales of wasted talent always are. However, Roky has made some progress, is back playing live and I’m going to see him tonight. I hope it is good for his sake as much as mine!

A Tale of Six Buses

No relaxing Sunday for me – I was rushing about all over the place. All of my own accord but any day that involves six bus journeys is never going to be the calmest.

First up was the haircut – see below. I’ve now moved our of her catchment area so had to get a bus there and back.

Next up, I was determined to go to the vintage clothing fair at the 20th Century Theatre on Westbourne Road as apathy last month had meant I didn’t make it to the one in Battersea. I’ve recently been feeling very bored with not only my clothes but the clothes available on the high street (and I don’t have the budget for anything else), so I thought vintage was the way to go (or second-hand as we used to call it when I was a student & bought most of my clothes from jumble and car boot sales). So off I went to Notting Hill (one bus then a tube) to Anita’s Vintage Fashion Fair.

I was a little bit disappointed with it – I left without buying anything which was a shock. There were some beautiful evening dresses and if I ever need something new for a formal event, I’ll definitely come here again but otherwise nothing really grabbed me. Perhaps I lack the imagination to make this stuff work? I definitely lack the needlework skills to adapt anything so am really tied to buying stuff that already fits. Or maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it – certainly looking at this picture now, it looks better than I remember.

But I think the main thing that I was disappointed with was the atmosphere in the place. The stallholders obviously all knew each other from similar events and as I walked around I could hear their conversations with their next-door stallholder. It was all moans. Moans that there weren’t enough customers, moans that they didn’t have enough space, someone had taken their spot etc. It was constant and they seemed almost annoyed when their diatribes were interupted by potential buyers.

Afterwards I walked around the shops and stalls on Portobello Road and whilst I’m well aware that much of the stuff along there is over-priced and aimed at the tourists, it was actually more fun than the fair. Then I got a tube and a bus home.

There was another pair of bus journeys (and four tubes) later to the Southbank but that's a whole other post.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Victim (again)

I've been a victim of another dubious haircut. Not as bad as the last time., but disconcerting all the same.

To avoid the Butcher Arta, I made a Sunday appointment with Sonia. The only time she could see me was 8.30. Yes, in the morning, on a Sunday. I turned up for my clandestine appointment at the allotted time (can clandestine be in the morning? it has an after dark ring to it). As ever, she was running late - still doing the person before me (she was only doing the two of us today though, hence the odd hours) - but so as not to attract attention from any passers-by who might want a cut, she'd kept the lights out.

I haven't had my hair cut since the very bad one months ago so it was in need of a good cut. But then she got carried away. Cutting a little off here, then a little off there, then more off there to even it up, oops too much, more off the other side. It was like that episode of Father Ted were the prize car has a small dent in it that Ted tries to hammer out and then next thing you know the whole car is a wreck.

I've examined it - in every mirror in the house and the window of every shop and car I've walked past today and it isn't actually a bad haircut. Its soft and bouncy and healthy looking. But it just isn't me. I've always had long hair and although it had been creeping shorter, this now is definitely not long hair. Its above my shoulders. I don't look like me or perhaps too much like me as my face and neck are vulnerably exposed. People won't recognise me. I'll have to wear a name badge.

Quote of the Weekend

My mother has just returned from a holiday in Egypt. Yesterday, we had our catch-up phone call, where she told me about the holiday.

Amidst this conversation she started one sentence with 'We've got a lot to learn from the rest of Europe...'

There was a bit of a pause at this point which gave me room to wonder what was coming next. There are plenty of things we could learn from the rest of Europe. Better attitude towards alcohol? Relaxed attitude towards prostituition? Armed police? I wasn't sure which of these controversial topics she was about to tackle (especially since she hadn't been on holiday in Europe),

She continued

'We've got a lot to learn from the rest of Europe when it comes to eating fruit'

Apparently, you should have seen the amount of fruit the French and German holidaymakers ate each lunchtime.

Friday, June 15, 2007


The OH came home slightly tipsy last night, having been out for drink with some ex-colleagues. Most of the male ex-colleagues are younger than us and single. I'm not sure of the exact conversation, but OH told me that I had been mentioned along the lines of 'I'd be happy to settle down if I'd meet someone like Sanddancer. She's the sort of girl you want to settled down with'. (although obviously they used my actual name).

I was a little embarrassed when he told me but very flattered. Its not the sort of thing that is usually said about me. I must have given them a false impression when I've met them.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, Caravan Club!

I heard on the news this morning that today is the birthday of the Caravan Club (its always some sort of strange national day or birthday). The Caravan Club is 100 years old. It shares its birthday with Che Guevara - I'm not sure his thoughts on this matter were documented.

Caravanning is another of those activities that I assume to be a British thing. I know travelling people the world over live in caravans and the US has its trailer parks, but holidaying in a mobile caravan strikes me as being a British thing.

We had a caravan when I was growing up. Not a mobile one - a static one on a caravan site only about 30 minutes drive from our home (admittedly it was in a beautiful area of the Northumberland coast, but still it seemed a bit silly).

I've no idea what possessed my parents to buy it - we always holidayed abroad. We used to visit the caravan for the odd weekend here and there, but more often than not we'd just go there on a Sunday - it was near enough to do that easily. Ridiculously, my mum used to still cook a full Sunday dinner but just relocating it to the caravan so the car would be loaded up with a roast and ready prepared veg, for her to cook there.

Often, it being the north east of England, the weather would be bad, so after lunch we'd stay in the caravan, watching Bonanza on a portable television before returning home early evening.


Back from Birmingham and the windowless hotel.

The room was so small that on entering, you had to be very careful not to walk into the far wall.

The heat and lights were controlled by an illuminous panel - it would have been so much simpler if they'd been a window - too hot = open window, too cold= close window, too dark - open curtains etc.

I still don't understand why there weren't windows - the reception had a huge glass front so perhaps they'd blown the glazing budget on that.

The bed however was very very comfortable.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Free Wine - An Observation

Last night, as well as a free theatre ticket, we all recieved a free drinks voucher. I opted to have the red wine.

Struggling to finish it (I know I could have left it but I had an hour and a half more of gnomes and goblins or whatever to get through), I decided that the red wine you always get at these things isn't like the red wine I'd buy myself.

Free red wine always tastes of black fruit gums.

Bored of the Rings

The words ‘Middle Earth will come alive in the auditorium 15 minutes before the performance’ sent a chill down my spine. I like my theatre action confined to the stage and I loath audience participation. Coupled with a running time of 3 hours, quite a few of us in the office were regretting having agreed to go to see ‘Lord of the Rings’ last night. But it was free and it is good to remind ourselves what our industry is all about from time to time.

We steeled ourselves with a couple of cocktails beforehand (Tip: Maxwells in Covent Garden is tacky and touristy, but if you are looking for cheap Bellini on a Monday night, this is the place) and thankfully missed most of the pre-show ‘entertainment’.

The most striking thing about the show was the staging. The set was f***ing fantastic – I don’t possess the vocabulary to describe it any other way – it was that good. I always tend to compare these things with my time as an ASM at an amateur theatre that liked to think of itself as putting on things to a professional standard. Well, if they thought me ‘striking’ a table between acts or straining to turn round a backdrop whilst dressed in black as comparable with anything like this, then they clearly haven’t been to a proper theatre in quite some time. There was a giant spider thing (I don’t know what it was called – I’m sure most LOTR’s fans would – I’ll admit I’ve only seen the films) was terrifying and I’m glad I was quite a way back.

But the rest of it didn’t match up. The plot was kind of just skimmed over so much so that people who hadn’t seen the films said they struggled to follow it - not that I’d want a 9 hour version, but a little more depth would have been good. There is meant to be a narrative – in a way it has ended up more as a spectacle like a Cirque De Soleil with Hobbits.

And it is supposed to be a musical. It wasn’t really a full-on musical - the songs were folksy little numbers that were apparently taken from the book but did nothing to further the plot and were wholly unmemorable. As someone who was practically raised on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, I expect the songs to stick in my head and for a few of them to at least stand up outside of the production. I can’t see anyone rushing to buy the soundtrack nor can I hear anyone humming any of the tunes this morning.

All in all, I’m glad I want to see it, but I’m also glad I didn’t pay for it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blasts from the past

Since posting about nostalgia and reunions, strangely enough I’ve been contacted by two people I used to know.

The first was the boyfriend of my Canadian ex-flatmate who I got along with very well but the friendship waned when the Canadian split from him on her return home. He contacted me through Friends Reunited and is still living in the area, actually only a matter of streets away from where I live now. This contact was unexpected but a pleasant surprise and we are going to meet up for drinks just as soon as we can find a date we can both do.

The second was a very good friend from university who I lost touch with when she moved away from London. To be honest, I think this was my fault. Her life in London always seemed so much better than mine and then when she moved away, from the occasional updates I received, everything just seemed to fall into place so easily for her. I on the other hand, never felt I had anything much positive or interesting to say in response. I realise now that this was pretty stupid as it was a friendship, not a competition.

Anyway, the renewed contact at first came via Facebook. I’m still not sure about Facebook – I’m on there but only because I thought it would be rude to ignore a friends request from someone I am actually good friends with and then another person who is off travelling added me as their friend and I thought it might be a good way of keeping in touch with her. I’ve not done anything else on there – I’m not proactively poking people (as I believe it is known - I'm too much of a prude!).

But I responded to her adding me as a friend and then within a day, a proper message arrived from her. I haven’t replied yet. I’m still thinking about what to say. This is what often happens - I procrastinate for so long, that it either then seems pointless replying or they've lost interest.

I don’t really feel I’ve actually done anything worth mentioning since I last saw her. Perhaps I should just send her a link to this blog so she can read for herself!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Walk on the Mild Side

Because it was sunny, today I decided to go for a walk, along by the canal and then to the shops. I took my camera and Ipod with me. The Ipod was set to shuffle so I didn't pick the music, although I suppose I put it on there so I did at some time pick it.

Here's what I saw and what I listened to on the way.

Ali's Waltz - Beth Orton

86 TVs - I Am Kloot

Movin' On Up - Primal Scream

Eating Glass - Bloc Party

Guiding Star - Teenage Fanclub

Limassol - Maximo Park

I.D. - Kasabian

One Chance - Modest Mouse

Good Times - The Stone Roses

Somebody's Daughter - Beth Orton

Hold It Down - Senseless Things

Inner Meet Me - Beta Band

9 to 5 -Dolly Parton

I Can Feel It in the Morning - Grand Funk Railroad

Come Together - Ike & Tina Turner

I got the bus home.

Urban Flowers

We've moved to ' The Land of the Window Box and Hanging Basket'.

Despite being way out west, there still isn't that much space, but people round here seem determined to make of the most of it. Every other house has some sort of floral display or other. I can imagine it gets quite competitive. But it does brighten the place up and now I'm looking out for flowers everywhere.

This has also coincided with my gaining access to a digital camera so I've become slightly obsessed with taking pictures of the flowers I see on my (limited) travels across London.

Of all the flora, I've spotted over the past few weeks, this one confuses me the most. These people have a clapped out car on their driveway, its going nowhere, it should be scrapped, it makes their house look derelict, its dragging the area down - but still they've go their window boxes. Must have a window box, otherwise what would the neighbours say?

Of course, I've joined in with this myself (with the flowers, not with the old banger on the driveway). After a few weeks of nurturing in the back, my window boxes are now proudly displayed at the front for all to see.

Friday, June 08, 2007

All Mod Cons

I'm off to Birmingham with work next week. I had to go there the same time last year too.

The only difference this year will be our hotel. We really struggled to find a suitable hotel i.e. one that fitted our miniscule budget, was available on the necessary night and wasn't the same one we stayed in last year. Pretty much our only option was the NiteNite hotel. The name already annoyed me - then I read the description of its amenities in their rooms which are all referred to as a Cityroom:

"Created to emulate the feel of a cabin aboard a luxury yacht, each fully air-conditioned Cityroom utilises high-quality cherry wood, leather finishes and features the very latest technology, including a 42" plasma screen, multi-channel entertainment, wireless Internet access and high-tech bathroom with power shower."

Not bad for £50 you might think, but then reading further the 'Fact Sheet' it lets slip:

"There is no window in the room; however, the 42" plasma screen will show a picture of the outside."

And here is a rather bendy picture of the window-less room and if I'm not mistaken, on the screen is a picture of downtown Birmingham.

I'm not sure how they've managed to build a whole building without windows or why they would want to - is glazing really that expensive? Perhaps the hotel runs up the centre of another building?

I don't know, but I'll know on Tuesday.

At least its just for one NIGHT.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Icons of Style

Surely after those pictures of Victoria Beckham yesterday in that outfit, there can’t be anyone left who considers this woman a style icon? I’m not going to sully my blog with a photo of her because frankly it makes me feel ill. What did she look like? What exactly is it she does these days, what is it she’s famous for now? As far as I can tell her only talent is for making very expensive clothes look like they were bought from Shepherds Bush Market.

So for anyone feeling bereft of a style icon today, I thought I’d put together a little list of my own. I’ve not gone for the really obvious choices but a few of my person favourites. In particular, I’m avoiding Audrey Hepburn because she was possessed of such an ethereal beauty that most of the population is on a hiding to nothing trying to emulate her.

1. Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver

I realise that she was an underage prostitute and ordinarily that isn’t a great look, but if you want to dress like a whore, she’s the whore to dress like. I love the hat, I love the hot pants, I love the sunglasses, I love the colours. Miles more class and style than VB.

2. Margo Leadbetter, The Good

While the OH goes gooey for Felicity Kendal's cutesyness in The Good Life, I much prefer Margo. Yes, she's a terrible snob, but look at her clothes! She is always overdressed, but glorious. Speaking as someone who has just moved further into the suburbs, I know how it feels to be overdressed in suburbia. And she was married to Paul Eddington, a great example of an English man, reserved and slightly awkward, but lovely - I'd take him over squeaky-voiced David Beckham anyday.

3. Karen O, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I loved the Yeah Yeah Yeahs before I'd laid eyes on Karen O, but she is just so cool. Her stage clothes are usually made by the designer, Christian Joy (the dress above being one I saw at the V&A recently) so she's a proper modern day muse. Maps is one of my all time favourite songs too.

4. Beth Orton (singer songwriter)

Possibly the opposite of Karen O, Beth Orton' style is pretty relaxed, but she always looks good. Whenever she has a new record out, I'm always keen to look at the pictures of her to see what she's wearing and what haircut she's got. In the flesh, she's got a slight gawkiness to her, that gives her a certain vulnerability that I find endearing. I'd also include Dot Allison (ex of One Dove) in the same category but can't find any pictures of her.

5. Diane Keaton

She's was offbeat in Annie Hall, great in The Godfather, but to me she is even better now. She was just stunning in As Good As It Gets. I couldn't concentrate on the film for waves of envy of her, her beauty, her beautiful neutral clothes and her beautiful neutral house.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Just Like Riding A Bike

At the end of the month, we are having a mini-break to the New Forest. It will involve a spa, wine on the veranda, craft shops and other relaxing fun.

The OH however has also suggested that it should also involve cycling.

I’m not a natural born cyclist. I haven’t been on a bicycle for 17 years (half-hearted attempts on an exercise bike aren’t the same) since I nearly went under a lorry on one in Germany on a school exchange trip because the brakes didn’t work properly. I’m also not blessed with the greatest balance in the world and I’m scared of traffic, although the latter excuse won’t wash if we stick to cycle paths.

All of the OH’s friends’ partners seem to be the sort of girls who love this kind of thing – outdoorsy, hearty country girls with rosy cheeks, sensible shoes and a Girl Guide spirit. I am not. In fact, I’m about as far removed as that as possible.

But to keep him happy I thought I should give it a go.

Then another thought occurred to me – what does one wear to ride a bicycle? My planned holiday attire (one of the most important elements of a holiday for me) was going to be whimsical dresses, sandals, perhaps a wide-brimmed hat, maybe some wide-legged trousers if the weather wasn’t so good. At no point was it ever going to involve anything that can be purchased in Millets or Blacks (I’ve surprised myself here by even knowing the names of Outdoor Activity shops). But I suspect I may at least need something that covers my limbs to provide protection against scraps and falls – already negative thoughts are overtaking me.

I know its one of those things you are never supposed to forget how to do, but really its been a long time and I have a habit of being the exception that’s proved many a rule.

A Tale of Two Documentaries

On Sunday, there were two music documentaries that we wanted to watch, on at the same time, so we recorded one to watch later.

We watched 'The Making of The Monkees' on Sunday - I love The Monkees. I know they were a manufactured band, but they had some of the best songwriters providing their songs at first and then their own stuff was pretty good (Mr Nesmith can write a good tune). Also I have a bit of a thing for Peter Tork. I was looking forward to this all weekend.

Channel 4 was taking a brief break from its Big Brother nonsense - on reflection it needn't have bothered. There was very little depth to it at all and it attempted to cover the whole of their career, although it wasn't so much about the making of them as their struggle against Don Kirschner to be able to write and play their own songs. But everything was done so superficially.

Yes, it mentioned that Mike Nesmith's mum invented Tipp-Ex, but it didn't mention Davy Jones appearing in Coronation Street or Stephen Stills putting Peter Tork forward for the job. Nor did it mention who the show originally tested poorly until they include footage of the lads screentests. There was some vaguely amusing editing using clips from the show to illustrate what was happening behind the scenes, but really nothing that interesting.
Certainly nothing I didn't already know - but perhaps I know more about The Monkees than the average person?

Last night we watched 'Exodus 77' part of the BBC's Jamaica season, which was about the year Bob Marley spent in London and his classic album Exodus, .
This was everything a good music documentary should be. Each track on the album was played, spliced with footage of interviews with Marley, people who knew him, people inspired by his music and events from the UK and around the world in 1977, along with coverage of the recent unveiling a blue plaque to commemorate his time in London. There was no authorative voiceover; the music and the images were given the space to speak for themselves.

We definitely picked the right one to record and it was a reminder that sometimes the license fee is worth paying afterall.

Note to self: I must remember no matter how good his music is, 'Redemption Song' is not a suitable choice for a pub jukebox as people do not really want to be told to emancipate themselves from mental slavery while enjoying a quiet pint.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Giraffe

In sharp contrast to my last entry, here is a picture of a giraffe. Jerry the Giraffe from M&S (thank you Roses for the suggestion) who will soon be delivered and then given to Baby Samuel when he comes home from hospital.


Last night's rental from Lovefilm was Shooting Dogs. I've no idea why I rented this. I struggle to remember which films I want see and am always short of inspiration when it comes to topping up my rental list. It was probably suggested to me by the site based on my tendency to rent bleak, serious films, rather than popcorn romcoms.

I wasn't really in the mood for it last night (although when am I in the mood for genocide?) but we decided to watch so we could return it quickly and move on the next one. At first, I thought 'here we go again, western white man goes to Africa and patronises the locals' and the OH and I discussed colonalism and globalisation while the film continued, not really that absorbed by it.

But then, just when I had been thinking how awful it was that we've become so desensitised to such things, there was a scene where a mother and her new born baby were hacked to death by machete. It wasn't exactly shown, so it wasn't gory, but it has to be one of the most horrific things I've ever seen, the thought that someone could do that to another human being. It didn't get any less difficult to watch from there.

So it was harrowing and moving but would I recommend it? It was real life and sometimes that isn't all boy-meets-girl japes.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Update - Tomato Plants

My babies seem to be doing well. A few weeks ago, I repotted them and they have definitely grown.

Even the runt of the litter, who I wasn't sure if it was alive, seems to be thriving and is no longer smaller than the others.

Now of course, we just have to wait to see if they will bear fruit, although after all this nurturing, I'm not sure it would feel right to eat them!


Last week, I popped into the Photographers Gallery at lunchtime. I hadn't been there for a while, which is shocking considering how close it is to my office, but I have been so busy recently that lunchbreaks have become somewhat of a luxury (for me anyway - the Colleague still manages on average of 2 per day - he's taking mine as well as his own, ).

Anyway, the exhibition by Joachim Schmid was very interesting, in particular the section 'Bilder von der Strasse', which was a collection of photographs Schmid has found in the street. Apparently, he has found thousands since 1982 on his travels in various countries - lots of passport photographs, some pieces of torn up photographs, some poorly taken pictures, all discarded. He picks the photographs for the exhibition at random, by giving each one a number.

I found this fascinating - for a start, I was amazed at how many photographs he'd found - its not something I recall ever seeing thrown away myself, but perhaps that's because I've not been looking for them, although I will now. I am very interested in what people have thrown away, hence my love of the Abandoned Couches blog I always look at abandoned furniture in the street, wondering if I could take it in, find a new use for it - so far I never have done.

The OH has a thing for finding hats - he frequently brings home a hat he's found on the street or on the train. He doesn't wear them - he just washes them and stored them away like a hat-crazed Womble. So I was telling him about this exhibition and predictably he questioned whether such a thing really counted as art. His argument being that it would be like him putting on a display of his hats at London Fashion Week. I'm not sure it really is the same thing but perhaps it might be worth him trying it?

Friday, June 01, 2007

My new love

Our new coffee table arrived yesterday. Handmade in the Peak District from a sustainable source of timber, no less.

I'm very pleased with it and keep popping into the lounge to admire it.

I must buy some coasters this weekend.

Old Age

Ellie, our family dog, is now eleven. That is 77 in dog years.

Although she is still pretty much just a little ball of fluff, she is now a little old lady. Some of her fur is going grey, her eyesight is getting worse, she can no longer come down the stairs on her own because of her vision (despite, this she always follows my mum upstairs) and she is no longer able to jump onto the windowsill to watch the world go by.

She is still happy enough - she loves trips out in the car, digging and chasing her food around the lounge. But it worries me that she is getting old.