Sunday, August 31, 2008

Things were better then

I can see myself becoming one of those old people who constantly talks about how much better things were in the past. I'll say things like "That wouldn't have happened when I was young" and start conversations with "In my day..." I accept this. but early in the week I experienced an extreme longing for the past.

We went to the Natural History Museum.

I found out that hippos roamed where Trafalgar Square is and there was a Woolly Mammoth from Ilford!

I wish there were still hippos in Trafalgar Square, they could wallow in the fountains. And Mammoths in Ilford could only be an improvement on much of the current population. Things were definitely better then.

My Sanctuary

I've been feeling blue this week and nothing could lift the gloom. But then yesterday, the sun was shining, so I was able to sit in my garden, amongst my tomato plants and read.

I love my garden, it calms and comforts me and I felt much better. Even though this morning there has been rain and thunder, I'm grateful for that one last day of summer.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Time Capsule

Inspired by the forthcoming display of one of Andy Warhol's Time Capsules at the Hayward Gallery, Bryan Appleyard wrote a piece in the Sunday Times this week about what would go in a time capsule to represent 2008.

I'm fascinated by time capsules, perhaps because I contributed to one myself when I was about 10. It was our school's centenary and it was decided that a time capsule would be created, to be opened in another 100 years. I was chosen to do the contribution from my class. For reasons I can't remember I wrote about fashion. This was the Eighties. The piece was accompanied by photographs of me to illustrate the piece. So somewhere there is a time capsule that includes photographs of me in leggings, bat-wing sleeved jumpers, ski-pants and a peach coloured sweatshirt. Not exactly how I'd choose to be remembered.

I discussed the time capsule article with the OH, explaining what was going in their 2008 capsule.

“I love time capsules. We should do one” he said.
“What would you put in it” I asked
“A tin of won ton soup” he replied

A little while ago, he decided to try tinned won ton soup, over enthusiastically ordered multiple cans only to find that he didn’t really like it. He is working his way through it on evenings when we aren’t inclined to cook or there isn’t much else in the cupboard, but still a few cans remain.

He couldn’t think of anything else he’d like to add and for the moment nor can I. So I don’t think we’ll be doing our own time capsule at the moment.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

As the Olympics draw to a close

My favourite athletics related song. Belle and Sebastian "Stars of Track and Field".

Monday, August 18, 2008

2 down 1 to go (or 1 down 2 to go)

The first refers to the number of the summer weddings we’ve been to out of the three we are invited to.

The second is my mother’s perspective since her middle daughter out of three was married on Saturday.

The first wedding was two weekends ago. A countryside setting, with drinks in the parents’ garden, a marquee, a speech that name dropped Jacqueline du Pre and in sharp contrast, a DJ-set by my OH that involved a medley of Chas and Dave records.

The second wedding was my sister’s this weekend, which was a very different affair, but none the less still lovely. Despite being in the rain-soaked North, the weather was bright for most of the day. The little bridesmaids were cute, but proved the rule of “never working with animals and children”.

As the OH once said in a Best Man's Speech "Weddings are emotional occasions. Even the cake is in tiers". I came close to tears no fewer than three times during the day. The first was in the morning when we were all in our dresses ready for the photographer. I was banished to the kitchen to avoid setting my sister off, only to find that my other sister was already in there trying not the cry as well.

The second time was during the speeches, where my sister made the unconventional move of doing a speech, mainly with the purpose of thanking our mother for giving her away and how it was a shame our father wasn’t there to do it. The OH held my hand to see me through that, and luckily the Groom gave his hilarious speech next that cheered us up.

The third was when they did their first dance. My sister has a great love of show tunes, so it was “All Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera. Not a song I had any great love for, but again the tears started to fall. The Groom’s father was so overcome by this that he had to go outside.

The only bad point of the day was the Groom’s mother’s hair. For some reason known only to herself and the world’s worst hairdresser, her hair had been badly dyed purple for the occasion. It was so bad that on seeing from a distance, the Groom had asked why she was wearing a stupid hat! It really will be a blight on the photographs, but perhaps Photoshop can make it a normal colour.

We have a few weeks off now until the third wedding.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It’s really really grim up North

A right of centre think tank has declared that some Northern cities can not be regenerated and the inhabitants could consider moving to the south. (see here)

When I first heard this story on the news this morning, I laughed. The cities mentioned were Liverpool, Bradford and Sunderland. It seems a bit of a kick in the teeth and rather ironic considering that Liverpool is the European City of Culture this year. I’ve never been to Bradford so couldn’t possible comment. The third city is what made me laugh though.

Sunderland is near enough to being my hometown. I didn’t live there, but I went to school there, I support their football team and (perhaps most importantly) this is where I went out in my teenage years.

The report says: "Sunderland demonstrates just how hard it is to regenerate such a city. It is time to stop pretending there is a bright future for Sunderland and ask ourselves instead what we need to do to offer people in Sunderland better prospects."

To be honest, Sunderland doesn’t have much to recommend it, but hometowns are like families – it is fine for you to mock them yourself, but you don’t want to hear anyone doing it. Newcastle has a certain glitz and even something resembling cosmopolitan about it these days, but not so Sunderland. Actually I’m making an assumption, because on my fleeting visits to the north, I’ve not set foot in Sunderland in years. There isn’t anything there really and while money was poured into making Newcastle what it is today, Sunderland was left to rot (this is a source of local animosity as well as the football rivalry).

So is Sunderland beyond saving? I got out of there 11 years ago and did exactly what the report suggests people there do, move to London, Oxford or Cambridge. The jury is still out on whether that was a good move in my case, but I can’t see it is a viable solution for most people. Beside most people being very happy in the north, I don’t think we’ve got much more room down here.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Quiz Call Recall

When I'm on my own, I have a habit of falling asleep with the television on, and often my dreams merge with what is on the television, and I wake up unsure of what was real and what was imagined.

I had been watching Law & Order on Channel 5, but the next programme is that awful Quiz Call. It seems to be broadcast at a louder volume than other programmes, the presenter shouts enthusiastically in the hope that someone on a better programme might rescue her. People ring in to guess things and win some money. Beyond that I don't quite understand the rules, it often sounds as if the presenter is making them up as she goes along, but then I've never actually watched it with my eyes open for more than a few minutes.

From what I (and probably most of the street) heard of it last night, it was film titles they had to guess. That seems likely enough. But I also thought there was a section where it was book titles, but I think I may have dreamt this bit. One contestant was saying "The Human Stain" by Philip Roth, and the presenter kept asking him to repeat it and saying she didn't know what he meant, that she hadn't heard of it, and he was repeating the title over again and saying "you know by Philip Roth" and then she just cut him off and went to the next contestant.

Did this really happen or did I dream this part? Its just that I read something about this book the other day so perhaps it was in mind, and (no offence if you are a regular on the show) it seems a bit too high brow for a reference on Quiz Call.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I’m cursed with an excellent long term memory. I can remember every detail about events from years ago. I can remember whole conversations I had with people I’ve not seen in over a decade, what they were wearing and what I was wearing.

What use is this to me? Absolutely none whatsoever (unless I need to write my memoirs later in life which seems unlikely).

It is a curse. It makes it far too easy to dwell on the past, nobody else ever remembers these things and I look like an obsessive for remembering everything.

On the other hand, I have what the OH refers to as my “skipping mind”, a shockingly bad short-term memory and an infuriating absentmindedness. I can't remember what I walked into the room to do, but I can tell you in detail about things that happened in 1994.