Tuesday, March 30, 2004

"6 lengths in a time of 18 minutes 47 seconds"
The Craft Rocks! event at the Victoria and Albert museum last Friday was absolutely phenomenal - the entire ground floor of the museum (which is rather large and imposing) was completely taken over by crowds of people, sitting on the floor between exhibits, dancing in the bar areas with their needles in the air and generally being very friendly and warm towards each other. The fact there was up to 3,000 people turning up to knit in the V and A on a Friday night is extraordinary enough but the atmosphere there was the most wonderful and impressive thing: the achingly cool and hip fashion students rocking out to the DJ playing Guns and Roses in the main foyer were as friendly and welcoming as the cheery old grannies dotted about, encouraging new knitters to "try another row, this time in purl stitches… go on, you can do it!" I had the honour of knitting with the uber-cool Fizzwhizz and the honour of teaching the ever-enthusiastic Devukha how to get beyond casting on.

Then the second event in camp-tastic weekend was Sing-a-Long-a-Sound of Music with my dear mother which was a mother's day treat from me to her. Oh! We has such fun! Mother was slightly subdued at first, quietly giggling at the variety of "nuns" filling up the auditorium and puzzling over the row of green-plastic sheeted folk (turns out they were the hills...) and then not really following the drag queen who led us through the warm-up but clearly amused and bemused by the goodie bag she had been given and the panto-like shouting... then the film started and the excitement was electric.

It is an extremely long scanning shot of the hills before the camera focuses on the hillside Maria appears on for her famous "Hills are alive!" entrance and some (female) wag with an extremely dirty laugh shouted "She's coming! Maria's coming!" and everyone joined in, revving up the entire cinema like a sportscar so that when Maria / Julie Andrews finally appeared over the top of the hill we all leapt up and cheered, ecstatic and euphoric. It went on like this for the entire film, booing the Nazis, barking at Ralph, singing along at the top of our voices - and dear Mother was considerably bolder in the second half and in fact led the cheering when the evil Baroness announced she was going to pack her little bags and go. Woo!

A really special moment was the kiss between the Captain and Maria in the greenhouse: Mother and I were sitting at the top of the slightly slanted stalls and when they kissed we had the explosive and breath-taking view of a sea of party-poppers going off in a truly mind-blowing moment. Fantastic stuff.

Then I was off to Brighton for Sunday lunch with Vixen and Former Flatmate A and vixen's extremely lovely parents. We ate in a very impressive seafront hotel and then opened birthday presents in Vixen's new flat above the Lanes ... and I got home to London that evening to news that finished one of the best and most magical weekends: Cambridge won the Boatrace.

Wow. What a weekend. How was yours?

Friday, March 19, 2004

"Actually, until you get to know her, the bug eyes can be a little disturbing."

It's fascinating what you discover about yourself by entering your name into Google.

C'mon... rub my fluffy tummy.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

"Is Colleague K happily spouting off down below?"
Me: [Blinks a few times in surprise.] That is sooo rude. I can't answer that."
Line Manager: [Stunned and baffled pause] I was asking if he is okay and if he is happy taking the course in the conference room downstairs.
Me: Oh. [Breaking eye contact that will probably remain broken for the rest of the day]Yes, yes, he's fine.

I just caught sight of myself in the mirror and have realised how grey and haggard I look. This is because I was up for a large part of the night listening to a cat killing a pigeon on the stairs just outside my fucking bedroom window. Darling Taxloss slept through it all, having exhausted himself on the (table) football field (/ table) but I, being rather full of cake and Papa's cooking - and the mental image of my wee cousin growing an enormous bottom through over-dancing - was less restful and I kept getting jolted awake by the sound of panicked wingbeats, smacking the floor in fright and then rattling the bin tucked away under the stairs.

It was 3.30am and I had been asleep for a while when the sound of something whacking the window woke me up and I was, frankly, crapping myself in fear. Our bedroom faces the stairs leading down to the front door from street level and you'd have to quite deliberately come through the gate and turn down the steps to hit the window and so I was frightened, understandably so. Then the sound came again and I heard wingbeats... then, it being 3.30am and having read too many Neil Gaiman novels, I thought "Holy crap! It's a tramp, coming to find shelter in that little space under the stairs where we keep the bin, and he's actually an angel and he's having a fight with something from the dark places!" Then I was really scared. And curious.

So I got out of bed, hopped over to the window, pulled the curtain back gingerly and came face to face with the most evil tortoiseshell cat central London has ever produced. It didn't move... because it was watching an injured pigeon freaking out two steps below and this cat clearly didn't want to give up it's new toy, despite my jittery banging on the glass. I just went back to bed, thinking: Well...okay... there's a cat killing a pigeon outside my window, and the pigeon is clearly in distress because it's freaking out and beating its wings really loudly and... oh; that was the sound of it dying, a sort of mournful cooing that faltered and then stopped. Nice. And then there was a lot of feathey rustling, maybe even some cruching noises? and fuck it, I'll just try and get some sleep and deal with any messy dead massacred pigeon on my doorstep in the morning.

There was no mess this morning (and I did chicken out and send Boatie Flatmate out to investigate before I would peep round the doorframe...). Just a small drift of feathers over the stairs.

I need more sleep. Bah.
"Look at her! Dancing away! She's dancing so hard, her arse will get big!"
Last night, after dinner, before the prototype birthday cake was unveiled, I'm sittign with my mother at the table, having a chat about my aunt and uncle who are visiting the UK from HK and the over-exposure of us all to aunt, uncle, their son, his wife (the least loved relative of all) and their little girl. The following is a translation from Cantonese.

Me: So our cousin's little girl is getting big now.. she must be almost 3 years old.
Mother: Oh, yes, definitely, she's chatting away and running about and I'll tell you what, she knows when she's being cute - your aunt was watching her, saying "Look! Look at her trying to get our attention, she just can't stop!" and she was right, there she was, this little girl, all cute and small, standing near the door and dancing... like this...

[gets up from the dinner table and starts wiggling her behind, gurning and doing a weird half-birdie song, half-Macarena dance.. thing]

Me: Wow. Now that's dancing.
Mother: Yes! You see! You see, this is what she was doing, getting us all to look at her, doing this...

[more gurning and more emphasis on the arm actions, now bordering on Dangerous as well as Hilarious]

Me: Umm...
Mother: And your aunt said "Look at her! Dancing away! She's dancing so hard, her arse will get big!"
Me: [Silence. Complete and utter, baffled, incredulous silence]
Mother: [Still "dancing"] She'll be a right slag when she grows up.
Me: I'm going home.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

"At the moment, I feel very strong yet light."
Ah, such are the benefits of contemporary dance and pilates (and a bit of yoga). I've been talking to the lovely and unmindful Jojou who is writing in his delightful blog about living in a natural rhythm - something I am longing to do as London suddenly seems... weird in springtime. There should be more bird song, more leaves on trees, more pleasant, soft breezes carrying the smell of the earth warming up and waking... I just smell traffic and hear car alarms. And I spend all day staring at this computer screen, feeling an itch in all my joints to get up and run around, feeling - at last! - the sun on my hair and on my face. It's not going to happen in Zone 1.

On Monday, Former Flatmate A called me at work to let me know she was in the BBC Radio Studios in Brighton with a sound engineer at the ready to do some recording and did I have a few minutes to answer some questions on fanfiction? It was all tremendously exciting, me crouched in the corridor outside the office with my mobile phone and some notes, talking away about one of my favourite ever literary subjects... this will be included in a piece Former Flatmate A is putting together for BBC World Service - there will be endless plugs on this blog when it is ready and scheduled for broadcast, trust me. Woo!

How did I get involved in all this? Well, dear Former Flatmate A is now re-located on the South Coast, learning how to be a journalist and I went to visit her for the weekend hoping to catch up with Former Flatmate B too who was briefly stationed out there training to be A Doctor - but she was on her way to New York to be with the Lawyer Boyfriend and so I missed her. Boo. But! Old chum and Former University Housemate Vixen has also re-located to the South Coast and we had a jolly catch-up, we three old friends, in an extraordinarily noisy pizza place and then a rather lovely courtyard of a bar. Nice. During my visit, Former Flatmate A arranged some recording time and talked over what she was planning for her radio piece and I got on board and off we went... I'm proud and pleased for her, and rather pleased for myself too. Woo!

I'm about to go to see my bro and my folks to test the Pilot Birthday Cake currently hogging their fridge. It's a prototype cake for the joint birthday cake we're to expect in May, for my bro and me, created by a Big Time French Pastry Chef to the Stars who happens to be a good friend of my bro-in-law.

I'm double-booked, actually: I've had an invite to see the fiancee of a post-grad friend do another runny mascara, multilingual, accordion-bashing and foot-stamping jazz gig on a barge in Battersea: I was quite emotionally drained after the last gig I went to which I'm not prepared for in this week of my upbeat mood but will definitely be there for the next one. Anyone interested in coming along? Email me and we'll soak up some sounds... nice. Smooth. Yeah...

Another invite I had this evening which I am turning down in order to consume lots of cake and have dinner cooked for me by my folks is from dear Taxloss who is playing table football with the people who put together the luscious Icon Magazine. Sorry I'm not going - I just can't do ball sports, even the table top kind.

Ahhh. It's been a busy and interesting time for me. I'm telling you, friends: I ain't nothing if not well-connected. Yeah.

Monday, March 15, 2004

No Worst, There Is None

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief -
Woe, world-sorrow; on an age-old anvil wince and sing -

Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked "No ling-
Ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief."

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

In the light of the situation in Madrid, I thought that only some of Gerard Manley Hopkins heightened, tremulous poetry could sum up this dark time for Europe.

It is indeed a dark time, and I have learnt to cherish the things that I and my loved ones have: each other, our freedom, our safety. This was going to be a rather frivolous post about my recent jaunts about town but I can't go into that right now - it seems almost inappropriate for this pensive mood I am in. Why this mood when I've had such a great time over the last few weeks? Precisely because I have had a good few weeks: I've become aware in a frighteningly stark and brutal way, that this is not to be taken for granted and the life I have is more fragile and in danger than I have ever assumed.

Work has calmed down recently and I'm keeping much pleasanter hours and I don't feel so harrassed all the time. I've been enjoying myself visiting friends and cooking and going to parties and hanging around my lovely flat, watching TV under a blanket while it rains on the glass roof of the kitchen, feeling warm and safe and loved. And it's so fragile, I can see that now. I am so fortunate to live the life that I do, with the people I love and doing the things that I want... it's not to be taken for granted and certainly not to be abused. I have my health, I have a job, I have friends and family, I have hobbies and interests and all the resources and freedom to pursue them. It's time to take stock of what I've got - what we have got and be fucking grateful we've got it so good. Willl it always be like this?

I'm going off to have a good think about things and maybe read some more Manley Hopkins. And then I'll have all this maudlin but meaningful stuff off my (blogging-)chest and then I can get back to bragging about the amazing Thai curry I made last night and my recent efforts to geton the BBC World Service.

In the meantime, have a hug disguised as some curly brackets. {{ }} It's not much but thanks for reading and come back soon.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"Ooh, my head hurts..."
In between long stretches of sleeping and rolling around the flat aimlessly all of Sunday, I did spend some time grumbling along these lines. I had possibly *too* much fun at Taxloss' birthday bash which was fabulous and fantastic. I certainly had too much to drink and not enough to eat. But surely I should be used to that by now...

two amusing things I saw today: a gigantic green felt hand with a "no GM crops!" type slogan being carted around Victoria station during rush hour by white people with dredlocks and at lunchtime, a half-clouded over sky with half the sky a crisp and clear, clear blue and the other half grey and heavy with clouds. Through these clouds came the achingly beautiful sunlight breaking through in dramatic shafts. I'm about to throw myself on the office floor and push and pull myself through an hour of pilates (the little rubber balls are being inflated just behind my monitor much to my amusement...) so I'm off to ease the stiff back and neck brought on by my heavy weekend. Toodles until next time...

Thursday, March 04, 2004

The correct pronunciation of the fish we dined on yesterday evening. It turned out to be a rather Eastern Bloc meal ? hrrrings!, red cabbage, watercress and potatoes. Taxloss and I had a glass of vodka each before eating and when Boatie Flatmate joined us, it would have been fitting to turn out all the lights, put on fingerless gloves, play cards and debate the best ways to top oneself.

There's been so much I want to write about but I have had so little time to actually put anything into print. The following are things I?ve been wanting to blither on about: here?s a summary of sorts:

1) talk What is Beauty? I went to at the ICA
2) Powerpoint is the new Photoshop (especially as I don?t have Photoshop)
3) Tori Amos
4) Cultural diversity vs. anti-racism and the marketing power of the safest, blandest, most Blairite bollocky rubbish ineffectual terminology for something that really can?t afford to have a Blairite bollocky rubbish ineffectual terminology if it is going to actually do anything or change anything
5) knitting
6) Update on the Vile Women
7) Fanfiction

Alas, no time for any of this especially as all these topics are maturing and fermenting like a possessed cheese in my compost heap of a brain... suffice to say:

1) I've got notes taken at this talk that I will host in entirety elsewhere and link to it so the uninterested or indifferent reader won't have to navigate around it; fascinating discussion involving ancient and modern analysis of taste and aesthetics (if you like that sort of thing) (and you might not so hosting it somewhere Other is for the best)

2) Powerpoint has become my new Thing since I no longer have Photoshop to piss about with (and even when I did have access to that B3ta pet programme, I was abysmally shit at using it and was unlikely to ever improve - I couldn't even do a spong properly, for chrissake)

3) I watched a really interesting interview with the flame haired piano-thumping loon, part of a series called faith and music and was very moved by the things she said about her own faith / non-faith and how it changed with her music when she got married, got pregnant, lost the baby then adopted a child. I've been a dedicated follower of her music since I was a cynical, bitter and twisted teenager and though her singing style now grates a little (whereas I used to listen to her shrieking and occasional eerie whooping non-stop without getting a headache), I went back to her albums and thought, wow. This is someone I can actually hear developing and changing across all these songs. And I can still remember what I, myself, was like when I listen to certain pieces of her work. Not quite the same effect as the cookie-cutter pap released by "artists" polluting the more mainstream music world.

4) Cultural diversity - I can't comment on this without spending the rest of the afternoon ranting, counter-ranting, doing some serious analysis and writing up anecdotal evidence. Basically... I hate this phrase passionately. Passionately.

5) Fizzwhizz (aka Deputy) has initiated me into the more complex and practical social world of knitting! I might actually produce something I will use / wear while wielding my needles under her wing! Huzzah for handicrafts!

6) Further complaints have come in from the Vile Women but mercifully not about me. My line manager (their more worthy enemy) is leaving and they seem to be pulling out all the stops to make his exit as difficult as possible. They need dildoes. Badly.

7) I've got back into it. I'm hooked again. Sorry.

More from me after the weekend. And it looks like it will be a very interesting weekend...