Friday, 15 August 2014

Jahovah bashing

Don't know where the Jahovah stands first appeared from or even when they arrived exactly but they are there at stations handing out pamphlets if a person approaches them for one. This is not hard sell like chuggers or traditional Standard distributors. Just a lot of meek ladies and men in badly fitting suits. 

On London Bridge today a man, quite possibly slightly irritated from a day in the bank bereted one of them standing quite close to her face - get off the street you are taking up space on the pavement with your pathetic pieces of paper. A man who had been waiting for the bus came over to tell the man he shouldn't be so abusive to her. The first man grabbed his hand and shook it vigorously while dragging the man towards himself. A bit of too-ing and fro-ing to the tune of there is no need to speak to her that way, with the first man saying nice to meet you in a passive aggressive manner. Finally the first man released the hand of the second man and stormed off down the street. The second man retuned to his travelling companion declaring his shock at such behaviour.

The Jahovah woman was shaking and tears formed in her eyes. Her colleague hugged her and told her, I'm guessing, about the evil that the devil bestows in people and we have to feel sorry for them for they know not what waits for them. And how she needs to develop thick skin because there's a lot like that around. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Grey seal


Sunny evening after the heavy rain and wind of the tail end of Hurricane Bertha passing over the UK. Walking on the beach near Waxham in Norfolk. Beautiful clean golden sand. Head of a seal popped out of the sea having a look around. As we walked down the beach saw another one - grey seal with silvery head.  Took a peek. Went back under. Popped up later on down the beach. Standing at the place where the waves reached up to on the beach, watching the seal float along the length of the waves, nostrils breathing. Sometimes it's head turned towards me on the beach to have a look. Followed us up the beach for a couple of kilometres and then back again while the tide came in. Total of five seals seen at one time. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Other than work

A colleague sitting across the aisle from me in the vast open plannism that is our central office is having a discussion with a men's outfitters about when he can bring the morning suit in that he bought from them to have the jacket taken in, and a couple of waistcoats. He has to wait for a time when Monty can come. I think these sorts of things should be arranged in home time. And not in a loud authoritarian voice in the middle of the working day. I'm reminded of the wedding that took an entire year to plan where I used to work. Lots of deliveries recieved and considered in the office. Cakes, menus, kilts, invitations... It went on and on! And when we eventually went to the wedding it was ever so slightly blended polyester, as opposed to 100% silk. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Over hung

Long afternoon drinking on Saturday - watching the world go past in Brick Lane, chatting, lubricating with sambucca. Jolly fun time. 

Woke up this morning. Head unwilling to get off the pillow. Body craving eggs. Preferably with hollandaise sauce. Struggle ensued between the head and the body. Bathed. Full submersion helps the head. Prepares the body. Still not working very fast or coherently. Get dressed. Put on sunglasses while still indoors. This helps. Until I step out the house. Bright outside. Feels early and it's midday. Self inflicted - what gave pleasure yesterday gives pain today! 

Kensington

Working day - generally walking purposefully, fast even, everyone in the tube corridors know where they are going. Bankers and office workers at London Bridge and Moorgate. Pace set by the urgent need to be making money. This pace helps to shave important minutes off a journey to enable better timekeeping. 

Meeting in Kensington. All the people in the tube, on the platforms and all over the pavement appear to be tourists. Crazy holiday outfits. Massive suitcases. No idea where they are going. Travelling from London Bridge to here I'm caught in that weird thing where you start off at one pace and on coming out the other end you are persistently tripping over people - like catching the tube on the weekend and forgetting it will be full of shoppers strolling rather than the work commuters that are usually down there. Don't know that I could cope with always working in a tourist area. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

Fitting

At the bus stop at Finsbury Square there is a man waiting. He is wearing black jeans - very slim fitting (not skinny jeans stretched over stick thin legs like gothic punks) so you are aware of the muscles in his legs and an asexual bulge a la Ken (as in barbie and ken). And a faded denim shirt - this is worn slim fitting also. Tucked into his jeans there is no blousing from excess fabric - the buttons lie flat over his stomach which doesn't have obvious abs and flat over his chest which doesn't have obvious pecs. I'm looking at him because I can't figure out why this slim fitted look is so odd. It's old fashioned somehow. None descript in its nothingness. Perhaps this is normcore. Just ordinary in a totally non-styled none-descript manner. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Trains

I'm waiting at Peckham Rye Station for a train to Victoria on my way to a meeting in Kensington. I'm at a different platform than my usual one and at an odd time of day for me. Two long long trains pass each other - trundling along carrying train track replacement materials, load after load after load. No paint on the containers just rust. An engine with a number plate that the trainspotters will probably be drooling over. A workman all dressed in high vis orange opens a room on the platform. Goes in. Comes out and locks up again. Goes away. Comes back five minutes later with a toilet roll. Staff loo. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Passing

An old lover passes in the street. A year has passed since I saw him last. He looks happier than the last chance meeting we had. He is strolling with a woman. Talking. It takes me a moment to recognise him such are the changes in his appearance. But OMG it is him. I wave slowly and persistently with my hand at chest height until he notices me. Oh my god he says in absolute shock. And then we've passed. 

Scream if you want to go faster

OMG Thorpe Park. Family day out with my sister, her husband and my niece and nephew. Mostly there was queuing. Between 50 and 85 minutes per ride. All the queues were cleverly hidden from view so you couldn't see how far you would be queuing until you got past the first corner. Lots of chatting and shuffling along. Lots of teenagers and young people. Most popular fashion choice for girls was cut-off-jeans hot pants and bare midriff. 

So then there were rides - big rollercoasters. Feet dangling, upside down, loops, corkscrews, really high drops, g-force 4.2 like a rocket. Those of us aged over 25 were probably not the demographic they were aiming at (as pointed out to me earlier today). Dizzy. Slightly nauseous. Bit shaky. Actually glad to be back on firm ground. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Go Cats


I got cats a couple of years ago because I first had a rat problem and then when I'd gotten rid of them I got mice. Fairly persistently. All food stuffs had to be in tin  or glass containers. And then there was the incident of the mouse falling out of my shopping bag at the checkout in the supermarket. Anyway. The cats were cute. And then they grew up. They love me because I feed them. And we haven't had mice since they arrived. Yesterday evening they caught and killed a mouse. And lay around in the kitchen with the remains until someone came to congratulate them. Well pleased with themselves they were. So GO Cats! Keep at it. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Bus stop compliments

Waiting in Dalston for a bus. Stop crowded with after work shoppers. A thin old man with the blackest skin and false teeth too big for his gums that clattered as he spoke, passed by pointing at me - you, yeah you girl, you have one built body, nice. And because I didn't respond he pointed harder and repeated himself.  Everyone at the bus stop started tittering to themselves. Before I got embarrassed,  I thanked him. He nodded his approval and slinked off round the corner. Compliments are good. From any source. The bus came. We all got on. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Girl in the city - old draft post from 2009

Girl in the City

There's a building site next to my office that I pass everyday. Yesterday the foreman ran over wanting to exchange numbers with me. Which is flatterning but has to be met with the negative. In the evening as I walked back to the station an elderly gentleman called out asking after me, "hey, how are you?"
"I'm fine," I replied, "how are you?" (gotta be polite after all).
"Not as fine as you," he retorted.

Arriving at London Bridge this morning a man with large feet and 60s style slim legged suit trousers engaged me in conversation on the escalator - he was very taken with my matching hair and glasses and coat (I'm very coordinated sometimes).

I'm feeling a little bashful with all the attention.

Two glasses of wine

He arrived at the same time as me, ordered 2 glasses of wine and a portion of chips and told the barstaff he'd be over in the corner. He settled in. I imagined he would be joined by a chic woman. When the woman arrived she was wearing a very short skirt, rather more suited to a teenager. They greeted and proceeded to snog passionately until the wine and chips were gone (I didn't quite notice how they were eaten) and then they left.

World Cup 2014


Germany supporters in Shorditch celebrating their World Cup Win - road blockage, impromptu motorbike wheelspins display in the road. Disgruntled teacher on the bus wanted to pour orange juice on them to make them get out of the way. I didn't think it would work - the juice bottle being tiny and there being a lot of supporters. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Ordering the whole menu

It started off with a trip to a secret gig at No Show Space in which the artist, Giorgio Sadotti, sang songs he had written to accompany his exhibition in a closing event with his band (including his daughter on vocals). His texts and lyrics make use of repetition and plays on words. It was a fun gig, slightly hippy rock with a girl on guitar and another one on drums. 

Afterwards, six of us went to a little Indian restaurant on Redchurch street and decided since there were six starters and six mains that we should just order the entire menu (including the five chutneys and accompaniments). Which is what we did. And great delight was had making the order. And plans were made to make this 'ordering the whole menu' into a regular thing - could review restaurants like that (albeit that for most menus a good number more dining companions may be needed to sample the whole menu in one sitting - but that could be big fun if slightly nightmarey logistics), or make it into a programme of some sort...

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Lunchtime tennis


More London big screen in the scoop showing tennis. Workers flocking to watch in their stolen lunchtimes. Not even sure it's because it is great - maybe just to be in the crowd, outside, in a heat trap. 


And then the Murray match is starting. So perhaps they are actually fans. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Painting

Still trying to sort out the house après le film crew. Painting. All Sunday. Two coats so far. It's nice to get rid of the sort of dingy grey/blue colour they painted. Difficult to cover it being as it was a. quite dark, b. kitchen paint with a sort of wipe clean surface. Glad it's started to look back to normal and matt. In the day light the blue is still impacting through making a colder feel to the paint than the two walls they didn't paint. 

And then paint gets everywhere. My girl cat Philomena somehow got a swipe on her tail even though I didn't see her in the room at all. And I am still picking paint flakes off my arms and out of my hair. 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Annual Val Hugo Memorial Mele

So I spent Saturday playing pétanque on a triangle of ground with an appropriately gravelled surface down Narrow Street in Docklands near The Grape pub. There are trees with broad leaves providing dappled sunlight when it shone and some relief from the rain when it fell. Quite like France in fact. Reminded me of the Tuilleries. It's an annual event in memorial of Val Hugo, a keen player, with a core membership of people who she played with. Serious, good players. It's a tournament. Players span several generations and a wild mixture of abilities. Teams are drawn out of a bag and matches are held between teams of 2 or 3. Then players are ranked by scores and numbers of wins and put into quarter final playoffs. Complex. Long. 

But along the way I was in teams which won and teams which lost. I learned something of how to play, managed to not totally embarass myself and made it into a semi final for runners up. Lots of looking at the boules nestling up to the coche (short for cochonet) to figure out which team's boule was 'on'. Inbetween matches there were sandwiches, biscuits, coffee and some pastis. And a lot of chat about the game, the tactics and the players. It was fun. 

And the final was a serious affair for the best players through the ranks and gave them a properly decent match. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Grass (2)

The last time I came to this cafe to eat there was a man with his feet in the grass. Today sitting looking out of the window of the cafe I saw his saunter up the hillock of the park, kick off his shoes and plant his feet on the grass again. Shortly after he threw himself onto the grass and lolled on one elbow while talking on the phone. Here is a man who needs to feel the earth through the soles of his feet. And does so as often as he can. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

World Cup 2014

It started off pretty exciting - lots of good feeling and summer joy, Brazilian carnival taking over London. Pretty quickly depressed by England's shocking, although not really suprising, performances. Decision on who to support next is pretty key - brazil perhaps, probably not Holland, or perhaps Ghana. 

We have connections to Ghana. We went to watch their match against Germany in a local Ghanian joint. Expecting not much. Got an extremely exciting performance celebrated wildly by a packed bar - drumming and singing whenever the ball went vaguely near the goal. Half time singing, dancing and flag waving in the street. 


And in the middle of the second half some argument got a bit heated and a small scuff broke out. The lady who owned the joint shut it down, everyone piled into the street and dispersed as the police showed up. We went next door for the nail-biting last quarter. Winning for a bit only for Germany to come back. And despite rallying Ghana couldn't get another goal. Probably one of the most exciting games I've ever watched. 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Lunchtime queuing in tescos

Tooley street tesco, down some escalators into the basement. Pick up a quick sarnie and some fruit. Well, that was the idea anyway. The queue snaked round the checkouts, back past the fruit, up the side of the salad bar, round the back of the store all the way to the frozen food section. Pretty much it seemed like all lunchtime would be spent queuing. In actual fact it was quicker than expected. And then was chucked back out off the up escalator to the street. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Gossip from the green room and other parts of the filming

One of the actors flew in from LA to do his part. He had one line. He does a lot of street performance making like a silver statue. And once auditioned to strip for Peter Stringfellow. Without wearing Velcro whip-off trousers, getting caught up at the bottom trying to get out of the trouser legs. One of the others was a bit insecure and liked to talk to other professional actors about how often she was recognised in Romford from her time in Eastenders. My neighbour's bath was used in a scene and the dressers were instructed to dirty it up. In the morning, after a finish at 3am, my neighbour threw a wobbly about it not having been cleaned up afterwards. They diligently cleaned up what they messed up and left behind any dirt that my neighbour had originally had on it (taking the leave-it-as-you-found-it to the extreme).

Making a film

Never had any idea what kind of chaos making a film is. Lent my house for a set. It's doubling as set and base for the film. Kitchen is full of canteen for actors and crew - the fridge is overflowing, milk spilling, counters full of biscuits, endless cups of tea and coffee. A "green room" upstairs where the actors are hanging out watching football. The crew, half of whom are Italian, are watching football downstairs when they get a moment. 

Took about 7 takes to make a couple of minutes intro outside in the street - closing the road, directing a van and some kids playing, elderly man crossing the street and a character crossing their path. After several rehearsals. Close to pissing off some of my neighbours as they are asked not to drive down the road or indeed at times walk down the road to the shop. 


Stuff is all over the house in an organised chaos of moved furniture and house stuff mixed with equipment. Don't know where half my stuff is but am relying in the runners knowing where they put it. 

Sort of interesting but displaced. Roll on the end. Cut. That's a wrap. 



Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Regrets, I've had a few

Lovely evening spent with pops, bails and heather spaffing on about a number of things while pops fed us delicious dinner and plied us with wine and Cachaça (it being two days until the World Cup starts in Brazil). With Bails and me being only 10 days apart in age (I'm younger believe it or not, and so much more concerned about it than she) there is always a moment when she despairs at me. This evening I was thinking back over turning points in time when I've chosen the wrong path. Regrets, I've had a few, and I'm just going to mention them. 

When I was 18 we spent a lot of time in the Spice of Life pub where I would chat with a particular barman - I was just about to go to art college, he was a film student. He would give me free drinks. On the evening when I met my first serious boyfriend the barman gave me his number. I should have rung him. He would have been creative, he was slightly older, I could have learned a lot from him. Instead I went for a pretend part time punk who came from a small town and never quite shook the small town from himself. 6 years that lasted. Unfortunately.

A very sexy blond Australian with dreadlocks once made a play for me rubbing his foot up and down my leg under the table of the coal hole pub. We kissed deeply on the stoop of the pub until the doorman moved us on for making the place look undesirable. One night of passion ensued. And I stupidly left in the morning without taking a number (pre-everyone with a mobile phone).  Never to be able to find him again.

There used to be a private members bar in Crouch End that my friend Alex belonged to. We went a couple of times. One time I struck up a chat with a girl and a cute man who turn out to be actor Don Gilet. Late in the evening he came back and unexpectedly kissed me full on the mouth. Do you come here often, he asked me breathlessly. I don't, I said, do you? No, says he, but I will now. A big missed cue - he was on the brink of doing some big tv and film. I should have picked up his cue and run with it. But I failed to. C'est la vie.

I guess you can't spend all your time mulling over regrets. Need to keep on experiencing life and attempting to make better choices!

Monday, 9 June 2014

New phone

I've never dropped a phone before. Had it splashed by salt water when a wave swept up unexpectedly behind me and soaked me (it corroded inside and stopped working). Dropped it in the bath before (tried drying it out to no avail). But not dropped it on the corner so the screen broke. But that's what I did. Luckily I was due an upgrade so ordered a new one - asked for the silver version. Forgot to ask what colour the front was. It turns out to be white. I'm trying really hard to love this phone despite its blatent Essex girl looks. I'm struggling... I feel like I should be driving round in a white rhino jeep and getting long straight extensions and a deep orange tan. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Post

There was a time when you had to go to a shop to purchase an item and have cash to cover the cost. (I don't have a good memory of these times but my parents used to tell me). Then came credit cards. Then came the internet and the blossoming of online shopping.

In the early days of internet shopping your goods arrived with the Royal Mail in the morning delivery. If you weren't in they would leave a card and you could collect the package from the local delivery office. Mine was conveniently situated directly on my route home. They seemed to stop actually carrying the packages and would only bring the card (occasionally I would be in when the non-delivery proportedly happened). But I didn't mind too much because it was easy to get the non-deliverable. 

Now with the post office losing its monopoly things are delivered with a huge raft of other mail-handlers. Which is why I found myself in Star Lane, Canning Town, further into the east of  London than I have any cause to be, collecting an item from UKmail's depot after 3 days of struggling to find an appropriate delivery time. This is a back of beyond place. One massive industrial estate spread wide to enable articulated lorries easy access to warehouses. One prefab caf set up on the side of the road to service lorry drivers and warehouse workers. Nobody comes here, particularly by foot. Desolate even on a sunny morning. Inconvenience in the highest order. Not sure competitive mail services are really better for the customer. Particularly when you can't just wait at home for 3 days for a potential delivery. 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Waiting for the train

Its late coming in. There's a woman with black hair and huge false eyelashes sitting against the ledge where a screen is kept held in place with a chain padlocked with a combination lock. Her partner is hunched over the padlock trying to get it to open. He steps over to the tracks to spit. He's short, ginger, unattractive in a white boxer sort of way - all has-been-smashed-up face. He is wearing a tracksuit and keeps fiddling with his package - either down the elastic or blatantly - uncomfortable underpants. She stands up - she's shorter than him but beautiful in a TOWIE sort of way, perma tan, pale lipstick, dark sultry eyes. She's wearing a wrap coat of velvet with a real fur collar. They talk to each other without seeing anybody else around them. He talks on the phone to someone telling them they can't take this other person to his dads place no way. He's sort of bouncing around back and forth across the platform. He ends up back beside his woman he shadow boxes a bit and then pretend-spars against her held-out hands. He suddenly sees something in her face and looks deeply at it, wipes something off her. She picks something off his lip. He puts his arm around her shoulder and pulls her to him, her arm wraps round his waist and they wander off up the platform as the train finally arrives. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Grass

Lunchtime June warmer air even though the sunshine is only sporadic. I'm in a cafe eating lunch watching a man with bare feet enjoy the feel of grass underfoot as he talks on the phone. He's laughing in the conversation he is having and pacing around kicking his feet up and gripping the ground with his toes as he places them down. Living in the moment. 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Upsets of the Stomach

Was greatly looking forward to hooking up with bails and getting a few drinks après work on Friday night. Good to let the hair down after a week of work. She had something to do that kept her late. I hung out a bit before making my way to the Royal Festival Hall - it's a good place to meet initially when we need to formulate a plan.

By the time I got there I was a bit hot, and feeling unsettled in the stomach. All the smells of people eating warmed meat sandwiches contributed to a queasiness that I couldn't quite shake off. First drink I had to decline and had a glass of water. Shortly after which I ran towards the toilet hand over mouth and didn't quite make it. Vomited on the floor, ran into the loo with a handful of sick. Grossed out. But felt a lot better. We sat and chatted a bit more, watched the world go by and a youth dance group practising. Only to be struck again with a dash to the loo. Decided we had to call it a night.

Rolled up in bed later with a discomfort that only could be ignored by sleeping.

In the morning there is the fear of eating but the craving of hunger. Can't tell you how lovely it is to eat cereal and milk. It feels sort of clean and comforting. And has no adverse effect. So maybe that's it and it's only a 24hr bug. 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Barrow Boy and Banker

"Meet you at the barrow boy and banker (sounds like a gay porno)"

I've been in the pub before, it's always full of after-work wanker bankers chugging beer as fast as they can before catching their trains from London Bridge to the commuter belt. Lots of male guffawing and banter. Good location to meet but not my favourite pub.

Was rather looking forward to going in there after the suggestion that it would make an excellent title for a gay porn movie. I can imagine the scene - lively crowd, a mixture of cockney wide boys drinking after working all day in the market wrapping up ripe fruit for rich ladies and fancy chefs and bankers in pin stripes and loosened neckties, slowly descending from a mass shedding of clothes to an orgy revelling in their hard bodies. Sadly the venue of the meet up was changed before I got there. So the gay porno will have to wait.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Flicker of recognition

The bars are full of excitable young people spilling out onto the pavements, corralled into smoking areas or queuing sections. Overseen by bouncers in black coats. Walking past I get a thrill, would so like to get involved rather than dodge past it all attempting to get home. Passing revellers coming the other way or dawdling in my direction. Lure of the bright lights of the late city. Pass a group of guys. Laughing as they fall out of a joint and steer round a crowd of people. Four of them. Pass by. And then there's one of those out-of-context late recognition moments. I spin round as the leading guy also turns round smiling and points at me nodding. I smile. Work. This is a man I know only by sight at work. And then we pass. They melt into the background crowd on their way to their next stop. We have never spoken but I had a sudden feeling of missed opportunity here - I could have asked how their evening was going. Perhaps I'll have to ask how it was on Tuesday. 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Overheard

"I'm so lucky that my nicest finger is my marriage finger. So lucky. Nicest by far"

Friday, 23 May 2014

Travel writing workshop

Peter Carty - Travel writing workshops

Never been to a writing workshop so I had no idea what it was going to be like. Arrived 5 minutes early but still too late to hide in the back row. It was like being at school again - posturing to find out where we were in the group and trying not to catch the eye of the teacher. There were lots of middle class white young women and then some older people.

We had to do that classic icebreaker where you chat to your neighbour with a view to introducing them to the group. This was where the contest for most-exotic-country-visited was played out. Living in Hong Kong, recently been to Borneo and flew in from Sydney came top. I felt like a fraud - more interested in the writing part of the workshop in an attempt to expand what i write (a blog post is never going to be a short story in my current style) than in the specifics of travel writing. My partner and i both decided we were a little intimidated by the rest of the group - we both were bloggers but by no means felt like professional writers, although she was a copywriter so she kind of beat me.

The first part of the course was about writing itself - making it interesting, balance between fact and experience, the atmosphere of a place. Lots of discussion about the use of cliche, hackneyed phrases of the genre, very interesting thing about beginnings (many of which were actually more like the start of novels - better at drawing me in personally than some of the gushy, over-enthusiastic travel writing we find in brochures - this was a bit of a revelation to be honest, started to feel like there was a path to be followed potentially), lots of discussion about the pieces of writing we had been asked to read before we came - some liked them, others didn't for a vareity of reasons. Then we had to write 100 words on one of three themes:
  • view from a high place
  • beach scene
  • sunrise or sunset

A slow ascent looking out over the green fields of Hyde Park intersected by white paths and milling people shrinking into the distance. Up over the tree tops until we could see Marble Arch and the buildings at the top end of Oxford Street. Grey London rooftops, traffic in Park Lane. Suddenly whipped face down back to earth with the g-force of the Tornado we were riding on.

Some were enthusiastic reader-outers, others of us hid in our seats and tried not to attract any attention! It all seemed a bit too soon for public consumption of my lowly blogger efforts in my own quaky voice. Later we had to do 100 words that would be an introduction to somewhere we had been recently (not having been terribly far recently I thought back).

"Barrier, barrier, barrier" the man hanging out of the window shouts. We pile into the vehicle, people, shopping and live chickens, me the only abronyi on the bus. The conductor slides the door shut and we take off into the traffic on the dusty pot-holed road, quietly crossing our fingers that the string holding the door shut is strong.

Not being called on to read out again, left me with a false sense of security in my own blogging-bubble (nobody needs to hear it, therefore I can avoid being ashamed of the drivel I may be writing - perhaps thats what is comforting about blogging - not that much critical feedback comes in, and you can bathe in the stats of readership that at least someone out there likes to read the drivel, perhaps over and over!).

Final part of the morning looked at structure and how to make sense of a place, quotes and interviews from local people, local knowledge gleaned from 'interviewing' people, some facts, some sense of how the writing experienced the place and neatly rounding up a piece at the end (perhaps returning to the beginning, or a recurring theme) to make it seem whole. And then we were thrown out to get some lunch and write a postcard on one of a number of local places.

Icons of London [I'm thinking of this always in the tune of Werewolfs of London by Warren Zevon - for some unknown reason]
Fitzrovia is a slightly shabby back street neighbourhood in the heart of London overseen by the British Telecom Tower. Once the tallest building in London at 627ft, it was the iconic skyscraper of my childhood - cylindrical, glass and covered in satelite dishes - a prominent pointer to a digital future. It remains one of the better London tall buildings even now with the city's burgeoning high-rising skyscape. In my early childhood I was promised a visit to the famous revolving restaurant on the 34th floor but sadly the IRA bombing of it meant it was shut before I was taken. Opened in 1965 when Fitzrovia was probably a more industrious neighbourhood it is now planted in an area surrounded by student accomodation, neighbourhood restaurants and independent art galleries. Slightly grubby and vacant the Telecom Tower is a much-loved icon still.


Afternoon sessions were about pitching, selling yourself as a writing, writing your first piece, how to get published (market, which publications, type of travel those publications would be interested in, difference between writing for web and writing for print, cold calling). Extremely valuable advice for people getting starting as travel writers. Making it not seem exactly easy - but certainly achievable if you follow the guidelines. We worked in groups pitching ideas of destinations to one another, feeding back as a group. Each individual's idea was given feedback - very useful to get you thinking about how to write travel pieces (what to write about if you are going to a common destination - how to think about what is interesting about your trip, never start with the journey for instance, remember you may be on holiday with your family but you are also working - set the boundaries before you go). Useful not only for budding travel writers, but also potentially for student potters who may want to sell their work.... but I digress.

And then fatefully we had to read out our lunchtime tasks, and I didn't manage to escape this time. Feedback was: more local interest needed - interview people, more of me, fewer facts. Its an issue of a. speed writing and b. not quite knowing what I'm trying to do. Blogging is a short thing, usually for me. And I manage to do it in my head as I go about. This is a proper task. And perhaps I shouldn't have been writing about the tower as much as the neighbourhood, and getting a sense of its atmosphere more than just this is what it is. I don't have to consider any of this kind of thing with the writing I generally do. So its a very useful exercise - think about the purpose of the writing, and who the audience is - write to that criteria, don't pander to your own eccentricities. And with that we were turfed out onto the street again. An extremely thought-provoking workshop.



Thursday, 22 May 2014

Glimpse

A Mini Cooper in red with white bonnet stripes takes an empty side street between tall buildings bathed in evening post-storm sunlight and turns into a traffic jam on Tower Bridge Road. 

Thunder and lightning

Absolutely amazing rain - thick and heavy - huge crack of lightning directly overhead. Rumbling thunder. And then the shard reappears from the grey as the storm moves on.

Lightning hits the Shard

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Modern life


Here is an indictment of modern life - two people come to a cafe together for a coffee and spend the entire time plugged into their own phones, heads down in Facebook, email or some other social media and fail to say two words to one another for an entire half hour. Isn't it one of the joys of company that you can talk to each other? In person. And have a conversation that develops through voice? 

Perhaps we are becoming too concerned about missing out. Unable to focus on the present and what is right in our real sphere for fear of missing something more exciting happening elsewhere. No wonder mindfulness is having to be raised as an issue/idea.