Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Milestones

I went to sleep thinking about firsts - all the little firsts that add up to the building of a relationship. The first sighting. The first kiss. The first time to say "I love you". These milestones have been gobbled up at a rate of knots.

Then there are the ones which signify an actual significant relationship - first meeting of the family, for instance (although I don't make it such a big deal with my own father). But the first meal cooked for the panther's mother seemed like a pretty significant milestone (it went well - lovely afternoon and evening).  Living together. (This has always seemed like a massive step with much deliberation required - strangely this time we just did it because we really seemed to not want to sleep apart from the other - to which there was a simple solution - don't).  I used to feel possessive of my space but find I'm not with the panther. 

Last  week we passed the one that is about nursing one another through illness - I was struck down by food poisoning (vomiting, diahrea, and sometimes, sadly, both at the same time), once I felt just about back in the land of the living he came down with it. So we now have experience and knowledge of how to care for the other (neither of us is a hibernator who takes themselves off until they are well again). 

Monday, 23 February 2015

50 Shades of Rubbish

Worth avoiding at a cinema near you now: Fifty Shades of Grey. This trilogy should stop believing its own hype.

So I read the first book. It was on the shelf of a lovely house in France where I was staying and we laid by the pool sunbathing for hours and I read all my books before the end of the holiday. So I read this just to see what it was like. I thought the writing was poor, the sex scenes were pretty repetitive and used some irritating terminology over and over. And in essence it was a love story where a virgin falls for a man and they eventually get it together. With some lightweight sado-mascicism thrown in - all be it in a female clichéd fantasy of red velvet 'play-rooms', leather horses and mechanical winching devices. I had no desire to find out what happened next.

We went to see the film. Out of interest. On a recommendation from some much younger people. The panther was the only man in the cinema. I found it somewhat boring. For a film classified as an 18 I didn't expect all the sex scenes to be truncated (never saw below his waist). I'm sure I've seen films with male full frontal before (I'm thinking of Room with a View and a party of naked men running round a bathing pond, or Eyes Wide Shut). I believe there has been female genital on film also (remember the hoopla of Sharon Stone's leg crossing in Basic Instinct). The film purportedly about sex with many sex scenes, turned out to be decidedly untitilating in any way. 

Little on screen chemistry, a totally unbelievable leading man (far too young, not half good looking or striking enough, unconvincing in the extreme) and a sort if rag doll of a leading lady who had little of the vulnerability of a supposed virgin. She was sort of just awkward. 

This had neither sex appeal, titilation (I'm not turned on by yuppy banker sorts and their steel and glass minimalist penthouses), nor the trappings of any fantasy. It reminded me too much of American Pyscho. 

Later in discussion with the youths who recommended it I realised that having seen much more film than them I have too many to compare it to that were more sexually appealing to me. I'm thinking perhaps of the French film The Hairdresser's Husband, scenes from Betty Blue, Daniel Day-Lewis in The Unbearable Lightness of Being or indeed in My Beautiful Launderette, parts of Room with a View. Even the fantasy of Moulin Rouge. I'm forgetting where the real sex appeal in film is perhaps but these come to mind as films that whetted the appetite. 

Too linear. Too little fantasy. No on-screen chemistry.

I'm upset that women are falling into this trap of thinking that its such a risqué fantasy to play a submissive to this powerful rich man. Isn't that just an old rehashed 1950s female desire (marry a man who will look after you, have children, be chained to the kitchen sink). Aren't there any more exciting, nay modern female fantasies we could explore?

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Electric shock


I just got an electric shock from my cooker - I had to clean it after our mammoth marmalade making session yesterday. Marmalade is very sticky and it's hard not to get it places it shouldn't be when you are putting it in jars - I washed the cooker buttons and the hob. After this the igniter seemed to be stuck down because all the rings were sparking continuously even when lit. I foolishly pressed the ignighter button to see if I could flick it back out. It wasn't stuck in but I got an electric shock through my finger. In the best "don't know what to do" response that I have I'm going to turn of the cooker and leave it, hoping it will stop that silliness by tomorrow having dried thoroughly...

It turns out that this is indeed one of the perils of cleaning the cooker. Normality restored by morning when it had dried.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

One of those days

Its one of those days, packed into a crowded commuter train with view only of the details of those around you. And I want to advise them and neaten them up. Polish your shoes - they won't give you away then. Cream your hands. Get some cuticle cream and try not to chew them off. Mints will help your smoker's breath. Don't cuddle your cat with your coat on. Look at your face after you have shaved and towelled it dry - get rid of the towel flint. But I keep it to myself. Like the rest of the travelling hoards. 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Transit

Crushed onto the Victoria line, front side crammed against a huge man's back - he is canoodling with his partner and being her rock, back side is providing support for a short stocky woman with a bag with very sharp corners. I'm holding the pole in the centre of the standing space for no particular purpose since I'm wedged in securely. Listening to the upper notes of a young man's music - he's enjoying it, me not so much. The train lurches to a stop, everyone jiggles about a bit, and big sigh, I can breathe again and stand on my own two legs.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Save Ceramics Department Petition

Please sign this petition to the City and Islington College Government and managers asking them to stop the closure of the ceramics department. 


See this link about why I have signed it. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Lips

It's all about the lips this morning on the tube. The man reading silently but moving his lips. The pale pink high gloss pouty lips with lipstick over the edges in an attempt to even up the scale of the top with the bottom. And the incredibly bright pinky red slightly unevenly applied so that one edge is thinner than the other. It reminds me of my life drawing tutor telling me that all parts of the body should be drawn in equal density so nothing particularly draws the eye (we were talking penis at the time) - makeup should be the same I reckon - don't really want lips to blare out over eyes.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Ceramics class

I have been attending a class at City and Islington College for the last seven years. It's a ceramics class. We have always paid full-fees and not been subsidised by the government quango the Skills Funding Agency and therefore not subject to the same rules as that provision (unlike the vast majority of provision in the college).

This week we found out that the college intends to close the department and turn the studios into additional classroom space that can be used to align more closely to the college vision, and provide more space for short qualifications and their exams. This they justify because of the way they have aligned their overall vision to the funding they draw from the Skills Funding Agency. So in a cold business sense they are considering their unique selling point as a place where young people can gain skills that lead them directly into employment and that their main resource is the space they have which therefore means it can be better utilised to meet that vision.

They also made an argument that the ceramics department is costly to run, doesn't have enough measurable achievement in terms of qualifications gained and progression to higher levels or further study in more "useful" curriculum areas. And has too many persistent repeat learners (clearly a sign that the students are not  learning anything - so the report claimed). I know this argument  from where I work - we can only claim funding for a learner for one 10 week course in any one academic year, if they do another course we get nothing for them. However we could deliver non-subsidised courses if we had learners who were willing to pay for them.

I wanted to answer to some of these assumptions. Starting with the one about achievement and progress.

Ceramics is a skill-based course which means that in a mixed ability class (as ours is) the students who are starting benefit from the experience of the ones who have been studying longer. We are not on an accredited course so nobody is taking an exam at the end. And we set targets and goals through an individual learning plan that is commonly used in the sector to measure achievement and on-course progression. 

My personal achievement and progression can be seen clearly when you look at the first pots I made and the ones I am making now. 

  
These are my first pinch pot, first coil pot and first slab pot, in that order.Compare this to my last pinchpots and a few of my latest coil pots.  




We started a class blog way back at the beginning of the time that I have been studying there. As a blogger I thought it would be a great forum to show a chronological and pictorial record of the students' development over time and provide a vehicle for a 'community of practice' where we could share what we made and how we made it - successes and failures - for the benefit of all the students in the class and for reference outside of class time. Thursday Evening Class Blog. This record clearly shows the achievement and progression within class that individually and collectively we have made. Its not a common way of recording and it isn't measurable in the way that the bean-counters of Whitehall recognise.

But personally I believe I have progressed in terms of skill, knowledge and artistic merit when it comes to the practice of ceramics. This I have gained from coming to successive courses and continuing with my own personal development within the confines of a mixed ability class. I now have experince of making glazes and using them in a variety of experimental ways, knowledge about different clay bodies and how they behave, how to combine them. Much better making ability. And a much stronger sense of what I am trying to achieve artistically. The college has always been proud of the work of the ceramics class and has displayed our work in the main entrance of the building. One such display piqued the interest of a passer by so much that he came into the college to find out how much the pot was selling for - it was my pot, we had a conversation, and eventually it didn't work out but with the right setting I also believe there is a market for my pots. This is both progression and achievement. There may not be a job called "ceramicist" that I can take this skill and go and work as, but as a pathway to a potential new type of work this is exactly the way many craftspeople and artists journey to professionalism.  

This class is in the long tradition that we have in Britain of liberal arts education and provision for people, outside of their working lives, to learn skills and subjects for both their own pleasure and for betterment of themselves. We remember fondly the days of the Inner London Education Authority when adults could study all over the capital doing a huge range of courses from foreign languages, reading and writing to photography, fine arts and all kinds of health and fitness. I know many people who are currently working in fields that they got into after attending evening classes, finding a passion and following it through to professional qualification. This includes the tutor of my ceramics class - she started as a student in the provision which she now manages, gradually working up through the department. But I also know massage therapists, counsellors, muscicians, burlesque performers, accountants, social workers, amongst others who have begun their career change with an evening course at a college which didn't specifically lead to a qualification.

The next thing I find I want to answer to is that the only types of courses that are about "employability" are either about reading and writing and maths, or are vocationally driven (accounting, business studies, brick laying, motor mechanics, hairdressing, for example). I am a contracts manager, I work in adult learning. I got a degree in three dimensional design from a good art college. This degree did not prepare me to be a contracts manager, or to know anything about adult learning. But it did provide me with a problem solving type of brain, practical, able to transfer skill from one task to another, to research, write at length and be curious about process.We also had to take part in crits weekly which meant that we were able to stand up in the group present and defend our work. Often in the face of severe criticism. All of which has made me a valuable member of any team I have ever worked in. And no workplace wants a team made up of people with exactly the same aptitudes, skills and experience - different people bring different talents, where would we be without a balance between the plants, implementers, completers and shapers (amoungst others if we are to believe Belbin). The most depressing thing about the state of further education is the total disregard for the value of any type of liberal arts education, or anything that doesn't sound exactly like a job out there in the market today.

We let art education, or music education or craft or any of those types of knowledge disintegrate entirely and we will be left without the ability to be able to teach these skills to the next generation. A dismantled pottery studio, with kilns, wheels, equipment and knowledgable staff can not be easily reinstated without a large investment. When its gone, its gone.

I worry for our large further education institutions. They are both chasing funding and narrowing their scope of delivery. What happens to them when the next funding fad happens? Wouldn't it be better to have a vision that is about education and not about what the main funder wants? Isn't that the better way to cement yourself in your business? I could see a dual purpose college - full of people studying short qualification courses by day so that they quickly achieve a qualification that helps them progress into or within work and full of working people wanting to learn skills in evening courses who can afford to pay full fees for the provision. There, surely, is space for both visions. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Seven Sisters to Highbury

There's a beautiful woman, perfect cat eyes with a black eye-lined flick from each corner and full kissy lips like Angelina Jolie having morning canoodles on the train with her red haired beardy partner. Her hair is fine and she is wearing it with one of those matty hair-knots caused by pillow-rub in the back - clearly out of bed fast and no time to put a brush through the back of her head.

A Spanish quartet, two girls, two guys, one of whom is leaning against the central pole not realising that people may want to hang on. I place my hand on the pole in the gap where the small of his back is and raise many suspicious glances from the one I assume is his girlfriend. It's just uncomfortable to hang off the overhead bar so this seems a better option. 

A man, a serious man, in work attire gets on at Finsbury Park, topping his outer wear with a blue fake fur hat with plaits coming off the end of the ear flaps and two eyes on the front with those black pupils that shake about with any motion. I find I can't take my eyes off them. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Transportation

The misery of the transportation system brought it's load to bear today. Started with continuing traumas at London Bridge station from the reduction in platforms during their refurbishment. Actually took 40 minutes for a train to my destination to actually leave - 5 services should have departed in that time. We were tantalised with trains, even sat on one only to be told it was being cancelled after all. All the platforms had trains on them. Most left without becoming an advertised service, empty. Nobody knew anything. 

Tried the alternative route this evening. Standing outside stations in the dark waiting to be able to draw up to the platform. 

Listening to two precocious 8 year old girls chatter about their day incessantly in loud voices. Watching this geeky kid on a rubic's cube. I forget about them. I was never good at them. This kid was spinning the sections around in the speedy way the puzzle genii used to, as blocks of colour built on each side. A physical fidget tool. Dextrous fingers flying around the puzzle, stopping only briefly to consider the moves that needed to be made. He then swapped to a smaller 4x4 version. Its kind if nice to see something physical rather than nose deep in a phone. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Working

First day back to work after the new year was welcomed in. Can't quite remember what we go to that place for. There are tasks, on a computer, which were thankfully written down before we left for the winter holiday. Now I'm used to talking and socialising. You can do a bit of that at work. Catch up on each other's festivities. Mostly, at my work, that's about weight gain. And then about 4 o'clock the back and eyes give out - unused to being upright for such an extended period of time under harsh lighting. Pain in the back of the ribcage and tiredness of eyes. 

Travelling back on the tube I find my body sinking into a stupor brought on by the gently rocking London Overground train. Eyes shut, brain off, hopefully not dribbling...

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014

Roller coaster year. Began with the start of a realisation that what I thought it was, wasn't, which led eventually to a heartbreak, not epic, but in part about why and how I'd let myself get to that. I was 44. Not a youthful age. I should know better by now. 

In the middle was a brief dalliance with online dating. Many men contacted me. There were dates. There was the expectation of phone sex. There were photos of people that rendered them unrecognisable in the flesh. There was shock that I looked exactly like my picture. There was possessiveness after good conversation. There were slights. And relief at not having to carry dates through. And there was exhaustion in a very short time of demanding texts and messages from men half my age or with over-egged egos who don't know how to measure in feet and inches. And then there was getting off back to the reality of real life.

And finally when least expecting it, after a night at the opera there was a flash of love that became a compelling and urgent desire that drove the end of the year. And I sit here now on the 31 December 2014 awaiting the imminent arrival of the panther with the last of his things and will begin 2015 living with the love of my life. 

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas one and all



From the mouths of innocents

At dinner today my nephew asked me if K (the current man) was a replacement of  B (previous man), and was B a replacement of E (man before B). Um, yes, I mumbled embarrassedly thinking how this easy-replacing of men in life must look to him. Since we see each other only once every six months or so he has short experience of any of the potential 'uncles' so far. If only the reality of it was as easy as 'replacement' makes it seem, like swapping batteries when they wear out or something. 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Dismantled

Gradually all these gasometers are being dismantled. When I was an art student I took lots of pictures of them - they were structures which you could see through, and I had a mild infatuation with them and scaffolding (in the days before they covered scaffolding always). 



Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter holiday

Today I am on leave. Until January 5th. Leaving work on Friday didn't really feel like anything. Weekend was great. But it was a weekend. Get those at the end of every week. 

But today I'm popping to the shops and left home at 12, coming through my local high street everyone is at work and at their regular duties (queuing in the post office, elders and their shopping trollies fighting to be on the bus first to bag the best seat, estate agents bored in their windows, banks open). 

And me, I'm feeling like, Yeah! I'm on holiday... It's been some time since I had 2 weeks off together. 


Friday, 5 December 2014

Open Plan Hot-Desking

I’ve always known open plan hot-desking is bad for me because I can clearly recognise the impact it has on concentration and increased irritation. Other people’s phonecalls at the top of their lungs, desk-side meetings, talking (well, sort of talking – not quite shouting) to colleagues across the space rather than going over to them, uncontrollable temperatures – blasting air conditioning or way too hot, and the need of the window-seat-hoggers to close the blinds on a sunny day to the detriment of those working further inside the building (if they don’t like the light why do they insist on sitting by the window?).

http://stevemaslin.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/place-working-vs-open-plan/ - interesting article by an architect and access consultant (access consultant – no idea what that means) which says

“Our needs vary – but are significantly influenced by:

·         Physical comfort,

·         Our ability (or not) to cut out extraneous noise,

·         Preferences for access to daylight

·         Our commonly held preference for access to views of the natural world, and…

Our need to:

·         Adjust artificial lighting intensity, position and colour,

·         Adjust what is in our visual field and to reinforce a sense of familiarity and recollection to aid our memory”

 

Its not so much the need for privacy I don’t think but I had never considered that in addition the reduction in concentration there might be an impact on recollection, memory and productivity due to not being able to see a view that includes vegetation or have natural daylight. Our office rules include not eating at the desk (you are allowed a drink and maximum two biscuits, otherwise you are supposed to eat in the designated areas), no plants, no clutter, nothing left on the desk overnight,  no fixed positions, no storing things on top of the lockers. This makes it look nice and clean, reduces likelihood of mice infestation (although we have had visits coming up the cabling of the computers from the floor to have a peek at the working desk situation, but not regularly), and enables people to sit wherever is available when they get in.

 

On top of which I found a marvellous quote from Einstein (and who can argue with him…) which is a fantastic retort to the clear-desk police (to which we had to convert when we started open plan hot-desking), “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Touche.


From The Evening Standard, 4/11/2014.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Gary Numan

So Friday night was gig night - invited to come by Bails and her fella - joining the Numanoids for a special one off at the Hammersmith Apollo. These days the Numanoids are largely ageing ex-punks or those sorts that used to wear black jeans and old men's overcoats or greatcoats from second hand stores in the late 80s and early 90s. Some attempts to still wear gel-spiked-up hair (hair permitting) but quite a lot of baldies unable to do the style of their youth. One or two brought their kids. Lots of leather jackets and the occasional denim. I'm glad I've left that all behind. I used to wear a floor length black skirt all the time. Wore it until it had holes that needed patching, then patched them and wore it until the patches needed patching. Absolutely no idea why I thought that was a good idea. My mother's friend taught fashion and wanted it off me for her project in distressed fabric. Distressed didn't really begin to describe this rag that I wore. Tortured, would be closer.

The music was good. Reminded me a lot of that time. I don't listen to a lot of punk music anymore... Numan was late on stage - he had a sore throat and had an injection in his ass a course of hours earlier to try to make it better. He apologised if his voice was croaky but did a full gig none the less. The singing only occasionally getting the better of him. 

I like being in a crowd listening to music, people singing along, joining in, doing the arm movements. It's why football crowds are exciting. I love watching when people are really getting into something. And the crowd were friendly. Only a couple of irritating drunks, and one man who went to the bar a lot and could never remember where his mates were standing. Spent ages squeezing in and out of the crowd looking for them each time. So maybe next time it would be more appropriate to dress a la the 90s and take a proper Numanoid standpoint!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Early Saturday mornings

Not a usual time for me to be abroad, most usually tucked up in a sleep worthy of a poisoned princess at 8am on a Saturday. But by 9 the high street is awash with shoppers, busy getting their chores done. Workmen are in the street holes which usually just look like traffic obstacles placed there for more interesting driving. And there is a traffic jam just like a work-day morning. So this Saturday is an extra ceramics class. I'm late already but  as I said, it's before getting up time on a Saturday!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Full rainbow


It's apparently going to be the wettest winter in record. Oh joy. Personally I hate umbrellas - it's not the keeping you dry bit, it's the lugging it round while you don't need it that I hate the most. I think that's why I take pictures of broken ones - reminding me of the Tom Waits lyric "broken umbrellas like dead birds" - all wirey skeletons and flaps of skin, lying dumped and strewn over wet pavements covered with slippery yellow autumn leaf-fall. 

This morning there were showers. By the time I arrived at work the sun was breaking through at its low wintery level and a full rainbow stretched over Peckham. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Love at First Sight

I don't know if anybody believes in love at first sight anymore. It seems like the stuff of fairytales long since discredited like the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. And these stories always start with Once upon a time... Reminiscent of days before.

Anyway, I have one for you. Once upon a time. In a distant galaxy. Far far away.
No I jest.

It was October 3rd of the year 2014. (A month ago). Having just watched the opera Carmen in a church in Shorditch I was walking over a traffic island when I crossed paths with a black panther, who stopped me and said he liked my shoes. I stopped and looked him in the eye. It was a strong and solid look, held totally and intensely by the panther. I cocked my head, thanks. He said he was going into the Cornershop with his friends and he asked me to come, he'd buy me a drink. Eyes locked. I considered it. I should go home. I had to go to my brother-in-laws' wedding the following day.  My head said fuck it, you're single do what you like. My mouth said ok, the panther took my hand and we ran across the street. Standing outside while his friends smoked I considered my actions. And then we went in. I bought a round of drinks and we talked. I can't remember what about. Mostly I remember the intense looking.  Something in the eyes was telling me something. I'm unused to another person doing that. I've been in trouble before for staring too much. The panther went to the toilet. I talked to his friend Dave.  And then he was back. I'm ready to leave anytime. I don't mind leaving this drink. Say 149 and we're out of here. I finished my drink. And helped him finish his. We left.

Outside he offered me the crook of his arm and we walked that way to the bus stop. On the bus we sat with heads turned to keep the gaze while he talked about places he knew on route. And about buses. A vaguely geeky knowledge of buses. Which makes me laugh - I am a bus siren - spent many hours riding the buses from home to the end of the line and back just to be out of the house and seeing the world.  We spent the night looking at each other and stroking. In the morning he needed to leave. It took two coffees and a toilet break before he could finally tear himself away.

I slept for three hours and awoke to banging on the door. Blearily opening the bathroom window and asking who it was. A friend, came the answer. Downstairs I opened the door and there stood the panther in a sharp pinstriped suit and white shirt. I was overwhelmed and stood there in the doorway looking at him. Can I come in, he eventually asked. Of course, I said and stood aside. He said he was there to deliver me to the wedding I was going to and get some lunch beforehand. I got dressed. We left looking very Saturday night on a Saturday afternoon, catching a bus to Islington Town Hall where we found a restaurant. Over lunch we held hands across the table and he asked me if I believed in love at first sight. To which I glibly answered I didn't know. After lunch I went to a wedding. Two grooms, one in red, the other in blue. Lovely and full of love. I texted the panther.

The panther texted me on Monday. We met after work for a meal. We talked. In my head I considered the concept of love at first sight. My parents met on a blind date and got married four weeks later and stayed together until my mother died. I never heard them say a cross word to each other. It was a seemingly impossible romance to live up to. But it was real. Not a fairytale from a bygone era.

On Tuesday I didn't hear from the panther until late in the afternoon. I spent the morning in realisation that if I never heard from him again I would be upset, may even be devastated. Could that even be true after four days. On Tuesday evening he wanted to meet but I couldn't because I was at my dads having dinner. He came all the way there to stand on the street kissing for five minutes. I was totally relieved. On Wednesday I went to a classical concert with Susanna and she asked me what it was I had to tell her without me saying a word. And I told her I met this panther and I think I'm in love with him, but is that even possible? She said it can be. There was time spent again on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday morning he texted me and asked me if I believed in love at first sight. And I replied that yes, since meeting him I did. Then, he said, I'm coming home to galvanise that truth. And then he knocked at the door. I love you he said. And I love you back I replied.

And that, was that.

So it doesn't just happen in fairy stories. It's been a month.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Sandwich

There can be too much going on in a sandwich. I picked up something called a Swiss chicken today expecting some emental and chicken and lettuce in it. On opening it there was some cheeky ham and a raw onion hiding between the bread as well. Far too many different flavours and sensations. A bit of a shock to the system when the additional flavours exerted themselves. The ham and the onion had to go. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Autumn

And it feels like winter hit us in the face. Yesterday there were bare legs and sandals. Today the clouds in the lower atmosphere race across a higher atmosphere whose still clouds are tinged a threatenly dark slate. Dead leaves blow down the streets. Birds fight against the windy current. Coats, tights, closed toed shoes. Toes cramped inside complaining and painful. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Pit firing weekend in Norfolk



Invited on a pottery jolly, back in August, to visit Fran and Georg's new straw build house in Norfolk to camp, and do a pit firing in their garden. Unlike our previous jolly we didn't make anything in advance, so it was also green firing of pots that we made and dried on the day we got there. There was a high likelihood that nothing would survive the firing.

We made pinch pots out of grogged stoneware clay. Ate lunch and homemade bread. Went for a walk while everything dried. Tents were pitched. A pit was dug and filled with sawdust. The dry green pots were placed carefully (being extremely fragile at this point) and covered with more sawdust. Rolls of paper and kindling wood were placed over the top and then it was lit. Love a big fire.  We sat round. Until we were tired and retired to a variety of beds in tents or in the house. A gale started - blowing in from a tail end of hurricane across the atlantic, and it rained. Never that keen on tent sleeping at the best of times but with howling wind and pumelling rain it was both cold and difficult to sleep.

The following day we extracted the pots, its a bit like an archeological dig. Most had survived. They were fired but not to anywhere near the temperature that they would be properly cured at. But - its the process that is exciting and the company that makes it always worth the trip, even when the pots are nothing to write  home about in the long run.

And the scenery was beautiful and I swam in the sea with grey seals.

Busy

Its been busy:
  • Watched Salvatore Guilaino by Francesco Rosi at the ICA
  • Went to brother-in-law's brother's gay wedding
  • Saw Carmen at a church in Shorditch
  • Watched Lucy at Islington Vue
  • Watched Pride at Woodgreen Vue
  • Watched Citizen Above Suspicion by Elio Petri at the ICA
  • Watched The Tenth Victim by Elio Petri at the ICA

Friday, 26 September 2014

Neighbourhood

Passing, in the morning, along the main street of the neighbourhood in which I reside. Most of the shops are not open, the bookmakers are shut but the gaggle of drunks are collecting outside waiting.

A young man, could be handsome, walks down the road talking to himself, with a beer in one hand and holding up his jeans with the other. On the brink of losing his looks and all hope. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Hanging out

Initially we were hanging out in Spitalfields Market while Paul and Simon went to Murdocks in Hackett for some beard grooming. I'm guessing the rise of the Hoxton beard has led to a need for services to the beard. These services include massaging with oils, and moisturisers, hot towels to the face which  enliven the nerves of the face (apparently), trimming and shaping of the beard, including scissors to trim length and cut throat razor to create a neater line around the neck and down the sides, topped off with some further conditioning oils and a bit of combing. And some mustache twizzling. Who knew growing a beard involved more than just standing as far away from the razor as possible.

After that we ate some lunch and then hung out at the Southbank Centre were bails was reminding me of incidents we have had on holidays where we drive. Bails and I have been on a few road trips together. She doesn't drive. I'm always in charge of the car.

There was a trip in France where we flew to Toulouse and then drive a couple of hours to a cottage we had rented in the middle of nowhere. There was one village we passed with cars parked down the whole length of the  main street, and I clipped the wing mirrors of every single car. Perhaps 20 cars. Later that trip we were in our local town on a roundabout and I spotted a couple who I knew by sight from home - we would often wait for the same train at Haringay Station. I didn't know their names but felt compelled to shout out the window as we circled the roundabout "Haringey Folks" without ever stopping to say hi or see if they were freaked out or not. And when I got home I didn't pluck up courage to ask them if they heard me.

Before that was our big drive from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and back. First getting stopped for speeding by two cops with a speedometer. To be fair I didn't know we were in a town which is why I hadn't slowed down. On stopping us one asked me, did I know how fast I was driving? And I told him the speed I was driving. Which he informed me was 20 mph over the speed limit. At which I apologised profusely and got my wallet out asking how much I owed him. And he sternly told me not to let him catch me doing it again. No officer, I won't. Thank you very much. And sped off again. We visited Addo Elephant Park. Amazing to see these huge beasts in the wild. Taking lots of pictures while not getting out of the car. Pulled up near a watering hole with quite a few other vehicles I somehow leaned on the horn that was basically the entire centre of the steering wheel. Much evil eyeing from those around us. Embarrassed, I managed to do that at least two more times. It started to rain after that and the track we were driving on turned to a mud slick. A very nice man ahead of us got out of his four wheel drive and came back to tell me how to safely drive in mud - slow acceleration, no brake if at all possible.  Concentrating so hard on these instructions to get back to the car park I totally forgot about the brake and drove straight into the fence while parking. 

How we laughed. And still do. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Meet me in the slug and lettuce

So I'm meeting my dad in the slug and lettuce. We commonly call it the slag and lettuce due to the old rep it had of being a bit of a meat market. So I'm chatting to my sister and she's saying, so you going somewhere with a knowing glint. Yes say I, meeting pops in the slag and lettuce. Yes she says I know I was just on the phone to him. So are you the slag and he's the lettuce? Astute my sister I think. Bitch!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Hand to arse

Outside the office a man pulls up in his Range Rover. He's meeting a woman in Mercedes Subaru. She's opening her boot. He puts his hand firmly on her arse with his fingers lining the mid seam of her shorts. Uh uh she says to him in a deep throaty sound that makes her displeasure known. He removes his hand. The boot of this flashy car opens and she gets out an old lady shopping trolley filled with cheap-arse blue plastic bags tied at the tops to keep the contents in. Under the trolley are a heap more plastic bags. Someone in Lolaks distracts the man. He jogs off over the street telling the woman he'll be back. She says after him - don't be long now, we have things to do. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Towie has a BBQ

Two very good friends of mine had a BBQ jointly for one of their birthdays and a friends birthday. They live in Essex. When I arrived I felt like I had walked onto the set of  The Only Way Is Essex. All Essex accents, permanent tan, collagen lips, boys who pump iron at the gym. One of the women was footballer Frank Lampard's ex. Gradually I figured out there were sort of two halfs to the party. The women of independent means with the Essex boys and the london, northern crowd amassed from various works, and classes and old clubbing days of my friends. The women of independent means were extremely helpful - bringing out food, clearing up. The gay contingent were hilarious recounting outrageous stories of the past. And then some time after dark it felt like it was time to leave before the  last train left.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Notting Hill Carnival in the Rain

Standing on the side of the road at Notting hill carnival in the rain. Waiting for the friends who invited me down to get reception and text me back. A man in orange asks me if he could stand with me under my umbrella. I spread it towards him and he takes hold of it. I don't let go. There's a silent tussel. I say I can hold it - it's my umbrella - smiling. He says I'm a man I've never had a woman hold an umbrella for me in my life, it'll feel odd if you do that. I let him have it. You won't run off with my favourite umbrella will you? I'm joking. No I have plenty of nice umbrellas at home.  We stand silently for a bit. Then he introduces himself. And I introduce myself. Some youths ask if they can borrow some shade in the umbrella to make a call. I say I guess that's ok. They are giggling and excitable. They blow a kiss back as they leave. We stand together under the umbrella again. Watching floats go past with their associated dancers. Some are trailed by huge crowds of excited young people, grinding, moshing, singing, hands up, running. The DJs winding the crowd up as they go. People are wet through, rain running down their glistening skin. Ignoring the persistence of the rain. Despite all this jubilation he thinks the atmosphere is subdued in comparison to last year. Eventually I ask the man how is the best way out of here. He being local knows that Holland Park is the best bet. We stroll up the hill from Ladbrook Grove, chatting. He is still firmly in charge of the umbrella. I hook my hand in the crook of his arm. He saves me a couple of times when I slide on something wet. And then I do the same for him. Safely delivering me to the station - I thank him. I wouldn't have found it this easily without your help. He hands back the umbrella. I go home. Gentleman. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Drunk love

It's 5 in the afternoon. She's got a big boxer dog, she's thin, wearing jeans, smiling. The dog is leading her. She turns her head and shouts back at someone, in a slightly uncouth manner.

Coming up behind is a tall man looking like Saturday but not scruffy carrying a sainsburies orange bag which he has slung over his shoulder. His legs quiver as he is standing staring after her confused. He cautiously turns around on distinctly wobbly legs and staggers off. 

Who's in control?

So a friend was relaying a story about telling a workman that her brother-in-law liked to be in control. The workman said oh yes I know. Since the workman had barely spoken to her brother-in-law she wondered how? The workman said that when he went to shake hands he had reached out his hand palm down and covered his hand when they grasped. As opposed to meeting as equals with thumb up or friendly with palm slightly raised. 

As a woman I don't have as much experience of handshakes as I expect a man has, and frequently I think people temper their shake when they grip a woman's hand, so I'm fascinated by learning this new body-language... It's like secret coding.