31 August, 2007


sorting through our old stuff last night and found a letter from Lammy Hippy As Was, written on 30 June 1997, with a newspaper clipping re the handover. We left HK on the 10th anniversary of the handover, so it all seems very resonant. This is a little piece of history!

And of course right now the newspapers are going gaga over the 10th anniversary of Diana's death - any excuses to print more pictures of her, but then she really was so stunning.

30 August, 2007

Desperate to Blog

Help, we are broadband-less at the moment, until Tiscali deigns to connect us (10 working days! Truly, Dorothy, we are not in Hong Kong any more). In desperation I have had to bring our laptop into work so I can blog from the wireless floors (cannot blog from work desktop). If anyone is monitoring me, it's after working hours, ok?

We put in an offer on the house which was GBP20k below asking price and they immediately accepted it. Worrying. Either there is something wrong with the house, or we are paying far too much for it, or they are just like us (ie they were expecting to get GBP20k less than asking price, they just want to move with no hassle, and they like us and think we are straight-up people who will not jerk them around, which is exactly right).

Anyway, I'm excited! Spoke to the estate agent today to make sure everything was still hunky-dory. Yes, yes, he says, except, this isn't really a problem, but Wallpaper magazine might be featuring the front of the house in their December issue. Told LSS immediately, who I think principally likes the house for its gloating potential.

Walking at the weekend, I overtook a young couple with their 3-year old. As I passed the girl said in a loud piercing voice, "Oh, mummy, look at her shoes! They're beautiful!" And then topped it off with, "And look at her hairclip! It's beautiful!" I wanted to fall down on my knees and say, "Thank you! thank you, little girl!" I'm not too proud to take unsolicited praise from anyone.

On the other hand, yesterday on the Jubilee line from Canary Wharf to London Bridge, I was standing there minding my own business, when a young lad about Mo's age (and clearly as dysfunctional as Mo) bent down to look at my big toe (which is the one that I bruised the toenail on by running in too-tight running shoes). He bent closer and closer and closer, until he reached out and thoughtfully prodded the toenail. His (long-suffering) mother immediately clouted him over the head and berated him in an outraged undertone all the way to London Bridge.

We are back in our old flat in good old Balham Town. We have got all our stuff back from storage. The chap who came to deliver the boxes said to LSS, I remember you. I was the one who packed all your stuff up 8 years ago. My God! Either he has a phenomenal memory, or he doesn't work very much, or (as I suspect) we are quite strange.

25 August, 2007

Dream House

Saw the house today. It is our DREAM HOUSE. It has everything I have ever wanted in a house. It has huge windows and high ceilings and the original shutters, and slate rooftiles and a stone floor in the hall and floorboards everywhere else and working fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a walled garden and an apricot tree, and no-one has messed about with it in 200 years, the room layouts are exactly as they were, and I love it love it love it.

We are already bracing ourselves for disappointment and the misery of knowing that we have found our dream house and some other bastard will get it and be living in our house and no doubt ripping out the insides and turning it into a boring generic "hotelified" luxury home devoid of character or interest.

Weekly Catch-Up

I have been to the gym every day this week! It is the high point of my "working" day. Much discussion about how our very big boss is chewing his cuticles so much that they're bleeding, although in other respects he seems strangely calm. Personally I like people with nervous habits. It makes them seem more human.

Went out for a drink with some of the people from the London team at Plateau, the bar above the Waitrose in CW. They are all little babies of twenty-something. Made me feel exceedingly decrepit. Also got my haircut this week. No-one in my family has noticed. Suspect I am just part of the wallpaper to them. Daddy, who is that strange woman who comes in at night and goes out in the morning? On the other hand, LSS popped out to Threshers last night and then stopped outside playing with the satnav in the car for half an hour and Mo was almost in tears because his daddy was "missing".

Got home the other day to find both LSS and Larry in brand new we-bought-it-in-the-Gap-sale clothes. How about you, Curly? I said. Did you get anything? Curly lifts her dress above her head: I got some new pants!

I love catching the train from Barnes Bridge every morning. It is so pleasant and cool and when you look down the railway line in one direction, all you can see is greenery.

One thing I've noticed since coming back - British men are extremely polite. They're constantly holding doors open for you, letting you go first in the lift, giving you their seat on the train etc. I hadn't really missed it when I was in Asia, but I'm certainly enjoying it now I'm back!

We're going to look at a Regency villa in Wandsworth today. It looks fantastic on the website and I want it already although it is a good GBP150k more than I had in mind. Never mind - the kids don't really need a public school education methinks.

20 August, 2007

The Office Gym

Oh my god, why is it so cold? It's the middle of flipping August! And to add insult to injury, there is a giant mosquito buzzing insolently around the bedroom, biting my elbows and easily evading my attempts to slaughter it. How can this blasted island be cold and yet mosquito-infested? I'm beginning to think it's not a mosquito at all, but some sinister minor deity, manifesting itself as a mosquito.

Went on the treadmill at work today. Yes, yes, I know, my entire working life is a treadmill, but this was an actual treadmill, not a metaphorical one, in the gym. I've never used a treadmill before, but they are SO made for me! I can spend all my time fiddling around with the speed and the gradient in order to get my distance covered and heartrate exactly where I want it. The showers are really nice too - very big, very clean, lots of hot water, and only frosted glass in between the stalls, for a little bit of that Personal Best frisson, for those who are so inclined. Not me, of course. All in all, a very Roman experience.

Going to get my hair cut tomorrow. The average level of attractiveness around Canary Wharf is surprisingly high and I feel I am letting the side down with my low-maintenance Malaysian scruffbag look.

17 August, 2007

Purpose of Visit

Back down to the Mexican consulate today in my titanic struggle for a visa. Maybe I shouldn't have put: "To pick up a consignment of snow" under Purpose of Visit on the application form.

15 August, 2007

Crap Day

The family have gone down to Winchelsea to see the old folk and I am sitting here all by myself, wondering why it is that whenever I have nothing to do, A Few Good Men is always on the telly. On the other channel is The Wedding Planner, which is much. Much. Worse.

Oh well. A few rounds of Minesweeper. A page of my novel. And so to bed.

13 August, 2007


Read a really harsh review by Rhoda Koenig in the Standard today, on Lucy Mangan's new book. This is odd, because I've thought for some time that Lucy Mangan is the best thing in the Guardian - she is that rare thing (don't kill me, everyone) - a woman who is funny. And that even rarer thing - a Guardian columnist who's funny. Put the two things together and the improbability is staggering. I have never read anything by Rhoda Koenig which made me think anything more than, Huh, so I believe I will stick to my own opinion and splurge on the Mangan book anyway. Or at least read the first paragraph in Books Etc.

Went on a tour of the corporate gym today with two little blonde Australian temps. We had to walk down rows of men pounding on the running machines and flexing on the weights - a bit like Jane Russell with the Olympic squad in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It was deliciously testosterony. Certainly enough to make me sign up for the gym on the spot.

First or Last?

When you have a selection of food eg box of Quality Street, do you eat your favourite first or save it till last?

I used to save it till last. Unfortunately everyone else in the family - except Mo - eats the best first, which means that by the time I get round to it, all the nice ones are gone. I am therefore now forced to go against the grain of my personality and eat my favourites first, which means that there's nothing left to look forward to. How can people do this? What is life without anticipation?

12 August, 2007


If you were a biscuit, which kind of biscuit would you be? I would be a rich tea biscuit - deceptively dull.

11 August, 2007

Prison Break

The kids are playing a game where an exceptionally dozy prison guard keeps on falling asleep on duty and lets the prisoner escape - "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I've let the prisoner escape AGAIN." The prisoner is then punished for his/her repeated escape attempts by being fed a diet of mashed potatoes and bread.


those wise IT folk in the London office block access to Blogger, so I cannot blog at work, which I think we all agree is probably just as well. Still no desk, phone, PC, Blackberry etc. Going to Mexico office next Sunday. Preparing by watching the Magnificent Seven: "We are poor farmers. We know nothing of synthetic collateralised loan obligations."

The Cultural Communications Commissar sent round a note last week seeking interest in a tour of that How We Are photographic exhibition at the Tate, so I signed up. They sent round a note this week, saying that only 2 people (me and a very very big cheese) had signed up, so it was cancelled. This in an office of thousands of people! I cannot help but note that both I and the big cheese are from Asia. Culture is wasted on these English bankers (replace with your own word). All they ever talk about is cricket in the summer and rugby and football in the winter.

Anyway, instead I nabbed 2 corporate free passes to the Tate this weekend, so, the MITHics will be having a cultural encounter this Saturday.

06 August, 2007

Book Rant

Tried out St Mary's Church in Barnes on Sunday. It was very very white and middle-class. It even had real live bell-ringers. Fortunately the only other non-white person there apart from me was so very colourful that she allowed me to blend invisibly into the background. She was a black lady with orange hair, a baby-pink cowboy hat with a sequin-encrusted brim, and a maroon paisley blouse. It was quite a contrast.

The Bishop of London was the celebrant (and he is the celebrant next week too). How weird, I would have thought he was far too busy to show up at insignificant parish churches for regular services. At least I assume it was the Bishop of London. It was a bishop, in London, called Richard.

I was reading a book over the shoulder of a woman on the train today. It was one of those dreadful post-colonial subcontinental fish out of water novels, where the narrator, who always seems to be exceptionally dim-witted and inarticulate, tries to impart a sensation of fresh naivete by talking about eg "English ghosts in their flouncy nighties", and by using short colloquial sentences like: "He left. Bye bye. Ta ta." Not in reported speech. Just as prose. I read this far and thought, God what is this awful, half-digested, please-be-interested-in-my-banal-experience-just-because-I'm-brown, incompetent, first-novel codswallop? No doubt it has been brought out by a small worthy ethnic imprint.

Then the woman closed the book. It was the Booker Prize-winning The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.

Oh my god! This is why I've given up reading contemporary novels. That novel was CRAP! It was CRAP! How could it have won the Booker prize? Why was the NYT book reviewer calling it "astounding" and the LRB "an amazing achievement"? The only thing astounding about it was that anyone could read it without wanting to bludgeon themselves to death with it. The only thing amazing about its achievement was that anyone would buy this hogwash, let alone give it an award.

Oh, well. Back to the Eclogues.

04 August, 2007

Innocent Fete

Back at work. I have no desk, phone, PC and am perched at the desk of someone who is on holiday. I am distinctly underwhelmed.

Everyone in London seems to be desperately young. Went to the Innocent Fete in Regent's Park today and marvelled at the swarms of pulchritudinous twenty-something flesh abounding. There were however quite a few whales heaving around as well. It was a scorching hot day and we came up with a good new business idea for the whales: renting out their shadows as shade for over-heated picnickers. I personally would happily have paid someone GBP2 to stand there for fifteen minutes while I ate my overpriced meze. For scrawnies taken with this idea, but sporting insufficient shadow, they could go on Dragon's Den and compete for seed capital to fatten themselves up.