27 September, 2008

RIP Paul Newman

Simply the best-looking guy that ever lived. And a mensch too.

25 September, 2008


Looked up agents in the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook today and tried to imagine some hardbitten jaded contemptuous agent reading the first 30 pages of my novel. Blanched. Looked at the first few pages of my novel and decided it was crap. Rewrites! Rewrites!

Finished the Tacitus. Nobody comes out of it very well except a delicious general called Corbulo, who very wisely stays out of Rome throughout Nero's reign, fighting the Armenians and displaying a dazzling and sexy range of military competence, a la Russell Crowe at the beginning of Gladiator.

The lovely Cormac, who normally takes Thursday's yoga class and constantly reminds us in his delightful soft Irish brogue just to experience our yoga practice today and not to judge ourselves, was mysteriously absent and substituted by a Yorkshire woman with a flat boring voice and enormous boobs. It was not an improvement.

23 September, 2008


Had a horrible dream where I found out that in fact instead of buying the house I thought I was buying, it turned out that I had actually bought a flat in a horrible new development that had simply been designed so that it looked like the house but outside it was just a horrible flat at "236 Balham Road", wherever that is. LSS, in the dream, said unconcerned, yes, you knew that, it was in the contract. I was speechless.

I woke up all of a lather and lay there in the dark convinced it had actually happened until gradually the fog of unreason lifted and I realised that it was very unlikely that any developer actually would build a block of flats with one designed on the interior to be exactly like that of an utterly distinctive 200 year old Georgian house.

On a different subject, why in the name of God do women buy thongs? I am sick of the sight of all the wobbly bottoms in the women's changing room at the gym. It looks bloody ridiculous and about as sexy as a blancmange.

LSS called Tiscali today to try to get our phone number and broadband transferred to the new house. Oh no, says the long-suffering Scots woman on the end of the phone. You have to terminate your line rental with us, move back to BT, move the line rental with BT to the new house, then re-apply to us for your broadband once you've moved into the new house. This will take at least 10 days once you've moved into the new house. LSS said a number of things, the general theme of which can be summarised as: what the f**k kind of stupid system is that? The Scotswoman declined to comment. How different from our own dear HK where, when you call up to arrange your broadband connection, practically before you have put your phone down, a little man is standing outside your flat calling you on his handphone to ask whether it is convenient for him to come and install your broadband now.

19 September, 2008


I saw a girl today at the photocopier - the colour photocopier appropriately enough - who looked like she had fallen through a wormhole in space from a different planet. She had short red hair and a bright red top and looked as if she were a Hollywood star preparing for a part in a film set in an office. I felt like stopping and reminding her that she works for a bank and not even a very exciting bank, and then redirecting her to an advertising company or something that was more obviously her niche.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the desk today. Had three. Since I had completely blown the diet, had French onion soup and a burger for dinner. Also didn't bother to go for a run.

Went to see Emanuel Gat Dance at Sadlers Wells tonight with the Little Squish. I thought this title was a weirdly tensed assertion, but it turns out to just be the guy's name. The dancing was sadly irresistibly reminiscent of the kind Audrey Hepburn does in that hipster club in Paris in Funny Face, except that it was not meant to be funny.

Oh, exchanged on our house today. I can't help wondering if the year's delay occasioned by the global crunch and the significance of the timing of the exchange in the very worst week of the crisis so far is not the universe's way of trying to tell me something. Like: don't do it!

12 September, 2008

Building and Contents

Feeling very poor today because I just had to pay for home insurance on the house we're buying. Bought it through Swinton Insurance with the help of a very helpful and efficient chap called Carl in their Lavender Hill branch - this is my tribute to him and if anyone from their head office is reading this, please take note - Carl in the Lavender Hill branch.

Lo, how my standards are lowered that when someone in a service industry actually provides me with prompt, efficient, effective service, it invokes grovelling gratitude on my part.

I love Google Maps - when the insurer asked how far away from the house was the big tree in the garden, I could look it right up on the internet.

News just in from ancient Rome: Agrippina is getting her come-uppance as her son Nero arranges for her suicide. Kids, eh?

06 September, 2008


Went to see the Cy Twombly last night at the Tate, which ranged from stuff which reminded me of Curly's efforts and others (like the paintings for that woman he knew who died, and the season paintings) which I wouldn't have minded having in my living room. Little Squish said she would rather have one of LSS's dad's paintings.

I see storms are lashing Wales again. How glad I am to be in my nice dry watertight flat and not in a tent in a field in Snowdonia that has just exceeded its hydrostatic limit (which I understand from LSS is a posh way of saying that it is leaking).

Nothing to do this weekend other than stress out about forthcoming meeting with Mo's lunatic headmaster who has suddenly taken into his head (after we have spent the past year working with Mo's class teacher to get him formally diagnosed and treated) to assert that he doesn't believe Mo has ADD (unlike the educational psychologist, the NHS developmental psychology expert and the doctor with 20 years experience in children with ADD) and that he does not permit children to be on medication in the school. God, I hope I don't have to pull Mo from the school just so we can at least try him on the Equasym. How I hate dogmatism. I'm positively dogmatic about it.

Reading Tacitus, Annals. At least I don't have Tiberius' problems.

01 September, 2008


Just back from our Snowdonian adventure which was fantastic! Can't wait to go camping again. The first day the weather was pretty good and Little Sister and I climbed up the side of a mountain with the kids, leaving the men behind to cook dinner. It was lovely to see how much the kids enjoyed it, even the two hulking surly teenagers, who took off their shirts (why?) and raced to the top of the rocks, leading me to think that the best thing this society could do with male teenagers is to hale them all off to some kind of Spartan training camp where they can be turned into human beings and released back into society at the age of 24. Even Curly managed to make it up to nearly the top of the rocks, even though the side of the mountain was basically a vertical bog, covered in half a foot of moss that squelched streams of water with every step. Coming back down again we avoided the vertical bog by going through a field of bracken and rocks instead - drier but much more risk of ankle-turnage. The whole thing was basically like a living video game, both the rockclimbing and the mountainside traversing, filled with constant puzzles and questions and problem-solving.

The next day we climbed up the side of the higher mountain opposite and were very proud of ourselves because the slope was the kind where your nose is virtually scraping the side of the hill as you climb. As Larry said, each step is easy, but the whole thing is difficult - which it was, especially when you looked down and considered how very easy it would be just to fall down to the bottom of the mountain. Came back down the easy way - which we only spotted when we got to the top of the ridge. Some rain, but my new Chinese weatherproof parka was absolutely brilliant. Also took a sidetrip to Anglesey to visit the village church of the Tudors in Penmynydd, sleeping in a romantic green time-proof silence next to a very nice-looking hotel made out of the former vicarage, down a lane so remote from the village you wonder if they were trying to discourage people from going to church.

This morning it rained like there was no tomorrow, in spite of all our prayers/ entreaties/ human sacrifices to the goddess of rain and midges. So we packed up everything in record time and started the drive back - of course the sun immediately came out and Wales looked stunning as we left it. Sister and I decided to detour with the girls to Malvern for a trip down memory lane - played Enigma Variations on the way over the hills, as is only fit and proper, and had lunch in a very nice brasserie by the Priory - very reasonably priced, especially compared to the indifferent rip-off Welsh pub-food that we suffered in Betws-y-Coed.

Back home now in my nice clean dry bed and happily planning our next camping holiday. Hooray for camping!