Thursday, December 29, 2005

Home Sweet Home

Hello hello my dear friends! I am home!

It feels so good to be home!

When I walked into my room I was suitably impressed. "Ooh, what a nice room I have." "Oh what a convenient bathroom." are not usually heard from someone who has lived in the same place for a year and a half. But when you've spent 10 days away in 6 alright hotels, what do you expect?

I am never going on another coach tour. I couldn't sit another hour. Actually, the last two days were real tests of endurance. Sit...sit...fidget...get out...loo...run around, flap and stretch...back in for another 3 hours or so. Nope. Not again. Even though we saw so much and were well taken-care of, I think I would rather fly, stay in one place for a few days, see everything, even get a little bored. In my experience, that is how the spirit of a place seeps into one's heart.

It was a great holiday overall, though. I reviewed my pictures on the TV a few minutes ago, and said "wow" a bit too often, so be forewarned. When I get them from my camera into my online gallery, I will provide the link and I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.
Also, over the next few days I shall regale you with tales of my adventures and hope you enjoy the vicarious experience!

Good night.
Bonne nuit
and
Buona notte

I am off to wash the Continent out of my hair.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Christmas Wish

I wrote 25 cards last night and finished a whole box and posted them all this morning. I am so proud of myself, even though I was up into the wee hours for it.

yay

My mum arrived yesterday morning so I have been occupied with her and my new camera, the Kodak Z740. I had chosen the next model down but she used her discretion and brought this instead.

So today we were out getting a bag and memory card for it at Selfridges because I couldn't be bothered to go all the way to Tottenham Court Road. (Though in the end that wouldn't have been so bad considering how much we ended up walking.). We walked from Bond Street station down Oxford Street to Regent's Street, popping into shops every now and then. From there we made our way down to Chinatown where we ate dinner at Ikkyusan, then to Leicester Square where we had hot chocolate at Haagen-Dasz, then walked down Piccadilly to Green Park station.
And I forgot my pedometer.

So before I go to Italy on Monday, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas with family, friends, and whatever makes you feel warm and happy, inside and out.

In the languages of my heritage:

Kala Christouyenna
Gledileg Jol
Joyeux Noel


Love
~O~

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Masquerade...!

Un-napped, showered, dressed and decorated, I went down for landlady to take photos. Inexplicably, she got out her camera too and took more pics of me with that than landlord took with mine!
With mask, without mask, with jacket, without jacket, now hold the mask to your face, now by your waist, now up here. Felt like a publicity shoot. No desire to be a celeb.

She said to me, "No inhibitions, have lots of fun." And I did. I turned on the charm and sparkled wildly.

The car came late and there was lots of traffic, so I missed the champagne reception, but I find those boring and tiring on the feet anyway. I was seated at a table of friendly people (as they all are at the club) who welcomed me with open arms (almost literally) and we launched into the sort of conversation expected of members of a literary and arts club. BUT I was the only person of the lot I met who actually had studied it, so got all the hard questions and forced my mind around a lot of information I had not touched in a year.

Dinner was two hours long, there were red and white wines flowing, and the menu was all in French but it went like this:

-- Prosciutto ham with melon, rocket and parmesan, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar

-- Fillet of turbot in a saffron cream sauce on a bed of ...celeriac I think. What's that bulb thing with the ends cut off, that is also the name of a seed in the herb cabinet?

-- Beef medallions with tiny parisian potatoes and spinach (Medaillons de boeuf, pommes de terre parisienne, et epinards...qqc) ooh la la.

-- Mousse au chocolat (in martini glasses)

-- Cafe et folliards (?) - espresso with tiny mince pies

Out on the courtyard terrace were two towering figures dressed up like 18th century Venetian masqueraders. V. Cool.

Vica, who sat on one side of me, was a vegetarian and did not like her mushroom risotto, and I didn't want all my spinach and potatoes. So we shared, and she, being Polish, was happy that I knew how to say Nasdrovye (Cheers). She wants me to go to the opera evenings and is going to make sure I go.

All evening I got: you're so lovely and exotic, where are you from? I dug up my heritage countless times and then had to do it again for the cab driver on the way home.

My mother hens (Elizabeth & Paul) looked out for, but could not find, the Club director so that they could introduce me because he would know exactly who I needed to know. All evening, she kept saying she hopes I will meet the people I need to meet there.

They loved my mask, even more so when I told them I'd made it. Elizabeth showed it off to everyone else for me. I didn't even mention my handmade bracelet and ring!

There was a raffle for some things, including a stay at the Mandarin Oriental, and I was asked to pull out the first number. The mic wasn't on so we couldn't hear what the prize was; neither could we hear what was being auctioned next, although guests - and staff - were bidding blindly. Something to do with golf.

During dessert the jazz band struck up. Drums, bass cello, flute/clarinet, piano and vocals.
When it came time for dancing I had a dance each with the 3 men on my table. Two of them were older and knew how to dance, so I followed. One was younger and made it up as he went along but did it so well I asked how he'd learned; this was my first attempt in years (and only my second time ever - the last time being with Dad at their 25th anniversary) so we butted heads once.

Then Elizabeth introduced me to another table which included Ian the membership director who said he was glad to see me there but that I ought to go round more often. The member Lee and his 4 guests work together in the media department of Barclays and they were a nice bunch. Lee danced with me twice. We were both rubbish but still better than worse, and I was the one saying, "Let's try a twirl", in which I ended up twirling him the second time...but when you end a dance with your hand being kissed it makes up for the cafuffle, so I curtseyed in return. Once, all 5 of us danced together, including Belinda who left her crutches behind for it.
Back at the table, Sue said she loved my dancing and how my skirt swished around. Huh!
I told her, were it not for the crinoline skirt, the dancing would look appalling.

It got so hot that at one point I had to go and stand outside on the steps. A few people went by, peering curiously through the doors (as I would if I were them). One group went by and after a lingering look, one commented, "...Looks nice..."

Then there was more dancing and by the end of the evening the staff were letting their hair down, although the major domo, Giulio? Luigi ?, had been swinging a very smooth shoe all evening! In fact he was better than most of the guests!

I had ordered my car for midnight, so I went out at 00.01, found the driver, and told him I was right on time. He said, pointing at the clock, "No, you're one minute late." (Oh, the coach will turn into a pumpkin!) I asked for another minute so I could do goodbyes, and Lee kissed my hand again. Back out at the car it was 00.08. I said, "Ooh I am 5 minutes late." He said, "Six." He was funny.

And I am not missing a shoe.

Cinderella

Going to the ball tonight!

Glass slippers polished and ready. But the store forgot to frickin remove the security tag this morning for an important item so I just called them. Have to go back and complain to the manager and I don't know how they will make it up to me.

So, skip the nap so I can be warm enough out there?
Or come back and not shower so I can nap?

Hm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Falling Behind

It has been a long time since my Blog Queue grew to any length. Here are yesterday's thoughts for today. It's a bit like one of my old "circles".

More from the New York Social Diary: A gala dinner at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, graced by the Queen herself. Chaired by Oscar de la Renta (who is, incidentally, Argentinian...) with special guest Senator Hillary Clinton, who was wearing a blue velvet De la Renta dress. Queen Sofia was in a classic number but there was no mention of the designer so it probably wasn't by De la Renta.

The author went on to name all the illustrious guests and drop in a tidbit of gossip here and there. The paragraph that made me laugh out loud went like this: "Rafael the duc de Feria, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia. The prince and the duke soon learned on meeting that they were wearing the same Royal Oak watch by Audemars Piguet, except Prince Dimitri's was accompanied by a wristlet with one large black pearl (something for the duke to want)."

Amongst the party snaps, there was one of the Prince and the Duke comparing watches.

Combien coute-ca?* A few thousand pounds, which is affordable compared to the competition, yet buys you a really special piece of machinery. They make Rolex look blinging, and I doubt anyone has thought of knocking off an Audemars Piguet.

But wait, this means that when they met, they kept an eye on each others cuffs for a glimpse of watch and then one decided to point it out. Do men eyeball each other's watches or cufflinks in the same way women look at each other's earrings or handbags?

I must say, I do like the look of a man's wrist sporting a nice watch. But it does have to be a nice wrist attached to a nice man, and he has to have nice hands too.

I have personal experience of this. Not the hands, well yes...the hands...*sigh*........no, of my bag being noticed (and not when I was mugged). Specifically by the Christie's interviewer who remarked on the slimness of my leather portfolio. Indeed, it is the neatest I could find.

I nearly slid into one of my cheeky 20Six blogs back there!

So it is obvious that in some settings, at least, every detail counts.
This could be the moral of the story. Yes, today we have a moral: Every detail counts.

* Apologies, the accents do not work after publishing

Monday, December 12, 2005

All About the Love

I wrote this post last night, lost it when my browser crashed, then gave up and went to bed.

Thinking this weekend about the interview on Friday (see previous post), I am convinced that she won't seriously consider me for the admin assistant positions. Although my experience is heavily weighted that way, my qualifications beg for something better. The more she looked at my CV, and the more she heard the passion in my voice, the more assured she became that I should be a junior specialist.

Hopefully that's not her way out, but it can't be - as she said it more than once. She said I would not be happy out of contact with the objects.

One deciding factor was when the question of favourite types of art came up. I mentioned Asian art. She asked why, and I talked about the quality of materials used, the intricacy of workmanship and the highly finished result...

In my mind's eye as I spoke, I was seeing inro and netsuke, pierced ivory, inlaid mother of pearl, lacquered finishes, etc.

*sigh*

**********

Speaking of Asia, I read an article today about a woman who was
Too Tall for Tokyo

I would have fit right in...well, almost. I like the way things are done just so in Japan. After a while I think it would get to me, though, especially the social protocols and the lack of individualism. As much as I appreciate Asian culture, my mindset is undeniably Western, further compounded by the fact that I spent my teenage years in the USA. It is indeed the land of the free, of liberty, of opportunity. They are brought up to exalt the abilities of the individual - and the capacity of that individual to pursue whatever path he chooses. Moreover, as I matured there I became all too aware of the power of the woman, realising that I didn't have to be a teacher, a dancer, an actress, or a nurse. Most of my friends here went down one of those paths. Once in America, I was encouraged to explore all possibilities to their fullest potential! Doctor, lawyer, military officer, scientist, government agent, translator, intelligence specialist, air traffic controller...These are all things I considered at one time or another.

So although I am British first, I am also *gasp* an American.

**********

A question: is it common practice over here to send a thank you note after an interview? Faced with the innate restraint of manner in the UK, it just seems like such a strategical American move.

**********

I end with a quote about the unparalleled Cole Porter:

Cole's treasury will live as long as anyone wants to listen to songs bearing a witty, sophisticated touch. Or songs that have a raucous joy. Or a haunting and voluptuous surrender. Cole Porter without question is an acquired taste, but then so are caviar and champagne.

-- David Grafton

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Interview [ADDENDUM]

It was with Christie's (finally)! I deserved this, have been trying for a year!

It was the longest and most detailed psychological interview I've had since the State Department security services one...except that was over 3 hours long and included essays, interviews, tests, and interviews.

There are a few admin positions open in various departments.
She will consider me for a couple, but she said I really ought to be a junior specialist, and am I interested in the internship?

Yes.

Another internship. Oh well.
Nice to know I'm junior spec material!

And being Christie's they do it properly. I was expecting to go into an office, but we were in the upstairs dining room. I couldn't keep my eyes off the paintings on the wall. In fact at one point as I was talking, I was comparing a large abstract scene over the fireplace, with the scaled-down version beside it.

That's all for now, it's time for dinner.

**********

[ADDENDUM]

Well, he wouldn't let me tell you as soon as I wanted. I'd written it, deleted it, and now here I tell you again! Our old friend Steli is back!

If you like my informative posts, you will love his. Please visit Steliano's Day Dreams so you can really use your brain cells.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hm

There I was earlier today, blogging about how not to catch a cold, and this evening on the Tube home, I sat opposite a woman who kept coughing. Not that I could move - while she covered the middle section, two more coughing people took care of either end of the carriage. The rest of us sat there looking trapped.

I tried very hard not to breathe.

**********

But oh my god, where am I going? A couple of months ago, I was wriggling into my size sixes, but today I kept pulling them up, and yet I am on something that includes weight gain as a side effect! Hello...?
Plus, since starting yoga I've started eating meat again. I also have midnight snacks and I've been eating porridge every morning for a month now.

But hey, maybe this is just how stress chooses to manifest itself in my case.

**********

Ah....Tomorrow I have a Very Important Interview...

This is what I hate about suits: My nicely tucked in shirt doesn't stay that way for long. But I can't go to an interview with my shirt untucked under a jacket, no matter how nicely tailored it is...!
Bugger!

A Seasonal Tip

Let me change the subject!

Since Rox wrote about her flu, I have decided to share some personal Tips for Avoiding a Cold.

As you know, our little nasal hairs and viscous excretions are two defenses for our fragile mucous membranes. They trap germs which we then expel when we blow our noses.
When these membranes dry out (due to dehydration, flying, etc.) they produce microscopic cracks, and the opportunistic bacteria work their way right in - viruses are hard and spiky and make their own breaks. Furthermore, the lack of moisture enables them to reach all the way to the back of our noses, where the infection starts

[DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU ARE SQEAMISH: This is why we feel icky and painful back there on the first day of an infection - because the viruses are capturing our throat cells, manufacturing more viruses, then the cells lyse (explode) releasing a stream of invaders which take over our body. Our immune system fights back, causing fevers (high temps to kill the invaders) and extra mucous (to flush them out). The painful inflammation in the nose and throat are caused by mast cells swelling to produce large quantities of thin mucous (similar to an allergic reaction). The mucous thickens with a cold, though, because it is full of the virus bodies being flushed out of the body. That's why you want to avoid ingesting it; unfortunately, we have to sleep and then post-nasal drip lets it into our lungs, thus causing the dreaded congested cough.
Afterwards, thanks to the memory cells, we have immunity to that particular strain of cold or flu, but there are so many thousands of strains that next time we just catch another and the battle begins anew.]

I depend on one of those 8-hour release 500 mg Vitamin C capsules but also...medicated chest rub! I started applying it to the inside of my nose in the winter to prevent nosebleeds caused by overnight dryness.

As a side benefit, since starting this mentholated vaseline treatment, I haven't had a cold.

Viruses thrive in winter because they survive well in cold, dry air, so we endure an assault every time we go out. I've started applying the ointment when I go out too; I mean, think of all the people who sneeze and the things we touch, then we transfer it all to our faces and the process begins again. This is why when I go home, I wash my hands and blow my nose.


*Disclaimer: if I have made any factual errors, remember it's been years since I studied this.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wish upon a star

If only I could...
Give up my grad degree in exchange for a real relationship.
Be less intellectual, if it meant I could have a chance at something emotionally fulfilling.

Because:
My mind is full, but my heart is empty.
My education enriches me, but does not love me.

**********

Did you know Merserene has a Blogger Blog too? If you liked my eye candy, wait till you see her shiny things. I am so tempted to nickname her "Magpie". So toodle off to Transmissions from my Mind and feast your eyes! Not to worry, it will load in a new window.

**********

So I went to Soho for my mask today. They had a lot of pretty jewellery there made using Swarovski crystals, with similar prices as Butler & Wilson, only a little less girly-girly and more grown-up. Except for the blinging keychains and rings. Those sorts of things at B&W were more authentic and French and yummy, if you know what I mean.

This little shop called OMYGOD on Frith Street had a decent selection of nice, affordable papier-mache Venetian masks starting at £24. The one I wanted fitted perfectly without a ribbon or a stick. Shiny black lacquer with a delicate design on one side only...of Swarovski crystals. Which begs the question, How much?
£120
I said "Oh my God."

The assistant chose all the smaller, narrow ones for me. There was a nice gold one with a central airsprayed area in green and scattered glitter scrolls and curlicues. Some of the traditional Arlecchino (Harlequin) ones were even a little too narrow! And I suppose if you get a trad one like that it doesn't really have to match the outfit. I don't know....
But do look at these masks, aren't they beautiful? (Also a new window.)

Anyway, in the end I settled on a black matte one, probably the cheapest in the shop, and had him remove the ribbons and put on a stick for me, thus making it a lorgnette style mask. (Lorgnette is the French term for opera glasses. Opera glasses are dainty little specs a lady would grasp by the handle with her silk-gloved hands and hold up to her pretty eyes, all the better to see the opera with from her red velvet loggia. A loggia, or loge, is....never mind...this huge tangent is already big enough.) Then I rushed off to John Lewis with designs dancing in my head. Straight to the Haberdashery department, of course.

I might become a beading freak. I got Swarovski crystal and sterling silver beads of various sizes - including enough to make myself a bracelet and a ring, since I cannot find any to fit. Also got a little reel of nylon thread and a couple of clasps for the purpose.

If I get good at this...well...it's "eBay, here I come!", but don't hold your breath yet.

None of you know I won a mask-making competition in high school. I got the blue ribbon in the regional French Cultural competition. It was a whole-face mask encrusted in sequins: the top half was the Stars and Stripes (needed the head space for the stars, and anyway in the US the flag has to be on top) and the bottom half was the French flag. Red, white and blue feather plumes came out of the eyes, and there were two bells hung on tassels on the sides. I mounted it on a black background. ["Plumes" is such a stupid-looking word.]

My mother kept it on the wall beside my certificates and awards for about 14 years. Every now and then we might find a sequin on the floor, or find a bit of coloured feather floating around on the tiles, but it survived quite well.
I think she threw it away when she moved out of the house.
I wonder what she did with my 2nd place poster....It was HUGE. A gorgeous American eagle, draped by the flag, surrounded by countless world flags under the slogan Help your country: learn a foreign language. My dad did the immaculate lettering because by then I'd had a wart cauterised on my palm and couldn't work. Hehe, I remember him writing an English paper for me while I dictated, and when I turned it in my teacher nearly died, his writing was so neat!

Oh cool. Now I know where I get the pride in my handwriting from....I'm always yelling at my mother for scrawling, bless her ;)

Hey look, I just did free thought circles! Been months since I did that. And don't look at the time, I just can't go to bed...

...One of those days...

Oh wait, should I have got the white mask instead??? It's OK, I won't freak out if you say I should have, I'll just shrug my shoulders, say "Eh, the black one is [insert justification here] and proceed to decorate it.

Nite nite. Or rather, good morning. Enjoy the freezing fog on your way to work.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Me as a Doll



Ready for the ball. All I need now is a mask.
I discovered I have to find my own. Soho, here I come! (Soho! Used to be, quite aptly, a hunting cry.)















A few of you have made the leap. It's worth a visit from time to time: My other blog

Friday, December 02, 2005

Chip Chop and Hodyssey

Went to the hairdresser's today. I decided the length was sufficient and I wasn't going to grow it more and start losing weight to feed it, parasite that it is.

Seriously, I lose enough hair in two days to supply another person. I eat for two. I should sell it for wigs. Etc.

So anyway, I told her I liked the length, and I wanted some shape now, get rid of the bottom and graduate it. Think 1920s-30s. "Typical Olivia!" I hear half of you exclaim.

Indeed, even at its shortest it was like the Eton Crop, adopted by women in 1926:

























Last time she cut my hair, summer had barely started. She was shocked at what it looks like long(ish). After she'd trimmed about a bit, it looked swept and romantic, sort of like this:



Then she got out the brush and blow-dried it straight, all around my head. Told her I looked like a mushroom - but she needed to do it to see where else she needed to cut. And then! And then! She straightened my hair! She took one of those ceramic hair-ironing things to MY head! To quote Bertie Wooster, "I mean to say, what?!"

I know, we had agreed to straighten it a bit to see what it would be like. I sat there stroking the smoothness of it...Straight hair, like what other people have!

She went around chipping and snipping, and then styled it with moulding wax. So now I look like this:


It's a bit hard-looking, and I want a softer edge. Oh yeah, and she moved my parting to the other side (???) What's that for?

Well, after pushing it back from tickling my forehead (drove me bonkers), and after it got blown and wet in the rain....still straight...can't wait till I wash it and get me pretty curly-wurlies back :P





**********

Freshly shorn and walking to the station, I realised I needed to go, so I nipped into Harrods (to use the loo) and didn't even try to find the Krispy Kreme shop. Not that I could if I'd tried.
Never go to Harrods. You will not find what you seek. You will get lost in the labyrinthine departments, and the Sphinx in the Egyptian hall will eventually claim your soul.

Actually, there are people wearing gold Information sashes who are supposedly well-qualified to direct you so after going in a few circles I asked one. After a long slog up the escalators and about half a mile later, I ended up in one of the Luxury Toilets (it announced loudly on a brass wall plaque). An attendant stands by a table of perfumes and hand lotions, and motions you towards the next available cubicle. Quelle metier!

While I was upstairs I thought I might as well look for Christmas cards. Despite following the signs, another lady and I got lost on the way. To be expected, of course.

Another thing about Harrods apart from being impossible to navigate and full of tourists cluttering the exits and every possible walkway: Service is nearly unobtainable, busy or not, and the card section was surprisingly un-busy. I stood there waiting beside a mother and daughter while they paid for their purchases. There were a couple of people hanging about by the counter. One of the more managerial-looking assistants helped out, then she proceeded to help the hangabouts and I piped up with, "Wait, what about me, I've been here for ages." She started to protest about helping the other people, and I said, "Yes but how long have they been there?"
While I paid up, I grumbled audibly: "Now I remember why I never come to Harrods. I never get served...!"

Honestly, my most vivid memories of the place in recent years is of standing about indefinitely with tea caddies and chocolate bars that I start to not want because you can't get served.

But I will enthusiastically mention the mini ice rink they have in one of the windows, where a skater dressed in a little Santa-style frock was performing. Actually it was rather naff. I don't know how the place can redeem itself in my mind. Although, seeing the floors labelled "By Appointment Only" and "Concierge Service" and the various cafes and restaurants, I can see how some people would enjoy living it up in that place. No thanks.

Well there you go, as with McDonald's, I have now made my bi-annual visit. Next year I shall slash my attendance by half.

It should be called Horrids.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Throwing a tantrum

I went to the interview, and it was delightfully informal. We sat on a couch and now I see what she meant about having a "chat" when she called me yesterday. I liked them a lot, very friendly.

Unfortunately (times 10 to the nth power), because my CV is held in-house by Christie's the recruiter is not allowed to promote me. She told me my qualifications were very academic, my admin skills very strong, and that it was worth pushing Christie's to consider me for admin roles. (I thought I had made it clear originally that I didn't mind.)
Having a Master's degree can be quite a burden sometimes...

I am now on their books for temping jobs.

Alright, I didn't throw a tantrum because I've vented a bit already on 20Six...

P.S. I found a bracelet at Accessorize that goes quite well with the set from Butler & Wilson, but does anyone know who does good children's jewellery? My fingers are already so little and now that it's cold, only two of my rings fit.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

You're not going to believe this, but I just got a call from a recruiter looking to fill an admin role in one of the departments at Christie's South Kensington. Interview tomorrow morning! Dear Lord!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Oh no no no

Look at my runny-babbit! It's really a .gif and should be hopping about, but never mind.
Might work on 20six.

Back to the "oh no no no" bit - this is the last week of Yoga before she closes class until the 9th of January!
*sigh*
I don't know what to do. I guess I have to knuckle down and do my own yoga, it's just that when I've tried I never get past the sun salutations before something distracts me and I run off.

Ooh! When Mum comes at Christmas she can show me more Pilates and I can teach her some Yoga!

**********

I've finally given in to my favourite colours:



























Epiphany came last month after years of obvious signs:
1. Wandering through a Thai shop, I was drawn to the Jade-coloured ceramics.
2. I walked into a clothing shop to gawk purely because of the fresh colours in the window display.
3. In university Vanessa pointed out that my toiletries were all blue and green. They still are.
4. Hanging on my chair right now are a seafoam green military jacket, mint-green angora cardigan, and a robin's egg blue top.
5. I carry a Chinese jade good luck charm on my handbag, which I got last month for Double Happiness, Love, and Celebration.

Then there is a secondary choice of lavender, mauve, violet, heliotrope.

What are your favourite colours?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Summer seems so long ago

Oh dammit, I saw another of those programmes about Dubai and was once again briefly tempted to go, even though today I decided I wouldn't on my 20six blog.

The Ah'Lan! (i.e. Hello!) Hot 100 of Dubai is populated with the small network of people who would be nobody here, but there - they are the It crowd. The party-planners, publishers, entrepreneurs, big spenders, designers, venture capitalists, dotted with the socialite models just to sex things up a bit.

They say it's surreal, a place where dreams are made, but it feels a bit empty to me. Glitter on the surface, hollow in the middle. One of the female businesswomen who made it into the Hot 100 said even she keeps her suitcase at the ready.

Ascot + Beverley Hills + Disney World + the Wild West = Dubai
(Funny how most of that is California.)

**********

I bought some Sirop de Rose today to go with my Indian tonic water. Mmmm, I can totally envision a refreshing summer beverage:
A pitcher, filled with icy water, with a couple of slices of scrumbled lemons, sprigs of crushed mint leaf, tainted with rose syrup, and lightly sweetened with some brown sugar.
...You know the sound a refreshing drink makes when it pours, and the ice cubes tinkle against the sides of the crystal pitcher...

**********

Ooooh round of applause for Liv. I applied for 7 jobs after dinner last night, my previous after-dinner record being 3. In fact, 7 is my all time daily record.

**********

Hey, can I have some of those fairies from Midsummer Night's Dream, bringing me my true love - with true-vision drops in his eyes - for Christmas?
(I am watching the modern BBC adaptation at the mo'.)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Weekend Waffle

Have just noticed that today's Word of the Day is eidetic - of, relating to, or marked by extraordinarily detailed and vivid recall of visual images.
Some of you, I know, are idiotic. Sorry - I mean eidetic.

At first I thought it a really cool thing to know an eidete (I imagine this would be the epithet), but of course after a while I wondered what they knew that they could hold against me!

**********

Junk food run to the supermarket gained me:
1) a giant variety pack of Nik Naks
2) a bag of pink and white marshmallows
3) a bag of lightly salted charlotte potato crisps (smooth and slightly nutty)
4) a bag of Swedish Krisprolls - go a treat with butter
5) a box of Green & Black's cocoa dusted almonds

I haven't eaten like this since I was writing my thesis! It must be the weather.

**********

It certainly has been a chocolate week for me. I went into Rococo Chocolates on Marylebone High Street on Wednesday (owned by the lady who co-founded The Chocolate Society). I have wanted to try chilli chocolate since watching the film Chocolat. I found some, and it is deelish! Going back for more. Only thing is, it is supposed to be an aphrodisiac, but I think you have to be with someone special in order to prove it. At present I do not enjoy this privilege, so the chocolate had no effect.

I also bought some raspberries. Ate half the first night, the other half the next. There was no mould on them; however, a couple of them may have been on the threshold, as they had the flavour of old cathedrals.

**********

Thursday's Quote of the Day from William Makepeace Thackeray: A good laugh is sunshine in the house.
Little did he know that his great-great-great-great grandson would become a comedian, Al Murray the Pub Landlord.

I watched an interview with Murray the other night. He is nothing like his on-stage persona. He read modern history at Oxford, and his grandfather was a knighted ambassador. But it looks as though humour runs in the family - I can certainly admit to a chuckle while reading Vanity Fair and watching the Pub Landlord diatribes.

**********

BBC's QI Factoids:

  • Florence Nightingale invented the pie chart...!
  • There are more tigers in captivity in the USA than there are in the wild in Asia, the highest concentration being in the Houston area.
The oldest woman in the world died in France last year, aged 125. When asked at her 121st birthday the secret of her longevity, she answered that she eats olive oil with every meal and rubs it on her skin. "I have only one wrinkle," she declared, "and I am sitting on it."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

De-Lovely Evening

The evening of food and music at the Arts Club started with a wine reception. Miss S and Mr B came along, she being unfamiliar with Cole Porter, and he being a die-hard fan.

After about half an hour we filtered in to the candle-lit dining room. At the top of the room, in front of the glass wall over the terrace, were a grand piano and a microphone. We had a great central table and our table companions were a group of five: an older lady with her guests, two daughters and their husbands. She told Mr B that I looked like one of those people who did the bull-jumping, with the labyrinth, Palace of Knossos. We studied them, and I still can't remember their name. *Mind still blank* Starts with "The ____s" *Feeling truly knuckleheaded*

Brendan Cole and Anton Du Beke, two of the suave ballroom dancers from Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1 were there. I spotted Brendan first and went nuts trying to figure out where I'd seen "that guy" before. I want to emphasise that I do not watch that programme, but I pick up a lot from TV ads and never forget a face...
For a while I think most of us were half expecting either Brendan or Anton to get up and swing a shoe to one of the numbers, but they never did. It's their right to sit and enjoy being entertained for once, isn't it?

The singer did not follow the traditional Cole Porter-style, he was a bit Broadway/West End (where he has performed of course) but he was charismatic, very amiable, and he got us going. Anyway, we had a few songs while we picked at our bread and waited for the actual food, then the real performance came at the end of dinner.

It was quite an interactive evening; enjoyable but for the clods at the back, obviously young guests who got drunk immediately and wouldn't shut up. When everyone got tired of shushing, the major domo had to come and stand by the loudest girl when the initial warning failed. What's more, she and her boyfriend were wearing jeans - and his were the low-crotch type (when the invitations said smart-casual!) Needless to say, they left us in peace after the coffee course.

Starter: a mouthwatering goats cheese and pickled red onion tarlet on a lightly dressed mizuna leaf salad.
Main: roast duck breast in a light orange sauce, and sides of carrots & green beans, and tasty, tender cubes of potato, with slivers of something tasty (?) I was too busy talking to everyone to spend the usual amount of time analysing everything.
Dessert: a mini molten chocolate cake (rich, hot, runny centre) and a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Followed by demi-tasses of coffee.

...It was all like really finely done home cooking. Enjoyable as gourmet restaurant food is, this sort of food is always more comforting, which I suppose is a retention of its Englishness, especially as it is a traditional club with silver service. The restaurant is renowned for its quality of food.
Now I truly look forward to attending one of their Sunday roasts. Who wants to come with me????

1.08 am:
Ooh, gottit! The Minoans! King Minos and the Minotaur!
Yep, I look Minoan.

That's one I never heard before.

Thanksgiving

Just sort of missing the thought of the family gathering we used to have when I lived at home. Home-cooked food and warm company, whether my parents and I held the feast at our house, or spent the day with close friends...
I loved making the Pepperidge Farm stuffing and the pumpkin pie.

We never roasted a turkey - it's a boring bird, but there was always a nice leg of
smoked turkey alongside the leg of lamb or the duck.

Not to worry, no history from me today. Only something to give you a chuckle. I got it from an old uni friend:


How to Cook a Turkey

Step 1: Go buy a turkey
Step 2: Take a drink of whiskey (Scotch)
Step 3: Put turkey in the oven
Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whiskey
Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens
Step 6: Take 3 more whiskeys of drink
Step 7: Turn oven the on
Step 8: Take 4 whisks of drinky
Step 9: Turk the bastey
Step 10: Whiskey another bottle of get
Step 11: Stick a turkey in the thermometer
Step 12: Glass yourself a pour of whiskey
Step 13: Bake the whiskey for 4 hours
Step 14: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 15: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 16: Floor the turkey up off of the pick
Step 17: Turk the carvey
Step 18: Get yourself another scottle of botch
Step 19: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey
Step 20: Bless the saying, pass and eat out

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Old Man Winter..

...He is here with Jack Frost in tow...

Today I was glad I had grown my hair. The temperature has dropped from yesterday.
I looked at other women in the street and wondered what planet they were from. How many I have seen shivering in skimpy, inadequate, light clothing with no coat or scarf or gloves. What are they waiting for? Permission from the Crown???

**********

I had made the oddest mistake with Kipling's dates. I checked them, then tabbed over and inexplicably typed: 1836-1945.
First of all, hell of a long life, but before I deleted I was surprised to note that they are both important historical dates:

1) In 1836 the Texas Revolution ended - independence from Mexico under General Santa Ana - and the Republic of Texas was founded. For those 9 years it kept an Embassy in London on St James's Street where Berry Bros stands today, and had reputedly very friendly relations with the Court. I can imagine some interesting exchanges, though....
It was admitted to the Union, meaning it gained statehood, in 1845.
In all, six flags have been flown over Texas (hence the name of the theme parks dotted across the state):
i) Spain - discovered by the Conquistadors in the early 16th century. In 7th grade I wrote a history poem about the discovery of Texas and wish it were with me so I could share. Cabeza de Vaca and all that...yea, his last name is "Cow's head"...
ii) France - only the bit closest to Louisiana but it was all claimed, in an expansion attempt, for King Louis by de la Salle in the 17th C.
iii) Mexico - after Mexico gained independence from Spain, lots of Hispanics migrated to Texas - we were friends with a family from this exodus - they were very Anglo-Spanish. It was a sort of frontier between the US and Mexico, until Santa Ana became dictator and claimed it too.
iv) Republic of Texas - you know this bit already. This Lone Star flag is used as its state flag today.
v) The Confederacy - for a few shameful years during the American Civil War, Texas seceded from the Union in solidarity with its Johnny Reb, pro-slavery, cotton-pickin' brothers.
vi) The US of A once again from 1865 onwards, and it ain't goin' anywhere any time soon.

2) In 1945, as we well know, WWII came to an end.

**********

Um. Yes, I paid attention in my Texas History class. We had just emigrated there, I was an idealistic 12-year old, and I was enamored with the place. By the way, the name Texas derives from the Caddo Indian word tejas which means "friendship".

Tell me to shut up before I give you a complete history...!

**********

The other day, the Quote of the day was from Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). I wrote it down and just rediscovered it:

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.


This is true. Words are powerful, potent and effective. They can elevate your mood or they can depress you. They can make you laugh or they can make you cry. They can entertain and they can educate. They can increase your knowledge and make you powerful. They can have a physical effect, good or bad. They can reverberate for hours after being spoken.
Words can change your life.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Accomplishment

It was highly unusual to get an interview in November. I didn't get the job, though. I've worked with databases (at the picture library) but haven't set them up, while a couple of people ahead of me on the list have.

Eh, it was worth a try.

**********

I was surprised to wake up this morning and not see frost thanks to the cloud cover. By mid-morning however, the sky had cleared, the temperatures dropped and the damp lessened somewhat.

Careful at the end of the week, though.
Snow is threatened, so before you wend your lonely way down the winding road to work, be sure to wrap up warmly.

**********

No yoga tonight. I went, but she had cancelled owing to feeling poorly. The one day when I get there with street clothes and carried my yoga gear to change into there...!
The reason I was in normal clothing was because I went looking for my much-publicised adornments. You will be pleased to hear: Mission accomplished!

Having exhausted every option at the department stores with nothing really standing out, I remembered a dear little shop I'd once visited on Molton Street behind Bond St Station: Butler & Wilson, who design their own quite affordable pieces. B&W is a real mouthwatering feast for the girlie eye, all glitter and sparkle with an oriental flair. One set stood out; it just happened - as is usual with me - to be different and unique.

It's a delicate short chain with an elegant downward curve (I can't stand hangy necklaces), composed of a mix of aurora borealis crystal, milky moonstone, and glass cabochon. With matching earrings. Nice detail is the adjustable chain part ends with a little crystal.

So I have compromised for all of you: pearly/sparkly and choker/pendant. Hehe! It's great because the profile of my dress screams mid-50s, and it just so happens that aurora borealis crystal was invented then. They also echo the mother-of-pearl flower with the a.borealis centre on my evening bag.



Lookie:
















Ready for the grand total? *drumroll*

No hang on. I won't tell you. I want you to guess.

CHALLENGE:

How much do you think the dress, bag, wrap, shoes, and jewellery came up to?


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Personal shopper

This is the ballgown I found rather serendipitously yesterday (after I had given up, don't you know!):


Technically, it's called a "prom dress" and is actually cocktail-length (i.e. between knees and ankles). I'm a bit too short for a full-length gown...probably end up tripping about all over the place without wine...

Anyway, this dress is ivory satin with a black lace overlay, and some crinoline underneath for volume. It's very 50s.












I'll be wearing a pair of black satin pointy-toed kitten heels with velvet trim that I bought in the US last year:

















This is my evening bag. The ribbon handle is a rich shade of peacock teal. The flower is mother of pearl and its stalky bit is marcasite. It's the colour of that ribbon that would cause me to get a peacock mask - if we have to supply our own masks, that is. I nearly bought a little peacock feather do-dah for my hair but decided against it after I remembered we'd be wearing masks. (I like teal/aquamarine and I like peacocks...)


















And the real fur stole for my shoulders, which, believe it or not, cost less than the fake or feathered ones. And because it's real, doesn't matter that it's brown.















So all I am stuck on now is jewellery. My mother tells me to accessorise with pearls. The older women I've asked agree.
I don't like pearls and rarely wear my studs and bracelet (have no necklace).

The younger women I've asked recommend black jewellery, like this:



Too much black and too busy (consider the dress lace)...

I'd prefer a choker if anything. And the more I look at this, the more reasonable pearls seem.

So here I am, happy but stuck...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Yoga Babe

Yoga today was great, and I am finally used to it. Not floppy today - when I left I did feel energised!

We did this:

Easy!

And this:

Although when on my left foot, I slowly toppled over.

And this since the beginning:

But last week my toes finally touched the floor behind me.

This is easy now:


As is this:


Can't touch the floor with my head yet:

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bloggings

On The Goddess, one of the collaborative bloggers posted on the diaries she has kept and the blogs she now reads.

My comment:
I have kept a diary every year from 1987 to 2004. In the year my parents divorced, the gaps grew longer so that by the last two years, I was only writing it when I went on holiday. As you know, with big life changes and emotional trauma, one's priorities and focus change.

Then this year I discovered blogging, a new and necessary outlet. Not only an outlet for frustrations, but a forum for sharing thoughts, beautiful things and happiness with friends and other people who appreciate them.

I enjoy re-reading some of my posts. Others embarrass me, but what is written I will not erase because I meant it all at the time. Now that we blog, we are exposing some of our inmost thoughts to public scrutiny. Some people don't monitor what they write at all. Some maintain a purely public professional writing front. The rest of us keep a balance between the two extremes. There are many things I wish I could say in one or other of my blogs, but I do not, in deference to the feelings of some of my readers. In these cases, I write it on paper, the way I sometimes jot down ideas for real blogs, but after a few days of re-reading it, I will screw it up and throw it away. That is my personal therapy, I suppose.

The strange thing is, a blogger may only restrain the free flow because of readers he or she knows personally. It is much easier to let go when you are read by complete strangers whom you know will not judge you because they do not know you personally - although, because of what they are reading, they know you in ways even your parents do not.

There are so many complex levels of intimacy, aren't there?

**********

Some of my best composition is done in my head while in the shower, or on my pillow before I fall asleep. What I blog there is sometimes lost, but often the spirit remains so I can capture its shadow the next day with my keyboard.

I am rather disappointed that my mental writings are more concise, compact, efficient, and well-constructed than my written blogs -- see, even now the sharp entry I had in my head is dissipating as I knew it would -- so that by the time you read it, it has become rather rambly.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Arty things

Just a thought as I've been reading my comments. Rebecca, Rox and I may be wrangling over the same Assistant Curator positions.

From this you may assume that:
1) An art history degree is useless. In a way it is. Art & Antiques are a luxury commodity.
2) The pickings are slim. They have been telling me this for months.

**********

Any of you fellow artsy-peeps may want to read the first article here, if you are interested in the links between David Linley, The John Soane Museum, Philip Johnson, and Michael Graves...

Coincidentally, Johnson designed the academic buildings and the chapel at my university (St Thomas). The contents of his Manhattan pied-a-terre will be transferred to the Menil Collection in Houston - ironically, designed by Renzo Piano - right next to the university.

John and Dominique de Menil have been great patrons of the arts down there since the 50s, their collection spanning the globe and the centuries from pre-classical antiquity to primitive tribal artefacts (which are nicely linked) to the Surrealists (including a substantial number of Rene Magrittes). Satellite museum buildings by Piano include a great space for works by Cy Twombly, the Rothko chapel; the Byzantine chapel which was destroyed by Turks, is now pieced back together and seems to float in an endless space, which from the outside looks like a concrete powerplant. (I wrote an essay on it for my French advanced writing class.)

After walking out of the Twombly Gallery a few years ago, I coined a new phrase when in my disgust I said, "What a load of Twombly." Since then, although I have completed an art history education, I still don't like his works. I do however, have a new appreciation for (and sort of like) the work of a few 20th century modernists such as Kandinsky.
In fact, I can now appreciate a work while not liking it at all. Is this cool or what?

Last December, Dad and I visited the Joseph Beuys exhibition at the Menil, which came to the Tate Modern a few months ago, I believe. Blech!

**********

I've just had a glass of my Orange Muscat dessert wine and thought of Vanessa because that honestly is the last time I touched it.

One evening we had a practice wine-tasting session.

**********

Odd how when you've had a bit of alcohol you don't really care what you do or say, like me right now. Let's call this the Emboldened stage.
Someone at a Dutch bank missed out on getting someone else drunk. What fun!

**********

Time for tea before I put my entire leg in...


Saturday, November 12, 2005

(saturday sneak) [ADDENDUM]

As I haven't blogged since Wednesday (is this a record?) I have decided to sneak in a Saturday post before I go out. How many of you will catch it, I wonder?

This morning I tripped over my own feet getting to the window when I heard jet fighters screaming overhead. Three in formation, so I thought, "There must be something going on in town..." I turned on the TV and sure enough, it was the start of the Lord Mayor's annual parade. That was a bit of a surprise, as yesterday was Armistice Day and tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday so I'd thought it was something related.

For you overseas readers, the Lord Mayor of the City of London has held a parade every year for the past 7 centuries, in order to show himself to the citizens. Bands, troops, floats, animals, and performers thread their way through the City financial district. When it is over, the Lord Mayor draws up at the steps of St Paul's Cathedral in his gilt and painted coach. He declares his allegiance to the Queen and all that, the Dean ends with a blessing and the choir gives three "hip hip hoorays".

I'd like to go further into how the City of London is an old corporation independent of London town which has its own (non-lordly) Mayor, but it's enough for now to say that it is so.

**********

I signed up with some temping agencies this week. I specified no City jobs. Yet one of the first things they offer are two placements in the City, coincidentally at a certain Dutch banking firm beginning with A. One or two of you may find the irony in this.

Much cooler is the fact that I've signed up with BBC jobs too, and applied for a work placement in their Arts section. I've always wanted to know how to get in there!

**********

...Am I forgetting something?
I'd better get rid of this headache so that I can be suitably cheerful this evening.

**********

[ADDENDUM]

Awwww, dear Vanessa got a bit excited that I mentioned going out this evening, but it was only to the museum and dinner with my friend Miss S.

We went to see the Rubens exhibition at the National Gallery. It had been a while since we'd seen any of his work, and S kept commenting on how bright the colours looked. Some may have been cleaned, but for the most part, oil on copper is bound to look well. Bright blues and reds, but that's just Rubens, surely.

Then we walked from there all the way to Charlotte Street, off Percy Street, off Tottenham Court Rd. We went to Shochu, a lounge bar in the basement of Roka. All very rustic Japanese style. The bar and stools were practically slabs of varnished wood. The soft and comfy easy chairs were upholstered in red Japanese patchwork. Ambient lighting was provided by giant shoji paper lanterns beside the tables.

As you know, I had taken aspirins for my headache so I couldn't have a cocktail (it's been months now!!!) but all of them were based on the barley spirit called Shochu. I would have had the lavender and honey one if I could, but limited myself this time to a rosewater soda and lemon mix. Very puckeringly and refreshingly fragrant. S had the rhubarb shochu.

Now the funny thing about this bar is the way they name their fruity shochu drinks, much the way the Japanese would badly pronounce the English. So rhubarb was lulubarb, lemon was remon, raspberry was lasubelli and so on. It was quite cute and we had a laugh over it.

Five dishes divide very comfortably between two people:
1) Spinach salad with sesame dressing (7/10) - love the sesame dressing
2) Lobster and abalone grilled dumplings (3/10) - too pungent
3) Yellowtail tartare with some sort of roe (8/10) - deelish in a fishy way
4) A cinnamon roast duck breast with a persimmon chutney (8/10) - perfect combination, the persimmon softening the salty edge of the duck
5) sushi maki rolls of two kinds: softshell crab and eel (9/10) - yum and yum

We finished up with green tea and dessert. I chose a passionfruit and banana muchi with a very biscotti-like almond stick. The banana was diced into the tiniest pieces in a passionfruit puree, over a delicate custard.
S had - get this, it all came on one platter: a roasted honeyed banana on its own skin, a little dish of k---(?) bean ice cream, and in the centre a tiny bowl of baked green tea cream. All very delicate flavours, requiring you to take slow mouthfuls that you roll over your tongue and consider intently for a while.

Such lightly flavoured desserts are a perfect end to a strongly flavoured dinner.

It was a perfectly relaxing opportunity for S to tell me about her failed date a couple of weeks ago. We had a good old grumble together, as we had hoped to double date at places like this with our guys.

'Night night.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lone Star State

I had a fright yesterday morning. An email from my mother saying as I wasn't finding a job here, my father wants me to return to Texas. (As if it's any better there...)
Then she thought she'd throw in an added incentive: We could move to Palm Springs, Ca. and find me a job there. Woop-de-doo.

I nearly couldn't eat my breakfast...

And an odd letter in the post: A nice letter from Christie's thanking me for my recent enquiry....although they were impressed by my education/skills/accomplishments they have no open positions at this time...will be keeping my CV on file...etc.

I haven't contacted them since August, but I was seriously considering doing so this week. They must have heard my brain waves and anticipated me!

And today I have been writing an app for an Assistant Curator...Hehe, won't say where...(Um, Rebecca? Still friends?)

**********

In yoga yesterday it was as hard as ever. Just when your burning thigh can't take it anymore, you have to stand on it and raise the other leg in the air.

Rearview mirror moment: The lady in the flat across the street watching us as she slowly drew her blinds.

You know you need your own yoga mat when:
1) bits of purple foam come out when you wash your hair
2) the smell of damp socks rubs off on you
3) you can't bear to put your face down when she tells you to

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dubai, UAE

For about half an hour this evening, I was almost blinded by the allure of Dubai. I even spent a few minutes looking for jobs there. It's like a Disney World on earth. And then I remembered it was:
1) in the desert
2) really hot
3) an Arab country
4) therefore in the vicinity of terrorist nations
5) really hot

Here is what I remember from the programme:

  • At the moment, over 100,000 Britons own second homes in Dubai; this is expected to peak at 1 million in a few years.
  • Completion of the entire development project is expected in 2007.
  • Half the (native?) population of Dubai is building it.
  • Every home in Dubai is bought before it's built, sometimes even before it's approved, so high is demand.
  • There will be a total of 3 Palm Islands, made from reclaimed land. There will also be a group of islands modelled after every nation on earth, and suitably "themed". It will resemble the earth from the air...
  • There is a giant shopping mall with themed wings: Andalucian, Tunisian, Egyptian, Persian, Indian, Chinese. The Andalucian wing is an exact replica of the Alhambra palace.
  • Nobody is left out. Soon there will be a set of neighbourhoods - exact models of Manhattan (down to your favourite pizzeria), Venice (in case the real one finally sinks), Paris (the marketing spokeswoman quipped, "Paris without the French."), and I don't know where else...
**********

Overheard at Number 33 (been ages, hasn't it?)
Or rather, as read in landlady's day planner, which is always left open on a corner of the kitchen counter:

Olivia Private View
174, Old Bond Street

(What have I been up to without my knowledge?)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I heard something yesterday which caused me to have an odd recollection.

My dating habits never make it around the family grapevine; why broadcast failure? This past summer, however, my 4-month stint travelled far.
I heard that some of my female cousins were over the moon about it because they had thought I was gay. I found it funny at the time but now I'm just appalled: who else out there is wondering the same thing?

It never occurred to me that someone could think that of me - I am mesmerised by men! How can I prove it? Finding a (good) man is just like looking for a job: can't get one without the experience, can't get the experience without one.

**********


The worst thing is to become a statistic, a name on a list, one of many. Another indistinguishable face.
Just because you're you, it doesn't make you any more special than the previous or the next.

**********

Yesterday was a particularly low day. I felt unwanted and inadequate for anything and by anybody. It is not the same situation, but I felt as empty inside as when I was just finishing my thesis last year. I know what it will take to pull me out of this depression, but it will be a long journey - like someone who has been in captivity. I have not had a good year, and it is for this reason that no one who encounters me is seeing the bubbly Olivia that I really am. I have spent the entire year giving people the wrong impression and it has frustrated me to no end, resulted in dire misunderstandings, and the fading of my one bright spot of the year.

**********

I have been having strange dreams - and remembering them. Last night I dreamt that it had become common practice for dinner guests to take a "dinner kit" with them on evenings out. So I was rummaging through a selection of them at Harvey Nichols (a shop I haven't visited in nearly a year), and supplies were running out because they were so popular.
A dinner kit is essentially a sort of roll that comes in different fabrics, just like evening bags or clutch purses, of course with sleek masculine designs for the men too. There are different price levels depending on what accessories you want. I remember opening only one, it was a round-handled clutch-shaped roll in a salmon and brown Japanese-style printed fabric. I unrolled it to discover a set of dainty cutlery and utensils with peach-coloured mother of pearl handles, and a selection of tiny boxes, bottles and saucers in light wood, lacquer and glass - I suppose for whatever condiments and seasonings you prefer.

Is this not an intriguing idea?!?!?!

However, my brain kept nagging me in the background that it could be offensive to the host or hostess if one actually took a dinner kit to their house. It would imply that they were unable to supply you with everything.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Well I never...!

...Wonder why I've been forgetting to blog on Fridays...

This is what I did yesterday: met the infamous Mr B, who was recovered by then from Wednesday's chemo session, for lunch.
Then I tried to get a flu shot but they were all out. So I must call on Monday in case the new shipment is in.

**********

On a homemade game of Rounders (similar to baseball):
...Players on the batting side must never run inside the bases, whatever these may be -- trees, walking sticks, hats, or coats. In the latter cases, bases should not be stood upon...

Relay races are amusing, particularly if each team contains a very small child, who cannot be relied on to keep to the course.

Some of the more unusual weekend games.

A water game:
...Kissing at the bottom of the sea is a strange experience and not likely to be spotted by the guardians of our morals. The lovers should stand about ten yards apart up to their necks, empty their lungs, and crawl towards each other along the bottom with their eyes open.

Looking at your feet through the wrong end of the opera-glasses while you try to walk, step by step, one foot put straight in front of the other, down a string laid on the floor.

To make a Cockyolly Bird. An old-fashioned night-gown is necessary. Put the legs through the arms, and the head through the neck, then have the bottom of the night-gown tied up as a tail. This fowl is more charming than it sounds.

[It seems these weekend house-party guests had too much time on their hands back in 1924...(Yes, more from The Weekend Book.) If only they had some Jeeves and Wooster to read.]

**********

Item from the New York Social Diary:

At an auction for the Waldorf Hotel Restoration Project, a 10-week old Jack Russell Terrier from a breeder in San Antonio, Texas, won the highest bid at $15,000.
Then someone in the audience offered to buy her for $20,000 from the previous bidder, who accepted.
When the night was over, Big Spender disappeared without leaving a check/cheque and no one knows who will take the doggie. (Possibly the next highest bidder, actor Tony Danza, for $8,000.)

**********

Despite all the time he spends gushing over the elite at their glittering galas, it appears the writer of the NYSD does not like Prince Charles.

"He’s perfectly pleasant, beautifully turned out, ponderously pampered and earnestly pompous. He dwells entirely in a world surrounded by more than a hundred servants, extensive palatial real estate, ancient traditions that bestow privilege (or lack of) which walls him off from the vagaries of the hoi-polloi....There are almost no rich men or women on the planet who have it this good, except possibly Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, who came upon their wealth and status in the old fashioned way – they worked for it."

Pardon me...the old fashioned way?
Last I heard, the old fashioned way of owning privilege was by inheritance.
Trust an American to approach it from a Puritan point of view. It is only in the past generation or two that earned wealth has also earned respect in Britain. The British, naturally, have been slower to adopt this mindset, so that today the RP-speaking, public school-educated upper classes have slipped out of their traditional positions of natural privilege and are more often than not as poor as church mice. In fact, the only thing holding some of the crumbling country seats together are cobwebs and rotting twine.

I do believe that this "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that is the American dream is a major cause of the resentment Britons have always held towards their former colonists.

**********

"ponderously pampered and earnestly pompous" - picture it and you've got to laugh.
Ever notice how when Prince Charles is nervous he fiddles with his cuffs? Watch him, next time...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rome!

I am really enjoying the new Rome series.
For the next eleven weeks you will not be able to lure me from home on Wednesday nights! Unless I can watch the Sunday repeat.

This is Rome in all its gory. This is not the sanitised version, this is the grim-y reality:

1) Temple rituals full of superstition, bloodshed and frenzy - none of this silent kneeling in a silent temple before a still marble statue.
  • Atia chants herself into a trance and gets drenched in hot blood as the bull is slaughtered above her, in order to ensure a safe journey for her son.
2) How Roman DNA spread across the Empire. The soldiers were men, after all.
  • Mark Anthony takes the obliging shepherdess behind a tree while the convoy waits in the road and her sheep wander off.
3) The ancients were proud of the human form, unashamed of their bodies, and had no sense of privacy.
  • The attendants were not dismissed as who else would undress them? One was needed to wave the big fan, another to give them wine afterwards, and the rest just stood around.
And for the first time in television/film history, the lewd wall graffiti is a feature - prominent in the opening credits!

BBC or HBO: Do not miss this series!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mittwoch Post

I never bother to mention all the jobs I apply to. But fingers crossed for Operations Assistant (been years since I did events!), and Gallery Account Coordinator.

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David Blunkett is proof that a position of power is more attractive to some women (as in, more than one) than the man himself.

Peter Stringfellow and Donald Trump are just as cringe-making...

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I awoke this morning with cheerier thoughts than of late. I had dreamt that there was a little red car on my driveway (!). I could even remember the new-car smell. I don't remember smelling anything in a dream before.
And I've never wanted a red car, so I don't know what that was all about...But I enjoyed the excitement!

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Your Inner Eye Color Is Brown


You're smart, thoughtful, and the ideal woman for most men.

You are kind and easy to trust. Men open up to you like no one else.

It's this inner warmness that attracts guys - and makes you an instant soulmate.



What's Your Inner Eye Color? Take This Quiz :-)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Il n'y a pas un titre

Oh, I sucked at Yoga today..... *pout*
I was better on the first day than I was today! I couldn't balance, I lacked the strength in my tired right thigh to go "flying", I lost my balance 3 times.
What happened?????

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Random Stuff:
1) I watched CSI.
I wanted to be a CSI ages before the series came out. I took a criminal justice class in university. Knew all about sealing fingerprints onto objects with cyanoacrylate fumes, petechial hemorrhaging caused by strangulation, exsanguination, and rehydrating mummified finger skin in order to obtain a print.
In fact, I wrote a homicide report on a case study, and it was more fun than anything I had done in psychology!
Don't you all just love me more now?

2) A guy I knew at university used to joke about us joining the CIA. He wanted to be a field agent, I wanted to be an intel specialist. He called me Q, and used to tell me I'd save his life one day. (V, do you remember when he did a salsa move and flipped me over at The Mug?)
But then I tried to join the State Department and he tried to join the FBI.
He fell in love with Vanessa but she turned him down. He wanted to settle down, she didn't.

3) Come to think of it, everyone was falling in love with Vanessa. Like the cute US Navy recruiter who knocked on the door of our university house one day looking for the previous occupants. We were all in the midst of moving in, and Vanessa and I had been in our room trying to move the chest of drawers, so we "recruited" him instead. He spent the rest of the year hanging out with us, and Vanessa thought he was more comfortable with me. After I returned to London, he broke up with his fiancee and wanted to go out with Vanessa, which is the precise reason she refused him.

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Oh yes, Bridget Jones 2.
LOL, when I watched the first one, I was dating a barrister.
But I've gone off 'em now. The BJ movies, that is, not barristers...
Don't watch romantic movies unless you are rolling in clover, otherwise you will be in danger of becoming a flaming cynic. I've locked up my matches, by the way.

5 weeks after Bridget's break-up with Darcy she checks her phone:
"You have no new messages. Not a single one. Not even from your mother."

(Ha, this is exactly what happens! Today, after weeks of silence, they all started coming out of the woodwork.)

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Looking for a palm heart salad recipe today, I learned that coconut water is nearly identical to blood plasma. It is a good substitute in emergency situations....like when you're stranded on a tropical island.
It's also an electrolyte. Better-tasting fluid replacement than those nasty drinks.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Oh look it's November

Remember when I was complaining about the bad vibes in October, and that I knew of 9 breakups and I didn't want to hear about a 10th?
(Why did I only notice this time? It's like when you buy a new car and you start seeing the same model everywhere.) The 10th case is a university friend of mine and her (much younger) husband.

And I am TIRED of it. Please God let there be no number 11....

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Changing the topic - Blue tagged me ages ago. I can't do the lists of Sevens, not for a while anyway, but here is an interesting one:

Twenty-Three

Follow the instructions
1. Delve into your blog archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. find the 5th sentence
4. post the text of the sentence in your blog along with instructions:
Ponder it for meaning, subtexts or hidden agendas.
5. tag 5 people.

This was tricky. My 23rd post was a photograph, so then I went for the post on the 23rd day which was rather rubbish considering recent relationship disasters:

I think The Fig is gone (mentioned a couple of times despite my policy of silence).

I swear, that's not all that happens around here. Anyone remember the Fig? Rebecca might - we were all on St Katharine's Dock on the same day and didn't know it. The nickname, the first on my new blog, was an acronym for his nationalities.

To think, I did the Tag to cheer us up a bit...So in another attempt, if I count only the text posts, skipping the photos, this is it:
And I also rather enjoyed his Jungian discussions of the forest as the necessary uncertainty in childhood stories and fairytales.

We even have a subtext here. I was writing about a book I'd just finished called The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford. It's a prosy memoire of a scholar's love affair with books from childhood to the present day. In one early chapter he plunges into a psychoanalytical discussion of the forest as the dark place which taps into our fear of the unknown.

Hm, that was coincidental. Just realised it's Hallowe'en. I don't DO Hallowe'en.

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Twenty-Three for my 20Six

Canoodles and pasta :)

That's what was on the menu one evening...Delightful came for dinner.

Hm. How about if I count the 23rd day again?

Yes I am British, but I lived in America for long enough that when I get frustrated I have the right to disown you lot for a few minutes.

Slightly funnier! *sigh of relief*

Can't be bothered to rescue this weird post, I'll just let it flounder...Ciao!