Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Blog Queue...And 3 Things

It's getting too long and as many of you have heard me complain, I may have to blog twice a day until I catch up.

So article 1: Randis of Motime has urged me to take this quiz.
Here are my answers:

3 Things


* Liv, Livvy, Livvy-lou
* Meli
* O


* Androula
* Melissan
* Artmeliana

THREE PARTS OF YOUR HERITAGE: (What, I only get three???)

* Greek
* East Indian & something else
* Icelandic & French


* All North American insects
* The end of any good thing
* Eye closeups in horrible movies


* Tea
* Contact with my favourite people
* A good read (of book and blog)


* My lifelong gold bracelet (they might have to cut it off soon)
* The crazy red, pink, yellow and white socks I got in a fashion show goodie bag
* My laptop


* I'm not creative enough to answer this question
* My friends love me way too much
* I am the Empress of Blogopia

(ooh, everything!)

* Nice hands and forearms
* Nose, eyes and mouth
* The laugh and voice


* Forget something that's on my mind
* Remember something I've forgotten
* Eat peas


* Writing (on blog or on paper)
* Reading
* Travelling


* Have ALL my friends together in one room
* Get a JOB
* Play some Beethoven on the piano...or go driving in the country


* Florence
* Greece
* Prague


* Get something published
* Get back on a horse
* Learn to fly a plane


* I appreciate a really cute baby.
* I want to cook when I am happy.
* I have cleaning sprees.
(Shut up, I CAN read a map!)


* I adore pretty things
* I stick my little finger out
* I secretly like the colour pink

THREE PEOPLE WHO HAVE TO TAKE THIS QUIZ: (all of you if possible)

* Jia Li (she's home ill and has the time)
* Steliano (except he's on holiday)
* Vanessa (even though she doesn't have a blog)

If any of you know me better than I know myself, do tell...!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Roll out the red carpet...

...Jason is making his debut!

And here is the little introduction he made in my last post:

Hey Everyone,
My name is Jason and I'm Olivia's and Vanessa's friend from college (in Houston). Livy, Sorry it has taken me so long to get registered to comment. I've been reading your dispatches, though, I promise. It looks like you have a good group of friends online. I like Steliano's and Jia Li's pictures. I've checked out their blogs, and Rebecca's too. I look forward to reading more. See you later!


So here are the commenters and bloggers I know in real life:

Vanessa, left, & Jason, 3rd from left - since 1999 at St Thomas

Jia Li (Michelle) - since 1999 in Canada

and Rebecca - since 2002 at Christie's

~Welcome one and all to my Blogopia~

Friday, July 29, 2005

Post-Poetical Vapidness


This is my little owl, like Athena's


It's been ages since I babbled about the house and it's "guests"...

CLOGS (Japanese Banker)
If you enter the kitchen and every surface including the floor is sopping wet, you know Clogs has been in there. I think he throws water around for fun.

He still lives in the room above, but lately he's been less Cloggy than usual - he no longer threatens to stomp through the ceiling in the mornings. Yippee!

A few weeks ago, his new wife who is a concert pianist, moved over here from Japan; she arrived alone at the front door with two large suitcases.
She stayed a few days in the house before moving to a flatshare with a piano. He saw her off at the gate and she took her bags away alone, just the way she came.
If I were a husband, I would want to carry her bags and see her properly settled in, etc!

We have a new-ish guest but I have not yet mentioned her. About 10 minutes ago, she went down the stairs and out the front door. I know this because I could smell her go, it's like drowning in lavender and baby powder - through two doors
Should I call her Pong? Whiffy?


Over the past year, I have come to the conclusion that the Brits have forgotten how to make phone calls. This is a text-happy nation and one day we will all have larger thumbs.

Upside: Texts can be answered at your own pace; phone calls are immediate and sometimes untimely. Plus, I don't want to seem pushy.
BUT a welcome conversation makes a better personal connection than a few brief words on a little screen. There is a time for texting and a time for talking.

So, considering the dearth of conversation and the abundance of short texts, has communication evolved or regressed? What are your thoughts?


Sorry, that wasn't quite as vapid as it should have been.
Try this Free Typing Speed Test

Distinctly non-vapid stuff about God and the Universe which I think is a bit of a masterpiece even if I don't necessarily agree: JP thinks he's not making sense

A bit more like it: Not long from now, I will match Steliano's post about his room


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Freeflow 1

proud and
tall, anchored
firmly in the forest

skyward_________summer_________afternoon_________Fairy Toy

This heart
is the symbol
of love. Red
and big, it will
always say
I love

noisy, free
flows, tumbles, twists
exciting, frightening, energetic, exhilarating

The hand

big or small
gives and takes
The hand

Olivia Klonaris 1989

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Mission Statements

I always mean what I say
Sometimes I want to speak but don't
Often I think of a response later
Usually think more than I speak

I am patience
But not on a monument
It's copious
Not infinite

My middle name is Loyalty
My motto: "Once a friend, always a friend."
I will be here for you
Whether you like it or not

I'll get back to you as soon as possible
I know what it's like to feel forgotten
It's not nice
I put myself in your shoes

I've given so much of myself to others
I am learning to receive
It's a slow process
But I could get used to it

Practice makes perfect
I can be taken by surprise
Surprises are good
Just need to get used to them

I am sensitive
Sensuous (look it up...)
Flowing deeply
And slightly mysteriously

Too honest for my own good
But it's the best policy
What you see is (not) what you get
Scratch the surface again

I have unplumbed depths
You will find me
You just have to persevere
Discover my world

I am poetic in flashes
It comes as a feeling
Rarely reaches words
Until now

Olivia Klonaris 2005

Romeo e Giulietta

Oh! Serpent-hearted with a flowery face!

---What Juliet exclaimed when she heard Romeo had shed Tybalt's blood.


The original film with Olivia Hussey is on BBC2 at the moment. It just happened to stand out for me, in the midst of my job apps. Like yesterday, 4 before lunchtime. So, 8 in two days. That's a record for me. And I have discovered that my typing speed is between 68 and 74 words per minute.

Last night I waxed lyrical --- it's been many years since I last wrote a poem! I ought to share some of my old ones with you, too. If I can find the notebook.

15th Century Verona: rampaging fathers, hysterical mothers, stubborn nurses, wayward daughters, hot-blooded cousins and tempting lovers.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Your Photos are Ready!

I've finally uploaded all my pictures from Glasgow, York, and a day out at the V&A and in Richmond-upon-Thames.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any of them as I forgot my film camera but I think my Dad did a good job with his digital. The York pics are from my mother's digital camera, and I did take many of those.

Glasgow is Scotland's principal town on the western side. Though it's only 45 minutes by train from Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, the accents are completely different. Glaswegians are nearly unintelligible; Edinburghians have a gentler accent. Glasgow has been a respected seat of learning since 1451; nevertheless, it joined the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, only undergoing gentrification within the past generation. Today it is a very tidy city.

York is a couple of hours south of Scotland in the county of Yorkshire. Over a thousand years ago, the Vikings who lived there called it Yorvik. Unlike many of the industrial or mining northern towns, York is home to England's second largest Cathedral and therefore has retained its charming medieval atmosphere. They say, becoming the Bishop of York is only one step down from making it to Archbishop of Canterbury (Head of the Church of England and by extension the worldwide Anglican communion).

I've already blogged about these places, that was just a review.

If you've read any of my blogs, you know a bit about the V&A (Victoria & Albert) Museum, founded by Her Majesty from a conglomeration of different collections and institutions. The place is a veritable labyrinth of treasures.

Richmond-upon-Thames is in the desirable county of Surrey while still being an outer borough of London. When I was born, we lived not too far from there, though a little deeper into Surrey, in another nice town called Kingston-upon-Thames. The spirits of Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I hang strongly about this area because Hampton Court Palace is nearby and Richmond used to be the site of an eponymous Palace. Henry often travelled on the Thames in a splendid barge.

And now, to see the pictures, click here.

Oh, dash it...!

...As Bertie Wooster would say.

I'm cold. I'm in a huff. I'm tired of looking for a job. "I want one, and I want it NOW!"

And after all my walking this weekend, I am chomping at the bit at having to sit and do typing today. So I'm taking a break to ... um ... type this blog.

And enough of, "I read your CV with interest, but am afraid I won't be taking your application forward at this time."
Plus, cover letters are so cheesy. I'm selling myself and suffering rejection and subsequent disillusion!

They won't know if they like me unless they invite me for an interview. Everyone I've ever worked for didn't want me to leave, but you can't put that on a CV or a cover letter or a civil application.

And now forgive me for complaining; it's not something I like to do to you ;)


So would you like to hear about my weekend?
We did lots of walking and eating out. Italian, Thai, Chinese, Indian, French. Mum enjoys eating out with me and it's more fun than using the kitchen and taking all the food up to my room.

Friday we went to the O2 Centre on Finchley Road to see Madagascar - it was hilarious! Lots of laughter, lots of allusions that people in double digits would get. (Even American Beauty.)
But the best part was the seawater-spitting scene that had me laughing so hard I cried. And that pompous lemur, King Adrien and his "I like to party-party!" theme.
I say YUM YUM to Cumin, the cool new Indian bistro at the O2.

On Saturday, from SJW through Regent's Park, to Harley Street, to Marylebone, to Regent Street, to Piccadilly Circus, and then home from Abbey Road, we walked 6 miles. That's what my pedometer said.

Sunday was a dratted off-day for me. One cannot feel happy all the time.
Mum and I lounged about feeling lost, doing laundry and ironing. We ventured into the rain to find lunch. The cricket was cancelled so lots of Aussies roamed the soggy streets looking for something to do, until the sun came out and play resumed. Then they won, and flooded the pubs. I have never heard so much noise in St John's Wood. Certainly not with all the English cricket earlier this year ;)

Time for me to return to the job listings...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Bits n Pieces

I just cannot talk about this new situation in London. They shall not break us.


I'm not trying to flood the place with new patrons, but you really ought to drop in to The Townhouse on the tres chic Beauchamp Place in Knightsbridge. I dragged Delightful out there on Wednesday evening for a relaxing drink.
Dark panelling, lots of candles, dark leather seating with big chenille cushions, footrests, cool music. Very chilled and unpretentious, despite the Molton Brown products in the bathroom ;) (Thinking British Airways Business Class here...)

I had an old favourite, the mojito but doubtless NEXT time I'll be adventurous.
Delightful had a Ruby Tuesday which came in a martini glass and had, if I can remember correctly, delicious overtones of cranberry and watermelon. His second choice was a Monkey Scrumble, just because of the name. It was half red, half yellow and all I can remember was the whiskey in it.

We went to the Touch Me exhibition late opening at the V&A. Two days later and I still don't know how to describe it fully. Although some of the exhibits don't work - that's the risk you take with interactive displays - it is worth a visit. All sorts of intuitive (or frustratingly not so) technology, gimmicky gadgets, cutting-edge ideas. Highlights that stand out: Stroking your partner's real hand while looking at a plaster cast becomes slightly surreal. Playing Pac Man with no shoes on as one person controls the up and down arrows and the other the right and left, dancing on a big felt pad. "Huh?" you say. Just have to be there.


Yesterday, my little mother and I explored nearly every street in Soho. She was flabbergasted at seeing lone women, families and tourists eating and walking around there after 5pm. It has changed a lot in 30 years.
We went to a Chez Gerard Fish Bar (?) and ate a selection of starters. Crispy whitebait, calamari (the best), Coquille St-Jacques, mesclun salad, pommes frites, accompanied by the strongest white wine I've had so far. I like a good mezze.


Ooh, the special homemade card that Jia Li and Steliano have been discussing finally arrived in the post yesterday, accompanied by cute notes! It made my day!

Over an image of her reclining on the grass, Jia Li superimposed the words:
Livvy Bear,

How could I upstage your birthday card?

By creating my own thank you note and sharing a perfect Changchun moment with you.

I am here on South lake with a fellow teacher, it is a hot and lazy day. Perfect for watching young lovers walking in the shade holding hands and watching dragon flies glide past.

Enjoy your day, and thanks for being such a perfect friend!

Then she signed her name in Chinese. Thanks Jia Li Nut!
(For those of you who don't know, Jia Li is Michelle, a Canadian who taught English in China.)


[N.B. ad J.G. I do have a dark side and I ought to be allowed to put my hands on my hips...unless you have a better idea?]

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I've been thinking about the blogging demographic.

I first learned about it from a 20Sixer in my personal acquaintance. Being of an independent bent, rather than pitching my tent on 20Six, I did a bit of research and found that Blogger would suit me best. Technically, I've been blogging for years. I've kept a diary for nearly 20 years, but a few years ago, long before I knew what blogging was I began to write my real thoughts down and call it spouting.

In my blog trawlings and gap-bridging, I've noticed that each blogsite attracts different sorts of people.

Intellectual, semi-poetic, somewhat academic, cultured and eclectic deep thinkers thirsting for a broad knowledge of the world. A sense of fun and gentle camaraderie pervades the welcoming atmosphere. Small but loyal followings complete the sense of community.

Serial bloggers who post lots of spur-of-the-moment digital pictures to illustrate random points, create witty webcomics, and crack you up with one-liner posts with the odd smattering of surrealism. The huge fan bases tend to meet up in pubs from time to time.

The truly moody, poetic, philosophical types hide out here. They write profusely when inspired or conflicted, support each other during tough existential lows, and often read like a caffeinated creative writing conference. And they ALL talk about the moon.

Xanga & Livejournal:
Not sure, as I only know two people there, and they're siblings. Both faaabulously bonkers.

Legal Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, who intends no offense to any party who reads aforementioned post.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

This is what they say

When your palm itches, you will receive money.
When I jiggle my leg, a Japanese friend tells me I won't get any money.
(The latter occurs more often than the former.)

When your ears burn, someone's talking about you.
When my ears burn, it's because I'm drinking red wine.
(The former occurs more often than the latter.)

So what does it mean when...

A moth goes down the back of your blouse?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

An Untitled Post

Help! What has happened to me? I'm watching one of my favourite movies, Little Women, and again I've hit that brick wall of Cyn.....(you know).

He gives Jo an orange and their fingers meet and we think on her behalf, "Oh my gosh I touched his THUMB!"
Such a Victorian moment. I had one once. Remember the scene in Age of Innocence when Daniel Day-Lewis is dreaming of unbuttoning Michelle Pfeiffer's glove? That was it exactly, I was even wearing gloves.


Anyway that was not my point for writing today.

Hey, there has been a blue Rolls Royce parked outside my window aaallll week. No one has been near it. Do you think I should move in and declare squatter's rights on it???

Sorry! That was another tangent.


I had such a nice day out! After two of my weekend plans fell through, I had to think of something, so I went to drool over Queen Maud's dress collection. (She was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and daughter of the fashionable Alexandra, Princess of Wales. She married Prince Carl of Norway, second in line to the throne who became King Haakon.)

From 1896 to 1938, she did not change dress size and had the most adorable waist. We're the same size! I want her dresses, her riding habits, her tea gowns...! They are exquisite.

Clicking on the picture will take you to a little slideshow.


In the spirit of this post I will end with an email my former French teacher sent me:

Women are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree.
Most men don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt.
Instead, they just take the rotten apples from the ground that aren't as good, but easy to pick up...
The apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they're amazing.
They just have to wait for the right man to come along, the one who's brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.
Share this with other women who are good apples, even those who have already been picked.

Now are like a fine wine.
They begin as grapes, and it's up to women to stomp the crap out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.

...I wonder if Maud ever had to stomp on Haakon ;)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Mixed Bag [Addendum]

Uh-oh. My back was up to more than 80% better and I got into tidying mode. Desperate for a clean carpet, I vaccuumed my room. Fine, but after I put it away...ow...bugger, I think I undid all my days of recovery. Oh no no no!

Feel free to yell at Olivia :(
But only after she fortifies herself with a glass of cold milk and a slice of madeira cake ;)

Too disappointed to enjoy it :'(


Have you seen the new TV ad for the Peugot 1007???
It's absolutely insane and I rather like the soundtrack.


Some of you may recall stating that I can never be cynical. Well, here it is:

Why, oh why? In period dramas, when the handsome hero meets his love interest, it is instantly obvious that she is the only One for him.
He is enthralled by her presence, enslaved by her gaze, inspired by her voice and all the rest. He is either reduced to a shambles or elevated to a dashing charm when she is near. Infatuated, bewitched, and totally in love.

This Romance will remain in the Regency or Victorian novel, methinks. We put the book down and enter into a world where we are not forced to choose between the 5 eligibles at the country house party, but get to sift through the millions in the metropolis like a bee among flowers. Where childhood sweethearts are not still in love after 10 years apart, but where the modern mantra is: There are more fish in the sea. Where long secret engagements do not occur, but people flit about saying, "Maybe the next one will be better...or the next one..."

See? Olivia being cynical. I hope y'all still love me...

(I've been watching "To the Ends of the Earth" on BBC2, based on the novel by William Golding. If he died in the 1990s, how could he have written an accurate portrayal of life on an early 19th C sailing vessel?)

In the next scene, the ship is listing heavily to one side. Three men are sitting at the long mess table, getting drunk, catching the bottles as they slide about, and getting tipped off their chairs at the same time.

Edmund Talbot, the protagonist, is played by Benedict Cumberbatch. That really is his name.


And finally, I watched Big Fish. Very weird.

"I think once a year instead of birthdays we should have an Edward Bloom day where everyone gets to feel great."

Ewan McGregor talking about Big Fish

ADD: Why not have a Birthday and a Bloomday? How would you pick the date?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pb and the Fall of Rome

We all know the incredible stories surrounding so many of the late Roman Emperors.
We also know that the Roman Empire FELL.

Here is one very plausible theory I heard about this week: Lead Poisoning. Rome mined huge quantities of lead and it was a part of daily life. In fact, so much lead mining and smelting took place in the Mediterranean that lead traces have been found in ice core samples taken in Greenland. (Stay with me, people.)
A number of Roman scholars, and even the Greek physicians before them, were aware of the possible links between lead and ill health, but perhaps the link was too tenuous for them to take more seriously.

Water was brought into town via lead pipes, and lead was used to line the aqueducts. So ingrained in modern culture is it that our word plumbing comes from plumbum, the Latin word for lead which is immortalised as Pb on the periodic table. (Just look at how many Victorian lead pipes we have had to replace in recent decades.)

Roman women, in order to preserve their light complexions, powdered their faces with white lead. Prolonged use most likely caused skin damage, thereby necessitating further use.

Roman food was cooked in lead pots or lead-lined copper pots. I'm pretty sure that earthenware glaze contained lead back then too. (A bit ironic (sorry) that lead wasn't added to glass until the 17th century. This is the reason that so much Roman glass is cloudy and iridescent.)

The Roman upper classes drank large quantities of neat and diluted wine; much of it was flavoured with various forms of unfermented grape syrups, also used as flavour enhancers in cooking. First there was Mustum. Mustum could be reduced by half into Defrutum, and further into a third as a syrup called Sapa. All, of course, boiled down in lead pots and because of the grapes' acidity, even more toxin would leach into the mix.

The presence of lead in the wine not only served to sweeten it, improve the colour and add bouquet, but acted as a preservative for export to all corners of the Empire. (On a side note, the Greeks, who had once been the world's producer, added pine resin.)

And so to the mad Emperors and the decline of the Empire: Lead is a neurotoxin. It also causes infertility.

Looking at the afflictions of Claudius, many doctors see this as a classic case of lead poisoning: excruciating stomach pains, speech impairment, weak limbs, slobbering or drooling, fits of laughter. To complete the vicious cycle, he was an alcoholic.

Then there are the wild orgies, drunken Bacchanals, erratic and scandalous behaviour, and illogical decisions of Commodus, Nero, Caligula, Tiberius, and the weirdest one, Elagabalus.
He was so crazy, even the lead-poisoned citizens wanted to get rid of him.

The birth rate eventually dipped so low, that couples were penalised if they had too few children.

So if the rulers and decision-making upper classes were poisoned, how long before the moral decay and population decline leach into the civil and economic health of an Empire?

The Silence

Did you observe the Silence?

From Belfast to St Andrews to London, Britain came to a standstill at noon.

It was touching and I cried as I watched the news.

As Big Ben chimed the hour, London ground to a halt. Piccadilly Circus so motionless, it looked like a photograph. City traders like statues on the floor. Trafalgar Square, Tavistock Place and King's Cross, packed with people wiping their eyes. The occupants of Scotland Yard, Number 10, Buckingham Palace - all emerged like silent symbols into the sunlight, standing in solidarity to respect the lost innocents.

May they not have died in vain.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ne'er the Twain...

Malady is the order of the day and so no one is going anywhere tonight.

And so I wish to direct you Westerners to Steliano's Day Dreams, where he has posted a delightful little article on the Greek Bouzouki.

Takis Kokotas, the guy who is playing the MP3s, performed with his band at the wedding of Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks. She is Greek, which explains why Hanks directed My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
(I found that movie funny and embarrassing. If you don't get Greek culture, it's not funny at all, but I bet it had the Italians howling with laughter.)


The day before, Jia Li gave us some nutty names, so you can visit her at her Zwinkern if you haven't already.

She would like to state that she is a bit miffed that no one visits her site when it's serious, but she gets flooded when it's comical.


Here is a nifty bit of Artificial Intelligence: 20q which might give you a few minutes of diversion. I beat it once this afternoon but watch out, it's pretty sharp!!!


I stopped counting. Police on horseback have been passing up and down the Terrace all day. What's going on? Maybe they're stealing them in pairs from the barracks up the road.
Hallooo, Royal Horse Artillery, the Metropolitan Police are absconding with your horses!

See, not only Jia Li can be silly. You just have to meet me in person to get the best of it, right? [This addressed to those who know me best.] Ooh that rhymes.

No, I am not tipsy, I am not on pain medication, and I am not even that bubbly today! Champagne is bubbly. I could get bubbly on champagne.

Speaking of....In Cockney Rhyming Slang, I'm a Bubble.
Bubble = Greek (bubble and squeak)

If you don't get it, here's more, but be aware my repertoire is really out of date:
Germans = hands (German bands)
Plates = feet (plates of meat)
Boat = face (boat race)
Frog = road (frog and toad)
Jam = car (jam jar)
Trouble = wife (trouble and strife)

Ex. I was goin' down the frog in me jam and it was so cold I could 'ardly feel me Germans and me plates were numb. As for the trouble, you shoulda seen 'er boat when I let go the wheel!

Thanks Dad for teaching me that silliness.

My parents and I were required to speak properly when growing up, but when we were joking around at home it was like a stand-up routine. The slang and accents flew everywhere. And when it was over, we straightened our collars and returned to standard English.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Boo hoo

Oowwwww.....forget the toes, my back is out. And I wasn't going to tell you about it but it hurts too much


I hope I'm better tomorrow. My limit is 3 days, then I call the doctor. I bet, by the time I get an appointment here on the NHS, I'll be all better.

It was the heavy bags of groceries yesterday :(

I'm so used to bending and stretching and skipping and turning, that this incapacity is making me angry and I've been creeping around all day.

In fact, I crept to Boots to buy some liniment - I smell really good right now.
Then I realised I had forgotten the handwritten job app I was talking about, so I crept home and put it in a big envelope and crept off to the post box.

Passing the Library I thought, better rent a DVD to cheer myself up. Got Phantom of the Opera and Big Fish.

Phantom is great! Better than the stage show, but can I claim that it's better than Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman in the London premiere? I shouldn't. The cinematography, costume, sets - the whole visual feast was sumptuous.
I was telling Steliano yesterday that I like music in the minor key, and I have just realised that this is why the songs in Phantom have haunted me for so long.
Gerard Butler, a dashing Scotsman, plays the Phantom and does his own singing - he cuts a very striking figure. Why do we girls have to get a crush on him just for strutting around with that cape, or at the masquerade in that fetching red uniform with the sword? He's the bad guy!

As soon as the credits rolled on Phantom, I realised with a shock that I'd forgotten to attach the blasted photo to my CV...

I haven't seen Big Fish yet. I need to go down to make dinner...or at least, creep down.

Wish me well...


Oooooooooowwwwwwwwww! I tried to put on my slippers and ended up kicking the corner of the wall instead! I've just stubbed 3 toes. Even I don't know how I missed an entire piece of footwear.


Kellogg's has inveigled me into eating a box of Special K with Yogurt flakes. In a whole bowl of cereal I spotted only one Yogurt flake. Now I have to finish the box. Just because I wanted a change from the usual soy and linseed loaf.

Well...I suppose at my age, I'm approaching the Special K demographic...


Things are getting fun out here. Yesterday a car drove by blaring very cool Jazz through its open windows.
Just now, Abba whizzed past.
It's all better than boom-boom-boom.


Yesterday in the Tube, I actually smiled with someone!!! There was a whiff of fish in the carriage, I and the girl opposite were both sniffing and looking around for the source. When we locked eyes, we exchanged a conspiratorial grin.

So let's see - is that perhaps the 5th time I've smiled at a stranger in London?


This is art history for you. I am hand-writing a cover letter as requested by the gallery to which I am applying. I am also required to attach a recent photograph.
When was the last time you did that?


Who can tell me why I named this post "Mezze"?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Unshaken and Undaunted

Courtesy of Slate Cartoon Box

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Babblings of a .... mind

Isn't it annoying when you get so clean in the shower that the soap won't rinse off?

Anyway, tangent there. It's a hot day in London. Just when I was going to iron AND bake, thereby hotting up the kitchen to an unbearable degree. And only a few days ago I was shivering in a cardigan, hoping we hadn't just blinked and missed summer.

I know London was my first home, but I'm feeling "homesick" for the place I spent nearly half my life:

Welcome Home...The Woodlands

Check it out, you won't believe it's Texas!

I spent a few hours yesterday talking to my friends in Houston, Vanessa and Jason. We were part of an inseparable quartet at university. V and I were roomies and so were Jason and Johnny. Residence life, sneaky buggers, moved J & J from down the hall in the first year, to across the hall the next year. Best of all, the year after that when the dorms closed, we were put into two university houses while everyone else was shunted off to the Marriott (?)

Jason, remember not to leave all the commenting to the lovely people I have never met ;)
You should tell the Sake bottle story some time and I'll post it here.
Furthermore, you know you said you wanted a nickname? I could give you one but I wouldn't use it because I tend not to nickname my friends on this blog.

Let's about Porsche Dude? Or Beer Mat? Haha!

Vanessa could be Butterfly or Mai Thai. (Play on words there: in India, Mai is a bossy mother, then Thai with the h because she was over there for ages...)

The guy upstairs is Clogs simply because his feet are so loud, and that's all I know about him, apart from a couple more things.

Then there was the Fig (eaten by the birds). Nuff said.

Jia Li (Michelle) has given us all her own nickname which means beautiful and strong.

And now there's Delightful Company. It was either that or Mr Bingley from Pride & Prejudice because they're equally sweet, but I stuck to Delightful because he sounded pretty chuffed about it.

My brain tells me I'm presently in the process of properly putting my foot in it...

Um, maybe I should go and punish myself with some heavy ironing and then bake that cake after all. Peace offering.


Saturday, July 09, 2005


Oh help! I have a song stuck in my head and it won't go away - I woke up with it - all because my CD player went haywire last night and played by itself. It's "Apollo 13" by The Tears, an indie band that Delightful Company loves.

Speaking of Delightful, we were out on Wednesday night around those very areas in the City that were affected by the attacks.
But on a lighter note, if you've never been to the Coq d'Argent at number One Poultry, I highly recommend it for the pricey cocktails and views over the City. Girls, if you don't mind savouring every mouthful, you have to try the Blackberry Manhattan. It made my taste buds think.

Yesterday, as he was told to stay out of the City, Delightful suggested an impromptu afternoon out together and it was very relaxing, so far from the events of the day before. We had a Japanese lunch, the table packed with mysterious little plates and bowls, and then had a nice sit-and-digest in Golden Square with our friends the pigeons.

Spur of the moment, we went to see Batman Begins. Wow...I think it is the best Batman yet, the deepest portrayal; he's dark and full of angst. If it's a prequel, how on earth did he get all camp???

After the movie, D. tried to get us in to Yaugotcha, the most ultramodern tea house I've ever seen. Very smooth - recess lighting, glass surfaces, bouncers at the door. But it was, predictably, all booked. So another time then. He says a cup of tea there ranges from £4 to £25 (That's between $8 and $50.) Oh my gosh.

And, it's still there:
But if you follow me, I will follow you into the unknown,
Like Apollo, like Apollo we'll fly to the moon

Friday, July 08, 2005

Mythological Creature (Edited)

N.B. I have fixed the quiz link!

Michelle (Jia Li) sent me this as we were chatting tonight. It's fun. She's a Dragon! What about you???

You scored as Angel. Angel: Angels are the guardians of all things, from the smallest ant to the tallest tree. They give inspiration, love, hope, and positive emotion. They live among humans without being seen. They are the good in all things, and if you feel alone, don't fear. They are always watching. Often times they merely stand by, whispering into the ears of those who feel lost. They would love nothing more then to reveal themselves, but in today's society, this would bring havoc and many unneeded questions. Give thanks to all things beautiful, for you are an Angel.













What Mythological Creature are you? (Cool Pics!)
created with

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Blasts

Oh my God...They think it was al-Quaeda...


Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Oh my gosh! It's London!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


My cousin Michelle is the coolest. She put together all the letters of my qualifications and arranged them into a new name for me, or as she said - a nom de plume for if I ever became an author.

BA, PGDip, MPhil became:

Phil Badpig, MP

[Cool, a Member of Parliament too!] However, it's a man's name.

I therefore pose you all a challenge: Who can create another name???

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Higgledy Piggledy Jorvik

Remember I mentioned York in my Glasgow post?

We stopped there on the way back to London on Saturday. We left a sunny Glasgow, entered a rainy north of England, and nearly scrapped the plan, thinking it wouldn't be fun to traipse around a rainy city.
Thankfully, the sun came out just when it needed to. There had been some seat-shuffling on the train so that 4 children could sit together at a table. Everyone was happy until a Finnish woman, who was sitting with her son behind us, demanded her proper seats opposite Mum and me. So Dad and the other girl sitting with us around the table had to move. She was a miserable woman who visibly irritated her son every time she said something. She never smiled, he looked embarrassed, then she took off her shoes and played footsie with me. Not really, but I was forced to keep my feet as close to me as possible, as she made use of more than half the under-table space and kept kicking me when she moved - and NOT apologising for it.

So we were MORE than relieved to get out at York. Made a beeline for Betty's Tea Rooms. Oh how can I convey to you how precious that place is? It was founded in 1919 by a Swiss-Yorkshire family. Just like when I was there 5 years ago, I wanted to stay all day and just eat. The upstairs is all white wicker chairs and floral cushions. The downstairs is wood panelling and brass trim, which even extends into the luxurious bathrooms.

I have corrupted my parents! They were sooo pleased! Dad had a ham and gruyere melt, I had Yorkshire rarebit, and Mum had pan-fried salmon chunks and new potatoes on a bed of salad. For dessert Dad had a rich chocolate cake, Mum had 3 scoops of ice cream, and I had a banana, chocolate and cream crepes. The drinks were half the fun: Mum had a completely natural elderflower drink, I had the best Pimm's ever (like last time), and Dad had a tiny personal silver tea service of Ceylon Sapphire with cornflower (it had a honeyed character). Even the silver strainer was quaint and sat in a little silver bowl.
In the shop, I bought Chinese rose tea and Mum chose the Ceylon Sapphire.

Refreshed, content and recharged, we discovered the Gardens of the Treasurer's House, strolled around the Minster, and rambled around the Shambles. There was so much picturesqueness to take in!

Back at York station, we picked up our luggage and got right on to the wrong train, despite following the screen which said London Kings X on Platform 3.
The ultimate destination would have been Sheffield, but we were able to change at Doncaster for the correct train from York to London!

More annoyances there, as we had to find random seats. I sat at a table opposite an annoying Palm Pilot man who fenced me in with his legs, and beside one who smelt cheesy and kept stuffing his read newspaper pages beside me.
Mum sat across the aisle opposite a floppy-haired Gallic-looking man who kept staring at me and looking away every time I caught him. Dad was alright in his airline-style seat, but when I could take it no more, I craned my neck and spotted 3 empty seats around a table. We sat with a nice man who had just seen his brother graduate with an MPhil from the Glasgow School of Art!

The weekend has not yet sunk in. Perhaps tomorrow I will look back and exclaim, "Gosh, did I just do that???"

Gaudeamus igitur, juvenes dum sumus

If you want to know what that means, you will have to wait :P

The train journey to Glasgow from London Euston takes 5 hours. I loved watching the scenery as it changed, becoming much more dramatic the farther north we went. Craggy is the best word to describe Scotland at any time.

As soon as we got into the taxi, the rains started sheeting down. We dashed into the hotel and remained trapped for a couple of hours, watching as the street behind us turned into a river. People were wading into it.
The rain stopped and then we went to dinner at the tiniest restaurant I've seen in this country. It was called Stravaigin2 (a smaller version of the restaurant downtown.) We were in the fashionable West End and it's full of amazing little bars and restaurants down the mews alleys.
My mother had a Thai-style noodle salad, my father a deelish soup and something else...oh yes, fish and chips. [I roll eyes here] and I had a nouveau Italian aubergine canneloni with the yummiest smoked brie sauce.

Friday morning dawned doubtful and grey. I got into my dark skirt and crisp white shirt, then I developed a ladder in my tights. Fortunately there was a hotchpotch shop across the road that supplied everything you'd need, like tights...Then, with nothing better to do we strolled to the university and went exploring.

We took pics and I will share, once I can get them off my parents' digital cameras. I'm upset that I forgot my film camera with it's perfect lens and long zoom. But, better than nothing.

We spent the morning avoiding the cold breeze and the threatening drops of rain. I spent most of the time draped in Dad's suit jacket and feeling envious that men get so many hidden pockets in their clothing.
But by lunchtime it began to clear, so we had plenty of sunshine for the ceremony. The Christie's alumni began to trickle in and home in on each other, but it was like herding rabbits. We'd bump into each other in all the rush, confidently say "See you later" and then not. For instance, I kept missing Elizabeth's calls and she kept missing mine!

At 1.30 we registered, got our guest tickets, and picked up our gowns. A bit of a picture-taking break in one of the quadrants, and then about 7 or 8 of us went to the chapel for the short dedication service.

The ceremony took place at Bute Hall, which I think is a Victorian Gothic Revival structure. Once we were all seated - the 9 of us from Christie's mostly on the front row! - the Organist taught us the academic anthem. We sang it as the Faculty processed in, preceded by the Bedellus carrying the university's 15th century mace.

Gaudeamus igitur, juvenes dum sumus (x2)
Post jucundum juventutem, post molestam senectutem,
Nos habebit humus, nos habebit humus

Vivat Academia, vivant Professores (x2)

Vivat membrum quodlibet, vivant membrum quaelibet
Semper sint in flore, semper sint in flore!

All of which in short translates as:
Let us rejoice while we are young, after the joys of youth and the troubles of age, we shall return to the earth.
Long live the university, the professors, each member, may they always flourish!

The Chaplain opened proceedings with a prayer by Erasmus and then the Deans launched right into the presentations of the degrees. I was number 7!
Holding your hood in the left hand, you walk onto the dais, hand the hood to the Bedellus (who seems to be some sort of ceremonial officer). The Principal, Sir Muir Russell, at the very first says, "Te philosophiae magister creamus" (We create you Master of Philosophy) but for each subsequent student is shortened to "Te quoque" (and you also).
Bow your head before him as he speaks and taps you on the head with a purple velvet cap. Shake hands, then the Bedellus garottes you with the hood and you collect your degree roll from an official.
We were treated to a number of kilts and Scotsmen with fiery hair or gloaming faces.

At the end, the Principal gave us a "charge" and we all stood for a benediction. We were all processed around the quadrant outside, behind the Faculty, by a splendid Piper!

We broke for drinks and I ran off for my grad portrait. It took me ages to realise that the photographer was telling me, "Put thaat wee hand up therrre and thaat wee hand doon therrre" as he adjusted my position and the roll in my hands. Hehe, I have wee hands! And I always thought they were just little! ;)

I ran back to return the robes, and then the parents and I limped back to the hotel to change and rest.
After we felt a bit civilised, we found dinner at Ashok, Glasgow's award-winning Indian restaurant.

Glasgow is (now) a neat city. It has very much shed its industrial past and is now as trendy as heck. The stone architecture (I only saw one brick) is amazingly uniform, rather like Oxford which I also find intimidating and slightly hostile. I can't imagine it in the middle of a dark Scottish winter. I prefer the friendly, higgledy-piggledy medievalism of York and Cambridge. (And yet, when it comes to the decorative arts I do like the pure crispness of Neoclassicism. What a contradiction.)

Our hotel was a B&B in a spacious Victorian townhouse. The crown moulding and plasterwork were so heavy I thought it should have brought the ceiling down. The wrought-iron stairs were wide, sweeping and spiralled graciously to the top of the house where a skylight brought brightness all the way back to the bottom.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Honourary Glaswegian

That's what the taxi driver called me between the train station and the hotel, because I would have a degree from Glasgow University. Does this make it an official title?

I've spent enough days in Scotland that my mind is speaking this with a strong accent as I write. And I only arrived in London a few hours ago so it hasn't worn off yet. I am exhausted and you'll find out why when I finish blogging at the end of the weekend.

If you ever wanted to know how to pronounce "Sauchiehall" Street let me tell you now, it sounds like Sockhill.

Honourary Glaswegian or not, I am now officially a - hang on - Philosophiae Magister.
Yep, my entire MPhil degree (a very large expanse of parchment paper) is in Latin, as was the ceremony. At the bottom is a neat little paragraph - in English - mentioning Christie's Education. Gaudiamus igitur.
In 1451, every scholar and faculty member spoke and learned in Latin, and wore their robes, which looked very much like our graduation regalia. Hood and all. But we don't wear the pointy-uppy shoes anymore.


I wrote the above yesterday night not long after I got home but didn't post it, thinking I'd "improve upon it" today. Isn't it oddly random? I decided not to change it.

Slept for 11 hours last night! When was the last time I did that?