Friday, September 30, 2005

Rearview Mirror on a Friday

This is what comes of 50% of my wall being floor to ceiling windows.
As I turned from applying my makeup this morning, I was surprised to notice that I was being observed from a scaffold on the house across the street. I'm glad it wasn't anything more interesting than that!


I met my good friend Brian for lunch today, we were classmates at Christie's. He's starting his millionth round of chemo next week, so it was either now or some undefined day in the future.
He told me I am perfect company, which may be one of the highest compliments I've ever received.

We had crepes - savoury first, followed by sweet. My first one was bacon, cheese and chives. My sweet one wasn't on the menu so I asked for it custom: banana, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, almonds, and Grand Marnier...yummmmmm. I don't know where I put them both.


Me got allergies. Started sneezing yesterday and today am feeling slightly muffled in one ear - probably explains the headache on Wednesday. Kept asking Mr B at lunch today if I was shouting because I couldn't hear myself, and he was sitting on my muffled side.

My theory: mould growing in the piles of damp autumn leaves.


I was at John Lewis today looking for a new cordless as the speaker on mine has failed; never buy a phone from a company that has folded. I spotted a gorgeous slimline that costs the same as my current one, but I couldn't see any on the shelf, so I asked the guy at the counter if there were any in stock. He asked why I wanted that particular brand, as everyone was after it at the moment. (The iDect X-1; now don't you all go out and get one or else there won't be any for me!)

Me: It's soooo cute and slim. And I love small gadgets.

Him: Well look at you, you're so slim and fragile, I bet everyone just wants to take care of you.

Me: Hmmm, they do always tell me they think I'm going to break.

At this point, he visibly settled in for more, but I went off to blow my nose.

Also, out of the blue I was asked by the cashier at M&S if I was a dancer???? Funny he should ask because I am going to return to ballet soon, but what I did as a child doesn't count. Yay me!

Then I got a text from Mr B: "Hey! I just met Rolf Harris, I move amongst the best circles."
Must be that meedja job of his...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Good morning, starshine

I saw the sunrise!

Big deal eh?


Yesterday before I left the house I saw something out of the corner of my eye running from my recliner towards my bed. It was the biggest spider I'd ever seen and elicited one of the loudest shrieks I'd ever produced.

It had long hairy legs.

I grabbed a glass and covered it, then slipped some paper underneath and carried it down to the kitchen. I left it on the counter with a note for my housemates to enjoy, and when I returned this morning it was still there. I had hoped, at least, that Clogs might have thrown it out...So I dealt with it myself, and was surprised to find that I could not kill it. It was so big, I would have had a body to dispose of, so I threw it outside.


And here, I am so proud of my cufflinks. It was part of yesterday's Mayfair outfit.
I wore them for the first time and showed them off a bit to Delightful, who has more than enough of his own and therefore cannot understand why I find them so fascinating.
He thinks these are girlie links because they are pink, but look aren't they pretty? (shell mosaics) I got them at Tie Rack. There, now you know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

This should have a few of you in ecstasies. What is it? Winner gets a prize!
Posted by Picasa

I used to ogle the Alfa Romeo GT until I spotted the uber-sexy Alfa Romeo Brera. Vrooom! When I get my UK license, I aspire to one of these! Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 26, 2005

26-9 Sidebar

The first day of commentary on my really interesting sidebar bits. Everything comes off the top of my head (or even talking through my hat) so please correct me where necessary.

Pedagogy - a bit of a grand word for modern usage, and I still envision some venerable old Grecian philosopher declaiming his knowledge on the steps of the School of Athens. (cf. Stanze delle Signatore, Vatican)
Although with the ped- bit, I have some friends who are much more pedantic than I. Comes from the Greek paideia meaning education or learning.

Postmodernism - ahem. The reason I did not take the contemporary arts course...

Singh - means "lion" in India.

L. Frank Baum - authored Wizard of Oz. Hence the quote from a scarecrow: "The only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones."
Possibly related to my post a few weeks back when I mused that even mediocre people have friends who think they're special. So how do we define unusual or mediocre?

Matchup - does anyone do this? I keep getting them right and that frustrates me because the challenge is removed. If you need the exercise I'll leave it up.
--- Boredom and mediocrity are anathema to the more discerning members of the human race.

Quick factoid from Ardal O'Hanlon: People laughed an average of 18 minutes per day in the 1950s. Today it has gone down to about 6.
One of my mottoes: Any excuse for a laugh these days.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Cut it close

I managed my double-booked Saturday just fine.

I met Miss Sixty at South Ken for lunch; we wandered around looking for a restaurant that appealed to us and ended up at Tootsie's. It was full of families with well-behaved children, just enjoying a pleasant weekend afternoon.

We ordered a delicious starter of calamari - I adore calamari and have the habit of trying it where offered. The sweet chili sauce had an exciting dash of coriander in it.
Miss S ordered a lamb burger which was so thick it fell apart as soon as she looked at it. I had a chicken caesar wrap.
All very filling.

We popped into Christie's SK for an auction calendar, then caught the bus and went off to her apartment in the old King's College campus. I saw her happy doggie Zucchero, who was so excited to see me, and we horsed around a bit like old playmates reunited.
She made me a cup of tea and we sat on the floor going through her music collection and listening to CDs.
I returned the Umbert Eco book she'd lent me earlier in the summer (The Name of the Rose) so she lent me the DVD. I have lent her The Tears debut album, so she lent me one of her Suede CDs because The Tears was formed from the Suede breakup. They sound identical and unmistakeable.
So for my listening pleasure I have borrowed 7 CDs:

The Matrix soundtrack (unfortunately not the score) - so lots of Rob Zombie/Marilyn Manson
Scissor Sisters - don't know which album without the insert
Josh Groban - Josh Groban (he was in a late season of Ally McBeal)
Dido - No Angel
Radiohead - OK Computer
Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
Suede - Coming Up

When I left, she took Zucchero for a walk in the cemetery, and I joined the multitude leaving the footie game at Chelsea. They were quiet, orderly and well-behaved. Why?
Because no buses came, I walked from the King's Road, up Fulham Road, to South Ken. There was no Jubilee line so after waiting to get on to a succession of full buses at Baker Street, I finally made it home at 6.30 - on time for the housemates' dinner. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided we would reserve the dining room for housemates' dinners about once every few weeks. New tradition established.

Clogs was absent because he couldn't postpone a visit to Cambridge, so Y. had invited a friend of hers from her postgraduate years. She has spent the past few years writing her PhD in economics. She's had enough and is going to finish it soon. (If I were her, I would opt for a mercy killing.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Palm Pilot...

...or a personal secretary? Is that too much to ask?

I've started double-booking myself! Aaaaaarrrrrgh!

Problem 1: On Wednesday I agreed to see Shiho on Saturday afternoon, but as I did so something didn't feel right, until I realised after hanging up that I had the housemates' dinner that evening.
Solution 1: See Shiho in the day and go home for the dinner.
(Keep in mind that average travel time anywhere in London is an hour, so afternoons get eaten up pretty quickly.)

Problem 2: Today I booked my second Alexander Technique class for Tuesday morning, again the nagging feeling. I had promised to see my grandmother that day just in case my uncle's widow turned up as she said she might. Might being the operative word here.
Solution 2: Go to Amma in the afternoon?

Problem 3: Friday I have a free makeover at BeneFit in Selfridges, merely for owning one of their products! Does anyone know if I have anything else to do on Friday?
Solution 3: Find somewhere to go, since my face will be all prettied up!


I went to the Alexander class today. I now have a headache because I have been subtly realigned.
I was complimented for neatly summarising exactly what an AT instructor would say to define the technique and its benefits, and for being aware enough to "catch myself out" with bad postural and mechanical habits. Apparently that is rare.
Furthermore, relieved that I had studied anatomy & physiology so he didn't have to translate his terms, the instructor searched for the freedom of my spine, kept setting my head on that plateau: the sternocleidomastoid muscles - the large muscles on the side of the neck - are NOT supposed to support the head and are not even needed to turn it.

I was stood on my feet, sat on a stool, and laid on a couch, all with proper alignment. I had to think about it, be aware of everything around me, and do the allowing so he could do the moving. For the head, think upwards. Even when you sit, don't just slump into it, instead you have to still think upwards as you bend your knees and sit, straighten your knees and stand.

What's the word? When something is at its most efficient setting?
Oh for heaven's sake - and I used to be the walking dictionary - oh! Check out my new activities sidebar --->
I did it for some of you especially, hope you like it.

...Optimal. That's the word.


Thursday, September 22, 2005


Minou minou minou....oh my Muse where are you...?

Hm. No answer.


If you've come looking for a new post, I am not sure if you will find one. But I might surprise you, specially if I keep up this stream of consciousness lark...


Last year I bought The Bloomsbury Book of the Mind by Stephen Wilson. I devoured it, but have recently picked it up again and might as well be reading it for the first time!
It's the sort of book that will take about 3 reads until any of it is absorbed into my repertoire.

I kid you not, Delightful must be the first self-generating encyclopedia I have ever known...I am quite likely to be contradicted on this, as some people can be shockingly modest - but I have met some high IQs in my time and I know what I am talking about.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I've just put in the DVD Closer. I swear, Jude Law looks just like my uncle Lawrence, just take away the glasses and give him curlier hair!

So where was I? Last night I watched Head in the Clouds with Charlize Theron and Penelope Cruz. It's about a love triangle in the late 1930s and WWII in England and Paris.

Tonight, Closer.
Oh, and next, Alfie. Two Judes.

OK, so there is a sordid internet chat scene in Closer between two strangers. (That doctor fellow is detestable throughout.) Anyway, it's related to a thought I've often had about the people you know and trust - they could be replicating that scene any day. It has happened to someone I love and resulted in a huge life change.

This is a scary intense movie...I am suddenly watching drama with new eyes.

Sometimes I think the Internet has necessitated and generated more lies between people than ever before. Broken more marriages and ended more relationships...with its lure of wholesale wantonness and profligate availability.

Was that a life moment?
Maybe since I started blogging the moments are no longer as intense feelings as they once were because they have become words.

Maybe...if I stopped blogging I'd be a more intense person...
Maybe...this angsty post belongs on Motime...
Aie! This was worse than politics. Sorry. But - policy of Olivia: I never delete a post.

And every time I accuse my muse of abandoning me, I blog twice!

At a blogloss

...This hasn't happened in a while. My muse has other things to deal with and hasn't yet learned how to multitask.

Ooh! Just turned on the TV and here is something I have often discussed since returning to the UK. Paraphrasing the presenter:

  • Americans have such a genuine love of England, so when they come here, why do they get such a frosty reception?
  • It has become de rigeur to hate Americans.
  • An American walking into a bar in Glasgow vs a Brit walking into a bar in Des Moines.

I've always called the British contempt of America as envy of their success as a nation - and bingo! He said it. Jealousy of their success and national pride.

  • Indeed many Americans may be overweight. But America also invented "working out".

  • Re: American stupidity: sending a man to the moon and winning the most Nobel Prizes requires some intelligence.
So how much do Brits know about America? No one on the street could name the year it gained independence (1776), the first president (George Washington), or the year the USA entered WWII (1941).
Just after stating that most Americans are stupid, one gentleman claimed he knew more about America than the average Brit. His wife piped up thinking independence was won in the 1750s. He tried to correct her, saying it was earlier.

So, no laughing next time you encounter a Yank wandering around the West End asking for Lysester Square.

I've tried my best to keep politics out of this, and in fact deleted my last two paragraphs. My blog is not a forum, rather an oasis and a refuge from the daily grind. I have made the mistake of discussing politics here once before and ended up gritting my teeth over the responses.

Don't make me grit my teeth

Monday, September 19, 2005

Life Moments

I used to get what I call "life moments" a lot in university. It is a passing epiphany when all the mists clear for an instant before returning to shroud life's questions and truths.
They were always more of a feeling than a thought. A realisation at soul-depth that I could never put into words, but which hopefully still became a part of my consciousness.

I was reminded by this while listening to Keane last night:

For a moment your eyes open and you know
All the things I ever wanted you to know
I don't know you and I don't want you
'Til the moment your eyes open and you know


Friday, September 16, 2005

[Exeunt Summer]?

Today we are in the grip of what the Yanks call a 'Norther'. Blustery gusts rip the air from our nostrils as we walk, wrapped in insufficient summer layers, dodging the leaves rustling around on the pavement. Taken by surprise, all our warm clothing is still packed in suitcases under our beds.

Last week we were sweltering in welcome late-summer temperatures and now this. The sash windows are back to rattling in protest....Is summer over?


I enjoy writing - won't say I love it. I used to write letters in my head in the Days Before Email. Now I write emails in my head, in the Days After Letters...

Thinking out loud here:
You know they say you should keep what you love as a hobby; you need an escape from work.
Writing something you're inspired about is easier than writing an assignment. Unless, of course, it's your own column or book.

I give in...I am being encouraged on all sides to find a writing job. Art history would be perfect. Ah, now being a food critic was the latest idea and that stirs my soul. (Thank you especially to Sun young, Delightful and Vanessa.)


I don't want to lose myself a spot at this place, but have you ever heard of Danceworks? Wow to the nth degree!
Any dance you can think of, they offer as exercise. Yoga, Pilates, ballet, kickboxing, salsa...the list goes on and there are some I have never even heard of.
They also have an attached holistic therapy centre called Natureworks. Massage, counseling, osteopathy, the Alexander technique.
Monthly membership goes'll never guess...£7.99! Individual classes range from £4-10. They have been there since 1982. Why have I never heard of them before?

I might start with the Eyerman technique, to find out where I need improvement on posture, breathing, alignment, tension, stress. Then perhaps the Alexander Technique to work on them because if I'm not handling myself properly and start a dance class I'll do more damage than good.

Yoga would be good for my breathing and flexibility but I will not subscribe to any of the mysticism attached to it.
Ballet...I have regretted giving it up for so many years and it chafes me every time someone tells me I have a dancer's body.
A couple of friends have encouraged me to learn tango; I do need to learn how to dance. Maybe I'll just do tasters until I find a style that floats my boat.

Nothing high-impact for me and my little bones, but I do need to work on cardiovascular endurance, muscular tone, bone strength - and overall well-being :) :) :)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bon Voyage V

Vanessa flew home this morning. Because she would have had to get up at 5am, she didn't bother going to bed. So neither did I, except for an hour while she showered and packed.

This is what it was like being her roommate for nearly 3 years. And it is amazing, the things you find to do in the wee hours, and I still haven't retrained myself. Apart from writing essays or reading chapters, there was: Downloading from Napster (this was back in the good old days); singing with all my heart; hanging out in the lounge where everyone else was studying, and distracting them; dragging them out for waffles and pancakes at midnight. I would sleep properly, in blocks of time and maybe catch an afternoon nap. V often slept on her textbooks - if only we could absorb knowledge through osmosis, eh? - then wake up and read for a few minutes, sleep again, and so on, until her alarm went off. Egad!
(Yes, Vanessa, you will laugh at this and is there anything you care to add?)

Next thing I knew, I heard a chipper voice: "Good morning, Miss Olivia!" and opened my eyes to see V zipping up her suitcase. I had to go down to let her out the front door and see her off into the drizzle. Looks as if she took our summer away with her. As if Houston needs any more of it.

I didn't get much sleep after that, so spent the day feeling half drugged. Went grocery shopping in a daze. Napped in the afternoon, and then felt even weirder. Ever had one of those days?

I am going to put my latest pictures up soon, so keep your eyes peeled...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Owwww / The City

V's mother (Z) and her mother's partner (G) arrived in London from Houston on Tuesday morning. It was our job to find them a place to eat, and show them around on their first day.

Unfortunately for me, as the day wore on, I limped more and more and the pain worsened (some sort of ankle injury from the St Alban's walking). It was so bad I figured it could only get better.

We took them from their hotel in Bayswater to lunch at Selfridges, then on to Westminster, the bridge, Big Ben struck 3, a wander around the Abbey, then up Horseguards to Downing Street.
Then I took everyone to Richmond for the best fish and chips in town - where G bought a brace for my ankle, which helped a lot, and gave me two Advil.

Then we each went home.


Today V and I went into the City, a little bit late. We'd wanted to go to the Geffrye Museum (the history of interior design), but by the time we got there it would be closed, so instead we wandered into Broadgate Circle. There was a Castrol GT promotion, with a few Royal Bank of Scotland racing cars parked in the centre, loads of screens and people in green outfits handing out opportunities to take a racing lesson with a famous driver. We grabbed deux pains au chocolat, I had a spicy chai, and we sat and watched the people leaving their offices for the day. "Rush hour" takes on a whole new meaning when it involves actual bodies rushing at you - when you're going completely against the flow.

We took a walking tour of the City - Royal Exchange, Bank of England, Natwest Tower, Swiss Re (gherkin), Number One Poultry, Lloyds of London, and who knows what else? We walked far enough that we entered into the edge of Islington and found a game of lawn bowling on a green in Finsbury Circus (?)
We sat and watched for a quarter of an hour, then I sent V home and made my way to Highgate.

You see, on the hill
Is a quaint turreted house
'Tis quite a Delightful mystery...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mmmmm Monday

I am running out of patience with the alliterations. So, Mmmm and Monday both start with M, right?

The world is an interesting place, by the way.

Sunday was truly lazy, and I needed a rest from Saturday. We looked at pictures, caught up with emails, I showed V my degree and my thesis which she is now reading. Then in the afternoon we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She thought it was cute. I still like Willy Wonka. He's just...weird...

Anyway, V and I wanted to go to Eltham Palace today, but we'd gone into town pretty late to find tickets for Guys and Dolls. We succeeded somewhat. Nothing was available but standing on the back row for £15 each. We went for it, no other opportunity.

We got on the bus to the V&A and wandered around the costume department (admiring the neatness of Queen Maud's figure), and the Chinese and Japanese galleries. My favourites are inro, netsuke and lacquer boxes. Drooool. If I had to be a collector of Asian objets d'art, these would be my specialty.

Sun young, my Korean ex-housemate always told me that in a former life I must have been Japanese. I don't know, I could have been Chinese too.
On the other hand, my inner European is Italian (I took the test!)

Then we walked into Soho and Ton yan gai (oh come on people, you know this by now...) where we ate at a little hole in the wall place for a small dinner. I was a little apprehensive as there were not enough actual Chinese people there. V had a nice shredded duck and vermicelli. I had spicy squid and rice. I need the spice.

Chili chocolate is something I ought to try right about now. I never get the chocolate buzz that most women experience. My endorphins come from hot stuff!


I have ankle pain from the walking in St Albans, despite my comfortable shoes. Maybe I ought to try learning the Alexander Technique. It's all about alignment and what part of the body leads each movement.

I just walk with the pain, no slowing down, but when we left the performance after all that standing - and unconsciously I had been standing on tiptoes a lot - I wanted to hobble :(


I already blogged about the 3rd row viewing of Guys and Dolls, but there are other aspects to the standing experience of it. V and I got to jiggle and jive in the dark at the back! It was fun. But the attendants were really anal about us sitting on the floor during the intermission. None of the other 16 people attempted it.

The important thing was that Vanessa saw it and enjoyed herself.
Songs that stick with me:
I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck...
Luck be a lady tonight
Sit down, you're rockin' the boat...

Many of you will probably recognise the last two songs. Reminds me, I need to post a couple of verses that have been languishing in my blog queue for the past couple of weeks.

Goodnight all.

Cobbler's Shop

Little pair of shoes
Specially made
Soft and gentle
As yet unworn
Unchosen up on the shelf
No one willing to break them in

J'ai besoin d'un mouchoir

I need a handkerchief
A little one nicely edged
Not big enough to contain
The promised city of Florence
But that's OK
I'm not getting it after all


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Soulful Saturday

After going to bed at nearly 4am (what's new?) I actually woke up at 9.30am!

Lunch at Maison Blanc and then off to St Alban's for V and me. It's barely half an hour north of London from King's Cross. I'd been on a Christie's field trip to the Abbey and Verulamium (the Roman town) but because it was raining we didn't notice a thing until we got inside the cathedral.

We walked through the bustling market place and grabbed a snack barely 2 hours after lunch, which we ate on the grass behind the cathedral. We went into the walled herb garden and I (figuratively) rolled around in the lavender, rosemary and sage while Vanessa chased bumblebees with her camera.
Then we regrouped and went in for Evensong at 4pm. We sat in the Quire, and to see and hear the choristers reminded me why I want my son to use his voice, for have one he will if he's like my grandfather (and maybe me).

Every setting and anthem was perfect, all from before the 18th century. I was touched when they sang Psalm 16, but by the time they got to Psalm 17 I had to get out the tissues.
(I have not been to an Evensong in many moons.)
After that we wandered around the cathedral looking at the crumbling Saxon wall frescoes and Gothic groin vaults, catching artistic photos in interesting corners.

Soon we struck out behind the cathedral onto Verulam park. Duck pond, Roman Wall, pretty bridge. It is a beautiful and peacefully rolling ground in low Hertfordshire. Nearly a world away from London.
Cheeky ducks, naughty geese, majestic swans. We ended up all the way out at St Michael's Street all the way on the other side of town from the station, and then turned back, getting to the city centre via Fishpool St.
On my first visit to St Albans, I'd thought it was a nice town, but I hadn't seen Fishpool St. It is now one of my favourites anywhere. Even cuter than Friar's Walk in Richmond.

By 7pm we were on the train back to London.

We walked over 7 miles total. Oim toired.
V wants to go to Cambridge tomorrow.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Foggy Friday

Guess what time we left the house today...(no don't)

Where did we go? St Alban's Abbey was out of the question so we tried to make it to Kenwood House, Hampstead.
There was lots of thunder and lightning in the sky when we were waiting for the bus to Camden. After waiting ages at Camden for a delayed train (someone on the tracks further up the line), by the time we reached Hampstead Station it was 4pm and the skies had generously opened. We all waited half an hour hoping for it to abate, but it didn't much. The only people coming in and out of the station were the countless schoolboys, sopping wet, as if they care...I must say, I have never seen so many school children in one place before as I did in Hampstead. (Was it the milkshake bar on the high street?)

When we did step outside, I walked like a cat in a puddle until my feet were wet enough that I didn't feel it anymore.
Half an hour before closing and we were nowhere near Hampstead Heath. So we ended up doing a damp, drizzly tour of the very charming neighbourhood. I wanna live there. (That's just silly coming from someone in SJW...) No but it's cute! And don't have to go into town for anything. But at least it is possible to walk into town from SJW... So there.

The rain stopped and we got hungry, so we walked up to Rosslyn and caught a bus to Finchley Road, where we ate dinner at Cumin restaurant in the O2 Centre. It was delicious, satisfying, sort of nouvelle indienne. Therefore, not as disappointing as some of the stuff I've tried.

Couldn't catch a movie because we had to make it to the tango jazz do in Bayswater.
We went back home and put on skirts and shoes, and hightailed it off to Las Estrellas, Inverness Mews W2. As we turned the corner from Queensway, I thought it seemed a bit quiet. We doubled over with disappointment as we read on the door that the place was closed for summer holidays!!! How dare they???

...The one time I decide to try...

All at loose ends, I couldn't think where to go at 9pm, and the only thing that came to mind was cocktails! So we waited an eternity for a bus to Bond Street until we realised we'd be better off walking. Got shouted at by some guys in a car. Dude, this is not Italy you know.

We went to search for bars in St Christopher's Place, just because it was on the Jubilee line and convenient for the late hour. St C is a little hole in the wall by Bond Street Station which opens out into a cute little shopping-eating-hanging out venue leading to Wigmore Street.
It is indeed as disappointing as I've been told.

10.30pm, and we found ourselves in the bar in the basement of Auberge. It's just a bar. It was just a cocktail (French Martini - can't be bothered to describe it but it was pink and fruity (and contained Chambord)). Since discovering cocktails with Delightful, I have always savoured them, every mouthful. This I merely drank, it was OK , didn't feel a thing. Vanessa had a Raspberry Daiquiri. I drank quarter of that. Still nothing. You get what you pay for.

I miss the Townhouse...and that's not all...

We went home in a bit of a sulk.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Funky Thursday

Owing to the late hours, Vanessa and I didn't leave the house until 3pm. *wrinkling my nose in disgust*

So Richmond, Hampstead, and any local stately houses were off the list because they close at 5. On Tuesday I had discovered Camden for the first time, alone, not having been there since I was a wee thing. So I dragged Vanessa out there because she is funky enough to appreciate it.

Still...we walked there through Regent's Park, past the London Zoo and through Primrose Hill. After all the walking yesterday I felt like giving up when we got to the Zoo, but walking is all about putting one foot in front of the other.

Camden is cool. As soon as we got there, V detoured into a scarf shop and picked up two, one for herself and one for her sister (yellow, she loves yellow - even her pickup truck is yellow...). Vanessa, predictably, chose a true camel beige. She is into that and olive green at the moment. So I yelled at her a bit and she relented and picked a beige with red and black stripes.
After he found out we were not sisters, the shop guy couldn't understand how a Brit could know an American and we didn't bother to explain. But two Korean-looking girls walked in and he asked us whether they were related; I said no, even though they looked as similar to each other as Vanessa and me.
Also, he established, with repetition, that my voice is ever so polite. And he gave V her two scarves at a considerable discount.

Basically, for the rest of the afternoon, we wandered around going, "Wow." We reached Camden Lock, and turned off into the indoor marketplace. They were prepping for a fashion show, which looked as if it might be a bit Goth. V wanted to know the difference between Punk and Goth, and as she asked, we conveniently passed two shops side by side for easy illustration. We both agreed that if we did have to go "off mainstream" we would choose Goth because there is some elegance in the velvet, lace, and elements of the 18th and 19th centuries. Whereas we would not be punk because, well, because...
Anyway, V is already a hippie. She has been wearing gypsy skirts since they were invented, she loves knitted ethnic bags - bought one in Soho yesterday and had to restrain herself in Camden where they were overabundant.

You know, she owns 50 skirts.

I have a weakness for Chinese/Japanese decorative arts. I dived right into a Chinese tailor's shop and oohed and aahed over the lovely fabrics and elegant shapes. I spotted a size 8 black velvet coat with the straight collar, satin frogging down the front and two side slits. It was perfect and the only one. On sale from £75 to £45, I hesitated and he dropped it to £35; another moment and it was down to £30. Nice buy.

We went into a batik art gallery, where V was seriously tempted to buy a tiny one. She spent that long in Thailand and only today discovered how amazing it is. The owner creates them himself but also has many artists contributing to the collection, and he described the entire process. It is essentially like working in negative, with wax to delineate the design at first, and then later to protect the areas that you don't want to change with each dying stage.

At another stall we each bought a skirt made of assorted panels of rich Asian silks, tied round the waist with a nice ribbon (£4.99 each). V bought a pair of hair chopsticks and a headband for 89p each.
Then we wandered into a vintage shop and found a delightful chest of scarves. We are both scarf girls. This week I have taken to tying my scarves around my head in either Regency or 60s style, depending on the length. Today hers was around her waist. I picked a Pucci-style print, heavy enough for my waves, and V found a very light purply-pink thing.

We were tempted to attend the fashion show at 8pm, but there was food for dinner waiting in the fridge, and I wasn't too keen on finding the way home from Camden in the dark. Already as we were leaving around 7, the evening crowd was moving in. Lots of men in drag and folks shot through with bits of metal. The percentage of cannabis-smoking in the neighbourhood must have jumped 100% by then too. The air was redolent...

So we went home on the bus and had rack of lamb for dinner. Followed by some of those chocolates we bought yesterday at Fortnum's. Once again the evening has slipped away (we held our own fashion show), but I intend to have my head on the pillow by 2am. A tall order, judging by the new activities V is taking up. She read this blog pre-post and had a good giggle. Also, she has just measured the length of her hair and is now sitting down with her current book about the Killing Fields in Cambodia.

It is now 1.27 am.
Good morning!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Winging Wednesday

Vanessa is definitely in town, proven by the fact that I am blogging at 3.30 am. The university sleeping habits are back!

Today we started without a plan, and it was great fun. First, she had to change 8,000 Thai baht, which only squeezed out £97. We ate brunch at Maison Blanc on SJW High Street and set off into town.
Ended up at Green Park, of course, and popped round to Christie's for any possible previews. No, but the doorman sent us in to see the Garrick prize-thingy (portraits and depictions of various stage/screen actors) and I picked up a sales schedule.

As we exited, delayed a second by some people coming in, and then by chatting for a couple of minutes with the doormen, I noticed a lad in a suit waiting at the bottom of the steps. It was none other than my old French teacher's distant cousin whom I have not seen in about a year! I was knocked thoughtless for a minute, exclaiming merely, "Oh my God, I can't believe this!" a few times.
Then I gathered myself together and introduced him to Vanessa. He's gotten taller and slightly older. So we promised to meet up sometime.
I had been wondering about what he was up to these days, and he said that he's working in the area and as he passed Christie's he wondered if I was in there - and indeed I materialised on the step! And I have not been there in many months! What timing.
Not the first time I've bumped into him in town, the last being on the stairs at the Bond Street tube station.

V and I then went off to Fortnums, where I bought her a tiny address book to replace the ancient one that was falling apart even when we were roomies. We also bought calissons, small petal-shaped marzipan-like delicacies from Provence; a custom box of assorted choccies; and two marrons glacés.

At Piccadilly Circus I was beginning to feel hungry, so we crossed over into Soho and ended up, amazingly, at Yauatcha. Even as we passed Chinatown (ton yan gai) my heart began to sink as too much reminded me of ... Delightful ... (I wonder if he still reads this blog...? He used to love it ... I was really flattered by that ...)

So, Yauatcha for dim sum: char sui cheung fun, crispy duck rolls, golden dumplings, and squid cakes. Everything deeeeeeelish as ever. We ended with a shared Shanghai Lily cake (see earlier Yauatcha entry), and fragrant orchid tea.

Then we wandered off to Leicester Square in time to catch a performance of the automated clock chime at the Switzerland thing.

See, it's quarter to 4am and brain is quitting on me now.
Then we walked up Regent's Street, popping into whatever shops took our fancy, passed Oxford Circus, up St Christopher's Lane, onto Wigmore Street, Marylebone High Street, Baker Street, and then caught the bus at Dorset Square. I couldn't have made it around Regent's Park.

(We walked a total of 6.29 miles.)

At home, I had a bowl of cereal and V had a rocket salad. Then we moved on to tea, one calisson each and a short wine-tasting session with a tipple each of my yummy orange blossom muscat.

Between V checking her email and chatting with JP, and me pottering about in between, the night slipped by and here it is, about 3.55 am and I will now post this.


Monday, September 05, 2005

A Late Tag

Blue Tagged me a while back, but I've been a bit distracted. So here it is at last!

10 years ago:
I had a crush on Harald, the Austrian exchange student who did not return it. I used to flirt mercilessly with Jens, the German exchange student who did return it, but our French teacher hated him and protected me (she is a family friend). Then I graduated from high school and started business and biology at college. I had long curly hair.

5 years ago:
I was 23, and in the middle of my psychology degree at the University of St Thomas. Vanessa was my perfect roommate and we were part of the fabulous four with Johnny and Jason. I had grown out of crushes, but was a bit taken with Enrique because he was so "aesthetically pleasing".

1 year ago:
I was still writing my Master's thesis at Christie's, but my brain was all fizzled out and I was on an extension! And there was a 33-yr old barrister waiting to go on a celebratory date with me. He did so the day after I turned in my thesis. Eh.

Vanessa will be here!

5 snacks I enjoy:
Dark chocolate digestives; Doritos tortilla chips and Arriba queso dip; wheat crackers with emmental cheese and prosciutto; crepes with filled with banana, chocolate, cream, Grand Marnier; a fresh Italian roll with fresh Italian butter.
(this one took creativity)

5 bands/artists that I know the lyrics to most of their songs:
Handel, dcTalk, Nat King Cole, Starsailor, Keane

5 things I'd do with $100,000,000:
10% to a foundation for the benefit of premature infants. Then buy a house in London, an Alfa Romeo GT, top up the family members, and invest the rest.

5 locations I'd like to run away to:
Italy, Greece, California, Switzerland, Hawai'i

5 bad habits I have:
not using my desk, fidgeting, running down the stairs, forgetting to breathe, worrying

5 things I like doing:
reading books, blogging, walking, spending time with friends, eating yummy things

5 thing I will never wear:
mini skirts, ridiculous heels, body piercings, thongs, animal prints

5 TV shows I like:
CSI, Friends, Will & Grace, documentaries, literary dramas

5 movies I like:
Amelie, De-Lovely, Le Conseguenze dell'Amore, The Incredibles, Austin Powers

5 people I'd like to meet:
Mozart, Thomas Hardy, Leonardo da Vinci, both my grandfathers, my fellow bloggers
(does it mean something that most of them are dead?)

5 biggest joys at the moment:
at the moment?
The caress of a sun-warmed breeze, a well-tailored top, a passion fruit, the smell of new Sunshine Surf laundry powder, getting a letter

5 favorite toys:
my cars, my electronic set, Little Caroline (the smallest doll in the world), the 1988 Nintendo snoopy tennis game (remember? the tiny electronic handheld), Simon Says (also handheld)

I'm tagging:
Blue already tagged the Bloggers, so:
Moonglow, Caesura, Alohalani, Merserene, various 20Sixers
(You can be sure this is going on over there.)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Quelle Jour!

What a day I've had, and all a well-deserved treat. So put your seatbelts on because this one is different!!!

I went to H's new house today - it's light, bright, neutral, nicely appointed. Took 3 months and £35,000. He moved in last week but is mostly settled. Helped him with a bit of tidying up, and we made a light rustic lunch. He also did a nice steak and tried to make me eat half, "protein...fatten you up a bit." It was nice, I had a bite...but medium rare! (Indeed, this week I have lost a bit of weight and have dark circles, it doesn't take much...)

Oh why must he understand me so well??? He reads me like a book, every time. Speaking of books: Lord Henry he is, indeed, but also like the Daniel Deronda to my Gwendolen Harleth/Grandcourt.
Anyway, scales fell from my eyes yet again.
All sorts of things he wishes he could have done to help, but there - he can't go on my dates for me, can he.

While I was waiting for my tea to cool down, one of his friends who's into property development, and oversaw the work while he was in Europe, came by to check on progress.
Then we met his possible new girlfriend - a former member of Cirque du Soleil - when she arrived to go swimming, and then we all did the tour of the house again.


I headed back into town for phase two of my day:
I may never tell H that I am doing this (see next paragraph), as he disdains his own ya-ya green wellies crowd, as he calls them. (Anyway, this club is now more democratic; me, as ever, with a foot in two worlds.) But people from old families can't leave it behind so easily, I mean to say.

Anyway, I finally did what I've been delaying since last winter: I applied to join the Arts Club on Dover Street.
Founded in 1863, it boasts illustrious past members. Artists, authors and those of that ilk such as: Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, Camille Pissaro, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Degas, Franz Liszt, John Everett Millais, Sir Edwin Lutyens, James McNeill Whistler, and the list goes on.

Of course, now the male-female ratio is close to equal now, as it was one of the earliest London clubs to accept women. It's also younger, a haven for young professionals in related fields, or just people interested in art, philosophy, literature, and culture.
The oldest person I saw was at the reception desk. And every time I visit, they are preparing for a wedding...

So I signed the papers and all that, and in a couple of weeks I will hear of my admission. I have certainly charmed the membership secretary, and she and the director are only too happy to stand as sponsor and seconder for me. Name dropping helps a bit.


After leaving the Club, I felt a mixture of delight and wistfulness, I don't know why. Then, as I walked into Fortnum & Mason, I felt like weeping...possibly for having left one era behind to enter into a new one...

I distracted myself on every level of the establishment. The upper floors, away from the mêlée in the food hall, are very hushed and relaxing. Such exquisite and luxurious merchandise. It really forces one to slow down, examine, smell, touch, caress, appreciate.
I've been looking for a classic monogrammed handkerchief for ages, so I bought one. And a very cool tea strainer which slides open on a handle so that I can drink the Chinese rose tea I got in York.

Wandered on further and nearly walked past Hatchards (London booksellers since 1797), but doubled back and went in. You know me and bookshops...Uh-oh.
I walked out with a calendar and a book.
She offered me the catalogue but I said no, that would be dangerous.

I should have gone to Christie's to see what's coming up, but I forgot it was September already, they had no auctions in August.


With my precious purchases I took a ramble in Green Park and as the grass and benches were mostly full, I perched on a lovely low-sweeping tree branch.
Seeing the couples on the grass did no end of good to my the next time I'd planned on going to a park, it would have been with someone.
I sat with my thoughts and resolutions, and the squirrels burying nuts, until the breeze blew cool and I headed back home.

Oopsie to end on a lighter note today?

Check this out, you will not believe your eyes: Julian Beever Pavement Art.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bits n Pieces

Missed me, didn't you?

But before I start, here's a thought: anyone who is mediocre has friends who think they are outstanding.
So...who is what?

Another troop in single file
These march to while one marches fro
An army imbued with mediocrity

Mercenary pirates-to-be

This fishtank needs restocking


I'm afraid of the little memories I will find in the folded papers in my purse...


Does it cost £1.10 to go two stops from SJW to Finchley Road, but only 30p from SJW to Hammersmith with the change at Green Park???


Back to my old habit, here I end on the best note with a comic I used to enjoy in the US:
Mutts - they're too shweet!

P.S. Guess where I'm going for lunch tomorrow? Lord H's new house!