Sunday, December 24, 2006

Where do I start?

I don't know where to begin. I have had such a time of it. I am just coming out of a fever and feeling up to blogging, from bed of course.

Office Part-ay

Friday 16th was my last day at work. On the Thursday I went to the office party...and sang karaoke, something I swore I would never do, but guess what? I would do it again. I sang a duet with a colleague who sings in the choir at Lambeth cathedral - it was The Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera. The Boss and several others had asked us over and over, so we just did it.

Christmas Dinner

On Saturday, I went off to Reading again for a rather fancy Christmas dinner with Diva, Nags, Amy, Pandy, and a couple of Diva's friends at a swish waterside restaurant.

As always, when we get together, Diva puts together a fantastic slide show, and I think this is her best yet, so click here to see it.

Sunday, I unwisely did not rush, and after a breakfast with Diva, Nags and Amy - Pandy left after the first course - that lasted all day and consisted of muffins, bacon, lashings of tea, then cake and doughnuts, tea, more cake and tea...they finally dropped Amy and me off at the station and I got home around 7pm.

Goodbye London

And so I stayed up all Sunday night packing, went to bed at 6.30am, and did the same on Monday night. Not only did I have to pack, but I had to make my room presentable enough for landlady's son to stay for the two days of Christmas. The rest of the family would be in the other two rooms. All of us tenants are conveniently out of the country.

I lay down for a nap at 4.30 on Tuesday morning. I set my alarm for 6.00 so I could get to Heathrow in a 9-9.30 window for my 11.50 flight. Next thing I knew, the phone was ringing and sunlight was pouring into my room and it was 9.37am. Funny enough, it was a wrong number but I may not have woken up otherwise. I have never run out of the house so fast - 10 minutes with much usage of the sh** word. And I lost my black cashmere scarf somewhere between the house and the station.

Made it to Heathrow with 15 minutes until the gate closed, but they would not let me continue, even though I had checked in online the night before. I got sent straight to the re-ticketing queue, which I stood in outdoors for an hour and a half where I noticed there was some pretty heavy fog, bear in mind I had not eaten - and I grabbed a chocolate truffle from the box of Leonidas my landlady had given me, conveniently in the front pocket of my carry-on case. Then there were only 6 cancellations, but after I arrived in Canada, there were fog cancellations for the rest of the week - I got out on the right day!

I got the last seat on the 3.40 flight to Toronto. Queued again for check-in, and then was at my leisure to find food. I had a delicious cheese omelette and fries with a pot of tea at Garfunkel's. The gate wasn't assigned until 3.30, we were boarding past 4.30pm and didn't take off till past 5!

The flight was uneventful though my seatmate was noisy and vulgar. Fortunately he only got up once and I am glad I had the aisle seat. The seatback entertainment on BA is now touchscreen! You have a whole library of old and new movies to choose from; also a CD library, as well as radio and TV. Awesome, eh?

Un-Welcome To Toronto!

Far from the usual cheery Canadian welcome...

As if the trial of getting a flight were not enough, as soon as I land in Toronto someone has it in for me. I am un-greeted at customs by a sullen young girl who asks where I live, if I have a return ticket, what my job is, whether I brought alcohol or tobacco, and where I am visiting while she writes all over my landing card. My back is up but you know it is key to remain polite at the airport or else. Forget the "or else" - thinking I am heading for the baggage claims, I am instead ushered into Immigration. I stop and asked the attendant why? She says I have a big pink stripe on my landing card. I tell her I am not immigrating, but she says I have to talk to the officer. So another queue.

8pm and I reach an immigration desk. I get a Germanic sounding man who asks how I am. I say I am confused. He says he will clear that up soon. Why am I here? On holiday to see relatives. I don't want to live in Canada. He says with all his words clipped, "That is for me to decide, not you. Your opinion means nothing to me." (At this point my spirit flags.) Can you write the name and age of a relative on this piece of paper? What town do they live in? What job do you do? How much money do you have? Do you have a return ticket? Can I see it? Do you have a credit card? Can I see it? OK.

At baggage claims, I hear not all the baggage made it on board that flight. In a minor panic I look around and with relief spot my mother's old duffel bag with the pink and purple ribbons on it, and sling it over my carry-on.

I get to the part where you hand your landing card to the officer at the podium and they send you left to the greeting hall. But no, I get sent to the right and a second customs queue, where there are scanners and tables and interview rooms and big burly guards. My heart is trying to hammer its way out of my ribcage. Oh my god they are going to strip search me. I reach an officer at a table and again I am asked why I am here. Again I have no alcohol or tobacco. No gifts? No, only myself - thinking in my head that the cost of the ticket was enough. He takes my passport and landing card, tells me to wait, and disappears into a room for about 10 minutes.

Two muscly guards come in and mill about. They point in my direction and one comes towards me. I hold my breath but he walks past me to some people sitting on a bench at the back of the room.

Really and truly feeling faint now, I sit on the table and rest my head on my suitcase. The officer comes back and tells me to put my bag on the X-ray belt. I do so and stand at the other end. He stops my carry-on and beckons seriously, so I go and look at the screen. He points to the upper left corner where I have stowed my clear zip-loc bag and says, 'Is that an ampoule of perfume?' I say yes that is my clear toiletry bag. He says OK, I can go.


I finally make it to the hall nearly 2 hours after landing. My cousin Pierre is there and I just want to cry on his shoulder, but I get a hug and we are on our way home. In the car he says, "Welcome to Canada". I say, "Thanks. At least someone wants me to be here."

My mother had cooked a special dinner of duck curry and dhal and rice, but by this time it is too late for such food and she makes me some hot cocoa and slices up a chocolate muffin for me.


Wednesday 20th - shop-o-rama

It averages 4 degrees C in the day and there is no snow.

Mum and I go shopping. I buy a few smart things with the Xmas money Dad has sent for us: a saddle leather Enzo Angiolini bag and a black velvet Ralph Lauren bag, as well as a pretty paisley and black fur scarf, and a mint green silk lined thingy to fling over my shoulder when I go out in the summer.

I buy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and my old fave Speculaas (spiced almond Christmas biscuits from the Netherlands or Belgium) to enjoy with my tea.

After dinner we go to the gym and I try spinning for the first time. It is like stationery mountain biking. The saddle bloody HURTS to sit on but it is easy for me to stand and pedal because I power walk up so many stairs at the Tube stations.

My aunt Eve takes the class too, and she says she was admiring my bum in the mirror. My aunts love my bum. She pinches it in the locker room.

After class, we go back to her house where I see my cousin Alyssa and her growing bump - she is 6 months along. And my cousin Paul, who they all say looks like my brother.

Aunty Rita's dog JJ falls in love with me when we are all watching TV in the evening. He gives me upside down puppy eyes and "bellies" to rub. Pictures to follow eventually.

Thursday 21st - girl lunch and massage

I am beginning to cough.

Mum and I ('we') swing by Aunt Eve and I say hello to Uncle Tom who tells me I am pretty. He has known me since I was two and despite having three of their own kids, I am still special to them. Alyssa has never been to One99 Broadway, Orangeville's smart restaurant where we have reservations for New Year's Eve - so we take her to lunch there, but we didn't make reservations so we have half an hour to kill before going back. We decide to go to the (smoke-free) Winchester Arms pub for a coffee. I wish I had my camera as the town's main street (Broadway) is typically Main Street USA even though it is actually in Canada...

We start with a basket of little slices of very moist tasty bread with butter. Lyss and I order mangotinis, just mango juice with sparkling water, and Mum orders an iced vanilla chai tea.

For mains, I get capellini pasta with steamed sweet plum tomatoes, a few surprises of citrus peel, and perfectly grilled scallops.

Mum gets pate de foie gras seasoned with sage and cranberries, with crostini.

Unadventurous Alyssa orders beef and potatoes, but she doesn't like mushrooms so I get those. There are very few things she does eat, and this is why she is not coming to the $90 per head new years' dinner there...!

If the snow holds off, I think I may be able to do some driving before Christmas.

Aunty Eve wants me to shed my hard work while I am here and so she has booked me in tonight for a proper massage at the chiropractors. Not only have I worked hard, but I daresay I deserve it after my trials at the airport, and then the spinning. Every time I move, I ooh and aah.

Tomorrow I have a pedicure, but while I am at the massage I start having chills which get worse when we go home. I run a low temperature overnight.

Friday 22nd - pedicure

We find out that Dad is coming on the 6th January for the weekend!

I am woozy, but take some Advil and am still able to pretend I feel well, as the beautician is a hypochondriac. I suck on cough drops and go for my pedicure. It lasts an hour and a half, and now I have pretty, soft, massaged feet.

By lunchtime I am not well. I have to take medication and have a fever.

Saturday 23rd - burning up

Entire day lost to high fever, chills, sweating buckets, and sleeping. I have been healthy for a year but in my stress and run-down state must have picked up the first thing going on the plane. I think I am strong enough to lie on the couch and watch TV with my feet buried under JJ's tummy, but even that I give up and slink off to bed. All day in jammies, curled up and sleeping like it is going out of fashion.

Mum is an angel: between cooking, baking and running tea and snacks and meds to me in the room.

The fever breaks after dinner and Mum runs me a bath, but I still sweat again overnight.

I dream that I am befriended by a barn owl and that I have to wash it. I wonder if that means anything.

Sunday 24th - today - Christmas Eve

Tired and very floppy. I try to help out a bit in the kitchen but am too dizzy. So I am sitting up in bed blogging. I have worn myself out finding the ethernet cable and connecting my laptop to the internet. It's good to be back, though.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

I hope you enjoy your time with your family and friends

Be warm, eat well, and laugh lots

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

PA Wanted

Could someone be so good as to come round while I am at work and:

1) Buy stamps,
2) put away last month's laundry,
3) wrap presents,
4) make parcels and take them to the Post Office,
5) wash my sheets,
6) vacuum the floor,
7) do more laundry,
8) put that stuff in those boxes,
9) shred those receipts,
10) and take out the recycling?

Oh, and pack my suitcases for a) this weekend and b) Canada?


I'll give you a chocolate!
*ooh, incentive*


Went to our team lunch at the restaurant in the Tate Modern. Awesome views across London. Mediocre food, but a really good chocolate truffle torte on a crumbled amaretto biscuit base. And a good enthusiastic chat with my 3 colleagues. It was also a very invigorating walk across the Millennium Bridge in the mild and whipping wind.

It put the colour in my cheeks :)

Monday, December 11, 2006


This is a clip from the BBC 4 documentary that inspired me to write my old post on Handel and the Castrati, during that exhibition at the Handel House museum. By the time I wrote my article the only Maniaci clip on YouTube had been removed due to copyright issues, so let's hope this one stays! It was sent to me by my friend who is also a male soprano and sounds very similar.


If that doesn't work, click here.


I have the day off today. Am ostensibly wrapping gifts and making parcels for the post, but assigning Christmas cards is taking way too much time. Eee!

Also, meeting Lydia for dinner. I have known her and her family for over 25 years. Who is your oldest friend?


Saturday, December 09, 2006


Note for all to whom I am sending a parcel: Please forgive me if it arrives after Christmas!


I was "let out" of work early yesterday and I attempted to finish my Christmas shopping, but 6 hours later at 10pm I was still not finished. I DID, however, finally buy cards! And wrapping paper!

I thought I would be able to go out today - yes Saturday shopping is hell even when it's not December - so I am glad that I had a slow day.

Worst yet, I woke up at 2pm. By the time I ate breakfast, it was past 3.30. I have NEVER done this before, not even when I was recovering from the flu...! I bemoaned the fact to my mother on the phone later, and she told me, "It's ok, at least you rested. You don't have to report to anybody. You don't have to cook for anyone."

I also blubbered on about how I am nearly 30 and haven't done anything I should have by now, and how I feel I am in such a pickle, and so frustrated. She told me that when I go to the massage she has booked for me, I must learn to breathe out the negativity, etc.

I love my Mum to bits. She says the most wonderful things.


Now, you know I never talk about politics, but every now and then I feel strongly enough about something to mention it here.

Tony Blair said yesterday that if you don't like Britain, don't come here. About time. He said that the famed British tolerance can only go so far. Seriously, I have been saying this for years about the UK, the US and Canada. There is nothing wrong with keeping your cultural values alive, but if you agree to live in a new culture, try to assimilate a bit, please. Otherwise your life is hardly different to, and the quality hardly better than the one you left behind, and then what's the point?

I must say, though, that more so than in the UK, emigrants to the USA know what they are going for. They want to be there. They clutch their breasts and feel entitled to call themselves Americans, and are proud to do so. That is what America is all about, but the people who move there want to assimilate. They move to another country for a different and better life, and that is what they strive for. The American Dream is a reality; she is willing to help you on your way, and for some reason those who move there aren't interested in a free ride. They want success and they often get it. On the other hand, there is too much social exclusion in the UK, which is such a soft touch, and let's not even talk about France where there was rioting in the streets last year!


Wednesday I went to the interview at the agency but Friday found out I didn't get the job because I don't have a UK driver's licence (despite being willing to learn). But everything else was fine. I don't know what else to say other than I wonder if that was the real reason?

Afterwards, I went next door to Partridge's, somewhere I have meant to visit for ages. I liked it that the local customers know the employees by name. I got chatting with the very chatty lady who was serving samples of Calvados. Being that she was Austrian-Turkish and admitted she couldn't handle the French, I taught her how to pronounce it. I bought a few things there, and not wanting another plastic bag, I asked for the jute bag with wooden handles. It is actually a wine bag, but a perfect size for me. The bottle sections can be pushed to the side. The larger groceries bag would be dragging along the floor. And guess what? It's free. A jute bag like this for free, when even at the other shops you have to pay 10p for a strong plastic bag-for-life and at least £1 for a fabric bag at M&S.

Then I headed up to Finchley Road for dinner with the indomitable Mr B - finally free of all signs of chemo, but jumping back into life! Good stuff.

We went to the Fine Burger Co., and since I haven't eaten a real burger in many years and rarely manage beef, I went for the Fez, which was a yummy lamb burger. Nicely seasoned, with a yoghurt sauce, lettuce and topped with a yummy yummy harissa sauce - I can only liken it to Moroccan salsa.
And then we went for coffee/hot choc at Pizza Express. Not much of a cafe scene up there.


I have just submitted a review on the London Eats site for the Quality Fish Bar on King Street in Richmond. If you are within reach, please do go! You won't be sorry.
I am going there with my grandmother tomorrow. Wait, no I'm not - I've just called and they are closed on Sundays. Poo. I was craving a nice plate of chish n fips from there...

So on to Plan B, which is the yummy Christmas rack of lamb from M&S - covered in rosemary, pine nuts and dried cranberries. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

(Just a gratuitous hand shot.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Monday outing

I went to a Conservative party Christmas party Monday night with landlord and landlady. They are on the committee for the constituency North of Regents Park and are always hosting/planning/doing things. This event was held at one of the giant houses in St John's Wood.

Landlady and I took a taxi to go there, and she was talking, so when
she got back out to run into the house and pick up some things, the
taxi driver asked me if she was an MP. I said no. He said, "Labour or
Conservative?" He was glad to hear she was not Labour, and then went
on the usual taxi driver politics rant.

I had been invited weeks ago, did nothing about it, and then when one of the committee members dropped out with a cold, Landlady asked if I wanted to go along for free and help out. I gladly accepted, as it has been years since I took part in any sort of event organising.

(You may skip the trip down Memory Lane if you wish:)

At university I was very active on Program Council which planned campus-wide events and entertainment. I chaired the Coffee Cart, which offered free coffee and chocolate every Wednesday for the night students from about 7-9pm outside the class rooms. I enjoyed that, smiling, chatting, flirting, serving beverages to appreciative chilly people.

I was also the President of our chapter of Psi Chi, the national psychology honour society. We raffled a digital camera, back when not that many people owned one. We made care packages for parents to order for their kids in the dormitories to boost them up during finals. We made crafts for the children in the MD Anderson Cancer centre, etc. At the end, we held a banquet at the Marriott and installed the new officers. One of my readers here was the Secretary, weren't you Memoria???

Those were GOOD days. I am not really that outgoing anymore as sad things have happened to change me somewhat, but I try to rekindle the spark from time to time, and yesterday was another attempt.

I greeted people at the door with the name list, and as is natural with me, I couldn't stop there as I pitched in with tidying up and putting away. They were so pleased I was there.

The house was not cavernous, just spacious. The ground floor was taken up by a foyer nearly as big as my bedroom (which is large for London standards as it is the width of the house), a cloakroom the size of most English box rooms, and then a similar sized toilet, and on the other side of the hallway there was a large, L-shaped reception room.

I thought that mulled wine and cream carpets was a brave combination, but the wine stayed in the glasses and the carpets stayed cream.

Downstairs was the kitchen (surprisingly not big enough for such a house), dining room/conservatory, living room, a small spare room (looks like it should be a nanny's room) and ensuite bathroom which was actually bigger than the bedroom.

The guest speaker had cancelled due to a throat infection, so the local candidate standing for MP gave a speech. She is tall, graceful, and blonde.

I met quite a few nice people, but the two who stand out are Councillor Daniel Astaire and Rula. Daniel gave me the number of the man in charge of the electoral roll because my registration form was returned to me last year. (What would I tell him? "Take it now, please"?) He told me he represents Sothebys. After a while I realised I had seen him on TV, probably talking about parking or the congestion charge.

And Rula gave me her business card so I can get in touch and meet up sometime. She is Kuwaiti but grew up in California so she got excited when she found out I had lived in Texas.

You wouldn't believe how many people thought I was related to our hostess, Mrs Glick. I am sure I have seen her somewhere before.

Only, I felt so short amidst all those tall people. It was the first time I helped out at an event for adults. Usually it was for my own peers. Actually, perhaps the reason I remember Daniel and Rula is because I spoke to them with comfort as they were not tall. While talking to one lady, I found myself going up and down on tiptoes to emphasise my points.

At the end, when we were clearing up, my landlady said, "Oh you are being a good girl tonight." (As opposed to...?)


Everyone think good thoughts for me on Wednesday afternoon. I have an interview with an agency that wants to meet me about a job on behalf of a large and important art collection.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006


Excerpt from the 1898 essay Woman's Future Position in the World by Lizzie M. Holmes:

Woman has been considered too much as woman, and not enough
as a human being. The constant reference to her sex has been neither
ennobling, complimentary, nor agreeable. Either as slave, toy, pet, or
queen, this ceaseless thinking of her sex instead of herself has been
degrading. To finally arrive at her best she simply needs consideration
as a fellow member of society.


She has lost some of the charm of clinging womanhood which at
best man only heeded in his leisure moments, and has not yet gained the
poise and individuality that will draw him to her as a companion. She
is dissatisfied with the old gallantry, and has not yet attained the
spontaneous recognition and respectful love she longs for. But this
will come. There will be a time when men and women, equal human beings,
clasping hands and looking each other in the eyes on a level -- not
leaning on each other, but upright -- will feel a true fellowship; and
mutual admiration and respect will exist between them. Then will love
be sweeter, purer, more beautiful than the world has ever known.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006


One minute ago I thought of a great blog, and in the seconds it took the page to load, I changed channels on the TV, thereby providing the necessary retroactive interference for my brain.

Meaning, I forgot the bally blog.


After Katja expressed an interest in the underwater lake from my last blog, I decided to do a bit more digging online. Not much apart from some student reports on, surprise surprise, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) - great acronym, isn't it...say it out loud and you will see why.

On one search, my Deep sea blog was 5th on the list, so that says a lot about how much you can find on the briny lake in the Gulf of Mexico.


Sorry to say that this week I have been having thoughts at work like, "Whew, only two weeks left." I will still find out if there is a position available there, as one discouragement might be the temp limbo I am in.

It might be nice to be properly accepted somewhere. Today I felt even more dissatisfied when the young grad who started a couple of weeks ago was installed in the newly furnished desk behind me, and today her business cards arrived.

I admit, I felt a twinge of envy. It started when the company secretary delivered them to her desk, she said, "Yay!", and he said "You're official now." It was when he said that.

Here she is, looking barely 23 and she's got business cards. Then there's me, barely 5 months away from turning 30 with no career, no man, none of the children I thought I'd have, still unfulfilled and faffing about like a fool.

I'm tired of being a late developer. Watching me grow up, my mother always said, "Born early, develop late" but this is ridiculous...

Sorry. I know you will all tell me off for not counting my blessings. I've really appreciated this job and even enjoyed it at times, know...


It has been a day full of signs, along with the discontent. One of the temps came by my desk without a word and glided away, having deposited on my desk a small cutout of an arts job in The Times. It set my heart racing, let me tell you. I have been updating my CV in preparation for applying. Wish me all the best that you possibly can.

Second sign, one of the senior partners was holding a beautiful publication in her hands as she chatted with my boss. I thought it was the catalogue from the current Holbein exhibition at the Tate Gallery, but she said it was actually a company report from the sole sponsor. Sumptuous covers and flaps entirely filled with portraits of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. Rich reds, gold embroidery, crisp lace. To my rusty art eyes, it was like an electric shock. I was transfixed. I didn't hear what she was saying as she was explaining to me how touchable the painted fur stoles looked...

I didn't even tell her I had an art history degree. I just stood there gaping.

Third sign was the film I watched after dinner: Le Divorce (a Merchant Ivory production would you believe?) about a wealthy Frenchman divorcing his wife while pregnant with their 3rd child. (Main story: His playboy uncle has an affair with the wife's sister and buys her a stunning red Hermes Kelly bag.)

The wife's family wanted to sell the heirloom they believed was a Latour. The Louvre was not interested in a painting that came out of an American attic. They very Frenchly stuck their noses up at it. Stephen Fry turned up as the Christie's specialist. They verified its provenance and sold it for €3 million in a Paris auction. The museum bid hard and bought it. haha.

Three things - surely not coincidences.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Deep

"More people have travelled into space than have ventured this deep."

I watched David Attenborough's series Blue Planet, but my favourite episode by far was The Deep. Yes, a long-awaited educational piece! My first since the Pompeii or volcano post, I believe.

It is filmed around the Marianas Trench in the Pacific. After the continental shelf ends, the terrain levels out and gently slopes for 150 miles until it reaches a depth of 3,000 metres at the abyssal plain.

The team can travel up to 3 miles down in Alvin, a 2-metre wide submersible with a thick titanium skin and portholes no larger than your hand - any larger and the vessel would implode under the pressure.

The Twilight Zone, or Mesopelagic Zone (Middle Sea) extends from 450 ft (150m) to 3,300 ft (1,000m).

At around 600 metres, it all changes. The sunlight barely filters down this far, signalling the end of photosynthesis. The only colour of the spectrum down here is blue. Creatures you had not thought physically or naturally possible dwell down here, species never before seen, aliens on our own planet.

The pressure is 20-100 times that on the surface. Eyes as big as marbles, transparent squidgy bodies, bioluminescence - all the norm down here. The sealife lives in a floating world with no surfaces to come into contact with and are therefore much less durable than their shallow water cousins. (Hence it intrigues me as to how a soft squid can live here without being squished, while the bathysphere is protected by very thick walls.

The hatchet fish is so narrow that it is barely visible head-on:

but let it turn for its silvery side to mirror the blue light

...and it becomes invisible, even from below: it possesses a row of cells on its belly that duplicates the exact colour of the sea above its head.

I even saw an opaque fishy toddling about on footlike fins.

Much of the life down here produces phosphorescent blue light (like that on the HP laptop!), thanks to bacteria contained in cells or contained chemical reactions (much like in our light sticks). The hairy angler "angles" with its blue beacon. Others have photophore cells under their skin. Squid outline the contours of their bodies in blue dots. Shrimp exude a web of blue glue to slow down their predators and coat them with phosphorescence to make them visible to their own predators.

The transparent copepod (of which there are many species and it is the most numerous in the oceans) releases delayed blue-light bombs to confuse its pursuer so it can escape into the gloom.

Red light is filtered out by the water, so a few creatures produce their own, and this is invisible to the others - they look black. One fish (thought he said sniper fish but can't find it) lights its way with a red searchlight in its head, spotlighting its prey who are none the wiser. Some transparent jellyfish produce red light in order to camouflage the blue light of their latest meal. Imagine if your stomach lit up every time you ate. What an easy target you would be.

On the sea floor, the water is clear because there is so little organic matter to cloud it up. Most living down here are loners, feeding on the "marine snow", a sort of manna that floats down from decaying matter in the sunlit waters. A large tuna or a whale might hit the bottom intact. This will attract the six-gilled shark, a living fossil that has remained unchanged for 150 million years.

The carcass of the whale may take up to 18 months to be stripped down to the bone. Even then, it is teeming with bacteria which derive nutrients from the bones, and some eel-like creatures (starts with an h) are still around, finding flesh inside the head cavity. It will actually take years to completely run out of nutrients. When the team revisited the whale 18 months after it landed, the skeleton was laid out like a museum specimen, the outline of the body delineated on the silt floor by white bacteria.

Down by the hydrothermal vents, closest to the earth's skin, a new species is described every ten days. There are creatures that can withstand temperatures up to 80C. The hottest vents reach 400C (752F).

Aside: In the 1990s (a decade after the deep sea vents were discovered) 1/2 a mile under the Gulf of Mexico, far from any solar energy, scientists discovered an underwater lake. A lake underwater, you ask? Indeed. The "shoreline" was made up of shells, the "lake" consisted of briny water, much heavier than the seawater around it. The heavier water even lapped against the shore.

Now, I have seen pictures of people eating the postage-stamp-sized hatchet fish, and Japanese fishermen are able to trawl for bioluminescent squid when they come close to the surface once a year.

Question: would you eat a deep sea creature?

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Saturday, November 25, 2006


Some of you asked to see, so here is:

My Preciousssssssss...

The 17" lapdesk with Windows Media Center.

Intel Centrino Duo processor. nVidia Geoforce graphics card.

Even Lightscribe for lasering labels onto CDs!

Mirror-like black lid. Fingerprint Central. Fortunately, they include a microfibre cloth.

Shiny chassis too. The touchpad buttons are soft, so no clicking.

5-in-1 card reader, in fact that's how I transferred these pics. So fast!

All the little blue buttons above the keyboard are touch-sensitive controls for media.

The Altec Lansing speakers are better than the Boynq Vase Speaker I bought last year.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Crash and bum

What a day...Fell down twice! It was bound to happen, only a matter of time. Even when I left the house I wasn't feeling up to anything. Crammed in the Tube, it was a most uncomfortable journey. I was crammed in the middle - all day I have been the one person who didn't get a pole to hold onto, only I am usually pretty good at keeping my balance. It was a very jolting ride and, feeling faint (but not fainting!) I ended up landing on someone's shoe. I know, ow!

When I got to the office, my chair was in sight. I headed for it, went to sit, missed, and crashed to the floor. Again.

Even more shaken than I was before, despite having a laugh and providing a few seconds of amusement for my colleagues, I went to the kitchen to make my tea. So when I asked a colleague to to reach for the biscuits on the top shelf, I couldn't say "Digestives". Gigestives. Didestives. Gidestis. Gidiviges.

Bad morning. But everything was fine by 11. Mornings are always hard for me - sometimes I am just profoundly tired and don't regroup until about 2pm.


Our small department of 3 has increased for a couple of weeks to include two extra audiotypists during the crunch time. We are getting along well now. Midmorning my boss went out shopping and brought us back some Krispy Kreme donuts to "cheer everybody up". The four of us could not finish a dozen, though, so after lunch she put them in the kitchen for the rest of the office. I have never turned down a doughnut before, but seriously, that donut was my third breakfast of the day. I couldn't finish lunch. I had Cheerios and milk at home, tea and Digestives at the office, followed an hour later by a doughnut and more tea. See? Stuffed to the gills.

Don't worry, I had a fruit salad after lunch...

Anyway, we did all cheer up and have developed a rapport in our second week. In fact, once again we were the department that had the most laughter and conversation, only on a greater scale.


Righto, I know yesterday I thought of something to blog, but I can't remember what it was now.


Oh, I watched AI: Artificial Intelligence tonight. I will skip all commentary, except I really really liked Teddy! He was intriguing - a partly unappealing-looking robot bear with a deep monotone voice took all my attention if he was on screen. My favourite scene was when Martin had come home from hospital and he and David were competing to see who Teddy would go to when called. I missed the first half hour, so this was the first time I saw Teddy in full. He sat on the rug looking from one to the other, his mouth opening and closing in confusion. The mother entered the room with her laundry basket, and he was up and running to her saying, "Mommy, mommy", then he launched himself onto a small ottoman stomach first holding his arms up. Cute! So she grabbed his paw and walked off with him dangling.

I also liked the way he watched everything and sometimes did not speak.

Also like the way he looked up
(in surprise?) from sewing himself when Martin told David to cut a lock of mother's

I also liked how he would say when they were in the helicopter, "Be careful, David. This is not a toy."

Everything he said was slightly disjointed to the human conversation, but I wanted to hear more. It was almost as if he was a little voice of reason.

Forget the Pillsbury Doughboy. I want Teddy!

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Laptop

Greetings from my new laptop. It is huge. The keyboard is so wide my fingers get lost because I have a 17-inch screen. It takes ages for the mouse pointer to get anywhere!

You do realise this is good-natured grumbling! If you don't want details, skip the next section...

Also, what I like is the piano-lacquer-type finish on every part of the chassis. They say it is taken from car manufacturing techniques. Let's see, what else...? Oh yes, so shiny they included a microfibre cloth for the polishing of it. Oh my darned fingerprints get all over the black cover!

I have a remote control that stores in the media card slot, also I have a 5-in-1 card reader so no wasting camera batteries when I want to transfer pics. I can do bluetooth exchange with my phone. I have a webcam built in to the top of the screen with two microphones. I had no idea infrared and bluetooth and wireless networking were built in to the new laptops, how cool is that!

I am blogging from a Firefox add-on called Performancing, which is cool as I don't have to log in to Blogger just to blog. Which means I will get even lazier as to tweaking my template, so apologies in advance to those of you who are waiting to get onto my blog links.

I've transferred all my music, photos, even passwords thanks to a fantastic Firefox add-on that transfers them as a little file.


At the moment, I am watching A Cock and Bull Story starring all England's familiar TV faces including Steve Coogan (as Tristram), David Walliams (as priest), Jeremy Northam (as the director), Stephen Fry (as a literary commentator). It is a film about the making of a film based on the of autobiographical novel Tristram Shandy and is actually quite entertaining on screen. There are many asides, like Mr Shandy pausing the action to step in and comment, with the addition of showing the director and crew with the actors between a few scenes, also in meetings discussing props and budget constraints, and even gossiping at dinner after filming. You might be tempted to think that this is where it gets lost as I was just waiting for it to get back to the book, but it turns out that it wades through a huge chunk of the book - and its narrative disjointedness - through this device, as those were the parts that can't be acted out. This works in the movie, but I must admit to getting bored with the book, even though I bought it because it was acclaimed as one of the first books in stream of consciousness. I suppose it was too ahead of its time in the 18th century.


Cross your fingers that I can blog for you next week. I was so exhausted this week that on Friday I was literally floppy, have had a variable 3-day headache, and slept for 12 hours on Friday night.

Let's hit the publish button now and see if it appears on Blogger....

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[EDIT] P.S. Some of you will be pleased to note Sunday's sidebar article:

Article of the Day

Aston Martin

The Aston Martin is a British luxury car manufacturer that is today part of the Ford Motor Company. The company's name was derived from Lionel Martin, one of the founders, and Aston Hill, the location where Martin enjoyed racing specials. The British glamour that characterizes Aston Martin cars has made them a natural choice for the James Bond series of action films. A silver Aston Martin DB5 appears in which four Bond films? More...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Small points

I wrote this on Sunday night in case I didn't have time to blog this week, which was certainly the case:

I have an issue with the Daniel Craig's new James Bond. Suave but powerful under the surface, yes. Slightly craggy, ok. But tall, blonde and handsome? No. Whether he proves to be a good Bond or not, the look precedes the reputation - in real life, I mean. In the Bond films it is the other way around!

Furthermore, the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed that 7 rolls (of the Aston Martin) is a record. But I watched how they set up that stunt. The Aston was too solid to roll with a spin or even on road bumps, so they had to install a hydraulic pipe that shot out of the chassis on the driver's side. So this seven roll thing is cheating because each time it rolled it bounced off the pipe!

I tell you, it's scandalous, the number of luxury cars they demolish in action sequences!


Hm, I have forgotten my other rant. But I am pre-writing this blog on Sunday night in case I have no time during the week. I can just come in and hit "Publish"!

And despite feeling bad about not writing enough educational posts (that review in the previous post called my little asides educational!) here I am yet again not doing it. I guess it is because I can't spend an afternoon doing research...

So, here we stick to the recent fashion fare/fair:

Behold, my new watch. Or rather, timepiece. It is Swiss, and the Swiss don't make watches, they make timepieces.

Image hosted by

Thursday addition:

I ordered my new laptop this week. It is the HP dv9042ea, 42 not 22 so it must be a better version than the one in the earlier post.


Have a great weekend everyone.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

External attention!

Well, guess who got a pretty good rating on Soapbox Jury?

Yes, my blog has been rated a 7/10 by this site. I have no idea how I was found or why I was reviewed. Only thing is, why oh why did I have to get reviewed after slacking off on my educational posts and only a few days after I considered writing another one?

You can read my review here.

Perhaps you can leave feeback there, if you like :)


And now I have forgotten all the things I have been storing up to share with you!


I had a long day today. Went to see some old friends, so went to Richmond where Christopher of the previous post picked me up. There were hoards of people making their way home from the Lord Mayor's Show, and globs more on their way to the rugby in Twickenham, so he and I got stuck in quite a bit of traffic.

Chris's Mum (Joy) had laid on a generous spread of food, with the feature being chicken in coriander, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, spring onion. Yum and surprisingly tender. We drank claret with that, followed by some of the Eiswein I had brought along. It was amazingly full-bodied, ever so fruity, really desserty, and possibly even more fun for the tastebuds than Muscat. Dessert was a nice blackberry and apple pie, with cream. I had seconds...and then a cuppa tea :)

Joy and I chatted about how Chris and I were born. Part of the time I spoke on behalf of my mother - she and J met in the maternity ward at Queen Charlotte's Hospital. I was born in April at 27 weeks, Christopher in July at 25 weeks.

Then, brainiacs as we were, during the conversation about London, we got out the map. In the one about holidays, we got out the stonking great world Atlas.
Eventually, that led to Chris getting out his laptop and us spending the next hour AT LEAST, going all over the world in Google Maps, exploring all the places we've visited or lived in. We found the Sphinx in Eypt and we could even see the people walking between the pyramids, and the shadows they cast...!

Then we had more tea with cheese, fruits, and crackers. After that, Chris did the boy thing and watched TV while Joy and I talked more seriously - she and my mother both went through divorce ordeals within the past 4 years, so there was a lot to say. It is amazing: after you think you have gotten over something, you find that wounds will open in a moment, at a word.


I left there at nearly 10, and Chris dropped me off at the station. The District line took me to Westminster - so far so good, apart from the lights flickering and a hydraulic sound every time we pulled out of a station. At Westminster I made my way to the Jubilee line. A few seconds before the train arrived, the lights went out over one half of the platform. Then the train pulled in. I stood at the door ready to enter when it opened and a girl stood within ready to step out. Suddenly there was an announcement that, due to an emergency situation, the station was now closed and all passengers were asked to leave. The girl and I frowned perplexedly at each other and then the train pulled out immediately, with an air of abandoning us to our fates. We were all herded out, and I reached the surface in time to hear Big Ben strike 10.30 pm.

I got on a bus to Oxford Circus where I expected to walk to Bond Street, but then the driver announced that particular bus would be terminating at Piccadilly. There is no end to the joys of London Transport. I walked, briskly, to Green Park and then I was home without incident at a quarter to midnight.

Hot chocolate and dark choc cherry liqueurs rule!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Misty Monday

I went to the Arts & Antiques Fair at Kensington Olympia last night on short notice with Miss S. It was so lovely to be surrounded once more with special things. It was weird to adjust my mind, which had been immersed all day in financial matters, to identifying the objets d'art and furniture I once knew well. It gets harder every time...

We saw a former classmate, who has been working at Malletts (fine art & antiques) for a month, since leaving Bridgeman (picture library).

Hm! How does this happen?

Oh and there were such cute guys there! More of my types than Miss S and her surfer dudes. I keep telling her to move out to California or Australia. And I should move to Chelsea or Richmond. :)

Goodness. I thought I had more to say than this...

I am sure I forgot something.

Murphy's Law:
My childhood friend Christopher's mother texted me yesterday to say she would call me tonight to arrange my visit this weekend. I have been home all evening. I went downstairs at 9 to heat up some couscous and make some tea. Christopher called...when I was in the kitchen, of course, so I missed the call.

Bonne nuit!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My very own weekend

I have enjoyed a day at home, in my slippers :)
The first such weekend in over a month. No packing suitcases and catching trains, dressing up or spending money!

You may remember my weekends have gone like this:

1) Saw old school chum Haruko for the first time in 17 years
2) Spent intensive time with my mother
3) Went to a wedding in Surrey
4) and then the Halloween party

I like my slippers.

Laundry is overdue; there is more housework to do tomorrow. And I have been calling everyone I can to catch up with them.


I also watched Star Trek, after which nothing good has been on all day. I know it is said Star Trek was rubbish after the original, but still. It's good quality sci-fi and I watch it just to see them get into and out of scrapes, and to hear about all their weird infallible technologies.

They can beam in and out of nearly any situation - how convenient!
They can scan for anything on any ship or planet:
"Scanning for life forms, sir. Nothing significant found, but there is a mouse on board and it's got a flea."

I've also been indulging myself with a few episodes of Poirot and interviews with David Suchet about his iconic role. What a lovely, kind man he is.


Next week is hectic at work, so earlier mornings are in order and there may be one or two more temps called in to help, but we do thankfully still stop at 6. I really hope it doesn't tell on me again. I had finally struck a balance that ensured I still worked an 8+ hour day while not having any odd episodes like I was earlier, you may remember.

I don't know why arriving a quarter of an hour later than usual made a difference, but it did and my energy levels were much higher than they had been.


Yesterday I popped in at Fopp on Tottenham Court Road. It is such an amazing place. Most of the CDs and books cost between 3 and 8 pounds!

I went for Vangelis and maybe Enigma, but ended up coming out with 5 books and an Enigma trilogy and a Beethoven double CD set of late piano sonatas. However, I didn't want to spend a tenner on Polyphonic Spree when I can just download it.

The Enigma CD box is really cool. The CDs are held in a trifold that fits into a thin case. There is an eye on the front and a cutout of what looks like an ancient zodiacal star map that you can turn and it shows through holes in the case.

The books I bought are:
Two by Wilkie Collins: The Law and the Lady and Armadale
The Histories
by Herodotus
On Wine and Hashish by Baudelaire
The Complete Fairytales by George MacDonald.

I am so many books behind now that I have stopped counting. I am currently reading Billy Budd by Herman Melville, have yet to get to Philip Pullman's Ruby in the Smoke, George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, and the countless other volumes I have acquired in the past year. I nearly got the Tale of Genji, yes! I had been talking about it this week as I haven't read it since I was in school, but I couldn't decide between the abridged and unabridged.


I am also finally looking seriously at laptops now, as I have been getting the Blue Screen of Death more frequently and it has been shutting itself off a lot more too. No amount of diagnostics and repair...
I wavered in the direction of Toshiba like my first was, but looking at the new HPs, oh my! I have enjoyed an HP for the past 3 years. I know which one I want too:

HP Pavilion dv9022ea

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


...the Party, remember?

Me as the Bunny, but sorry for not showing any more. I took a tank top and tight black trousers but it was too chilly and confusing once I got there to change.

Clicky here for a a quick photo show of the evening, courtesy of the techie Diva.

This is all I can do for now, as my computer ... is .... doing ..... everything ...... very ....... very ........ sloooooooowlyyyyyyyy and could shut itself off at any minute.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


When Diva sends me the photos, I will blog about the party this weekend, the one where I went as a bunny, the playboy one that is, and no don't get all woo haa, I didn't show any leg.

But right now...Torchwood. I like Doctor Who. I like Torchwood now too, and I hope it takes off.

Ahem, this is one reason:

The Scottish-born American hearthrob John Barrowman. His style of teaching Gwen how to shoot a gun today had me all hot n flustered!

Oh dadgumit! In my searching I have just discovered he is "openly gay" and has a long-term partner. It's always the way, isn't it?

Still, I can dream about a lovely strong manly man with his arms around me, can't I?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

poesie impromptu

Three poems long hidden away on my dusty old Motime blog, so neglected that although I have wanted to share them all summer, I wasn't bothered to go and get them! I can only write poems when I have an overflow of emotion or heartache.


1) Written during recovery from disappointment - I will never forget the day I first had that feeling...


As I watched summer breezes play among the leaves
I realised
I wanted him

I never wanted anyone before
Stirrings of first desire
An aching deep inside

Like leaves under an autumn frost
It died a slow and painful death

(February 2006)


2) The initial lashing out after said disappointment...


modern mercenary emotional pirates
unforgiving hearts of stone
marching on and on
unbending, unyielding, un...

(October 2005)


3) And this one I ran across I know not where, while still feeling low . Thank you Mary, you speak for us all:

He knows not that the dead are thine

The weapon that you fought with was a word,
And with that word you stabbed me to the heart.
Not once but twice you did it, for the sword
Made no blood start.

They have not tried you for your life. You go
Strong in such innocence as men will boast.
They have not buried me. They do not know
Life from its ghost.

--Mary Coleridge

Monday, October 23, 2006

About time

About time something showed up on this blogspace...

We are having some exciting thunder and lighting in London tonight! When we were in Texas, Dad and I used to call it "London Frightening".

This weekend, I went to Reading again to see Diva and Nags and Amy, and we all went to Sunny's wedding. It rained a lot. It was cute, there were fireworks outside at the reception, between the rainshowers, of course.

OWWWW I just hit my elbow on the corner of my laptop when I got up to look out the window.

I lost a gold earring today and didn't even know it. But enough about earrings.

And what else...?

Today I had loads of waking dreams while I was fighting the afternoon drowsiness. Each time it happens I ought to write it down. They are just unrelated snapshots and flashbacks.

Ooh thunderbolts RIGHT outside the house! Three of them! My room rocked!

Nite y'all.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lost Umbrella...

Today at House of Fraser I bought a summer dress, four cute warm tops, and a pair of shoes for under 100 pounds.
255 down to 99, can you beat that?

Coincidentally, everything was French except for one top which was Danish, and the shoes. They were Carvela, but that is apparently under the Kurt Geiger umbrella. I have just learned he is Austrian but based in London. Now that is my brain cell used for the day.

The dress was siiiiiii francaiiiiiis! Cripes, now you are going to ask me for a piccie.

It was funny though, I put it on and all I could think of was summer in Paris and when I checked the label it even said made in France. That was the best deal, it was 60 originally, then half price which I reluctantly relented on, but at the counter as she scanned and folded, the conversation went like this:
"And this is 12."
"12 pounds. I know, it's nice to be surprised at the till."

But patience mes amis, today you have the earrings and the shoes:

All the buttons I wore on Wednesday

I love buttons!
Speaking of steals, that satin-lined velvet jacket was a steal last year from 98 down to 48 then 25, and at the till, 22.50!

The Gibraltar glass earrings from Mum that you've all been asking to see

I lost the paper but I gathered that in a special process the glass is bombarded with mineral molecules. Here you see a golden pink, if I turn they will be any colours you want them to be...
Guess how much?*

The pointy new Carvelas with my clumpy old Kenneth Coles

I couldn't bear to part with them, but I never thought I would ever find that deep red again. And lo and behold! Plus I can actually wear the new ones with skirts and they even make trousers more feminine. Still, not letting go of the KCs until the hairline cracks start peeling or something! Seven years on, they are still the only shoes that get the "nice shoes" comment out of random people.

What colour would you say they are?

And the only reason I went to the shop was to reclaim an umbrella I had left at the Biotherm counter the day before.**

Look at the time, I'm off to bed!

* earrings 10 euros
** Finally found a foundation and powder that control my oily skin.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Boo, guess who?

Hello my dear readers,

I have been away for so long that I have forgotten how to blog. Lost that chatty feeling.

So here is the update:

1) When I came home tonight I thought I would still be numbered among those poor Orange customers who have had no internet for two days. I would have done a really short blog via my phone email...because I missed you all.

2) For the past few days (I got Friday off), I have been in the blissful company of my dear mother. We walked about arm in arm, shopping, browsing, gossiping, laughing, nagging, rolling eyes, and laughing again. We ate all sorts of wonderful food, including fancy dim sum at Yauatcha, followed by tea and cakes. Orchid tea - the last two times I was there, they had none. And my yum Shanghai Lily cake of course.

You know how it is when you don't live at home anymore and you see your parents after a long while, as desperately as you wanted to see them, they've got these idiosyncracies, the ones you forgot about. We're still on the same wavelength on many things, but then there are the things they do or say that make you wonder how you are related - but I guess that is how families evolve.

3) I have permission to take my leave and go to Canada on the 19th of December. My mother wants me to stay for a month. Furthermore, my father invited both of us to spend Christmas with him in Calgary. We miss was nice of him to ask.

4) I got my flu vaccination today. I scratched my name off the office list for the 17th of November. I probably would have caught it by then!

5) My mother brought me the coolest pair of glass earrings from Gibraltar. She had been on a trip there with two of her sisters. The earrings are bombarded by minerals and look like pieces of pure iridescence, changing colour from one moment to the next. In fact, they are now officially cooler than my Murano glass earrings...

That's all for now, folks!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Farewell Arts Club

Looks like I am down to blogging twice a week.

This may be the last time you hear about the Arts Club, I am afraid. I am not renewing my membership - in fact as a parting gift, it was extended specially so that I could have a farewell dinner there with my allotted 6 guests. It was to be a bit of a Christie's alumni reunion with Miss S, Rox, Tom, Rebecca and her beau Giu, plus my cousin James. But Tom and James could not be tracked down, Rox is in Switzerland again, and Giu was stuck at work.

So it was just me with Rebecca and Miss S.
We enjoyed a three-course meal. Rebecca chose a nice bottle of Claret for us.
And it was such a pleasant evening, full of tinkling laughter and sparkling conversation. Even Miss S showed a more lively side, though that may have been the wine.

I know I promised some of you a description, so if I can remember what I ate, I will tell you.
1) pate en croute with pear chutney.
2) roast pheasant with roast autumn veg, one of them was a nice crispy toasted leaf...and there was something (perhaps the giblets) in a vol au vent.
3) Paris Brest Praline in a creme anglaise sauce - hey I remembered that one. Very hazelnutty.

Apparently, there was a banquet in the dining room with all the big players in the arts world (hello!), including Princess Margaret's daughter (I knew she was one of the little bridesmaids at Charles and Diana's wedding but forgot her name was Sarah Armstrong Jones. Yeah I know, don't worry.)

So we ate in the Bar/Bistro upstairs and after dinner I showed the girls the cosy drawing room where the recitals take place.

To tell you the truth, as much as I have enjoyed my membership, I never took full advantage of it. More often than not, friends and I end up in Chinatown eating dim sum. I find myself in Mayfair/Piccadilly less often than I once did, and I can't justify renewing. I have other things to do now, and priorities change.

But I am glad I could take you all along for a year :)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Late Poetry Day entry

I was unable to participate in Thursday's abundance of poetry, so Panda said it would be extended to the weekend for me. :)

I dusted off all my poetry collections and looked at all the poems I liked in school. I find them very sentimental and touching, but a bit too morbid for my current situation. Then I took another look at e. e. cummings, whom I could not understand when I was young -- neither his words nor his odd unpunctuated rhythms. But I am older and wiser now, so here is one of his:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


And one of mine from 1998, when I was ending a few years of unrequited love:

You shine like a star,
.....but distance dims the light.
You offer me words,
.....but I cannot see your face.
I listen to your voice,
.....but I cannot hear your heart.
I reach for your hand,
.....but I find it withdrawn.

So I watch
and I wait
and I wish.....

That I might bask in the glow of your love,
gaze into the depths of your eyes,
feel the warmth of your heart,
and place my hand in yours.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Blog Meme

Quick update:

I have bought two size 8 trousers from Principles . Mmm nice and comfy, well styled, and I can sit down without the fear of popping a button. I've just found out they won awards for the best petites range. This is no surprise - of all I have tried, this is my favourite.

If you want to know what I did this weekend, plus video show, go to Diva. She did the work already, bless her bum (to borrow a phrase of hers). If you're too lazy to clicky the linky, Diva, Amy and I went to Sunny's Hen Do in Surrey. Back at Nags and Diva's later that night, we had lots of food, and played Snakes and Ladders with shot glasses. In the morning Diva made scones, which we ate with clotted cream and jam!


I have been tagged by Hoverfrog and Sunny, and probably someone else I forgot.*

*All people named above are P27ers, former 20sixers.

Why do you blog?

I like to share my experiences, stories, silly or deep thoughts, and the increasingly occasional factual post.

How long have you been blogging?

Since Feb 2005 on Blogger, Aug 2005 on 20six (now defunct), and June 2006 on P27.

Self Portrait.

A real painting I saw at Christie's this summer called "Making Friends". It depicts a little country lass looking just like me as a girl, kneeling in the grass and leaning towards a handful of rabbits who are stretching towards her with curiousity in their noses.

Why do readers read your blog?

Some for a culture fix. Others just because they're used to me now and want to know what I've been up to. And a few others who know me in real life and keep up with the events we don't cover on the phone. Have I missed anyone?

What was the last search phrase someone used to find your site?

I don't know about P27, but on Blogger it was "Olivia Raise Chocolate" on Google France. I come up twice as number 2 and 3 on the search page. What is that about?

Which of the entries gets unjustly too little attention?

That's something I do not remember.

Your current favourite blog?, notice I am completely escaping the onus of choosing between real bloggers!

Which blog did you read most recently?

Can't remember, starting to fall asleep now. Someone on Blogger, possibly Pandy.

Which feeds do you subscribe to?

None, no point.

Which 4 blogs are you tagging with this meme and why?

Anyone who wants to do this, just jump right in.

Monday, October 02, 2006


This morning I had a bugger of a commute. Nearly an hour, which is double the usual. By way of concession, I fully realise that an hour is an easy commute for many, but time is relative, remember.

So the first train never showed up, and the St John's Wood platform only gets that crowded when there's a cricket match on. When it did come, I couldn't get on the first three. I do hate it when people behind you slip round and find a spot that you didn't think existed. The last lady's bag got stuck in the door anyway.

Once I did gain a place, I found myself hanging onto the same pole as a.....oh, a Polish couple (sorry). They kissed all the way from SJW to Baker Street (one of the Underground's longer stretches). Pooch, pooch, arm around waist, whisper, pooch, pooch. Her hand forgets to hold onto the pole and slips onto the top of mine. (That was an extra niggly bit for me.)

I SWEAR I wanted to throttle them and step on their toes really hard!!! I have nothing against a certain amount of PDA, and theirs was of a nice sort, really. But not that much, in a crammed train. And the LAST thing I want to see when I am disgustingly single AND suffering from Pre Menstrual doo dah is KISSING! Thank God he got out at Baker Street, otherwise something would have gone wrong before Bond Street.

When I got to Bond Street, same waiting game, same not getting onto train. And then we all squished in again, and man! Do some people's jackets smell manky or what??? Some of them mix it with aftershave/perfume, and others don't. Either way, ugh!


Anyway, I spent the morning trying to forget it all by updating the database, but then my mood would flare up every now and then.

It didn't help that I was complaining inwardly at the total heads-down attitude of the office. Even though my two colleagues and I had little to do, we had only one conversation about neglected pets, other than the odd comment about rain or boredom. At one point, the receptionist came over for colleague N, whispered her name, handed her the package, and N whispered half a thanks.

The most exciting things that happened were:

1) somebody's stacking tray fell off the edge of the desk on the other side of the office, and

2) a colleague went over to the lunch department to complain about them sending us menus from the same deli two days in a row.

3) Fed up with my brie and bacon toastie, I decided to be adventurous and order the curry and rice for tomorrow.

I got off earlyish because it really had been a slow day, and I found a very nice black wool coat with a velvet collar, belt and buttons, totally by accident. It didn't cheer me all the way up, and I still had to have a bit of a rant to my darling Mumsy on the phone. Then I got an email from my favourite male soprano, who always radiates a bit of sunshine, so that helped a bit. I will have to tell you about him sometime, won't I? My blog generates serendipity, you see.

Time for beddy-byes now.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Precious Previous weekend

It was really great to see Haruko after all these years. We got on as though we had never been apart. We are both only children and share surprisingly similar tastes and views about life.

Saturday we went shopping on Regents and Oxford Streets, ate dim sum in Chinatown, and had tea and dessert at Yauatcha in Soho. She had brought a class photo and we tried to remember the names of all the girls...who had saggy socks or side ponytails, the names of our teachers, and how Miss Roberts ruled with an iron fist.

Sunday, neither of us felt well - she with a dodgy tum, and me with the usual pounding headache. We both took naps and she came over to see me at home around 3pm where we looked at photos and smelled perfumes and girlie things like that. Then we went for a walk in Regent's Park and even made it as far as the Queen Mary Rose Garden where we took lots of photos of roses.

Monday and Tuesday she went to Edinburgh to see her old university chums.

On Wednesday evening she came to the City, where she had wanted to hear evensong at St Paul's because she likes organ music. Then I took her to le Coq d'Argent at Poultry where we had rooftop views over the City, and enjoyed a cocktail. After that we went up to Finchley Road where we had Indian food at a restaurant I know, and the manager told me he hadn't seen me in months.

She thanked me for being her friend and being so kind all those years ago. When I visit her in Tokyo one day, she will take me to Kyoto.

On Wednesday evening, she wished she could stay another week. Two and a half days were totally not enough to catch up on 18 years!


I promise there will be better pictures when she sends the ones she took :)

St Paul's Cathedral - 4.21pm, Monday 25th September

A very old top (gift from Lydia) paired with a skirt I bought when Haruko and I went clothes shopping!

Haruko after Dim Sum in Chinatown (her choice)

She gave me a pretty little phone charm...

...and a green tea canister with pretty sweets, including a sugar rabbit, in a gift basket...

...and really good incense. Check out all the rabbits here too...

I'd love to say more, but am yawning my head off and haven't even packed for the weekend. I had to blog about last weekend before experiencing this weekend!

Kali nichta

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

24 hours

This space is reserved for a post about last weekend that I have been meaning to write all week, but there are not enough hours in the day!

Maybe tomorrow...

Monday, September 25, 2006


Yesterday morning, in Canada, my cousin Alyssa's boyfriend died of a brain aneurysm. He was 25.

I've known Alyssa since she was a tiny little thing. She is very tall now, so I am her "little big sister". We are 7 years apart, so when she reached the age where we could talk as equal adults, she was so honoured to tell me things, but still when I see her she wraps her long arms one and a half times round my waist.

Right now I am hurting for her so badly. After a string of awful boyfriends, she finally found the right one. They were friends for 6 years before even going out this year. She is 3 months pregnant, and they were talking about getting married someday. I cried my heart out for her last night. She is grieving, like a widow, my little Lala.

Before, I was going to Canada at Christmas to hug her and see her tummy. Now I just want to hold my little cousin close to my heart.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The stuff I don't tell you

A bit of an odd week after the last nice blog. Here's the stuff I don't tell you all. I guess I am just used to living with it and no one ever knows unless I live with them. It's dysautonomia, an imbalance of the nervous system that can interfere with activities, sometimes whenever it wants to, so it's disruptive, but not pervasive like ME or CFS. I'll tell you more some other time.

It's been a drag to get out of bed this week because I'm back to having tired achy bones and they feel so heavy when I get out of bed. They bothered me yesterday and I spent the afternoon fidgeting in my seat.

Wednesday, my alarm was going off for 10 minutes before I heard it. Then I hit the wrong button and slept for another half hour. Woops.
When that happens, I just eat breakfast later at the office.

Had a headache in the afternoon, but mostly mid-morning was feeling nauseous enough to get sweaty palms. It had passed by lunch, so I managed to eat my hot wrap, which wasn't that great anyway.
Then my boss told me to go out and take a walk and get some fresh air!
When I came back I felt normal and she asked if I felt better, and I said "Yes, much better thanks!" with so much sparkle that she thought I was being facetious. But I did have a spring back in my step.

At about 4, she told me I could leave half an hour early. Valuable time because I had errands to run. I had made an attempt Wednesday but the shops I wanted were closed by the time I got there.

So today at Butler & Wilson, I bought a wee handheld mirror with finely worked enamel flowers and foliage and two ladybirds on the back. And so nicely gift-wrapped. They do that without asking.

Who for?

A friend I have not seen in 18 years. When I was 10 or 11, we had an expat student from Japan at St Andrew's. She was so shy she did not speak.
This didn't work for the original girl she was assigned to, so she was reassigned to me. Our desks were in pairs, so we generally hung out in that configuration too, and Haruko and I were inseparable. We communicated by scribbling in our Rough Books, so we got through them pretty fast but the teachers were understanding as they knew H was too shy to speak.

The year I moved to America, Haruko cried a lot, and finally her parents sent her to a Japanese school.

A few years after discovering the Internet, I Yahoo!ed for her name, but there were too many directories full of people with that name. Then, last year she Googled my name and found me through my blog! :)


Oh lookie, I forgot to give you the Sikh wedding links from last month. Here, and then it's off to bed for me.

[1.54 min]

Or if that doesn't work:
Bhangra Drummers

[1.21 min]

Sikh Dancers

eyes shutting

Olivia signing off

Monday, September 18, 2006

Last Week in Pictures

The infamous Bag Tag bag when it is full, with pashmina on top so it doesn't close. But it is still really handy!

Rebelling from the City suitiness or even hint of a suit, back in my arts world West End ensemble.

I rarely do polka dots...these ones work for me, though. It's a bit retro specially with the pearls, which are real by the way and cost 10 quid and come from Nepal.

These are the comfy American shoes I wore when I walked across London after work for an hour and a half. I wish I had them in black too. My English shoes give me blisters and hurt my soles.

Seen on my long walk that evening. One of the many quirky Tudor constructions wedged between later buildings on Fleet Street.

A pretty red strawberry after lunch at the office. The sunshine streaming through the window made it glow and I had to capture it before eating it.

The worst toe popout so far. Even when I got to the office in the morning, the left ladder was visible past my shoe. It was my first day wearing them.

My unusual pewter and enamel brooch from a Carnaby Street boutique. Worn on a dress down Friday when I splash out into colour.

And the best for last:

My window companion, St Paul's Cathedral with the sun right above the cross on the cupola on the dome. taken with a special effect on my phonecam.

Nite nite.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Week so far

Once again, all the interesting bloggy things I wanted to tell you about have left my mind. So I will just catch you up on my week so far.

On Monday I went to work. Here in London it was partly cloudy and got to 30C (about 88F), and it was so lovely when I left the office that I decided to see if I could walk part of the way home, from St Paul's in the east to Bond Street in the west.

I went in a couple of circles trying to get my bearings in the City, which I am somewhat familiar with but don't visit enough, so I bumped into St Paul's Cathedral twice, after going the wrong way to the Barbican and Museum of London. I was looking for Fleet Street and think I glimpsed it from Holborn Viaduct. Eventually, I cut through Shoe Lane to Fleet Street, and rather than staying on Holborn to Oxford Street, I went down to Aldwych. I wanted to go through Covent Garden to Leicester Square, but ended up skirting past it - I could see it up the streets I passed. After a while I left deep Theatre Land and once I got to Trafalgar Square, I knew I had made it, to my old stomping grounds. I went up Haymarket to Piccadilly to Regent Street and from there up Oxford Street to Bond Street Station, where I took the Tube and went home after dark.

It took an hour and a half and was well worth it. Why is it that my American and Italian shoes are more suited to walking than my English ones??? (They give me blisters!)

Anyway, you would love the quaint architecture and the narrow, crooked little pubs along Fleet Street. Not to mention the Gothic arches of the Royal Courts of Justice and the Georgian facade of temple Bar.

I should do that walk again before the evenings draw in sooner.

I took pics to share, but it would take too long to post them.


Monday, the firm had engaged a second temp for the week to ease off some of the pressure of the current project. She was called Olivia too, 32 from South Africa, married with a 10 year old daughter. From a distance she looked 10 years younger because of her freckles and snub nose. We talked about age and being only children (her daughter is), and she said I looked fantastic for my age.

Unfortunately she didn't get the hang of it and they sent her home at 4.30.


Tuesday, I went to work again. Captivating, eh?
Usually I don't get a place in a crowded carriage at rush hour, but that morning I got shoved in and wedged by an old man's giant stomach. It was a proper protuberance, and boy was he grumpy. As I oozed into the carriage I knew I would get stuck. I didn't have to hold on to anything or even stand, really, because I was in that tight.

At Baker Street, people inside the carriage wanted to get out. It is common courtesy for the people on the platform to let someone back first on if they get off to make way, but that was not an issue for him. He was staying put. As people surged towards the exit and others jostled to make space and I fought to keep my footing, I looked backwards at him beseechingly but he gave me a look of defiance. At first I got a lot of dark looks until they realised it was him blocking the door.


Today I went to work again (I know!), and was relieved to see the second temp had made it to her second day.

This week all the financial and economic terms are not as unfamiliar, I have more confidence to anticipate and edit what the interviewees are saying, and the annual reports are not a load of mumbo jumbo (OK, hehe, maybe they are, but I can refer to them with confidence now). I am also not as physically exhausted as I was in the first two or three weeks, although spelling can be a challenge for me at this time of night.

Oddly enough, it is not my fingers that get tired, rather it is the signal from the brain that doesn't reach my fingers properly. Brain talks and fingers go haywire, hitting keys almost at random. Good thing we have backspace and this is not on paper.

On the Tube this morning, I finally hit on the solution for being too big for my size 6 trousers (US 2) and still too small to upgrade to a size 8 (US 4 - it would be silly if I did, I shuffle around in eights like a vagrant). Anyway, the solution is to wear more skirts and dresses! It's not as if I am short of them, but I don't usually favour them for the office. However, they are more comfy to sit in. Monday I wore a skirt, and today I wore a dress.

I have thrown away two pairs of tights this week owing to my stupid toes popping out: a pair of natural sheers that I worked through on my long walk on Monday, and a pair of black holdups that I wore today, and half my feet were protruding by the time I reached the office! So on the way home I went to John Lewis for some reinforced toe tights. I keep my toenails as short as possible and smoothly filed, so it's not that. How can they sell so many non-reinforced toe tights?

Then it was on to M&S at Marble Arch for a couple of days' worth of dinner elements, and I thnk the staff recognise me now. I have been there innumerable times, but once you go to a shop regularly after work you become recognisable, even if it is only once a week. I had a great chat with the girl on checkout who asked how my day went, and wanted to know what figs taste like. By the time I left, it was raining with vigour and the bagpiper was still going strong outside Selfridges.

I had no umbrella, so my hair right now is all nice and curly-wavy in a very 1930s way, but unfortunately I have to wash it tonight.

And the thunder is most fun to listen to. Thunder in London! I looooove thunder. Mum used to say it was God moving the furniture around.
A few bursts of thunder, the clouds have opened, and now the thunder is veritably cracking across the sky!

And so I bid you goodnight.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Defense of Previous Post


From time to time I get fed up with how PERSONALLY the Brits take Americans, like they personally came to their house and stole their garden gnome or something. Like they BEGRUDGE THEM THEIR VERY EXISTENCE.


I can't include every aspect and every nuance of every position. I can't take into account everyone's history. I knew how many of you would react, BUT I am surprised AND A LITTLE DISAPPOINTED that I would have to be defended from YOU ANONANON OF ALL PEOPLE! Not nice of you at all, not nice, Anon. You have never even been to America, let alone lived there.

THANK YOU Rebecca, Rox and Matt for your understanding. We are indeed entitled to our opinions, and putting mine here naturally invited yours, but geez. I was slightly hurt all afternoon about what Anon said.

And yes, I was falling asleep as I wrote it, and I didn't want to court controversy, and I did dread what people would say. I'm not brave like Leilouta. I wish I could say I will never do this again, but I probably will, once or twice a year seems to be my limit.

I have read de Tocqueville - I own the book. I have read some of the Constitution, and I have read some of the Federalist Papers, albeit a long time ago, but I was merely looking at the surface in my short blog. Yes I know America is not an Athenian democracy, I know it is a Republic. So what. It's still really free. Why do you think so many people still want to live there, including the Brits that are hemorrhaging to America from the British Isles?

I was talking about the people who built the nation, the ideals informing the modern American, not the people whose backs they built it on. That is another story, and one which all nation builders and white men are guilty of.

As I said, Americans will never be ideologically European, so stop hating them for it. They have a different history in their blood.

And Rebecca, well said - it was British ancestors who made America what it is.

Monday, September 11, 2006

i want to go to bed...

Don't anybody blog on Tuesday, I haven't finished reading them today! *pout*

I should not be writing this, I wanna go beddy bye.

But, many of you have talked about 9/11 so I ought to acknowledge at least one event on my blog without inviting a political debate, although I did have an interesting thought while I was washing my face this morning.

America will never be like England.

America does not have an inferiority complex. It is not a nation formed out of repeated invasion;. Rather, it is a nation formed of repeated independence from colonial powers by political, religious, and social pioneers. It has won independence from England, France, Spain, and then Mexico, in parts even Germany.

It was founded on a group that desired freedom - however much that Puritanical mindset still informs the average American citizen...what is, is.

It is founded on the the pursuit of one's dreams and the definite belief that they can be fulfilled.

It WON independence from an imperial colonial power. It was founded on the fundamentals of democracy, the first one since Athens.

It is populated by people descended from tough pioneers who spent hundreds of years forging through untamed wilderness and creating civilisation in the middle of nowhere.

Stop turning up your nose at it for having "no history" - what is a 16th century town, if not historical?

Stop expecting Americans to suddenly become Europeans.

America will never be England, and yet, Americans love you Brits so much despite your sneering and condescension, so give them a chance...


My recollection of 9/11.

I was in bed at my university, in Houston. It was about 7am and both my roommate and I were asleep. The phone rang, Vanessa picked it up and answered. She was confused and handed it up to me on the top bunk with the words, "It's your mom, she says turn on the TV."

I turn on the TV in time to see the second plane hit. From then on the day is a blur.

Classes are cancelled and wherever on campus or in the residence halls that there is a TV, it is on with a crowd gathered round. By lunchtime, the place is half empty. Houston has been designated a serious target with its oil reserves, and most of the local students have gone home to be with their families.

Dad calls me and says I should fill up my car before the gas stations get stampeded and run dry. I only have to wait for about 3 cars, but later the situation intensifies.

Other than that, things calm down relatively quickly as the rest of the nation focuses on New York City. One diversion is the Air National Guard planes that make regular sweeps over the skies of Houston and its outlying areas.

I do not remember if I went home, which is odd. The rest of the week on campus, we are rather subdued. We held a memorial service at the Chapel of St Basil. And all of us grew up a little bit. The whole world left yet another era of "innocence" behind.


Later on, we find out that three, yes three of my cousins were in the area at the time. Ironically, my cousin Sabrina who was a bank manager in the tower at the time of the 1993 bombing, left her job afterwards and moved to another bank down the road so she was certainly on hand to witness the next bombing.

My cousin Ryan, happened to be visiting one of the towers that day but was on the ground or first floors and so he got out extra quick.

But my cousin Marlon was on the 80-somethingth floor of the second tower, and disregarding everything everyone said about staying put, he grabbed his secretary's hand and immediately headed downwards. He urged his colleagues to do the same, but the time they spent gathering their belongings and being indecisive, meant that he never saw them again and lived with survivor's guilt and debilitating depression for about two years afterwards.