Monday, 31 May 2010

This Weekend (9) ...

... was a long one! (Oh, err, missus!)

Of course, because this is England, it was grey and drizzly and not as warm as it could be, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't marvellous. I mean. A long weekend IS a long weekend. And here's what happened.

1) I was on time for the pub quiz! On time! That's note worthy in itself, but I suspect that anyone not used to my poor time keeping won't be wowed by that. The thing is that not only was I on time, but I was also useful. I was not a spare wheel who played the role of "nodding dog" at the end of the table whilst other people supplied the right answers, as I am most weeks, but I was a useful, question answering, information supplying team member. As such I can confirm that Mr Tickle is orange, post boxes in Spain are yellow, and that the punchline to the Joke Of The Week is "The stakes are too high!" (Chuckle chuckle).

2) The Lovely Gillian couldn't make the quiz (which is not good news, obviously) because she and her husband, The Equally Lovely Garry are fostering a weeny baby girl (which is good news). A baby (a proper weeny crinkly squeaky baby, I mean. Not one of these part-baked small people, but a small, one-week-old baby) must, if you are a foster carer, be the gold at the end of the rainbow, and I am just thrilled for them. I've not yet had the chance to go around for a cuddle (the baby and Gillian), but when I go, I'll obviously be smitten (with the baby and Gillian).

3) Whilst normally, on Friday, I set the alarm for a decent time and hop (fall) out of bed bright and early (slowly and resentfully) this week I decided that I needed a snooze, so I allowed myself the luxury of a lie in. I was woken by a text message from Amelia, wondering if I fancied Doing Lunch. well if that isn't the whole point of not working on a Friday, I don't know what is! So I hot footed to Sainsbury's and bought a multitude of fabulous nice things, and we decided to just graze on cheese, bread and tomatoes in the garden, with copious amounts of coke. And. We. Were. Happy!

4) There were a few things that I tried to do on Friday afternoon, but none really came off, so, tapping in on a bit of found time, I cleared out my bedroom, pulling everything out of all my cupboards and drawers, throwing away holey socks and grey pants, and putting chunky jumpers away for the summer. My room is now as ordered as it can be, given that I don't actually have any bedroom furniture still, and I know where everything is. A miracle!!

5) Saturday was the greyest of grey days. I am going on a swanky day out in a couple of weeks time (more to follow) for which I need a new frock, so I decided I'd hit Kingston and shop, shop, shop. By the time I got off from the bus stop to the town centre, the rain had socked up my jeans to the knees, and down my hair, sticking it to my forehead. Hard, under the circumstances, to think "GLAMOUR." I tried on a heap of things, but struggled to see myself promenading, champagne in hand, in any of them, so in the end bought some pick and mix and a lottery ticket and came home. Oh well. Maybe next time.

6) Amelia's smallest, the fabulous G, made a request for a sleepover at my house some time ago, and arrangement which would offer him and me a bit of playing time, and his mother a bit of quality time with her fella, Curtis. I collected him and we came home to watch DVDs and eat biscuits. (Coraline was ok, but Planet 51 was ace). In the kitchen, whilst cooking his tea, G let out a small fart, and looked at me in a challenging way. "Aren't you going to say "excuse me"?" "Curtis never does."

7) Eurovision. The annual battle of wills. I say I won't watch it ever year. It's truly dreadful. But then I click on, just for a minute, and end up watching to the end. Poor old England. Poor old us. Last position. Again. Poor old us.

8) Sunday lunchtime on a bank holiday weekend is, surely, the most luxurious time in the world. I met with some friends for lunch at a pub in Wimbledon to watch the football, have a drink and enjoy a long lunch. One thing lead to another. And I got home at 11pm. Pah well. It's a long weekend. What's a girl to do?

9) So I had a slow start to today. A nice big stodgy breakfast and a long chat with my mother on the blower. And then a nice walk to The Rookery, a secret (not very secret) garden at the top of Streatham Common with a friend, before retiring to the pub and setting the world to rights. I'm sure that Bank Holidays are meant to be about more wholesome pursuits than quenching a hangover with Merlot, but it works for me.

10) And now, as I type this, I watch Glee. I know it's trashy, and teeny, and all, but it's becoming my dirty little secret. Why was there no Glee club when I was at school? Bugger that! Why isn't there a Glee club in Tooting now?! Perhaps it can be my new project.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Time Flies

This afternoon, sitting on the top deck of the number 57 bus, and gawping at the view, I realised that I was inadvertently tuning into the conversation of someone sitting a few rows behind me.

You know the type. They are typically not very interesting, but talk in a loud voice about things that they presumably think make them sound profound, interesting, clever, and possibly even attractive. This boy's conversation did none of the above for him. Shame.

He was saying to the poor suckers he was talking at, "it's, like, totally amazing, ain't it? Like, two years ago we were leaving school and stuff and now everyone's, like 18 and that, and everyone's getting, like, drunk all the time, and it's wicked and it's, like, amazing that it's two whole years already, ain't it?" This theme went on for about twenty minutes without pausing long enough for his audience to comment on whether it was, like, amazing or not. And all that time I wanted to walk to the back of the bus and shake him.

I didn't want to shake him because he was irritating (although he was) but because he had no idea that two years in is nothing to how, like, amazing it gets.

Two measly years! Two years during which time most of them will have been in some form of higher education anyway, to numb the effect of entering the real world. Pah!

It's almost fifteen years since I left school. Now that IS amazing. Amazing to me, anyway, since it really seems like it could have been just a couple of (admittedly busy) years ago. I can remember elements of my school with such very vivid clarity that it's a surprise to me each time I remember that I've been out of school for longer than I was at school now.

I met up recently with a girl I was at school with between the ages of 13 and 18, who I haven't seen for at least three years, and we were still making the same jokes as we were when we were 17. In many ways, it was like not time had passed.

But time has passed. Things have moved on. If Matey-boy on the bus is alarmed at how things change between the ages of 16 and 18, he's going to get quite light headed with what happens between the ages of 30 and 33. In those intervening years between us, we have celebrated three wedding anniversaries, had two children, rented two flats, sold one house and bought two new ones, held four jobs, been on countless first dates, had one grim medical diagnosis, and reduced our working weeks to an average of 3.5 days. And those are just the main headlines. Heavens knows what happened that we failed to mention to one another.

Seeing people like this has a profound effect on me. I come away feeling positive about the good news, sad about the bad news, warm and fuzzy and the friendliness of it all, and mildly depressed at the list of news I didn't have; the husbands and children that I can't talk about.

So THAT is why I wanted to shake this dumb-ass 18 year old. I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and tell him to stop banging on about how amazing it is that stuff is happening to other people, and to get on with doing some stuff himself. I wanted to smack his loud-mouthed chops and tell him to stop being wowed by the fact that his newly-of-age friends are able to get drunk and take note of the fact that RIGHT NOW they are meeting people who they might or might not marry, and might or might not have children with, but who will, without question, be significant in their respective life stories. I wanted to tell him to take decisions seriously, because you don't get the chance to make a lot of them a second time. I wanted to tell him that he should never regret doing something, he should only regret not doing it, and that no-one ever had a better life by saying no to new things. I wanted to tell him to look at how he feels now about the last two years and multiply that by twenty and think how he'll feel about this time when he's cruising towards his retirement.

But most of all, I wanted to tell him that hearing his too-loud conversation had made me realise that I should do all of these things myself, and see if, in three years time, when I run into an old friend, I feel more like my achievements make me proud.

As Ferris Buellar says, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Monday, 24 May 2010

How to be hot

It always strikes me as funny, in these first few days of a new season, that everyone forgets what to do with the new clime.

Today, inevitably, the temperature in the office started creeping up until, around mid morning, it was decidedly sticky. "I'm so hot I can't think," moaned one of the partners. "I don't know what to do with myself. I need to do something to cool down." There was a pause. We all looked at him, waiting to see what he was going to do. He looked at his watch and said, "oh look! Time for elevenses. I'll put the kettle on! Tea all 'round?"

An hour later, it was hotter. We all slouched at our desks fanning ourselves with property journals and leases. (Well ... they have to be useful for something!) Having not yet done a full 12 months in our office, I still find, from time to time, that I don't know where things are, but I assume my longer serving colleagues do. I caught the eye of one, and wondered whether we ought to dip into petty cash to buy some fans. "Oh, we've got loads of fans," he said, hopping from his seat and darting around the office pulling desk fans from cupboards and drawers that I didn't even knew existed. When five fans were propelling a clammy breeze wafted through the office, he pottered back to his desk explaining that he'd forgotten that we had the means of cooling down.

People's general attire is also a bit wonky still. I went for a short walk at lunchtime, and spent my time gawping (perhaps in an indiscreet manner) at people's clothes, and realised that I wasn't the only person to wake up this morning and realise that I couldn't remember what to wear on a hot day at work. People in the queue ahead of me at the sandwich bar distractedly tugged at the hems of skirts too short for non-tight-wearing legs, and hot feet were slipped out of heavy shoes. Men, used to putting on their suit jackets to leave the office, fidgeted awkwardly, not yet used to the more causal dress code which we can enjoy for the next few months. Summer skirts and winter jackets, floral frocks and big boots, or ... worst of all sins ... open toed shoes and tights! AAAGGGHHH!

No-one seems quite comfortable enough to fully embrace the summer yet. But this afternoon, as I cast my eyes around an office of people all sitting at their desks devouring ice-lollies, I got the feeling that it wouldn't take us long to get the hang of things.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

This Weekend (8) ...

It. Has. Been. Glorious!
I have basically fallen from food to sun to food in sun to food and sun, so this post might get a bit samey.

1) Thursday was a write off. The Boss turned 60 last week, so we went for lunch to celebrate, and that was really the end of the day. It was good to all let our hair down together, in the knowledge that the only people expecting us to go back to the office were also letting their hair down. Everyone around the table had a story about drunkenness turned bad. One involved naked sleepwalking in a hotel. Another involved sitting on a lumpy sofa at a new girlfriend's house, only to discover that he was actually sitting on the (now deceased) family cat.

2) Friday morning dawned bright and sunny, and my mood with it. I had a tentative plan for coffee with a girlfriend which didn't materialise, but being as I'd made an effort to wear clothes that were not just clean, but also fitted (a rare treat) I took myself to a favourite cafe for brunch, with a good book and no mobile phone, and only felt slightly guilty that I wasn't doing something more productive.

3) On Friday night I had some girlfriends around for a curry and a gossip. Living here has given me the chance to meet some fabulous ladies and make some great friends. As the fabulous Amelia observes, we're turning into a right little local gang! (By the way, you can sign up for her next experimental art e-course here) All was going well until a friend of hers popped around as we finished dinner to collect something from her, stayed for a quick drink, and left at 4am, by which time the wheels had well and truely fallen off. Of deary me!!

4) So if goes without saying that Saturday started slowly. Plans to go to the local school boot fair and plant sale went to pot, whilst I wallowed, hungover, in my pit and felt sorry for myself. A cocktail of nurofen, Twinings detox tea, and two more hours sleep was enough to prize me out of bed and into the shower, which in turn was enough to get me into the kitchen and making a jug of coffee, and after about a litre of that, I was able to face the day.

5) By that point, I'd pretty much decided that the best way to spend the day was to sit in the garden with a book and a bottle of diet coke, so that's exactly what I did. I didn't make the jewellery that I was meant to make, or clean my car, or put away my winter clothes, or paint the dining room furniture, or write to my friend or anything. I just sat. And read. And sunned. And enjoyed it.

6) Lovely Sophie and Lovely Steve (a lovely couple) invited me and three lovely friends around for dinner on Saturday. It was, as you might glean, lovely. We sat in their garden, eating barbecue and the salads that Jules and Lewis had brought, then the Eton mess that I took, and drank the pink prosecco that Matthew took (well ... I drank more coke ...) and nattered the night away.

7) With an existing arrangement to see my oldest friend in the world for lunch today, on impulse I sent a message to another old friend from our gang to see if he'd like to join us. Ten minutes later he called to say that he was on his way. I was still in my pyjamas, eating my breakfast, and got ready at break-neck speeds!

8) Sitting in the garden with Andy, reading the papers, and waiting for Angela to join us, we chatted about mutual friends, plans for forthcoming social engagements, and sometimes, nothing at all.

9) And later, with Angela, we sat around talking about her newly announced pregnancy, the terrible terrible names some people give their babies, new houses, knitting patterns and the market for maternity bridesmaid dresses. And sometimes we talked about nothing at all.

10) So now, here we are again, at Sunday evening. Slow, easy films on the telly, a warm breeze chasing through the house from the open lounge window to the open kitchen door,and a cup of tea by my side. And now ... to bed. G'night.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The Totally Tropical Taste

My Great Aunt Marjorie, a wise, and very Welsh woman, once observed that she really liked the seasons. Just as you get bored of one, the next one comes along, and it makes life interesting. She also believes in the Billy Connolly principle that there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong sort of clothes.

Did I say wise? Sorry. I meant to say that she's a wraig yn wyllt (a batty lady). No such thing as bad weather?! She lives in Wales for crying out loud! It starts raining as you roll off the Severn Bridge, and doesn't let up. How green is my valley? Pretty fricking green, given the rate of annual rainfall! No, no, no. G.A.M. and I do NOT have the same views on seasons!

Winter, to me, is like purgatory. One depressingly short, dark, gloomy, cold, wet, icy, day after another. From November to February each year my life revolves around glamorous combinations of chunky knit cardigans, fleecy lined slippers, thermal socks, scarves and chilblains. I hate it. It makes me extremely grumpy. I believe most seriously that hibernation would be a good option. Just imagine leaving work on 31st October, saying, "see you in March then folks!" then going home to dig up your nuts (!) and snuggle under the 13 tog for four months. Bliss. I really don't see many flaws with this plan.

The summer though? The summer, I love. Just knowing that it's summer makes me happier and feel more optimistic about life, the universe and everything.

I love having the windows thrown open around the house, and being able to hear the day outside. Being woken by the sound of weekend DIY and gardening, and children playing on the street is a great thing. And the other sounds of summer - the sound of the radio playing in the kitchen three doors along, and the occasional strain floating over the fence (currently, "a Whiter Shade of Pale,"), the chatter of birds singing, the gentle ssshhhhhhh of the wind in the willow tree in the school yard behind my house all make up for a beautifully warm sound. Not to mention the unmistakable, and extremely English sound of the ice-cream van tinkling it's way around neighbouring streets.

And doesn't the summer taste nice? Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, nom, nom, nom. Rose wine and Pimms. Ice lollies and the mysteriously named 99's. Asparagus and corn on the cob. I'm going for dinner this evening with friends. They are supplying the barbecue, and am supplying the pudding - an obscene bowl of Eton Mess which I keep dunking my finger (ok ... a spoon) in to make sure the mix is right.

Everything, in fact, is a sensory adventure. The dibble-inducing smell of next-door-but-one's lunchtime barbecue was almost too much. The sticky smell of sun lotion on warm skin, and the boiled sweets left in the car too long. Delicious! The feeling of lying between sheets that have been line dried is divine. The way the sun shines through leaves on a tree is a finer spectacle than any stained glass window.

So I'm writing this now sitting at the table at the end of my garden, listening to my neighbours music and chat, and the thud, thud of the kid next door kicking his ball against the wall. I'm gazing at the sky and wondering if I could get a dress made in that particular, almost pearlescent shade of blue, and I'm distracted by the arcing swoops of a lone swallow, loop-the-looping over the houses. In a second, before I get ready to go out, I'll water the garden, and the air will be filled for a while with the sweet smell of dry-damp earth.

And the best thing? Tomorrow I get to do it all again. I'm in heaven!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Sssshhhhh ...

You remember that I was having a German houseguest?

And you remember that I was a little nervous about it?

I am, by nature, a solitary creature. I wallow in being a bit antisocial. The whole German-stranger-in-the-house-for-two-weeks thing was a terrible mistake.

Anyway, she has been, and stayed, and now has left and gone home.

For two weeks, there has been someone here when I've got home in the evening, and someone asleep in the next room when I've woken up in the morning. For two weeks, I've tiptoed out in the mornings, and rushed home in the evenings. For two weeks someone has been eating out of my fridge and using my shampoo. For two weeks, the TV has hardly been switched on to make room instead for language non-specific music. For two weeks two phones, two laptops have jostled for time at the charger, and two people have jostled for time in the bathroom.

For two weeks, a person in my house with limited language skills has asked me to explain what words mean. Really. Try explaining "congestion" without saying, "it's when something's congested." It's tricky. Try explaining what the word, "tainted" (context: Tainted Love by Soft Cell) means. And the meaning of the phrase, "Bob's your uncle," was lost entirely.

And another thing. How do you describe Marmite? Or crumpets? Or The Proms? Or bonfire night? How do you explain why Gordon Brown does that thing with his mouth when he talks? Or why the Duke of Norfolk lives in Sussex and the Duke of Westminster lives in Cheshire?

All things considered, I have been looking forward to tonight, and to having my home back, my telly on, my phone charging, my choice of words unquestioned, and to being able to go to the loo with the door open (as is my wont). Don't get me wrong - she's a sweet girl and all, but she has been a sweet girl living in my house. A cockoo in my nest, if you will. And it has vexed me to have to compromise my life and my routine and my antisocial selfish ways for her.

So tell me, then, why does the house seem so very empty tonight? Why is it that the silence of the house is screaming at me? And why do the rooms seem so big? And why am I still locking the bathroom door?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

This Weekend (7) ...

I feel a little like I've just bowled from one "This Weekend" to another this week, such has been the franticness (franticity? Francosity?) of the week. Still, here we are again ...

1) A rare thing. A Thursday night with no quiz. Calamity!! But it means that I can accept a request from the lovely Amelia to babysit for her little boy for a couple of hours. I collect him from a mutual friend's house, where he and her husband are perched on the sofa, wrapped in a game of Super Mario. Unable to distract either of them, I settle in the armchair to wait, and realise after a while that I'm equally absorbed. "Try spin jumping on that box," I suggest, and realise that I've become one of them!

2) Having wrestled Small Boy away from the Wii controls, and home, I successfully cajole him into his pyjamas and then into bed. When his mother gets home, we are snuggled in bed together whilst he reads me a story about talking crocodiles. I'm not sure who's more surprised by the scene of calm - her or me!

3) After a good gossip with Amelia (we specialise, when together, at setting the world to rights in record time), I run home to meet gorgeous Gillian to talk over a new crafting project that she's got in mind for us. A quick yak-yak-yak, and we settle to the job in hand, and quickly agree a rough format, some early promotional activities, and points of action. (Nothing more on this for now, but watch this space!) How lovely to work on a project with someone of the same no-nonsense attitude as me!

4) Last week was a fairly busy one, and made more tiring by having started the week on a terrible Sunday night's sleep. Normally Friday mornings have a strict getting-up time, but this weekend I treat myself to a lie in. What luxury to wake up after normal work start time, and be able to dig down under the duvet for an extra mini-doze. When I finally haul myself out of bed I feel fully rested for the first time in a week. Bliss!

5) After a quick breakfast with a friend and her husband, we discover that we all need a trip to the local DIY and garden centre, so I offer them a lift. My car, a Figaro, is technically a four seater, but the back seat is really little more than a shelf. The trip there is cosy. The trip home however is nothing short of farcical - three tall people, three sacks of compost, one large potted begonia, five empty plant pots, one pair of long-handled tree loppers, and assorted other goodies all get stacked, in strict order, in my tiny car, to the huge amusement of others in the car park.

6) As soon as I'm home, I pull on my mucky old jeans and a floppy t-shirt, and hit the garden. With the radio on, the time flies, and weeding seems like no kind of chore before the more interesting digging, potting, planting starts. I now have four tomato plants, two pepper, five beans and four strawberries in pots and beds, ready to be coaxed into baring fruit. Plans for fruit trees and raspberry canes next year abound! Has anyone ever been truly self sufficient from a terrace house garden, I wonder? Would a couple of chickens be a bridge too far?

7) Early Saturday morning I head south for a weekend with fab friends in Arundel. Last week was my dearest friend's birthday, so a trip has long been on the cards. It's a familiar journey on a route that the car can almost do for itself, and it strikes me on the way that going to visit them is almost as much like coming home as going to my own family's home.

8) The planned birthday celebration is a trip to the Drive In. Yes ... you read correctly. Plumpton Racecourse, for one night only, is turned into the All American drive in, with a showing of Grease being the main attraction. Five girls pack into the car to watch a film that we've seen 100 times before, and we chat amiably as we watch. Once in a while someone sings a few bars, or comments on fashions, or the fact that a school of 17 year olds all look around our age. After a time, H. observes, "this is definitely the most random thing I've ever done." All parties agree.

9) For the first time in all my trips to West Sussex, this morning we head for Arundel Castle. My friend's husband explains, "these days, the family only live in that wing," indicating a building which my whole house would comfortably fit inside about thirty times over. "They had to scale down," he says, with no hint of humour. We speculate on whether we could cope with a life living in a castle ourselves, and whether we can recreate the image of the dining hall in our own dining rooms. The idea of this building having been a home for nearly 1000 years is wonderfully overwhelming.

10) The first open meeting for this year's Wandsworth Artist's Open House took place this evening, largely to drum up support and participants, but also to gauge feeling about more promotion of local events this year. Three new attendees got the buzz going - how lovely to have found new people in our wee community to take part in such a lovely event (and selfishly, how lovely to have found three new potential friends!) and enthusiasm for this year's even abounds. I've found myself wondering this evening how to tone down the enthusiasm for a couple of weeks yet (the event isn't until October) but also that having too many ideas is a fairly lovely problem to have!

Monday, 10 May 2010

There's good news, and there's bad news

The good news first, of course.

I have a new computer! Hoorah! I'm typing on it now. What do you think? Smart, isn't it?

I have treated myself to a lovely wee HP Mini. The Nice Man in John Lewis asked me if I'd like it in Gordon Brown red or David Cameron blue. Then he told me that they were out of red so I'd have to have blue. We both sniggered at the symbolism.

The bad news, however, is that nothing much happened today, so I don't really have anything to blog about. You'll just have to be happy at the arrival of the mini-puter, and rest assured that normal service will be resumed.

This weekend (6) ...

It's been a wee while since I did a "this weekend" post. Partly the demise of the dino-puter, partly the fact that there has been one thing more interesting to write about than lots of small things together, and partly because I was paranoid about being stuck in a rut. But I've decided that I rather like the format, so I think that I'll pick it up again and flog it a while longer!

So. This weekend ...

1) Thursday night, as regular readers will know, is quiz night at The Furzedown, where Team Biscuit regularly attends, and often fares well. A new quirk in the scoring means that the gap between first and second is now often wider - the too-complicated-to-explain "risky round" rules making the difference between good luck and good judgement. This week we came second. My role ... very much making up the numbers!

2) After the quiz, back to the lovely Gillian's house to watch the election results come rolling in. I have been repeatedly angered in the run up to this election, not by the propaganda of the political parties, but by the mind tricks and bullying of the voting public. Friends and neighbours - people I'd have counted amongst the more open minded and free thinking people I know - have foisted their political views on the world around them with such belligerence that I have, on many occasions, had to hold my tongue in the face of ignorance, arrogance, and down right lying. I was brought up to believe that everyone was entitled to their own views on religion and politics, and yet to some, the definition of democracy seems to have been altered along the way to "do what you want, as long as you do it my way." Thankfully, the group clustered around BBC1 on the night of the 6th, and the morning of the 7th, was a cheerful and upbeat one. Political allegiances didn't come up in conversation, but comments like, "I think he's a bit creepy," and, "she shouldn't have worn that skirt," abounded.

3) After a veeeeery late night on Thursday, I had foolishly booked a 9am hair appointment for Friday. Yuk! But, on so little sleep, it was thoroughly lovely to be pampered by Crazy Martin. He knows the format now. He asks what I want, I shrug and grin at him, and he sets to with colours and foils and scissors, and creates something a bit different every time. I am now very short (and therefore straight) on one side, and longer and curly on the other, and am peppered with scarlet highlights. Ohh la la!! As I left, he called after me, "next time, we go blond!" and I laughed nervously.

4) My German (not Swiss, it transpires) houseguest is now here, and enjoying all that London has to offer. But on Friday evening, neither of us had the energy for a big night out, so we settled instead for dinner at one of my favourite restaurants. Tooting is possibly the most unlikely place on the planet for a good, authentic Japanese restaurant, but there it is. I've not had an excuse to go there for ages, and it was deeeeeeeelicious! Thoroughly stuffed with sushi, noodles, fried tofu, and chicken, we chatted about all sorts, and had a thoroughly lovely evening.

5) Saturday morning saw me leap (fall) out of bed bright and (hideously) early to head to my parent's place in Kent. A friend has given me a new route which I tried for the first time. Escaping the maze that is South London can be torture, but the new route avoids all the pinch points, and feels like a well kept secret as I head south-east, without getting snarled up once. A small pleasure, but somehow also a massive one!

6) First job on arrival ... get mother to the garage to pick up her New Car! Let me hear you say "Oooooooh!" She has been driving the same Corsa for nine years, and threatening to buy a new one for three. Two weeks ago it blew up on the dual carriageway and forced the issue. She is now the proud owner of a not-quite-new Polo, and is very much in love with it. Repeatedly over the weekend, she used phrases like, "I have to pop to the supermarket for a few things tomorrow ... in my New Car!" and, "what's that blue thing on the drive? Oh, it's my New Car!" I am extremely jealous, but any suggestion I made that I "borrow" it fell on deaf ears.

7) The weather all weekend is thoroughly dreadful. Cold, windy and rainy, as you might expect from a weekend in November. The heating went on, along with spare socks, cardigans, and the telly. My brother and his lovely girl were also visiting this weekend, and it was quite lovely to be limited by the weather to spending time with them, even if we were just loafing.

8) I popped to the corner shop to pick up a few things for Sunday lunch (in the New Car!) and found a sign above the eggs, supplied by a local farmer, declaring that they are all guaranteed double yolkers. "How do you know?" I asked the lady at the counter. "Beats me," she replies, "but he says they've never laid a single yolker yet." So I bought half a dozen and am looking forward to bright yellow scrambled eggs for my tea tomorrow.

9) One of the curses of the death of the dino-puter was that it was the home of my iTunes. I had thought that I would have to admit defeat and reload my music, album by album all over again. But a chance look on line found a fabulous programme designed to transfer music from iPod to computer, and my library is now right here, along with a few new additions. So I drove home from Kent singing, top volume, with my new Glee soundtrack, sometimes singing the lead, and sometimes the harmonies, but always, of course, picturing myself centre back in my own show-choir! When WILL I grow up!

10) So now here I am, in bed, writing a post. I don't know why I've never thought of this before. I thought that sitting in front of Swiss (German) Chick and typing up a lengthy post would be more than a little antisocial, so we chatted for an hour or so and I retired to bed. I'm doing this more often though - propped up in bed, cuppa tea at my side, snuggled under a duvet in my jarmas, this is, surely, the bestest place in the world to correspond! And now ... to sleep. G'night!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

100 Things

Lots of radio silence recently, for which I can only apologise.

My beloved old laptop (the dino-puter) has died a flamboyant death, in a torrent of virus'. 27 in total, the poor dear. So until I can get to John Lewis (other department stores do exist) to get a replacement, I will be limited to clandestine work time and weekend posting ops only.

With this in mind, I give you the following. Do stick with it. There's some corkers in there. My favourites are 37, 41, 78 (what a guy!) and, of course, 100.

1. More than 99
2. Less than 101
3. 10²
4. C, to the Romans
5. 1100100 in binary
6. Boiling point of water
7. Atomic number of fermium
8. Years in a century
9. Number of tiles in a scrabble set
10. Telephone number for the operator
11. Number of yards on an American Football field
12. Top marks!
13. Address of oldest live music club in London
14. Number of years in the Hundred Years War (give or take ...)
15. Centimeters in a meter
16. FTSE
17. Film, staring Mylene Dizon
18. Age of Bob Hope when he died
19. √ 10,000
20. Average IQ
21. Hecto
22. Sum of the first four cube numbers (1+8+27+64)
23. Sum of the first ten odd numbers (1+3+5+7+9+11+13+15+17+19)
24. The year Pliny The Younger came to power
25. Number of Senators in the US Senate
26. Telephone number for the Police in Greece
27. Years of Solitude, by Garcia Marquez
28. ... Years Ago by the Rolling Stones
29. Haircut ...
30. The dollar bill with Jefferson on it
31. The road that goes over Tower Bridge
32. The size of the biggest Bank of England note in circulation (but only in Scotland)
33. The number of runs in a century in cricket
34. The number of jiffies in a second
35. "I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times the conclusions is false. The 100th time I am right." Albert Einstein
36. Number of zeros in a googol
37. Amount, in pounds, paid to Tony Hart for designing the boat design on the Blue Peter badge.
38. Speed that a sneeze travels out of the nose
39. The number of pairs of shoes that I own (roughly)
40. The distance a wolf covers in a day, in miles
41. The number of people who choke on a ball point pen in America every year
42. Ikhulu in Zulu
43. A ton in cockney rhyming slang
44. One less than there are red balloons
45. Dear Jane's debut album
46. The sum of the first nine prime numbers (2+3+5+7+11+13+17+19+23)
47. An octadecagonal number
48. Number of pounds in a hundredweight
49. Pennies in a pound, cents in a dollar, cents in a Euro, etc
50. The number of years from now that the Byrds sang about
51. Miles per hour = speeding ticket
52. Bus route from Elephant and Castle to Shadwell
53. Cheapest beach holiday currently listed on Expedia
54. Distance from my house to Bristol
55. Cost of a Picasso in dollars (and in millions)
56. An area of land big enough to sustain 100 families
57. The number of surnames which 85% of Chinese people have
58. 1/5 the distance that the Proclaimers would walk
59. The number of fingers and toes in my family
60. Sexual acts performed each day worldwide (in millions)
61. Times a human heart beats in a minute and a half
62. Different vocal sounds that a cat can make
63. Take offs and landings at Heathrow in two hours
64. Passengers through Clapham Junction train station every three minutes
65. Years since George V came to the thrown
66. The number of men for every 102 women in Canada
67. Hours spent online to compile this list
68. The sum of two prime numbers (47+53)
69. Men diagnosed with breast cancer each year
70. Home of Winnie the Pooh
71. Very bright light!
72. Blood vessels in the back of your hand
73. The distance (in feet) that a squirrel can fall without hurting itself
74. Breeds of cats
75. Languages spoken in Canada
76. Calories in a teaspoon of peanut butter
77. Number of times lightening strikes the Earth per second
78. The distance Larry Lewis ran in 17.8 seconds in 1969. Aged 101!
79. The distance Usain Bolt ran in 9.69 seconds in 2008. Aged 22!
80. Years that Sleeping Beauty slept for
81. Years that Rip Van Winkle slept for
82. Pounds (in millions) of coffee bought by Starbucks each year
83. Average weight of a hippo (in pounds) at birth
84. Live tarantulas in Raiders of the Lost Ark
85. Length (in feet) of the longest car ever made
86. Bottles of beer on the wall
87. Section in the library containing books on philosophy and psychology
88. Speed that lava flows out of a volcano
89. Years to wait to see a agave plant flower
90. Record for the most number of hoops hula'd in one go
91. Watts of electricity generated by a 2x4ft solar panel
92. Grams of water to dissolve 37g salt
93. Feral cats recently found to be living in Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland
94. 100 birds = good feng shui
95. Years since the death of Mark Twain
96. Number of times I've heard someone say "hung parliament" so far today
98. Cost of The Angel Islington in Monopoly
99. The number of facts on this list
100. The number of posts that I've now written