Saturday, 18 September 2010


So many serious, long posts recently. I think it's because I can't just BUY stuff any more and must instead allow my brain to gnaw at the bald patches in my fur, in the immortal words of Antonia.

So. Light and fluffy. Conveniently, I went to London yesterday, to stare like a halfwit at the bright, shiny things. This was not the purpose of my visit as declared to HM Immigration, obviously, but the work thing I went for lasted all of 40 minutes so I was able to do a good amount of halfwit staring.

Halfwit staring conclusions:

1. Camden has not changed at all in fifteen years, has it? Probably longer, but that's the last time I used to go there regularly (to Sainsburys. Not to the market. The last time I went THERE regularly I was fourteen). Does it have some kind of English Heritage preservation order on it which means that the drug dealers and punks are paid a stipend to lurk around the tube station providing edgy local colour? Christ, it's ugly. I have no issue with the wider borough, just, you know, the High Street. Ick.

2. Liberty's peerlessly beautiful underwear room has been shrunken to about 6 shelves of Princesse Tam Tam and Stella McCartney, neither of whom has much truck with a DD. I am saddened. Not only was this the site of one of my favourite 'sleb spots - Piers Morgan ostentatiously buying saucy women's underpinnings and looking tremendously pleased about it - but it had some really really beautiful stuff and large comfortable changing rooms with lovely wallpaper. Now, half of that side room is taken up by those severe Japanese shroud garments with massive sleeves made of boiled felt, favoured by contemporary gallery owners and people who teach at Goldsmiths. The Japanese assymetric shroud market is apparently recession proof. There's gold in them there Cork Street contemporary art galleries!

3. I had to buy the new Kate Atkinson. "Had". The staff of Foyles were not holding a gun to my head. Their tiny weak girlish wrists would not be very good at that. But I was, nevertheless compelled to. This will be filed under "reasons why my economy drive continues to suck". A hardback, no less. Fie, fie.

4. These Gap Modern Bootleg things. I think they might be massively unflattering. Obviously I can't have thought that when I got them, but I think there was a colossal error of judgment at work. The material has a whiff of the drip-dry polycotton about it. They aren't quite occupational therapist's work trouser material, like some of the other new Gap black trousers, but they are definitely suspect. The shape is .. ok. I suppose. I seem to have got out of the habit of trousers, or perhaps more accurately, I am not the convenient trouser shape I once was. I'm actually fairly scrawny at the moment - the nervous vomiting thing is making sure of it - but I'm just the wrong shape. Anyway, my Gap Modern Bootlegs compound their various crimes by having a defective fly. Which is always nice, particularly as you saunter around your neighbourhood greeting acquaintances and trying to look put together and on top of things, as opposed to crushed by the weight of things and put out with the bin bags (a look I master effortlessly), then realise that you are showing them your (cheap, greying) pants. No-one needs to see my pants. Full stop. Especially now that both Liberty's underwear department and my bank balance are shadows of their former self.

So I came back from London with Kate Atkinson, a pile of cheap chocolate and two rather charming wind up bats from M&S, had a lucky escape with a taxi driver whose mastery of the rules of the road and sense of direction was worse even than mine, and today we have done nothing, but nothing. All slightly under the weather, and after some pretty ferociously bad behaviour mid-week from all three of us, we have rentrenched and spent the day eating toast and chocolate mini rolls and largely ignoring each other. Lashes has watched endless Japanese tv ("this is the BEST day of my LIFE" he said histrionically at about 6 this evening, from under a duvet on the sofa, blank eyed cartoon characters bellowing at him, legs crossed and a bottle of cheap orange squash held in one limp, exhausted, hand. He looks like I imagine Lytton Strachey would have looked if he had been born in 2002 with an inordinate fondness for Pokémon; a bit fey, and disapproving). I fell asleep on Fingers's bed whilst trying to build some Lego monstrosity after one of those mildly OCD fits of trying to rationalise the toys ('No! The Hot Wheels go in the BLUE box!', as all around me red bills and crumpled clothes collect in drifting heaps, and the pervasive smell of drains is not remotely masked with cheap belgo-air freshener. Priorities, see). Fingers wore no pants and spent most of the day in the bath or tormenting the dog.

It was brilliant and we now feel a warm glow of affection towards each other, even going so far as to manage a walk to the park this evening without moaning, violence, or recriminations. But where do we go from here? I fear the future may consist of us all wandering round the house in varying states of undress (me displaying my pants through my defective Gap flies to the horror of the neighbours), eating processed crap straight from the packet with our filthy claws and communicating only in a series of grunts, interspersed with gestures of wordless aggression when our territory is invaded. The Pope would be delighted.


Lisa-Marie said...

'Started Early, Took my Dog' is utterly brilliant. My nice in-laws got me it for my birthday, which is rare as I have so many books that people never buy me them!

I imagine Lashes Pokemon-athon is like if i was able to watch Come Dine with Me all day, so I understand the exhaustion.

I went to the park with the children I look after on Friday. Anna, age 2 was wearing trousers, odd socks, a fairy dress,a blue jumper and a pink with fluffy white edge chinese style gilet thing, because that's what she chose. You have to give in sometimes I think!

Betty M said...

Ooh more Jackson Brodie, excellent. He is one of the more appealing detective types. I hadn't realized there was another one of hers out.

You are right about Camden High Street. It's vile and has been for at least 20 years. I can't think of a single reason to go unless you are on the way to the zoo.

The contemporary art shroud women are also keeping the big jewelled brooch market alive. A shroud is incomplete without one.

jonathan said...

For Belgium's sake I hope the Vatican hierarchy aren't reading. otherwise I daresay the Popemobile will be trundled aboard the next ferry to Antwerp in a high state of dudgeon. The Spanish Inquisition seems to get a bad press nowadays but at least they knew how to produce and instrument of torture with a properly functioning zip. We're all going to hell in a handbasket, I tell you.

Laurel said...

Maybe this is just to excuse all too much of my behavior, but I feel there is something to be said for those regressive days of television, processed food, lack of effort and, as we Americans would say, vegging. It is recuperative.

Your description of the graying pants displayed through the flies made me giggle. For me it's discovering the holes wearing through the thighs of my shabby at-home pants. Nothing quite like exposing your pasty unshaven lumpy flesh, via windows in your unraveling sweats. Nice.

Alison Cross said...

Not read this KA book yet, but have loved, LOVED her other work - so it's a given that I'll be buying it.

Lashes and Sonshine could be the same child. Same addiction to useless bits of plastic made in the Republic of China :-)

The best day of Sonshine's life was when we went to the Lego shop at Legoland and he had to go outside for some air because he'd never seen as much lego in the one place 'in my WHOLE life.'

He was 8.

Ali xxxx

Etet said...

Just some stupid practical stuff: Have you ever tried pouring huge amounts of boiling hot water in all (!) the drains and tubs (not the toilets, though)? We had the same smelly problem… and no money to call the plumber. Yet after running through the house with huge pots of boiling hot water (min. 15l per drain) for hours and hours …it slowly became better. We repeated twice, I think, within some weeks.
Problem solved. Or at least: problem isn´t smelly any more.

katyboo1 said...

the fact that the gap model's legs perambulate about the page without her top half is vaguely unnerving and reminds me of Harry Potter films. Hmmmm.

I got given a huge box of lego to review yesterday. It has taken Jason and Tilly six hours to make a quad bike and half a car's innards. I think it is torture.

Bermondsey mum said...

Okay, as someone who is guilty of exactly the same thing herself, I am hardly in a position to give advice...but on the other hand your site traffic I suspect is a lot better than mine. What I am trying to say is for BW's sake, get Amazon to pay for plugs like the KA; monetise your blog or whatever the jargon is. Now!

Invader_Stu said...

It's a little known fact that Camden is actually stuck in a time warp. It is permanently 1981.

Last time I was there they had rebuilt a lot of the market though.

Anonymous said...

I really love your writing, every single post is a treasure.

Bryony said...

Jackson Brodie coming to TV next year - do hope it lives up to expectations.

Haven't been to Camden Mkt in years but my 14 year old is planning his first trip...

Loving your writing as ever Bx

Grit said...

i cannot help but think you are a natural born home educator, mme jaywalker, what with the lego and pants.

btw, i often find curious and inexplicable shadows here. i worked on the top floor of liberty's regent st in the early 1980s when the office space was rented out. oh happy memories. mostly of someone throwing a computer the size of a small wardrobe through the windows.

and camden. where we bought a wine cage. things like that used to make sense.

Xtreme English said...

I've never heard of Kate Atkinson....well, before I read your post, that is. Next time I clean my friend's apartment, I'll speed off to the bookstore and grab a copy--if they are so adventurous as to carry british fiction these days. The Kindle is burning up everything.

Also, what in eff does the Pope have to do with your post? or with anything? gack...everywhere you look, you see his beady little eyes under that stupid white hat. guess there's a new Vatican Bank scandal! and the teenaged reporters think this is something new!

Anyway, I love your writing. Why aren't YOU writing novels?? or I suppose you do. Get with it! You have that wonderful British humor we crave over here in the colonies... You could write about just about anything, and it'd be worth reading.

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Unknown said...

What i was reading? Something about Belgium or a dogs perspective?

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