Thursday, July 28, 2005

home from home
There's something about travel that focuses the mind on home, the home that the heart craves and the mind peacespieces together from a complex geography of experiences. There's something about having your home town in trouble that makes you love it all the more and feel the need to be there. What's the word for that feeling, the kissing cousin of patriotism? And yet, home is something I carry with me, a quilt stitched of peculiarities: the smell of Arcadia in the heat, the taste of patates and horta eaten in Koutouki (little shack) surrounded by drunk artists and failed revolutionaries, O'Malley's coffee shop, Seven Dials, Culver cliff and the undercliff...and Northampton. I love it here - it's my fourth visit to this little town and I've met so many wonderful people, had so many great nights filled with beautiful conversations. Since TA and I are in the process of attempting to buy a home of our own my mind is a magpie, all that glitters invitingly gets added to the memory hoard. Love adds its patina to seemingly inconsequential details - a pewter-framed mirror once seen in a Nafplio shop, the label saved from a bottle of hot sauce, the quilt I have yet to sew. My mismatched nest continues to take form around me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

in the style of jonny b
I pack my bags! I get an executive car to the airport! I get on a plane! I get an upgrade! I get a transfer! I arrive...I am in America! I am a surprise birthday present!
That's enough of that, I'm not witty enough to maintain the style and there are no moles here to bash.
So, next week I have a work event that means I need to be in Portland, Oregon. After some connivance and much plotting, I managed to get a cheap, cheap stopover in Northampton, Mass and I'm here for just over a week staying with my very, very dear friends P&K. So long housemates, so long cares and woes. Hello fine dining, long conversations and blissful relaxation. Wonderful!
P and I managed, just, to keep the secret and K was surprised and dumbfounded when I popped up in the airport coming in from Philly (ghastly airport, never again)- hiding behind a sign that, somewhat oddly was discovered to say, SURRISE! (I was very tired when I made it). Much screaming and squealling ensued, mission accomplished.
I'm having an absolutely glorious time and probably won't be blogging much for the next week or so.

Friday, July 22, 2005

lights out!
This blog is going dark, as they call it in the theatre, for a day or two. No need to worry, matinees and my regular schedule of performances will return soon. I would tell you why, but keeping you on the edge of your seat with anticipation is so much more fun. I'm always at home to Mr Comments Box though, so feel free to pop behind the curtain and pull a funny face. Think of it as post-modern performance art, I always do. Apologies for the slightly arch tone, I've been drinking coffee and am currently more wired than a failed suicide bomber.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

news reports are confused, but...
They missed me, again.
choose your own headline
When I was small I remember quite clearly that if I went to bed feeling angry, weepy or miserable sleep would miraculously erase the upset. Even as a teenager if I slept on it everything would be better in the morning, or at least minimised. So it's come as quite a shock to discover that the sleep fairies who sprinkle the stardust of happiness and equilibrium no longer visit me before I wake. The last few nights I’ve gone to bed feeling stressed, frantic and on the brink of disaster and, in the few seconds it takes to go from somnolence to consciousness, this heavy weight of despair returns to settle back on my shoulders – I try to wear it well, like a mink stole, but it really isn’t a look I enjoy.
Why the anxiety and aggravation? I’m ashamed to admit that I have the deepest pit of resentment (mixed metaphor alert) and it’s bubbling away like magma. [As an aside, I used to be engaged to someone whose mother was nicknamed Vesuvius by the neighbours. She was certainly formidable!] Anyway, I have to keep a lid on this resentment; I can’t direct it at anyone because I don’t want to roast my nearest and dearest; I can’t get it to seep away or dissipate because every day something happens to turn up the heat and pressure a notch...
I’m in trouble because I have to do something before I blow my top and hurt innocent bystanders. TA can see the smoke and feel the tremors; I’m surprised he’s not running scared. I’m running scared, but I can’t escape myself and I can’t escape the situation, although I’d dearly love to.
I have guilty fantasies – I never met TA, I continued to save money and now I’m buying my first flat alone, no one else to please, career girl, no need to beg and borrow from my parents, I’m independent, I’m free to do whatever I please. I have out-of-control arguments with ‘those to blame’ in my head saying the things that I’ll never be allowed to say and think I’m not really allowed to feel, vindictive and evil bile spews out of my silent mouth, while in my sleep my teeth grind. “You have utterly screwed us, you told us that this would work – you said you’d only practice during the day, you said you’d clean up, you said we’re all adults and perfectly capable of buying toilet rolls, you didn’t warn us that your boyfriend is a vacant, vain popinjay and that you’d continually be on and off again, you didn’t tell us that the three of you have never really grown up - and it clearly hasn’t worked and now you’re making our home life unstable and treacherous. And that’s a betrayal, a bitter one since TA and I have done so much to try to help you. We gave you somewhere to stay, we fed you, I’ve even tried to help clothe you, we’ve given you money we can’t afford to try to help you, we’ve been patient and kind to you when frankly I wonder if a slap round the head and a repeated dunking wouldn’t have worked better.”
“And as for you, when are you going to get a job? One that pays money? How long am I supposed to be patient? I’m sick and tired of this. I’m sick and tired of carrying you, of being expected to carry your relatives too, of having to consult you on every decision – especially when you drag your feet. I’ve invested so much in you and now I want to see some dividends. It’s payback time.”
“You. I blame you, and you and you and especially you for getting me into this mess. This mess I can’t see a way out of. And I’m angry and you’re all going to suffer the wrath. And then I’ll feel better and vindicated and I’ll leave you in my dust as I power off into the sunset that’s reserved for those of us who are righteous.”
This mink stole is heavy, stinks and marks me out as a pariah. I hate it and yet it’s the only thing that’s keeping me warm and it’s mine all mine, my secret, self-indulgent luxury. So I cling to it, breathe in the mouldy rank odour and wrap it round tight as I pull my shoulders up to my ears, grit my teeth and face the day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

it was all a dream
In the early hours of this morning, perhaps a short time before the sun rose, I had the most amazing dream. I dreamt that a man I work with – he’s the IT administrator, he’s a Glaswegian and a Sikh, a family man; I have no idea whether that has any bearing on the meaning of the dream – told me that I was out of balance. He then proceeded to rebalance me, it was an intimate and sensual experience and for me deeply erotic, although in the dream I knew that he was merely putting right an inbalance – his actions were not sexually motivated. He carefully oiled and manipulated my body to free trapped energy, there was talk of awaking my chakras and suddenly my chakras were awake – the burningly fierce heat spread right up my spinal column. The rebalancing process ended with him freeing trapped energy in my neck, oiling my hair and coiling it within a carefully wrapped turban. There was the knowledge that I had to protect my energies from external influence. I woke up briefly and marvelled at what an amazingly powerful feeling of bliss the dream had filled me with.
I need bliss and balance right now as another dream comes to a difficult end. TA and Housemate J spent hours talking last night. The reason the five of us are living at Palais Badger is that it was their dream that we could be one big, happy family, but now they both recognise that reality has intruded and it’s time to wake up. So, TA and I will be moving again soon, in September. It’d be easy to say that it’s not worked because J&D have broken up (can I make my JD on the rocks joke here?), but I think that this is just a catalyst for disbanding. Even if they were still together relationship break ups are hard enough without adding in extra guilt.
I wrote the above on Friday.
Today, things have moved on. I viewed a flat on Monday that I think might just be the Badger Sett we are aspiring to own. TA is going to view it tonight. I told Housemate J that we would be looking for somewhere but that we might not get everything sorted in time for the September deadline and if we don’t would they please cut us some slack – and this made her cry. Oh dear, I’m not very good at dealing with the thesps. Also, it appears that J&D are no longer on the rocks, but that D will still be moving out – at least temporarily – unless, that is, J gets the tour she’s been auditioning for, in which case he’ll stay and she’ll be away touring. I’m finding it hard to keep up.
Job search has been put on hold until home life has settled (sett-led?) down.
In other news, I have decided to put all diet/body image/eating disorder nubbins on a different site. If that posts on those subjects smoke your kippers then click here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Volunteer critics should check their e-mail. Sorry, no blog today I was too busy messing about with filters in PhotoShop at work - and it was client billable, what fun - and touching up my prose at home. The proto-novel has now been sent to the lion's den. Oh dear, what have I done? Where's the recall button?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

don’t mention the...
Yet another all-over-the-shop post I’m afraid. Despite my private resolution not to write any more about the terrorist attacks, I find that the subject intrudes upon my thoughts. Blame it on the fact that it sounded as though the Met were giving their Apocalypse Now fantasies full reign over Badger Palais last night. I found myself wondering this morning, as two nippy police boats powered up the Thames, if police recruitment would be easier in the next few months.
London may be “getting on with it”, but unfortunately things keep getting roped off. This morning it was difficult to tell if this was for security reasons (the IBM building), for normal construction purposes (piles of mysterious debris) or for no reason at all apart from amusement (one side of the Jubilee Bridge). Sometimes, like last night, that has an unintentionally beneficial effect. I thoroughly enjoyed my peaceful stroll home from work. Ordinarily, I avoid the grotty Waterloo Bridge (by walking down Fleet St and over the Millennium Bridge or walking through Embankment Gardens and over the Jubilee Bridge) but last night the police – on horses, natch – had helpfully pedestrianised it by roping off the Strand. It was glorious! The sun was shining, people wandered in the middle of the road, music from the “Watch this Space” area outside the National Theatre floated through the air. I could get used to this. (Here ends my Visit London spiel).
Yesterday morning we had an “all-hands meeting” at the PR agency. My feelings are so out of step with the rest of the team that what for them is reassuring and comforting makes my blood boil. Among general backslapping about what a great company this is and how well looked after we are, the senior leads and odious HR toad let us know that counselling is available should we feel traumatised. I vented my anger to TA last night. Talk about insulting those that actually have something to be traumatised about – none of us was hurt, none of us knows anyone who was hurt, none of us was even near any of the bomb sites. We are most definitely not traumatised; some misguided individuals seem to be getting high on vicarious grief, this should not be condoned or normalised. London, zone one, is small enough that everyone can claim a tenuous “I could have been there” connection, but that doesn’t mean we should.
Speaking of being well looked after, I realise that the PR agency is, on a small scale, what TA calls a gravy train. Although I am looking for a new job I will miss the perks of this one and perhaps that is why I’m not looking all that hard. The free fruit, the free chocolate and treats that I smuggle home for TA, the recently discovered magazine table, the option to work from home, the annual trips to the US – if only the work were remotely rewarding.
Once bitten, twice shy... and I have other posts to write, but would anyone like to read my novel-in-progress? Should I post it here? Any volunteer critics want me to e-mail it to them? (so far I've only got 5000 words so you wouldn't have to stay up all night reading) I think I could use some constructive feedback within a month or two before I go much further.

Monday, July 11, 2005

something for the weekend
I was sitting on a wooden bench at a tiny table. TA was facing me and in our hands we held cups of exquisite coffee. He was sketching. I was reading the newspaper - the arts review section. And then the jolt hit me like electricity; caffeine, immense love of every molecule of experience in that perfect moment, the beauty of the book review I was reading, TA’s smile, the excitement of the day’s possibilities. So we talked for a while and it was a good talk about sparking each others’ creativity (we don’t), about art and letters, about the day. I felt alive, vibrant, full of light.
We wandered the streets around Covent Garden, Seven Dials and Piccadilly and reminded ourselves how much we love London and why. Italian shoes, Japanese food and Korean anime – a ‘his and hers’ kind of itinerary. We bumped into Housemate D coming out of rehearsals and, later, into TA’s friend from Henson’s and his girlfriend. We stood in the road in Chinatown and talked work and visas and how the ground under your feet can give way at any point. Some people are so unlucky that even the last-resort wedding ring isn’t a lifesaver; I had assumed that the girlfriend had dual nationality, but although she’d grown up here she is 100 per cent Aussie, they both are. I had woken up that morning dreaming that I was on the tube holding TA’s hand, a dream fragment really. I told him and he said, ‘But we always hold hands on the tube.’
We held hands on the tube on Sunday as we hurried to the market and back home – I had to be back early so that I could prepare picnic foods. I caught his eye, a hand squeeze, a smile – he sparkled with amusement, I don’t know why.
Leaving TA at home, I met my friends on the grass in front of the Tate. Mexican beans, rice, tzatziki, tabouleh, Italian bread, strawberries and champagne cream in meringue nests, wine and pimms; English, Finnish, Africaans – a real spread. The sun shone its blessing on us.
The Tate is spun out of sugar, built on slavery really. Can dirty money ever be laundered clean? I love the Tate Modern. It is a castle of dreams, a powerhouse of ideas, a regenerator of the mind and the Frida Kahlo exhibition is a magnificent tour de force – a whirlwind of passion at the service of intellect. I loved every moment of it. I tried to inhale the visions. The colours, the power of the thoughts. Sugar rush.

Friday, July 08, 2005

the morning after
Pride, relief and business as usual. The tube is running, the buses are back - hats have to be doffed to the emergency services and the tube/bus staff. Above all, yesterday brought home how much I really love living here. An old Tory (racist, homophobic, heart of gold as long as you are English and middle class) relative asked me once, many years ago, what a nice country girl like me was doing living in London, my reply rambled but the bit I remember saying was - I love getting on the tube and seeing all the different colour faces, all those stories, all those lives in one place, going somewhere together. These days I nearly always walk, and today I'm stuck in the bedroom 'working from home', but I'd like to get on the tube today and then I'd like to take a number 30 bus to Hackney. And then, since it is business as usual, I think I'd like to go to the pub. As it is TA and I are going for drinks in Regent's Park to mourn the passing of Henson's London creature workshop with his ex-colleagues.
so. Tavistock Place, know it well, walked through it loads, it's just across the way from the old Badger Mansions. Kings Cross, used to live there. Edgware Road, used to work there. Aldgate East, yep used to live there too. Liverpool St, haven't been there for a while, but three years back I was there every day at rush hour. I'm at home now, just around the corner from London Bridge (where soon a very tall tower will be built). What can I say, I choose to live and work in zone one. Zone one where there are no buses today, zone one where there have been seven four explosions. Call it Blitz spirit, tired fatalism or a lack of imagination, but I can't summon the panic that some others seem to think the situation calls for. Here's what I did this morning. I arrived at work, someone sent e-mail telling us to check Sky News. There's been an explosion - power surge - at Liverpool St. I think "figures! What do you expect with the chronic level of under investment in the tube". Slowly, as the morning progesses it appears that these are bombs not a power surge. I sheepishly call TA, Housemate J and my parents thinking that I may as well check in - yes I'm okay, glad to hear you're okay - and get back to work. Sky News feeds the frenzy and the Americans and one of the Antipodeans in the office start to panic. At some point someone changes channel from Sky to BBC 24, I think that this is interesting. My colleagues become glued to the TV. The sirens outside seem louder and more frequent than usual. The bus explodes. My colleagues think about evacuation and hotel rooms are booked in case people get trapped in the city. I realise I don't have door keys. I plan an afternoon of shoe shopping, since I won't be allowed to stay in the office and can't go home. I hear from Housemate D, he's at home and will let me in. I walk home through the city. Apart from the odd police car, the roads are clear of traffic and, although there are lots of people on the pavements, everyone is calm. I listen in to other people's conversations. For the most part I feel nothing. Not shock, because who doesn't expect a capital city to be a terrorist target (and we've been here before with the IRA so many times); not fear, because it appears the worst has already happened; not angry, because what would be the point; not anything really except perhaps just a tiny bit of pride. The emergency services are working tirelessly and effectively; my fellow Londoners are worrying about how they are going to get home; things are as normal as they can be. I think to myself either you get hurt or you don't, and if you are lucky enough not to be caught up in it there's nothing you can do but carry on. Yes, for those on that number 30 bus, for those on that particular tube and their families this is a terrible, terrible day and my heart goes out for them. But it's still more likely that I'll be run over by a bus when I'm on a zebra crossing than it is that I'll be sitting on one when a bomb goes off. I'm quite angry that the office is closed tomorrow, surely that is not showing the proper British spirit of blundering defiance. And as for Bush's statement...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

this feels silly
But in case you are worried, TA, myself and all the housemates are fine.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

jesse's blog posts
Do you remember that character from the Fast Show that would come out of his shed and pronounce "this week I 'ave been mostly..." one series it was Jesse's fashions and another series it was Jesse's diets. Well, that's a bit like my thought processes at the moment and, consquently, my blog posts. Sorry about that.
It's worrying though - I don't think of myself as the girly diet and fashion type, but perhaps I've been in denial. I'm certainly revelling in all my new clothes and want to shop even more now! Shoes goddamit, I want lovely shoes and boots! I'm also enjoying the healthy eating, strange to say. When I say to people that I'm avoiding tea, coffee and chocolate (not to mention crisps, special K bars and all the other faux-healthy crap in the machine) they smile and say "ah! detoxing?" I say, truthfully, no - but they don't seem to believe me. I did have a coffee last night and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I'm not planning to ever go back to those dark three-to-four-cups-a-day days. I would say 'never again', but I've learnt from sad experience that despite the very best intentions that I can't trust myself to keep restrictive resolutions.
Which brings us right back to badger's fashions. I'm not throwing away clothes this time. Old baggy trousers will remain in the back of the wardrobe just in case I need them after my all-expenses-paid trip to the US. It's pathetic that I can't trust myself that far isn't it?
There are other things going on - the job hunt is continuing slowly, TA is plugging away at the beastly low-paid job, I am slowly warming to Housemate M - as long as she doesn't sing, life is on a relatively even keel (despite piscine death and relationship angst in the house). In fact, maybe it's the lack of crises that are allowing me to be so completely self-absorbed.
I do have a new office mate and am, as a result, enjoying work a bit more. L is a writer and seems to have her finger on Heat-style gossip, she's a lot of fun. The other reason I've been enjoying work is that, quite simply, I've had work to do. It has occured to me that I'm only really motivated by deadlines. As soon as the deadlines stop, my inclination to work just fades away.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Goldie passed away on Sunday night, he’d been ill for a few days (in fact I had prematurely put the newspaper over his bowl on Saturday morning he was so still) and I think that, for some of us at least, it was a release. I am now hoping that Housemate M doesn’t buy replacement fish. Although, if she does, I will secretly name them Michael and Paula.
The Housemate J&D show continues to keep us all on the edge of our seats. He is still around but has agreed to move out once his rehearsals end and the show starts. Housemate J has a new energy, poise and focus, but is also frequently tearful. Apparently, housemate D has agreed to pay his share of the rent and bills until the end of September, which is when the six-month contract, even though he won’t be living at Badger Palais. We’ll see how long that lasts.
My August and possibly September are shaping up to be a bit jet-set, with two trips to the PR agency’s head office in Portland and, hopefully, a detour to New England...not to mention five days on the glamorous Isle of Wight over the August bank-holiday weekend.

oh, look at me!
No, I’m not Sandra Dee, but I am skinny again and I have beautiful new clothes – Girly post follows – look away now if you’re male.
For months and months and months I’ve been telling TA that I need new clothes, but with our budget and with my weight gain I just didn’t think that shopping was an option. When I say need new clothes I mean I need a complete wardrobe overhaul. Some of my clothes are pre-TA and quite a few more are pre-wedding. I look and feel scruffy and faded. Last weekend my no-shopping resolve crumbled. What changed? Well, I lost a stone, my plans for August and September changed dramatically last week when I heard about the work trips (can’t take the same clothes as I did last year, just can’t), and TA got a new job. The new job does not pay well, not well at all, but it is just the little bit extra we needed to make buying new clothes a possibility. So on Saturday TA and I trawled the sales at the big three – John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenhams – and paid a visit to Muji. Phew, it took hours! But I came home with three pairs of trousers, four jumpers, three tops, a skirt and a coat and some small change from £200. Not bad going and certainly the most shopping I’ve done in more than three years.
Yesterday, I started the shoe hunt. I’m very particular about shoes (I’m very particular about everything, but especially shoes) they must be flat, they must have round toes and they must be leather (since I’ve bought too many pairs of suede shoes only to ruin them in the rain). You’d think I’d be able to find two or three pairs in the sales wouldn’t you? And if you did you’d be wrong. But while I was looking for shoes I saw a sale at a clothes shop I love but never shop in as it’s super-pricey. Lo! They had a warehouse sale! Everything was reduced by about 80 per cent. I picked up a couple of things to try on but there was a queue and suddenly I thought “holy crap, what am I doing? I’ve already spent loads of money on new clothes!” and ran away.
I told TA about it last night. About the brown linen trousers and the beautiful silk top both reduced to fifteen pounds, from £180 pounds and £80, respectively. I thought he’d be proud of my restraint, but no! He thought I was crazy for passing up such bargains. TA said that I should go back and that if there were no changing rooms available bring stuff home to try on. Blimey! So took an early lunch and went back today. The changing rooms were empty. The linen trousers (size 10!), silk top and a stunning, stunning pair of black trousers are now mine. That’s somewhat put a dent in the shoe budget. In fact there is no shoe budget.
*stop press* I’d asked for a bright pink Tommy Hilfiger suede coat – yes I realise this is breaking the suede rule – to be put by for me at House of Fraser while they checked the price. It was a silly, decadent impulse. They just called – original price £350, sale price £160 – I said no thanks. I am strong!

Friday, July 01, 2005

  • Bupa hired the cheap, inexperienced candidate

  • I'm being put forward for an even better job by my agent

  • TA has scored a really badly paid job doing tracking for a motion-capture company that is miles away from home, lucky him!

  • Did you know my dept is called Professional Services? No wonder they expect me to grind for the poxy clients

  • Still no news from the warring thespians, we go to bed before 10pm and leave the flat before 8am, they rarely get home before 10pm and are never up before 8am. Who knows if they're even still living at Palais Badger (theatre of the absurd)?