28 April 2011

Jolly Follicle

I returned to London and my lost purse was returned to me. This is the second time this particular purple purse has come back after being stolen/mislaid. Boomerang purse. I had to sign for it beneath the big bold print of LOSER at the Barbican. Can't argue with black and white...

Felt a bit of a loser today as I walked through City after work, passing all those suited and booted flexi-timers in ties. Under my arm I was carrying a big pile of poetry books, returning them to the Poetry Library on Southbank, wearing my red trousers with turn-ups (I turned them up off the cuff...) and guzzling from a can of IRN BRU. You can take the girl out of the north yada yada. I've also taken to wearing my hair in a silly little topknot on a wonk. Not like the sea of bobbing topknots that crowd the vista of my commute through East London. Not a Shoreditch topknot. No.

On the subject of poetry and hair... A guy I know went punting for his birthday when he lived in Cambridge studying for an MA in English Literature. All his female friends arranged their hair like Virginia Woolf without telling him [like in the famous and softly beautiful image; the one I use as my pretentious profile picture on this very page in fact]. He loves Virginia Woolf. I think this is rather wonderful. High Romance.

24 April 2011


Back at Ingleside for a week so I steal Dad's cardigan. It's dark green with coloured flecks, oversized, and has 'Town Wear' embroidered on the label. My mother bought it for him years and years ago for Christmas, but now makes that look whenever he wears it. Best I have it really, to give it a good home. Especially as I may have mopped up a little mojito with the cuffs on girl's night out... I am a person who wears their father's cardigan on girl's night out in toon, where everyone is orange and clad in tiny sparkly things I can't describe and speaks with the most lovely vowels you ever heard. I also wear it with wellingtons in the woods.

I try to write about a poet who is all hell bent for the heart but get distracted in my old room that has all changed yet is still so familiar. It's exactly how I would have liked it when growing up here if I had actually listened to my mother and not been such a brat who insisted on hanging a hammock above her bed. There's the painting on the mantelpiece of a sheep that looks like it's wearing a big knitted jumper made out of its own wool. According to my farmer uncle who came for Easter lunch today 'sheep are the new chickens'. As well they might be, considering two plump chickens were lunch. Plus all the trimmings. I love trimmings and the logistics of dish navigation and serving negotiations when there's eight round a six-seater table and everyone has a wine glass.

I've started The Land of Green Ginger which I've read a million times, though had read to me more. Dad doesn't know how I'll do the voices when on the megabus back south tomorrow. I'll have to do them in my head. Boomalakka Wee is my favourite.

Two things have made me smile today. Firstly, an interview with bonkers Jilly Cooper who says the word 'soppy' a great deal and spouted this heartening gem: 'I'm not a real writer because I get drunk at parties when I should be observing things'. Secondly, with the smile more sickly, is my mother's simnel cake. It's like exquisite death. She didn't leave room for marzipan ball Judas on top. He would have just been eaten up anyway. Sweet almondy disciples.

19 April 2011

Stolen Love Behaviour

I'm writing about Love Poetry and it's rather going to my head (though I suppose it's actually intended for the heart). I carry the John Stammers anthology of Love Poems around in my bag like some lovesick schoolgirl. But it holds the whole history of love (well, back to the Renaissance at any rate).

'To see her is to love her'

'heart over-ripe at the core'

'suck my red heart white, I will, because I love you'

And then I found this, outside of the anthology, just stumbled upon it...

The photos have become either before or after I met you.
And after I met you looking at myself became me looking at myself pretending I was you looking at me hopefully falling in love.
And now my clothes are the clothes I've worn around you or clothes you've never seen me in or pictures I've sent.
And all the places I took you are now the places we've been.

16 April 2011

My So Called Decade

A gig night and I chose no booze. Hanging out with my youngest brother, dancing like kids to Palace of Justice playing 'Hormones', wearing my longest high-waisted skirt and a cropped crochet cardigan. SO NINETIES.

The nineties were awesome. Patterned leggings, plaid shirts, crop-tops, multi-coloured hair, oversized band t-shirts, Doc Martins. Plus Blossom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Clarissa Explains It All. Melissa Joan Hart's wardrobe is amazing and I want it.

And of course, the nineties gave us Clueless. The only film other than The Princess Bride that I know all the words too. Brittany Murphy delivers the most cutting line in cinema history: 'You're a virgin who can't drive'. She punctuates it with a pout. I used to watch this film over and over at a friend's house when I was like nine. I had no idea it was based on Austen's Emma. I just knew that Cher and Josh should be together, and that I totally dug the outfits. Clueless is the sole reason I use the word 'sporadically'.

Dancing around in my crochet cardi got me thinking about My So Called Life. Classic nineties teenage angst. And criminally only one season's worth. I had to track it down on the net to watch it again. Claire Danes before Little Women. Her voice-over narration is spot-on brainy yet 'troubled' fifteen year old; 'School is a battlefield. For the heart'. I love how she dyes her hair Crimson Glow and how she stabs at her food during a family meal while her head is saying 'I cannot bring myself to eat a well-balanced meal in front of my mother' and her ridiculous crush on Jordan Catalano ('I just like how he's always leaning. Against stuff'). And I love wild Rayanne.

11 April 2011


They are not long, the days of wine and roses.

Only I took hyacinth bulbs when I went to Devon at the weekend. The most beautiful place I have ever stayed. They own the land, the woods, the fields, the lake they call a pond. Stones throw from Dartmoor. The tree at the entrance had only just blossomed. The woods will be covered in bluebells (like in 'I Capture the Castle'). The mismatched, still over-woolly sheep come up to the windows and lick them and stare, herons take off by the lake, buzzards hunt, Chudleigh and Coco the spaniels are spoiled rotten. As am I. I read 'The Last Battle', drink local cider before lunch, fall asleep in the sun, have wine with everything, contemplate offers of sherry, sip champagne as we anticipate dinner. One of their own lambs spiked and studded with rosemary and garlic, a devil to carve but delicious to gaze on. And cheese souffle, which was always my favourite, even before I became vegetarian. The cheeseboard at lunch: brie the size of my head.

And the books, the books. By genre, and alphabetical, lining all the walls. A few first editions. The children's rooms with all the classics. Sitting on my feet, reading Noel Streatfield on the sofa.

A bookshop event, with wine, nibbles, and the guy who came on his motorbike all the way from Sussex, with whom I had the education conversation. Wearing a young gentleman's jacket draped round my shoulders all the way back after dinner when it got chilly. I would have thought this dreamy when fourteen.

Absentmindedly skimming the Times over halved grapefruit and coffee and apricot juice to die for. I had to neglect, though not forget, my Guardian roots for a weekend.

Then we played corners in the car on the way back home. Juvenile. The engine overheated just outside London.

And now it's like I'm underwater in my head, all bunged up,blocked ears, full of cold. It came on just before I saw Bowerman's Nose on Dartmoor. A nose made of piled up stones. It's breathing in all the fresh air, while I'm clogged with phlegm in the city.

3 April 2011

Muffling Out

When looking around charity shops I always leave the jumpers till last. They're the best bit, the treat at the end. But these woolens may have to be saved for winter now. I had to buy plimsolls yesterday. It's getting too hot for laced-up converse and faux-fur topped ankle boots. The tattoo on my inner ankle is getting an airing.

The nicest thing about spring Sundays is listening to Cerys Matthews on the radio in bed as the sun shines in through the conservatory windows. And we had the first barbeque of the year today. So much meat, a couple of singed eyebrows, a whole guinea fowl and lots of bright partially charred plum tomatoes. My vegetarianism was sorely tried. But red peppers and beer are fine alternatives to blood.

My blood is fairly sluggish at the moment. I hope it returns gushing soon. Like when I used to have blood taken and the nurse would say it was slow, so I would pump my fist and out it would spurt in time to my clenching. Perhaps it is too blue at present. I need to be tickled pink. Just as Johnny Flynn sings, however twee he may be...

Tickle me pink
I'm rosy as a flushed red apple skin
Except I've never been as sweet

I've rolled around the orchard
and found myself too awkward

and tickle me green I'm too naive

Pray for the people inside your head

for they won't be there when you're dead
muffled out and pushed back down

pushed back through the leafy ground

Time is too early

my hair isn't curly

I wish I was home and tucked away

when nothing goes right

and the future's dark as night

what you need is a sunny sunny day