Thursday, May 31, 2007

The sweet smell of illicit flowers

Ahh... roses stolen from neighbourhood gardens. Who needs a florist when there is such a bounty right there next to the footpath, yours for the picking?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Little bruv

My brother arrived on friday, coated with sweat after carrying his enormous backpack all the way from the tube station (it's a good 10 minute walk) - his big, familiar gap-toothed grin and eternally-burnt nose beaming from the doorway.

Before he came, he told me not to change any plans, just to do whatever we were going to do anyway, and not to worry about him. I guess he didn't realise that, for me, being away from my family for so long means that having one of them over here with me is a big fat deal. I am so happy to have him here; just hanging out with me and my boyfriend, occasionally play-wrestling me to the ground, happily eating whatever we put in front of him. It almost feels like a holiday.

Yesterday, we rang home and spoke to mum and dad. They were thrilled to hear from us, and to know that we are both together and enjoying each other's company for a little while. It has really made me think about how comfortable and happy I am in the company of my immediate family, and how much I appreciate them (and miss them terribly). He is spending a year in Sweden with his girlfriend, after which - who knows? I can't believe we are both bobbing in the same easily-capsized boat, the HMS "International Relationship". Uncharted territory for us both.

It is good to have him, for now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Losing my troubles (briefly) at the end of two ropes

I have been really busy at work lately, staying back a few extra hours most days. Nothing major, but I haven't slept properly the last two nights and I am starting to get that familiar tightness in my stomach and the slightly fluttery feeling across my chest and arms, like you get after drinking a too-strong coffee.

On my journey home last night, I got off the tube and decided to walk home through the woods, which is a little longer, a little muddier, but loads nicer. It is also quite hilly; hence I don't feel so guilty about spending all day on my arse.

After a day spent immersed in grey with flourescent lighting, walking down the steep track into the forest feels like immersing yourself into a different world. As I walked, I bathed in the glorious Springtime brown-and-lime-green-ness, listening to the bird calls and feeling the coolness of the forest around me, inhaling the good, solid, reliable smell of earth.

I was starting the ascent up and out to my street when I came across a swing, dangling provocatively in the stillness of the forest. How it got there, I have no idea. The tree it is attached to doesn't have any branches for the first 20 feet or so. I put down my bags, hitched myself up onto the broad seat, took the white ropes into my hands and leaned back.

I felt like the girl in this painting (only less frilly), looking up at the patchwork of leaves blotting out the bright evening light, the air brushing past my face langurously. It was a lovely antidote to my hectic day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Shopping with girls

I have always maintained that lone shopping is the only way to go. I don't understand those girls for whom shopping is a form of entertainment and "leisure", who head out in noisy, colourful gangs and make a day of it. For me, I want to have a very quick browse on my own, maybe try on some things, buy what I want, and then get the hell out of there. If there was some magical way for me to order clothes over the internet, whilst being able to try them on at home without the hassle of returning the duds, I would sign up in a flash.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a bit of clothes shopping. And I secretly think that, had I married a footballer - in some parallel universe where I turned out girlier and more idiotic - I would quite happily shop more at a lot better class of store. I don't have anything against a bit of rack-fondling and trying-on of outfits I know I am never going to buy.

But whenever I go shopping with other girls, without fail, I end up buying something that I regret later. And the other night, I outdid myself.

I don't know how exactly I ended up buying an original 80's, faded retro dress with puff sleeves and a blowsy rose print, but I know that I did, because it is in a yellow bag on my bedroom floor, with a receipt for £20.

Can I claim Temporary Insanity due to overdose of oestrogen particles, lack of oxygen due to intense giggling, and befuddlement of senses due to Gary Numan blasting out of the speakers?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Good news, sad songs

My brother just called me from Kashmir, India. Politically-volatile-but-kind-of-exotic-sounding Kashmir. That boy leads a way more exciting life than I do ("What are you up to, sis?" "Oh, well I was thinking about heading to the library when it stops raining").

I can't wait to hear all about his travels around sweltering India, and he just made my day by asking to stay for a week when he hits London before heading to Sweden. Yay! I have really been missing my family lately, so I am looking forward to seeing a sibling in the flesh (more huggable) and catching up. However, my bro is notoriously unreliable so I am not going to invest in an airbed/australian flags to hang out the window/jars of vegemite or anything until he is actually at my front door.

* * * *

If, as I do, you like your music to be more on the so-sad-it-breaks-your-heart side rather than bouncy-jumpy-up-and-down side, you might appreciate this list. Although some of these songs are way too upbeat in my opinion. Behold my own list of truly depressing ditties:

Beth Orton - Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine (I cried my eyes out to this, over and over, after a major breakup)
Neil Young - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven
Juliana Hatfield - Table for One
Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
Luka Bloom - Innocence
Aretha Franklin - Angel
Gary Jules - Mad World
Amy Winehouse - Love is a Losing Game (in fact, most of the defiantly brilliant Back to Black)
Joni Mitchell - Little Green
Lior - Grey Ocean
Liz Phair - Somebody's Miracle
Martha Wainwright - TV Show
Pearl Jam - Last Kiss
Ray LaMontagne - All the Wild Horses
Nina Simone - Ne Me Quitte Pas

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Despatch from London town, where the media-boys never grow up

Two buses pass in front of me, one after the other. The side of the first bus reads (because every single available space in this city is for sale): "For the love of boobs". I think it was for breast cancer awareness, but nowhere does it mention this. Or at least not in a font size that is legible to anybody looking at a bus from the street. The second bus reads: "". The "www" bit is made out of boobs. Cleavage. Actual photographs of actual cleavage. I am too scared to look at the site. I think it may give me a heart implosion and make me take permanently to the wimple.

Sometimes I feel we seem to have gone backwards, way back to those dark old days of the seventies, when it was perfectly OK to treat a woman like a piece of meat. Heck, if there was a woman at your workplace in the 70's, it was your right to make jokes about her sexual proclivities and pinch various parts of her at your whim, all in the name of good, clean fun.

It seriously annoys me that all the feminist movement appears to have done is to drive this compulsion underground, to some altogether seedier, nastier place. Most days, there is some complete tosser on the bus or tube, gazing unselfconsciously at a nude woman in his paper. Perfectly typical sight, this. I once saw a man who, from the outside, was reading a respectable paper - but had a porn mag tucked inside. At least this guy must have realised that it is a little bit wrong to view hardcore porn in public, and had tried to hide it (although not very well - the drooling and glazed stare was a dead giveaway).

Advertising agencies have a lot to answer for. And while I realise that my work (graphic design) is uncomfortably close to advertising, I would never be so thoughtless, lazy and retrogressive to use a pair of boobs to sell stuff to men.

Brothers, if you are reading this, please boycott Lynx for my sake. And your girlfriend's. And our Mum's.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happiness is...

Four brand new CD's and a cheap dress from Topshop on their way in the post. Ahhh, I love the internet. Seriously, how did people manage without it? Oh, I remember. I lived down the road from that glorious temple of discount music, JB Hi-Fi. And before that, I rode my bike to Target. And before that, I made do with casettes my dad brought home from work (which I strongly suspect were rejected by his colleagues for being too dorky).

I don't know why it is more exciting to receive a parcel in the mail than to go out shopping for the same item. I think it is the element of surprise - is this going to be my new dress, or just some paper samples from the printer? - as well as the fact that ripping off the card packaging reminds me of Christmas.

Whatever it is, I always find receiving a parcel in the mail weirdly thrilling.
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