Monday, 26 February 2007 my back against the record machine

I know it's not cool in some corners but this song never fails to make me feel alive. I effing love it. Van Halen's Jump takes me back to being 14 and leaping off my bed, wanting to be a rock star. Dad worked at one of the world's biggest concert venues and I saw everyone who was anyone back in the 80s and early 90s, from Prince to Cliff Richard. I was (am) a lucky girl.

Smells Like Teen Spirit has an equally engaging opening riff. Kurt Cobain would have been 40 this month. I read an interview of his and Courtney Love's daughter, Frances Bean, who sounds remarkably well-adjusted, polite and extremely
intelligent. Something about Kurt and his strange, depressive's suicide note, tugs at my heartstrings in a way that Pete Doherty (even though he is still alive) never could. As S says (quoting someone whose name I can't recall), if Kurt had played five-a-side football, he'd still be alive today.

Unfinished Sympathy has special merit, as it is my favourite song of all time, and its opening, when Shara Nelson starts singing with that pure voice, sends shivers down my spine. Beautiful. Last but certainly not least...

Sunday, 25 February 2007


This week was sleep study week. The night in question followed one of the most stressful work days I've endured in a while, thanks to the incompetence of an editor who started out scatty, went through phases of anxious and het-up, and has flapped (and changed her mind about what she wants so much) that I am convinced she is clinically neurotic. I could have screamed at her several times over the course of phone conversations that went nowhere. I was almost in tears after the final little chat we had. I hate the way she's nasty and then makes out that she was really just a little bit concerned. I detest the way she says she has a headache, and that that's why she couldn't get the bastard brief/ amendments/ queries to me on time. I will have to think very carefully before agreeing to work for the idiot again. Grrrr... Added to that, I almost had one minor car accident and one major one, all thanks to driving while feeling OK-ish (it's all relative these days) but in reality not being alert enough to drive. I was extremely shaky on the evening of these two near-misses, which both happened on the same day. Thank God the drivers of the other cars were able to see me in time.

So, anyway, I hauled my unbelievably heavy bag to central London, checked into the wonderfully clean clinic and awaited S, who arrived quickly and stayed with me in the room (complete with flat-screen TV, shower, towel, wash kit, clean loo, fridge for drinks) for a while. The doctor told me I'd need to be wired up to 30-40 electrodes, warning me that it would take around half an hour to complete the process. After S left (all too soon, frankly), I watched some boring television, changed into my pyjamas and waited for the doctor, who arrived and began the process.

I had electrodes over my legs, chin, forehead, chest, glued into my hair, a mic on my throat, a thing across my face and under my nose to check my breathing, an oxygen clip on my finger and two straps across my body to monitor my breathing movements. The number of wires feeding back to a control box was quite impressive. There was a camera on the wall with an infra red light above it, just so they could see me kick, drool and throw myself around the small, single bed.

Two or three times during the night, the doctor came into the room to check/ paste down electrodes that must have shifted. I must have been sleeping at the time as I remember being startled at being woken. I was amazed that I slept at all, considering the traffic noise outside. But on the whole, the room was warm and fairly comfortable and it was – obviously – good that I slept for a bit otherwise the whole exercise would have been rendered useless. No point monitoring someone who is awake...

My friendly, chatty doctor roused me just before seven in the morning. I was extremely tired and could barely respond to his witticisms about the glue in my hair. Well, he had been awake all night monitoring me, so I couldn't expect him to feel as utterly wrung out as I did. I'm not great in the morning at the best of times, after all. I was served a decent breakfast and left before 8.30am, was back on the Tube (lovely rush hour...), and then, when back home again faced the work that had stressed me out so much the previous day. All in all, quite surreal.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

London, my love

The view from Waterloo Bridge is astonishing. Look one way and you see St Paul's Cathedral, the Gherkin and Canary Wharf. Glance in the other direction and you're visually kissed and made love to by the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. The Thames glitters with more beauty than a million Tiffany diamonds, deeper and priceless.

This particular evening, I had got off at the wrong bus stop and had to try very hard not to bump into people as I walked from one end of the bridge towards Covent Garden. The view was spectacular in twilight. I wondered how anyone could walk that way and not also keep flitting their eyes to their left and then their right, hungry for the sights.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Me and the City

I love this coat... Apparently it's a vintage number from SJP's wardrobe, so I can't buy one. Carrie wears it in the episode of Sex and the City where Miranda and Steve marry, and Samantha tells the girls she has breast cancer. I think it's the one she wears when Miranda's son is born and she breaks up with Aidan, as well.

OK, so it's not Shakespeare and it won't change the world, but so what? So many memories of mine are tangled up in SATC. I watched and drank and watched and cried and watched and laughed. R and I used to talk on the phone religiously after each episode, like drug addicts comparing their visions, I imagine.

I don't expect many people will understand, and does it even matter? But that series was definitive for me. When I watch it, it takes me back to the large living room of the flat I owned, alone, for eight years. The room where far too many bottles of vin rouge were imbibed as candles burned dangerously down to their wicks and I awoke in a haze, just about able to get to the shower and then bed. Phone conversations were long, every detail was important and bedtime didn't matter. Now, I'm alone at home as S makes his way back from evening cricket practice with a new amateur team. He sounded peeved at the prospect of getting home late, knowing I'll be in bed (and who knows, possibly asleep!) by the time his key turns in the lock.

Anyway, I have eaten fairly well (salmon with dill sauce, olives, antipasti, garlic bread), drunk a bit of wine and finished with some tiramisu left over from the neighbours' no-show. All this while I watched Coronation Street (two episodes), Eastenders, America's Next Top Model and Sex and the City (two episodes). Yes, it's the cerebral equivalent of a big Mac and fries washed down with a bottle of full fat Coke. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Chelsea girls

As I left the flat to meet R, my neighbour handed me a bouquet of lovely spring flowers and a small card for not being able to make it for dinner last night. It was a nice gesture – and the card included an invitation to have drinks (on them) at the local wine bar. The male half of the couple had told me he was unwell yesterday when I went round to see what time they were coming over. I was slightly miffed, I must admit, because I felt exhausted but was determined to make an effort and not become some sort of recluse, and had already dragged myself to the supermarket to buy bags of food to cook for them. Mrs Neighbour was obviously annoyed at her husband's illness, especially as he had gone to play golf today. Still, it worked out well in the end – I had a chance to relax and S found a comedy club for us to visit later that night. We drank plenty of beer and laughed for most of the rest of the evening.

This afternoon, R and I met in Chelsea, where in the past we'd spend two hours browsing the shops before a three or four hour meal with wine or something sparkly. But this time, I was tired (and slightly dehydrated, though there is very little to distinguish the difference in sensations for me these days), and R was worried about having just bought a flat and going freelance, and was conserving her money.

It was good to see her as we hadn't been out for a while, both having been mired in our various concerns. She and I can talk easily, having developed a level of trust that includes an element of non-judgementalness that is an asset to any friendship. I took along a posh candle from a little local gift shop as a present for her. This pleased and surprised R, as candle-buying is a luxury she quite rightly won't allow herself right now. So, we sat in a café, ate cake and drank tea and various types of coffee, as three hours ticked away. R and I have spent many holidays together, so we are close. When you can get on with someone in faraway lands, and find stuff to talk about no matter what, it's a wonderful thing.

S picked me up from the station, which was most welcome. For once, I got home before R did (we now live in diagonally opposite corners of London). I then cooked the food I'd bought for the neighbours, which went down well. When R comes to stay in a few weeks, I'll cook it again.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Days drawing out

It's 5pm and it isn't yet dark. Twilight is drifting softly among the trees and Victorian brick walls that I can see from my large window. The air is still and cold, possibly a prelude to the snow that is currently hovering in thick cold clouds somewhere above the UK. A severe weather warning has been issued. I hope the tiny, new plants in the garden survive.

By 6.30pm yesterday, I was so tired that I could barely move. I made my way to the sofa, lay down and dozed. Later, after dinner, I lay on the new mattress, amid a pile of cushions, and tried to read a biography that had enthralled me a few days ago. This time, through no fault of the book, I managed three pages and put it aside. If I hadn't needed to wash my hair, I would have sneaked under the covers then and there but the thought of waking up with on-the-turn locks was uninviting. S saw me staring at nothing in particular when he came to see where I was. He told me to go to bed as soon as possible, adding that he didn't like seeing me so tired. I don't like seeing him worried... It was funny, I needed to be told to go to bed to generate the energy necessary to make the required movements to get to the bathroom and back.

Today is filled with distractions. I can't concentrate but feel a tad better. No headache, just aching shoulders. S is out doing sporting things this evening so it means I can work a little longer – long enough to make me feel as though I have accomplished something, anyway.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Oh, my head

My head hurts and I feel like lying down. I slept last night (not enough to recover from the months of deprivation though) and woke to the sound of my alarm, feeling hungover. I later had a conversation with a commissioning editor who has made my mild headache far worse with her vague, stream of consciousness ramblings.

I'm seriously pissed off with her crummy 'brief' and lack of coherent instructions, and especially annoyed that she had the cheek to tell me, in the middle of a very amiable conversation, not to 'get angry', adding my name at the end of her
sentence just so that everyone around her would no doubt sympathise with her for having to deal with 'angry' non-staff staff. Silly cow.

She didn't deserve any patience as she ummed and ahhed about what might be good and what might work in the article but I persevered with my head resting on my one free hand as she went on and on and on down the phone. And then, apropos of nothing, she insinuates that I am angry?! Unbelievable. If anything makes me angry, it is being deliberately misunderstood and/or misrepresented – especially in a work scenario. I am now so furious with the woman that I may reconsider working with her in future. How she can complicate something so simple is beyond me. It was all obviously way beyond her.

Thanks to the factors above, plus various calls and errands that had to be made/done today, my day has been irritatingly unsatisfactory. I have had to take painkillers and eat lots of fudge to keep going.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

New blooms

Happily, my youngest houserabbit is back home after she became very ill following a routine vaccination caused her temperature to rocket to dangerous levels for such a small, young animal. Thank goodness I was based at home yesterday and could take her to the vet immediately, once I'd had a chat on the phone and explained that the poor creature had a huge bleeding patch on her back, and absolutely no appetite – things that might be a blip for, say, a dog, but could be life-threatening for a lapin. She was kept in for the day and night, to ensure that she was eating properly and had been brought back to a normal temperature. The vaccine manufacturer has paid for all her treatment, which is helpful, as we had failed to renew her insurance – it was three days out of date. Sod's law etcetera...

This afternoon, I put 77 new plants into the ground, some of which will flower anytime soon; others are set to bloom from May through to late summer. Several of them are scented and all of them are colourful and hold great promise for our own (very) mini Kew Gardens. It was hard work but incredibly satisfying. Even though the ground is quite dark at the moment, the bulbs and small baby plants are firmly planted and watered, and if the weather carries on the way it has been for the past month (it was the warmest January since 1916), there should be some extra colour soon. We are going to a tapas place later – there are huge sofas as well as plenty of tables and good beer. S painted the expanses of wall that were water damaged/ ruined by the people who tried to shove a wardrobe through the narrow hallway. He, too, deserves beer and Spanish food.