Thursday, March 11, 2004

On Tuesday I spent four (utterly fruitless) hours at the British Library Newspaper Archive, a huge Deco block opposite Colindale station. I was looking at bestseller lists from the 1970s, and as these are not online or on CD-ROM, this entailed scanning through reels of film on a microfiche reader and getting nauseous. Seeing as I was supposed to check five years’ worth of lists, and each reel of film held two months of papers (the Sunday Times was huge even back then), this would mean reading 30 reels of film. And as you are only allowed to borrow four reels at a time, and have to wait ½ an hour for them to be delivered to your little microfiche booth, and it takes an hour to scroll very fast through four reels, it would take me approximately, what, 10? 11? hours to do this. Pointless thought this exercise was, I did get to read very old newspapers, which is always fun. Did you know that in 1977 you could buy a three-bedroomed apartment in Knightsbridge for £50,000? Oh yes. And the Times boasted that on Thursday top jobs, paying only over £4,000 PA, were advertised. Har! I looked at the job ads, and while I’m not sure exactly when it became illegal to specify gender, quite a few of the ones from 1977 said things like ‘Sales manager required. He will be responsible for . . .’. Reading the 1977 Times really made me see that even though things aren’t perfect now, they were pretty awful back then. The Review section was written almost entirely by men (even when slamming – sorry, reviewing – books about women or feminism), and one article about David Irving’s controversial claims that Hitler was misunderstood and didn’t actually kill anyone begins with the words: ‘Like him or not, Hitler . . .’ Like him or not?! Was there really a time after the Second World War when people argued about whether Hitler was nice or not nice? My flabber was truly ghasted.

I had some time to kill (and money for work ‘expenses’) before I met Kara to discuss our Sewing Bee, so decided to get food at Tokyo Diner. I ordered what I thought was a modest meal: a side salad, small portion of sushi (three pieces) and miso soup. But it seems I accidentally ordered a giant trough of food (oh well, what can you do?). All eyes were on me as the third dish was brought to my table, and I dug in. Anyway, the Sewing Bee is going to be held every three weeks, on a Monday or Tuesday (Wednesday is good telly night); let me know if you want to join.

For the love of Kirstie

I think if I met Kirstie Allsopp we would be friends. She is a bit odd for a telly presenter: have you heard her answers to those Channel 4 ads? She lost her virginity when she was 21 and would like to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She seems quite giggly and girlie but also very smart. Relocation Relocation is compulsory viewing, if only to check whether Kirstie is looking all 50s and cute, or wearing her atrocious pearls-and-padded-Alice-band combo and coming across like your Sloaney aunt.

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