Thursday, April 29, 2004

On Tuesday night I attended my first Actionettes rehearsal, at Drill Hall. It was tipping it down outside: the streets were deserted as everyone huddled in doorways and rain and hail bounced a foot off the pavement. I took a cab to the venue, as I had no umbrella, and it was pretty scary: the noise was deafening as the hail pounded the roof.

The rehearsal was fun, and although I was clearly by far the worst, most un-co-ordinated ‘dancer’ they had ever had the misfortune to share a floor with, the Actionettes were very polite and didn’t ask me to leave. Think I need to put in a lot of practice if I’m to dance on stage (on stage!!) in a month or two…

Now all I need is an -ette name.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I was puzzled and very disappointed to find news of the pro-choice march on Washington relegated, the day after the event, to a single column on p16 of the Guardian. Over 1 million people marched in support of women’s right to control their bodies, and yet this isn’t deemed newsworthy. Every other broadsheet reported the march in the same way (if they reported it at all - the Times chose not to): in a single column, with reports of numbers ranging from ‘hundreds of thousands’ (the Guardian) to ‘500,000’ (the Telegraph). Today the Guardian published a photo of the Mall in Washington and an op-ed admitted that ‘up to, and maybe more than, a million…’ marched. This is a bigger turn out than the Million Man March in 1995, which didn’t quite reach the titular number. When 1m people march against war in Iraq, it is news. When 1m people march against curtailing the right to control if, when and how you choose to have children, it isn’t.

All the papers, however, saw fit to devote at least twice as many column inches to the death of Estee Lauder, a woman who made her fortune from other women’s insecurities.

Some great reports on the march can be found at the comprehensive site, and on the Ms. website.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Today I am mostly:

Listening to a girl I work with flirt with the work experience boy (whom I took an instant dislike to when, in the lift, I asked him if he was doing work exp. here. He said ‘Yes, are you?’ I glared at him and said ‘No. I work here.’ it’s my own damn fault for wearing jeans and trainers to work). And I just realised I used the word 'work' about 15 times in that one anecdote.

Stealing my work-neighbour’s nuts/wheat-free chocolate cake/jelly babies

Wondering if the nuked pizza I had at lunch is the reason I’m feeling delicate in the stomach region

This weekend was the first truly hot weekend of the year. Picnics are the order of the season, and I’ve already had two in the space of three days. Friday night Steve and I got a ton of food – quiche, pork pies, bread, cheese, pate, and a Greek salad I brought to work – and went to St. James’s park. In spite of the aggressive drunk making the rounds of picnickers, it was perfect. We sat under a giant, pale pink blossoming tree and drank a tiny bottle of M&S red wine, and then we walked across the giant gravely square (what is it called?) that opens onto Whitehall.

I spent Saturday returning a very late library book, picking up my dry-cleaned winter coat so that I could put it in storage and (hopefully) it won’t get eaten by moths, and lying on a towel outside the Imperial War Museum reading the paper. After a couple of hours, when I was cooked to a crisp, it was ice-cream time. The Mr Softee van outside the Imp does the best, creamy, light-as-air 99s in the land. Plus the guy running it that day was doling out foot-high cornets, which was fine by me. In the evening I saw the boy, and we had a pint of London Pride at my local, the Ship, before attempting to get a fupper* at the Windmill Fish Bar. However, as they don’t seem to want drunken Saturday nite custom from hungry lushes with money to burn and a craving for cod, the Windmill Fish Bar closes at 9pm. Hmph. Went to the Thai place over the road instead (it was that or Pizza Express, and I can get that any day of the week), which was nice but did nearly make me cry with the spiciness of its curry.

Sunday was all hot and muggy, too. A stroll around Cannizaro Park was the only thing I wanted. This park was such a part of my childhood: I’ve been going there with my family since I was about two, and I’m always amazed that most people have never heard of it. It’s beautiful, with little walkways and steep brick steps and narrow paths overhung with branches. There are flowers and an aviary and many sorts of trees and a duck pond. After our walk we were hungry, and Wimbledon Village isn’t really Safeway territory, so we spent a tenner on bread, cheese, ham, olives and a single pork pie (organic but overrated! Dry as dust and needed to be swallowed with swigs of wine). Watched the dogs and children on Wimbledon Common and tried not to think about Monday morning . . .

* fish supper. Do keep up.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Last night we had our annual imprint party, and today I am feeling a touch delicate. Wisely decided to line my stomach (with a Subway meatball and hot pepper sub, mmm!) before the hard drinking commenced, and was very glad I did*. Decided to stick to beer, too, as wine makes me melancholy and tired and, oh yes, very drunk very quickly. Had five beers and felt fine (and at about 11pm tons of food magically arrived for the hardcore drinkers still there), but this morning I do not feel fine . . . Feel like I need quiet, darkness, and a big fry-up.

* Even though, as science fiction folks are suckers for a free drink, people started arriving before the party started, to be greeted with the sight of me glaring at them and wolfing down a sandwich.

Where have all the craft sites gone?, one of my faves, is no longer. Not Martha doesn’t have what I need. Sew Wrong is the saviour, I guess, as here you can find free patterns to make simple bags and clothing (even bras! Yes, really) and fun message boards.

Have decided to rename my niece Tiny, as she is a scrappy little thing. Steve claims this will ensure she is a boxer when she grows up, and that ‘Boxing will give her a route out of the urban jungle that is Grove Park.’ Maybe I will arrange a video afternoon with Tiny and Right-Eye (her sister) and screen Girlfight. (PS read the comments about this film on the link . . . Svabbi, I’m coming to Iceland to kick your blond asssss). It'll be good for them to have a role model so they won't feel like they are pioneers in the sport. Yes.

Also, someone at work just gave me a praline duck. It was very very tasty.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Super nervous . . .

Any minute now I’m going to receive a phone call, asking me to come to the boardroom and try to convince 15 people who I don’t know to let me pay an author £15,000 to write a book. This is why I am sitting at my desk glugging Rescue Remedy and trying to make my hands stop shaking.

And, on this very important day (career wise: my real highlight is that I got a free can of Lipovitan from a man wearing a leotard and cape outside Charing Cross station), my flat had no hot water. I boiled a few kettles’ worth, had a bath in four inches of lukewarm water, and washed my hair by leaning over the bath. Made sure I perfumed myself to cover any lingering whiff. Oh dear.

Last night was lovely: had a meeting of the Ladies’ Sewing Bee at the Chandos pub. The meeting entailed some brief looking at a 1960s book about pattern cutting, talking about clothes, eating Mini Cheddars and drinking a lot.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

“Nice big flaps”

What does it say about me that this snippet of conversation I heard in a meeting today nearly made me burst out laughing, and that I had to hide behind a sheaf of paper and think of malnourished kittens to keep a straight face? The fact that the subject being discussed was a fancy book with printed end papers and generous jacket flaps (pffft! there it is again!) didn’t make a bean of difference.

At the moment I am too busy to live. Leave desk for 1 hour and when I come back I can barely find my chair, obscured as it is by piles and piles of crap*.

* And when I say ‘crap’ I do, sadly, mean ‘work’.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Am applying for a job at the company I work for. Yes, you read that right. I hate that they’re making me jump through hoops to get it; I feel like saying ‘Hire me already! You know I can do this!’ but I have to play the game. As part of my assessment I was asked to read a manuscript and write a report, so I did, and tried to find something positive to say about a derivative, badly written, formulaic piece of poo. Well okay, it wasn’t completely awful. Some parts were funny. But I am worried, as my report contained the word ‘masturbated’, and I feel this may go against me.

There has been a Cadbury’s Mini Eggs Easter egg sitting on my desk all week. When I bought eggs in Tesco, using the very generous 3-for-2 offer, I had a spare: Steve got a Crunchie egg, Therese got a Kit-Kat egg, and I was going to do the decent thing and give the third egg to my mum or one of my sisters. But this afternoon, halfway through composing a sheepish email to a girl who sits near me asking if she had any chocolate, I caved. I would eat the damn spare egg! In a moment of clarity, I realised that I need to buy at least another three eggs, anyway! One for my mum, and one each for my sisters! So there will always be a spare! (Plus, to be honest, I bought the Mini Eggs egg with my gob, and mine alone, in mind.)

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Last night was of the most fun evenings I’ve had in a long long time. And best of all, it was free! (Apart from the kebab at the end of the night. Which Therese put in the microwave to heat up and Steve nearly rugby-tackled her to make her stop nuking it, as he has heard ‘statistics’ saying that one in four kebabs, when microwaved, produce maggots.) Therese and I went to Liberty for the cardholder shopping evening, and there was free booze. Two glasses of wine and two giant gin cocktails each later, we plonked ourselves down in a £2,000 leather armchair and contemplated our next move. Miss T was craving a kebab so I had to go along with her. My kebab was tasty enough, but later I had two eyelashes in my mouth. I think (and hope) they were mine.


Ilona: fig perfume by Dyptique, an off-cut of amazing brown, orange and white cotton, to be used to make nice headscarves

Therese: two pink London A-Z tea towels, Neal’s Yard box set for friend

The weekend seems a long time ago, but the high point was definitely seeing the Actionettes at Bush Hall. It’s about the loveliest venue in London, and I bumped into my friend Jim, who I hadn’t seen in over two years.

Bugging me today: that BBC2 programme ‘If…’. I really wanted to see it last night, cos it was called ‘If…women ruled the world’. (But I am a video retard so managed not to tape it.) Apparently, in twenty years time women will be ‘running tings’, and this is a terrible scenario and must be nipped in the bud before all those power bitches start castrating nice, non-aggressive males. Ok, I am exaggerating, but is it not true that all the other ‘If’ programmes have presented Doomsday scenarios showing how the western world is spiralling out of control? Previous ‘If’s have predicted what could happen if the divide between rich and poor people (a bad thing) continues to grow; if there is a giant scary power cut (a bad thing); if we don’t stop pieing it on a daily basis (a bad thing). So the obvious continuation of these catastrophes where our children are fat, we use too much electricity and the rich live in gated communities which the poor attack with pitchforks, is a world where women have power. Oh hell, I just give up. Read the dumb BBC website for more info: they have the requisite ‘The death of feminism?’ piece, and an article, illustrated with a picture of Superman, titled ‘Why we will always need men’ (which almost brought a tear to my eye. Men, do you really feel you are on the way out? Cos everywhere I go you seem fairly prevalent, going about your business, being mine and other peoples’ friends and lovers and relatives. The defiant stance of the piece – here is an argument that we’re not totally redundant! – is really quite sad. Rest assured, menfolk: I love you and I don’t want to see you sent to the glue factory!).

In other news: my company runs a graduate recruitment scheme. Each year one person does what is basically glorified work experience for a few months. I just saw the CV of this latest new grad: white, Oxford educated, won awards, lives in Surrey.

Glad that the ‘Diversity in Publishing’ campaign is going well, then.