Monday, July 26, 2004


Not sure how to commemorate this momentus occasion, if at all... Um, I am at my desk, and it smells like old bananas. Because there is an old banana skin in the bin. It's been annoying me all day, but not enough to actually do something about it.

So once more I am flirting with the idea of going freelance. In weighing up the pros and cons I have discovered some things about my character: namely that I like routine. I like having plans for the day, and having nothing to do fills me with dread. I wonder if working from home would just be an opportunity to go slowly mad… My main worries are actually to do with things like tax, claiming expenses (i.e. phone calls to clients, water rates (for some reason when I am at home I need to wee about every half hour), electricity etc.), and late payment. I know from working with freelancers that it doesn’t matter if I take their invoice to accounts as soon as I get it; they may still get paid over a month later. And as someone who has no savings but does have huge debts, the thought of not being able to pay my mortgage fills me with horror. And keeps me working for The Man! If anyone can offer me advice about the realities of freelancing, I would be most grateful.

Speaking of going slowly mad, I really thought I had entered an alternate universe on Saturday afternoon, in the Kennington branch of my beloved Tesco. I was searching for meringues with which to make strawberry and meringue ice-cream, but where to look for them? They’re not a cake, and not a biscuit or snack: after a brief search I asked a member of staff. He looked at me blankly ‘What? What’s that? [describe basic structure and appearance of a meringue] Nah, never heard of it. Wait, I’ll ask him.’ [Goes to ask other member of staff, who looks at me like I am a pervert, and similarly has never heard of a meringue, and has no concept of what it might be.] I try explaining what a meringue is to a third member of staff, thinking it may jog his memory. ‘You know, it’s a dessert made of sugar and egg whites.’ ‘A cake?’ ‘No, not a cake. A… thing.’ He goes to ask his manager (who probably has a red button with a direct line to the police station under her desk for precisely these sorts of queries) and comes back saying that they might possibly be past the jams. We go to look. Past the jams are sugar and baking ingredients. I give up, and I make the ice-cream with just strawberries, and it’s still delicious.

On Emerald’s recommendation, I just went to see this at the National Portrait Gallery, and it was fab. One of the highlights was a short film of Penelope Chatwode floating across a river in the Himalayas on an inflated buffalo (I think) skin. Wow.

Great songs I am listening to at work!

Eggs – The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players
I’m On Nights – Richard Hawley
The District Sleeps Alone – The Postal Service
And many other fine songs from the Rough Trade best of 2003 compilation (CD1; haven’t listened to CD2 yet).

Friday, July 23, 2004

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have been a Tesco customer for many years, and now shop almost exclusively with you, as Tesco is my nearest supermarket. But yesterday I was horrified to find the enclosed item in my salmon and broccoli quiche. I’m not sure what it is, but am fairly certain that it wasn’t supposed to be in food. I also enclose the receipt. I would, at the very least, like a refund on this item.

This is the letter I sent to Tesco after finding what looked like a small dread of sweater fluff in my dinner last night… it was so nasty I couldn’t eat the rest of the quiche, so dinner consisted of a tomato, some strawberries and a handful of crisps.

Plans for the weekend: Sunday is Routemaster 50, a celebration of the king of buses, in Finsbury Park. RMs are a dying breed, and by 2007 they will have disappeared entirely from London’s streets, with the exception of a ‘heritage route’, presumably for tourists/saddoes like me.

Wednesday night Steve, Tim, Andy, Xaun and I went to see the Schla La Las and Holly Golightly at the Windmill, an initially somewhat terrifying estate pub in Brixton. It was ok, but I felt the best thing about the Schla La Las was their matching dresses and red handbags… I liked what they were doing, but I just didn’t think they were doing it very well… After about three of Holly’s songs we left, for a variety of reasons: 1) to escape Holly’s caterwauling 2) the fashion victims next to us (very thin, wearing lots of layers of chiffon/lace/sequins/oilskin/bacofoil, standing pigeon-toed in 80s shoes) were beginning to piss me off and 3) thought I was going to brain the guy who had parked his six-foot frame in front of me to take pictures of Holly. As I am 5 "4 on a good day, I am sure my head wouldn’t have found it’s way into the viewfinder if he had stood behind me. But I guess you and I know that chivalry, etiquette and plain good manners are long dead on the gig circuit.

This weather makes me want to sit in a beer garden. Sadly my local boozers (the Dog & Handgun, the Knife & Throat and the Ferret & Crackpipe) don’t really have any nice outside space. One has a sort-of beer garden (few wooden picnic tables on Kennington Road) where at least I can watch the 159s sail past in all their curvaceous majesty.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What I did on my sabbatical

By Ilona Jasiewicz, aged 29

Paddled in the sea at Broadstairs and visited Bleak House
Had a champagne, cherries and salade nicoise birthday picnic in Green Park
Went to the Science museum to see a great exhibition about domestic machines: if 1950s TV ads for refrigerators and washing machines are your thing, you ought to check it out
Went to the Museum of London to see the 1920s exhibition: predictions for the future were particularly funny and inaccurate
Ate gin and tonic jellies which had frozen bubbles in them and made me very drunk very quickly
Visited Bruges where I took a boat ride and ate fondue
Explored the extraordinary shell grotto in a scuzzy part of Margate
Went to Dreamland to ride the only roller coaster to be grade II listed, but it was closed
Went to Ladyfest Birmingham with the Actionettes on my birthday!

Yesterday was an odd day. Three good things and three bad things. Good: free bus ride to work (sat on the top deck and pretended to be asleep. Works every time.); very nice falafel for lunch; discovered fab frozen yoghurt place near work. Bad: caught the heel of my shoe in a hole in middle of a street I was crossing: stepped out of my shoe and realised I’d left it behind, and had to retrieve it. If there had been any cars I would have been hit. Also bad: a pigeon in Covent Garden Piazza swooped low over my head and brushed my hair with its foul claws and wings. I shrieked. Worst of all: while making dinner I dropped an 8" kitchen knife point-first on my bare toe. Lots of blood and faintness ensued, until cold water and a plaster were administered, and I lay on the couch all night while Steve made dinner, washed up, brought me drinks etc. etc.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Lordy, it's been ages. I am on sabattical from work (basically I have a month off, paid), and as I don't have a computer at home I am stranded. Can't access any good sites from the shared pcs at the library: Blogger, eBay, and all property websites are blocked. This is why Sunday night sees me at the office, surreptitiously checking job listings, drooling over nice flats, and updating this thing.

I have been having a fine old time of late. Just got back from Ladyfest Birmingham, where the Actionettes (pics of recent shows are on the site now!) did a workshop and then a performance in the evening. Apparently the band on after us (who were headlining) were worried we stole the show. Yay! Yesterday was my birthday, and two of the ladies baked (or, in Maddy's case, steamed), cakes. The train journey to Birmingham was enlivened by cava drunk from 'Top of the Pops' paper cups and amazing cake. Steve served as chief cava-opener, and carried my bags. All very good.

Went to Bruges with my sister last week, too. Three days of walking in circles (her sense of direction and map-reading skills are nearly as bad as mine, which generally consist of 'we need to find that road that had a nice dog standing on the corner and a house with a blue door' etc); drinking 9% beer and consequently going a bit funny; and eating chocolate every few hours. Stayed in a fab converted townhouse, and got upgraded to a family room/suite thingy, as our room hadn't been cleaned when we checked in.

Back at work next week, so check back for tales of me plotting to commit hari-kiri on my boss's desk, vodka shots at 11am (to make the pain go away!), and further frantic attempts at finding a new job.