Monday, November 29, 2004

Friday I slept through my alarm, as I tend to do every couple of weeks. My subconscious is a sneaky bugger, and likes to incorporate the alarm into my dreams, with an elaborate back story, so that by the time the screamingly loud pips go at 7.40, in my dream I am in a bath ignoring the phone, or riding the bus and someone just rang the bell. So anyway, I got up rather swiftly at 9.20, hopped about for a few minutes cursing, and after a quick shower and make-up, faced my wardrobe. Some days it’s hard to pick out what to wear: when you’ve had no coffee and have about thirty seconds to find an outfit, you don’t stand a chance. Perhaps this is why I rolled up to the Savoy for a meeting with an author at 10.30 wearing a denim skirt and green fishnets… Luckily I arrived before he did, and was seated throughout the conversation, so I don’t think he mistook me for a hooker at Halloween.

Some great shops I pass on the way to work

Noah’s Art. The Fishcoteque chippie. And Awe Wines, which I can’t quite work out: maybe it sounds really good slurred?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Wild Weekend was wild. I am suffering from major holiday come-down now, and real life seems dull and bland. Probably cos – when compared to dancing at a casino for three nights, in sequined/fringed/netball costumes; staying up til four or five in the morning; having dance rehearsals on a 10th floor balcony and hearing people in the next block applaud – it is. It’s a strangely nostalgic feeling for me, and one I haven’t experienced in over a decade: I used to go to Poland every year between the ages of 13 and 16, on a summer camp for Polish kids from Poland, England and the US, and in the three weeks we were stationed in a boarding school in some no-man’s land, we created our own world. We had our own slang, in-jokes, crushes, nemeses. Gossip flew around the rooms, and a hierarchy of popular kids and nerds was established by the end of the third day. It was like high school condensed, but with midnight feasts, dawn raids, illicit drinking, and bi-lingual swearing.

If I am making it sound like loads of fun, please note this was before the fall of communism, and the food was awful.

But Benidorm was great. The town itself is ugly – like LA but with none of the cool 1930s architecture and good shops – just full of strip malls, tower blocks, and bars with names like ‘Bob and Joan’s English Pub’. There was not a hell of a lot to do during the day, which was fine by me as I wanted to sleep through most of it. The main thing in the town’s favour is that when you buy a mixed drink in Benidorm boy do you get a drink… about three/four shots in one glass, with a splash of mixer.

Am having my flat valued today. Before I bought it, the survey noted that the kitchen was dated (which is putting it politely) and that the d├ęcor could do with freshening. I can imagine how this evening’s meeting will go:

Estate agent: you bought it for how much?

Me: [mumble mumble]

Estate Agent: OK. Well, in ripping up the carpets – but not having the paint-splattered parquet flooring cleaned – and steaming the wood-chip wallpaper off – but not re-plastering the walls – you’ve done the unthinkable and knocked twenty grand off the value!

Someone just emailed round a book proposal about some dead person who did stuff ages ago and nobody’s heard of them. I guess it was unsupportive of me to skim it, sigh, and loudly say ‘bo-ring!’ to the entire office…

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

So I lied. There were 1 million petals, not three, and they were poppies, not roses. I got my info from the Evening Standard, so I blame them. Anyway, it wasn’t much of a spectacle, so I am sorry if you showed up and were utterly underwhelmed – I was too. The planes were pretty high up, and it was dark, and they dropped their cargo over Westminster/ the Hungerford footbridges, so everyone on Waterloo Bridge was looking downriver enviously before turning their collars up and heading home. The high point was lots of searchlights lighting up the sky, and every so often one of them would hit a red cloud of poppy petals and everyone would ooh and aah.

Boss just asked me to lunch. I can’t do today, so we’re going next week. This means I have a whole week of panicked thinking: am I getting a raise (doubtful: only been here two months), is he going to drastically change my job description (‘You know we hired you to work on books? We’d like you to clean the toilets now.’), or am I being politely fired?

Today I raised an ISBN. This gives me an incredible sense of power: see that little code on the back of a book? And on the copyright page? I chose that! I looked at my big list of ISBNs, and I wrote the title of the book next to one, and IT WAS DONE.

A woman from a literary agency just called me. This is the conversation as I remember it, 45 seconds later. ‘Hello, this is blah blah, blah blah’s assistant from Shiel Land. In October we sent Ian a manuscript by blah blah blah, called blah. We’re very keen to hear his thoughts. Can you look into it?’ Me: ‘Of course!’ Hang up. Don’t remember a freakin word except those I have transcribed above.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A woman I work with suspects I am planning to steal her dog. He’s a black, scruffy schnauzer, and the cutest thing in the world. He comes to the office with her and snuffles about the place, and every time I see his hind legs stretching from behind a filing cabinet, or hear him rolling about on the carpet trying to scratch his head, I am compelled to go over there and pat him and talk to him in a gruff doggy voice. And then she walks past, sees me muttering at her dog, and I have to make up some lame excuse.

I had a haircut four days ago, and already it’s grown! I trimmed my fringe this morning in the bathroom mirror, and then discovered the secret of good fringe: after washing hair, put on a knitted hat, or a hairband (hippie-style), to keep the fringe flat. Try to remember to remove it before leaving the house…

Last night after work, Steve, Agi and I made the trip to see the twins. Sabby has developed a bizarre accent, a cross between Brummie and West Country. She filled me in on the plot of Meg (‘a cat who thinks she can floooooay, but only buuuurds can floooooay’) and made me dance with her (to Hokey Cokey. She knows all the words). When Steve arrived, he sat down to read the Gruffalo to both girls: Sabby rechristened him ‘Stevealo’, before clambering onto his knees, standing on his crotch (eeeow!), hauling herself up his chest and onto his shoulders – and then farting on his head. Oh how we laughed. His expression was truly a joy to behold: a mixture of disbelief, amusement and sheer terror.

Tonight I’m heading down to the river to see the Armistice Day celebrations. Two planes (bombers? Dakotas, whatever they look like) are going to fly along the river at 6pm, starting around Tower Bridge, scattering three million rose petals, one for every serviceman and servicewoman who died during the two world wars. If you can’t make it but you’re online, try to find a London webcam and have a look.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The office is too damn cold. I am wearing a T-shirt and a thin jumper, and I am freezing. Sometimes I go to the loo just to stand under the dryer and feel warm for a bit. No wonder I’m in a permanent state of snifflyness.

Last week I went to Liberty and finally spent the gift coin Therese got me. I had to plan my outfit for Liberty, as it depresses me to shop in such a beautiful building looking like a scruff. So I donned a vintage 70s dress, black with a purple pattern, my new boots from the Fatted Calf, denim jacket, long grey crochet scarf, and a green tweedy bag with gold handles I got for a fiver in Eastbourne. Then Steve and I promenaded around the shop for a good hour. Should I blow all the money on one fabulously decadent but horribly impractical pair of dry-clean-only silk knickers? A Marc Jacobs jumper TopShop have knocked off for a fraction of the price? A new bottle of Dypthique perfume, as my current one’s running out? In the end I admitted that if I spent £25 on one item I could not live with myself. Yeah, I know. But I can’t face spending £16 on body lotion, or £8 on a tea towel, so I bought the following items:

Jasmine and Grapefruit soap: Oh. My. God. Smells amazing. Makes the bathroom smell amazing. Foams up like the richest, creamiest shower gel. After watching Fight Club, I am convinced it can only be made of human fat.

Christmas cards: it’s a fact that animals doing human things (gambling! Getting married! Throwing snowballs at each other while wearing knitted waistcoats and bobble hats!) is the funniest thing in the world, EVER. Steve expressed delighted surprise when I agreed that a framed painting of the classic of this genre, Dogs Playing Poker, would look good on the living room wall in our new flat.

Chocolate pocket-watch tree decoration: it was pretty and we scoffed it on the bus on the way home.

Candle shaped like a milk bottle: smelled like childhood, but we couldn’t quite decide how. Has a cow on it. Smells biscuity and creamy and mmmmm.

Slab of cinnamon and vanilla Mexican chocolate: has a weird crumbly, gritty texture, but once it starts to melt it’s addictive. Also very good grated into pancake or muffin batter.

Jar of £6 honey: I feel like a queen eating this. Six quid? On honey? Well you’ve got to live a little sometimes.