Tuesday, 6 December 2011

New Kids on the Block

I think it all started when I saw Cheryl Cole learning to street dance a few years ago on the ITV. Why was I watching the other side? A very good question. Well I think I might, repeat might have liked one of her combo’s ditties (no homo) what was in the charts at the time - and any Pointer Sister’s cover is ok by me, I am a Gay after all. So I thought I’d have it on in the background. It’s company for the art and gives me a moment of distraction from contemplating Zoroastrianism or cataloguing my back issues of Scaffolder’s quarterly.

Firstly the trousers, what did MC Hammer called them - loon pants was it? I mean, really. I know it is important to have all the right equipment (no homo) but this wasn’t sensible gym wear, or something comfy you might throw on following an aqua  aerobics (libra) session or a carrot juice at Pineapple. Or is that a pineapple juice at Carrot? And secondly, and the real source of my most painful and ongoing angst, was the stage school Johnnies talking as if they were fetched up in the hood.

Rickmansworth isn’t quite the harshlands of deepest Peckham and there isn’t really any need to pretend you were born in the projects if actually your labels are ‘bay window by Acacia Avenue’ and ‘jazz hands by Italia Conti*’. 

Then there was diversity on the Pop Factor, and everyone and everything was suddenly going urban. I’m sure at one point I even saw that Mr David Cameroon with the label on his academic gown still showing and him not tying up the laces on his Church and Co’s. 

Now, I’ve lived in South London longer than Molly Parkin’s been wearing those hats and I’ve had drinking sessions with Glaswegians (in fact I’ve had drinking sessions with most people), so of course I can understand what everyone is saying urban or cut glass, but I must say I was challenged the other night. 

The occasion was a social viewing of Attack of the Block (DVD). Now I’m not going to get into a long discussion about Anti Heroes or my position on their celebration in drama or real life, or the social consequences of children growing up in poverty and neglect - I’ll leave that for the grownups. But what I will just say, whilst I’ve got you, is that I do wish there had been subtitles. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the film; I’m always very warm towards anything set in London, and I know the neighbourhood featured very well. But I had barely a clue what anyone was saying. Luckily it didn’t really have a detrimental effect/affect on my viewing enjoyment or my understanding of the wider plot; it was mostly skunk and aliens anyway. But it did rather mean that I missed some of the finer points of the character and relationship development, and couldn't always catch everyone’s moniker or what they were having for their tea.

So I piped up to my hosts, for I wasn’t viewing alone. 

I said “I have absolutely no idea what these young people are saying”. 

And the retort? 

Well let’s just say I was told off for being too middle class. 


I said              ARE YOU NEW HERE?

*other stage schools are available

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Creaming the Coconuts

Darlings, the opening lines from my new steamy racy novel.


As the morning cracked through the crisp white silk and linen shell of the night, it filled the room with the sparkling diamonds of a kaleidoscopic dawn; blue, white, and yellow rainbow beams bouncing excitedly across the walls and celing, dappling an ever new pattern as it broke the dark fast.

I was still only half awake when he called. He was in Monte Carlo again. Jacqueline Bisset had hosted yet another of her legendary soirees, all of which end up with him naked in her swimming pool playfully rutting with Mario Testino's latest muse.

He was still flirtatiously drunk and whispered the soft half-awake pillow talk spanning the warmth of the morning bed sheets which stretched across the continent, lying next to me whilst being so far south in the same dream like moment.

He rang so I could remind him of the details of his flight. We may no longer be together; if we ever were, but he still has his assistant courier me all his travel details so that wherever he is - drunk, stoned or in flagrante, whatever the time zone or prevailing political wind of his waking and whosoever's love soaked bed his body is caressing, he knows someone, somewhere will be able to remind him which flight to get and how to summon his car service.

The collection of blue Smythson leather portfolios containing the intricate details of his hotels, drivers, engagements and seat numbers (always 3A) fill the shelves of my study like ripples in an emerald sea. Sometimes in the evening if I am restless or missing the sun, I flick through this library and dream of far-away shores, bronzed and warm, washed by a soft breeze, and I imagine the sweet smell of oiled muscles, and the taste of salt in the air from the crashing break. There is a promise in these dreams and a hungry, delicious ache for times and places still to come.................

Thursday, 17 November 2011

And a Blond

Well it has been very lovely - weather wise.

My brother and I used to have a descriptor for the perfect day. It was called a Halifax cash card day. This was based upon an advert at the time for the Halifax Building society, as it was called then. Like the polytechnics becoming universities – I think they’re all banks now.
The advert featured a docklands type having a day of ease in the sunny city, smiling, skipping, grabbing a coffee, walking by the river, nice chambray shirt, laughing – head thrown back stylee, lunching with friends at Pont de la Tour – that sort of thing.  And to help him with all his fun post Thatcher activities and Jermyn Street shirt purchases, he jogged to the cashpoint to use his Halifax Cash Card.  Oh how happy we were.

So whenever we are kicking back, as our American chums used to say, well that’s what we’re having, a Halifax card cash day. And very nice they are too.
I had a couple of HCCDs recently, stealing a cheeky day off last Friday and immersing myself in the sunshine, an entirely new wardrobe of tailored gems, a walk through East Dulwich, chatting with the lady who makes the jam on the market stall, trying new cheeses – god I love being so terribly middle class – it’s liked cooked cocaine to me. Then off to lunch or brunch as they say, with a young lady who works in the arts, then checking in with one of my old Grande dames for some wise wit and walnut cake. Oh how my cup runneth over.

I’m pretty certain that life is good at the moment. I’m even enjoying work which means I must be coming down with something. I feel purposeful and content. And importantly I am slim; slimmer of the fucking year and I love it.
Now this brings me onto blonds, because gentlemen certainly do prefer blonds, and I mean many things by this. But the gist is that the young and the pretty shall inherit the world. Now I’ve dined on my wit and my charm for many years, I could even turn a head in my heyday (very different to one’s prime) like maturity and sex drive – rarely arrive in tandem. But it is true I did get up to a size 12/14 over the past few years, and even though with the beard it was socially acceptable, it wasn’t, I think my true being. I think being slimmer is more me and I feel like I have returned to my equilibrium (aqualibra) rather than reduced. But I have noticed some very interesting things. People have been paying more attention to me. And I don’t mean in a how’s your father sort of way (he’s very well thank you for asking), although I was blind to that even when I was 25 and gorgeous. But I mean in life in general, at work, in the street, etc. etc., people are paying more attention to me and I am in people’s radar more, just in ordinary ways, and I really think it is because I am looking better and I think people respond and react to that. Now as well as being terribly interesting, it is quite shocking. This a) means that people are that shallow, and that’s scary in a work situation where prospects and respect are concerned, but b) it means that the ignorant workshy could carefully alter/adapt their image to enhance their staged existence and in doing so obtain advancement over those who were quietly performing and being non manipulative. I suppose I knew this, but it has really brought it home.  You can see this across society with people trying to stage their lives to be things they are not, in order to achieve a perceived higher standing to obtain things they haven’t earnt or deserve or to smoke and mirrors their work, art or ideas to appear as something new, relevant or worthy, when it is in fact not.

It takes more than a terracotta tile and a bottle of balsamic vinegar to make Tuscany my dears.
(Reads back to check whether rant has been exhausted? Yes)
But the young and the pretty will inherit the earth, and good fucking luck to them.

Where was I? Oh yes HCCDs.  
I accidently joined the 2 minute silence lest we forget, i.e. the radio was on and I wasn’t talking to myself. Silence on the radio is a very strange thing. I once heard a documentary about it – to be avoided those in broadcasting circles tell me. I then read the paper. The paper was of course 5 weeks old, but still, an article on Margaret Atwood is an article on Margaret Atwood, whenever it was published. I have put aside the Observer guide to writing your novel – for closer attention over an alcohol free cooking sherry at a later date.

Did I mention that the sun was shining? It always does on HCCDs. I had one of Robbyn’s gorgeous rolls which she purloined for me via her emporium du fromage and which I had sliced and frozen ready for toast one day. And that day was that day. I had them with butter and bon mammon berries and cherries, a cup of Yorkshire Gold and the resonance of Nimrod saluting those who had fallen.
Also, the National Trust – did I mention I was middle class? They sent me their holiday cottage brochure. This was ordered when I was first researching for my Cornish sojourn with Gloria next year. Now NT places are very expensive, but if you don’t have kiddies and are not averse to sharing with two dustmen from Cleethorpes, the rates can be very reasonable. I am now pondering March in North wales.

HCCDs for me are all about being out and about, exploring, the sunshine, just some gorgeous music for company. I don’t need the Pont de la Tour (wasn’t she is rising damp).  Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind others. In fact some of my best friends are a bit other.
The weather, well the sunshine had to break and it did finally yesterday. So when I found myself in the lift with a need for small talk I said.

‘These cloudy days, they really do make you want to snuggle up under the duvet with a good book’
And he said,
‘And a blond’
He didn’t look the type!


Friday, 14 October 2011

Working in the Sun

I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up. I still feel I am finding my feet in this strange big world of work. Luckily I am employed and apparently useful and making a bit of a difference so most of my key career ambitions have already been achieved.

At breakfast I considered that my ideal job would be living off the rental income of my additional properties which I don’t have. These having been left to me by wealthy aunts, which I don’t have, in hitherto unfashionable parts of London which are now very, well, very now.

On parking the car I was sorry to have to tear myself away from the musical choices and biographical chit chat of Vidal Sassoon as he planned his desert island stay. Kirsty Young said his year of birth, and I tried to count forward to work out his age but I was surprised at how many fingers I ended up having to use and presumed I had miscalculated. It would appear however that he is very old.

His mother didn’t have room for him when his sisters got bigger, so he was placed in an orphanage at the age of 5. He enjoyed being able to have a hot bath and she visited him once a month. Then one day she had a dream that he would be a ladies hairdresser. He played Charles Aznavour in salute to all the men, gay and straight whose talent and creativity he had witnessed and worked with over the years. ‘What makes a man a man’ always sends a shiver down my spine ever since the first time I heard it sung by Marc at the Royal Albert Hall when he was celebrating 12 years (of tears) in the business. I think his concert I went to at the weekend is part of his 30 years celebrations, so we’re all getting older, but thank heavens not quite as old as Vidal, not just yet anyway. Apparently he cut Mary Quant’s ear the day he did that famous bob - Vidal that is not Marc.

I don’t think my Mother ever had a dream that I would become a local government officer. I’m not really aware if her or my father had any particular vocational dreams for any of us. We certainly weren’t expected to follow in their medical footsteps. I don’t really remember them expecting anything much, apart from good manners and tidy bedrooms, although I’m sure this is not the case. Anyway if they did they didn’t mention it often. I think the main things they would have liked would have been a few more weddings, and a whole range of unplanned (planned by Jesus) reproduction.

On leaving the car park I posted my union ballot paper which had asked me whether I would be willing to take part in industrial action regarding the future of my pension. Now my pension is very important to me as I plan to have a long and happy retirement (ultimate job) free from the drudgery of full time working. As I stepped out of the supermarket whose post box I had used, the sun was shining so brightly, that suddenly everything felt good in the world; a wonderful feeling for a Friday morning. Although it was not quite as cold, I was put in mind of my favourite days, those bitter winter ones with sharp blue skies which brace and elate simply by their very existence.

It made me wonder whether I would be best suited to a job which involved the outdoors in some manner. Perhaps working at a research facility based in a grand country house in the gloriaous British countryside. I think if the job involved exploring the grounds in a golf buggy on my way to and from meetings then I may have found a very suitable career option.

I have had jobs in the sunshine. My sunniest job was at the Design Museum - oh my how I loved that job. I worked there during my third year at UCL, having resigned from the Conran shop at the end of my second year vowing I would be far too busy studying to have any time for a part time job during the following three terms.

The Job required me to attend the Museum at 8 o’clock on Sunday mornings. First duty was to collect the deliveries of gorgeous pastries and baguettes which had arrived at dawn from the bakers and which were being guarded by security until my arrival. I would then carry these boxes into the main hall - which was a huge open plan area with huge long tables in the middle. I would set them down, go into the kitchen and bring out all the ingredients, knives and assorted equipment and start to prep all the baguettes. We did mature cheddar and chutney, we did salami and gherkin, we did tuna salad and we did mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes with basil leaf. If nothing else we were so terribly, terribly 1989 and no riposte. Our black polo necks and crisp starched white aprons (replaced throughout the day when they became dirty) were testament to this.

I would be joined by colleagues at 9.00am who would help me finish all the prep. Finally a further couple of colleagues would arrive at 10 when we would open shop and our day of smiling, serving sandwiches and cakes, giving directions to the Blueprint café upstairs and wishing the customers wouldn’t ask for  their espresso in Italian as it only made them look like twats, would begin.

mmmmmm. I would saunter back in just before nine and crack on. My tired and hungry colleagues would arrive, make their own picnics and in time we’d come together and finish making up all the baguettes and be ready to open at 10 with skyscraper like piles of sandwiches, baguettes and beautiful pastries. I’ve never eaten so well on a Sunday before or since.

There is something so magical and relaxing about the waking of a town or city on a sunny morning. Helping my Gran in her shop in Devon used to fill me with a similar feeling of peace and joy, early morning sunshine, the squawk of seagulls, businesses getting ready for the day, waving to neighbours, coffee and a cigarette in the door way, sun on your face. Very Applehurst.

So on reflection, when I grow up my ideal job will definitely have to be by the coast or at least near the water. It doesn't need to be at a research facility, but I would like the golf buggy, and am certainly fine with big country houses. There will need to be sunshine, and there will need to be quiet; no pointless chit chat about leggings or the X Factor, and there will need to be strong cups of tea - lots of them and don’t skimp on the milk, and maybe the occasional baguette, but no smokes. Everything else is up for negotiation.

Well, all that sounds like utter joy to me. Sorted, when do I start?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Calling Time

I was interviewed - if you can call it that, by a lady who looked a bit Like Miss Diane from Crossroads but with darker more Suzie Quatro stylee hair. It is strange but I can picture her so clearly. She wore a black A-line skirt and a nasty little regulation waistcoat in purple polyester with the brewery logo on the breast. Irene was the bar staff supervisor. I don't know whether that was an official title bestowed on her after reaching spirit level 2 at the Birmingham headquarters or whether it was a common law title which she had given herself and the poor tired landlord couldn't be bothered to argue with. He was too busy arguing with his wife, very loudly most of the time. I think it was probably because she did it as her full time job whereas the rest of us were jobbing actresses, Saturday boys, heavy metal fans who wouldn’t be able to hold down a normal job or college students topping up their grants. 

We were a motley crew, colourful, and came in all shapes and sizes. We were roughly of a similar age 18 - early 20's. Apart from Gloria that is, who was about 70. She helped out at lunchtime, and I think had been doing it since just after the hop was invented. She was very good at mending the glass washer, looked a bit like Dolly from Personal services -'Dolly - you're a man!' and once told me a story during one of our many cigarette breaks out the back, about going away with her brother and being told off for using too much toilet paper! True friends confide.

The interview took place in the Loose Box, yes how quaint. The pub you see was called the Coach and Horses, and the old bit of the pub which I used to prefer to work in where all the old biddies would drink too much too early in the morning was known as the ‘Coach’, but the newer, livelier bar next door was the ‘Loose Box’ and it was the haven of the young crowd. This mainly consisted of over made up girls who drank taboo and coke, their boyfriends in identikit Burton’s smart casual, and friends of staff hoping to get 'discounted' booze!

Drinks were more expensive in the Loose Box to take account of this swish, ‘club like’ experience, and yes there were bouncers on the door. One of them had a baseball bat in the back of his maxi for when things got a bit out of control, as they usually do when you get drunken teenagers together in one small place with girls to impress and ancient rights of masculinity to master. And Kouros! I do recall the front of the pub being smashed in one night when someone wasn’t allowed in. I remember thinking ‘how Dickensian’ as I stepped over broken glass arriving for my morning shift the following day. Classy stuff.

I always tried v hard to secure evening shifts in the Coach. Although I often worked in the loose box during the day where it was more of a shoppers’ lunch stop - very convivial and with fantastic roast potatoes which I consumed by the ladle full. Luckily I was unable to put on any weight until my 30’s and remained a glamorous size 10 throughout.

Getting back to the interview – it was in the Loose Box, think Crossroads Motel meets school disco, mid-afternoon just after the lunchtime shift had finished. A bar styled and existing only for the night time is a strange place during the day, like school in the middle of a holiday or a workplace at the weekend. It doesn’t feel right, but is quite relaxed in a fun way. 

Irene was very impressed with my academic achievements - 3 A levels, 7 O levels and recorder level 1 under my belt with a place at England’s 3rd University to read Philosophy on the horizon. My substantial CV – Boots the Chemist (Cook Shop), babysitting and adult literacy teaching erred strongly on the impressive no doubt. It was years though before I could add art appreciation and wine tasting to the list, but what was there must have reeked of potential. Apart from my exuberant vitae I suppose I would have been very polite, well presented, not yet annoyingly sarcastic and overbearingly correct and offering demonstrable experience of dealing with people in the retail environ-ment. But let’s face it I looked and sounded reliable, could string a sentence together, add up quickly in my head, washed, and wasn’t going to start a fight, at least not unless heavily provoked!

The job was mine, and I loved it. I think shift work really suited me, and it was a very social job, most of my friends drank in the pub, I liked chatting to old ladies, and those cheese salad baps! What more could I ask for. Oh those baps!

The only thing I remember about my induction, apart from Dolly showing me how to mend the glass machine whilst dropping ash everywhere, (you didn’t have to drop ash everywhere whilst mending the machine, it’s just hard not to when you are constantly smoking) was the chapter in the brewery staff manual about the listening role of the bartender. We were there to listen, to give a sympathetic ear, to counsel, a warm offering when life was cold, and to sell drunks pork scratchings and baps.

One of the first things that struck me, and a lesson I have tried to take into my own later life, was how bossy old people are and how much they like to drink. Firstly there was Mary; Irish, tight black perm. Now woe betides anyone who was in her seat when she came in. It just wasn’t done. Like the poor bastards who unwittingly did sit in her seat I had no guidance, no briefing sheet handed to me on arrival, no warning. So when I first served her half of Guinness, I didn’t know she only had it in a certain glass, but she did, and I only made that mistake once. It had to be in a ‘ladies’ glass. A ladies glass for heaven sake - she looked like a bus driver in a bad acrylic wig! Then there was the old guy who always had a glass of water with his pint of Guinness. Again he didn’t ask for it, and no one told me he liked it, I was simply expected to know and accept the grimace and snarl (good name for a pub) when at first I didn’t give it to him. He was like the Benny Hill character - Cosmo Small Piece, but skinnier and older – mac wearer. There were a lot of mac wearers, but I’ll come to that later. Another old bossy person of whom I did wrong on first serving was a harmless looking little old lady (with hidden strength) who would come in of a morning after she had done her shopping. She’d always have a sherry. And why not, a sherry after shopping is a lovely thing. So on our first meeting she walked up to the bar, half Ethel from Enders and half faded Barbara Castle, and asked for a schooner of sherry. Now I knew about sherry glasses, so I was way ahead of her here. I got a sherry glass out and filled it with medium sweet, very pleased with myself for getting it right. But no, and if looks could kill. Apparently that wasn’t a schooner, a schooner, as I was soon to became acquainted, wasn’t actually a sherry glass at all but rather it was a vase like looking half pint glass on a stem simply masquerading as a sherry glass. So a half pint of sherry it is madam, anything else – a wasp to chew per chance? Oh I am sorry is that madam’s normal face. Then there was the funny old French woman who looked a little bit like Mrs Polouvicka from To The Manor Born. She was a dying breed, for she was a mild drinker, and half a mild in a glass with a handle is what she required, and what she was duly served, from the second time I served her onwards.

I think there was something very important for these old timers about being able to walk into the pub, be greeted with a ‘hello enter your name here’ from the youngster behind the bar, followed with a ‘your usual (re-enter your name here)?’ and to find your favourite seat by the gas appliance to be devoid of stranger. So to that end I fulfilled my role and made them feel as if they were important even though they weren’t. But how complicated it was getting it all right.

So back to the mac wearers and the chief mac wearer in particular. His name was Brian and he was a weasel of a land that time forget stylee nhs specs wearing weirdo. Again a bit of a Benny Hill character. He did actually wear a dirty old mac. He would always sit on the bar stool at the end of the bar next to our escape hatch, so we had to pass him every time we left the safety of the bar to go and collect glasses, have a fag, empty ashtrays, have a fag, have a fag, etc., etc. I didn’t like it that he was sat in such close proximity to the young firm flesh that was us the staff. One night when I was in socialising on my night off, I and one of the other bar staff had been playing the fruit machine; forever in the hope of a big win, and having a general laugh. Brian was always on the machines and we knew him to be a bit of a gambler. I should have seen all the signs, but I wasn’t as savvy in those days; I hadn’t been soiled and bruised as now. Earlier in the night he had excitedly shown me a tatty photocopied sheet detailing a cartoon alphabet, and for each letter there was a rude drawing. This must have been very early Gestetner porn. I can picture his screwed up Steptoe face now, looking to see if there was any flicker at all of excitement in my young eyes. B is for Big Boobs!! Hold me down won’t you – call the nurse! I don’t think so.

Towards the end of the evening he said, and I have to apologise here for my ridiculous naivety, he said ‘I’d like to play with you’. Now I thought because of all the gambling chat etc., etc. he meant, and again I’m so sorry for my stupidity, I thought he meant he wanted to have an after hours game of cards or something. But I wasn’t sure. So I asked him what exactly he meant, and he said –

‘I’d just put my hand down the front of your trousers
and I’d give you a fiver’.

A fiver! – I didn’t get out of bed for anything less that £7.50 in those days. I was shocked, I was appalled, and I was confused as to how to handle this vile unwashed, slightly damp proposition. So I thought on my feet and said to him that the answer was a definite no, that he should never speak to me or any other member of staff like that again and if he agreed to that we could consider the matter closed. He sheepishly agreed, and he actually didn’t ever come in again. I told everyone anyway. But really I was prime teen totty, a fiver! The shame of it. It was the first and last time I was ever offered money for favours of the flesh - that I can remember.

Working in the pub wasn’t all plain sailing; getting frisky offers from dodgy old men and having to find the right glass for the right old biddy wasn’t the whole story. No, there were also the dogs. All pubs have dogs, part security, part communal companion, but the dogs here were like the ones from the Omen. Not once did I think they weren’t going to have one of my limbs off. Nasty Rottweilers, barky, make you mess yourself scary, fast running thug dogs! Each time they came down into the bar I would stand flush to the wall in an attempt to preserve my life. They would usually be following the Pug Princess, one of the most annoying and ugly young ladies I have ever met. She thought as she was the landlady’s daughter that she was some sort of cut above the rest of us. What she didn’t realise was that actually she lived in shit boozer and was way too ugly to really waste oxygen on. She thought she was the Queen of Sheba. Anyway the dogs would follow her down the stairs like Satan’s foot soldiers. She would frolic with them as if they were toy poodles. But I wasn’t going to take any chances.

Every morning we'd have to bottle up. This meant counting how many spaces you had on all your shelves and going out back with a crate to replenish appropriately. But to get to the store shed where all the bottles were kept you had to cross the yard and pass the kennels, or even worse the dogs may actually be out in the yard. Their owners you see were under the misapprehension that these devil dogs were in fact homely play things. We would work in pairs keeping a look out and if necessary throwing hunks of meat in the opposite direction in order to create a diversion and the smallest window of safe passage. Once in the shed you were fine, but then trying to get back to the pub was just as hard and just as dangerous. If you remember from Tom and Jerry, Tom creeping past the big sleeping dog in the yard, it was very much like that. Luckily my time at the pub passed mostly without scar.

I think if anything did scar me during my time it was the night Roger left. Roger was one of the key bar staff and previous to my arrival had been the stalwart of the rota and a smiling permanent fixture. He looked a bit like Alan Davis if I remember correctly, in fact it might have been Alan Davis, I’ll check that later. For Roger’s last night they had arranged a bit of a ‘surprise’. The word went out that there would be a lock in after for a private staff and key regulars only party. So there we were, we’d cleaned up and I’d kicked off my mules and was on my second brandy and babycham. Obviously people had been buying Roger drinks all night, he was a popular member of the staff and the locals liked him. What he didn’t know was that all night long the landlord had been topping his drinks up with vodka. So come the end of the shift and the start of the ‘celebrations’ he was unable to stand up and was shit the bed drunk! Then in they came, San and Trace. I’m not sure where they’d been hiding, but they’d probably been upstairs in the flat powdering their love bites. It was real readers’ wives from hell stuff, and they soon had themselves and him stripped off. He was lying helpless on the bar floor grimacing as these whores of Beelzebub squatted, hovering over his face and mimicked riding his member virilis. It was like watching an animal being bated for entertainment – dancing bears, monkeys in top hats, that sort of thing. I knew it was wrong, and it made me very angry. I remember everyone else thinking it was so, so funny, and laughing and loving it all. No one thought it was out of order, offensive or a cruel circus spectacle. Presumably for many of the assembled gaggle this was the first and perhaps last time they would ever see the flesh of another human being for free and so they were jolly well going to make the most of it. Anyway I left as soon as I could after a lengthy struggle with the drunk landlady who was refusing to unlock the door in a winking ‘forty two and no bra – not bad eh’ sort of way.

Don’t get me wrong I did mostly really enjoy my time there and as I draw this sorry tale to a close, the thing I remember most is how one of my fellow pint pullers; a gayer, used to swap all the Radio 2 stylee tapes sent by the brewery to be played during opening hours with mix after mix of Gay dance anthems and HiNRG, not one punter noticed, they all bopped away, never knowing that they were listening to poofs music! You should have seen the Burton’s brigade getting on down to Man to Man’s Male stripper, Sinitta, Divine and Hazel Dean – they’d have messed themselves if they’d known.

Oh well and Hoorah!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Boob Talk ®

There was a lot of boob talk today, which doesn’t seem right to me, not at my age (looks 32).
First I ventured to the final day (it’s the way I like to see art) of Miro at the Tate Modern – beautiful pastries and very reasonably priced café au lait. It was glorious, and I am so glad I went to see it. Spain, as some of you know is my spiritual home, and a key plank of my retirement manifesto is to run a bordello in Andalucía with Penny Cruz and Pedro (Almodovar – I know you knew). But the art was amazing and spoke so clearly of the Spanish struggle against Franco and was gorgeous.
But there were a lot of boobs.
Peasant boobs mostly, and with the swish of the surrealist's brush, some took quite a lot of guess work to see, but luckily the saccharine spiel of the curator told you were to look at the 3 lines, and to know which one represented the peasant oppression and which one represented the boobs.
Talking of boobs - I know some people should be allowed to have children, where absolutely necessary, but do they really need to bring them to galleries, on my day off. What’s wrong with Cbeebies and a nanny? (Is Wendy Craig still working?)
I then traversed à pied to London’s Covent Garden via the RFH shop, Hungerford, Villiers and Bow. Here to have the webbing on my piece adjusted. Now my barber Andy loves boobs. There is a wonderful old school pin ups calendar like the sort you would see furtively peering from behind packs of peanuts in the olden days, presumably tempting the beer drinkers to eat ever more salty KP, and thus drink ever more flat warm beer.
Often, at the barbers, as one is waiting in line, you are eye to nipple with a busty wench. She must be cold, I always think, although all parts do appear quite pneumatic and that thong could be lined.
So I get to the chair, and there staring me in the face, apart from the salt and pepper God like George Clooneyness which is I, is a sticker on the mirror which reads ‘I (heart) BOOBS’.  Now I know he likes boobs; the finer parts of the female form have come up in discussion once or twice over the last 22 years. In fact he did ask me if I was on the turn today, but now I mention it, I can’t quite recall why. But rest assured I’m not – sorry ladies.
So from Bedfordbury, we (I) go to Long Acre, where we pick up a gorgeous tailored chemise blu (oh how we are loving being slim), have a good old search through the Nigel Hall sale shop and a post-riot natter with the shop boys and then hot foot it to M&S for a few edible treats for the coming week and a pint of organic skimmed. Whilst there, I thought I’d just pop upstairs (put your fingers in your ears Adrian) and have a look at the clothes. Well I know, but through a sea of nothing you do from time to time see a single glisten of something, and I can scan the store in 30 secs and know whether there’s anything requiring a second look. Now I did see a shirt which I thought I would at least try on, soft to touch and pleasant to eye. So after asking the sales lady where the fitting rooms were, I knew, but I like them to earn their money, which took forever as she was excruciatingly slow and it took her about 3 minutes to get her brain into gear and muster all she had to simply produce ‘over there’. Serves me right for asking, but moving on.
On arrival at the fitting facility there was no waiting. The lady had me straight into a cubicle with an offer of additional sizes if required. I did end up asking actually, but she didn’t have a small. Where was I? oh yes boobs, so what I hadn’t realised, although perhaps I should have done, what with the piles of discarded lingerie draping the counter and rail, was that I was in a unisex changing facility (You wouldn’t get this in first class I can tell you).
I hadn’t been in there for more than 10 seconds. All I’d had time to do was put down my groceries and realise the shirt was too big for my lean physique and the mirror was too small for my statuesque stature. When in a booming voice, loud enough to blow the froth of a coffee at an adjacent table, I hear ‘ Well I just can’t get a bra to fit me since I started breast feeding – they’re just so big’ followed by the a second voice ‘well this one doesn’t fit, look they’re squeezing out of the side’.
So as you can see there has been rather a lot of boob talk today. But that is certainly enough. I’m off to the National later to see something enriching by Arnold Wesker – I hope there aren’t any bedroom or nursing scenes.
In other news, even though I am very much looking forward to having thighs like tree trunks, these Jane Fonda esque wii fitness instructor hell sessions (with weights) are very strenuous. I think the main place I am going wrong is not having a head band!
Toodle Pip!

Monday, 29 August 2011

The joy of piles

I did a lot of community work on the phone last night: reaching out to the victims of crime, the elderly, the confused - I know I don’t have to, but you can't stop the love, it's just who I am. I also narrowly avoided a hospital admission following an episode of the Big Bang Theory which made me laugh so much I was crying hysterically with laughter and wasn't sure whether I was going to be able to stop or breath properly ever again. I blame my mother. So yes, the BBT continues to be my favourite new thing and I am now a quarter way through season 2 with season 3 on order. I imagine I will either relapse or prolapse by the end of season 4 and have to watch season 5 from the safety of a 'facility'.

To break up an evening of giving and laughter I sandwiched in a series of organisational domestic activities. These included a whites wash and a full and frank discussion with my 3 drawers worth of jeans, slacks and occasionals.

Jean after trouser after cargo pant, lots far too big, and many involving a questionable decision, fashion low point or regretted sale impulse. So I got them all out. They were all in good nick as I had already done a dross purge not so long previously. I identified three piles. Pile one - far too big, pile 2 - a size too big and pile 3 - fashion and size appropriate - just right for today's go get generation.

Pile 3 went straight back in the drawer but was usefully reviewed as it highlighted that there was a brand spanking new pair of jeans I had completely forgotten about. I do so like to have one pair of dark, crisp, new jeans which remain unworn for those break glass in emergency - I must look good this evening, but no time to shop situations. There are few occasions where you can't look good with a dark pair of crisp new jeans, a sharp pressed shirt, a blazer, some spit and polish on your boots, a dab of Gucci behind the ear and a smile. Drinks party, theatre, lunch with the boys or the girls, a date or just a shopping trip to the smarter side of town. Anyway I digress (my default position as usual).

Pile 2 - was quickly reviewed and 2 pairs of the best lookers were retained in case my scales break and I get one of the in between occasions - and the others went on the charity pile.

Pile 3 - now this should have been the easiest pile to decide upon, but is actually where the most trouble was to be had. All were far too big, like clowns trousers, but I found myself looking at each and every one of them and having the following conversation (with myself):

Me: They're far too big
Me: I know, but they're nice
Me: But clown trousers aren't in this lifetime
Me: I know, but they're nice
Me: You didn't wear any of them when they fitted you!
Me: I know, but they're nice
Me: They don’t fit you and you've never worn them
Me: But what happens if my scales break and I have an in-between occasion
Me: Well then we'll get you some new trousers which fit both your body and socially accepted style norms
Me: Ok

So basically most of my clothes have now gone to charity. I just can't stop the giving - it's like a drug to me. And it opens up a whole new vein to be pumped full of my other drug of choice - shopping for new clothes. 

But it hasn't stopped there - I've still got a vestibule full of outsize coats to go through next as well as an archive of previously unwearable tailored delights which should now fit. Autumn / Winter / Spring here I come. Today Littlewoods, tomorrow Monte Carlo!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

In the beginning

In the beginning there was an eye patch - or as they are called these day an eye pad. There were cowlicks, a seventies style void filled with manmade hand me downs, there were tortoise shell NHS specs, and there were fish fingers, mash and peas.  (Well actually in the very beginning there was a stripy sausage, num num and  nim nim but more on that in the 2nd pressing perhaps.)

Later came Snantneys (otherwise known as St Anthony’s), swimming, buck teeth, Cornettos, bicycles, Rise and Shine and Adrian, not necessarily in that order and still with the cowlicks and the NHS specs.

So I had cowlicks, I had specs, I had nasty knitwear and I was fed, but how did I get about? Even fashion orphans need wheels. Well, though I was only 3 I did in fact have a very flash car indeed, which went by the moniker of ‘Tommy Rally’.

Tommy Rally was a very special racing car, with a very special chauffeur. Although I liked to think that I was the driver, I was really only the passenger, although most definitely the back seat driver (Royal blood don’t you know). The real driver, pit manger, fuel attendant and mechanic, nose blower and ice cream buyer was Clare, (Great) Aunty Clare. 

Tommy had quite a thirsty engine and I would regularly direct Clare to top him up with petrol. This would usually take place at the filling station by the hedge of no. 26.

The sketchy stories I have been able to piece together about Clare, mostly from my Mother, spotlight a life of highs and lows with a key final position as my chief assistant and team Tommy manager. She had been a housekeeper in fashionable swanky hotels in central London through and after the war. She had been married, her surname was Hastings, and had a son Kenneth, who she had to give up. He came looking for her later in life but was shooed away by her family - probably my Gran - Clare’s sister, so they never reunited. It was all a very sad tale, and so no wonder she liked a drink.

When she came to Leamington in later life, pretty much without anything I think, looking after me filled a void, gave her something to do, and distracted her from the Gordons. 

Mrs Franklin’s

In the mornings I went to Nursery. Mum was working in Birmingham forging signatures for a charity trying to help young ladies up the duff not go the termination route, but instead provide them with jobs and homes, leaflets on marriage and priority access to nuns. We had many such young ladies come and live with us throughout my youth and they were all lovely. One, Carol, her mum used to do the hairdressing on the Carry On films!  Patsy was a model, Laura had a lovely son Daniel and a guitar or was it an accordion, Margie was Irish, very tall, and had the straightest long hair, Suzie had bleach blond hair with black roots, platforms and smoked. She came to Widemouth with us I happily recalled when I was there last year.

My only real memory of Mrs Franklin’s was of being ‘evacuated’ to a hall in Trinity Street and having milk and biscuits in a line, in beautiful sandals. Although as with most things this might all be down to false memory syndrome, ‘you in a wood in a hood’, and be based on a photograph I may have seen of one of the others when they were at nursery. But suffice to say I have never required the services of a therapist in order to deal with my time there, and although I have no real memories apart from the afternoons, I believe it all to have been warm and appropriate, with lots of colouring outside of the lines and tissue paper glued onto sugar paper. I don’t remember any of the other kids, although I do remember two friends from that time who could have been from there or they could have been the kids of people Dad worked with or played golf with. One was Victoria Selby, who lived in Landsdowne Crescent and had a red plastic tomato with ketchup in which I remember thinking was the height of advancement and excitement. We probably didn’t have ketchup at the Gables as it was a bit ITV. I don’t remember anything else about her. The other person is Charles Budd. Again I can only remember one thing about him, and that was being in the back of mum’s car - Triumph Toledo I think, and he wouldn’t stop talking. My early onset impatience had obviously taken to tire of this and I uttered the immortal line, repeated by my Mother ad infinitum for years, hence the clear memory, ‘You are too speaking Charle Spud.’ Bless. 

FYI - this gorgeous child I write of was referred to later in life by my sister Mary as ‘rat on a string’ but I imagine I was wearing a bright jumper and looked half presentable following bath night. ‘You were lovely when you were asleep’ I was oft told.

The afternoons

Now the afternoons were the jewel in the crown. Aunty Clare would pick me up from Nursery and we would go the 300 yds back to her flat in Bertie Terrace. There she would finish preparing lunch,  and we would wait for Gran to come back from mass. Then we world sit at the big table me in the middle, Gran to my left and Aunty Clare to my right and we would have, thank the lordy lord, always and everyday and without fail we would have fish fingers, mash and peas. And I think for pudding it might have been tinned fruit and cream (carnation). All served on blue Beryl.

After lunch we would go to the Dell, which was a sunken garden, more like a hidden valley in the middle of town, where there were swings. Why were swings such nectar of the Gods, the holy grail of activity? We would then traverse, all in Tommy Rally I think, but again, that might have been earlier and some of these journeys might have been on foot, to the post office for sweets - cherry drops are pleasantly burnt in my memory. We would then get a bus, yes a bus, to the Parish Church - Anglican but we asked for the other menu. From there we would meander to the Jeffs and gardens (also known as the Jephson Gardens). Here was a magical world of adventure and intrigue. As a toddler it was as big as a theme park and the rides were just as various and mind blowing. Oh my, what fun. There was the stone fountain, which allowed for paddling in the hot weather, there was the drinking fountain where you could get a drink (strange that), there was a mausoleum stylee building with a statute of some old bloke (Mr Jeffs And I believe) there were box hedges in squares with park benches in between which acted as my house/office, there were animals - parrots and bunnies, all in great Victorian animal houses, there was a lake with huge dancing fountains and ducks to feed,  there was a clock tower, and a clock flower bed,  there was a huge glass café which sold ices and minerals, there was a mammoth tree with branches snaking down to and across the ground which made them easy to climb even for mini adventurers, and importantly there were ice creams - rectangles of ice cream in rectangular cones. Oh the joy and the excitement, the exhilaration and the fun. My heart is racing just remembering it all which means the joy must be deep etched in my subconscious.

It was a world of adventure and exploration and Clare and I made the most of it, as often as possible. The gardens were split both by level and by a lovely iron bridge, brightly painted blue with a mesmerising weir you could lean through the bridge and watch as the water passed from the lakes down to the pump rooms and the river Leam. On the other side of the bridge were the mystical and far away swings of Mill Gardens. We didn’t venture there too often, it was another world and ‘miles away’.

Once back in the flat the afternoon had other delicious routines. First of all there was treasure. Aunty Clare had a great big treasure chest filled with lots and lots of treasure (old cigar box with a few trinkets in) which we would go through like pirates examining the day’s spoils. Then there was the musical box, which I still have! A glorious red lacquered box from Singapore I believe which played ‘Comin’ through the Rye’. I would happily wind this up and listen to it over and over again. All these bacchanalian treats, adventuring and discovery would finally tire out this intrepid explorer, who would settle down for a nap on the bed in the sitting room which was topped by a firm green cover so it looked like a sofa without a back rather than a bed, with ‘hundreds’ of bright yellow satin cushions. A lambs wool cardigan would be placed over me which smelt sweetly of Clare and I would rest, while she had a B&H and maybe a sneaky G&T. My Gran would also take a nap in her room so it was probably golden time for Clare.

Then it was back home and to the madness of the family - my other life. But the secrets and the treasures of my afternoon with Clare would come round again, tomorrow whilst the others were back at school, and mum and dad were back at work. The magic would be played out once more and further adventures would be had and more fish fingers and ice creams would be eaten. Oh the sweet joy!

Monday, 15 August 2011

A packet of my cigars please Rita

Someone was trying to talk to me in tongues as I entered the tube station. It is no more than I am used to after 21 years of living in South London, at five addresses (only one of them but doors down from Joanna Lumley mind).

It is early I know but I am travelling first class and I wanted to be able to make the most of my complimentary Daily Telegraph. What I miss above all else when not travelling first class, is the hot towels and the array of non-recyclable requisites all individually wrapped. All my travel dreams are sponsored by Maxpax and Traveller's Fare don't you know.

My word, although I did live round the corner for a year and studied round the corner for 3, I had quite forgotten how manic the gateway to the north, otherwise known as Euston station, was. So I have scurried away to the first class lounge for some hand poured refreshment, self-serve refinement and a smile from a girl behind a very high counter. I think her job is, I hope it is, to keep out the riff raff. She’d have come in handy when the ferals were loose last week. (On second thoughts it could always be a normal height counter with her on a very low chair)

Lots of studious quiet people tip tapping on their non windows based lap tops, so I’m going to try and look like a famous author. If only I was wearing a cravat! If anyone approaches I’ll bamboozle them with my Man Booker shortlist stats. ‘Did you know that Dorothy Wordsworth was the only woman from Cockermouth not to be shortlisted between 1604 and 1967?

Blend right in – that’s the secret.

I think some of my fellow travellers must be from the north as a couple of them are dressed in casual clothes. I’ve hired a morning suit for the occasion – traveling first class in casual clothes – what piffle! I’ve just seen a man across the aisle using a biro – I may have to call the guard!

Everyone in my carriage is having con gas – such a bond - a shared love of sparkling water. I do hope these dainties are organic, and there’s still no sign of the fruit I was promised in the brochure!

I’m sitting opposite a very handsome man, I think he might be a second division football player - he’s got a very large bag and delicious forearms. I wonder whether he’d like to start a family. I might ask him if it gets a bit warmer. He does appear quite fertile, but you can’t always tell when they’re sat down.

You certainly can’t fault the British countryside – complimentary fruit or no complimentary fruit - absolutely beautiful. Narrow boats at every turn, hills and sheepes. Oh dear I knew it wouldn’t last, I’ve just seen a car park full of caravans and a sewage works.

Ah well here we are Manchesterford. I must hot foot it to Rosamund Street before last orders to see whether Stella Rivers is still Landlady at the Flying Horse.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Velvet Goldmine

I’ve been acquainted with novelists who’ve published several volumes of memoires in less time than I spend between blogs. But I suppose it is quality over quantity, which is a shame as that means me, and therefore you lose on both accounts.

So to what great honour does the planet owe the joy of an episode from the Godwin Chronicles?  Well I do have a lot to say, it’s just I'm very bad at getting around to saying it. It is my gift to you of course and I should give you one more often I know.

I’m drawn to the pen following a riotous week, a golden find, an absent friend and a great, great loss.


I was telling one of the neighbours (unmarried) the other night about the legendary evening Eartha Kitt touched my face - in Brixton, at the Daisy Chain. The reason I had Eartha and heady nights misspent in Brixton fresh in mind was because I had been delving deep into my velvet archive (I’m very supple these days) and had come across a most wonderful find.

A diary, and I’ve kept diaries on and off over the years, but this one had been kept over a number of very special years - 1995 (AD) to 2000. Now these years eagerly represent my first prime. The fall and decline of the much chronicled marriage to the second Mrs Godwin through to taking the keys to my first owner occupied garden duplex and the dawn of the noughties. What was as interesting as the gems within, were the pages of life I hadn't even bothered to crank up the solid state for at all. But what was there was golden – shocking at times, exhausting often, some upsetting, some enlightening, but all golden. A veritable velvet goldmine.

I had been spurred on by one of my dearest and most Gloriaous overseas correspondents who had been reviewing her own diaries in order to put some facts straight in a forthcoming Hollywood blockbuster she is writing for me to star in. I thought, well, I could give a few opening gambits worthy of a producers sniff - so let's see what I can find. And did I ever find.

I had to sit down in a darkened room for 36 hours with only Dolly fanning me for company and a bottle of Wincarnis zero for sustenance. But as I recovered and I re read, I laughed and I cried, and I blushed with shame and excitement.

Let's just say that I was amazed at the stamina the young have for intimacy and over exuberance. Most of it seems to revolve around getting drunk, snogging men, making bad decisions regarding men, getting over men, meeting more men, laughing (heads thrown back), drinking some more, going out with Ade, blagging our way into clubs and private views, moving house, hating my job, getting mentioned in autobiographies, going to Duckie, drinking, dashing between auditions, international singing sensations, espionage, more drink and the thing I was best at above all else - smoking, lots and lots of smoking. Smoking and red wine - like blood and air to me.

And the choices and decisions – oh my! The 42 (looks 32) year old me was screaming at the computer, exasperated at the judgements I made - about men. Nearly all of them were bad, but not all of them, and there was certainly lots of fun had making the mistakes and a few jewels in between. Every tale ended with 5 trademark words ‘And we were so drunk!’ But God bless Mr Hall though for entertaining and taking care of me through thick and thin.

So what else? Oh yes, well we’ve been plagued by the feral underclasses. There’s nothing to be said that hasn’t already apart from the fact that I did sleep with a bucket of water by the front door and a big stick by the bed! And I will be voting for whichever party agrees to bring back flogging the fastest.

Moving on.

Health and fitness as some of you already know, has been very close to my heart since the spring. I’ve been on this friggin’ diet but it has paid off. 1700 calories a day, and I’ve lots 35lbs, look 20 years (months) younger and can once again fit into my figure skating glitter and sash velcro combo. It feels like a minor miracle, and I am most pleased. But bigger than that, I’ve gone and given up the booze! You know I haven’t even noticed it, and have certainly not missed it, apart from the wine calories I’ve shed and the wine £s I’ve been able to divert to new wardrobe expenses. And not one single hangover for 4 and a half months – lovely.

So I do need some new vices, and some of my advisers have suggested I get back in the ‘swing of it’ but really at my age? My years of damp patches and missed periods are over, surely. So what then? Maybe I should make Sophia happy and finally write that novel! If I do, I promise you’ll all be in it, and we’ll all be played by much younger people in the biopic.

I thought I best try and get fit now that I’ve lost the poundage. So I dusted off my trusty Wii fit ™, recharged the batteries and slipped into a t-shirt and, well I was just in my pants actually – steady ladies. So I step on, and the cheeky fucker says it’s been 485 days since your last visit, but my, haven’t you lost weight! I didn’t know you were supposed to go on it more than once. Adrian says I should chuck it in the bin and have a wine, but I think I'll Percy Veer. Well I don't get out much.

Look, that’s quite enough of that; I’ve kept you all up long enough.

In other news – there’s still no word on my WI membership application! Men!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Yes, very nice, but is it Art?

Oh behold, why don't you.

I've given the eye to some art in my time and believe you me I've patronised (any form of giving - you know me), encouraged and even watered and stabled some fledgling talent over the years.

So today has been such a treat. I've had the smell of turpentine and Artist's oils in my nose, I've enjoyed a bona troll in the sun with great company around some hitherto unknown corners of my neighbourhood, I've been inside some lovely houses and studios, and I've seen some great art.

All this on 1700 calories a day!

It's a lifestyle, I know, and I suit it so well.

Occasion? Well it is the Dulwich festival - very Margo Ledbetter meets Lynda Snell, and mostly to be avoided, but the Artsits' Open Studio (they call it House) is not something I like to miss. And this year the pin in the map approach to engorged enjoyment certainly pricked well.

On hand was my Artist friend Marsha who knows and grows her onions, and is always good for a bit of quality artist insider chit chat with the painters themselves. They like sharing their craft and fire off each other beautifully. I'm happy simply sniffing their rags and wondering how quickly they'll appreciate.

So here's a whistle stop tour of the tip of the top, the pick of the pop, the cream of the crop, I thank you.

First stop, gorgeous textiles from Trisha Needham. Trisha's studio is dominated by her humongous printing table where she produces a wonderful array of original fabrics. I already have one of her beautiful hand printed linen cushions - as shown.

Then it was round the corner (via some very camp polari with the dance studio man - we're going to his charity craft market in June - it'll be postcards from Tenerifee and vodka off the shoulders on the Lane next) to a trio of male furniture designers - sixninethree. Whilst Marsha discussed the the beauty of bespoke, I fingered their veneers and stroked their lovely dog. It would have been a really good choice for a blind or visually impaired art and design lover as the smell of the wood was beautiful and the opportunity for grain caressing were a plenty. Gorgeous.
Next stop some beautifully embroidered linen inspired by, and expertly recreated from the hand written notes on old postcards sent from Skegness in the 1930's. The artists Linda Lithcfield is a retired lawyer if you please.

Hot footing it on to Forest Hill and a wonderful new find for me - Havelock Walk. This beautiful hidden mews is made up entirely of artists studios. Some of the studios were amazing Victorian loft spaces - the sort of thing accommodation fantasies are made of. I was drawn to two very inspiring artists. The first was Tessa Holmes, who was showing amongst other things, a series of beautiful screen prints inspired by the architecture in Rome. I love Rome, so these were really special, and I will probably go back and get one sometime over the summer.

The other artist whose creations I really loved, but which were a little too expensive, otherwise I would have snapped one up pronto like, was Rebecca Molloy. She was showing some beautiful portraits which she had painted on clear acrylic, the colours being of varying depth and density, and layered to produce a beautiful light filled affect. They were very striking.

Our penultimate stop was back in East Dulwich and a wonderful photographer, going by the monika of Keith Parry. We were both really drawn to the photo in the guide and were not disappointed when we saw it and his other work up close. Really impressive. www.keithparry.com

And finally Mario D'Oliverira and his Brazilian ceramics. Marsha made a purchase here of a very interesting teapot which he was very proud of and very attached to - and so he should have been. Lovely stuff.

Now I'd told Marsha not to let me by any textiles, no ceramics and certainly no art, as I have no room and no need. So how well did she do? Well I only brought one beautiful cushion from Trisha Needham, some great cards of ED in the snow from Keith Parry, and a solar powered waving QE2 from Mrs Robinson on the Lane.

Gorgeous - what a lovely day and how lucky I am.