Saturday, 27 August 2011

New wheels

After many months of consideration, I've gone and bought myself a bike. Although the paint job wouldn't be my preference, it's great. And it was a bargain too, with just two nice lady owners to its name.

Once I've collected all the necessary accessories (military style helmet, the world's strongest lock and a full body fluro suit) I'll be on the road.

The next challenge will be to find my way to work, above ground.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The world needs more afternoon tea

As far as I'm concerned, there is a severe shortage in this world of cutesy tartlets, still warm scones with proper raspberry jam and clotted cream, and delicate finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

Anywhere that has a tea menu that's as long as the average wine list, is pretty great I think.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The aftermath

Clapham Junction one week after the riots

Goodwill messages decorating TK Maxx

Jamie Oliver's store suffered too. Someone out there will have some lovely new matching teatowels and a few sets of eggshell coloured mixing bowls.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Our house

I live in a magical house.

It's a home that collects strays and those in need of some peace. Through the bright red door they come, stepping into the house's strong and safe arms.

Walls of history are wrapped all around the winding staircase, wonky doors, creaky floors and the years of stories, laughter, tears, success and defeat which have seeped into the wallpaper.

It's decorated with love. Shiny brown tea pots and little Crown Lynn cups, rocky chairs rescued from the street, a gramophone that needs to be fixed, and laughing Buddha presents from the East.

Our coffee table is home to The Economist, The New Statesman, and Kate and Will's wedding edition of Hello. We have more herbal teas than you can probably name, and there's usually at least a few biscuits in the big square bread tin.

Here we sit, in the middle of Clapham, an oasis of calm and safety, in an otherwise chaotic, and sometimes quite tough, world.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

London's burning

The terribly bourgeois nature of my Monday night was not lost on me.

There I was, drinking fancy wine in a champagne bar on the 42nd floor of a London skyscraper, watching bits of South London burning.

The sensation is indescribable when offices in Central London are closing in the middle of the day, and you find yourself on a packed tube surrounded by a carriage full of commuters looking just as bemused as you feel.

Exiting out of the tube and even at 3pm shops have their roller doors shut or wooden boards covering windows. Panic buying has set in at the last remaining newsagents.

I managed to find one open shop when I left home briefly at 7pm because I discovered I had no food. But even they were closing around me. The man practically followed me around the store, rushing me to make my dinner selection.

And then you sit in the roaring quiet, and watch the idiocy unfold through all forms of social media, the sound of sirens seeping through the open windows.

But what doesn't kill us, only makes us stronger. Disaster brings people together. Hundreds of people turn out at Clapham Junction with brooms to sweep clean; long-lost friends and colleagues reach out through email, skype and facebook to make sure everyone is ok.

As Alain de Botton tweeted this afternoon:

"The good tends always to outweigh the bad: it just takes longer to get itself organised"

Sunday, 7 August 2011

London snapped

I was on my way to meet some friends last Friday when I realised that London was waving her hands and trying to get my attention with her beauty.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Singin' in my soul

I'm constantly amazed at just how much music carries me away. Up, up, and away wrapped in a blanket of melodies I go. Whether it's a childhood Dire Straits flashback, or a more modern piece belonging to The Black Keys, each individual sound comes together to lift me up onto the shoulders of life.

I was reminded of this on a particularly busy but dull day at the office recently. There I was, at my desk avec laptop, ipod, headphones and itunes; secretly enjoying the fact that I was working in the middle of an open plan, subdued office, but also enjoying some choice hits from Nirvana's Nevermind album.

This then started me off wondering about what my top five favourite songs in all the world would be.

For me, this is a very tough challenge. I don't want my list to be faddy and filled with recent loves. I want some long term relationships in there too. I think the list should be made up of those songs that throw me up; making my soul soar with their beauty and musicality.

I think my music taste is fairly diverse. My ipod is the home to artists ranging from Amy Winehouse to Whitesnake; Ben Harper to Tchaikovsky. Maybe I'm not discerning enough, but I don't want to be too exclusive. I sometimes imagine the huge cocktail party that could be happening in my ipod with Cake making small talk with Jose Gonzalez; Cat Power fighting over canapes with Tricky; and The Hives and Courtney Love swapping fashion tips.

Anyway, back to the top five. I need to contemplate this for a while yet, and perhaps take contributions from the studio audience, but here's ten of the front runners who have come to mind thus far (in no particular order and please don't crucify me for terrible music taste. Exposing yourself like this feels a bit like one of those dreams when you've gone to work in just your pyjama bottoms):

1. 'Try a little tenderness' by Otis Redding

Others have tried it (remember 'The Commitments'?) but I still think Otis has the most soul. 'Sitting on a dock the dock of the bay' would be a close second for an Otis nomination, but I think this one has the edge. If by some miracle I ever actually end up being in the situation where I'm marrying someone, this song would be at the top of my 'first dance' nominations.

2. 'Heavenly day' by Patty Griffin

So beautiful I can listen to it again, and again, and I still never tire of it.

3. 'Teardrop' by Massive Attack

Gritty and elegant in one.

4. 'Lola' by The Kinks

There were a few Kinks' songs I could choose here, but I'm going with this one; maybe it's just the lyrics.

5.'Heartbeats' by Jose Gonzalez

When I first heard this version I fell in love with this guy after about three bars. His voice, the words and the guitar make my soul levitate and my heart pause.

6. 'Talk show host' by Radiohead

Pure artistry, and this (along with maybe 'High and Dry') is my pick off theirs.

7. 'True colours' by Cindy Lauper

Eva Cassidy does a beautiful version of this but Cindy gets the title on her rocking fashion sense and awesome hair in the video.

8. 'Hallelujah' by Jeff Buckley

Sad but sublime.

9. 'Let's dance to Joy Division' by The Wombats

This is a bit of a silly nomination but it never, ever fails to lift my spirits, and make me want to dance my way down the street after even the most hideous days at work.

10. 'Killing in the name of' by Rage against the machine

Exceptionally crafted angry music by a band that make me feel terribly old when I hear how long they've been around for now.

So there we have it. The problem is that already I can hear the beautiful voices (and melodies) of those who missed out. Surely I have to include Nirvana's 'Smells like teen spirit'? And for something feelgood, what about 'No rain' by Blind Melon? And I'm getting guilty that I've excluded Amy Winehouse....