Monday, 24 August 2009

Something out of nothing

With my current zeal for creativity, craft and mend-and-make-do, this weekend I tackled a project that has been languishing unloved in the basement for some time.

Take one battered and bruised metal card filing cabinet from the crazy junk shop round the corner, one sheet of coarse sandpaper, three cans of apple green enamel spray paint from the wonderful Fred Aldous online shop and ...

Hey presto! A chic little bits and bobs cabinet for my desk.

Very satisfying to have freed something new and cool from something old and rejected.

I think I may have spray-painted a big chunk of my lawn though!

Flying high, literally

Everyone's favourite pop-philosophy author, Alain de Botton, has been spending a week at Heathrow airport as 'writer in residence'.

He divided his time between sitting at a desk in Terminal Five, complete with laptop and reference books, observing the eddy of human traffic, and roaming around in an exclusive 'access all areas' kind of way, engaging with parts of BAA's empire on their own territory.

As he has a one book publishing deal with Profile for the fruits of his labours, many critics have accused him of selling out, pandering to BAA's desire to purchase high culture credibility as if a commodity.

I think it's marvellous: airports are by their very nature dramatic places, stuffed to the rafters with high emotional tension. Factor in the fact that T5 is (intentionally) the biggest, busiest, flashiest terminal in the West serviced by numerous industries catering to our every (real and imagined) need while in transit, surely all human life is there?

Material enough for more than just one BAA vanity book, I would have thought.

See the BBC Radio 4 Today programme audio slideshow here.

Inspiring art

Here's two great art projects I read about recently:

Knit A Poem
Conceived to celebrate the Poetry Society's centenary and inspired by National Poet for Wales Gwyneth Lewis's lovely piece "How to knit a poem", crafters the world over are creating individual letters of a mystery poem to be revealed in October.

The Photographic Dictionary
A collection of evocative, atmospheric, haunting images, which define word through figurative, literal and personally infused representations. Beautiful. Like seeing life through another's gaze.

Monday, 17 August 2009

How to survive commuting in London

Top ten ways to survive commuting in London:
  1. Read. Not the freesheets which will only cause you to deplore the state of humanity and wonder if we really are all going to hell in a handcart, but something escapist and enthralling.
  2. Play music - no need for a stereo, use your imagination as a concert hall and listen silently to something good. Bach Goldberg variations tonight, probably performed by Glenn Gould. Inaudible humming is good too, audible humming makes people look at you strangely.
  3. Plan dinner for the week. Seriously. This is good organisational time that would otherwise be dead time.
  4. People-watch. Discreetly study those around you, wondering who they are, what they're thinking, where they're going. Give them make overs if they need them. Marvel at the tattoos on the guy in front.
  5. Day-dream. Just how would I furnish that castle in Spain?
  6. Eavesdrop. Need I say more?
  7. Catch up on favourite blogs ... on the bus, of course, not underground, no signal. Today I learnt from that there is a saying in French "to collapse like a soufflé", meaning "too lose steam".
  8. Eat.
  9. Refine your fashion-sense, using the world to window shop. Mmmm, great shoes, wonder where she got them?
  10. Distract yourself from thinking about swine-flu.

And you're home!

Time for a restorative sit in a deck chair in the garden ...

Friday, 14 August 2009

Fruits of our labours

Feeling very rewarded as fruits of our labours begin to be ready for harvest... and yes, more than one person has commented on how we seem to be morphing into The Good Life (1970s sitcom featuring a perhaps misguided attempt at self-sufficiency in suburbia) which is fine by me, as long as I can be Barbara (as opposed to Margot). Enjoy!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A madeleine moment

On my way to Pilates, a splendid sight in an unprepossessing location.

A row of splendid sunflowers behind a concrete wall. Six foot tall with faces like dinner plates. Sudden, charismatic, beautiful in their yellowness.

My madeleine moment: a childhood holiday in a chateau in France with a fountain. Fields upon fields of crops of sunflowers, regimental in turning their faces to the west. Markets with pyramids of veg and berries. A windmill, a river, hot sun. Milky coffee drunk from bowls.

All this on Lea Bridge Road. Wonderful.


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