Category Archives: London Life

Observations on my travels around London.

Strange things I saw yesterday

1. A man standing in his front garden putting in eye drops.
2. Two chuggers on the pavement competing at juggling their folded umbrellas.
3. A large fat dog fast asleep in the window display of a small boutique.

And today, I read this on Freecycle: ‘I am giving away lots of Girls, jeans trousers, Jumpsuits,Tops and some shoes as well, they still have lots of life in them.’ Glad to hear the girls still have lots of life in them. Although I am a little concerned that they are being given away.

It just goes to show how important a correctly placed comma can be.

Fish pie not so tasty

So I bought the local paper, and hunted for the ‘Con man caught out by fish pie’ headline. The story turned out to be less interesting than I had hoped: apparently this man had conned £200,000 out of people by selling them holidays at non-existent holiday apartments, so the police were tracking his credit card, and nabbed him when he bought a fish pie in Tesco. There’s no getting away with it these days…


Report on my brilliant media career: the brief interview I was expecting to give to Premier Radio, turned out to be a one hour phone in, which involved me in talking to various sad women who called in and wanted to tell me all about their mental health problems. I felt very inadequate in my answers, but mostly they seemed to just want to talk. One of them even wanted to read out her poem, which turned out to be not at all bad. And at least the presenter plugged my book about every five minutes, which is bound to boost sales a bit. I have also kept my list of the names of all those who phoned in, so I can pray for them, which will make me feel better about not solving their problems.

Then presenter and I rushed off in a cab to the poetry prizegiving. As the competition is in memory of Jack Clemo, who was Cornish and very much a poet of the Cornish landscape (in spite of being deaf and blind), we had the Lord Lieutenant of London, who has Cornish connections, giving a long and dull speech about some Cornish event. There was also a little man from the Cornish Society, who looked like a pixie.

The buffet lunch was surprisingly good, especially the desserts of which I sampled four (in very small portions). And I think the poems were ok, though I always find it hard to tell when they’re read out, and I lent my little leaflet with the three winnning poems in it to someone else and didn’t get it back. Still, it was fun and I met several people I hadn ‘t seen for years, which was very pleasant and put me in a better mood than I have been in for some weeks. What joy it is being a literary lounger.

And today I finally went swimming, then met a friend for lunch and listened for a considerable time to the story of her husband having a breakdown, leaving her, coming back and leaving again. Which was very sad, but I hope it did her some good to talk about it.

PS Son finally did finish his Film Studies essay, going from ‘I think FS is not the right subject for me’ to ‘I think I’ll specialize in one aspect of film’, in less than half an hour.


It is worrying that young women have started to offer me their seats on the Tube. Perhaps the other driver in my recent prang was not so wrong when she described me on her insurance form as a ‘white elderly lady’.

Meanwhile, an update on the software situation: my hubby has now managed to download for me a copy of iWork Pages, which will read all my old Appleworks files and turn them into iWork files. It seems relatively easy to use except that various things which were quick and simple on AppleWorks are now slow and complicated. Change and decay in all around I see….

Oh, and I went into London for a completely unnecessary appointment today at the maxillo-facial clinic. When I got there they said, ‘What are you doing here? I thought we had discharged you a year ago’, and I said ‘So did I, but you sent me another appointment’. So they discharged me again and off I went. What a waste of time.

Things I saw on my trip to town

1. Man on tube station platform with immaculate and very feminine makeup – pale green eyeshadow, thick black lashes, peach-coloured lipstick – somewhat ludicrously paired with shaved head, with shadowed area at back and sides indicating classic male pattern baldness. I tried not to stare!
2. Woman on tube with white long sleeved top covered by grey sparkly vest. White long sleeved top had shoulder pads so upwardly angled (ie higher on outside edge) that they resembled the fins on a 1965 Mustang, or the wings of Mary Whitehouse’s glasses. The 80s are back with a vengeance.
3. Damn. I’ve forgotten what 3. was. Will supplement later.
4. And another thing: why don’t they make Elastoplast in dark flesh colour for black people?


Today on the bus back from the sleep clinic appointment, I spied a large and flamboyant young woman who used to go to my son’s school. As well as being – shall we say, voluptuous – she has always dressed very eccentrically, in bold colours and with large and multiple hair accessories: big bows, big bobbly hair ties, and today even a miniature hat which I think is called a fascinator. Actually when I saw her at the school I had always assumed she had some learning difficulty which caused her to dress oddly.

Today, however, she was in the company of not only her mother (who is not flamboyant at all), but a distinctly hot boyfriend of Asian origin. They were snogging so enthusiastically on the seat in front of me that I didn’t have the guts to say, ‘Hello, you used to be at [name of school], didn’t you?’ Instead I just reflected that people do get the most unexpected partners, and that one should never judge by appearance. My mother comes out sometimes with a German proverb meaning ‘every pot finds a lid’. Which is patently untrue, or there wouldn’t be so many people (including myself for years) who are unwillingly single. But the scene before me did make me think of that saying. I just hope he’s being good to her – she can’t be more than 19 and I would hate to think of her getting exploited.

Meanwhile the book, which I restarted writing two days ago, is going swimmingly. I’m now more than halfway through chapter 3 (of 10-12, I hope) and really starting to enjoy the process of writing. I’ve rediscovered something I had forgotten: that writing makes me happy. At least it does when it’s going well…


Today I went into London, to have lunch with my editor (as you do). Yes, I know I live in London, but when you spend your life in the suburbs and don’t get out much, going into proper London is a big event. So one of the things you see in proper London is a lot of billboards advertising plays, films, books and investment companies. Today I saw a poster for Kazuo Ishiguro’s new book, and the comments recommending it included: ‘Heartbreaking’. This is supposed to make me want to read it? Listen mate, I have had my heart broken plenty enough times in real life. I don’t need a book to break it for me. Anyone who thinks the description ‘heartbreaking’ is a positive reason for reading a book, clearly doesn’t know they’re born. ‘Heartmending’ – now that would make me want to read a book. But such books are few and far between.

A bus pass moment

The other day as I wandered along the Broadway (that leadeth to distraction), I was stopped by a ‘charity mugger’ or chugger, asking me to support the Mental Health Foundation. His exact first words to me were ‘Are you a pensioner?’. When I somewhat huffily explained that I am not, and people usually tell me I look younger than my age, he replied ‘It must be your hat’. What?! My sparkly red baker boy hat, is a pensioner‘s hat? I am still recovering. This was definitely not a good day. And I am afraid I have not signed up to donate to the Mental Health Foundation. Their representative did not do my mental health any good at all.

Small world

Went to a session of my new choir this lunchtime. It’s a lot harder work than the old voice workshop – we are making a foray into Fauré (just had to get that in) and are supposedly performing, with several other choirs, at the Cadogan Hall at the beginning of March. Anyway before we started I was chatting to the lady sitting next to me and she said she lived at ‘the other end of the world’. On closer examination, it turned out that what she meant by ‘the world’ was Muswell Hill! It made me wonder about how far people are able to see more than their own little enclave…