Category Archives: London Life

Observations on my travels around London.

Rude places

On my way by bus to a book launch today I spotted a pub at Highbury Corner called The Famous Cock. Coming back by the same route I noticed a ‘Caribbean Takeaway and Jerk Centre’. You just couldn’t make it up.

The book launch, by the way, was for a book on surviving as a gay Christian, for which I’d written a cover quote. They put me on the front cover! That’s what you get for being really nice about the book. But it really is a good book: Living it Out by Sarah and Rachel Hagger-Holt (including a contribution by one of our very own wibloggers).

Another Simm moment

As part of my campaign to build more personal contact into my life, I went for a long coffee this morning with my Yiddishe Momma and my friend and her Yiddishe Momma. The two mommas, both from Vienna, had a lot to talk about.

Walking down the Broadway (that leadeth to distraction) afterwards on my way to Sainsbury’s to buy fruit, I noticed a little girl of three or four hurtling towards me in a bid to escape her parent. Automatically put out my hands to stop her, then looked up and saw the parent was John Simm. Woo hoo! Thus endeth my third Simm sighting in one year.


The other day I went to a workshop on helping our autistic spectrum kids with relaxation. Arriving particularly early to claim one of the very limited parking spaces, I decided to wander around the gardens of the mini-stately home we were meeting in. The gardens were fabulous, but I was disconcerted to see a policewoman apparently mounting guard over a table filled with pumpkins. Could she be the pumpkin police? During the workshop I could also see out of the window a policeman walking to and fro (or possibly two policemen changing places). I never did find out what necessitated their presence (apart from the pumpkins, of course).

More good times

This surely can’t go on, but I have been having some more good times over the last few days. Yesterday it was down to King’s Cross again to meet an old friend and fellow-writer, in a restaurant which I had passed and noted on my way to the Dental Hospital and the Sleep Clinic (what an exciting life I lead), and which I thought would be vegetarian and/or organic. It turned out to be neither, just ridiculously expensive, but we had a very nice meal and then repaired to Costa in St Pancras station for decaf coffee and more nattering.

On the bus on the way to King’s Cross, I had rung my mum and invited her to go to what sounded like a Nice Italian Film (a category she and I both like) this afternoon at our local art house. Then this morning The Lady Who Shares My First Name, from my singing group, rang and asked if I was free for lunch as she was (like a double glazing salesman) ‘in my area’. So I became an even Badder Mother and deserted Genius Brat from just before lunch to just before dinner. He doesn’t seem to have minded.

I walked 15 mins to the lunch place, had a good natter with The Lady With My Name, and then walked another 20 mins to the cinema, passing the gym on the way, which makes it an extra virtuous walk (doesn’t it?). My mum was late arriving at the cinema so I took the opportunity to be the first person to ring her on her new mobile, to which she has finally capitulated at the age of 94. Sadly, she had switched it off… Anyway, she arrived just in time, and the film (Mid-August Lunch) was delightful – I recommend it if you like Italy, gentle comedy and feisty old ladies, of which there are four in the film.

So all in all, another satisfying, if not productive, day. I am now going to be very righteous by doing ironing and sewing on buttons, while hubby defrosts the freezer. Oh, the joys of domestic life.


Something with which I disagree has been eating me in the night. Why is it that when you have insect bites, one or two of them always itch far more than the others, even when you keep re-applying bite ointment?

And another thing: why are men incapable of standing still when talking on a mobile or cordless phone? I watched a man on the platform at Edgware Road yesterday, talking animatedly into his mobile, and the whole time he was pacing to and fro, round and round. He must have made half a dozen circuits of the place where I was standing (never, of course, noticing me standing there). The Grouch does this too: if he talks, he has to pace. It doesn’t occur in normal conversation, just when he’s on the phone. Is there some mysterious gene that makes men do this? I’ve never seen it done by a woman.

Back to back…

…back pain, that is. I woke up late today to find I couldn’t turn my head without a sharp pain in the dorsal spine and round the shoulder blade. Made myself go swimming in the hope that it would help, but it didn’t. Now sitting here with an air-activated heat pad on my back, and hoping I will be fit to go to Harry Potter six with GB and a couple of his friends tomorrow.

Most likely cause of pain, apart from weird sleeping, is having sat on a square high wooden stool at a long refectory table last night to eat dinner with my sis-in-law and her hubby. It was worth it however, not only to see them, which we don’t do often, but also to see the extremely weird house they are house-sitting, which is what brings them to London this week.

Apart from the old square pillar box on the front wall and the wire ‘screen door’ operated by a Heath Robinson sort of counterweight arrangement, it looked from outside like a normal Victorian/Edwardian London suburban house – until you got inside. Then you were confronted by a vast collection of hunting trophies in the form of stuffed animal heads, staring from the wall with their glassy eyes and crammed so close that in the living room alone, there must have been forty or fifty, including a vast rhino head and a water buffalo amongst large numbers of gazelles, eland, okapi or whatever they were, plus lionesses, leopards, zebra, and a giraffe. In other rooms there were many more, some just lying around and not mounted, including a camel with a hat on, and some heads of pike in the bathroom.

As well as all this livestock – maybe sixty or seventy heads in the whole house – there was plenteous other Victoriana, including church pews, a piano with candelabra, a collection of hassocks and collection pouches, a number of fire buckets full of rounders bats, and some school lockers in the hall. Oh, and an original, not repro, Victorian loo and cistern with Thomas Crapper imprinted on it, as well as a collection of old enamel kitchen equipment and different coloured enamel coffee pots (about ten) in the kitchen. And the lounge stank of mothballs which presumably came from the various taxidermy.

The whole thing was redolent of a scene from Dickens, and definitely worth driving down to Sarf London to see. Even if it gave me a backache. It was good to see the in-laws and the young cousins too.

Good times still rolling

The good times continued over the weekend, with a meal out on Saturday night with good friends whose son is best friends with my son; then a church lunch on Sunday (with three good desserts!) and a nourishing service on Sunday afternoon.

Managed to get GB back to school for his physics exam on Monday, in spite of the fact that he hadn’t gone to sleep till about 2.00 am! (he came straight home after the exam which he wasn’t supposed to). And this morning I did a ‘learn yoga so you can teach it to your kid’ session, and would have gone to a silent film in the afternoon if I hadn’t driven round and round trying to find a legal parking place and finally given up and gone home. Why oh why does an area have a unique arts cinema with afternoon showings, and then limit pay and display parking to 90 minutes, which is less than the length of most films? Do they really want to shoot their own local economy in the foot?

Oh well, I had a sleep instead. Not as culturally satisfying.

London Life #3

The other day on the Tube I was aghast to see a dark-haired, somewhat ‘downy’ young woman get out a mirror and a pair of tweezers and begin to pluck her moustache! On the Tube! She went on to pluck her eyebrows, which struck me as downright dangerous.

London Life # 2

On the tube with my Mum yesterday, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a woman get onto the train with a baby in a buggy. She was swathed in a long brown robe and had a head covering. My first instinctive thought was, ‘What’s a nun doing with a baby?’ Then I realized she was a veiled Muslim. Modern city life is so complicated…

Lost soul office

Every month a glossy free local magazine comes through our door, giving information on local events and of course packed with advertising. In this month’s issue there is an advert for ‘Crystal and Spiritual Healing’ which promises to ‘re-balance the auric field.. helping you to achieve your highest potential in physical, emotional and spiritual health’. Among the list of benefits predicted are ‘inner child healing’ (but I don’t have an inner child, he came out 13 years ago and at 55 I don’t plan to have another), ‘distant healing’ (presumably you don’t even have to turn up for that one) and my favourite, ‘soul retrieval’. Presumably if you happen to have accidentally misplaced your soul, they will trace it for you.

Whatever happened to the secular society we were all supposed to be heading for?