Thursday, January 31, 2013

The end.

Let's leave aside illness and bereavement for a moment and focus on what else this first month of the year has had to offer. January 2013 has been the month that:

  • I fell down the stairs. Top to bottom. I've always liked to imagine that I am the sort of person who if I had a proper injury I would remain calm about it, telling whoever was nearby that I was in a lot of pain and needed an ambulance please. I'm not. I fell down some carpeted stairs, bruising my coccyx and cutting my elbow, and I screamed. Then I sobbed like a baby, pressing my face into Nye's chest and gasping 'I fell. I fell. I fell.' Self-image: shattered. I was fine, I just couldn't sit down very easily for a couple of weeks. My bum still hurts actually. I also really freaked out Ella who is still urging me: 'carefoo mama, faw down stairs. Ouchie' three weeks later. For additional points: I was carrying the bathroom bin when I slipped. As I bumped down the stairs on my arse then collided with the bikes at the bottom, a shower of damp smelly nappies rained down on my head, some of them containing day-old shit.

  • (Speaking of shit.) Ammie discovered her own poo, and what fun it is to dig it out of her nappy at nap time and throw it around. Then she pushed her explorations further and dabbled in a little smeering, on her own head. And tasting. Now she takes naps in a romper suit with the buttons done up the back. Beat that kiddo. She also discovered wallpaper stripping, although to be fair she had some help from her sister with that endeavour. There is precisely one room in the house that didn't need repainted when we moved in. Now it needs wallpapered.

  • my ankles got so badly bitten by fleas and I scratched those bites so hard that they now look like they have chickenpox and probably will do for the foreseeable future. ( DON'T SCRATCH YOUR BITES CHILDREN.)

  • After a couple of years of deliberation I invested in a pair of waterproof, felt-lined Sorel snow boots, aware of the fact that having just left the Scottish Highlands for London, the window in my life where I needed snow boots was probably over. Three days later it started snowing, heavily. The snow lay and lay and lay until it compressed into sheet ice (WHY DON'T THEY HAVE GRITTERS IN LONDON?) and then melted into sloppy slush. The snow boots didn't arrive. My feet got very very cold. I'm still waiting for them to show up.

On the upside:

  • it was my birthday, I was 28 and I almost exclusively got booze, chocolate and booze-flavoured chocolate. And when Nye asked me what I wanted to do I said 'take me to the garden centre and buy me a plant..' Middle age is delightful.

As good as my birthday was this year it's really not going to make up for the (literal) shit storm that was the rest of the month. So let's all join together in wishing January 

GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE. (And why don't you take this time out to a good long think about your behaviour. I want to see a total change in your attitude by the time you come back, OKAY?) 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We're gonna make it


'We may not have a cent to pay the rent 
But we're gonna make it, I know we will 
We may have to eat beans every day 
But we're gonna make it, I know we will


'Cause togetherness brings peace of mind 
We can't stay down all the time 
I've got your love and you know you got mine 
So we're gonna make it, I know we will'

Songwriters: B. Davis, C. Smith, G. Barge, R. Miner

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



Nye's Poppa died last week. His funeral is today. The girls are poorly and irascible so they and I stayed at home while Nye flew up to Edinburgh to say goodbye one last time.

I didn't meet Leonard until he was 89, already older than most people ever get. He would have been 98 this year. He had a lot of stories to tell, about his childhood in Liverpool, his sporting prowess, his days during the second world war ('the best days of my life') to his years with Lillian in Kenya, Libya, Greece, England. All of his stories ended with 'I've had a remarkable life, I've had a good life', and surely that's the only ending any of us can hope for? 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Light From the Middle East

Of all the London Things that excite me, the museums and galleries are up there with at the top (with the food.) Life has somewhat got in the way of doing many London Things since we got here but last weekend my sister-not-in-law, her sister (in blood) and I went to the V&A for an afternoon of culture (and food. And if I'm honest, the shop was a pretty big draw too.) But the culture: we went to see Light From the Middle East, a collection of contemporary work by artists from across the Middle East (both resident and diaspora). I don't normally love what I know of contemporary photography, art school pretty much killed my patience for large format prints of well lit shopping trolleys representing the loneliness of the human condition. But when the photography is dealing with politics as opposed to the angst of the wealthy white art student, my patience lasts a little longer.

I particularly loved the work of Atiq Rahimi, an Afghani photographer and film maker living in Paris who returned to Kabul in 2002 after 18 years of exile. He wanted to photograph the city and its changes but he felt that the photos that he took with his digital camera couldn't convey the emotion that  he felt on returning to his home, seeing it so changed since he had last stepped foot there. And so he started experimenting with pinhole cameras, and the pictures that he made went much further than crisp mega pixels ever could in capturing the muddled, dreamlike feeling of returning home after exile.

 Photographs by Atiq Rahimii © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Pinhole cameras are true magic; a box with a hole punched in it, some photographic paper taped inside, a guessed exposure time, and hope. The results are unpredictable, you might get an image or you might (as I always have) get a piece of over-exposed white paper.

These photos are tiny, maybe 5x8cm. To see them you have to get up close, hold your face mere inches from the frame. You feel like you are peering through a crack in a wall, a door left ajar, and catching a glimpse of someone else's memories. These tiny photos are so much that I love about photography.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gap meets Peter Rabbit.

“I remember I used to half believe and wholly play with fairies when I was a child. What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense.”  

“Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.”  

(I <3 beatrix="beatrix">

I was invited to an event to view Gap's latest collection this morning, a collaboration to celebrate 110 years of Peter Rabbit. It was the first time I've ever been invited to a PR event that I actually wanted to go to, I'm going to go ahead and call that a milestone. (I think that makes this a sponsored post, I'm not sure on the technicalities.)

The collection is really lovely, there are a handful of baby-soft rompers with the original Peter Rabbit  illustrations printed onto them, but on the whole the interpretation was much subtler than I was expecting. Beautiful prints inspired by the stories, thick knits as worn by Beatrix Potter's bunnies, knitted hats with little ears; as opposed the heavy branding and embellishments more common when children's characters meet children's clothing. I wanted to buy it all and was kind of pissed off that sizing stopped at 24 months, it's almost as if Gap didn't have W&P in mind when they designed a bunny inspired range.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


It's been a hard start to the New Year. Usually December 31st is one of my favourite days of the year, I spend it buzzing with the excitement that a new start and as yet unimagined experiences brings. This year I didn't feel that, I just felt tired. While I was aware of the sense of beginning that starting the year in a new house and a new city had, I mostly just wanted to sleep, to recover from the long build up of getting here (here being both here; London, and Here; babies, business, house, garden, health, Life). Then on January 1st Nye's grandpa had a fall, a bad one. Although at 97 I think all falls are probably bad ones. He has been in hospital ever since and the sad truth is, he's going to be staying there. We don't know how long for, maybe days, maybe weeks. Nye is going back to Scotland to say goodbye. 

And so it is that the new year has not felt like a new start but rather an ending. The end of many things; of striving and planning and dreaming and achieving, of flux, of life. I know that in all of those things are new beginnings, but it's going to take a while to feel it. For now, the air is one of winding down, of releasing, of saying goodbye. 

(I took these in October, hence leaves, but they seemed appropriate nonetheless.)