Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Strange Stuff and Starving Kook

Someone keeps ringing up and hanging up and when I dial 1471 it is always an unobtainable number. I wonder who is stalking me/trying to sell me rubbish?

Even weirder, I heard a noise outside last night, then saw someone creeping around in the area outside my front basement window - rather alarming. I could just see his shadow through the curtains lit by the street light. Hmmmm. Perhaps the Cleaner has caught wind of my forthcoming exposure of his nefarious business and is stalking around my flat.

Kooky has become more and more demanding and wants food all the time. I am just about managing to be firm with him. He was OK until a few days ago.

I shall attempt to tidy up a bit tonight because the cleaner is coming tomorrow. There's not much on TV as I am too tired to watch Slumdog Millionaire.

Madeleine is rather exercised about getting rid of a rather persistent distant relative. She is trying to do this and be nice at the same time. I suspect she will have to be firm and vile at the same time. We shall see.

Finally -

And Another -

Monday, 29 March 2010

Wet Monday

I did a bit of washing and removed some paintings from the studio. I also did a bit of painting - nearly covering a portrait so that just the eyes and lips are revealed. I shall do two more of these. It seems a bit like the equivalent of a veil, or as though someone is disappearing behind the swirling blue in the foreground. Snap above.

Email from Margot proposing a meeting on Thursday or Friday. I may take Thursday afternoon off or leave early. Not sure if she will come here or meet at South Bank.

Sunday, 28 March 2010


Went to the shopping centre to purchase a paper, get some cash and have a coffee. On the way, met two hairdressers I knew who were struggling to use the self pay machine in Tesco's; a punter who said it was good that we had not booked any outings since the weather was so unreliable at the moment; and on the way back, a local writer, and a school bursar couple, so quite a few people with which I had a nodding acquaintance.I wondered if I would see so many people I knew if I moved away.

Madeleine was quite prompt, and brought news of the girls who are due back from India in a couple of weeks. All seems well, and one has a place on a foundation course at art college.

After a chat, we went off to the Chinese place, and ordered far too much food, which was excellent. We tried a new dish called chicken pot, which was a very spicy chicken cooked with garlic and ginger, which we will definitely try again. We came back, had coffee and a long chat about paintings and what needs to be cleared away for the arrival of Nibby in May. It was so good to see Madeleine again.

Friday, 26 March 2010

360 Days

Margot's opening at the Maverik Showrooms. Came and went early, as I tend to get rather tired. Margot looked wonderfully glam, and had done 360 six inch paintings, a diary of a year. I couldn't resist buying a couple and would have bought more if I'd been richer. About six or nine in a little group would look good. She also had some of her wacky papier mache constructions: boxes, dolls etc, which were great. Some lovely cocktails were being served.

I met several artists and writers, and the show was opened by Sam Taylor-Wood, who, despite being pregnant, looked ridiculously slim and beautiful, and brought two young daughters with her. Evon had forgotten to turn up and I didn't see Kate. I left fairly early as it became very hot. I must meet up with Margot soon.

Battery Cows are Coming - if you don't watch out!

What a nightmare - just after we had been sickened by the exposure on TV of conditions for battery hens, there is a proposal, well on its way, for battery dairy cows - vast sheds full of high producing Holsteins, hardly ever let out to pasture, and producing vast quantities of milk. Compassion in World Farming describe the awful details and I have emailed friends about this. I have emailed our MP asking him to object to this. It really does make you sick.

Rant over.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Work and Hair Oil

Back at work for a day. Masses of post - people wanting to go on outings etc. and a complete mess with the bank which I may deal with next week as it is all so daunting.

Last night I watched a programme on making your own drugs and may well have a go at making the hair oil, in the hope of improving my scalp. There's lavender, thyme and rosemary I think in it, chopped up and simmered in lots of coconut oil for an hour, then strained and cooled, then you add 20 drops of pure peppermint essential oil before bottling and using. Should last for ages. It is quite a good programme and the first time I have watched it on BBC. You can print off the recipes too, which helps. I can probably find some rosemary and thyme in the garden but need to purchase a bit of lavender. If all this is unsuccessful may try the GP again. We shall see.

I think the Kook's success with dieting might be related to the fact that he sticks to it, willy-nilly. A lesson to be learned here. Methinks I shall start hiding food from myself. Or filling the fridge with celery and carrots.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Cleaner Strikes Again

Went up to the Cafe Gallery with several prospective paintings, but eventually chose this one. I was subsequently requested to give a 'talking heads' type video monologue about my choice, to be played at the gallery when the exhibition went on. Throwing caution to the winds, I admitted that the Cleaner, a mild-looking middle-aged man with dark bushy eyebrows, was a man you would immediately call to clean up and dispose of the body, evidence etc., if you had murdered someone in a certain large town in Spain. He could also get you legal representation should the police eventually catch up. I then went on to talk about artistic influences etc. Since I never seem to be far from trouble, I suspect that the first part of the interview is the one which will be played. I do hope the Cleaner does not recognise himself and track me down to Southwark!

I may just avoid the opening.

Tuesday Morning

I cancelled my Diet Chef subscription in self-defence: the whole flat is so full of food, and what with having frequent meals out, it will be quite a while before I need any more. Next time I shall just order one or two weeks supply as necessary.

In warmer weather I shall use up my huge stock of tuna, making simple salads with large quantities of Iceberg lettuce. I am definitely a diet failure: this week I lost the pound I keep regaining to reach a weight of 16st 11lb. So not much change there. Must try harder. Kooky's diet is much more successful, he weighs much less already.

I may attempt to get my painting to the Cafe Gallery for the Silver exhibition today. I don't have the energy to do things in the house so may as well go out. I need to get rid of my bright pink chair. May park it outside. Also need to take the heavy electric fire down to the basement. At least the sun is shining now, so a trip out may be a good idea.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Can't Spell Any More

Just realised that all through that Sunday post I spelled 'capuccino' wrong. Definitely demented since I am (or was) very good at spelling. Nightmare. I may try and correct it if the pencil symbol ever appears again.

Dear me, didn't know it had two 'p's as well as two 'c's so still spelling it wrong. Tragic really. I had thought it was like 'Caribbean' which is frequently spelt 'Carribean' by mistake.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sunday Morning Sight

Saw an unusual sight while sitting having coffee this morning: among the traffic I noticed a horse tossing it's head, rather wild-eyed, and as this came closer it became apparent that the horse was being trained to be driven in traffic. A man in a trap with huge wheels was behind it. I don't really know what they are called - it's the kind of thing the Duke of Edinburgh drives for sport, I had thought it was a phaeton, but it seems that is a four-wheeled carriage. Oh well.

Thumbs Up This Time for Brasserie Toulouse-Lautrec

Several people have contacted me in amazement re my new diamond ring. I said I was lucky to have such generous friends and that good things can happen to an old bat like me!

Today, I decided to give Brasserie Toulouse-Lautrec a second chance. I purchased a newspaper and painfully staggered there on foot, having to make several stops to catch my breath and rest my aching back.

This time I sat downstairs, with an excellent view down to the Elephant and Castle, the Strata building to the right. I ordered a cappuccino and one croissant. The cappuccino was piping hot, as was the croissant, so I ordered another cappuccino. By now several tables had filled with people having breakfast. I had dawdled around, and decided to order scrambled egg with smoked salmon on a muffin half with tea. The tea was hot, with enough in a little pot for two cups, and the scrambled eggs were soft, creamy perfection. I eventually tore myself away, having completely read my paper.

On the way out I bumped into the proprietor of the Lobster Pot, who also owned the brasserie. I explained the problem I had a couple of weeks ago, and to my embarrassment he dragged me back in to complain to the staff about my cold coffee, and to instruct them to give me a free coffee next time. He said they hadn't been open very long. Well, I shall definitely breakfast there again. This time they got it absolutely right. I may try lunch there at some point.

Friday, 19 March 2010

More Hospital Appointment:Even More Confused of SE1

Now I have had a booking reminder from 'The Appointments Line' with long and complicated instructions about booking my appointment. The letter says to contact them on a special number if I have forgotten my password or lost my letter, but if they are busy I should call after 2pm. Dear me.

Since I have been instructed by the department I am trying to obtain an appointment with to ignore all letters from these people because they are computer generated, I shall do so. How confusing the whole thing is.

I may trot over to my GP surgery clutching photocopies of this lot. What a mess the NHS seems to be these days.

Maybe I have Alzheimer's after all?

Curiouser and Curiouser

After meeting my friends, a couple of days later a package arranged from my old friend with a letter referring to 'a collection of props which would be ideal for the play I had mentioned', and that she hoped that the enclosed would be of the right period. On unwrapping the item, I discovered it was a very pretty five stone diamond ring. I immediately emailed back, saying that we had not discussed a play, she had obviously meant to give it to someone else, and that I could send it or deliver it to someone in London.

I then received a call to say it had been intended for me - but she had forgotten to hand it over so had posted it, and not wishing to imply that it was of value in case someone was tempted to steal it, had made up the 'play' story. It had been her mother's engagement ring. I have to say it fits perfectly and is a most wonderful and unexpected gift. She said I could flog it if necessary - but until then I am the proud possessor of a lovely antique diamond ring. I shall now be a very grand old lady, and may take on some airs and graces (unlikely), but I may at least attempt, however unsuccessfully, to become more of a 'lady'. Hmmmm. We shall see. I may take a snap of it on my old and gnarled finger. Or not.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Out to Lunch

Lunched with my friends from the country, who had come up to see some friends and visit the Olympic sites, since they used to live in Forest Gate.

We went to El Vergel in Webber Street. Apart from a special every day, consisting of soup, some rice, plantain etc. the food was mainly sandwiches and salads. Everything was very good and fresh, and we repaired to the Ship in Borough High Street afterwards. I am afraid I rather bored them with my past troubles at home and work, and they regaled me with their tales of exciting foreign travel, after which we parted again.

There had been rather a commotion with an ambulance and police car in the street on Saturday. Sadly, I have just discovered that one of my neighbours had died suddenly. Though I didn't really know her, she used to walk past frequently with a small dog, and we would pass the time of day. Very sad.

Romy is off to Spain today. I shall try and take a day or two off next week, otherwise my leave will mount up to a ridiculous extent. The problem is that it is difficult to get away at short notice. Romy says there is a very good cattery in Denmark Hill which I shall investigate, since my friend John, AKA Chlamydia Rash, wants me to come down to Exmouth for a week, and Simon has invited me to his gaff. I may however manage to do a day trip to Macclesfield to visit my niece. We shall see.

Monday, 15 March 2010

My Funereal Arrangements

Death and funeral wishes were being talked about on TV this morning. To contemplate one's own death is not a very welcome experience unless in great pain, I should think. For me, having had a fair crack at life is the main thing rather than regretting stuff I have not done. Probably just as well, since it has been a great effort for such a lazy woman just to actually exist for so long. I did once harbour a secret ambition however, for doing the Cresta run - probably a little unrealistic now.

Thinking about funerals, feasts etc., apart from a passing fancy for a horse-drawn funeral, reconsidered because it seems rather too pompous and retro, even for me, and a New Orleans jazz band at the funeral, which I am less against, because the music is quite jolly, I will not be in a position to care much about the final event.

To be cremated, and a modest party afterwards, that's it. My ashes could be scattered anywhere my heirs wished, though I believe ashes are good for roses. I was trying to think about music, but so far, am rather uninspired. New Orleans jazz, as before? Worker's Playtime? Perhaps it is part of the Alzheimer's but the Teddy Bears Picnic keeps springing to mind. I am always rather inclined to the unsuitable. Urban spaceman?

Having said this, and imagining crowds of people sadly sobbing into their handkerchiefs at my untimely demise , I then realise that I am of the age and disposition to expect around two attendees, if that, so perhaps I shan't worry unduly. Just hope there's enough dosh for them to fall into the nearest hostelry afterwards and get happily pissed, sighing with relief that the old bat has finally croaked.

Oh, and by the way, if my heirs are at a loss for words at the funeral, they can always read this, hopefully not over-edited.

Maybe Slightly More in Focus

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mother's Day Dinner

Decided to wear a decent frock for my dinner date with Julian and Dorothy last night. I rather nervously put on the black velvet dress I had exposed myself in at the Royal Opera House, but this time tied a very firm knot in the satin wrapover ribbon to avoid a repetition of that inauspicious event. Since a string of pearls is never enough, I added two single strings, a double string, and lastly, a necklace with five small and one large string. This last is that kind of fleshy pale pink - the colour of old fashioned corsets, and went rather well with my surrealist fine silk crepe English Eccentrics scarf, which was mainly white, but with bits of black, grey, and said pink.

Dorothy and Julian arrived, clutching a vast and beautiful bouquet and a lovely card, plus some other bits and pieces. They arranged the bouquet in a large glass vase they had also purchased for me, and we set off for dinner.

Wild Honey is the sister restaurant of Arbutus, but has a warmer atmosphere and is somehow more comfortable, with lot of jolly contemporary artworks on the walls. We started with some prosecco with mandarin juice drinks. The other two had the smoked eel starter and I had potato and Jerusalem artichoke soup poured around a prawn pot. We had one small carafe of wine, which, after our cocktail, was quite enough. The others shared a rib of beef, and I had some very good sea bream with various green vegetable, finishing with coffees. The food was very good

Mother's Day

Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday today. Awoke at 5am, no sign of Kooky. I was not sure whether he came back last night after going out at about 11pm. Spent ages calling him before giving up and going back to bed. He eventually showed up, demanding breakfast at 6am. Later I was attempting to groom him and was trying to get at about four matted lumps underneath to cut them off when he attacked my arm quite viciously, so had to detach him with some difficulty and give up on this. I shall have to try again when someone else can hold him up while I do this. I am sure that a matted Afro on his tum is probably not a good idea.

Spoke to Nibby who sold a cartoon yesterday. She is quite excited about being filmed while sketching and painting in an art project with a friend. On this occasion the art is a kind of background to the music rather than the other way round.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Traumatic Vet Visit

Yesterday afternoon, with huge difficulty: catching, carrying, Julian ringing me while all this was happening - I took the Kook for his first vet visit. He squawked loudly all the way there. It took half an hour in the car, and then there were steep steps down to the surgery. On top of that it was pissing with rain. My blood pressure must have been sky high.

Anyway, he was eventually seen by the vet. To my surprise, in the past Kooky had apparently had all teeth removed apart from the top and bottom incisors. I had always thought he looked a bit fangy with his mouth open. No wonder I hadn't been able to change him to dry food only. The vet seemed to think he was a good cat but needed to weigh about 6kg instead of his current 7.6kg, so his food needs to be halved. He was dewormed, had his jab and some flea stuff, which needs to be given every month, though he had no fleas. Coming back was even worse because the driver had great difficulty in finding my address and drove all over the place, and the car smelt awful.

I overate all evening, trying to recover from the stress, while he was surprisingly unfazed by the whole experience. Typical. I tried to fool him about the food by giving one small tin in two helpings a couple of hours apart. This has worked so far. Would that I could do this for myself.

Hospital Appointment - Confused of SE1

At a recent visit to my GP I was told I should make a hospital appointment. However, rather than the old style referral letter, I should wait until the staff at the surgery produce a paper for me to follow instructions and make my own hospital appointment. As I waited another 15 minutes for this form to be produced I wondered which NHS 'manager' was justifying their employment by inventing this tortuous new 'system'. Eventually, clutching my instructions which were printed on two pieces of paper, I went home.

The next day I decided to try out the new system. I rang the hospital between the designated hours, quoting a 12 digit reference number. I also had a rather strange password, but before I could use this, the mystery deepened. The member of staff answering my call was unimpressed by the number I gave, and stated that I would not be able to make an appointment. The department would await the referral letter from my GP and then send me an appointment, in the old way. This seemed to render the whole exercise redundant.

I was rather confused by this and rang my GP surgery who were rather nonplussed by the failure of the wonderful new system - apparently called the National Choose and Book system.

A week or two later, I received a letter from the hospital. I opened this feverishly, fully expecting a date for an appointment, but no. The letter was merely to tell me a fact I already knew - that I had been referred for an appointment. I was to take no further action. If I had been referred via the National Choose and Book system I was to disregard any further letters as they are generated automatically.

I wonder if I am to ignore any letter offering me an appointment, since these may have been automatically generated? Dear me. Maybe I don't have Alzheimer's after all. Maybe the NHS has Alzheimer's. New title: National Choose and Confuse system.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Me in the Old Days

This is taken from an old snap in the late eighties or early nineties. I was an old bat even then. Note the specs. Interestingly I was looking through the fashion pages today, and big specs (but mainly plastic frames) are definitely coming back in. Hmm.

Bit of a Lark

Rough cartoon sketch of two students in a campervan from a Welsh study trip when I was at college.

More Ruination

My ex was looking a bit pallid but I may have overdone the rouge now.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Good Book, Fat as Ever, and Orange Queen

Finished the Forgotten Highlander (it's real title) last night. I could not put it down so spent a long time reading. The author's name is Alistair Urquhart. Harrowing, but very good.

I weighed 16st 11lb on Sunday, so no real progress there. Unsurprising really, but tried not to overeat yesterday. However I did liquidise a tin of chick peas and some broad beans, added a little olive oil, salt, lemon juice, basil and masses of roast garlic to make a dip for some celery, and ate a fair bit of this, though I am hoping it will be low GI and therefore okayish. I am also overconsuming on bananas because I foolishly purchased two bunches which have gone spotty and need eating. I may be forced to make a banana cake and freeze it.

Have had a go at ruining some of my paintings. The Queen now has an uncharacteristic suntan.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Pink Chair, Pink Orchid, Party, Baby and New Book

Eyes now seem OK. Yesterday was Friday and I painted a chair bright pink. With the help of Romy I think I have now chosen a painting to submit for the oldies exhibition, though I will still consider some others. Applying varnish has helped the colours, which had sunk a bit. I just have to screw fixings to the back and neaten the edges with white or black.

My neighbours had a couple of surprise announcements: they were expecting a baby in August; also, they said they were having a party last night. To apologise in advance they offered to give me a bottle of wine which I refused since I have rather too much wine, but then turned up with a handsome pinky-purple orchid which I had to accept and which looks quite good with the pink chair (above).

Reading a new book 'The Last Highlander' written fairly recently by a man who was caught up in the second World War. Everything happened to him, from being called up at 19, being captured by the Japanese and forced to work on the railway and bridge over the river Kwai, surviving terrible treatment, thrown into an old ship bound for Japan which was bombed by the Americans, to being picked up after several days by the Japanese and taken to Nagasaki where he was finally blown off his feet by the blast of the atom bomb. He is now 90, and still suffering from the effects of all this. Unsurprisingly. Extraordinary.

Dorothy rang last night. He has booked to take me to Wild Honey next Sunday, which should be fun.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Scary Visual Symptom

I was just reading something, and when I looked up, could see strange jagged shining lights in the peripheral vision of both eyes which moved and glittered but remained in there, the shape was curved but jagged up and down like something cut with pinking shears. This would not go away so started to panic but could not find anything on the internet. After about ten minutes it began to go away. Getting old is not a barrel of laughs. Was wearing my bifocal specs today. I wonder if they are having some awful, hopefully temporary, effect on my vision. Must give them up.

Brave Russian Women

I was just listening to the story of the Russian women pilots, who formed several squadrons in the war, flew without parachutes a lot of the time in very flimsy planes nicknamed 'sewing machines' and were issued with a pistol with seven bullets - six to shoot the enemy - and the last to shoot themselves if caught by the Germans, and many did. Seems that at the end of the war they were summoned to Moscow to receive gold watches, ostensibly from the foreign ministry, but the rumour went that King George in England had been overcome by tales of their bravery, and sent the watches over for them. The War Museum were unable to confirm this, but it is a nice story. The first woman, killed during the war, was only 17 when she learned to fly and started the squadrons which were overwhelmed with volunteers. What amazing women these were.

I quite like

these, but again, it is the still life thing. Oh well.

Decided Against

This, on the grounds that old people will always paint still lifes or landscapes, besides which the foliage looks a bit suspect to me. I think Julian would prefer this.

Other Painting

This, rather crudely painted, is two women engaged in a lively conversation at a party. I think the painting is a bit like a cartoon or comic strip. I may well put this in.

Long Weekend - Friday - Julian and Paintings

Julian came around last night, and like a whirlwind, proceeded to unpack the six charity boxes I had assembled, removing stuff for friends, so I now only have five boxes, though I may manage to fill another couple before the man arrives.

Watched a TV programme on BBC4 about a very famous art auctioneer, who apparently revived the fortunes of Phillips, just before the bottom fell out of the modern art market. If you weren't totally cynical about commercial modern art before, you certainly would be after watching this - the last thing shown which sold was a pair of legs holding up some female genitals in garish colours, and sold for about £8,000, a fraction of the millions made by previous items, all equally vile or tired, such as a painstakingly produced cereal packet over six feet high which remained unsold. Dear me.

Romy is helping me choose which piece I may submit for the Silver exhibition if I can be bothered. She favours either the portrait of my ex listening to jazz (above), or my two women having a conversation which was not so well painted, but might be a more striking choice. My next post will show this one.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Microwave Mess and Veterinary Dilemma

Because oily fish is supposed to be beneficial, forced myself to have sardines on toast for breakfast. The sardines were lovely: Parmentier in olive oil with basil. Mashed them up and spread on lightly toasted bread, then under the microwave grill. Unfortunately when they were done, sardine pieces were splattered all over the inside of the microwave. Then the toast was rock-hard. I then realised I had put the microwave on for four minutes rather than the grill. Deary me. The sardines, at least, were edible. Dementia strikes again.

I must take Kook to the vet soon as he is due to have his jabs some time in March. Not certain whether to use the Elizabeth Street Practice in Mayfair, or Romy's vet who comes recommended, but is at the other end of the Old Kent Road, a bit of a traffic nightmare. Catching Kook is a problem as he is so heavy and somewhat elusive, and after that, the shorter the journey the better. We shall see.

General Uncertainties

Hmm. Romy tells me that the Toulouse Lautrec place next to the Lobster Pot has a special event for Mother's Day from 12 to 5, with a four course menu, music and magic. Sounds a giggle. Unfortunately my offspring does not notice the light of day until after five, let alone before 12. Oh well. Might not be ideal as there are dishes for children, so this event is probably aimed at much younger mothers and will be full of small children and babies. Hmmm. Someone should do an 'Old Mother's Day' event: perhaps a genteel cream tea with Lapsang Souchong, cucumber sandwiches, string quartet and a glass of sherry or champagne. I could manage this. I may however have breakfast there one Sunday - seems worth a try. Romy popped inside while she was passing and said that it looks good.

Must try to get to grips with the investments tomorrow. So far, the treasurer has come up with a product which seems to no longer exist, and Romy has come up with a couple more which sound fine, so I shall look at these again.

Madeleine will come around at some stage and we will have a Chinese lunch. I have some birthday presents for her to collect.

I may put a painting in for the Southwark 'Silver' thing. Had a look at them and can't choose, but there are several contenders. We shall see. Depends on whether I can be bothered to go to the town hall and hand one in. Unfortunately the exhibition is in the Cafe Gallery, miles away in Southwark Park, which involves a long walk through the park, and they have to be collected from there, so it may not happen. I have always been afraid of going into open spaces in Southwark, quite apart from the long walk.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Quiet Life

Incredibly quiet weekend. No phone calls, and only two emails. No wonder I watch so much daytime as well as evening TV. I did however declutter a bit more - now six boxes, soon to be seven or eight, for collection next Friday.

On Sunday I purchased a newspaper from the shopping centre and had a coffee there . Was going to have lunch at Mamuska, but the only table with sturdy chairs was booked, so abandoned this idea. I went home for lunch - a diet soup, and continued the chair painting. Because I am mixing the colours in small quantities I seem not to be able to get these exactly right, and the work is definitely getting a bit sloppy with repetition - now on my third chair. The last one will have to wait until next week.

The diet is not going brilliantly, on Saturday I weighed 16st 11lb, but today (Monday) I was back to 16st 12lb. Oh dear, must try a bit harder. I rang Nibby on Sunday as usual, but there was a thunderstorm at her end, making her afraid of being on the telephone, so abandoned the call.

I need to go out today after Ocado has delivered, to bank some cheques, take in a skirt for shortening, purchase more paint and a couple more things.