Monday, 31 May 2010

Sunday Night and Monday Morning

Dorothy and Julian popped in for a cup of tea after shopping in town. They came bearing gifts of a couple of Japanese noodle dishes. I was admonished for being a miserable and crabby old woman. Dorothy admired my garden and they both think I was crazy to turn my studio into a spare room just because Nibby was staying for a short while. I pointed out that it was good to have a proper little spare room, and that my studio will now be in the living room. Julia had a rather good idea for my fireplace. She said that if I completely packed the fireplace with short logs where the ends showed, it would look very nice, and stop Kooky from trying to climb up the chimney, as well as prevent the draughts from coming down. She had seen this in some design magazine and it apparently looks very good, and will not prevent me from using my old electric fire, so may well try it if I can get lots of logs.

They stayed for ages, which was nice. Julian is still not keen on my white sunburst mirrors, and thought a large antique elegant gold one would look better over the table. She may well be right. The overmantel one which Nibby found was gorgeous, so I may start looking out for something similar. It will have to be a different shape though. We shall see.

Nibby has just rung and is going to Blenheim with her friend Vivienne today. She will come back here tomorrow and spend Wednesday in London before going off to Italy on Thursday. I shall try and be home early tomorrow and will now take Wednesday off. We could go to a gallery, or even do a Greenwich trip on the river if the weather is fine.
Then Madeleine is coming over next weekend. I am sure she would also enjoy a river trip, but otherwise we shall find a suitable restaurant for lunch.

Kooky has behaved himself so far in the past day or so.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

p.s. More Birdy Num Num

I have just realised that this is the second weekend that I have stayed in. Of course, all this may well be due to some kind of postmenopausal hormone depletion. Which still doesn't help much. Especially since my HRT was stopped by the GP and I understand it is difficult to restart which can cause lots of other problems.

I know I am feeling rather sorry for myself, but why not? someone has to.

Here's another snap of the same great tit as before. Slightly blurred.

Somewhat cheered up by a couple of liqueur glasses of St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Alcohol may be the answer to my problems.

Black Dog Rules

Still somewhat depressed. Not helped by an email from my niece who wants to sell things online, and thinking to be helpful if I went out to buy things to sell, was going to have a web site with a 'Mad Aunt Sue' section. Now I have not seen this niece for several years so I can only assume Nibby has been carrying reports to her about my 'madness' - though it could of course be related to my ill-advised appearance on the Dickinson show. I really can't think of anything else. Anyway I advised my niece that I can hardly get out of the house so would not be in a position to get out and look for bits and pieces to sell from her website, and had stopped selling on Ebay because it is difficult for me to even pack things up and take them to the post office and queue for hours to post them.

I think in fact I may well be suffering from agoraphobia as well as depression. I just can't force myself out even to purchase a newspaper today, despite the sun having come out. I am just pottering around the house, putting washing in the machine, trimming things in the garden, and trying to sort out paperwork.

Let's hope things improve by tomorrow.

Eurovision Nul Points

I must confess that for the umpteenth year in succession I actually watched Eurovision, though did not wait for the results. It really is poor - the most vulgar displays of desperation and overproduction, terrible English, where attempted, to the extent that I may stop watching. UK predictably absolutely hopeless, and deservedly came last, though Russia was fairly appalling. They were all pretty ghastly with a couple of exceptions: the Belgian entry was not quite as bad because there was just a singer with a guitar, though far too whimsical and self-conscious. Germany deserved to win, though the song was a little boring and the accents totally wild, the girl was quite feisty and the only one which seemed at all modern.

I really must not watch this again.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Nasty Kooky

Kooky is getting quite nasty. He has attacked me three times recently - twice while being groomed and once when feeling peckish in the morning. Either he is just becoming more wild, and influenced by being outside, or he isn't getting enough to eat. I shall give him a bit more dry food and see if this has any effect. His attacks are certainly becoming worse and more bold and he doesn't give up so easily. Tonight when I shouted at him and managed to shake him off, he sat near my leg and went to bite me again. Dear me, even my own cat is turning against me! With Fet, I put this down to diabetes which can make people, and presumably cats, rather ratty, but not with Kooky. He is far to big to become vicious. I knew I should have had a female cat, which Nibs assures me are much nicer.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Scary Symptoms

Dear me, thought I was having a heart attack. Purchased some chocolate coated cocoa nibs at Borough Market and consumed them this afternoon. Not very much - about a couple of tablespoons full. Rested a bit upstairs, got up and had this tight band kind of feeling in my chest and felt distinctly unwell. Difficulty in breathing. Drank some water and lay down again waiting for things to get worse. They didn't. Slowly and tentatively started moving about again and was OK. Then remembered the chocolate nibs and googled chocolate allergy, which can give you asthma type symptoms. Though I have eaten these before without a problem my father in law, a GP, used to say that you could suddenly become allergic to things. The chocolate recipe may have been different from the previous time, too.

While slightly recovered, my mind immediately went to the mess in the flat, so I emptied the washing machine and dishwasher and put stuff away. Funny how, if you think you might croak, you start tidying up if you can manage it.

Just found out that it was a great tit in my garden. So I have two great tits and two blue tits. As well as an 'ample bosom' according to David Dickinson.

Earlier today, had a fairly light lunch at Katzenjammers with Plum and her husband. The place filled up with lots of young men, as before. My food was fine, but Plum's husband said his chips were cold. They had no puddings, and no coffee.

Birdie Num Num

There are a pair of what could be either great tits or coal tits - most likely to be coal tits, and another pair of what are rather grubby, or juvenile blue tits. Here's a snap I managed to get of one feeding.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Birds and Miserable Me.

I am becoming rather fond of birds. Joined the RSPB last year and dangled coconut halves all over the garden. Now tits are there nearly all the time. I have a recipe for refilling the coconuts and have purchased a stately home type hanging feeder. Next I shall purchase a nesting box or two, and maybe a hanging bath. Kooky may well complain.

Wondered why I was feeling rather despondent the other day. Then realised:

1. I am sixty eight, and will be sixty nine this year.
2. I am hugely fat at just under 17 stone.
3. Ugly, with thinning hair and warts all over my face.
4. Suffering from strange dizziness, horrible scalp and nail psoriasis and just starting to get rather nasty arthritis of the fingers as well as longstanding pain in hips.
5. Absolutely vile neighbours opposite.
6. Living alone and watching too much TV.

There's probably more. Then tried for some positives:

1. Good grown-up son and daughter in law.
2. Good job.
3. Liking my flat now I have changed it all around.
4. Excellent little garden, newly improved.
5. Looking forward to doing some more artwork soon.
6. Brilliant colleague who has helped tremendously with the house and garden.
7. Nice sister who has recently visited from Oz.
8. Good ex sister in law who I see occasionally.
9. Cute, though vile enormous black cat.
10. Had a great river trip with Nibs when the weather was fine, so can do more of this in the summer.
11. Other neighbours fine.

There's probably more of this too.

But that's enough to cheer me up a bit for now.

Kooky and Toys

Here he is, exhausted, on my bed with his grimy old toys.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Weekend Indoors

Lunch club was postponed until this Friday. However the dinner party club went ahead and was great fun: some old acquaintances, Plum, Nomad and SaneJames, plus two new, Declan and Karen. A most enjoyable evening was had by all and I remained relatively sober.

Very quiet day on Sunday. Apart from the very noisy party going on all day until 11pm with screaming children and loud music. Had to retreat inside to get away, but would have enjoyed a quiet day in the sun in my garden. Monday was equally spoiled by a smoky barbecue next door which affected my breathing, so had to stay in yet again.

Thank goodness for work today. The weather seems to have become much colder this evening. Kooky has taken to hiding a bit. He has also started crying loudly while transporting grimy old cat toys indoors and depositing them in front of me. My theory is that these are substitutes for the birds which he sees all the time but fails to catch.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


Nibby spent a sleepless night, jetlagged. We cabbed it to John Lewis later that morning and had a look around. I purchased a couple of bottles of PX since I am providing the dessert wine at Saturday's SE1 dinner party, then we looked at furnishing fabrics and I bought a set of Laguiole teaspoons in bright colours. We had a very good lunch in the brasserie - fish pie with tomato salad and a couple of puds, after which we came home and subsided for a few hours. Uneventful soapwatching evening. A pity Nibs has to go oop North today and I may not see much of her before she disappears back to Oz.

I shall have the SE1 lunch club today at Katzenjammers.

Tim Williams rang last night to say his daughter had told him about my TV appearance so he had watched it. I haven't heard from Tim for about three years. Seems a senior colleague had been best man at Nibby's wedding many years ago and wanted to be in touch with her, so she emailed him yesterday. Strange that Tim happened to ring while Nibs was over from Oz.

A Day in May with Nibby

Nibby and I set forth for a coffee in Pain Quotidien. Some quite interesting people there. Then we sat by the river for a bit, and Nibs purchased an amazing print of Josephine, wearing a dress with a ruff and the same headdress as in my porcelain bust. I shall have this framed. Nibby took us on a most enjoyable boat trip (here she is, above) to just past Tower Bridge, then back to Westminster. By this time the weather had become rather dull, having been warm and sunny, so we subsided into my flat to vegetate.

Nibs is most proficient at cooking, and very authoritative, reminding me of a professional chef. She basically hunts around and manages to put excellent meals together effortlessly with very little in the way of ingredients. I have been so spoiled by this that I am reluctant to go near the kitchen to offer her any of my sad little attempts at cooking.

Romy called around on her way home last night and delivered my post which had gone to the office. She met Nibby and we had a coffee and a chat.

There was very little on TV, so Nibs and I watched my previous TV shame in House Guest.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

..And Here's the Busts

Nibby and National Shame

Tiny seascape.

Well Nib's here and having a bit of a siesta after travelling for 24 hours. She came bearing gifts: from Pierre in Canada some super chunky silver salad servers; from herself not only a super tea or coffee mug with a large strainer in it for loose tea or coffee, but also some timely anti-wrinkle skin cream.

We arrived back in time to watch the Dickinson show. I looked gigantic - good thing I wore something dark. The first bit wasn't so bad though I kept grinning like a total idiot. However, they left the bit in where Dickinson started the audience roaring with laughter referring to my 'busts'. He then continued to compound this by talking about my 'ample bosom', but it was quite funny - Nibby thought it was the best bit of the programme. Hmmm. It will give the punters a giggle if they see it. Good thing I don't mine looking a total arse.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Fingers crossed for Nibby's arrival. Probably won't know much until tomorrow.

Looks as though my shame will be delayed until tomorrow unless they chop the programmes up, if the guest list on the TV guide is anything to go by. Did not realise it is a daily show.

Pete appearing this afternoon to do the pond. I keep finding more and more stuff for him to do around the house. Apart from filling up my 'picture wall' in my boudoir, and my new mirror wall downstairs, for which I shall have to find more white framed mirrors in interesting shapes, I have decided to dispose of lots of grotty old books I never look at. I shall also make my bookshelves taller by removing a couple of shelves, so that the larger books have more space. I am having to put them in sideways at the moment. I must remember to keep my Folio books, judging by the secondhand prices on Amazon. At least they look decent.

Sunday Boring

Ocado have not sent my Badedas. Curses. I shall now have to buy some bath stuff.

Ash not promising for Nibby's arrival on Tuesday at Heathrow. Crossed fingers all round.I have emailed her and told her to wait at the information desk. When I know the plane has landed I will leave and should be there in half an hour or so, by the time she has picked up her baggage and so on.

Sliced a small bit of the top of my thumb off this morning. Now I know the knives are sharp. I am so bored with my usual Sunday I may take a cab into town. The main problem is picking up a paper first. May get a bus to the nearest paper shop on the way, then hop into a cab. I am tempted by John Lewis for several reasons, including purchasing a first aid kit - realised I need one when failing to find a plaster this morning for the thumb.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Sunny Saturday

I am recovering from the TV shock. After all, they may cut my bit, or at least I may only appear briefly.

My neighbour has just appeared at her doorway, staring up and down the street, in a pair of lilac pyjamas. Earrings in though. Thank goodness she is ignoring me at the moment. Long may it continue.

Forum lunch club at the Platform in Tooley Street with Plum, and a new member, a very pleasant young woman, whose wonderful wing-shaped earrings fascinated me. Plum and husband, and Nomad popped in for a drink with Sanejames. Great to see people again. I hope some will be able to attend the luncheon next week at Katzenjammers.

Still tidying up for the impending arrival of my sister, Nibby. I am hoping we will get to the quilt exhibition and the Grace Kelly clothes at the V & A, perhaps the National Portrait Gallery and the Wallace Collection. Later I hope we will make it to something more local at the South Bank.

Awaiting grocery arrival from Ocado this morning. I am hoping to take another drawing for framing today.

Reading the Southwark News, I come across a short para entitled 'Crack in his Crack' about a young man arrested and found to have crack cocaine hidden between his buttocks. I found myself thinking that I wouldn't want to smoke that, until I recollected that I don't actually have a crack habit. Yet.

Monday, 10 May 2010

TV Agony

Here's something from my bedroom. It's a small and beautifully made Bohemian vase but I have never liked the combination of colours.

To ITV yesterday afternoon with Romy to be in audience of new pilot Dickinson show. Spent absolute ages hanging around outside clutching our little antiques. Eventually got in because they had chosen a couple of things, the rest of the audience being left outside for at least another hour. Dear me. I can't bear to say any more about it but suffice it to say the pilot will be airing next Monday on ITV at 3pm - I shall be hiding behind the sofa. Thank goodness it's the day before Nibby arrives here so she won't see my shame on national TV. I shall wear sunglasses for a week in case any punters see it.

Mr Suicide

Here's my new Alessi blue plug attached to the yellow man by a chain. He is Mr Suicide and stands on the edge of the sink or jumps in. Julian purchased this little chap for me (my plug is missing) so I don't have a bowl in the sink with a 'swamp' of water in it. Julian hung the curtains in Nibby's room last night. I must do the hems soon. Finished painting the table last night. I am now officially sick of painting things though they are far from perfect.

Trying to get ready for the TV show today. They rang twice today, once to make sure I would take my silver owl penwiper and Napoleon and Josephine, and again to ensure I lived nearby and would be able to get there. Oh dear, Romy and I may be doomed to appear on telly yet again. Probably better than getting covered in paint for yet another day. We shall see.

Sunday, 9 May 2010


Here's my net curtain upstairs with cupids and swags. Just seen is my windowbox full of pansies which gives me pleasure every time I look out.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Saturday Post

Kooky woke me at 6am, so got up and fed him. Went back to bed with coffee, croissants and Mapp and Lucia. Eventually bathed and arose to go to the framing shop with some of my French magazine ad pages. Spent ages choosing frames including some ready-mades which I quickly mounted up. Trying to knock a picture hook into the wall I knocked down the cuckoo clock, which at first wouldn't work, until I disembowelled it to find a battery had fallen out. Now it is working perfectly but have taken it off the picture wall and hung it elsewhere in my room. Hanging more pictures will definitely be a ladder job, so I may call upon the services of someone tall and intrepid (and patient).

It is a really dull day, but Julian has done a wonderful job on the kitchen chaos. Much further to go, but at least it doesn't look like a rubbish dump any more.

Have been thinking about my 'wow' feature. I may well move a large painting from the wall behind my new dining table. I can put this on an adjacent wall, then purchase a hugely baroque mirror - very tall and fairly wide, and put this on the wall over the table. White, of course. Or putty coloured. We shall see what we can find. This would reflect the light coming from the window and make the place look much brighter during the day. Candles on the table would also be reflected.

Friday, 7 May 2010


Dom the plumber and his mate have been. He says the dishwasher was fine but some outlet pipe was loose. He has also removed some valve which he says should improve the water flow. We shall see. They were here for ages, so I shall expect an enormous bill.

Lunch at Lye Torng followed by a long rest, then painted another coat on the fireplace and table. Julian pitched up in the evening and slaved away for ages, helping clear a vast amount of detritus from under the kitchen counter as well as masses of other stuff. This is all very helpful. I missed a bit of my usual soaps but watched a programme on BBC4 about sea shanties with Gareth Moran.

Tomorrow I must get some picture hooks and get some prints framed.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Bluebell Railway

Ye Olde Station. Took 100 punters and one trustee for an afternoon on the Bluebell Railway. We had the Golden Arrow Pullman coaches, rather like the Orient Express, and were served an elegant tea, with large stands of cakes and sandwiches. Saw lots of bluebells, bunnies, frolicking lambs, pheasants and primroses. A most successful venture.

Installation Idea

I am writing this to show it is my idea. So there.

Imagine a very small, ordinary living room - little table and chairs against one wall, old plastic type sofa with legs and maybe an armchair with a coffee table in front against the next, facing a rather dreary fireplace with electric fire and fake coals in front. There may be papers or coffee cups/glasses on the coffee table.

To one side of the fire there is a bookcase full of books - paperbacks and hardbacks with a couple of little ornaments and framed photographs on top, all beneath a mirror.

To the other side there's a stand with an old TV, and underneath, video or dvd player. Above there's a picture, and paintings too above the fireplace and the sofa.

The floor is vinyl or wood-effect, and there's a thin semicircular rug in front of the fire. There's an old standard lamp with an old-fashioned shade in one corner, and a lamp on the dining table. There's also a small chandelier in the middle of the room.

The room is a bit over-furnished, because under the window (which is otherwise the only unfurnished space apart from curtains or a blind,) there's an open cabinet filled with glasses and knicknacks.

Now paint the whole room a stark white, covering absolutely everything, including the floor, ceiling, every object in the room including the windows. Think about how amazing this would look: the books would be covered, and all the objects would be eventually recognisable, but all completely transformed.

If I had the energy/money/space I would make the above as an installation and I think it would look fabulous, transforming all the very ordinary, possibly quite tawdry things into a wonderful white space. Some things would be immediately recognisable, some not.

Anyway, if some sod does this in future - remember, I thought of it first. And no, it's not the same as Rachel Whiteread, this room would be very much inhabited. By lots of white stuff.

Monday, 3 May 2010


Well, the weather has improved a bit. Romy around last night with my wonderful new standard lamp for my bedroom and the table, which had hit a problem in transit, necessitating one leg going back to be mended, so I shall wait until its return before painting. I am having to put so many coats of paint on everything - I am sure the paint I bought is lacking in pigment. I have decided not to purchase the electric stove. I do have a fire after all, and all I need to do is neaten up the edges of the fireplace somehow. I think pro tem I will not paint tiles on the canvas, but just some decorative effect using the colours in the room. It is useful to be able to cover the hole and reduces draughts in the room. I may need to fix it with a couple of mirror plates to the surround. In due course when I have neatened the edges I think I will purchase a firebowl to put inside, maybe at Christmas or if anyone ever comes around to tea.

Dorothy and Julian said they were coming around at seven but did not appear until 10.15. This was fortunate as I was able to watch a very good documentary about Warhol on BBC1. They looked around - I suspect Julian may think I have done the wrong thing in painting the fire surround and long mirror white - there was a sharp intake of breath - but to be fair, I had only painted one coat so they did not look too good. I am hoping they will eventually look deeply wonderful. Julian and Dorothy thought that I should put masses of paintings (mine) on the wall opposite the spare bed which I may well do, since storage is proving such a problem, and masses of other paintings on the wall behind my bed, which I have started doing, and which could be fun, rather like all the paintings crammed on the walls at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I eventually got to bed at 12.30, only to be woken up by Kooky, now sporting a painted white neck ruff, whiskers and tail patch, at 5.30am. So sweet.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Soaking Wet Sunday

Yesterday, I rather wore myself out in John Lewis. It was a complete nightmare getting there and back, though St. James' Park was quite amusing with a troupe of Michael Jackson dancer lookalikes practising their routine, and a painter doing a tiny painting. Lots of roads closed but eventually got to John Lewis.I looked at the standard lamps, which were vile. I purchased some YSL Top Secrets Flash something or other, which makes an excellent undercoat on the skin before makeup. I then bought some picture hooks, some Wundaweb, some self threading needles, two very good pillows, and a rather excellent cushion in brilliant colours for Nib's bed. Had a steak for lunch with a glass of wine before a frustrating taxi ride home, with a protest march forcing us down as far as Blackfriars Bridge.

Dear me, it has rained practically all night and looks pretty dreary this morning. Kooky has lost the will to live and is lying on my bed because he can't go outside. Great excitement though - Romy, supposed to be away for the weekend, has nevertheless not forgotten me and phoned me a couple of snaps of old standard lamps, refurbished. Picked a rather jolly one for £30 which will look excellent in my room. She will bring it round with the table in due course. Romy is so clever.

Tried ringing Nibby this morning but she is due to leave for Canada tomorrow morning (our tonight) so may have gone to bed very early in preparation.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

May Day

Whenever I think of May Day two things come to mind: for some reason (probably because I read his books when living in Oxford) Thomas Love Peacock quotation, I can't remember which book from, about lobster being 'a matter for a May morning'; and May Day at Oxford, with my first husband, watching the Morris dancers early in the morning, drinking champagne and feeling young, bright and optimistic about the forthcoming summer, the future, everything. All these years later, I tend to feel a little happy on May Day.

My nasty neighbours are avoiding me thank goodness. My lace curtains are in place too.
Decided my dining table was too wide and not long enough.What I need is one which will take a chair at either end and two chairs each side along the middle, i.e. about 3'by 4'. Was about to purchase another on Ebay and Romy told me she has one at home which is even better, in that the narrow side is 2'5", so I can place it along the wall with a chair either end and two small chairs pushed into the long side. The idea is that I can seat six by bringing two more chairs in. Romy and her husband are kindly bringing this over. Since my existing table is quite decent we will swap. I shall paint Romy's table either cream, putty or white to go with all my other stuff. Removed the blind from Nibby's room and need to put the other curtain up there. And buy a new pillow and some Wonderweb to shorten all the curtains.

The more I do, the more I realise needs to be done. Apart from painting the fire surround, table, and gramophone casing, I may possibly paint my metal and my wooden trunks and a floorstanding mirror. The kitchen is rather a nightmare with every surface covered in rubbish and cupboards absolutely full of stuff - tins, herbs etc. I shall have to turn these all out and stick to essentials. My hall cupboard and airing cupboard also need a seeing to. I am also agonising about repotting Nibby's gardenia which has never done well in the bathroom. I suspect it is not in ericaceous compost and maybe it needs to go back outside, at least for the summer, in a larger container with ericaceous compost. Pete has apparently found some pond liner and will return to put this in later. The fireplace hole is still under discussion, though saw a super electric stove in cream on ITV's 60 minute makeover. Looked this up and it is a Villager Gem, which is rather pricy but would look 'the part', as my friend Chlamydia would say.