Thursday, 27 December 2012
Well, Christmas was excellent: Dorothy arrived with presents and also from Julian, and after a cuppa we set off by local minicab into town. Arrived a bit early so we sipped Sipsmith G & Ts and relaxed for a bit. The Christmas tree was very good - a huge mass of white twigs covered in large gingerbread figures from Konditor & Cooke. The private dining room looked out over the streets - and the tourist buses with open tops going past. These were filled with people sitting in clear plastic cagoules, looking rather like giant condoms in the rain. Dear me. The atmosphere at Indigo was excellent with just a few smallish tables, but also one very large family celebrating, so we had a few well behaved children and babies, and their parents were very attentive. The food was delicious: supberb starters followed by turkey for me and for Dorothy, steak. We drank champagne followed by red wine. The puddings were a chocolate pudding about the size of a tennis ball, which collapsed as chocolate sauce was poured over it, and mine was tangerine parfait with walnut ice cream. Fab. We relaxed and chatted over coffee for ages. I then made the rather brave decision to walk back over Waterloo Bridge despite the rain which took just over 40 minutes. I was glad because the buildings were all brightly lit in the dark and the lights reflected in the river. The Festival Hall and National Theatre, floodlit in blue and green, were particularly welcoming as we crossed Waterloo Bridge. I did get rather tired but recouped my energy after a welcome cup of tea on our arrival home. We opened presents, then drank a bit more, ate cake before subsiding for a bit but somehow kept chatting until after midnight, when Dorothy set off home. I really don't know why I haven't eaten out on Christmas Day before as it takes away the stress around Christmas and feels like a really special treat. I had always assumed it was a bit sad to go out for Christmas lunch, but I have now completely changed my mind, and seeing the large family who were there, from grandparents to babies, about 15 people, made me realise what fun it could be, even with an extended family or a bunch of friends.
Monday, 24 December 2012
Managed to purchase a few bits and pieces and thankfully fell back into the house. Could not watch my ipad because the telly connection thing keeps failing. Nibby tells me this is because my internet is not good enough. It should be considering how much O2 are charging me. Oh well. Madeleine turned up bearing gifts aplenty and also some wonderful Heston mince pies, which we heated up and had with brandy butter and a cuppa. Excellent. I shall now read the Peter Cook scripts book which is quite funny. Booked a car to take us into town tomorrow (hope it turns up) so we do not have to arrive drenched. I shall leave our return journey to providence. Madeleine was most impressed with my winter wonderland thingy. I shall now spend a quiet evening and do a couple of cards for neighbours in the street which I shall deliver tomorrow morning. Here's a snap of the lights over the road, and also the tree at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec the other night.
Sunday, 23 December 2012
Met Julian at Borough market where we enjoyed salt beef sandwiches and mulled wine, while wandering around. Julian purchased lots of packets of chocolate misshapes, but we had to fight people off to get near the stall. Dear me. Then back for tea. Today I managed to order some flowers to send to the nursing home and these will arrive tomorrow. My days have been passing in a dreamlike way, where I buy things I don't really need, cook things until I can't get any more in the freezer, and try and clean the paintwork. Sugar soap, suggested by my cleaner, has not worked, so I have sent off for a tin of old fashioned Chemico, an abrasive pink paste which was once used to clean baths. This might just work. We shall see. Madeleine and Romy are both ill: Romy with Norovirus and Madeleine with upset stomach and sore throat. This always happens to people just before Christmas. I am still agonising about transport on Christmas day and may ring a cab company today. We shall see. I was hoping to walk, but if it is pouring with rain I shall not want to arrive for lunch drenched to the skin. I have carrier bags full of presents, most of which will have to be distributed in the New Year since no one seems to be able to pick them up. Even the upstairs neighbours have disappeared, leaving a present in the hall for me, which is kind of them. Kooky is taking on worse habits. The odd nip on the leg to remind me of feeding time has now become a fullblown attack. Good thing I can now shut him out of the bedroom. The TV people actually rang. They say they will ring on Monday and let me know when someone can come around and hopefully fix the damn thing. Obviously this will be after Christmas, but I seem to have got the knack of watching things on the ipad. Have been reading about the pensioners in the Geffrye almshouses. Seems they lived in what seems to be bedsits, but with whole families in one room,loos at the back of the buildings, having to fetch water, curtained beds in the room plus a table, a couple of chairs, a food shelf and maybe a wardrobe. Later, the rooms were mainly given over to retired governesses for whom no provision had been made by their former employers. Madeleine may pop in tomorrow if she is well enough. Today I intend to go to Marks to collect my Sunday paper. Mamuska is closed until the New Year, as is Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. A sudden welcome cash gift has arrived from Pierre in Canada, so I shall after all be able to spend New Year's Eve at Toulouse Lautrec. I tried to contact Christophe and Victorine as there might have been room for all of us, but they were out and have obviously made other arrangements. Pity I did not know until so late. Such is life. As I will be on my own, I may have the chance to do a bit of drawing before alcohol takes over.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
I did not make it to the curry last night. I was quite surprised to see that my old college appeared to have doubled in size and the infrastructure was much improved. The work was young and lively as were the students - rather a change from the dourly worthy place of my days. Compared with the Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA the other day, I was quite impressed with the general quality,variety and enthusiasm apparent in the work done by the students at the levels shown, both undergraduate and MA, which has restored my faith in art just a little. Seems that they have many new tutors too, which has probably helped quite a lot. Oh well. Walking around rather knackered me, despite Fabiola's kind attempts to ply me with food and drink, so I left and was home again at around 9pm. This morning I set off for the Geffrye Museum and wandered about enjoying their Christmas displays and shopping for a while. My most interesting purchase was a small white goose feather tree for a fiver. I shall pop this into the spare room. We had a very good lunch at Bacchus in Hoxton Street, and Evon popped in with one of her hounds. Fortunately not the large and rowdy beagle. She and I wandered along for a bit then caught a bus to Liverpool Street where we had a coffee and chatted. She had some excellent news on her planning application over the phone so she was a very happy bunny when we parted - looking forward to becoming a property tycoon and the prospect of spending several months a year in France. Invitations to stay in France were extended! We plan to meet up again around Christmas. Also had a call yesterday from a long lost friend, catching up on happenings over the last 20 years or so, which made for a long conversation with the prospect of several more of these. I hope we will meet again at some time soon. An email arrived from One Aldwych to inform me that I had won a mini-makeover for two including a mini-manicure and a mini-pedicure in their Facebook competition. I wonder if that means one hand and one foot each ? can't wait to find out.
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
Wrapped a few presents and then discovered that Samsung have a customer service centre. Apparently they will take the TV away and mend it at their own expense if it has a fault caused by them. If it is something else they will quote me for a repair which I don't have to get done if I don't want to. The main trouble is that I don't know when they will come and then it takes seven to ten days to repair the thing so I shall be without it anyway until after Christmas. Forced myself out to the jam session last night which turned out to be excellent and it was Gabor's birthday so I had a small piece of cake and did a couple of sketches. Today I braved H & M in a vain search for the jumper which they failed to deliver, and of course there were none in my size. Curses. Tonight I am due at college to see Fab and the others.
Sunday, 16 December 2012
when staggering around London when you are 71. So foolish. Anyway met fellow Contemporary Art people at the ICA and had a chat about the Bloomberg Young Contemporaries exhibition there. Dear me. I am definitely very old. And glad I am doing my little sketches here and there, though I have been very remiss this week. I have also continued eating like several horses and put this down to the absence of a TV: it really does help to take my mind off eating. I have been looking for a replacement TV but they are all rather expensive and ugly compared with my now defunct one. I need another little flat screen 19" one which will play Freeview and work from a normal aerial. An added bonus with my last one is that it was white. I may look in John Lewis at Oxford Street tomorrow. I shall have to ascertain whether you can just plug them in or if they require some kind of complicated adjustment. My last one was never the same after last year's changes, even before it packed up. I definitely need a TV as a slimming aid. Also, now it is not working I can't be bothered to use the sitting room which is lying there unused, like the spare room. I seem to spend my time either in the kitchen (danger area) or lolling about reading on the bed (also a bit dangerous as it is quite near the kitchen). Dear me. It is the last jam session of the year tomorrow, and Gabor's birthday too. On Tuesday I shall go to my old alma mater and see a show there and have a look at Fabiola's stuff in the evening. On Wednesday I am going to see the Christmas rooms at the Geffrye Museum. Dorothy flew to Barcelona last night. I hope all went well with the sea ceremony for my ex, also early yesterday evening, poor old thing. At least it was a good send-off for him, with music etc. I am still trying to paint over the patch in the downstairs ceiling and have now applied a bit of white radiator paint from a spray can to see if this will help seal it over a bit. We shall see. Still thrilled with my new door.
Friday, 14 December 2012
My upstairs neighbour's little boy came to have a peep at my own winter wonderland downstairs, which was a great hit, then later Kate appeared lugging a huge trolley of tools, to install my door. I had not realised the amount of tools which might be needed. Time was slightly of the essence since I had to leave for the SE1 dinner later. Anyway, with great efficiency Kate fixed the door. This is very exciting for me, since I have wanted a door for so long. Like an early Christmas present. I have followed Nibby's advice and put some cup hooks and a rod to hold all my specs for instant access. I also attached another cup hook underneath and hung my IKEA scarf holder, ditto. Excellent. The SE1 forum dinner was a great success. Held in Bananas Bar in Walworth Road, a Portuguese establishment, the food was very good and the service excellent, and I think it was the most enjoyable forum Christmas dinner I have attended, and good to see so many old acquaintances. Plum really did an excellent job at organising the whole thing. This morning I am due at the ICA at around 11am to view the Young Contemporaries exhibition with a free guided tour.
Got this called Mrs. Langan's chocolate pudding out of The Times. Made it this morning. It was pretty easy. I put the oven on to 180, then used a baking tray covered in baking parchment raised at the edges, stuck down with a bit of butter underneath. Then separated six eggs. Beat the yolks up very well and added 80g caster sugar and beat until pale. Then beat in 50g cocoa powder and put aside. I then cleaned the beaters and beat the whites until very stiff. Folded a bit of whites into the choc mixture then gradually the rest all folded gently. Pour into the baking tray and spread if necessary and bake for exactly 15 minutes. After this, take it out and let it cool on one side. I then mixed plain and milk choc bars 150g ( I bought 35p tesco bars not cooking chocolate, perfectly adequate but you could use expensive bars)
Thursday, 13 December 2012
picked up my new specs and bought food at M & S (champagne reduced to half price so bought a bottle for Christmas). Finished my antiwar soldiers piece and carted the bathroom cabinet down to the spare room which is the ideal place for it. I have far too many books. Today I got up a ladder and with a long brush attempted to repaint the ceiling corner stained from previous leaks. Despite first spraying with fixative the stain came through. I may do it with another kind of paint, not sure. My plan is to decorate the spare room a bit when I have disposed of all the books on a temporary basis. I think red and green will be ideal, given that I do have quite a few red and green things about the place. We shall see. Saw a text message on my phone from my former lodger asking if she could pick up the socks she had left behind. The message apparently was sent around 6.15 but I did not see it until this morning early. I texted back to say I would be in tonight, then she texted suggesting Friday when I will be out at the SE1 dinner. I give up. I have never thought about a TV as a dietary aid before, but I do nothing but eat now I don't have one. Boredom no doubt, despite reading such a lot. I have been reading Oscar Wilde's 'A Critic in Pall Mall' and am now on to Walter Pater essays for the Guardian. All this has led me to read The Chiang Tzu, which is a bit puzzling. Hmmm........ AND the damn parcel still hasn't come. Of course. I am trying to adopt a calm Taoist approach to this, but failing so far. The joys of a slug of Scotch in coffee are sustaining me though.
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Boring day apart from my soldier sculpture, so set off to Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec for the jam session. Did a few sketches and sloped off back home. Text from Kate who is going to hang my door, hopefully on Friday. Hooray, privacy at last! Still waiting for a parcel which should have arrived a week ago. Royal Mail of course. Hopeless. Bumped into a former punter in Tesco who told me about the great time he had at Polhill yesterday. Apparently two coaches went and the lunch was excellent. I think Polhill was one of Romy's best ideas, though when she first suggested taking people there I could not see the point of a garden centre, since most don't have gardens. I had reckoned without the enthusiasm for the food there, particularly the meat, which is better and cheaper than here apparently, and the Christmas decorations, with an excellent festive lunch. Anyway here are the quick sketches done last night:
Monday, 10 December 2012
Was just reminded by my neighbour that we need to pay the house building insurance right now and my share is around £240 so I shall have to get the cash out tomorrow. Just what I need at this time of year. Failed to clean the silver, but assembling it to clean tomorrow. I finally bit the bullet and purchased a glue gun and extra glue sticks. I have made an assembly of toy soldiers in a circle killing each other which has been sprayed silver. Quite small about the size of a large side plate and about 4" high. I may leave well alone, or get some more soldiers, add maybe a toy ladder or two and build it up further as this could look a bit more impressive. We shall see... Anyway here's a badly blurred close view from above:
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Here are some of my most recent sketches. There's one at Hyde Park, then a couple of local cafes - Roberto's in Old Kent Road, and House Cafe in Walworth Road.
Saturday, 8 December 2012
Intended to go to this today but got cold feet (literally) at the gates with the swarms attending. Instead a few of us made for the island with the Wellington statue thingy and drew there. April did Apsley House, and I did a rather faint sketch of the view in front of me before being strangely drawn to the Pret I spied nearby for a coffee. Afterwards we all staggered off to the Grape in Shepherd Market for the moment of shame when we revealed our efforts. Needless to say, the others were brilliant. Sloped off home, and this evening Christophe and Victorine are due to be taken to Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. My lodger left this morning so I have made the bed up in case they want to stay for the night. Tomorrow ASC are holding open studios which I may possibly attend, and there's the Mamuska party tomorrow night. I wish I had someone to take as they will all be Polish, so I may not go. We shall see. Kind of them to invite me anyway.
Friday, 7 December 2012
Just adapted a Bompas & Parr recipe, originally for 8 quails but I have used chicken thighs and drumsticks. I heated the oven to 220. In a bowl I put a roughly chopped handful of fresh rosemary, a teaspoon of sea salt and one of coarsely ground black pepper. I added half a jar of cheap marmalade, then the juice and zest of an orange. Rubbed it all into the chicken bits which I left marinating while the cooker heated, then placed the chicken bits onto an oiled tray and poured the marinade over. After 15 minutes baste with the mixture, and again after 25. Leave for another 5-10 minutes, baste again and turn the oven off. Can be served with mash or a salad. The marmalade is excellent and makes it brown very well, but doesn't do the tray any favours. Done with 8 quails and adding the juice of a lemon and using posh marmalade might make it even better. Very easy party food too. I may redo this over the Christmas period. Wonder where I can find quails cheaply?
Thursday, 6 December 2012
Dear me, I am a bit nervous about the tree. I have not seen whether it is on the floor this morning, but Kooky walked past me first thing this morning with a long piece of lametta coming from his rear end. I foolishly assumed it was stuck to his fur, but on grabbing the end a long string of it came out of his bum, covered in poo. Revolting. He does tend to eat things like that. I shall examine the tree when the trauma to my nerves has settled a bit. Julian came around for a cuppa and to collect some post, and it was kind of her to help with my decs. More excess to come........ but I may remove the lametta from the tree. Perhaps it is Kooky's idea of looking festive.
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Girded my loins and travelled south to Walworth Road. I had inadvertently sat on a bag containing my specs and two arms had fallen off. While these were being repaired in Specsavers free of charge, I spotted a couple of brilliant frames: classic shapes,one plain red and one clear and slightly frosted. These were two for one at £69 so could not be resisted, particularly since my eyes were due to be tested anyway. I had a couple of hours to kill before the eye test and had an early lunch in a greasy spoon called House Cafe over the road. This turned out to be an enormous cavern of a place with an enormous menu. I ordered liver, bacon and onions which came with an enormous pile of mashed potato, carrots and peas. Managed most of the meat but was defeated by the potatoes. This came with a huge mug of tea for 75p. I did a rough sketch of this while I was there. My eye test revealed small cataracts, which would not require surgery for another 5-10 years (ha ha) so no worries there. My prescription had changed very little and my specs should be ready to collect next Wednesday, hopefully. My birthday present to me! In the evening I spoke to Pierre and Paulina from Canada who rang to wish me a happy birthday - the greetings continue!) and Paulina told me about an artist called Mary Delaney who had taken up painting in her seventies and had work in the British Museum. I googled her later and it seems she did flower collages by painting colours on fine tissue paper, cutting and layering this to make very good and subtle botanical images. Must have a look at these. It has now become colder with a need for gloves. The gloveboxes I received as retirement presents have come in very handy here. I have so many pairs of gloves, but can now find them immediately. My favourites though are beigy brown silk lined fine kid gloves from Christian Dior which squash into any pocket. I found them for a fiver, along with many other CD silk scarves and gloves in a sale at a charity event many years ago. Today I may take my print to the Prince of Wales, and visit the printer since Romy wants one of my A3 prints in A4 format. Next I shall visit B & Q to obtain a new showerhead. Christophe and Victorine are coming to Toulouse Lautrec on Saturday as the band sounds good and are playing on New Year's Eve. I may well go there for New Year if so. They seem to play jazz and other music and are called Mlanju. We shall see. Oh, and I managed to get the TV working for a couple of hours last night. Excellent.
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Romy appeared today clutching a card and a wonderful black lace and beaded collar for evening wear, AND a wonderful cachepot from a certain place in Berkshire, AND some Lady Gaga scent which was absolutely fab. Dear me, everyone is so kind. I must try and make sure I have another birthday next year. Meanwhile I posted in the SE1 forum to try and find people's local pubs or cafes and now have a list as long as my arm for future sketching. This will be fun, since pubs are closing so fast. I am rather sad that The Beaten Path in Walworth Road closed before I had the chance to draw it. The bar furniture was splendid there and the pub quite suddenly disappeared along with the larger pub over the road. Dreadful. I shall try and document as many as possible before they all go.
Last night Dorothy arrived clasping a Liberty bag with some Poison (one of my favourites), a very pretty woodcut card and some amazing coloured pencils which turned out to be French mechanical pencils. A neighbour told of a delivery she had received for me as we were about to leave. Seems that my sister in Newton Abbot had sent a huge bouquet of flowers, so I have been thoroughly spoilt. Masses of greetings on Facebook and an email from Ivana near Bristol - good to hear from her. I spent yesterday afternoon sketching at the Landmark Hotel which was quite expensive: £4.25 for a diet coke. Dear me. Becky and Steve were there so I drew the interior with a couple of punters at the next table. Fairly short sketch. In the evening, off to Toulouse Lautrec for yet another gastronomic feast before staggering upstairs to the jam session, which for once was a bit quiet. Might have been due to the fact that it was absolutely freezing outside. Bumped into the lodger on arriving home, who paid me for five days, announcing that she would leave this Friday or Saturday, which of course means I can then get into the room and kind of redesign it a bit. I shall definitely remove the trunk and replace it with a chest of drawers. In future I shall either have casual guests for a minimum of two nights (max 7) from Air b'n'b or get a more permanent arrangement using Monday to Friday. Depends how my spring cleaning works out. I would rather not have anyone, but needs must.
Monday, 3 December 2012
My bro in Paignton sent a lovely card and personalised bottle of Prosecco which I shall down soon. A card arrived from Madeleine, very kind, and last night Evon and Kate took me to the musical theatre night at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec, featuring the Pink Champagne Sisters. Evon gave me a box of pink champagne truffles too. We had an excellent dinner, and right in the middle of sketching came the announcement that there was a 'very special birthday' and happy birthday was sung by one and all to one's deep embarrassment. Sweet of them. We staggered back, and they relieved me of some of my spare canvases, but plenty left for David who took a few home earlier. Evon gave me a fifties type of retro card, very good, and Kate had drawn me lugging the door I had found along Gaywood Street. This morning I opened presents from Saffron: a very cute brooch with dangling swallows and crystals, and a fabulous bag from Nibby. This had been purchased for me from the maker, Saffron, part of her Freddy and Violet brand. It is super soft brown leather, oblong shaped and with a zipped compartment inside. It is on a gilt chain and has a snap at the front. She has pinned a very pretty vintage leaf gilt brooch to the front. This will be incredibly handy since it will easily hold my sketching stuff including an A4 sketch book and looks extremely stylish. Such a clever niece and generous sister! This morning (my actual birthday) had breakfast at Mamuska, who have invited me to their private Christmas party at the end of the week. As I arrived back the doorbell rang and Rupert and Anne-Marie stood on the doorstop with an enormous bunch of flowers and a card. They had planned to stay and take me out for breakfast but had to rush off as Rupert had a call-out. The flowers were lovely green, pink tinged hydrangeas and pale, mauvy pink long stemmed roses. Gorgeous. I have been spoiled this year. Later Dorothy is coming around and we will go to dinner at Toulouse Lautrec, and look in on the jam session later.
and the living room is covered in sprayed silver kitsch items: nuts, robots, plastic men, motorbikes, trains and princesses in castles. Dear me. I have started so I shall carry on. I am decluttering, giving away some old painted canvases to artist who can paint over them, to make space for my recent work. I shall then clean my real silver, and seek out more decorative items. I shall try and find a narrow fake silver tree to match the other stuff. I need some silvered almonds to sprinkle on the table. We shall see. I have told my lodger that Nicos is coming back to England on 22nd and intends to stay for a few months. She said she could leave by 17th so that's that. She has kept a very low profile recently, which is ideal for me. Today I did lots of tidying and decluttering and even changed my sheets which I eventually found after putting away masses of clothes. Nicos is organising a ceremony in Barcelona as a farewell to his father. This will be attended by the Spanish contingent as it is too difficult for us to get there at such short notice. Apparently there will be a boat setting off at sunset with an African band playing funeral music, then a speech about him, followed by casting of ashes with rose petals into the sea and the band playing upbeat music as a farewell on the return journey. Very touching. I shall raise a glass to my ex at this end. Yesterday I went with Drawing London on Location and Urban Sketchers to the Natural History Museum and managed a short and inadequate sketch before escaping to the V & A which was considerably less crowded but still not very conducive to drawing, so again, just did a short sketch of some statues. It is my birthday tomorrow,72 years bloody old.
Monday, 26 November 2012
It's well and truly over now. I made almost enough to cover the gallery hire. Art materials, framing and so on are another matter. Oh well. Including prints, but not cards, I sold 14 works which seemed to amaze the gallery. Seems they don't usually sell much there, but again, the work was not expensive. I am so relieved it is finished, but glad to have met such nice people who came to have a look around and buy things. True to form, Christophe and Victorine arrived and helped me take it all home. We then subsided with tea, followed by wine, and I suggested going for dinner to Toulouse Lautrec (where else?). Just then Nicos arrived, so we staggered off only to discover that there were no tables. Fortunately Nolan managed to find us a table upstairs so we were able to order from the bar menu. Barrelhouse Blues were on. As Nicos said it was amazing that a singer with no voice was so compelling that in no time we were all singing along and having a fantastic evening. There was great enthusiasm from the mainly young crowd, and it was someone's birthday, which made it even better. Nicos had to leave early for Spain the following morning, so after seeing him off I vegged out a bit until the arrival of Madeleine with other relatives. After a coffee we went to the War Museum. I was so tired that after a brief perusal of the Home Front shop and cafe (great cakes), I sat about while the others explored the place. My lodger had not texted so I texted her, but she had apparently booked herself into a hostel for another night, strangely. When she appeared last night she asked where the yellow trolley was, and when I told her about the damage she categorically denied it, and tried to blame my sister for it. Extraordinary. I caught her out by showing her the butterfly badge (which I had removed with difficulty with a sharp knife,) and asking if she recognised it. She did, but then said it could not have been stuck to the trolley, because there was paper on the back, and no corresponding mark among the other stains she had made on the trolley. I placed it over the matching stain, and she then said she had not realised the trolley was valuable and I should have put a cover on the top. Dear me. She will have to go, and the sooner the better. I don't know whether it is a personality flaw, or a cultural difference, this refusal to accept any responsibility or blame for anything. Anyone else would just apologise and move on. On the brighter side I resumed my meetings with David, and had home made toast and jam for breakfast at Mamuska. Today I shall meet Romy and another friend of hers for an early lunch, and I shall take along the drawings and prints she has purchased.
Saturday, 24 November 2012
and babysitting. Had a super dinner at Les Deux Salons with Madeleine, Nicos and Dorothy. The food really is good. And the service. And the atmosphere. Various people have popped in and had a look around, and some have actually bought drawings. Mark and Rade had a sketching session with me which helped to pass the time. Yesterday Romy came in and bought some things and Kaff purchased a drawing too, which was great. I am hoping Christophe and Victorine will fullfil their promise of helping me pack up tomorrow otherwise I will have to do it on Sunday. Madeleine is coming round on Sunday with relatives, and my lodger (presumably)will be back, as Nicos leaves early on Sunday morning. So I will be washing sheets and changing beds early on Sunday. Friday was a bit boring at the gallery at first, then some pensioners from the charity turned up, had a good look around and bought some cards. A couple more visitors wandered around, then Eileen, who is 'local' and apparently a kind reader of this blog, appeared, and purchased a drawing and some cards, which was very much appreciated. Then Julia from college, who I had not seen for ages, had a look around and bought some cards, so altogether the afternoon was considerably brighter than the morning. Today is the last day and I shall close at 4pm. Christophe and Victorine are in fact helping me, thank goodness. The main problem with that place is parking, so I shall endeavour to pack up and then assemble everything outside ready to go. Julia thinks that someone should publish books of my drawings.
Monday, 19 November 2012
largely due to the help of my sister, Nibby, who womanned the drinks and welcomed the guests. During the day we had about ten visitors, and around twenty or thirty altogether at the opening which wasn't too bad. I sold some work, always a good sign! Unused to this kind of thing I did become rather tense, so arrived home last night quite relieved that there had been no disasters. The gallery had not provided enough hooks, so Nibby went out and found some little removable fixer things for one section which was excellent. There was tons of stuff to bring back and we are left with a bit of a wine lake, which I had expected, but was glad to have too much rather than too little. Nibby goes back to Macca today, and her exhibition opens tomorrow. I would love to have been there but have to babysit my things for the rest of the week. My good friends Christophe and Victorine are going to help me dismantle the exhibition on Saturday afternoon. I shall therefore have a bit of help, and they have a car, which will be useful. I now feel more relaxed, though there is a bit of a 'hot bed' situation chez moi: Nibby leaving this morning and Nicos arriving to stay tonight. Then Nicos leaving early on Sunday for my lodger to return and get ready for work on Monday. Dear me. We had a great time at Zedel, which I would recommend, on Sunday night, Wednesday we are going to Le Deux Salons, and out with Christophe and Victorine on Saturday night.
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Anne-Marie and Nibby turned up to help me hang my pictures and we trogged along to the gallery. Of course a) the ladder provided by WAC was broken, and b) the rods for hanging did not have enough hooks on them. This meant that a group of eight drawings remained to be hung. Very frustrating, but we hope to try and obtain some more hooks from the gallery today. They really are pretty hopeless. The room was full of chairs and there was some kind of pentecostal service going on in the room next door with lots of aggressive-sounding loud shouting. Poor Anne-Marie was quite alarmed and thought an urban riot was beginning in the place. We will have to get the chairs removed today and obtain a table. Fortunately we went out to Zedel later for dinner and had a super time with Nicos and Dorothy. So today it's back to the fray with the opening tonight and we have to cart all the food and drink etc along to the place this morning while trying to sort out the final problems. Hopefully after this it will be relatively plain sailing. My other problem is that my mobile appears to have partly kicked the bucket. It will not show me my messages or send any and sometimes does not work at all. Good timing really. Typical.
Because it is all too much for an old woman. My lodger left after cleaning her room. I then found an open box of cereal tucked away by the bed, and my sixties Kartell yellow trolley top ruined with marks all over it and some kind of badge stuck firmly to the top. I was horrified as this had been quite expensive and a gift from my son and his wife. I immediately removed it and have managed to get stuff off the top but I suspect it will need sandpapering and polishing to try and restore it. Nightmare. Changed the sheets but the room, despite airing, smells very musty. I have put the dehumidifier in there, but the smell seems to be coming from my lodger's clothes in the wardrobe. Though she does not do it in the house, she is a smoker, which must cause the smell. I do wish she would find somewhere else to live, and the sooner the better. If I ever get another lodger, which I doubt, it will have to be a non smoking cat lover. I then had some slightly confusing messages from my son's Spanish brother, so I was unsure whether he would come here to stay while Nibby is in the room, and realising he might come on Sunday instead of Tuesday as planned, dashed off to an army surplus shop in the Cut to purchase a sleeping mat thing. Just in case. At that point I had another confusing conversation with Madeleine about bringing some other relatives over next Sunday. This is the day when I have to take down the exhibition with only a two hour slot in which to do it. I am still thinking about this and trying to get a hairy arsed bloke to help me with the dismantling. Then Nibby rang to say that instead of coming to Mamuska for lunch at 12 they will have lunch at home and be arriving at 1.45. That will just give us time to pack and dash off to the gallery for 2pm, so that is OK. Then another message from the Spanish contingent to suggest dinner on Sunday evening. Nibby not desperately keen but I pointed out that it might be quite relaxing to go out early and be waited on after our hard work, and will be nice to meet, since I haven't seen him for years. She reluctantly agreed, so I booked and we will meet Dorothy too. Masses of people have said they are coming to the opening, but Dorothy says this type of information is not always reliable. One of the definite absentees will be Romy, who spent yesterday afternoon and evening sending me pictures from Spain where they are stranded at home by flooding and collapse of mountain roads. Her last comment was that she was going out for a walk, which I found rather worrying. Am rather concerned about her. I shall now go and purchase the papers and several containers of Febreze. And text Romy a bit later after fortifying myself with coffee. I have been trying to tranquillise myself by sketching in bed. And trying to improve a drawing of a pub exterior. Will snap these later.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec last night. Apparently the musical theatre on Sunday night was absolutely amazing. ( Don't know whether I have mentioned that First Foot, the fishy pedicure place has closed. Too upmarket I expect. Oh well. I felt really sorry for the owner who is a hard worker and an asset to the shopping centre. I do hope she will come to the opening of my little show.) Did a couple of sketches at TL but there was another artist there doing huge A1 or A2 sketches in oil pastel with these huge Sennelier sticks. He was very good indeed so I was quite unsatisfied with my efforts. Because of my scalp psoriasis I am wearing a kind of black turban thing today. I may have to wear these a lot of the time if things don't improve so am practising. I may purchase them in a few different colours. We shall see. Getting a bit nervous about my show. Still, too late to cancel now so I shall have to grin and bear it all. May well get the fruit juices on the day of the opening since there is a Sainsbury's over the road, which will also be handy if we run out of wine - though probably no one will come and there will be a wine lake for Christmas. We shall see. Anyway here's the sketches I did last night:
Sunday, 11 November 2012
So odd, eating an unhealthy diet.I keep stopping myself from eating fruit and vegetables apart from the odd banana and peeled potato. I am definitely missing mushrooms which I love. Oh well, all in a good cause. Went to Imperial War Museum yesterday but could not get inspired so did this sketch of the Flowers of the Forest pub instead. Full of characters, could have done several sketches. A guy came up to me and said he had seen me sketching in the Good Intent a couple of weeks ago and they had all thought I was a copper's nark! Quite exciting at my age. On Saturday I sold a print to the landlord of the Prince of Wales. He also wants a print of the outside, which I will do at a later date. Quite good that people want to buy things. I may trot along to the musical thing at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec tonight, or if not, to the last jam session tomorrow before my exhibition next week. Very nervous about this. Unbelievably, I found a door parked with the rubbish at the end of the street. I measured it (right size) and dragged it back home. A real effort getting it up the front steps and nearly fell over a couple of times. However it is now propped against my bedroom wall. All I need are some hinges and handles. It has handles which look a bit complicated so I may try and get them off. We shall see. At least it will save me some money which I can ill afford. Came back from collecting the papers and the whole house stank as I walked in. Seems my lodger had been cooking again without putting the extractor fan as I had requested on several occasions. The pong filled the whole place. I pointed this out to her and she protested that she had only been cooking vegetables. I said that the smell was quite awful as one came through the front door. I then switched the fan on to get rid of some of this, only to discover a couple of minutes later that she had opened the back door and switched the fan off again! She really will have to go. She says she does not like the noise from the extractor fan. Jeesus! Not that I am intolerant ratty old bag, you understand.
Thursday, 8 November 2012
Thank God the bit in the local paper was small and far in but still very embarrassing to me. There were a couple of bad shots of my drawings, not helped by being tiny, but still. All publicity will have to be good publicity. Did a couple of enlargements at the printers to use as posters outside the place and the man carefully widened the images to fit the page, so now my face looks enormously wide! Dorothy is in Macau, hoping to get back to Hong Kong tonight. Says Macau is really pretty. I purchased some more low residue foods today. At least they are cheap: things like tinned spaghetti, tinned carrots, tinned peaches, rice pudding and cheap old white sliced bread. Also purchased some chicken legs which I stewed with a very small amount of onion and garlic adding bayleaf rosemary and juniper berries which I shall strain out. Managed to find marmalade without peel also. Dear me. Have actually eaten a toasted cheese sandwich with very little cheese in it. And a banana, seemingly the only untinned fruit I am allowed. Can't remember what groceries I ordered online which are due tonight but no doubt they will be useless. Gave my cleaner the Reggae Reggae sauce I was trying, as this is evidently far too spicy and has bits in. Tragic. Tomorrow I will print the last of the drawing lists, purchase a stapler and fasten them all together. I shall also need masses of bluetac. I think I will have to type out all the main legends in capitals to put on card, too. More wine coming tonight.
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Ventured to the shopping centre briefly today and purchased the Times. I have decided my innards are shot to hell so have decided to go on a 'low residue diet' which should give them a bit of a rest. Mind you, it is all very daunting, eating nothing which is normally considered good for you (ie fresh fruit and vegetables, porridge, pulses etc. etc.) but just a bland, invalid type diet. However I shall be able to eat bananas occasionally so stocked up on these, plus white bread and rich tea biscuits, but for today have just had one cup of chicken noodle soup minus the noodles, and two rich tea biscuits with tea. Apparently toast and jam without fruit pieces is OK so that is easy. I shall be trying the delights of tinned spaghetti in tomato sauce, custard, jelly without fruit, but I think I am still allowed tinned sardines, thank goodness. I suspect I must lose weight on this dreary diet which will certainly preclude dining out. We shall see. I imagine my insides must improve because they won't have much to do. Did some printing today and made up some more Christmas cards. Not at all sure about these. Oh well. Dreading seeing the Southwark News tomorrow. I shall not sleep all night worrying about what a fool I have made of myself. Oh God. Must get my jaws wired. And mouth taped up permanently. Finished a little sketch of Percy, Evon's basset hound which I started ages ago.
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Still confined to barracks but must try and get out later to buy some papers of various types. Dear me. Slightly cross exchange on the phone this morning. Seems the council would like to charge my ex for another few months rent until they finally cleaned the place out for reletting. This is apparently done quite slowly in case a relative turns up at the property though I suspect it has more to do with local cuts or inefficiency. Of course I did not have enough money as I only had the rent statement found in his place, and had paid out all the other sums. I am also somewhat against paying for rent after his death, since this had been previously paid from housing benefit which had been stopped on death, and his very small legacy was only due to the sudden payment of a state pension. He had had to live without this for a long time because they had forgotten to pay him and had only been paying pension credit. They were quick enough to stop it when he died, and I still have to try and get my mind around the possibility of his owing money for months after he died when it was hardly his fault that they took so long to reclaim their property after being informed of his death. Anyway the official eventually advised me to just pay the amount owing on his rent statement since his account was closed, so will do this and hope they will not make further demands. My whole attempt to try and do what he would have wished for his sons has been a complete pain from the start, and just shows that everyone, however young or poor, should have a will. I am still quite cross about this council thing. I must try and get well enough to go out soon since I have to do lots of photocopying for my exhibition, and need to somehow get up to Waterloo Action Centre with the posters for the exhibition. Illness is always so inconvenient. Strict instructions to live on water for the next two days from Nibby, before graduating to full fat Coke. Dear me. At least I don't need to buy food, but will need to get out to get the papers and drinks. If I can. Am still a bit doubled up and certainly not confident enough to leave the flat.
Monday, 5 November 2012
Had a call from Southwark News to say my snap was a bit blurry unfortunately so sent them a couple of less flattering ones of me. Should have sent this self portrait with Deirdre Barlow specs. Or not. Nibby rang to say I have now sold my Lyons Corner House drawing so will have a few prints made since it seems popular. We shall see. Have also been dealing with the council about my ex who appears to have owed some rent. Since they sent a statement about this I find it hard to imagine that he could have owed more rent after he died unless you have to give a month's notice after your death. Dear me. They will tell me how much it is tomorrow. We shall see. Very dull today and have had Delhi belly all day confining me to barracks. This will exclude any possibility of enjoying an evening at Toulouse Lautrec which is a pity. I also doubt whether I shall make it to the cafe in Chiswick on Friday. However I should manage the arranged visit to sketch in the War Museum on Saturday. I hope. I shall see what the Southwark News prints on Thursday, and depending how positive this is I might then see if the publican who was interested in buying a print still wants one, otherwise it will go in the show with the original.
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Pouring with rain today, as I realised early this morning when a drenched Kook made black pawmarks all over my duvet cover, changed only on Friday. Freezing cold too. Winter is obviously impatient, considering the summer was hardly noticeable. Oh well. Girded my loins yesterday and struck forth to the Museum of London on the 100 bus which of course was rerouted just before my stop, but walked to Little Britain and fortunately found a Pret for coffee. Succumbed to a Love Bar(so many calories they don't mention the number) which is one of my recent weaknesses in the food line. Francesca appeared and we chatted until the meeting time. There were plenty of sketchers, half of who I did not see until our final pub meet at the Lord Raglan at 4pm. The place was rather dark, but I finally sat and painfully sketched a transported bay window from a Lyons Corner House with a ghostly 'Nippy' waitress, I think they called them, in a filmed background. Quite took me back, though I remember being in similar places called Fuller's, always painted white outside, which were rather good and famous for their iced walnut cakes. I was not entirely happy with the sketch so may try and get a bit more depth into it as it took me ages fiddling around with all the decorated bits. After this I just did a very different and loose impression of the main entrance inside before giving up completely. The soup I had for lunch was quite good. There were excellent sketches to be seen later at the pub, not surprisingly since many of the sketchers draw for a living and are designers, animators, illustrators and architects. Gives me a bit of a complex and I am so jealous of their excellent skills, but I soldier on in hopes of improvement. Must try and be less lazy in future. I always call the time when I have to reveal my efforts the 'moment of shame'. I may do a couple of prints of my Lyons drawing and experiment a bit further with the light and shade on these. We shall see. A surprise email from Nicos, my son's half brother who may be coming to London for a week on 14th November but we won't know until Friday. He might be able to get to my exhibition if he comes and it will be good to see him again. If he stays with me it may well be on the living room floor so I shall have to obtain a folding mattress thingy but won't bother to obtain one of these until I know for sure and am sure he has not had a offer of better accommodation.
Friday, 2 November 2012
Blimey, had a call from a local newspaper, wanting a chat and asking for snaps of my drawings so I may well be in Southwark News next week. I hope the article isn't too awful as I probably waffled on and talked complete nonsense in my surprise at being contacted. Oh well. We shall see. I may have to go into hiding after next Thursday, but they do say that all publicity is good publicity. Dear me. Evon just rang to say Cathy had not turned up at her place and she couldn't get hold of her. Good thing I had not left home, though I was just about to. I shall wait until summoned. Hmmm. Seems Cathy fell asleep so they are going to be really late and we may not get a table since they can't book. I have been asked to wait here until they set off which seems a bit daft as I could leave and make sure of a table. Oh well. Well, the C10 bus is a bit of a nightmare in rush hour. However I managed to find the place in Maltby Street and get a table and the others arrived soon after. We had a great evening eating, drinking and chatting, fortunately got home early as I am drawing again tomorrow. A week tomorrow I am glad to see we will be drawing at the Imperial War Museum, so I shan't have far to go.
Seems Dorothy is popping off for a short break in Hong Kong on Monday, back next Saturday. I hope this is fun. Washing my sheets today I turned the heating on to dry them. After a while I went in to my lodger's room as she had complained that the radiator was only lukewarm. It felt very hot to me, so I suspect the main problem is that she leaves the window open all day. It might be better to just leave it open a tiny crack but all the time, and put an extra cover over the bed which I can provide. Oh well. Meeting Evon and Cathy for an early celebration of Evons 50th birthday tomorrow. We shall apparently go to a local place which I have yet to find. Nibby told me that you can make home made condensed milk from dried milk, sugar and water. Tried this and it tasted a bit nasty so added some vanilla and almond essence. Then discovered I had not put enough dried milk in. Dear me, may try and add some more. We shall see. Unless it is totally wet tomorrow may well go and draw at the Museum of London in an attempt to provide something to frame for my exhibition. It really is getting bloody cold. I may try and purchase some navy dye to dye one of my large cashmere jumpers in the hope that it will felt up, shrink a bit and become warmer. We shall see.
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Well it has been in Southwark. I took Julian's advice and went to ASC who were unable to make any suggestions re publicity since WAC dont have a mailing list and the people from the art shop said ASC would only want to promote their own people. I am ploughing a bit of a lonely furrow/pissing in the wind here, I can see, so rather than waste my news release, just fired it off to some local papers who will probably completely ignore it. Oh well. Tant pis. Sent some flowers to my mother-in-law for her birthday today. I am looking out some snaps of my decorated skull and some other kitschy things to take tonight. I suspect I will have to wear some bright colours and only hope I am not expected to have a tree on my head. We shall see. My lodger is complaining about the cold in her room. She has the door firmly shut at all times, otherwise the heat might filter through from the hall and living room. It probably doesn't help that she leaves the window open all day for fresh air so it is freezing when she comes back. Nothing much I can do apart from offer her an extra quilt for the bed. It will be ages before I can afford to have the radiator knob thing changed which will probably help. Two heating engineers have checked that the radiator does not need bleeding. Dear me. I shall probably report back to this blog again either later this evening or tomorrow morning. We shall see. Dear me, I am all overcome by kitsch. Arrived at the Crypt and found friends, grabbed wine and cupcake and wandered around. Well it was over the top and then some, but great fun, with an altar for Day of the Dead, some people dressed as their favourite dead artist (Frida Kahlo's by the dozen) etc. etc. So here's some snaps:
Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Tonight. Have tweeted that I am hiding at home wearing a garlic necklace. I spent this morning chasing money which may show itself at some stage next week. Must go and see if one of my print buyers was serious about a possible purchase. I seem to feel hungry all the time. Dorothy has managed to get my food diary back to my iphone so i should be using this but have somehow forgotten the vast amounts of calories consumed today. Hoping for a better day tomorrow. This afternoon and evening I have framed extra drawings and made holes in the backs for screws and attached bits of string as required by the gallery. I have also done another list of my 'stop press' latest drawings. As I only have two more frames, only two more drawings will make it to the exhibition. My main problem at the moment is my inability to send a press release since the gallery apparently do not have a mailing list. To my amazement. Julian suggested that I trot over to ASC nearby who may have some useful advice on this front. And I was rather pleased with the press release I had prepared. Oh well. It may have to be a largely secret event. Tomorrow evening I hope to have the energy to go to the 'Dare to Wear' thing at St. Pancras Church crypt which is only on until 4th November. Francesca rates it very highly. Reading about all this kitsch stuff reminds me of my 'office' at UCH, completely painted and decorated with the most vulgar kitsch I could find - even the computers did not escape my attention and were very floral indeed. The plastic beaded curtains at the entrance and the Barbie scented unholy water stoup where visitors were required to do the sign of the Barbie bow (a kind of figure of eight gesture with the right hand, executed with clerical dignity) before entering my 'office' were just the beginning of the experience. This reallywas a bit of a secret location, visited only (apart from hospital staff who actually worked there) by a select few fellow artists. It was however greatly appreciated by one of the patients, a child who had inadvertently wandered into my wonderland. Ah, those were the days! My hommage to Pierre & Gilles images superimposed with the heads of hospital staff were apparently used as screensavers on the wards. I have probably written about this at length before, so sorry for boring you again.
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
After a lazy day went to Toulouse Lautrec hoping not to see Alice again. Fortunately since she did not pay her bill she has been giving the place a wide berth, thank goodness. So I was free to sketch away all night and proceeded to produce more quick sketches, some in my sketchbook and some on paper. Today I realised that I was paying nearly £60 a month in income tax so rang the tax office who had made a mistake and will change my tax code and get me a refund from January this year which will be very welcome. Went to the printers and spent more money. I shall now be able to label the backs of my drawings. Soon I will have to do a 'stop press' list of my more recent efforts. I am hoping my son will be able to come tomorrow and collect my ex's legacy, then pay some into my account so I can send cheques for the small sums owed from it before distribution to the main beneficiaries. I shall be so glad when it is all dealt with. My lodger has not yet found a flatshare. I suspect the agents are sending them to look at properties which are with several agencies before the landlord lets them privately through Gumtree to avoid fees. I am keen to get enough money to put a door to my room and get a chest of drawers and generally have a cleanout of the room I am currently letting which means waiting until my current lodger leaves. Although she will be away while my exhibition is on because my sister needs the room for a couple of nights, I shall be busy all week invigilating at the gallery so even if I had the money I shan't have the time to do anything about the room. Dear me. My community charge has gone up from £70 a month to £126 a month because I have a lodger. Will just about balance with the tax refund.