Before we know where we are, we'll be having Guy Fawkes fireworks BBQ food...
Alright, I am back. Two weeks' wonderful holiday, then a week of total insanity catching up. Now, I am hoping, things will take a more even keel. In terms of keeping this blog updated, it didn't particularly help that while I was away, I didn't have the cable to link camera to laptop plus every day had demanding clients wanting things. That, plus a dial-up connection and guests to entertain meant something had to give.
Despite (or because) the fact that rain lashes my window panes and my hand hovers gently over the central heating thermostat wondering whether to put it or a winter wooly on, I am going to post a few of my Majorca photos over the next week or two in a vague and unrealistic attempt to conjure pure sunglight out of my computer screen. It's something of a long-shot, really.
In many ways, it's a good time to look forward, rather than wish I was elsewhere. The Autumn is a time I usually associate with renewal, as I have discussed before, so perhaps it's a good time to write a list of things that are good about the next four months rather than wallow in the negativity of the end of holidays and summer.
- Madge on Thursday at Wembley
- Friend MS flying over from the US to come with me, and staying a few days
- Will Young album (saw him on Thursday at Sadler's Wells, looking yummy)
- Week to New York at the end of November
- Friend SW coming to visit from South Africa at the end of the month
- Roesheeeeeeeeeeen, Coldplay and Goldfrapp en concert
Hmm, I'm running out of ammunition here.
Just going to crack on, I think.
Christian Falk featuring Robyn and Ola Salo Dream on
Man make fire.
Man invite a load of gays over.
Man serve fabulous menu.
Yes, it's my summer BBQ season. Never one to be shy of being host on a summer evening, I'm going for it once more with a sign out the front of the house - dozens and dozens served. This year I am so very zen about whether we manage to get outside or not, it just defies belief. I think the one-that-broke-the-mould - the drizzle BBQ of 2007 - proved this sort of party literally can be achieved rain or shine.
Party number one was two weeks ago. Usually I do these things in three consecutive weeks, but our diminutive Australian pop princess was on August 1st, so it's been a little elongated this year. My grand finale is thus on Friday. Anyway, the above snap was taken just before everyone pitched up at the first bash and the whole thing worked a dream. I raided Nigella Summer for my recipes which have more of an Eastern Mediterranean theme than I have tried before. The Greek salad in particular was notable. Using the almost-on-its-last-legs BBQ as a mini-pizza oven for the pizza-flatbreads went one further. It did mean quite a lot of work, but there is a joy in repetition: doing it all over again was like falling off a log.
Bonus, on Friday, when I thought there was no alternative but to eat inside due to mizzle and vileness around teatime, it weirdly got all warm around nine. The gays decided, somewhat unexpectedly, that we were going for it - the full al fresco experience. I am always happy to roll with this sort of thing, so got them to carry the table outside and we cackled like witches into the night air. Marvellous.
It's been a little while since I hauled the suitcase out of the basement and hit the road... three months in fact and that is just waaaay too long in my book. But in order to travel and take a break, it proved necessary to actually do something worth taking a break from. Yes, I've been working my ass off the last few weeks and things are getting pretty serious around here. It's a nice feeling. Mind you, this particular week has been almost awe-inspiring. Never have I had to prepare three separate design presentations for different clients in entirely different industries in one five-day period, but it all 'happened' much to my amazement. I even got a freelance guy in to see if working with him would make things easier or the end product better, but in the end was persuaded that this was a symptom of laziness (it didn't feel like that at the time, believe me). Besides, doing everything myself is quite a rewarding feeling. I just hope the nice people I am pitching to tomorrow agree. That's the big one.
At three thirty this morning I lay awake with eyes on stalks staring at the ceiling worrying whether or how I could possibly get it all done. But it's strange what one can do when you put your mind to it. After I actually got into work, the sheer nervous tension and pressure of it all carried me through till around 7.30 this evening when I thought I might just die if I spent a second longer looking at what I had done. It all seemed so daunting at five this morning when I had to tramp round my kitchen making tea and toast just to pass the time and hope that was thing that my body required in order to resume slumber. It worked, eventually, but despite getting back off I felt like I had been dug up when I eventually woke a couple of hours later. The after-effects of that alone require a weekend of savage downtime.
Anyway, as I was saying, it is a good moment to get a little sand between my toes - I am about to embark on a mini-European tour (he says, though this is not strictly true) starting tomorrow and finishing at the end of August. Admittedly I am not away for all that time - I wish - it will be two weekenders to glorious destinations and first next weekend I am off to Southern Spain for a week then in a couple of months, Majorca beckons again. The Spanish place we are heading to is new to me and looks pretty spectacular in the photos, so enthusiasm is running high. But first, another new destination. Tomorrow is my debut trip to the Channel Islands. I am off to Jersey with three likely lads to see what all the fuss is about in a tax exile. The iPod clothespeg is charged up and filled with disco to road-test my Summer holiday playlists before they get some really muscular exercise poolside in España. But first, before we get to all that, check out this little diamond I dug up earlier...
Kylie and Dannii Sisters are doin' it for themselves
Generally, the most expensive thing I keep in my car is a Jonelle lambswool picnic rug. Come to think of it, the car itself, though only three years old, isn't exactly much to speak of in terms of luxury vehicles. Minor league Volkswagens are two-a-penny round these parts. Still, it was with a degree of inevitability that I found out some moron had broken in.
When I surveyed the lumps of broken glass, each the size of a Tiffany diamond, as they lay around the passenger window of my car, I felt myself noticeably shift sharply to the right in my political allegiances. When one reads about criminals, or sees them on the television, one yearns for their reformation. When one is their victim, incarceration and possibly light capital punishment seem a perfectly reasonable request.
All that was stolen was the charger for my sat-nav, the actual thing I had brought safely inside, so the thief had made off with only the most absurd piece of junk. However, he had imposed on me an evening of misery and three wasted hours (which I can ill afford at the moment) spent on the phone to the police, insurance company and then at Autoglass in Wandsworth.
I kind of accepted it and moved on.
Cut to a week later, and I drove round to Whole Foods on Kensington High Street and parked in the super-chi-chi leafy cobbled streets behind, meeting some friends for dinner. I had been playing New Order's Republic album on the journey over and as I left the car was in a bit of a hurry. So... I unthinkingly left the iPod in my car cupholder.
It's safe to say it wasn't there for long, and the window that had been installed six days earlier was reduced to safety glass. Still, I hope whoever has the (2006, somewhat scratched, engraved with my name) iPod enjoys it - they'll certainly get an education in modern electropop.
New Order Ruined in a day
... but life has been a little overwhelming lately. Plus factor in the post-African British Spring which has been a little too much like hard work lately.
Perhaps I should have tried the talking (writing?) cure.
Anyway, I am pretty sure I am due a rollercoaster few months, which should be interesting and might make for a good story or two. In truth, I quite enjoy a good drama and lately have been cooking them up from nowhere rather than actually getting my hands dirty. However, I am about to embark on a huge change at work, wherein I have decided that almost five years of working for myself is probably enough, so am looking for some sort of next step, but it's not quite certain exactly what that might be (though of course I have a few ideas) or where that step might take me.
But a little light tension is good for a person. A tale of the unexpected.
The Potbelleez Don't hold back
This was my garden last Sunday morning. All most unexpected really. And jarring. I'm just not in the mood for this crap. To cheer me up, I have been reading a book I picked up in Johannesburg (and have been reading ever since) on the Gucci dynasty. Right now I'm on the home strait - it's the Tom Ford section: he's just triumphed with the 1996 spike heels and pencil skirt runway extravaganza. Meanwhile Maurizio Gucci's ex-wife Patrizia has just been sent to the Big House for ordering his murder. It's all just too dramatic. Tales of Patrizia's relentless glamour - her totally loony insistence on wearing diamonds and a fur when being taken to be interviewed down the station, for example - put me in the most marvellous frame of mind.
I was also inspired by the descriptions of Maurizio swishing around Milan in a huge camel coat and sunglasses. This reminded me that I too have a camel coat which has been lingering in the closet all winter unworn, which suddenly seemed a crying shame. It is something of a statement garment. I don't have a problem with that, but it seems a little much when it's just me in the office - this coat cries out to startle. But I decided to run with it anyway and in a case of taking lemons and making lemonade, I took advantage of the frigid temperatures and have been marching around like Liberace on one of his more 'opulent, me' days.
A look of surprise! These days it's more permanent...
Depressingly, I know not one jot more about this potential future neighbour I mentioned since last week. His existence is but a wild rumour (though the SOLD sign on the street does tend to confirm matters) but I can't help but remain curious. Perhaps he needs somewhere in walking proximity to his workplace? Just an idle thought based on gleeful supposition. I confess my street is chock filled with couples who are popping out babies like a damp Gizmo (next in line are the couple next door). So I am hoping for a little light variety. But I am hearing nada. Right now it's a case of no news is bad news.
I guess this dreary period of waiting waiting waiting is a by-product of the newly sluggish and depressed London House Market (or something similarly Daily Mail Britain which are topics I can't even be beginning to be getting into), however the good news is that my life is a little quieter (in audible volume) since lovely neighbours went on holiday somewhere warm and sunny for a week. Who the heck cares where, it just means that all is peace and quiet for a few days ... which is just as well since work rather increased in measured volume and everything is a little bit 'life on fast forward' again.
And no matter how much water I drink, my lips are dry. Why is that?
Madonna Who's that girl? A timely reminder, etc etc
Back home in London it's all change at my house. The neighbours who were renting upstairs for the past two or so years are gone. She was heavily pregnant and thus had bought the inevitable gigantic house in Battersea. This sudden departure created a chain reaction of events which saw the owners of the apartment above me yanked back by a sudden and unexpected cosmic yo-yo. They were in the process of selling the place and couldn't find replacement tenants for a short let, couldn't afford both mortgage and rent, so had to let their place (two streets down) go and come back, for a limited period only.
Let's be clear, I adore them. Adore. I was there the days both of their kids came back from hospital. I have watched them grow from mewling squits to proper little people. I'm emotional about those kids. However, I am also staggered how much noise small children make. It's literally staggering. It doesn't particularly help, in fact it makes everything ten times worse, that their flooring, above my boudoir, is wooden. It also doesn't help that the light fitting I have on my bedroom ceiling is a mother of pearl chandelier. When small feet run across said wooden flooring, never mind leap off sofas, it's like someone is taking a drumstick to that light fitting. It tinkles suddenly and jarringly.
It could in theory be worth saying something, but equally, it seems they are moving on swiftly. A sale of the place is afoot and interesting developments ensue. The potential new owner is a single male architect. Early thirties, very enthusiastic about life and everything generally. But this does intrigue me: I'm just curious what sort of person this will prove to be. Other than a gloriously childless one.
It's one of my 'watch this space' scenarios.
Frances Nero Footsteps following me
Major classic. I have this on 7". Love how she goes down the King's Road on the back of a truck!
March means Autumn in South Africa. As I drove through Franschoek after the Ian Somerhalder lunch described below, there was that unmistakable feeling in the air. The sun fell in a certain way. The trees were turning, the vineyards filled with rusting leaves. I always associate that feeling with renewal - the cycle of the new academic year is too deeply ingrained after endless school and university Septembers for me to ever fully shake that sense of 'new term.'
So, I got on the plane home on Wednesday night and after flying overnight, arrived back to a rather colder but definitely far more Spring-like London than the one I left in the middle of the month. Blossom hangs heavy on the fruit trees. Birds build nests. That's all very pastoral and lovely, but it was also very very strange. Not only to be back home so suddenly after a tropical adventure, but freakishly in an entirely different season.
In some ways it's fantastic. I mean, where Autumn and Winter were imminent, now suddenly we're approaching a theoretical "warmth" and "summer". I'm treading carefully when it comes to assumptions of this kind, of course, 'British summertime' (which began yesterday) is a vague term and, employing my usual British reserve and scepticism, more a timings guideline than an indication of a repeat of July 2006.
Pet Shop Boys Home and dry