Six Sleeps til Have A Word


So here we go to Have A Word. The event organizer, Ellis, was kind enough to describe me as a “Comedian” on the poster. And the flyer. And probably on the radio show he was on today… so lets hope that people don’t remember that before I take the stage, because NO PRESSURE to be FUNNY then!


Having a Word – OK, Don’t mind if I do!

I remain convinced that he has done this to get me back for threatening to everyone about a boring story he told me about ironing a shirt. He has no idea of my horrible history of outing people… still, best not to spoil the surprise.

I have this feeling as if I’ve blogged all this before, but probably I’ve mainly talked to you a) in my head or b) on facebook, and of course, although originally I was down for October, Ellis asked me to do September instead, so I said yes, and then it was cancelled, so then I was back on for October. And yet, in an astounding feat of procrastination I have still managed to not finish it yet. Six sleeps…

Anyway, I am grateful. Ellis is the sort of person who has an idea and then ‘just’ does it. And I, for my part, am the sort of person to say, once that person has done a lot of hard work and it has proven a success “Ooh! Can I join in?”

Hence we are at this pretty pass. As it happens, I’ve done this sort of thing before, but it’s been a good 10 years since the last iteration. Since then I’ve listened to a LOT of Radio 4 and when Ellis said he wanted 15 minutes I didn’t even consider doing some shorter things or a thing of whatever shorter length and then just stopping – I wanted to talk to time. This is proving an interesting exercise, and I am actually nearly done. Do you want to read the opening? Here it is;

Cayce, I wish my ailments, like yours, were a kind of superpower. Your allergy is the BEST allergy. People pay good money to go to design school to refine their eye and learn visual skills. You are employed because when you see a new packaging design you know whether it’s good or not. Not because you have an ‘eye’ but because you are allergic.

Cayce is allergic to branding. This means that she has an unpleasant physical reaction to the sight of logos, so she has filed the logo off the button on her jeans and unpicked the labels. The stronger the logo, the stronger her repulsion.

Cayce is a “cool hunter”. This already sounds old fashioned in 2013, ten years after the publication of the novel, which, given it’s set in ‘the future’ might sound problematic, but sci fi writers, like all successful novelists, have rules, some genre specific, and some more general about what ‘can’ happen in a given scenario. ‘Cool hunter’ has been around for some time before he writes – the ‘coolness of ‘cool hunter’ is a kind of linguistic branding.

And this is nearly the end of me ever mentioning Pattern Recognition by William Gibson again. I go off on a noodly jazz style riff about the blackberry season and my own relationship to fashion. The idea is that it all hangs together MARVELOUSLY. But I may have to wait and see if it does. Particularly since I’m clearly not writing it NOW am I? No, after not blogging for ages, suddenly it’s vitally important I stop watching TV, listening to radio, playing Words With Friends, and all the other activities and tasks I seem to be getting done at an amazing rate and blog instead of WRITING THE THING. Typical.

Here Comes the Rain Again


August bank holiday, generally scorchio, as appropriate for the Notting Hill Carnival, and we’ve dived straight into autumn without a thought for due process.

Rainy grey light on the Lea.

Some people don’t care either way.

And what have I been doing since last we met? Well, the usual lot of nothing. I’ve been experimenting with coming off medication, eating my body weight in blackberries, and not getting my Have A Word thing written…

I’ve been picking a few blackers most days when I’ve been out with the dog. It’s always amazing how different really fresh things taste to – well, less fresh things.


It’s been hot, and I am chronically underslept. The rain brings a certain quiet, but also makes me creaky, so it’s swings and roundabouts health wise.

Have A Word is a thing m’friend Ellis has been doing in Brighton for the past few months – there’s no website as such, just a rolling series of HAW fb pages. It’s a monthly spoken word evening in aid of Sussex Beacon and it’s just gone into profit. Ellis is one of those people who ‘just does’ things. A couple of years ago he picked up a camera and within a few weeks had an exhibition – still showing regularly now. Similarly, he ‘just’ decided to host a spoken word event, and now he ‘just’ does.  I love that. Inspirational!

So, of course, without really thinking about possible consequences I asked if I could do a spot, and now I have fifteen minutes to fill on September 11th. I have *something* written, but not 15 minutes worth of something, and I’ve been quietly panicking away here. I had a couple of false starts, but have settled upon doing a sort of jazzy noodle version of a ‘book report’. It’s not a book review – I am barely talking about the book that kicked me off at all, but I quite like calling it a ‘book report’ because that’s what we did at school. And I was quite good at it. But it’s not really one, it’s just me starting off with some of the elements of a book and noodling off with it. The book in question is Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. My ‘report’ features blackberries quite heavily, which the novel does not. And fashion branding, which the novel does.

In other news I have been looking at swapping flats again… not sure whether it will happen or not, but I’ve seen a few now, and am narrowing down my focus – I’m not in a fit state to be moving just for the sake of it, and the Riviera has it’s plusses. But sometimes I start ‘shopping’ and contact a whole slew of people and then some of them get back to me and I think – did I really think I could move to Kilburn? Was that a thing?

Two current front runners involve a flat just off Brick Lane and one just north of Victoria Park – so, areas I’ve lived in before and not just mad night time digital ramblings. Now I have to write to someone and tell her I was QUITE MAD to think I could move so far away from ‘everything’.

And finally, here’s a GPOY of Pops.


Crying is the New Black


There was a point at which one wag declared “Comedy is the New Rock and Roll”. This was on the back of decades of “[colour name] is the New Black” in fashion, so it wasn’t that novel, i suppose, but it did confirm that construction in my mind, and I used variations of it often, and it occasioned my coining of the phrase “Crying is the New Black”, which is something I texted to a friend who I saw from a bus one day in Barmy Park. She was having a cry before getting on the tube, and she reported back that her shrink had approved the saying, so I repeat it here for your benefit.

this is a reconstruction of the text i sent. i am just like “crimewatch” except the original text was sent from the top of a bus and this is clearly just my phone on top of my duvet. sorry.

As a migraineur, I don’t like to have “a good cry”. A “good cry” for me just means guaranteed physical pain, which I get enough of already, so I avoid it. Also, I’ve been on a “mood elevator” for just over a year. I won’t bore you with the details, the whys, wherefores, and contingencies, but I came off it recently. Inevitably, there’s anxiety waiting to meet you after your SSRI/SNRI sojourn, which doesn’t happen on day one, but it’s there. Waiting to FREAK YOU THE FUCK OUT. But when you know what it is you can say – well, this might be the horror of me returning, or else it might be that thing that happens when you stop these drugs and it will pass. Whatever it is it hooks onto, as long as you know it’s not really ‘about’ that thing it can be dealt with. A bit like PMT – don’t make any major decisions when in it’s grip and ride it out. The way it manifested for me was waking up feeling terribly anxious about the possible moving house scenario that’s cooking up chez moi. Once I worked out what was going on I just used my ninja buddha skills and spent the first 20 minutes/half hour of the day doing a breath meditation instead, and that seemed to be enough to see off the worst of it.

The other thing, though, is the crying. I’m not wailing and crying, I’m not heartbroken, I can still maintain my stance on the whole crying thing, but I am finding myself rather more moved by stuff lately. And that is certainly a good thing. Whether a video about a dog being rescued, or something frankly schmaltzy, a little slug of tear will creep down my face, unbidden, but not unwelcome.

here is a brave weed growing out of a wall. *sobs*

I expect the little weeps will dry up sooner or later, me being the equanimous  type that I routinely am, but I am welcoming them for the time being. I have seen enough people go on and off these drugs to know that with the tears come all sorts of other feelings, along with the desire to create stuff, usually dampened for the duration. Happily, for me, I continued to blog, but I do know people whose entire online life has gone the way of all things while medicated, and for me that’s most of my friendships as well as some writing and pictures. So, here I am, welcome back, me, whoever I am.

A Special Sock, and a Special “Baby”


Fleeing off my head on the good drugs they give you in hospital, I confided, possibly quite loudly, to my mother, that I would be stealing the socks I’d been dressed with for my operation. They were so comfortable. Everything is so good on the good drugs. They’ve been in my sock drawer ever since, and the other day, sick of a long running calf muscle pain aggravated by the wearing of flip flops, I dug one out and put it on.

seems i got a d- for embolism. or for anti-embolism… it’s not entirely clear

On thursday I posted

i am wearing an embolism sock

well, an ANTI embolism STOCKING if you must know.

it’s very comforting. that’s why i stole it from the hospital.

on Facebook. I got lots of likes and comments, and even a video THUS;

from Ian Dogstar. I had to wonder why he had that one handy…

I’m not big on going to hospital. This was nothing to do with anything I normally have wrong with me, and I can’t even remember how they discovered I had it, but it was a big lump the size of a delicious muffin that was lurking in my abdomen. Only it wasn’t a muffin, and it wasn’t in mah belleh as such. I have forgotten momentarily what these things are called, and in the early days it was mainly “could be cancer”, “won’t be cancer” jerking me around for months. In the end they said it was hardly ever cancerous, this thing but they “liked” to take them out. I guess, if you have a growth that is not going to metastasise then you might very well “like” to take it out – like a magician TADA! and the big lump is GONE!

My take away message about this thing, though, was that it was a sort of evil twin typa bunch of tissue, which quite often had teeth and hair. This got me unreasonably excited, and when I came round from the very very good drugs and spoke to my surgeon my question was not “am I alright?” or any variant on that, but “did it have blonde hair?” (because it’s made of your own genes, so it’s going to be YOUR genes, not some interloper you’ve been having sex with). Fair play to the surgeon, who may have had more important things to do, she told me yes, it had LOVELY LONG blonde hair.

An Instagram, Dog Silliness, and My New Hoodie


Gentle reader, I have been away in Brighton. And on my trip I had my hair cut. And on my trip I had my hair cut and my photograph taken…

i’ve been instagrammmed! like a modern person (thanks julie!)

And on my trip I had my hair cut, my photograph taken, and lots of visitors – OK I am bored with that game now, as are you. Sorry. Anyway, the upshot is that having had my hair cut for the first time since the crazy Russians did it back in Bethnal Green, I felt I was perhaps presentable enough to get a mug shot taken that I could use across social media platforms. I had thought perhaps my friend Grace might do it, since she has a good eye, but the visit was busy and I didn’t grab the moment. Howevs, before we left I asked Julie to do it, because she also has a good eye… and she is all about the Instagrammings so between that and the sunshiny paintings in her living room I have had to do a total redesign here at elaine4queen, since everything before was all pale and light and now I have all the vividry a person could ask for. So, hence the kind of teal background, and the sunset garden – mine, by the way, so properly mirroring the welcome to The Hermitage’s actual location on the Tottenham Riviera. What do you think? Do you miss the picture of Poppet’s feet?

We were there to take the sea air (by which I mean visit friends) and look after Diva, the little ancient staffie. In a previous visit there had been small beasts in a cage in the garden, but it seems they have met their demise. During the previous visit Poppet had to be banned from the garden because she obsessed with the damn things, and even then she spent half the visit hanging out an upstairs window hankering after them. She still thought they were there so was dancing around barking… which gave Ten an idea.

crate training?

Poor Poppet, she seemed confused. Even after inspecting the inside of the enclosure she was still not entirely convinced that they wouldn’t be back and kept checking. This enclosure, by the way, is something which I like very much. It’s called an Eglu and is a designer chicken home. If you click through you can see how fancy, there is a little video. Until I became aware of the Eglu I had had no interest in chicken keeping, but who wouldn’t want to keep chickens if they had one of these?

Lastly and leastly, I came back to a PACKAGE. In it was a HOODIE. I have never knowingly had a hoodie before, and I am enjoying it immensely. This one is a bit fashion and the zip goes all the way up. So I could go about with my face entirely covered. Maybe cut eye holes.

ready to do all the crimes

Kimono – ‘A Thing to Put On’, a Tumblr Collection, and Rosebud, All the Fun of the Snow


I’ve been rather frustrated by the craft/knit/crochet revival mostly because I simply don’t have the energy, but also partly because even if I could get it together to make something there is the issue of skills… Reader! I do not crochet! And quilting is a mystery. And I only hand sew, my sewing machine remains box fresh despite my intentions.

Then this picture came along in my fb and I thought – HANG ON! I could certainly make that!

Irina Anufrieva in knitted KI-mono by Ki-mono Reconstruction (Joanna Bo) , photo by Eva K, feb*2012

It’s not even stocking stitch, just plain knit – hence the texture, and it’s made on big needles so would be the work of MOMENTS, and I have two ‘normal’ kimonos, and they are really just made of rectangles, so no fancy stuff whatsoever!

What I am thinking is that if anyone has any spare wool or knows of ends of line sales involving any yarn that is any kind of blue and any kind of white/cream/beige then i could make a boro inspired one.  A ‘boro’, for those of you not obsessed with kimonos and with blue, is a peasant’s kimono, dyed with indigo and mended with patchwork. Naturally, they are now considered antiques and are very valuable.

can i borrow your boro?

Last time I did ‘big knit’ I was at art school and I made my needles out of doweling. I was inspired by a friend who knitted a lot with drum sticks. I’d need to acquire or borrow some big needles, and I might even vary the size of stitching. I’d certainly want to double up the wool at the top and make it lighter as it went down, and then maybe do some tighter or heavier rows at the bottom of the sleeves and body to weight it.

Yesterday I made this  inspired tumblr collection a propos my obsession with blue…

for your perusal.


Ten found this in his house

the sled, not all the other gumph

It was left there by his dad who is a serious scavenger. So he swiped it for our little chum here depicted with his friend Poppet.


As we speak, there is a whole lot of sledging going on at Springfield Park. Since I managed to fall on my arse and head this morning out with Poppet I wasn’t tempted to go along, despite the potential for photo ops. Ten is at a CRUCIAL stage with my laptop, so he didn’t want to go either. As it stands, my Sony Vaio’s main brain died (just out of guarantee). My previous laptop, generously patronessed by Terri had had a premature retirement because of something going wrong with it’s energetic metabolism, but the brain was ALIVE so ten put the Dell brain in the Sony. Acourse, then there is the problem of getting Windows onto the damn thing…

Princesses, Films, Dogs, and Shopping


So, here’s me and Poppet snuggled up ready to watch The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

many pillows in the viewing pit

Ten said I looked like a princess, so I let him take the photos. Although we all know who is the real princess in this house. Poppet is the young pretender. But she will have to wait, much like Prince Charles does.

all about the regal

And this is what it looks like OUTside the window…

the tottenham riviera

That’s at best, actually. Most of the time it’s been pissing it down. Poppet has had to get wet most walks, which means drying off, which she doesn’t like. It’s her own doing a lot of the time, since she actively walks into puddles and the day we found the dog she went into a really big one up to her middle. Of course, stray dog one upped her by falling in the canal, but in reality, it was Poppet who nudged her in. They were scampering about playing and stray dog was quite jumpy and lithe, and Poppet is a clumsy tank. It was bound to happen. Just lucky the little blighter didn’t drown.

Christmas is now over, with minimum fuss, and we still have The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest to watch today so I’m calling it a good one and will be ready to move on to the new year PDQ.

We are now bickering about lunch, and one of the options is salad and the other is Caribbean curry, so I think we are done with the Chinese theme of Jews Go to the Cinema Day even if we’re not finished with the viewing.

Ten and I both have TASKS to get on with, but I’m not sure we will get onto them today since we still have the trilogy to tidy up. All Dogs Matter phoned this morning, and it looks like we are going to be getting a foster dog after all. Or at least, we are going to try a dog with Poppet. She’s a pretty good hostess in general, but we’re narrowing the field to a calm male staffie type dog, just for optimization. ADM get a lot of staffies, so it’s not going to be a case of waiting for one to come along. I don’t know if we are cut out for fostering, but I’m quite into giving it a go.

My mum gave me a Kobo for xmas, which I asked for. It’s pocket sized. I don’t carry bags, so was quite drawn to the pocket-ness. My brother gave me money which, naturally, I have already spent. So now I am waiting for a parcel from Brand Alley. They do discounted stuff from a whole slew of brands, and this one is a fancy Danish one, so I will be appropriately attired when Borgen comes back on the telly.

I looked up the brand name DAY Birger Et Mikkelsen on Yelp and the two reviews were in Norwegian. I had google translate them for me and they were both really grumpy, not just complaining about the prices but also the snooty shop assistants. Ah, the joys of shopping online!

Reading and Writing, a Stylish Granddad, and My Slow Day


Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Where is your favourite place to read?

On a sun lounger.

photograph by martin parr – source magnum photos. click through to see more

At home I listen to audio books mostly, and radio plays, but on holiday I read. I deliberately minimize contact with the interwebs when I go away so that I have a complete change of scenery including screen time and the sorts of things I  read here. I listen to audio books then too, but on holiday I will actually read print on paper & with my eyes.

Up until recently my eyes hurt a lot and I have had trouble concentrating, so with one thing and another I avoided reading anything long. A change of medication seems to have helped the eye problem a fair bit, but I haven’t got back into the habit of reading books at home. Too much internet to tidy up. With limited spoons I have to prioritize dog, food, self care, housework, paperwork and then blogging and being online for fun, and lately a little painting, so books don’t really get a look in.

I am not a professional writer, but I do write most days, so  I love articles like this one from Brain Pickings.

click through for margaret atwood’s 10 rules of writing


So, this is refreshing;

click through to the article on jezebel

It’s a Chinese man modeling his granddaughter’s clothing line.


Considering today is the day I *might* be taking on Watson we are having a very slow day indeed. When I took Poppet out this morning she was unimpressed by the rainy weather and preferred to snoof around the estate after bread left for foxes or birds, cats hiding under cars, and her other ‘urban’ interests. We got back and I toweled her off, and she’s spent the past few hours under a blanket. Meanwhile, I have been trying to manage my pain without taking pain killers, and am still not really dressed…

The sitting room needs tidying if it is going to be new dog proof. Problem is that although I moved here over a year ago, things do not have proper places to go yet, and it’s all still a bit experimental, so there is always an excess of things. I spent the previous couple of years steadily de-cluttering in my old place, so it could all be a lot worse. Still, with limited spoons…

Right! I’m off to feed myself and the beast and do my best at tidying.

Wish me luck!

Martial Arts, Fostering Watson, and Sarah Lund’s New Jumper


Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Talk about the opening of your favourite book.

Angry White Pyjamas by Robert Twigger opens in the streets of Tokyo. The protagonist is dawdling along and he finds some ball bearings that are used in gambling halls in the gutter and is childishly enjoying them when suddenly he witnesses a volatile incident between two drivers. As he watches he is on tenterhooks wondering how a salaryman can possibly avoid a beating from a truck driver wielding a piece of wood. The incident ends in the classic abject physical apology of the salaryman bowing on the ground and begging forgiverness to the gratification of the truck driver.

Twigger, aged 30, was given pause for thought. What could he have done if things had escalated? What if he, himself was suddenly attacked? He feels the natural vigour of his physique from his twenties had slid into a pulpy unreliable decay. Before taking us along for the ride of a lifetime as he learns martial arts as taught to the Japanese police force, Twigger paints a picture of the slovenly life he and his flatmates are living. As his uneasiness about his physical weakness gnaws away at him he describes the daily life of physical and intellectual laziness he and his friends shared. Their appliances gathered from dumpster diving, their grimy apartment and cheap crappy food. They lived in a crumbling part of town, and none of them were doing anything worthwhile or even interesting. The three of them decide to shape up and take themselves along to the local Dojo…

I have bought and lent and bought and given away more copies of this book than any other. It may be the book I have read most often, and I’d happily read it again. Being evidently autobiographical it kind of fizzles out at the end, but the book itself is gripping – and has won both a literary award and a sports writing award. 


In animal based news I will find out today whether WE MIGHT FOSTER WATSON!!!!!

watson! he’s only two! little boo boo! pops will go mental!

The facebook blurb on him said;


Watson is a 2 year old neutered male Mastiff cross who is looking for his new home after finding himself on the streets with his one eyed cat friend as his previous owners had lost their home and could not take him with them. This handsome boy is friendly, affectionate and loves being around people. He is good with other dogs and could possibly live with a calm female. We would prefer to rehome Watson to someone with previous experience with large breeds. As he is still young, he would benefit from further training and socialisation. He can live with children aged 12 years plus.

No matter how lovely he is, though, if we take him on we have to work hard to get him rehomed. I know perfectly well that my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and it is completely out of the question  for me to keep two dogs… but a temporary visitor? I know, it will probably be heartbreaking when he is adopted, but still!


Slightly late to the party, I had been waiting for a good patch to start to watch (and read the subtitles of) the new series of The Killing. Not only am I a big fan of nordic noir, but I am also a keen watcher of the outfits of the leading ladies. A couple of days ago I started hearing ripples about the new jumper Sarah Lund is sporting. Here it is;

The chevron effect is unfortunately something I would really not rock, what with my large frontage. DAMMIT. Why is my taste in clothes not commensurate with my figure? POOR ME!!!

For the past three series she has been noted for her uniform of fairisle jumpers. Not something I fancy, since I can feel them itch from here.