Playing ‘I live in a hotel, I do’, a Funeral, and the Sound of Scissors


I don’t like to book train journeys in advance. I could say it was because of my health, but it isn’t really, it’s more because I dislike the stricture. And just as well, this trip, because if a plan could be changed it would be – pretty much everything changed except the time of the funeral. Originally, my brother was coming over from Holland but he got ill and couldn’t travel. I live right on the train line to Cambridge, so I would have otherwise done a day trip, but he’d paid for us to stay over, and told me to find somewhere. Cambridge is a bit of a dump apart from the fancy bits, and I don’t know it well, and the wake, in any case, was going to be several miles away, so I chose rooms in Ely, which I know quite well. Roland had given me a heeeuuuge budget for the rooms, so I did look at Ely’s one actual hotel, The Lamb, but I thought it wasn’t all that for the price. Reader, IMAGINE if you will, my excitement, when I discover a building I’d always liked the look of, Cathedral House was in fact a bed and breakfast?

But what was even more amazebobs was that the double room I had reserved for myself turned out to be a tiny pretend apartment! I didn’t have my camera with me, but I’ve taken some pictures with my phone.

My pretend apartment even had a tiny hall OF MY OWN

Having read books set in Paris, I have often felt that were I suddenly a BIZILLIONAIRE for no particular reason, I would like to live in a hotel.

Although it was actually rather cold, it was furnished and decorated in rather a lovely way.

I didn’t think I would need to take any chargers with me, so my visit was characterized by a series of power failures as my various devices died. The “smart” phone was the first to go, but luckily I had my old phone with me (with an audiobook on it) so I swapped out the sim cards. The B&B was advertised as “having” WIFI. In as much as I got a signal for a few seconds every hour or so, it did indeed “have” WIFI. I did have a bit of telly on my netbook, so it wasn’t a total waste of time bringing it, but I was rather surprised to see that die fairly swiftly, too. I was left, then, with my ebook (with Back Story by David Mitchell on it) my old phone, and the telly and radio in the bedroom. For lots of reasons I don’t really like watching tv when I am traveling – in any case, I don’t watch it live when I am at home, either. I did, however listen to the radio.

hello, this is the olden days. sit on a hard chair and keep your back straight

It’s such a pleasure to listen to Radio 4 on an old timey radio. Given that R4 is stuck in a time warp anyway, it seems most fitting to listen to it on a device such as this.

If  I was staying longer, or if I had run out of reading I could have chosen from any of these orange spined Penguin books.

They struck me as being like an artwork Robert Rauschenberg might have made in tribute to Mark Rothko while visiting Piet Mondrian. Except it’s full of books, most of which I either have read or would happily read.

The ‘apartment’ had a little sitting room, but I didn’t really use it. I spent most of my time indoors in bed drinking various teas, and, of an evening, sachets of miso soup.

While I was packing for the trip it started snowing, so I chucked out my smart clothes and bundled dark coloured jumpers and trousers into my suitcase. I even wore my Yaktrax, which are coiled metal grips for walking in snow. Although it was really cold when I got there and it did snow a little, there was no need for ice trudging gear.

Having a room for two nights did seem a bit excessive just to go to a funeral I could have done in a day, but I did like the sensation of being cosseted in my own little world with no DORGS jumping all over me. When traveling abroad, there is usually a little form for you to fill in where you have to write the ‘purpose’ of your trip. This has always confused me, but I did have a little moment of existential angst, which was allayed entirely by the trip indeed HAVING a purpose. I arrived mid afternoon, and went out and bought soup, chocolate, and a hot water bottle, and basically went to bed at 6. Considering I’d woken up at 3.30 the previous morning and not got back to sleep, this was pretty useful. I listened to an entire audio book about Elizabeth I. It was rather dull, but there was one stand out moment in her life which I’d not read or heard of before. Once, when a lady’s maid botched serving her food she took revenge for the slight by STABBING HER IN THE HAND!


So, the next day I was fairly bright, and after scoffing the “breakfast” of the B&B package – a plate of egg, bacon, sausage, mushroom and tomato I was fit to face the day. I went back to Cambridge to meet my dad at the station, and we got a cab to the crematorium. We had both been super early and we ended up getting there far too early, so we sat and chatted. I thought I would be all stoic, since Pat’s death could hardly be described as tragic, but as soon as I saw my cousins, her daughters I started to weep, and I really didn’t stop until afterwards. My dad, being the codger that he is, declined to come to the wake, and got a cab back to the station. It’s kind of weird seeing my family en masse since we don’t normally meet up, but it was actually pretty nice. My cousin Diana had just been on Radio 4 on a show called Saturday Live which is a long, magazine style programme. It features something they call ‘sound sculpture’ and my cousin Diana was on it talking about the noise our Nana’s shears made as she cut out a pattern. It’s awfully good. You might be able to listen to it here since the BBC seem less parsimonious about radio programmes than tv online. She’s on from 15.27 to 20.09.

At some point I was offered a lift back to Ely, which I gratefully accepted, and although I had eaten all the chocolate I did have my miso soup and an apple so didn’t have to leave my room once I’d got back, and I again put myself to bed more or less immediately. The first night I was very keen to shut myself in with as much warmth as possible, so I’d shut the shutters and the curtain, but this time I left it all open and woke to the sunrise which was pretty.

My morning baths were hot and deep. Here’s my fancy little bathroom.

cast iron bath from days of yore. not very long but super deep

I got up at farmer o’clock again, and ran my bath, listening to a programme I like to call “Men Arguing” but which is in fact called “The Today Programme” (wait – it isn’t – it’s called “Today” but apparently people call it The Today Programme. Bloody PEOPLE! Always messing things up). I don’t usually listen to it because it does that thing of telling you the same news over and over again in a panic inducing way, but I quite liked doing it that morning just for the oddity of it.

I’d been asked over in the morning to spend some time with the girls, but I’d thought that sounded rather ambitious, and when it was chucking out time at the B&B I rang but my cousin’s phone was off. She phoned me back, but I was already on the train home – they had indeed stayed up til 3 in the morning drinking and reminiscing.

ridiculously awful photo i took as i was leaving

Pat’s ashes are going to be dug into my uncle’s grave with a rosebush on her birthday in August. He was buried with a bottle of good red and a Jane Austin book. I like to think he read the book while he was waiting and saved the wine to share with Pattie Poos. Mind you, a theory was mooted that she might have smuggled a crate of Baileys in with her in her coffin, so perhaps he woudn’t have to share.

Goodbye to All That, New Year Navel Gazing, and PhD or Poundland


Okay, Christmas is over, people, lets get on.

Diane Arbus, Xmas Tree in a Living Room, Levittown, L.I., 1963

It’s December 29th! Lets do a little Navel Gazing!

Year on year I don’t really seem to make many advances migraine wise. Yet I wouldn’t go back. So… something is good. Or better. Maybe increased insight is worth having even if the net result on migraines is actually nil. I do feel like I am getting somewhere. And little things matter to me. And if you can take pleasure in small things then life is a LOT sweeter. Frinstance, yesterday I blogged about Die Antwoord which is something I have been meaning to do for weeks, and changed up my tumblr theme – again something long overdue. AND I changed all my links on this blog, twitter, and tumblr to #2c749e which is a lovely blue – replacing a hot orange (so last year, my dear). I haven’t done a tumblr post for a long while – I should rectify that – but I am pleased to say that at some point wordpress decided to Xpost to tumblr, and my wp posts have been reblogged several times, which means possibly new readers – fingers crossed!

I also hoovered and mopped, which left me with a bad back, a difficult night and a migraine in the  morning, but with Ten gone the sitting room is READY for me to do stuff. The stuff I have to or want to do includes boring paperwork (urgent), painting (haven’t done any in a little while, need to get into a rhythm with that) and AND and a PhD application.

That’s right, you read it here first. Or second, I’m pretty sure I have mentioned it somewhere already. Anyway, I was in conversation with someone on twitter, and he was promoting a funded PhD. I said it wasn’t quite my thing, but I’d share and he ended up encouraging me to apply. The deadline is end of January, so I will have to look sharp. Thing is, that I had really given up the idea of doing such a thing some time ago but in practical terms it could be the very get out of jail free card that I need. At any rate, I will write a proposal and see if it flies.

So, the way they put it was about ‘Creating the Sustainable Digital City’ which, from the blurb looked like it would be rather about politics and hardware.

It’s being hosted by the department of “The Built Environment” at Heriot Watt university. Not somewhere I would naturally think of applying. I like that I have a month to get it together, though. Plenty time, but a short enough deadline to get me moving on it. If what I come up with loses steam quickly I will know it’s not for me – and same goes if they reject it. If, however, I got in, not only would I not have to live in Edinburgh, but I wouldn’t need to stay put at all, and I could go all global and travelly. Always assuming I got through the next firey hoop – applying for AHRC funding for a grant. It wouldn’t be do-able otherwise, and the great thing about being on a grant for three years is I could get out of this hell hole of being on benefits during a Tory hate campaign against the disabled.

Whether I would be up to the job is a whole other question. PhDs seem to make people ill and mental, but given that I am starting from that point things could either be just fine or go horribly wrong quite quickly. A better option than waiting to be sent to work at Poundland, anyway.

Emin’s Tube, Gertrude Stein, and A Dead Fox


Laptop borked, I am writing this on the netbook, and JUST to bring you this picture…

london tube map with tracy emin drawing on the front

I downloaded all 1299 photos off my camera.

It’s not a new thing, but I quite like it, because it looks like she just drew it on the front in biro, but really it’s printed on. If anyone would like one let me know your land addy and I will DO MY BEST to stick it in the post to you. My own borkdom notwithstanding.

It’s horrible without the proper laptop, but I have soldiered on, finishing up the second series of The Hour with rather juddery streaming and a cheap tinny speaker attached. I think there may have always been something wrong with this netbook, because the speakers are awful. Far too quiet. Considering the speaker I attached cost me no more than a tenner, you’d think Toshiba could manage that quality at least.

Still, it could all be worse. Mustn’t Grumble.


My life without my usual AV set up has taken a turn. I listen to radio shows on my laptop a lot, and go to sleep to various plays and stories from Radio 4. This not being an option I decided to see what was available on podcast, and now have a shed load of Great Lives loaded up on my smartphone. The best one so far was Gertrude Stein. She turns out to be a lot more interesting than I thought she was from the tiny amount I knew about her which was that she was rich and an art collector and had been painted by Picasso.

gertrude stein by picasso

I’m not going to bang on about her, but I did very much like the way she was quoted saying;

“We spend all of our wars in France.”

Lovely. Reminds me of the David Sedaris “…my home, well, one of my homes” (from The Ship Shape)


I feel bad that I didn’t take a picture of this for you, but Poppet has had a bit of a DAY obsessing over a dead fox. It seems that early in the day a council worker found the dead fox on the tow path and put it in a bin bag on a corner on the estate. It’s been seriously pissing down all day here,  so no cats will have taken an interest. Or even crows. So the fox had been bagged up and Poppet had had a couple of sniffs… I took her out when I got back from my appointment in the afternoon, since I was already wet. A neighbour was walking his dog and he was telling me about the fox, and Poppet was sniffing at the bag. On the towpath I let her off the lead. She belted up to the gate which is a bit weak, barged through and sprinted off to open up the fox package. When I caught up with her she’d opened the bag up a bit and I could see a bit of scruff. I put her on the lead and took her home. A couple of hours later she was nagging me to go out. The moment we left the house she dragged me all the way to the fox.

It had clearly been on her mind.

I have a cold – I know, early uptaker!


I don’t even know how long I have had this cold now. Is it forever or forever and a day? Here, in the plague house we are kind of just waiting each other out to see who dies. It’s like the Shackleton expedition. But with more tissues. This morning when I blew my nose something resembling a smallish coral reef came out. It wasn’t pink, though.

And at such times, when energies are at their lowest, what better to do than to contact alldogsmatter to see if i can do a little fostering? Because, you know, in the middle of a cold when you are bedridden and can’t remember when you last ate, that’s the best time to take on looking after a troubled dog.

Looking at the dogs’ specs I thought Benson looked like a good candidate.

benson. a handsome middle aged staffie. laydeez beware!

I can’t offer him a forever home, OBVS! (NO, REALLY, TRULY, OBVS – don’t bait me on this!)

Alldogsmatter don’t have a pound. When you go see a dog it’s one at a time and in a foster carer’s house, so you see the dog as it really is and not in a cage surrounded by lots of hysterical unhappy dogs. It’s a good system. It’s how I got Poppet.  I Lo-ho-hoved the look of “Badger” the husky/collie mix, but I know my limitations. That dog needs someone, or a whole bunch of someones with a ton of spare energy. Benson, on the other hand, is a middle aged staffie lad, who Poppet will enjoy having around. He needs a foster carer by the weekend, so if it’s going to be me it’s going to be SOON.

badger. off limits to us, but what a gorgeous boy!


In I am the best daughter ever news, my mum got the Kindle today, and is super happy with it. Not bad for someone who, when asked what she thought of such a thing said NO. It was the simplest one available – much like the phone I got her – no camera, no internet, just phone and text. For a technophobe  she does seem to like gadgets that do something awesome but don’t have anywhere to get lost in.


Did anyone else see anything about this? It’s about an apartment in Paris which was locked up for the war and never lived in again. A friend on fb shared one pic, and I had to go find more. She was jonesing for the dressing table, but I think I’d prefer the mirror.

Apparently the press got excited when they found a valuable painting there, but for me that’s just a mislead. I wish the lady had left me the apartment in her will. I’d love to just go there, have a bit of a wipe round and a hoover and move in. Get the chimney swept and wifi installed, bingo!

a shop, a holiday, and a new keyboard layout


the internet’s a funny old world, isn’t it? i mean, time was when you had to confine your ‘if i lived in the country/at the seaside fantasies’ to rubbernecking for sale signs while driving around on holiday or just staring glumly at tiny advertisements in newspapers and magazines. now, with the almighty power of google maps and bing, you can HAVE IT ALL. you can peruse the listings all over the world, peel the little mannie off and snoop around, find out about local amenities, and even find out about what developments might be built nearby. all without leaving the comfort of the electric blanket.

this shop is in holt, a village in north norfolk. what the blurb doesn’t mention, but is nevertheless a fact, is that next door is a boiled crab shop.

when i was house hunting for this flat i looked far and wide. and i read a lot of blurbs. i became rather sensitive to the language employed. basically, it is a lot like dating sites – mentioning and highlighting the good points and drawing a veil over the, well, wooden teeth, wooden personality, wooden whatever. one place looked amazing from the ad. it had a sea view and a large front room with period features. and yes, once i paid a little visit via peelie mannie on google maps i discovered it also had an ARCADE downstairs. because it’s just not worth mentioning all the clashing disco music and games noises ISSIT???

anyway, this time round i was looking for rentable holiday homes, not shops. i had slipped into a friend’s fantasy and got totally waylaid. still, i now have a very well fleshed out shop fantasy as well. handy, that.


today’s online efforts involved putting together a tumblr blog it’s password protected. don’t say i never give you anything. here’s the password – urbanretreat (amy! don’t tell your dad i did this, he will be convinced i am just ASKING for all the robbers).

welcome to the tranquility of my hermitage – have you got anything in that bag for me?

so the point of doing this is to showcase my flat for potential holiday swaps. i am not made of money, but i like to get away as much as anyone else, and i don’t have any worries about lending my flat. it’s a good deal for people coming up to london, good rail connections, perfectly west end – able while being very quiet and good for riverside walks. we went on just such a walk today, and poppet found a place to swim, so she is totally zonked out on the sofa right now. there are sites where you can advertise your flat to STRANGERS but i think that i know enough people that i can start off seeing if friends want to do it. or friends of friends, so that i can see actual friends when i am visiting. anyway, it’s a start.


keeping the virtual theme going here, my last offering is this

i used to watch a tv programme called click which reviews all the new tech stuff, but i forgot about it when i started only watching stuff online. ironically. this week’s click featured the dextr keyboard layout. i wonder if i would like it or if it would be like driving on the wrong side of the road abroad, something, while a bit less dangerous, which i would find a bit unheimlich. i’d like to give it a go. the two handed two thumbed layout looks pretty good, and i really like the idea of actually giving a shit about lefties, being one myself.

finding comfort during migraine, how to buy clothes that fit, and the fall of the rebel angels


Migraine Awareness Month #5:   “Do That To Me One More Time.” What comfort measure do you find helps you enough during a Migraine that you go back to it again and again, and how do you use it? 

i medicate both preventatively and at the time of a migraine. lots of belts and braces for me. i do behavioural things, i eat meals regularly and try to avoid carbs on their own, all the things. but for comfort my number one love, need, and want, is my heated throw.

as you may imagine, i started my heat loving with the simple hot water bottle. i moved on, like a comfort junky to microwavable seed pillows, and then to heated pads. however, the best thing by far is a heated throw. it’s not exactly what you want on a sunny day, but most of the time the direct application of heat is a total godsend. plus, when i was using heated pads i was going through several a year. the throws are a bit more expensive, but they last so long that i don’t even have a time limit to tell you about.

it’s THAT good.

“National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by”


yesterday was a bit of a duvet day, plus it has been raining and a bit glum anyway, so i have little of REAL LIFE to report. happily, though, i have an active online life, and i was catching up with @mockduck yesterday and she told me about something OOH OOOH! WAIT!

i have to show you this CLEVER thing

look, here’s a screen shot, if you don’t believe me

i mean, if you are ANY WOMAN EVER or ANY MAN WHO WANTS TO BUY CLOTHES FOR ANY WOMAN EVER this is for you. she explains it in a blog post here.
and it’s so simple to use, as well. all you need is a set of measurements and you are good to go.

how clever is this? VERY CLEVER. wikipedia is uncharacteristically thin on the topic of sizing. if you know anything about the history of clothing manufacture you could do us all a favour and go and write the damn entry up properly. a propos of bugger all, the entry claims that standardized clothes sizes started in the early 1800s. i have forgotten what it is called because my brain is all migro-fried (new term i just coined, d’you like it?) but mass manufacturing of clothing has to wait until the turn of the last century when you could cut lots of cloth at once with a machine. it was called something and i knew the name of it once….

anyway, the point i am about to make is that people weren’t always as HEARTY shaped as they are now. i think that the current higgledly piggledy measurements reflect a change of average bust:waist:hips:height ratio probably particularly since WW2. also, bear in mind that even in the 60′s people often made their own clothes. my suspicion is that if you were a fashionable type with a familiarity with clothing patterns and you had a non standard shape you would buy the Vogue pattern, or whatever, and you would know how you personally would deviate from the sizes and you would cut your cloth accordingly. well, anyway we can all stop trying endless different sizes on in different shops, now, with this handy ready reckoner. so THANK YOU @darkgreener you should get a medal or something for this.


now. check this out

The fall of the rebel angels.
The Hague, KB, 76 E 7, f. 1r. Bible moralisée, Bruges; c. 1455-1460.

not being terribly well, i thought let me scroll through my tumblr and find an image to share with you. scroll scroll scroll. nothing. and then this. i looked at it and thought THAT IS FAR OUT. so, nothing really interesting to say about it apart from a generalized “well, would you look at THAT?”

i heart tea


today’s tumblr is short, but it’s sweet. containing, as it does, lots of hearts. and a surprise. or more than one surprise if you weren’t expecting to see human hearts. DOH! dammit…

also, you never know when you might need to remove a heart from a body, so there’s that. forewarned is forearmed.

today i had an exhausting outing, but ten came with me and walked the dog afterwards, and then i went back to bed with tea because on a day where i don’t do everything in the right order i like to go back to bed and start again. and by ‘doing everything in the right order’ i mean spending a while immersed in the internet. tom wolfe opens the painted word by quoting marshall mcluhan which, i believe, was a very fashion forward thing to do in 1974, since mcluhan has only become a really go-to theorist in the age of multimedia, as far as i know – though perhaps for film/tv students somewhat earlier. but, naturally, i digress. what mcluhan had said was that people don’t read the morning paper, they slip into it like a warm bath. we needn’t worry ourselves about what wolfe wrote next, though i liked the painted word and i liked from bauhaus to our house  too, for that matter. but isn’t that lovely? i will have read the painted word at some time in the early 80′s, when i was at art school, so THIRTY (for god’s sake) years ago, but that image of immersion has stuck with me all this time.

anyway, back to ME.  i wake up early, take my first tranche of medications, make a VERY LARGE mug of tea. and when i say ‘very large’ i mean it. the mug i use that time of the morning is just shy of a pint pot. plain white bone china. just the job.

i put some breakfast out for poppet, who often likes to eat and then go under the covers for a snooze. the dog is hardly chronically underslept, but who am i to argue with her logic?

i get back to bed with the laptop and, like a lady of the victorian era, i attend to my communications. this takes a while, and is an essential part of my morning, breaking the day gently in with words and pictures and TEA.

after this is done it is time to walk the dog, have breakfast and a bath. if all of this is achieved in a timely manner then all is well with the world.