Sunday School

img_4733People smiled at each other in the lengthy queue for an early cuppa at the Cecil Sharpe House café.  Earthy wooden tables decorated a sparse room warmed by the buzz of conversation and the bang-bang of the barista’s coffee work.

“Is that the door to sorrow or are my eyes deceiving me?” I turned to look at the owner’s voice and noticed him glancing towards a handwritten sign above a door not too far away.  I followed his gaze and burst out laughing.  “Um, I don’t think so!  But having said that I can’t work it out either – is it ‘Storrou’”?
“Time for an eye test I think” came the reply. “Anyway whatever it is, I don’t want to go there.” Between more joking and laughter, we discussed the virtues of our morning venue and the talk we were about to attend there. “I’ve heard Ruby speak before in Ross on Wye. She was good” he said. img_4724

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The Middle Bit

img_4623“Don’t look in that mirror!” I said to T as he wandered back from the Gents, “It’s a ‘fat’ mirror, and Lord knows I don’t need to add any extra pounds to the ones already gained over the last week.”

He looked into the mirror anyway – emblazoned with a superlative drawing of the movie we’d just seen: The latest in the Star Wars, um, series, it was perfect viewing for the middle bit – that bit between Christmas and New Year where no one knows what day of the week it is, much less cares.

We’d met at 8 to go to the local Everyman cinema. At the top of a bustling queue T requested the tickets: “I booked two for Rogue Nation”, he said to one of the Bartenders. I smiled standing beside him, noting the hot rum punch merrily steaming on the bar. “You mean, Rogue One” came the reply.  We looked at each other, “Yes, of course, Rogue One.”

“I was sure it was called the former, T” I whispered, clutching my winter warmer as our eyes adjusted to the darkened theatre and we attempted to locate our small but perfectly formed sofa.

Special effects reigned supreme in a movie where the laughs came from K-2SO – all minute mannerisms coupled with a dry wit easily a match for C-3P0 – and Peter Cushing was raised from his rest via CGI to be morphed into some notable character or other.

As the lights came up I turned to my actor friend: “What was all that about the antennae not being aligned?  Was that Leia at the end – if so what have they done to her face?! And was Princess Jen supposed to be Leia in an early life? And the big retro controls? I’m confused.”

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img_4357There was a time, not so long ago, when the word that a new restaurant in town had opened, had you hot footing it down there to steal the ashtray and collect the matches while dining on all the alcohol you could possibly manage and shooting the calorie counter up to eleven. The naughtier and more generously appointed the dish the better.

As the years have gone by however the courses, as opposed to the prices, have gotten smaller: We had nouvelle cuisine morphing into bacon and egg ice cream, and eventually just bits of air floating about in a clear glass dome on a plate.

So, just when the menus of hip and happening restaurants had become so absurd and gone beyond you even asking for the chef’s recipe book for Christmas – solely for coffee table decoration – we finally pulled ourselves together and decided what was interesting was what actually might be good for us to eat.  Good in a kind of ‘I am superhuman, I live in the Noughties (are we still in those by the way?) I am immune to any new disease mankind may throw at me.  Bring on the kale! Bring on the bizarre South American herbs! Bring on the sense of worthiness/smugness I will obtain just by looking at this food on my plate!’

Farmacy, one of the latest restaurants currently fascinating London town fits this particular bill.

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A Christmas Evening

img_4503I laid the loaf of sourdough bread down on the floor, alongside my faux fur and handbag.  “Jeez, it’s hot in here”  I said to my Goldie Hawn Lookalike (GHL) of a neighbour.  A glass of Walter’s Royal Riesling Sekt Brut in hand I spied the canapés on offer.  Geraldine – the generous owner of Raoul’s and solely responsible for starting off this annual Christmas event in the ‘hood noted it.  “It’s okay, every year our glasses get mixed up with The Winery’s next door, but eventually they find their way to the right home.”

I was glad about that, because even as I sampled the Riesling from David’s wine gaff, I had one eye on Raouls’ Prosecco – both pink and white on offer.

The chat started to flow, a local beautician joined us as we talked botox, Trump and blind dates in no particular order.  Niblets of chorizo and beds of bruschetta laiden with mozzarella, pesto and dried tomatoes stimulated the taste buds, and before I knew where I was I found myself one glass of rosé bubbly down.

“Let’s go next door!” GHL cried.  It seemed a good idea, as we were down to our last sophisticated sausage roll and the hostess of the evening had bade us ‘goodnight’.
“I’ve got a piece to publish tonight and Christmas cards to write, I can’t stay out much longer..!”
“Just one!” she replied.

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Kenzo Tiger

img_3979I woke surrounded by Tiger print.  Red and pink Tiger print.  Had it all been a dream? A glance at the receipt and an inspection of photos on my phone said otherwise.

A delightful invitation to a preview of Kenzo for H&M had me planning every minute of the week (not to mention a year in advance) beforehand with my plus one.  For a diehard long term committed fan of the H & M annual fashion designer collaboration, this one had special resonance: An opportunity not to get up at 5am and queue for days to be first in line, plus the fact that Kenzo, one of the 80’s designers has a special place in my heart.   Always just beyond reach of my shoulder padded purse in those heady days, would H&M work their magic on this designer brand’s less acute following in the last couple of decades and up the ante again?

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img_3756I tweeted H: ’Unfortunately it’s sold, so I can’t get it for you.’
‘Where is his nose?’ came the response. I ignored the question, after all a bust of this Hellenistic King from mid century BC was bound to come a cropper at some point in the last few centuries.

Frieze Masters hosted this fine piece of art along with many others of repute and fame, their makers well established in art history vernacular. From Picasso to Bonnard, Dali to Louise Bourgeois, these were all artists we can agree on as having made it. The elite hush of this particular part of Frieze held a reverence indicative of solemn recognition and certain provenance, to say nothing of sky high prices.

Across a cooling October park lay Frieze London.

I headed to the bathrooms, noting that Julie Verhoeven was performing a piece of her art there entitled ‘The Toilet Attendant … Now Wash Your Hands’. One of many works this year with a message cloaked in humour.

A blue strip of carpet led to the ladies, a pink to the mens. Once that initial confusion was dealt with I entered to the usual set up save a few trolleys dotted about laden with the tools of a loo attendant’s trade.  I spied the artist suitably dressed in the latter’s regalia.

‘I just want you to know, I’ve washed my hands’ I said.
‘But did you put the loo seat down?’ she asked, ‘It’s amazing how many people don’t.’ ‘Well, that could be because they’ve become confused by the blue and pink carpet. Perhaps you would find that if you went into the mens all the loo seats would be resting in situ between visits.’
‘Ha!’ she replied. ‘Maybe.’

Through the fair I wandered, stopping in my tracks for some pieces, marvelling at them, rendered mute by others such were the thoughts and feelings provoked.

I heard my name being called:  An old acquaintance from the 90’s, and art collector. I told him about Julie’s work.  ‘Did she ask you for a pound? Is that how artists are making money these days?!’ he laughed.

The question’s answer is potentially the same as it was in mid century BC as it may be in 50 years; a benefactor, menial work or connections – the way the pendulum swings dependent on our appetite for and willingness to appreciate another narrative to our daily lives.

Frieze Art Fair until 9th October, Regent’s Park, London.

Leaves on the Tarn

p1080223From Toulouse to Gaillic: Graffiti decorated station buildings, small maintenance boxes and animal sheds strewn in the fields we slowly pass, stamped with the mark of ‘I was here’ in street art language.

A well outside a front door of a small home dwelling.  Shuttered properties that lead to my perennial fascination with where everyone is in France.  Towns we stop at so quiet and boarded up, it’s like everyone’s left for the day, or perhaps longer if no glow is to be seen coming from doorways and windows that night.

Corn has been harvested from by now dry golden stalks. Sunflower heads drop in the subdued blue of a sky that says September, not summer.

And the leaves. The leaves on trees in the Tarn.  Just October, they’re greeny golden, a slow metamorphosis into the blazing oranges and reds they’ll become by the end of the month.

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New Term

img_3540Just in the door, my Skype rang. It was Fifi from Ibiza.  “Everyone’s gone home” she said, “The whole family. The temperature’s dropped and the campsite’s finally calming down.”

I relayed how I’d just been sitting on a bench in the park with a hot cup of tea for company as the smoky smell of autumn drifted towards me, leaves on the ground around my stillness; serving as a carpet to crunch through on the way home.

“I crave nature these days” I said.
“You’re not the only one.  Practically every guest I’ve had a conversation with this season has told me of their yearning for countryside, greenness and simplicity in life” Fifi replied.

Later that evening I bounded up the steps of my choir’s rehearsal venue, literally grinning with glee in anticipation.

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Village of Beauty

img_8950“It’s gives you a break, that’s the most important thing” Kamila told me as she explained the Jean d’Estrées Vitamin C Facial.  “And, that’s what we’re about too, we like people to come here – men, women, couples, groups of friends, basically everyone can be together and get everything done.  We’re like a one stop shop for relaxation through treatments.”

I can testify that to be the truth, as I have now had various beauty treatments at this local emporium – one more delicious than the next – from mani/pedis to a massage to various other more intimate ones.  However, this, the facial, was what I really longed for.  Anything, but anything that can give me a break from daily hecticness more than floats my boat. Plus, if it’s good enough for A-Listers such as Luke Evans, then it’s good enough for me.

The familiar strains of Stevie could be heard as we discussed the options: ‘’till you come back to me, that’s where I wanna be’.

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The Things We Do For Love

IMG_3404The news had reported ridiculously long queues around each city venue of Kanye West’s global weekend only fashion pop-up on Friday. Around-the-block lines had already resulted in a sell out of his sand/gold colour T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats by Saturday morning in London.

At 5pm on Sunday, on a walk that took me past the vibrant graffiti punctuating the East End, the queue at Kachette on Old Street was somewhat diminished.  Nevertheless 15 minutes in and it was already trying my patience.

I chatted to the girls in front.  ‘I don’t really care what I get as long as I get something’ said one.

Moments after, I stepped past the security guard, into the hallowed space and made a left.  ‘It’s all unisex, doesn’t matter if you go right or left’ a tall blond grinning dude told me at the entrance. “LONDON” was writ large on the wall behind him and a steady flow of Kanye fans posed in front of it for the ‘Been there, got the T-shirt’ literally, pic.

‘Just get me anything’ pinged the message from my niece in Scotland. Continue reading “The Things We Do For Love”