Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My N30

It's worth noting: I am not a public sector worker. But then nor was I a student when I joined the NUS march last autumn, or equally pertinently, when I got charged at by horses on the day the tuition fee bill was passed. I do, however, fundamentally disagree with many (most?) of the values espoused by the current Government. What Cameron and Osborne are engaged in (and the Lib Dems are supporting) is an ideological attack disguised as economic necessity. Because, however much they like to pretend otherwise, there are choices. You can choose who (and how) you tax. You can collect that tax effectively. You can introduce the so-nicknamed 'Robin Hood tax'. You can decide who (and where) your loyalties lie.

Of course N30 was about a specific issue - and my attendance was as a marker of my support for all those who picketed and marched throughout Britain. Work longer, pay more, get a smaller pension at the end of it. And the notion that public sector pensions are better than public sector ones and thus everyone should shut up is blatantly ridiculous. We shouldn't be playing to the lowest common denominator - we should be aspiring for the best. For everyone.

My N30 looked something like this (excluding the bit where Arsenal Fan and I kept getting papped by tourists. It would seem we look like the acceptable holiday-snap version of the protest. I also got papped by a woman with an awesome vintage camera but I like to think that was because I had my awesome coat on):













Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today I would mostly like:

Mike and Ollie to cater our next house party.

Tickets for all the Philip Ridley goodness taking place next year.

(And, since we're here, you could throw in tickets to Matilda, Babel and Zach Braff's play* too).

Some really, really good cake.

Some wooden clothes pegs (seriously).

A fully functioning immune system (oh hello, cold number 27 of the year thus far)

New bedsocks (if we're being fussy, maybe these. HA! £49 for SOCKS!)

To see the sea.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

DA is mainly supporting Harry McFly

Temporary Housemate (The 2nd) puts his head around the living room door. It is 1:00am. Myself, Arsenal Fan and Purple are in the midst of our (almost traditional) late night reality tv catchup. Temporary Housemate (The 2nd) betrays only mild confusion at the realisation that this is how we have chosen to spend our Saturday evening. I mentally commend him for this.

Purple gestures:

"You can tell this is serious - Corinne is wearing her McFly t-shirt".

For yes, after the whole managing to be out of the house after 6:00pm for the first time in a week and eat something approaching actual food, I have promptly come home and changed into pyjama bottoms and a McFly "stargirl" t-shirt. I bought the t-shirt with ironic intent so this is okay, right? (A quick search on DA just revealed I paid 18 whole pounds for it back in 2007. That is some moderately-overpriced irony.)

But, obviously, it is serious. Harry McFly is indulging in competitive dance and I have reacted to this by: i)shouting "love you Harry" at the tv whenever his face pops up unexpectedly (predictable, really) and ii)complaining equally loudly about the fact that he has been repeatedly, and inexplicably, UNDERMARKED by the judges. Hey, it is like I care about a reality tv show or something.

But then, how could I possibly not care with a quickstep like this?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where everyone wishes I were still on blogging hiatus

For posterity let it be noted: I HAVE EATEN SOMETHING THAT IS NOT TOAST AND MY BODY HAS NOT REPELLED IT.

Also: nine hours sleep (minus the bit where I woke up because my stomach felt like it was going to explode) and no weird dreams.

Plus: Mine and The East Ender's pickled red cabbage experiment is complete and has worked. Obviously I can't actually eat it currently but, as pickling novices, this is a moment of intense vinegary triumph.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I am mainly listening to:

Tonight I should be at Chelsea Theatre watching Action Hero's Frontman. After 13 hours of sleep filled with oddly vivid dreams (though any form of remembered dream is odd to me and my dream-forgetting-brain) and a diet that still predominantly consists of toast based produce I have had to conclude that whilst I might be able to drag my body to Wednesday matinees the chance of either my ears managing to cope with the NOISE or my body staying in an upright position for the entirety of the evening are slim and I shall have to stay home with fruit tea, the latest issue of Mollie Makes and intellectual television programming America's Next Top Model (cycle 12). We won't mention this again.

What I may mention again is Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow. LOVE LOVE LOVE.And, if you're wondering, my favourite word for snow may well be number 48: vanishing world.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Hoarding

"And, judgemental as this may be, I don't entirely trust people who exist without stuff"*.

I've been saying it as a flourish, the obvious point being that I am most definitely a stuff person. I come from a family of stuff people. My house may not quite be at the get-a-documentary-crew-in-here-to-question-why-you-have-seventeen-unused-coffee-makers-and-haven't-seen-your-floor-since-1997 stage but I can see the path which might lead there and that path is strewn with play programmes and Shakespeare mugs and more shoes than will actually fit in my wardrobe.

A few weeks ago I had to clear someone else's stuff. It was one of those default things where there was no one else to do it and it needed to be done and for all I am capable of running around shrieking and waving my hands in PANIC I like to think I can be calm and practical when the situation calls for it. But it was odd. Not only for how I would hate someone to do the same with my much-loved stuff (though that, I guess, is the inevitable fate for all hoarders) but because of how little inconsequential life-stuff this person had. Which is why when I read Franca's In Defence of Stuff blog post I immediately felt the heart skip of recognition.

I don't think I indulge in minimalist fantasies, though I do indulge in organisational fantasies where I would have enough room for everything to either be stored or displayed correctly and, maybe most of all, where I would immediately put things back where they were supposed to live. Obviously these things would require me to i)not live in rented accommodation in London and ii)get a new personality. So, for now at least, this is destined to stay a fantasy.

(Fascinator from Dean and Director Boy's wedding, St Anne's College Scarf 2001, vintage suitcase from charity shop in Richmond, lace glove from Victorian murder mystery 2010, vintage headscarf from Deptford Market, picnic basket that belonged to my parents, shoes from my 25th birthday)

Rationally I know I can't keep everything and that one day, either out of lack of space or sheer desperation, I will have to collect the boxes of Sindy dolls and my little ponies that I refuse to let my parents dispose of (not to mention the fact that three quarters of my book collection still lives in Leeds) and that even I probably don't need to hold on to all those notes from lectures about The Battle of Maldon and Paradise Lost. I did a quick count before writing this and have discovered that my dress tally currently stands at 49 (and I suspect there may be more in the wash basket). FORTY NINE DRESSES before I even got on to the skirts. Given I hold on to my dresses more than anything else I suspect I'm going to hit critical mass some point next year and my wardrobe will cease to function any more and I will have to replace my bed with storage instead
(Tea set from charity shop in Leeds first bought for the Brideshead Revisited Picnic, glasses bought from a charity shop and gifted to me on Henman Hill at Wimbledon in 2009, dress pearls that belonged to my grandmother, white flower from the set of that production of A Midsummer Night's Dream back in summer 2006)

But - all this stuff makes me happy. Some times because it reminds me of things or people or adventures. Some times because it simply makes me happy to wear a nice dress or look at the spines of my books or drink coffee in the mug I got from Newstead. Of course the memories and the feelings would exist without the stuff, but that moment of happiness when your eyes alight on something and you remember or just feel happy in its presence? That wouldn't exist.
(Photo of David Tennant's Hamlet from Stratford, postcard from the V&A's Art Deco Exhibition, Monet from Blackwells in Oxford, Klimt from Blackwells in Oxford, Postcards from: Oxford 2005, Rome 2002, the French Alps 1997, Cambridge 2009, Vienna 2004, Budapest 2004) 

I am me because of all of the stuff (and I should point out that much of my stuff is worth relatively little in monetary value) and I think that part of my reason for feeling (finally) feeling settled in London is because I can, for the first time in many, many months, have my things out and not packed away. I put the pictures above (and there are more of them) up a few weeks ago - the first time they've been out of their packing since May 2009 and immediately it felt a little bit right.
(Puffin Postcards: birthday present from Dean, Everything is Illuminated: present from Breakfast Club Boy, More Trees To Climb: Bought at Latitude 2009 and signed by author, Lady Chatterley's Lover: 1960's Penguin from charity shop, To The Lighthouse: 1932 edition from bookshop in Balham, The Waves: my first copy bought in 2001, The Death of Bunny Monroe: present from me to Breakfast Club Boy [I probably should return it, oops], Sylvia Plath Eye Rhymes: Bought at South Bank Centre and signed by author, The Lives of Lee Miller: birthday present from Dean, Klimt: present from History Boy and then more coffee table books given to me by Dean and Director Boy)

I'm sure there are lots of ways to analyse my desire to hold on to inanimate objects as a form of comfort as well as my desire to continue acquiring. Equally, though I proclaim not to trust them, I know lots of people don't feel the same or would recoil in horror at the chaos of it all. But for me stuff is about stories. It's the background narrative to my life. And stories matter to me more than almost anything. When I was clearing that room, and there were quite simply no stories, just the every day business of life, I felt profoundly sad. For what are we if we don't have stories?

*For the record: I don't trust people who don't own books either.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Midweek Matinees

Now I've progressed to a diet that predominantly consists of toast (we're not going to talk about how much I would like a coffee. Almost enough to risk what it would do to my currently very delicate digestive system. Almost.) and I have exhausted the number of episodes of America's Next Top Model which you're legally allowed to watch in any 48 hour period I decided to seek comfort in the form of a mid week matinee. It's ingrained in my theatregoing psychology (probably from the years of watching matinees at the Oxford Playhouse) that weekday matinees are safe and warm and comfortable. Indeed you can take a blanket and a flask of tea and not look out of place in the audience. Whilst I wouldn't want to, y'know, live at a weekday matinee, they have their place. Namely: today.

I did manage to up the stakes slightly, however. One by choosing to see Death and the Maiden, a play concerned with torture, retribution and the brutality that humans are capable of perpetrating (hmm, not quite so comforting). And two by sitting down in the auditorium and realising that my right ear had inexplicably started to bleed. Which is exactly what you want - oh, great I'm having some sort of hemorrhage whilst sitting in the second row of the stalls at the Harold Pinter Theatre* during a weekday matinee. The front of house staff are going to love me. Obviously, though, my brain wasn't hemorrhaging and the ear bleeding stopped and I got to sit down and enjoy the brutality. Which is nice.

General thoughts: Thandy Newton is beautiful. Properly beautiful. But she takes a while to warm up. Tom Goodman-Hill, who I adored in the original Earthquakes in London production, owns the play (and with a role which probably shouldn't). There's an interval crammed in only for the purpose of selling drinks and letting people go to the toilet when, really, the play needs to be viewed in one sitting in all its twisting claustrophobia. There are some lovely directorial moments but the scene changes are just plain lazy. The play itself speaks loudly of a particular moment in the 1990's and yet there's also the feeling that it's not entirely bound by this. And Ariel Dorfman has some very good writing going on, at its best the play tangles your morals and makes you hold your breath. It's all good stuff  - some of it is very good indeed - and yet it falls short, in an annoyingly non-specific way, of being great. This is a play which should linger and I suspect it won't.

*Given my not at all disguised dislike of much of Pinter's output I can admire the karmic reward of this event.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Science of Feeling Unwell

To cut a long story short (and leave you without anecdotes about my digestive system), I have today accepted that I might be ill and thus have permission to stay indoors and do lazy stuff. If you take out the bit where I sobbed for about 30 minutes whilst watching Gareth Malone Empower Women Through The Magic of Song today has mainly looked like:
I realise I am, once again, plunging myself into parody but, yes, fruit tea. In a Penguin Gatsby mug. I've got a bewildering number of literary mugs but this is the one which, on pain of death, no one is allowed to use. Back at the start of September a Temporary Housemate used it and the looks of horror which this generated on the faces of my other housemates probably points to the fact that I have issues. Not wanting to do something like shout in the face of Temporary Housemate and come over weird with the whole 'erm, yes you can use the Woolf mug or any of the Shakespeares and you may even borrow the Byron but NEVER GATSBY' I did the most mature thing I could: I hid the mug. Which makes the whole parody-of-myself-fruit-tea-thing seem perfectly normal and acceptable. This tea is raspberry and something and something. The somethings are because I decanted these tea bags from their box into a nice metal tea box I picked up for 50p at Deptford Market. Which is nice for storage but, when you forget to properly label it, makes knowing what you're drinking more challenging.

Really I should be progressing with The Great Homemade Christmas Present Extravaganza that currently exists only as the pile of fabric I bought from Fabric Rehab but, hey, rules of being ill and not doing actual stuff, so I thought I'd make a start on Crochet School. Yep, Crochet School. My mum taught me to crochet when I was six or seven but I haven't done any since the mid nineties when I stopped making things because any time that didn't involve reading Smash Hits or hanging out at the Odeon on Briggate was, quite frankly, wasted time*. So I thought I'd start the class from the beginning as a conscientious student and turns out, I STILL REMEMBER some of the stuff. It is almost like riding a bike (hopefully without the bit where you - okay, I - don't ride a bike for five years and then you - I - do and your - my - bottom hurts for DAYS). Maybe everyone will just get granny squares for Christmas instead.

I got the Zadie Smith book of essays in September during the first Do Cultural London Stuff Eat Cake night, this one at the Wellcome Collection who have a bookshop stuffed with books I want to buy. I read a couple of the essays - I honestly think I'm a little in love with Smith's writing - and then promptly left the book at @arexx's flatwarming (I also left half a bottle of rum, I didn't try and claim that back. I am a good guest). And then it stayed in that flat for a while (and went on a trip to Nottingham) before it made its way back to me by which point I was reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks so it got pushed to one side. Also in this book's adventures, I got borsch on it when, y'know, the big purple soup made with Veg Box Veg leaked in my bag. So Changing My Mind has had it tough these past couple of months. Anyway, it's clever and beautifully written and makes me want to write essays on Middlemarch all over again. Which is genuinely pretty much all I ask for from essay collections.

*Of course neither Smash Hits or the Odeon on Briggate exist any more. This officially makes me feel old.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I am mainly listening to:

I'm not sure what the official line is on the number of times you can listen to an album on loop before your housemates/ neighbours/ everyone who can see your spotify plays via Facebook stage an intervention. There is the distinct possibility that I have exceeded this limit several times over with the new Florence + The Machine album and I am on some blacklist for obsessional listeners. But, oh, it is gorgeous and epic and makes me want to run around moors. Or something like that. And, yes, total girl crush alert.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The One Where I Get A Veg Box

"Do you know what day it is tomorrow?" I ask and then, without waiting for a reply, immediately answer my own question: "VEG BOX DAY".

Seemingly my late twenties have brought with them an irresistible urge to sew, ponder interior decoration and get excited about veg boxes. Coming on the back of the discoveries that I now prefer red to white wine, am a coffee snob and have opinions on quilting magazines I can only conclude that I am on a very slippery slope towards becoming a caricature of my floral dressed self. At the point where I start watching Sunday evening television we should make some sort of pact to punch me in the head repeatedly before forcing me to go and dance to Boys with Guitars, drink tequila and fall over in a fountain.

But: the veg box.

What was labelled recently (and I hope affectionately) as my preoccupation with "THE ISSUES" is probably neatly summed up by the veg box. For reasons big and small I'm attempting to shop as ethically as I can (I suspect I will talk about this again, you have been warned). With perfect timing Riverford Organic did a leaflet drop on Brockley and enthused with having local, seasonal produce delivered by a man named Simon I signed up. Thus I now have a half share in a veg box and get to spend at least five minutes on a Thursday pondering with The East Ender exactly what that odd shaped mud coloured vegetable actually is.
Today's box has come with the quandary of whether we have a beetroot or simply a large clump of dried mud. I suspect the borsch which The East Ender intends to make will provide us with the answer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November in Bloomsbury

Someone commented in an offhand way a couple of weeks ago that I was looking lovely at the moment and thus was clearly an Autumn/Winter person. Let's put aside the fact that this means for the other six months of the year the implication is that I do not look lovely (though the state that Edinburgh Fringe left me in might make this a fair comment) and take the compliment. And, really, any excuse to wear brogues and my gorgeous Fever Charlotte coat and kick leaves about in Ginny Woolf's back garden (sort of) makes me deliriously happy. So, yes, I like Autumn.

But it's probably a bit more than that if I'm honest. Somehow, without my expecting it, and even with the Real-Life-Grown-Up-Drama, the Chest Infection of Death that wiped out much of September and being quite frankly a bit poor, I think this Autumn has made me fall back in love with London. So - thank you Autumn.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where I demonstrate yet another slight involving a cat.

I am standing in the shed-meets-workshop-meets-random-room-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden that exists in my shared house. For brevity's sake we shall now forever more refer to it as "the den" because this is the shorthand the house declared long before I moved in. Next to me is my newest housemate, The East Ender. We are standing in silence contemplating the enormity of what we are going to do.

"I don't know where to start" The East Ender says.

"I KNOW".

If you are wondering here about my tone on voice it is distinctly high pitched, fuelled with the sort of panic that goes straight to my voice. For, it is clear, we are going to have to clear the den. Which sounds like an innocuous enough sentence until you realise that the den contains not only spiders the size of my head but also the remnants of The Great Snail Infestation of September 2011 and enough general life stuff to fill our four bedroom house all over again.

There is a long story (and one not without its dramatic/ comic merits) as to why The East Ender and I are clearing the den at this moment, rather than, I don't know, leaving it until the third decade of this century but I'm saving the story for i)telling everyone I meet in real life ii)the novel I am going to write about it and iii) THERAPY. Needless to say, post Edinburgh in our Brockley household has been eventful. Eventful in the same way that The Shining is eventful, but eventful nonetheless. Now though - we are going to tidy!

Here for illustration (and not pride) is one of the nicer sections of the den (I have numbered the offending items and everything):
1. The hot pink '80s dress I wore for Prom Night in the Guilty Pleasures Tent at Latitude 2009. 2. The homemade scythe from The Perils of Love and Gravity. 3. An over-large (and ugly) mirror that once resided in the house itself. 4. A doll who is, for reasons I have not quite fathomed, the son of Arsenal Fan. 5. A bin belonging to The Housemate Who Shall Not Be Named. 6. Faux art and, possibly more importantly, the home to two of those Bigger Than My Head spiders. 7. Cycle helmet, owner unknown. (It is a quirk of fate which means that in a house with one cyclist we have ended up with four cycle helmets. This is safety conscious even beyond my wildest dreams). 8. Pointless photo frames. 9. Possibly broken heater. Possibly because it is so caked in dust that if we were to attempt to test it we would all instantly die from lung disease. 10. An empty beer can courtesy of The East Ender's last band practice. 11. Hundreds of paper tags left over from The Wall of Change during The Brixton Project.

(As much as anything that list probably points to why you shouldn't live with people who make theatre. They acquire stuff)

Please remember: that is one of the nice sections in as much as it does not contain: something ridiculously heavy, something broken, a pile of unmarked boxes which will fall on you and kill you or something which smells really bad.

Having spent at least five minutes starring and talking in a high pitched voice (me)/ increasingly East London accent (him) we decide that clearing may actually involve moving touching the stuff. And y'know what? It doesn't start too badly, we get a clearing system working and I devise storage areas and we fill bin bags and The East Ender lifts stuff and I poke spiders.

That is until The East Ender discovers the box of cat food.

Now, despite the fact that I have an inordinate number of cat people in my life (for clarity: people who like cats as opposed to Cat People, though the latter might be the cooler), my general non-plussed attitude to this particular species is well known in the same way that my love of baked goods, dresses and David Tennant's hair is well known. And whilst I'm sure that cats have to eat and tins of cat food most likely don't smell, it remains: old packets of cat food smell really, really bad.

The East Ender has gone a shade of green that isn't particularly inspiring. I, meanwhile, have already resolved that I would rather have my hands eaten by the spiders than touch the cat food.

We share a look which says: maybe we could just lock the den and inform everyone that no one is allowed to enter it again until at least The End of Days.

Then, just when I'm thinking that this might actually be workable, the reality sets in. The reality being: my entire writing archive is in a box in this den and I'll need all that bumph when I write the memoirs.

"We should..."

"Yes".

Some how we manage to get the box into the garden so, at least, we aren't in a confined space with the fumes. The East Ender holds open a plastic bag and I start to pour the contents of the box in, making sure I don't do anything stupid like inhale.

Just when I think we've got this bit cracked I notice that the bag has ripped (most likely through coming in contact with a toxic substance) and the food is leaking out on to The East Ender's foot. I can't lie: this is simultaneously the most horrific and the funniest thing that has happened this week.

"There's a hole!" I exclaim, though, if I were accurately depicting that sound it would go something like: "Haa..urggh...haaa..a..HOOOOOLE!"

The East Ender discovers what is happening. Undoubtedly in some sort of shock, he doesn't move. And then:

"WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO US, CORINNE? WHY? WE ARE GOOD PEOPLE. GOOD PEOPLE."

Five minutes later, after I've stopped convulsing and we've both disinfected our hands with bleach and are back in the den, The East Ender accidentally knocks down one of the strip lights. Falling at the perfect trajectory it manages to spear my left arm and I concede he might well have a point.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It had to happen one day...

It's 12.30am in the bar of the Cavendish Arms. I've drunk quite a bit of mulled apple juice and rum (it is served in china teacups! I intend to start doing this at home). BillyTheKid has performed a five minute standup set which involved an elaborate extended rant on missing Jenga pieces. And now, because I am nothing if not conforming to type, I am having what we shall call an exchange of viewpoints with @arexx about what constitutes a "meaningful" relationship in social media terms. I am going to repeat some of those words: meaningful, relationship, social media. Yes, of all the conversations we could be having at 12.30am this is the one we chose. I am judging us too.

Just at the point where I have started gesticulating wildly with my arms whilst hopping on a semantic point of order the host of the evening comes over to our table and, striking a blow for publicans who I have traumatised thoughout the past decade of my life, pops a sign on the table:


In the moments that follow I acknowledge two things: 1. That this is undoubtedly overdue and 2. That I am glad that it is @arexx and not I who starts the "this isn't a debate" debate.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bits and Pieces: The First

The last fortnight has looked a bit like:


Somewhat accidentally Arsenal Fan and I have been on something of a Mike Bartlett kick in the last fortnight. For Arsenal Fan’s birthday I’d fashioned a voucher promising him a trip to the National Theatre and he’d made noises about seeing The Kitchen and I’d umm-ed and gone “if we must” in a way that betrayed that though this was his birthday present and thus I would sit through some tepid Wesker if I must this was not exactly what I’d had in mind. Then Arsenal Fan happened to offhandedly mention 13 and I started shrieking about this being THE PLAY WE SHOULD SEE and he got the message, and we went to the first preview. And, bloody hell, I loved it. Epic and complicated and intelligent and funny and disturbing and ambitious and powerfully (painfully) about what it is like to live now. It also has a beautiful analogy about the limits of human understanding that is the type of writing that makes my heart soar (if I used Linksuch terms I would say it was Stoppardian). Filled with Bartlett love we then went to see Earthquakes in London, which I’d seen in its original staging in the Cottesloe and which I claim – with much arm waving and superlatives - as my favourite production of 2010. Transposed to a proscenium arch theatre and with an entirely new cast it did feel like a little bit of a different play, clearer and more emotional, but also smaller and less visceral. Even after my slew of “climate change plays” in early 2011 (thank you The Heretic, Water and Greenland) I still think it is the most interesting and compelling play on the subject. Basically I heart Mike Bartlett.


Back when I was living in The Flat on the South Bank at the start of the year I won, via twitter, priority booking for Michael Sheen’s Hamlet. Which I thought was a very cool thing at the time, but which nearly resulted in the type of rage that I’d previously only experienced in relation to CAMERON MACKINTOSH SEVERS. After almost punching a computer I ended up marching to the Young Vic (which I could do as I was living just down the road if I hadn’t mentioned it) and purchasing tickets by cheque as their card machines had gone down and coming home with my ticket details written on a compliments slip as they couldn’t get their computers to work either. Then I realised I’d accidentally booked for Halloween (I know, it’s not like it moves each year) but decided this was a GOOD THING as there is a ghost and everything in Hamlet.

Obviously I should note here that I SAW A PREVIEW and everything I say should be seen in that light. There is a lot of Hamlet going about in recent years (it is, I say in earnest tones, the Shakespeare of our times, in the same way that there was a lot of Lear going about in the 80’s. Read into this theory what you will) and this production is certainly not safe. It’s got a central concept (spoiler: it is set in a psychiatric ward) which yields some truly stunning, I’m-seeing-these-lines-in-a-new-way moments (the players scene is a little bit joyous and Vinette Robinson, who I’ve already loved this year in Tender Napalm, gives the best Ophelia mad scene I’ve ever seen). It also unbalances, reduces and sometimes even stops the play from making sense. There’s a real beauty simply in hearing Sheen speak Shakespeare’s words and there’s a manical glint to his Hamlet that makes the play truly disturbing (I’m rarely scared in theatre and, even knowing the play to the extent I could do a quote-along-version, the first encounter with Old Hamlet scared me). The concept also meant that even I could only do a half hearted Sheen-is-too-old-to-play-Hamlet. But: this is mad Hamlet writ large. And y’know what? I don’t think Hamlet is mad. And, as the play unwinds, it’s difficult not to feel a little cheated. What changes in this world of Hamlet from the beginning to the end? Possibly nothing. And three and a half hours is a lot of time for nothing.*

*It does, however, have “Let be” and The Pirate Scene.**
**It doesn’t, however, have the line “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead”. EDITING, PEOPLE.



Though designed as an exercise in doing cool London stuff together, if I’m entirely honest there is the possibility that mine and @arexx’s cultural excursions have become an elaborate excuse to eat cake. Which is why I should note that whilst Tate Modern delivered us an utterly glorious Saturday evening view of London it failed entirely with the cake bit. I had to settle for some sort of tart whilst @arexx was consoled with olives stolen from the women whose table we colonised. Frankly, I expect better and if the Tate wanted to give us some cake as an apology then that would be good.

Tate Modern did considerably better with the art bit of the bargain (as you would hope), even as we wandered around using @arexx’s response as an indication of whether something was art or not (apparently a mirror is not art, a mirror that is not quite a mirror is. What can I say? I do not make the rules). Tacita Dean’s Film, the peg to which I’d hung our visit (film is much less scary than MODERN ART, right?), turned out to be most interesting in its relationship to the space of the Turbine Hall and the people viewing it. Even though Dean labels it a poem and labelling things poems immediately makes me take note, I struggled to engage. Not to be out done by children kicking the projections and people pretending to ride the on screen escalators, once everyone had buggered off and the hall was deserted but for a few people taking photos at its limits, @arexx and I stood so that our silhouettes were part of the footage and he pointed out that I was now part of the poem. And, okay, so at this point I did like Film a LOT because I am a sap.

Unexpectedly it was the Gerhard Richter exhibition that proved the hit of the night (especially given neither of us knew his work beforehand). Seeing the twists and turns of someone's artistic output over the course of decades proved entirely compelling and Richter has the sort of preoccupation with form that thrills me.


This may look like some odd scribbles, and I concede they are odd scribbles, but this is also the notes for The New Play I am writing. Really it came out of a challenge that Breakfast Club Boy set me for whilst I was in Edinburgh (which I failed miserably) but I’m about two thirds of the way through the play and it doesn’t make me want to stab things in my eyes so we are calling this a good thing.


This is a Porn Star Martini. It came from Ballans in Soho. It is a cocktail of JOY and the substance in the shot glass is champagne. I "wasn't having a late one" this night. That didn't quite work out.


Hoop art is my newest, favouritest sewing thing. Three things to note:
1. The quote is the final line of Ginny Woolf's Mrs Dalloway (ten points if you already knew that)
2. The fabric is from Sanderson's Bloomsbury range (it's "Vanessa" should you be wondering, and Vanessa was, of course, Ginny Woolf's sister. This all makes me very happy indeed.)
3. The wonky "o" is as yet more proof that I shouldn't try and sew whilst watching X Factor as the rage it induces is too distracting.