Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wecome to da hood


Our house move went as well as can be expected. Actually, that's not true, it went better than expected. I highly recommend using a company that packs your shit up for you - it really does remove a load of stress from what is a very stressful self inflicted experience.

The new hood is lovely - very leafy and green. We've swapped the sound of ambulance and police sirens for small yappy dogs and lawn mowers. There's also some building work going on next door, and in the evenings we're bathed in the aroma of eastern European cigarette smoke and folk music as the chaps take one last break before heading home.

The Finchley Road, our nearest high street, has an interesting collection of shops. There's the Russian deli with it's stuffed bear in the window and paint by numbers faux oil landscape paintings. The Thai massage place that has photos in the window of what looks like authentic massaging techniques, just in case people get the wrong idea. And an 'American-style' table dancing club. Oh yes, and a beauty salon that has the worst possible hand-painted sign outside. It features a man kissing a woman who resembles a blow-up doll. It would be artsy were it not so very badly executed. Truly the person who did it cannot paint and the resemblance to a sex toy is not an intentional creative call but the result of no talent. At all. I've seen better artwork by my seven-year-old nephew. As a result the place is always empty. I mean, what do they expect? Someone to walk in and say, "Yes please, I'd really like to look like the guy on your beautiful hand-painted sign out there and score myself a rubber date tonight."

As for the table dancing club, well, I'm not sure what the difference is between American and English table dancing, and Roberto says he has no idea. Naturally.

Our other high street is Hampstead Village. At any time of the day, the place is full of people having coffee (don't these people work?) and men who look homeless but on closer inspection (expensive shoes, leather thongs around their wrists), appear to be surviving 60's groupies or song writers. These guys wear sun glasses, have long grey hair and beards, and are inevitably talking on their mobile phones saying things like, 'But I own the rights maaan!"

Julia is enjoying having a garden. She especially delights in pulling flowers off of their stalks and eating grass. As in the domestic variety that grows on the ground and which dogs pee on. She's started pulling herself up into the standing position and I believe that once children do this, walking is not far off. This is good because I've been wondering who to send to get my Starbucks in the morning.

There's a particularly annoying ad on the TV at the moment. It's for Moonpig greeting cards, a service, when I have the time and inclination (read: never these days), I actually use. Basically you go online and personalise a clever greeting card and then send it on to friends or family. So yes, it's kinda fun and people are generally quite pleased with the result. The add however has an annoying woman's voiceover saying, 'Amaze your friends and family... ." I mean, don't they think the word 'amaze' is a bit strong? Who the hell gets amazed by greeting cards? Amused, yes, delighted, possibly, but amazed? It's the assumption that your friends and family are a bunch of sad eejits that don't get out much that really annoys me.

And last but certainly not least, congratulations to my sister and her husband on the birth of their baby girl Frances, and to my dear friends Theo and Lowri on the birth of their baby girl Anne. Lots and lots of girls this year - which, I have to say, is never a bad thing unless of course you're out on a Friday night in Chelsea trying to pull. Or so I'm told.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You want me to eat that?

Last week a man from the moving company we are using arrived to give me a quotation. They do all the packing up for you, so he needed to ascertain just how much stuff we have. I started to worry as soon as he walked through the door. He was wearing a suit, had a public school brogue, and didn't call me 'Luv.' This, I thought to myself shaking his extended well manicured hand, is going to be expensive.

He explained that they not only offer a packing up service, but that each piece of furniture is individually wrapped in an appropriate protective material before being loaded. I thought back to the last time we moved, and the old scraps of carpet the chaps used to loosely cover a table leg here and there when they saw my panic stricken face.

Then, he went on to say, they not only pack, but can unpack for you on the other end. But even if you don't want to go that far (read: spend the equivalent of a small country's GNP), they still unpack and place all breakables onto a surface for you, and place all boxes and furniture in the corresponding rooms. They also unwrap the furniture and reassemble anything that had to be taken apart.

And if I still wasn't sold, he handed me an expensively produced brochure with pictures of couples relaxing and drinking glasses of wine amidst boxes. No doubt encouraging one to imagine that someone else (outside of the frame) was doing all the grunt work, making your move as stress free as possible. He also assured me that they handled work for Christie's and Sotheby's. I looked around at our things, a mishmash of some good and some rather cheap pieces of furniture, and said, as though I were surrounded by Chippendale's and Picasso's, "Yes, yes, that's good to know."

The other afternoon I walked past a very pregnant woman and what looked like her male colleague standing outside an office building. I noticed her because I thought to myself, 'Wow, she's got on a nice dress and heels, and looks very stylish despite having a big bump.' You tend to notice these things more once you've been pregnant, and appreciate just how tough it is to look even mildly attractive at that stage of the process. The man was having a cigarette, and I remember thinking that there is no way in hell I would have stood so close to someone smoking when I was pregnant. When I rounded the corner I noticed that she too was holding a cigarette. And then, as if in slow motion, she lifted it to her lips and casually smoked it.

I had an instinctive urge to run up to her and, well, I don't know. What would I have said to her when I got there? It's true, there are few things worse than an intolerant self righteous busy body. And it's also true that those few things include a selfish, inconsiderate eejit knowingly inflicting possible harm on their unborn child and not giving a shit. That and wearing hosiery with an open-toed shoe or sandal.

I've been making Julia's food. She can't talk yet, but the look on her face yesterday told me everything I need to know about my chicken with peas and carrots. She looked as though she were chewing on a particularly acrid-tasting insect. It was an especially harsh response coming from someone who seems to enjoy the taste of newsprint, leaves, and old slippers. Today I caved and got out the store-bought organic stuff. Same ingredients (no added sugar, salt etc) but this she wolfed down. I'm trying not to take it personally.

For those of you not on Facebook, Julia started crawling last week. Forget anything the experts might spout about human beings being hardwired to survive from an early age. Julia is drawn towards all sorts of death traps like a moth to a flame. Plug holes, wires dangling from the edge of tables attached to heavy electronic devices up above. Glass edges of tables, door hinges, inedible plant matter, and the aforementioned old slippers. It's a never-ending process of letting her head off in a direction (one doesn't want to hamper her illusion of freedom), and then picking her up just before she reaches said death trap. You then reposition her in another direction so she can propel herself towards the next potential hazard.

It doesn't help that we are in the process of packing up the house and the whole place is basically one big potential hazard. I've taken to going to the park with her and letting her run riot on the grass. No heavy objects, electricity, or glass. Just a plethora of potentially poisonous plant life, the occasional dog turd, and lots of flying insects. It's a tough choice to make each day.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hillary Clinton's true feelings revealed


If you thought Hillary Clinton gave up the fight far too quietly, you, like me, will be glad to know that at least La Pequeña had the courage to say what she was feeling, even if she couldn't.

And yeah, F***k Tyra Banks! Whatever the hell she had to do with anything.


If you can't see the clip, go here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

One for the girls

Picture it: A couple of women are standing outside after a night out trying to hail a taxi. One of them, Olga, gets chatted up by a passerby called Dimitri. The conversation lasts for approximately two minutes, at the end of which she hands him her business card and says 'call me'.

What happens next is making the internet rounds, and reaffirming why guys such as Dimitri are the reason why single women everywhere continue to believe in restraining orders Mr Right.

Have a listen to the voicemails he left her here.


A big thank you to the lovely Lou