Thursday, 26 April 2012

My schizophrenic wardrobe

I came across the blog of this great girl through a photo on Flickr. I think she is gorgeous and adorable - the amount of energy and invention that she has, and the way that seeing someone dressed like this cheers you up fantastically when you catch sight of them... it made me wish I was young again, or maybe that I had just been a bit bolder when I was her age.

It also sent me to look in my (schizophrenic) wardrobe.

Here are some of the clothes which I love.  They hang on the left and rarely see the light of day. 

Below are the clothes that I wear every day.(there are more, too many more, like this.)

It's like I'm two different people. But one of them never comes out of the closet.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


If you were to google welcome (with the correct spelling), the place you borrow books from, & blog, you will see what I was up to when on work placement last week.

It only strikes me now, how heart-breaking the photo album we found was.

That's the thing about archives. Their contents are never dusty and irrelevant, because you always view them in the light of the present moment. What they contain always relates to what is happening now.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Tsk. copycats

Some of us were doing this already back in 2009.

late contender

to the London indie bookshop list - I have found that Oxfam Books has opened up in Wanstead, which is marvellous. The one in Marylebone high street is good, but to have this one on the doorstop... I had to be very, very restrained.

Secondhand bookshops are cheating a little bit, as the stock hasn't really been chosen by the bookseller and I feel a bit bad that the authors never get any money. But you can't help but love them.

I had to buy this. I might even keep it, as a quick look on Amazon shows that it won't make my fortune.

Lewis Caroll, The Hunting of the Snark, illustrated by Mervin 'Gormenghast' Peake.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


I've never written about bookshops! How very remiss. Especially considering that I was recently moaning about the death of the book.

Remember what happened to Our Price? Imagine what would it be like if you could never go into a bookshop again. If your browsing experience was confined to searching on Amazon. Bah...

I picked up this lovely map today, which is also a lovely website - a map of all the independent bookshops in London.

Interestingly, the pins showing indie bookshops also represent places you might actually like to live in London. You could probably write a thesis on the correlation of these two things.

Below are some of my favourites.


Freedom Bookshop
down Angel Alley, Whitechapel
Anarchists! That is all.

The Broadway Bookshop
Tiny but pretty bookshop in Broadway Market. Also sells local artists' work and has a little cubby hole under the stairs with interesting old books.

When we were doing the Freud exhibition we used to meet around the corner from the museum in the Camden Arts Centre, their bookshop is packed full of beautiful art and design works.

A moment's remembrance of the long-gone beloved Compendium books in Camden High Street, everything an indie bookshop should be, a portal to alternative, radical ideas & grownup life.

I still love the enormous Waterstones (formerly Dillons) on Gower Street. Especially the secondhand section upstairs. There's a little corner seat with cushions where you can sit and read, or just look out the window at the passing scene in Bloomsbury. Criminally they have piled it up with boxes of books at the moment, tsk.

This is a cavernous second-hand place tucked away downstairs at the back of the Brunswick Centre. It is awesomely awesome. Lost hours in there. They also buy your books.

Comics and graphic novels and the best selection of the most beautiful children's picture books ever. They moved from Holborn to Berwick Street. It is quite dangerous in there.

Plus all of the secondhand places along Charing Cross Road and the expensive but lovely rare books in Cecil Court.

Lutyens and Rubenstein
This is a beautiful shop in Notting Hill, with an art gallery downstairs. When I walked in I immediately saw 3 books I had been looking for and wanting, always a good sign. They also give you a nice cloth bag with their design on.

Where are your favourites? They don't have to be in London, clearly.

One for caffeine freaks

This tour of the sites of 17th century coffee houses in the City, with actors and music and gritty 17th century coffee, was very fun and entertaining. It was bloody cold though, I recommend either wearing your thermals or booking a summer date....

Friday, 13 April 2012

Happy Friday 13th

A story I found in the archives at the Guardian, now online.

As Rog points out in the comments, it has the sound of James Murdoch at the Levinson enquiry.

"I have heard of black magic, but I swear I didn't know any of my staff practised black magic..."

Nothing changes.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

And talking of books

There's a possibility to exhibit work in the Westminster Reference Library. I really want to do it but it is making artist's books, which I know nothing about. Too much on my plate as usual (job hunting, possibly will have to move again, thinking about an MA,) but I feel like I spend too much time thinking about artwork and no time at all making it. Call yourself an artist... but the last proper thing that I made was for the Freud Museum exhibition and that was two years ago. Two!

The V&A exhibition is still not confirmed and I feel anxious about making this work still. It's a vague little storm cloud on the horizon. So would it be foolhardy to say yes to something else, or should you just say yes and worry about how it gets done afterwards?

UPDATE: Have been inspired by this miraculous artist and maker of artist's books. Check her out.


Must... stop... buying... Penguins...

But look at them! How can you resist?

Cover by the incomparable Romek Marber

drawing by Paul Hogarth. I think this is great.

Cover by Quentin Blake.

I think I've posted this before, but worth posting again I think. Annette swinging from the chandelier, before leaving school forever, to enter the School of Life - genius.

Monday, 9 April 2012

public service announcement

for the lurkers

If you are looking for the Great She Elephant, she is now here.

If you are looking for LC, he is now here.

I thank you.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Spring clean

I have too much tat, plus I'm living with someone else's furniture & no proper storage. Now I am back to living like a student, though with more space.

Anyway, operation spring clean has begun. I am going to take various lovely but never worn clothes & sell them to Bang Bang in Goodge Street or Berwick Street (these are very nice shops and they give you the money there and then. If they like it, they can be a bit snotty. Nothing makes you feel more déclassé than someone rejecting your clothes. )

I would like to have a minimal, capsule wardrobe of eternal classics, like some chic Parisian woman but I know all this means just more space for new stuff, which will eventually be transformed through being in my wardrobe into more tat & clutter.

Also going to start using up the million little perfume samples collected when I was rich enough to go to perfume events at Les Senteurs. I will wear the sample all week until its gone. I am too poor to buy perfume at the moment but when I am rich at least I will know which perfume to buy. I will review them here for you.

Today I am sampling the confusingly titled 'Not a Perfume' by niche perfumers Juliette Has A Gun. The scents I like tend to be unisex, which is to say BLOKEY ones - not usually into girly floral, sweet perfumes (though I quite like the new Prada one which is called Candy and magically smells like candyfloss. This falls into the category they call 'gourmand'. )

I like this a lot. It is musky and woody. If you like musk, you will like this. Let's see if it lasts on the skin.

Not a Perfume is made of 1 single synthetic ingredient Ambroxan. Ambroxan is a molecular creation that comes from the organic research. Developed by Firmenich in the 1950s to replace Ambergris, a very rare natural secretion of whales, Ambroxan comes in the form of white crystals. It is usually used as a back note in perfume composition, even if its smell is curiously quite far from its original inspiration."

Thursday, 5 April 2012

In the stores

Another great day, this time mostly buried in the stacks under Euston Road. I love this, getting to see behind the scenes, these places in London that people don't even know are there. And hanging out with people who love their jobs and have such knowledge. Listening to them is fascinating and enlightening. (It's also curious to me, that all these years when I've been desperately trying to make some kind of career, getting fired, resigning, temping, volunteering, signing on, applying and applying, that they left college and moved smoothly into their first jobs and stayed there, quite happy, gaining in expertise and authority. How people's lives are so different.)

The librarian/curator was offered a collection of government posters that otherwise would have been binned. He said yes and a week later a vanload of boxes was delivered. He hasn't looked a them yet and doesn't know what's inside. Would I like to help him? Hell, yes. Opening them is exciting, it's like Christmas morning opening the stockings. We are both gleeful, tearing through the boxes. He also has a budget to buy things for the collection. Being sent stuff and being able to buy stuff, without feeling guilty because it's for the public benefit. What an awesome job.

We're in the stores, dark and temperature controlled (if you keep still for too long the lights go off so that you have to wave your arms around to trigger the motion sensor, it's a bit spooky.) Vertical wire racks of painting after painting in elaborate gold frames, shelf after shelf of antique books, boxes of archive material - I could spend hours in there.

The posters are from the department of health, ranging from recent stop smoking campaign artwork to treasures from the 1930s and 1940s, recruitment for nurses, appeals for blood donation or what to do in an air raid. The design and typography from the war and post war years is a thing of beauty.

We come across an old photo album from the 'Ministry of Health public relations department' shoved in there showing some amazing Festival of Britain type display around public health, dating from the late 1940s. It shows exquisite installations in the Central Office of Information, mock-ups of a Victorian factory or interactive displays that would not shame a museum these days. And also more modern posters, less charming but historically interesting - the AIDS campaign posters that I remember from TV, bafflingly featuring icebergs. It's hard to believe that someone was just going to chuck this lot in the bin. Someone would have bought them for sure.

We also have lunch in the canteen on top of the research institute next door. Slanted glass roof with a spectacular view of the Shard, the Post Office Tower and the whole of King's Cross. There is a sculpture by Thomas Heatherwick which runs through the five storeys of the building. The librarian tells me about the history of the trust and the man who began it all, he shows me the budget and the library budget, an eye-watering amount which is still only a tiny percentage of what the Trust spends a year. It is interesting in this time of austerity. I wonder what the founder would have made of all this.

Monday, 2 April 2012

His Girl Friday

I worked at the Guardian today. EXCITING. Unpaid work, starting at 11.00 (very civilized) but work all the same.

I haven't worked in an office since 2001. I've never worked at a newspaper. It wasn't like I'd pictured it, being all sleek and spacious and shiny in its new building in King's Cross, not all dingy and cramped and hectic like you imagine Fleet Street to have been, with fags burning in ashtrays on the desks and bottles of gin in the filing cabinets and men with rumpled hair and pencils behind their ears pounding the keyboards.

Bloody hell, it's nice to be among the grownups. I'm sure there is stress in these jobs, and though we were in the midst of the news desks I wasn't working in the news department but in research (what used to be called the library), where it was very mellow, but it's just so... so peaceful in offices. I'm always amazed at how colleagues can actually hold a conversation with each other at leisure. You just don't see that in schools. And the fact that you can concentrate on doing one thing at a time. And the fact that there seems to be so many staff. And so many computers. (BTW, I really don't like Macs. They are a pain in the arse. They remind me of that smartarse animated paperclip that used to pop up in Word.)

I did one tiny thing that may feature on the website, if not in the paper. You know those 'on this day in the past' features from the archives, I had to find one of those for 13th April. It took a long time of digging through the archives but I think I found a good one.

What else? It may be because of spring friskiness but there were lots of good looking men there. Tall, good-looking, wearing glasses. Eye candy all around. Oh, so this is where they're all hiding. Should have gone into journalism.

St Pancras. If you haven't been yet, go and check it out, it's really beautiful since the renovations.

Betjeman statue in St Pancras. Lovely.

the Canal.