devi: (Default)
Hi! Hello. How are you doing?

I’ve forgotten how to do this. I want to tell you how we’re getting on, but resist letting it turn into a massive, self-indulgent 4000-word epic like I’ve done in the past. There's a metric ton of backstory which isn’t all mine to tell in any case. Anyway:

The short version is that Dan and I are moving to London in mid-September, so I can start a part-time MA at Goldsmiths in October.

the long version )
Anyway, it’s happening, which means several things:

Housing in London: Partly because we haven’t known till quite recently if there’d be one or two of us, we haven’t got a place to live yet. We’ve been looking at flats on the web but it looks as if most estate agents require both of us to have full-time permanent jobs, and that's a bit difficult if you're moving to a new city (or temping or self-employed). What we’re thinking now is that we’d like to find a room in a house share somewhere for the fairly short term, like four or five months, till we’re more established and can get a place of our own. There are various ways to do this, but obviously it’d be brilliant if it was with friends or friends-of-friends. I realise we’re all older now and there isn’t the constant churn of house shares that there used to be, but just in case: if any of you know of someone looking to fill a double room in their house, please do let us know. We’re domesticated and good-humoured, our previous landlord will vouch for us, and I can provide a pile of tax returns and bank statements and such to demonstrate that I do actually make money (and most of my work will come with me to London; it’s location-independent).

Seeing people in Oxford: Time, as ever, has snuck up on me and I keep realising that I’m probably doing things for the last time as a resident of Oxford. Next Tuesday is quite likely the last time I’ll make it to comics pub. On Saturday we’ll be at Gappy Tooth Industries at the Wheatsheaf to see The Evenings reforming for one night only – if anyone’s in town over the weekend and fancies a gig, it’d be lovely to see you there. We’re talking about having a yard-sale/giveaway/excuse-for-a-get-together sort of thing in our house. (Edited to add: how does Sunday 5th September sound?) I did it when I left London and it was great fun, and a good excuse to have people round. And there should definitely be some sort of house-cooling. And hmmm, anyone for Scott Pilgrim some time in the near future?

I might just sell or give away all my CDs, actually. I never got that attached to them as physical objects. I’ve gone to the CD rack maybe twice in the last six months. Last time I did, the first thing my eye fell on was Dead Media by Hefner, which made me chuckle.** I kind of want to just throw almost everything in storage and stroll off whistling, maybe with my guitar on my back like a great big hippy. Stuff. Who needs it? Well, my computer is nice, I guess. I’ll keep that.




*Edited to add: Except [livejournal.com profile] jackfirecat, who paid me promptly. Thank you very much, [livejournal.com profile] jackfirecat.

**And isn't even mine, come to think of it.
devi: (bookish)
What a great weekend. Even most of the crap bits were sort of great. It started on a beautiful sunny Friday evening as [livejournal.com profile] killalla, [livejournal.com profile] kauket, Adam and myself went punting from Magdalen Bridge. So terribly Oxford: calm green water, weeping trees, spires hazy in the distance, people studying on the riverbanks. It all had that too-idyllic-to-be-real feeling I had in winter when I started cycling around town, like we were in a period drama. Kat had brought cupcakes. We didn't talk that much. In between fending off banks and other boats with the paddle, I touched the water with it to make intersecting patterns of ripples. Once Jo made a sort of "ahhh" noise which was exactly what I'd just been thinking.

Then to Templars for barbecue and games.

I slept in on Saturday, into the afternoon. That was the plan: it was going to be a very late night. Then I set off to get a top-up of London to keep me going. On my way down on the Oxford Tube, the sun was shining on yellow fields and hawks were hovering. When London came up around me it didn't feel draining, like it sometimes had before. It buzzed, and I was fresh enough to catch the buzz and run with it. The music I chose got faster the closer I got to the centre.

As soon as I got on the tube I saw three people in completely ridiculous outfits the like of which I'd never seen before: brocade tracksuits with short legs, flat caps and beaver hats made of patchwork and gingham. Fancy dress? The new style among Shoreditch Twats, or is it Whitechapel Twats now? Yeah, London.

Across Trafalgar Square – Nelson's Column is covered in scaffolding with scary ads about climate change, shots of landmarks under water – and down the Mall, getting tree pollen in my eyes, and I arrived at the ICA to see the Beck's Futures exhibition the day before it closed.

Much banging on about modern art )

So after some coveting of the entire bookshop and some texting to find out the plan, I headed down to Borough for the next bit. And what a next bit it was.

Let me know if there's loads of space between paragraphs. LJ doesn't seem to want to put in line breaks, so I've put them in as html. It was like this the last time I posted too. Hmm.

edges

May. 3rd, 2006 04:52 pm
devi: (lost)
I'm sitting in the back garden, in the sunshine, with a straw hat on. I have a cold drink and the internet and a cushion to sit on. My stereo is playing The Girl With The Sun In Her Head from just inside the dining room. I'm surrounded by dandelions and some kind of blue flower that just appeared suddenly, in clumps, one day. Thistles and brambles as well, but – shrug.

And what am I doing? I'm missing London. Silly.

it's all about the tube, innit )
devi: (lost)
This is way overdue, written on the laptop a while ago but not posted due to internet woes. Maybe you're all sick of people banging on about London by now. What the hey. I want to tell you all about my amazing, sudden, colourful journey, but I'm going to talk about this first.

There I was last Thursday in Luxembourg, watching BBC World News into the night, with channel-surfing breaks (naked chicks playing badminton, news channels full of exploded bus shots and the story of the blasts in three different languages, bizarre garden-centre shopping channels. European TV that night was all sex and death and garden gnomes). The next day, reading LJ and laughing at the tea icons. Being amazed at how the plan came together, buses ferrying the injured. Seeing several people independently posting the lyrics to London Pride. Well, I was proud. And on Sunday evening, heading out to [livejournal.com profile] kesstrel’s Drury Lane show (for a whole different kind of pride, the “that’s my friend up there on the stage!” kind) I asked the Underground man at Highgate station if the tube was running and he beamed and said “yes, business as usual”, and I couldn’t help beaming back and saying “Fair play to you,” as if I wasn’t just addressing him but the whole underground system.

And I kept thinking about a gorgeous sunny day last summer when I set out to Brentford to meet [livejournal.com profile] lostcarpark at a Robert Rankin convention. It was a few days after the big storms that filled the Thames with sewage, and Brentford smelled a bit like Bangkok, but as the tide rose it got better and we sat and drank cider by the water with the truly ubiquitous [livejournal.com profile] mzdt who was doing the sound. I headed back, in a happy bubble of drunk, as the sun was starting to set. I’d just bought Orbital’s Blue Album and by the time my train pulled into Waterloo I was blissed out on music and buzzing with energy as if the cider fizz had migrated into my whole body. I decided to walk from Waterloo to my bus at Tottenham Court Road. The sky was blue-pink-lilac and everything looked larger than life – the South Bank buildings and bridges, the London Eye spinning above me. One Perfect Sunrise was on the discman, Lisa Gerrard singing on the last track of Orbital’s career, and I felt like I was at the centre of everything and wanted the walk to last forever. I found myself actually crying, wiping my eyes with a huge stupid smile, getting very strange looks from passers-by. Most of that summer I felt like living in this city was hammering me down into powder, but right then it was all worth it to be there at that moment. Can you be in love with a city the way you can with a person? Has anyone else felt that way? Some people must have done. The guy who wrote Waterloo Sunset must have done, in the same place at the same hour. Have you?

This is what I scribbled in my notebook when I finally got on the bus. )
devi: (Default)
I'm all right. I'm not even in the UK. I'm typing this slowly on an azerty keyboard in the only netcafé in Luxembourg. They don't seem to have wifi in coffee shops here either, much. I spent yesterday wandering round with my laptop looking for somewhere I could tell you all about my sudden madcap adventure and failing. When he was leaving Rhi's on Sunday [livejournal.com profile] jezzidue asked in jest over his shoulder if anyone wanted a lift to Luxembourg on Tuesday. I don't think he was expecting anyone to take him up on it. But I did, and he has been graciously providing crash-space for a few days while I explore the town.

I had a big excited ain't-that-cool post in mind about my wanderings yesterday but now is so not the time. I was woken by a text from mum asking if I was ok and turned on the TV and was convinced [livejournal.com profile] verlaine was working at Paddington near Edgware Road and had a panic when he didn't answer my texts, but he got a message to me through Abi. Thanks Abi. Thank you all who texted to check on me. And isn't LJ great at times like this?

I'm stunned and angry. Poor London. I hate London about half the time but today I want to take it in my arms.
devi: (city)
I'm up way too late. From my attic eyrie I can see the trees threshing in the wind, throwing shifting shadows across Colney Hatch Lane. Hardly anything is going by on the road except all-night delivery vans. It's sad that I won't be here much longer, so I'm enjoying it while I can. No school tomorrow, and I like the feeling of being awake while most of the city's asleep.

After ripping what I want off the CDs I'm selling, I've made a playlist, six hours long and counting, of music they used to play in Dublin at Fibbers and Dominion. Music for dancing and moshing and pogoing, squealing with glee and dashing off to the dancefloor on hearing the first bars of a favourite song, waking up on Sunday with a sore neck from too much headbangage. It's got The Smiths and Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine and Covenant and The Cure and the Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails and so much other stuff, and I have it on random. This is the sound of me before London, before most of the music I actually listen to now, before I'd written anything much, before I had a proper job, before I ever danced all night, before I had any politics, before a lot of things. God, what's left when you subtract all that? Still in the womb, like Douglas Coupland says.

Between that and the photos I was looking at earlier, I feel completely dislocated. I've remembered the name of the Man called Kate, finally. And I found a picture of the DJ I was infatuated with, and a picture of me on the same night. I can wonder now why I thought he was so out of my league, because I didn't look as crap as I thought. "Wise Up, Sucker" has just come on. That was my song of the time, because he loved PWEI and I was the sucker who needed to wise up.

Back then I always had a feeling that I hadn't really started living yet. At least that's gone away now.

Yeah, time for bed.
devi: (Default)
As of July 1st I will no longer live in Muswell Hill. At first I didn't mind moving on, but as always happens, as the days count down I’m seeing more and more things I love about here – the way I can stand on the bed, stick my head out the skylight and see way out to the east, the blue computer alcove with its little paper lanterns, the mirrorball, the funny old barber shop on Muswell Hill Broadway, even the weird leggy plant in the sittingroom.

Oh, well, enough with the maudlin. [livejournal.com profile] elethe and I have lots of stuff. Since we’re moving, and I’ll probably have to put most of mine in storage for the summer, it would make sense to rehome as much of it as possible. Money is also nice when you’re moving. So we’re thinking of having a garageless garage sale.

Some weekend day – we’re currently thinking Sunday the 19th of June, though this could change if public opinion’s against it – we’ll have an open house with wine and nibbles, and all the buyable stuff laid out so you can look through it. There'll also be stuff I'm giving away. You’re welcome to come over at any stage and hang out. No pressure to buy anything - it's also an excuse for a sort of house-cooling party - but if you see something you’d like to take home with you, so much the better.

[livejournal.com profile] elethe will be making her own list presently, though I imagine there’ll be lots and lots of DVDs on it. I’ll be offering books and CDs[1], a snow-coloured iMac (there’s nothing wrong with it and I’ll be sorry to part with it, it’s just that my laptop does everything it does but slightly faster), an acoustic guitar, clothes (some barely worn), board games, and lots of other random things. I’ll post up a proper list if there seems to be interest. (People can bagsy things for themselves in advance, of course.)

Edit: Oh, and! I also have a beech-finish Ikea corner bookshelf and a grey Ikea Benno 6-foot-tall CD rack. [livejournal.com profile] kauket has expressed an interest in the CD rack but in case she doesn't want it, feel free to shout out.

Does that sound interesting? Or is it ridiculous to attempt to have a garage sale with no garage, a car boot sale without the car? Opinions welcome.

[1] proceeds from many of the CDs go to the Transatlantic Librarians Fund
devi: (Default)
It was a funny, ambiguous week. Coursework panic at school. Running around South Ken with no time to take a lunch break. An election where everyone I talked to seemed to feel they'd 'voted wrong'. But after all that, yesterday came like a reward.

A Tube Walk first, from Bank to London Bridge and from Barbican to Farringdon. Even though I think the less obvious, less scenic Tube Walks are often better - places you'd never go to otherwise, and more surprises - this one was great. It rained on and off, between bursts of sunshine. We crossed three bridges. Crossing bridges in London makes me feel I'm at the heart of things.

Sitting outside The George pub at London Bridge, with drizzle coming on, we had the 'what would you do if civilisation crashed?' conversation again. Every time I go out lately I seem to end up talking about the Apocalypse. [livejournal.com profile] katstevens said she'd be the DJ in our post-apocalyptic commune, if [livejournal.com profile] mzdt could build a bicycle-driven DJ booth. So long as you didn't have to pedal at the exact RPM of the records it might just work.

[livejournal.com profile] myonlyhome said I was the first person to get her username, and we enthused about the Magnetic Fields, and I told her about the chocolate-hurling incident at the Festival Hall gig. Then, when she saw the Lost Things Saved In Boxes badge [livejournal.com profile] miss_newham made me, she told me her grandmother had a box in her house labelled "Bits of String Too Short To Save".

[livejournal.com profile] haggisthesecond was encouraging as usual, and told me about the Worst Novel Ever, and sadly I can't tell you about it, but trust me - it was hilarious.

We walked through some of the prettiest parts of London. There was a wedding going on at St Paul's full of people in spectacular hats. I had a fish-fight with [livejournal.com profile] tjej and [livejournal.com profile] miss_newham and lost. We ended up in a sunlit, cosy pub in Farringdon where I found cloudy, appley cider, talked to [livejournal.com profile] sherod and took a straw poll: should I go on a nightclub expedition with almost total strangers? The general opinion seemed to be yes.

When the tube walk dispersed I wandered around the South Bank for a while, waiting for my phone to ring. Went into Tate Modern to stare at Rothkos with my eyes blurred, and passed a party down on the riverbank at Festival Pier, hundreds of people dancing on the edge of the water.

Then, starting in Bermondsey and ending up in Brixton, the nightclub expedition with almost total strangers. Going on expeditions with almost total strangers is great. Not least because, if it goes well, they stop being strangers. It's really quite amazing that I hadn't met [livejournal.com profile] julietk before, because she knows pretty much everybody I know. But now I have, and she's got blue!hair! and three beautiful rats (who are sane and gentle and don't bite!) and knows about Stuff from counselling to quantum physics, and is generally Very Cool.

Today has been a day of sleep and films and work (maths tutoring! Thank goodness for penguin mints) and fluffy stripy bedsocks. I've made a playlist for sleepy Sundays, soft music to curl up and dream to.

It's working. Goodnight!

[Poll #490194]
devi: (Default)
London has long leases and huge rent that make it hard to be there and be somewhere else at the same time. If London was your boyfriend, it would be demanding, possessive and not put up with the least bit of flirting.

Today it eyes me suspiciously as I tiptoe back in. "You've been consorting with other cities," it says.

"Just visiting. Not consorting," I protest. "I slept on the sofa every night."

"Do you take me for a fool?" London growls. "I can smell them on you. And that tall, hilly, flashy one - you're wearing his shirt! You've got some nerve."

"But I was thinking of you all along," I say, knowing as the words leave my mouth that they're a lie.
devi: (Default)
England really made an effort as I was coming back from Gatwick yesterday morning. It hit me with the works: darling buds and clouds of blossom on the trees, baby lambs who were definitely gambolling, morning mist lifting softly from the fields, half-timbered houses covered in climbing rose, shafts of sunlight beaming from the clouds. "Look at me! Look at me!" it was saying. "What a green and pleasant land I am!"

But despite all that, and despite deciding halfway across the Atlantic to cram my ears with all the music I could think of that would remind me where my loyalties lay - the Streets, the Clash, the Pistols, Saint Etienne, "Irish Blood, English Heart" - I'm sorry to be home. I'm back in the flat, which seems poky and grubby and cheerless, and my suitcase is sitting behind me, reproaching me for no longer living out of it.

I've had three weeks of adventure, exploration, converting strangers into friends, and freedom from all the burdens of ordinary life. London and work and bills and daily grind were literally on the far side of the world, not my problem. This is part of what holidays are for. I'd forgotten.

That could apply to any holiday, but also... I went to America full of preconceptions. Most of them got proved wrong. But the one thing I wasn't expecting was getting completely smitten with the place. I have a new crush on America. I left my heart in San Francisco, I could actually feel the drag in my chest as we sped away from it on the BART, and then went on to leave other vital organs in Portland and Seattle. I loved small things (peanut butter milkshakes; beatnik bookshops with sections labelled "Anarchy", "Class War" and "Muckraking"; endless coffee; smoking cloves on a balcony in Seattle looking at the sunset over the Olympic mountains) and big things (the way they've got proper, vast, breathtaking wilderness; the way everyone we met seemed so politicised, principled and angry with the government and generally not apathetic). Of course there was bad stuff too, like beggars with one leg and the hollowness of Hollywood, but I was expecting the bad stuff. I wasn't expecting the love, so it knocked me over.

People, please help remind me why I love London. I do. It's always mixed with hate, but every time I think I've had enough of this city it shows me something amazing or tantalises me with a story, and I feel the rush of being at the centre of things and forgive it for another while. That feeling will come back given a little time, I know.

I feel completely stateless right now. I don't want to move back to Ireland any time soon, and it isn't quite the Ireland I left anyway. I feel dislocated from London, and I've always known doing the London Thing wasn't forever, and I can't think of anywhere else in the UK I'd really like to live. And everyone knows brand-new shiny crushes are not to be trusted. Where on earth do I belong?
devi: (Default)
Today I am awake. Just... wide awake.

It's a strange, delicious feeling. It's like my head is full of cold, clean, clear water. I'm seeing and hearing everything, not just the narrow window of stuff you see when you're propelling yourself around town on autopilot. I'm gulping down the pages of my book at high speed. Watching people get off the tube earlier, I could suddenly see all their faces. (That sounds like stating the obvious, but when you're living in London, after a while you stop taking in all the faces, it's too much to process.) Most of the faces looked closed, turned in and preoccupied. I wondered how awake they were feeling.

And I feel like a trapdoor's been left open in the top of my head, and words are sleeting in and tumbling together into sentences without any effort on my part.

I remember drunkenly talking to my muse on Friday night. Maybe she was listening?


...Must not spoil delightful state of wakefulness by drinking pint of cider in fridge.
devi: (Default)
Last night I went to [livejournal.com profile] kesstrel's for Heathers and enthusiasm soup, and when I left to walk up the hill everything was silent and frozen, with an almost-full moon shining, and some weird compulsion made me draw stars and faces and things with my finger on car windscreens, the tops of wheely bins, and any other flat surface I could see that had snow on it.

That morning on my way to the bus I'd passed another windscreen with "ZAPPA!" written across it in the snow.

*

I'd been worrying that he'd been locked up in a detention centre for illegal aliens and not made it to America at all, but [livejournal.com profile] verlaine just phoned from Miami. Apparently triple-breasted women swim around town totally naked, but he can't get on LJ because his local library has declared it to be "tasteless".

*

It was a day of small embarrassments.

I teach this boy GCSE English. This is the demanding one I've ranted to some of you about, who rings me up at all hours of the night to ask me to set him essays. Last week he asked if I'd give him an extra half-hour each week. Fine, I said. That would be an extra x quid. "No, free," he said, "as a favour. All my other tutors agreed happily to do it." Hmm, said I, I dunno. This week he asked again. I said I was quite skint and couldn't just go around handing out free half-hours that I could be spending earning money. Or going home for a rest. (I might have done it if I liked the kid, but something about him always puts me on edge.)

He got his dad in to back him up. Dad makes me even edgier than Kid. "All the others are very pleased to do it," he said, "and they live further away than you." I still said no. "Well, then," said Dad sulkily, sounding younger than his son, "one hour, not a single minute more, if you want to be like that." He flounced out. I was expecting him to kick something on his way.

I went to the tube, alternately feeling triumphant and brooding that maybe I was a horrible person (am I? Answers on a postcard, please), and in mid-brood completely failed to recognise [livejournal.com profile] eviltwinemma. Her hair is short and red and I've hardly seen her since 2001 when my hair was blue, but still. Duh.

Then I timed my return home perfectly so I could run into Mad Claire Downstairs in the hall as she was going out. She smiled a stretched smile that clearly pained her. "I haven't seen you in a while," she tinkled laboriously. "No indeed," said I, and went on up the stairs.

*

Can I have a new womb, please? Do they sell them on eBay?

*

Oh, the fun of dropping letters for postwodehouse.com. The thrill of standing behind things and watching people examining them, or ignoring them. Today I dropped three in the Science Museum and two in the Natural History Museum. Last I saw them, one was being treated as suspicious by a security guard, who seemed to be scanning it with some sort of raygun thing. Another was snatched up almost as soon as I dropped it, which was cool, because I'd put it in front of an ecology display which announced that we were connected to all other living things. Another, sadly, was being repeatedly trodden on.

I think I'm going to update the site every week from now on. I'll try to incorporate some sort of experiment blog. A lot of you seemed quite interested to see how it progressed, so I was thinking of setting up a mailing list to notify people when an update's been done. If you'd like to be on it, put your email in the box. I won't spam your inbox; in fact I won't mail you more than once a week, promise.

[Poll #443184]

And [livejournal.com profile] miss_newham, of course you can have another go.
devi: (Default)
There's someone who goes through Gloucester Road tube station regularly and gets their kicks from writing in blue biro on the posters in the lift. That's fairly normal, posters get defaced all the time. But the blue biro person is unusual. They specialise in stating the blindingly obvious. Blue Biro Person writes speech bubbles on the posters, saying exactly what you would expect the person in the picture to be saying.

On an ad for some Toy Story thing, BBP has added a speech bubble over Woody's head, saying "Howdy pardner! Schu gotta name?" ("Schu"??) A picture of a waiter serving a table in a Chinese restaurant now shows him saying "You like won ton?" And a cartoon of a person with sparkly white teeth, for a local dentist, is adorned with "Look, I've got a lovely smile."

I'm not sure why this bugs the hell out of me, but it does. If I ever catch BBP at it, I'll be tempted to grab them by the lapels and demand, "Why do you do this? WHY? What's the point? It's not funny. It's not clever. It's not subversive - it just agrees completely with what's happening in the poster. Even giving someone in a poster chewing-gum genitals is more subversive than that. For goodness' sake, it's not even a tag. Why?!"

Maybe BBP is making some sort of subtle point that I am too thick to get.
devi: (Default)
In other news, I've pretty much given up on Nano. I've been working late most evenings of the week, but it's not just that. I seem to have lost the knack of fast writing. I'm planning every bit before I write it, especially with the Choose Your Own Adventure story (working title Traffic Lights). And planning doesn't count towards your word count, but I don't want to dive in and write confused, badly-thought-out stuff. I remember the sheer tooth-pulling agony of turning The End of Words from a Nano-novel into a proper final draft this summer, and I don't want to knowingly write stuff I can't use.

But I've got 27k of words I didn't have before. If I could do 30k a month, I'd be finished a draft of another book by February. Maybe I'll try to do that instead?

*

A man on the tube yesterday, wild-haired and unshaven and holding a can of strong cider, was addressing the whole carriage in a thick Northern Ireland accent, barely moving his lips so that I was looking around for a long time wondering where this Ian Paisley blare was coming from. He was saying 'No' a lot, which added to the Paisley impression, and 'I'm not running away. I'm facing up.' The girl opposite him fiddled with her water bottle and looked around and shielded herself with her pink handbag. Two others moved away. He said something indistinct ending in 'words', but it wasn't till he stood up to get off that I worked it out. He was saying 'You think I'm talking to you because I want something. I don't want anything from you, just words. Words, that's all."

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