Monday, 22 August 2011

Undressed

What I Did

This morning, I went to my physiotherapy session. I fell down the stairs a few months ago and broke my fall by hanging onto a railing as I fell backwards down two flights. And yes, I was sober! I pulled my shoulder out and I have torn the tendons in my rotator cuff. It's not life threatening, just very uncomfortable. I thought nothing of it until the designers in my office kept calling me 'chicken wing', as I would adjust my shoulder without thinking, by tucking my hand under my armpit and doing a bent arm back crawl several times until my shoulder went back into the right place. Very amusing apparently. So as it kept locking up, I thought it better be looked at.

First I was sent for an MRI to see what damage there was. The MRI unit was run by a freelance hospital department and was set up in the basement of a disused hospital on the same floor as the morgue! It was also a Sunday and the place was totally deserted. A nurse appeared and said the place totally freaked her out. Good to reassure the patients, I thought! It wasn't until I was trapped in the tiny MRI tube that I suddenly realised.. Oh my God, if something happens to the nurse, no one will know I'm here. Also, you lose all track of time... I knew I would only be in there about 20 minutes but you can't tell if you've been in there 5 or 45 minutes. Just when I was about to press the panic button, thinking all the dead bodies from the morgue were converging on my room, the nurse pulled me out. Hideous!

So I am now booked in for 8 sessions of physio with a lovely tiny indian girl. The first session she wrote down a lot and gave me a few exercises with giant elastic bands but this morning she wanted to do more pressure and massage. She asked me to take off a layer and she would be back in a moment.

Now, I am used to going to my osteopath for treatment, a crazy Dane called Torben, who demands you strip off to your bra and knickers. He also works in a room that has one way mirrored glass... on the ground floor! It takes a lot of getting used to I can assure you... standing there in your undies with the whole world walking past. Of course, what's really off-putting is when people look in through the window and you seemingly make eye contact. They are actually looking at themselves, not you at all, readjusting their hair or something! Torben, of course, finds the whole thing hilarious. I decided to get my own back a year or so ago when I happened to be working near his office. I walked towards his mirrored window, stopped and waved frantically in front of it, mouthing "Hi Torben". Ha, ha, that poor person in his room must have had a fit!

Anyway, so this morning, used to states of undress, I just took off everything apart from my bra and pants and waited for her to come back. She opened the door, looked at me in horror and ran to the window. What I had forgotten was that I wasn't at Torbens', the window wasn't one way mirror and that I was standing, nearly naked in a ground floor room, with no curtains, by a main road with a queue of people waiting at the bus stop! I ducked down mortified. She looked at me and said "I only meant your cardigan!"

Friday, 19 August 2011

Close Up

What I Saw

I am very lucky to be working in an amazingly modern part of London, right on the river, in a studio seven floors up which has floor to ceiling glass all the way around the open plan studio. It's the building opposite HMS Belfast below.



Those of a delicate nature and sufferers of vertigo tend to sit in the middle of the room away from the drop! I'm here freelancing for about a month and I love walking through the reflective architecture, along the river, wandering amongst the tourists and the stressed city bankers. I also love that I am in jeans whilst everyone else that works in this building are sweltering in their suits and ties. I like that.. a lot!

This morning, however, I caught my reflection in one of the many mirrored building facades and I didn't recognise myself. I scanned back and forth and couldn't see me in the crowd. I thought, I've either turned into a vampire overnight or I look much different than I think I do. And then there I was. My God, it was a shock. I looked really short and fat, frumpy and grumpy and my head looked like a shrunken head hunters trophy! I didn't look like me. It was so strange because I thought I was very body aware and then I realised... I actually look much better close up, when you can only see bits of me. The whole of me in one go isn't all that great. If you dissected my body, there are several good bits... the eyes are good, the hair (when blow-dried) nice, shoulders ok, boobs not bad, skin good, bum big but pert-ish, move past the legs and the ankles and then the feet are ok too. So that is what I see in the morning. I do my hair and make-up in a small mirror, I get dressed and literally don't look at myself til I am about to leave the flat. That final mirror only shows my top half. Blimey! It was a revelation. I have the opposite to anorexia... when I look at myself in the mirror, I think I look better, slimmer, prettier than I actually am. Crap!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Wolfie

What I Saw

A few months ago I noticed a rather frail, old, ginger moggie lying on the pavement, not far from my flat. He seemed quite content but I was worried someone might just step on him. Over the next few days I saw him lying under bushes, then behind car wheels and even in the road and I thought.. Oh God, this cat is going to totally get squooshed or something. The next morning I saw a man stroking the cat and started talking to him. He said the cat did lie in odd places but he was quite spry and would move out of the way if there was danger. He said the owner was aware of his habits and not to worry. I obviously wasn't alone in being concerned because a couple of weeks ago I saw a notice stuck on the trees around my neighbourhood.

It said:
The old ginger cat that lies on the pavement is called Wolfie.
He is 22 years old. He is frail but healthy.
He is very well taken care of and is very happy.
Thank you for all your concern but please don't worry about him.

Then this morning I broke down on my way to the tube because I saw a new notice.

It said:
Have you seen Wolfie?
Our old ginger cat is 22 years old, frail but otherwise healthy.
He has gone missing and we are very worried and miss him.
Please call xxxxxxxxx if you see him.

Oh nooooo! Wolfie! I can't stop thinking about it and am going to go on a find Wolfie mission on my way home from work.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

What is wrong with people?

What I Saw.

Last night, my friend Polly and I went to the theatre to see The Betrayal, a Harold Pinter play with Kristen Scott Thomas, Ben Miles and Dougie Henshall. We were lucky to get tickets because it sold out within days. Our seats were quite near the back, my view blocked partially by a pillar and a very tall man. Polly's view was blocked by another very large headed man but it didn't matter, we were just happy to be there. Just before the lights went down, an announcement said "Please make sure all your mobiles are turned off. Please don't turn them to vibrate or silent because that will still be very distracting for the actors. Please turn them off." Pretty damn clear we thought. Most normal people had already done this but a dozen or so people dug around for their phones again and muttering, turned them to off off. Then there was the usual coughing and fidgeting until the actors began.

Harold Pinter plays are minimal... usually entirely script focused, not a huge amount of action and very intense. The audience has to be quiet during one of his plays because otherwise you might miss the revelation and the entire point of the play. But, in spite of this, I swear to God, last night was like sitting in a bloody zoo! The culprits were:

1. A woman about 6 seats to our left was wearing a very long string of pearls. These she wrapped around her fingers over and over again causing a sort of clucking, knocking sound. She did this throughout the play.
2. A woman about 4 seats to our right was checking her mobile phone for messages and so the screen would randomly light up. She did this 3 or 4 times.
3. Two people's mobile phones actually rang. Half the audience tutted and I heard one man say quietly, "shame on you" which amused me because it had so much more impact than the "what the fuck?" I would have said.
4. Several people had not turned their digital watch alarms off so every half an hour we could hear "beep, beep" from several different directions.
5. The girl sitting on Polly's left had brought her water in a plastic shopping bag. Every time she went for a sip of water, she leant over, grabbed it out of the rustling bag and then put it back again. Why couldn't she just keep it on her bloody lap?
6. The girl behind me had on an armful of jangly bracelets. She was an unbelievable fidget and therefore jangled throughout the play.
7. The tall man in front of me, who's view was also partially obscured by the pillar would suddenly tilt his head to the left when he couldn't see the actor, causing a sort of ripple effect as I, and then the row behind, all tilted their heads to see past the one in front. Hilarious.
8. The same tall man decided he was in the back row of the cinema and put his huge, hairy arm around his girlfriend/wife and she then put her head on his shoulder. Hello? Where do you think you are?

A bloody zoo!! No manners, no respect. It was all so absurd, Pinter probably would have loved it. Polly and I actually got the giggles at one point because several of the things above happened simultaneously. When the actors took their curtain call, they looked peeved. I don't blame them.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Babysitting


What I read.

David Cameron, in reference to last weeks' riots said today: "We are coming to the view that there is a case for community engagement about what happened and why. It would involve getting someone to go into the communities and find out why this all happened. It would be likely that it would be chaired by someone outside government. We're coming to the view that some sort of engagement exercise would be useful."

This made my blood boil a little bit.... Cameron at the start of this year was all about the community, pulling together, rebuilding ties within the boroughs... he called it the Big Society. At the time he said: "What is my mission, what is it I am really passionate about? It is actually social recovery as well as economic recovery. We do need a social recovery to mend the broken society and to me, that's what the Big Society is all about."

He said that months and months ago and obviously he nor his team have done the slightest thing about it otherwise they might have the tiniest clue as to why this all kicked off. I have read all sorts of opinions about who and why and I really can't help but think that we babysit people too much in this country. It actually encourages them to sit and do nothing for themselves. The younger kids involved in the looting did it for fun and they followed, like lemmings, what everyone else was doing. They weren't doing it because they were hungry and needed food, they didn't do it because they needed clothes on their back. But who is saying what is right and wrong to them.... who is telling them they should earn what they're given. Not all, but many of their parents don't work, probably didn't do that well at school and so they have no role model to show them what hard work earns you. Getting something for nothing is something they are used to and so to loot doesn't mean the same to them as to people who have worked everyday of their life for what they get.

Most people on benefits are absolutely deserving of them but it is also, sadly true that a lot of other people on benefits know how to work the system. They get so much money for this and that and aren't encouraged at all to work. They sign on every week and get given a shitty amount of money but I still see these kids in branded trainers with a Sky dish outside and up to date with all the new computer games. How is that possible? Does this non work ethic come from their parents, or their parents' parents? I know the benefit system did not work the same ten or twenty years ago.

In 2009, at the height of the recession I was out of work for 2 months. It scared the shit out of me and I really really struggled to pay my bills and mortgage on my meagre savings. I had to sign on. It was one of the most humiliating times of my life... you are treated like scum at the job centre and aren't encouraged to help yourself at all. They just tell you the facts and then give you money. I got £66 a week. Now, if I had had my housing paid for, I could easily live on that. And I did... I had just enough savings to cover one months mortgage, thank God, so that was fine and because I had never missed a payment before, my mortgage company gave me a 2 month mortgage break. All the loans I owed also gave me a break because my credit rating was good. So, for over a month, when the sun was shining outside, I was happy as larry. I cycled everywhere because I couldn't afford the tube, I ate less because I couldn't afford my big foody shop (so lost weight) and I wrote and read and had loads of ideas. I posted a leaflet through all my neighbourhood's front doors offering design services. I went to my local pub and asked for shifts in the bar. I actually thought... god this isn't a bad way to live at all. After those few weeks though, the thought of collecting benefits and doing nothing made me a bit sick. It wasn't how I was brought up. So I persevered, kept calling clients day after day and luckily things picked up and the economy improved finally. I tore up my signing on book. I was lucky though.. I had an amazing upbringing, a fantastic education, saw my parents work hard so I now know the meaning of hard work

BUT, if a child is used to a parent not working and getting money for not working... then why should they not get something for nothing as well? What is their inspiration?
It'll be interesting to see what David finds out when he goes a-visiting!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Love must be blind

What I think.

There are only a few types of men that travel on the Bank/City branch of the tube, very early in the morning:

Type 1 - The Financial Times Man - smart suit, usually well mannered but oblivious, his surroundings inconsequential because his head is buried in the newspaper.

Type 2 - The Free Newspaper or Novel Man - smart/casual dress, not bad mannered just distracted... the kind that steps on your toe, steps back onto someone else's bag, sneezes loudly, and then apologises, realising what he's done.

Type 3 - The Sleep Deprived Man - smart/casual dress, not a clue what's going on around him... usually found staring blankly into space, scratching his crotch and yawning in your face.

Type 4 - The Smart Phone Man - appallingly mannered, hasn't a care for anyone or anything apart from his own comfort and playing with his bloody iphone for the entire journey!!!

What I Saw

I got on the tube at about 8am this morning, a very busy time. There were two seats empty and I sat in one of them. At the next stop a couple got on... a beautiful 20-something indian girl and a 30-something pale, angry looking white man. She went straight for the empty seat and he looked at her with daggers and said "Oh great!". She got back up and said "darling, you sit down, I don't mind, I get off in 5 stops anyway." He didn't argue nor did he say thank you. He just sat down and began ruffling through his back pack. I must have looked incredulous because the girl caught my eye and in those few seconds she seemed to say - It's not worth the agro! I was so appalled. Why couldn't he have let her have the seat for 5 stops and then sat down after she got off? Not only that, but during the next 5 stops, she coughed and sneezed and generally looked a bit fragile. The boyfriend didn't notice any of this, however, because he was Type 4 Man. The instant he sat down, out came his iphone and he plugged himself in and played some ridiculous game until it was his girlfriends' stop. He hadn't looked at her once. She patted his shoulder as we approached the station and without taking his eyes from the screen, proffered his puckered lips to her. I wanted to bloody slap him. I was absolutely boiling inside as you can imagine! I mouthed "twat" at him. He didn't notice but a woman opposite me did and laughed.

It totally enrages me how some people behave though. It's not just on the tube, of course, but for some reason being at such close quarters to strangers exacerbates the situation. Everything becomes bigger and uglier when its inches from your face. Yawning and coughing without covering mouths is completely normal now, scratching ones genitals is fine it seems. And now they are saying that they might put mobile phone masts down in the tunnels so that people can use their phones. Bloody hell, can you imagine? It's actually the one place left in London where there is relative peace and quiet...

Oh and one more thing… British Transport are suggesting that 25% of the London workforce try and make alternative arrangements for traveling to work during the Olympics because it will be very crowded! Really... you are only just realising that? Oh, OK, I'll just tell my clients that I'll be in at 11am instead of 9am and I'll be leaving at either 3pm or 10pm. Great idea!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

London Riots

What I Saw.

Every morning I have come into work and ranted about what has been happening in London and in cities around England over the last 4 days. What started with a shooting and a genuine protest in Tottenham, North London, has turned into an excuse for violence and theft committed by a bunch of teenage thugs and robbers! Most friends and I have been glued to the television news reports... a sick compulsive viewing of the destruction of some of London's poorest boroughs. We watch as the tragedy unfolds, shouting at the TV, urging the firemen to look behind them as another building catches fire. Helpless and disgusted.

I have argued with work colleagues about the role of the parent in all this? Do they know where their kids are or what they're up to, are they appalled... or do they condone their kids behaviour, maybe phoning them up during a looting and putting in an order for a size 5 pair of Nike's? The thing that has upset me most is that these kids are burning down and looting from their own neighbours. I heard a soundbite on the BBC website, of 2 girls who had looted in Clapham the night before. They were saying how much fun it had been and the reason they joined in was because it was getting back at the government and rich people. Stupid little bitch, I thought. Rich people? These newsagents and family run businesses have been built up from nothing and are scraping by due to hard work.

OK, so they are also targeting clothes shops and sports shops, but only the ones with expensive brands in, they're not stupid! They aren't raiding Primark and grabbing handfuls of £2 T-shirts. They know what they want and that's a new pair of trainers. These kids already wear the latest brands... photos of the looters show them in their Reeboks and Nike's and expensive jeans. In fact, one repost last night had me screaming "ah, poor little bastard, have you got dust on your trainers?" The footage showed several hooded youths in Manchester pushing over an industrial waste bin. As the bin crashed to it's side, some rubbish poured out. The guy, jumped out of the way, screamed something and then went over to the side of the road and started brushing off his trainers with his sleeve, mumbling under his breath, the police in riot gear metres away from him. It got me so so angry, this little arsehole doing all this damage but "watch out for my trainers, they is new, innit!" Twat!

What I Heard.

Two posh girls, around 18 years old, on the train last night, laughing and giggling at messages on their phones. Then one of them screamed in mock horror and said to the other "Oh my God, Charlie is going to join the looting tonight, wants to know if we wanna go along... thinks we should start one in, like, Sloane Square or something? O.M.G. it would be sooo hilarious. God Mum would totally freak. Shall we do it? He said he could meet us in Starbucks at 7. O.M.G!" Much hilarity and whispers ensue until they feel the stare of one woman opposite. Her stare says it all. They go quiet. You could palpably feel the hackles go up on all the passengers in earshot. There were so so many things wrong with this that I'm not going to even write it down. You know.

What I was told.

On the way to work yesterday morning, a pretty, pregnant black woman sat down next to me. I smiled at her and then she just began talking. So many people want to talk about this situation that they will do it with a complete stranger. It happens with all disasters in the world. Talking about it makes things easier to comprehend, it comforts people. This woman told me she was from the Congo and had come to Britain to escape the war and the dangers. Her story was horrific but she said what was happening here made her sick to her stomach. Why were the kids doing this? They have so much to be glad for, a roof, food to eat, school. They lived a safe life, most of them, yet they were stealing off others just for fun. FUN.. she said loudly. She was so upset and seeing it from her point of view made me so ashamed to be honest.

Why is the question on most people's lips. You only have to google or read some of the tweets to know how many opinions are being flung around. It's not political. It's pure and simple greed mixed with boredom and the belief that they should have something for nothing. My opinion. Bunch of selfish prats.

What I Saw.

The best photo of the clean-up is one in Clapham of Operation Cup of Tea. The residents and loads of others from around London brought their brooms with them and helped clear the awful mess left over from the looting. Someone was overheard saying "There are more broomsticks here than in a Harry Potter film!" Brilliant. Here it is...