Oh dear. We all know that these are the worst kind of blog posts. I’ve waited too long, haven’t taken any photos for weeks, and now there’s just a crazy mess of random stuff waiting to be blogged about with no narrative coherence whatsoever.
I could give up entirely, declare blog bankruptcy for September and start again next month. But that would obviously be contrary to my archivist heart. So, instead, I’m going to junk the whole pretence of narrative coherence and go with a post-modernist take instead…
I’m queuing for a drink at an underground bar/music venue in Hoxton. From behind me, a woman reaches out and taps gently on the shoulder of a younger woman in front. “Hey, are you here on your own? Feel free to come sit with us, if you’d like. We’re very friendly and we don’t bite.” This is how you know you’re in a good place, isn’t it? The woman accepted her offer, I got my beer and the crowd clearly loved our evening of Anthony Blaize and Tabi Gazele. At work the next week I reported back to Tabi that we really did leave in a happy buzz and felt that we’d been let in on an amazing secret. Her voice is incredible. If you can, I highly recommend listening before you read any more of this post.
Katie and I sequestered ourselves in the living room to watch a six-part 1972 Jon Pertwee adventure, The Sea Devils. As you do. It really upped my appreciation of Jo Grant – she’s much more resourceful than I remember. Midway through our Indian delivery arrived and we tucked into our curries. I realised that I kept glancing at Katie’s plate, expecting her to have leftovers that I could steal, but we’re too much alike as siblings for that to work and everything was eagerly consumed.
In contrast, I was surprisingly bad at remembering to eat during my night out with Tash this week. We just sat outside at a pub table near work, drank our Heinekens and talked about anything and everything until I arrived back at Tulse Hill station and realised that I’d had half a packet of salt and vinegar crisps. Thankfully, Tulse Hill is the kind of place where you can score six chicken nuggets and chips for £2.49 at 11.15pm on a Wednesday night (cash only). They were delicious.
Shopping for a baby shower is stressful. I keep trying to out-think everyone else who will be shopping for the same baby. Can I be the cutest? Or maybe that’s a trap… maybe the the best thing to do is to turn up with something practical, and then you look wise and knowing. But I’m not wise and knowing about babies, and anyway it’s too late because I’m already in love with the ‘activity fox’. It clearly doesn’t offend Frankie and Anya too much because they tagged along with Andrew and Bonnie a few weeks later in a return visit to Tulse Hill, during which London decided that it was summer again and we celebrated with ice-creams from Brockwell Park Café.
Our guest room has chalked up another visitor! I trundled my mum’s little black suitcase all the way from Brixton before we headed out for Turkish food with Randi. I think I’ve conjured up the only Turkish place which includes what is effectively a burrito on their menu but I am not complaining. Unexpectedly, the lights went down at 9pm and a belly dancer appeared, shimmying around the room to the rhythm of her finger cymbals and balancing a giant sword on her head.
Sanna and I are sitting outdoors by the fountains at Granary Square around the back of King’s Cross. A man barrels up to us out of the darkness, waving a phone around, explaining that he has no signal and could he please borrow my phone to call his friend? I freeze, stuck in that tricky zone between wanting to be nice and not wanting a stranger to run off with my phone. But then inspiration strikes. “Is a hotspot OK?” He thinks. “Yes, yes, a hotspot would work.” He hands me his phone instead, I connect us, and then he either calls his friend or performs a gorgeous spot of improv. Either way, he appears to be drunkenly jubilant and thanks me in various languages before running off again. I feel like I was handed a real moral dilemma and totally cheated.
I gave blood today! My first time since 2014, since Brits are not allowed to donate blood in the US, and the nurse went through my questionnaire with a straight face before teasing me that despite the gap in my records I’d never be able to run away from them forever. I’m especially fond of medical professionals this week, since my dad had a spell in hospital (he’s OK!) and, although this is a giant cliché, you really never stop being impressed by NHS staff. ❤
The last time I saw my something-cousin-Tessa-something-removed was in 2011 when I stayed with her family in Los Angeles. (I lazily failed to blog that trip, but I remember loving that family and wrote in my journal that they were all “polite, welcoming, warm, funny, clearly very creative and stylish”.) Now, very excitingly, Tessa is studying in London and joined me, Tash and Cormac to revive the tradition of eating my mum’s famous summer pudding (made with blackberries from the garden) and custard. “It’s like the most English thing our family ever did!” notes Tash.
Here’s a catchy tune I found tacked on to the end of an old cassette from the era when I was very young and very into copying things between audio tapes:
This is it
It’s happy learning
Fun and music all the way
Lots of smiles
With happy learning
As you practice every day
On the tape it sets up a nice introduction by Floella Benjamin about counting numbers, but now the final line strikes me as a little threatening. What happens if you don’t practice every day?
The fun thing about being a semi-negligent friend one year behind on blog posts is that I’ve now been able to enter the freedom and fun of London pre-pandemic and am fully enjoying the easy and carefree nature of the post. Love the conglomeration of random stories! Chicken nuggets at 11pm, siblings, imagining Dom at a baby shower, being street smart but not an insensitive human, and potentially recording his own voice singing catchy yet existentially disruptive childhood rhymes.