i come from the land of the ice and snow..

By amy ~ January 20th, 2021 @ 6:55 am No Comments »

…and that’s where I’ll be going shortly, or at least some of the way. Since I’m having a break whether I like it or not and with my birthday in a couple of days, I’ll be heading home for a week or two of peace and quiet, a bit of sea air and some bracing walks.

That’s the theory at least, the more likely outcome being a week or two of peace and quiet under my sofa blanket watching TV with whatever freezer tapas I can rustle up by throwing an assortment of what the supermarkets call ‘party food’ in the oven for twenty minutes when I can be arsed to move (and since when has anybody needed a party to eat their body weight in crispy beige things off a baking tray in their dressing gown?)

More constructively I have made a majestic effort to take the shopping down a notch despite the winter sales and special offers, since the return to a semblance of my usual size over the summer brought about something of a splurge that included many, many pairs of boots and also of shoes (despite my feet being largely unaffected by the home-baking-and-Pringles diet of late Spring 2020). Plus countless tops, bottoms, jumpers, jeans, dresses, pyjamas, scarves, handbags and coats. Always coats.

Kidding myself that I’m saving money because I buy everything except socks and underwear secondhand is something of a pipe dream (in the short term, anyway) when the secondhand shoes in question are Chanel patent leather loafers or Manolo Blahnik satin pumps that cost roughly fifteen times what the likes of New Look would ask for a brand new pair. And likewise, whilst there are countless other good reasons to eschew the chain stores and choose the better pair (or neither, since cheap shoes hurt my feet), none of them are applicable to those who are not earning anything and have expensive rent to pay bar possibly the fact that the good stuff always has a resale value. And they’re pretty!

Regardless of any of this, belts need to be tightened both physically and metaphorically and so far so good; no clothing purchases at all since the start of the year and it’s the 20th already – yay! A small exception may be made by way of a birthday present (or rather another one, since my latest Abe Books order is winging it’s way over as I type), although as today is Trexit day – like the old song says, who could ask for anything more?

So to business – or rather the continued hiatus from it – and I should provisionally be back at the start of the second week of February at the latest; another Kings Cross closure is on the agenda for the weekend after next so I’ll be avoiding the associated ballache and likely returning a few days later, but if I’m honest I really can’t say for sure. We’ll just have to play it by ear, but you’ll be the first to know!

Predictable Song Of The Week, yes – air guitars (and/or air drums, should they be your preference) at the ready! And don’t forget to watch Thor: Ragnarok before your free Disney +runs out.

More soon! I will report from the boondocks just as soon as I’ve got the bra off and the oven on.

it’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood…

By amy ~ January 11th, 2021 @ 3:08 pm No Comments »

After a week of settling back into a vaguely normal routine, and buoyed by my ever-relentless desire to look on the bright side, not that anybody with underfloor heating is going to have a tough time doing that (and speaking of which I should admit that – as befits my thrifty nature – I have also found that it’s very good for drying clothes; bonus!) I have pretty much given up on receiving useful enquiries and am reverting as of now to my previous Regular And Returnees Only stance. And not many of those.

Instead I’m taking advantage of the post-New Year quiet to do more exploring, and I have selfishly enjoyed having the City’s tiny streets and passages virtually all to myself (even if mostly for the purposes of catching Pokémons and getting in on a few battles while doing so); whilst sitting down for a read of the paper on the steps of St Paul’s or reclining on the grass in the (closed) fancy hotel gardens up the road is less appealing in January, the extra free time to get out and about in the fresh air is always a pleasure. Especially when the sun is out, the tourists are somewhere else and the traffic is down to barely a trickle.

I have read a lot of blue plaques, googled a lot of churches and street names, and generally availed myself of the stuff that’s right on my doorstep, not least London Bridge itself. Spurred on by a programme on Channel 5 of all places, I have learned that not only is it the oldest bridge in London, it was the only bridge across the Thames for seventeen centuries, with houses, shops and even a Keeper Of The Heads to look after the reality TV of the day – the boiled and pitch-dipped heads of traitorous folks on their spikes to remind everybody of what happens to, well, traitorous folks (only the highfalutin’ ones, mind. I’m not clear on what happened to the pleb traitors).

There is a model of the whole thing in St Magnus-the-Martyr a couple of streets away where the original bridge would have ended, which is now well ahead on my list of Things To Visit the next time the opportunity arises. I could of course go to Mass for the first time in about fifteen years, but I think they’re mostly doing it on Facebook at the moment and nothing on God’s earth will have me signing up for that (or Twatter, or any of the rest of them while there is still drying paint in the world). Next weeks’ installment is about Tower Bridge and I will definitely be watching, having had planned visits at the local residents rate of £1 a ticket (bring your council tax bill) scuppered not once now, but twice.

By contrast, last weeks’ special treat was a walk up to the giant Sainsbury’s at Whitechapel, a behemoth amongst supermarkets whose fresh herb offering alone is enough to induce a state of euphoria just this side of panic, a little like a middle aged version of the nights out thirty years or so ago but without the drugs, glowsticks and (thank God) the obligatory gurning cunt in a felt jesters hat hanging around everywhere you looked – given that I still own and wear voluminous cargo trousers, a dozen or so pairs of different coloured gazelles and even a slip dress or two, the only other real difference is the setting not being a disused warehouse or a field. I even still have most of the records (I promise faithfully never to inflict Poing by Rotterdam Termination Source on others).

After buying as much I could carry including coriander, fenugreek and cardamom pods for curry cooking, an improbably huge sweet potato and a big pack of pickled onion Monster Munch (if I’m not going to be working it matters not if the flat and I stink), I arrived back at HQ realising that I had forgotten to call in for dark chocolate Bounty bars when I passed the shop. I’ll just have to go back next week.

So as above, it’s a bit of a closed shop again – sorry! I’ll keep updating with pictures of my groceries and meanwhile in the spirit of nostalgia, Song Of The Week is a slightly more accessible 1990 classic. I promised, after all.

More soon! Since I’ve covered availability, local history and culture, I think it’s time for some potato butchery and a bit of a dance…

happy new year, etc…

By amy ~ January 3rd, 2021 @ 1:34 pm No Comments »

…and yes, Merry Christmas too. Halloween was also OK if memory serves, given the extra effort put into the film offerings on TV. It’s been a while!

The temperature has dropped fairly dramatically since last time too as can be seen below; fortunately less so here in the flat where my discovery of the underfloor heating controls was almost as exciting as the air con was in the summer, although the latter didn’t result in quite the same temptation to spend my free time reclining on the bathroom floor in my pyjamas with a cushion, a peanut butter banana toastie and last night’s paper.

As you might expect it’s been an unavoidably quiet couple of months, even with the brief respite to pack in a visit to the hairdresser plus as many trips to the Prince Charles Cinema as my pocket would stand; October’s scaled-down London Film Festival provided this years’ biggest hit and I’m still feeling extremely fortunate to have seen Soul on the big screen in NFT1, even if the eventual Christmas Day premiere on Disney+ made it available to (almost) all. With six months free Disney+ courtesy of O2 I didn’t need asking twice especially with Muppet’s Christmas Carol on offer too – having also just committed myself to rewatching The Sopranos from beginning to end followed by Oz (in a month – NOW TV 30 day free trial) it would be fair to say I’m up against it somewhat even if the next few weeks of enforced hatch-battening sofadom aren’t looking too bad, all things considered. There’s even some stollen left.

Of course it’s not really the way I’d planned my first full year as a Londoner to wind up (with or without the gratifyingly Daily Mail-enraging drone and firework show), but I can at least report some good news in that the flat is fully signed up and still mine for the foreseeable – yay! Whilst I’m not exactly flush (and I suspect not many of us are), I will be continuing to sit it out in much the same way for as long as needs be – in the meantime I have tentative plans for my birthday in three weeks (one set for things being open, one for if they’re shut) plus a definite statement of intent to order Crosstown doughnuts with which to celebrate, even if that celebration goes no further than TV in my dressing gown. This may be no bad thing, since after three post-Christmas weeks of the leftover chocolate and Pringles diet, the dressing gown will likely be the only thing that still fits.

To actual details then, and whilst the above might suggest otherwise, I’ll be here as usual and available in an appropriately limited capacity for the foreseeable future; previous visitors will be prioritised, but all sensible enquiries are welcomed! If that sounds as if my screening process will be lighter than usual, be assured that it isn’t and if you call or text without knowing my name (for example), you’ll still be politely and swiftly moved along before you’ve even noticed my hanging up. That hasn’t changed in over ten years and it isn’t changing now – it’s only three letters and if you can’t remember them I’ll have to assume that you will also struggle with simple instructions and directions, and therefore be extremely busy in a theatrically apologetic tone that will be just convincing enough for you to be not quite certain whether or not I’m taking the piss (I am definitely taking the piss).

Another first of the year, the Song Of The Week is also a second since we’ve had it once already, but since it always cheers me up we’re having it again in the name of kitchen discos everywhere. Bring on whatever you’ve got, 2021! We’re not afraid of you.

With apologies again for skiving (why is it that the longer we do less, the less we wind up doing?), I’m starting the next draft right now while the oven warms up, the washer finishes spinning and the fifth series gets underway. After all, there is no situation – summer or winter – that I can think of which can’t be improved with homemade chilli, Steve Buscemi and some cornbread.

So, more soon! Really really soon…

rumours of my disappearance…

By amy ~ September 27th, 2020 @ 8:30 pm No Comments »

I know, but after spending the best part of five months sitting on my arse in front of one type of screen or another, the reopening of activities that demand engaging with the real world was moreish to say the least and I have been throwing myself back into them while we still had the last of the summer left. This is not including those days where the streets outside were so hot the only thing I threw myself into was the cool embrace of my fridge, which I did with the sort of abandon most people reserve for the receipt of lifechanging news. Thankfully I am now almost back at my fighting weight, give or take.

The exception to the screen avoidance has been the cinemas, after the gradual reopening of first the Genesis (where I had a pleasant walk up to see the fun/incomprehensible to anybody sober Tenet and was thrilled beyond all sensibility to find dark chocolate Bounty bars in a shop along the way), I caught a handful of favourites at the Picturehouse Central in town for the posh seats and at the start of the month the BFI, where I got stuck into the member-voted Classics strand with aplomb and went to see Jaws, Singing In The Rain, The Wizard Of Oz, Breakfast At Tiffanys and Pulp Fiction all inside a week – result! And the Prince Charles finally reopens on the 16th…

By way of a bonus, the weather is most definitely on the Autumn turn now after a bit of a false start and things are settling down nicely in general – the aircon is hopefully done with for the year, the boots, jumpers and scarves have been unearthed (and not a few new ones bought alongside a coat, sunglasses, a couple of hats and an umbrella), and after a fairly strictly enforced moritorium on the baking of anything until I could comfortably get back into my 28″ jeans, the panic is over and both cookie and gingerbread doughs have retaken their rightful place in the fridge (dumplings will remain out of bounds for a week or two, suet being something of a gateway drug).

I have finally been to the Tates (Britain and Modern), had a long overdue eye test (two; both mostly useless, at least unaided), virtually inhaled a McDonald’s (with 50% off at Leicester Square) and also had fish and chips for the first time in many months courtesy of Poppies in Spitalfields, where I once bought chips and curry sauce after an evening at Rich Mix up the road and was impressed with both. I now know that the battered haddock is equally celestial, and therefore that it’s probably fortunate for the 28″ jeans and everything else in the wardrobe that I’m not really in the habit of ordering takeaways.

A retro favourite for Song Of The Week, and one which has been a not-especially-annoying (unless you’re one of my neighbours) earworm for about a month. The one which brought back proper pop songs and rescued us all from the howly power-warbling of the day (sorry Whitney), plus anybody who doesn’t want to listen can just watch the video with the sound off. Bonus!

More soon! As usual all are welcome (sort of), and I promise to update a little more conscientiously from now on, not least because it’s likely to be pissing down morning, noon and night for the foreseeable future according to the October forecast. Lovely.

Further Reading

i come from the land of the ice and snow..

it’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood…

happy new year, etc…

rumours of my disappearance…

baby steps (and a few steps back)…

what the world is waiting for…

all work and no play…

guess who’s back…


time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so…

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