Lost in London

A look at London and life in general through the eyes of someone who sometimes can't bear to watch.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Through the keyhole

I don’t really talk much about my home life on my blog. I’m not trying to be mysterious or sexy by withholding details; I just don’t think it’s that interesting. I am, however, a sucker for questionnaires or surveys. I have often delighted in giving wildly inaccurate opinions to market researchers and I used to have a terrible habit of filling in what are now called memes but have managed to go cold turkey on that score for a while. When one of my regular reads and favourite bloggers Minge asked me a few questions about my house, my concealed confessional side was stirred. He even asked for photos and I took some earlier. Ooh. I’ll answer the questions first.

Does your bathroom have a window?
No, it doesn’t, to my eternal regret. I will *never* rent a flat with a windowless bathroom again.

Could you live without a window in your kitchen?
Hmmm. I had a kitchen in Edinburgh with no window. It was like cooking in a cell, but I lived with it. My flat here has a kitchen in the lounge, so while strictly speaking there is a window in the same room, I can’t gaze out of it while I’m washing up unless I swivel my head round like the girl from The Exorcist. That said, I hardly ever wash up so I don’t crave a view. So the answer, I guess, is yes.

Have you ever seen anyone famous from your window?
No, but I was once walking outside my flat and Tony Blair drove past. That’s as close as it gets.

Do you have a balcony?
No, unfortunately. I’m on the ground floor (another thing I won’t do again) and secretly covet the flats upstairs who *do* have one. Although it's probably best that I dont have one. The urge to spit on the heads of passers-by would be too strong.

And now the photos. Oh how exciting.


I’ve lived here over a year with a mirrorless bathroom. It has driven me mad. Last week we bought some mirrored tiles from Ikea. This is what they look like. I really don’t care that half of Britain has these tiles. Home furnishings snobbery is boring.


The chair is old. It is my other half’s. I have no idea where it came from. It is draped in a rope light. I like rope lights. No-one really sits in the chair because it broke when we moved. The thing that looks like a jellyfish is a speaker.


When I took the photos the washing up hadn’t been done (tsk) so I took a photo of my overflowing utensils pot (yes Ikea again; I actually don’t have that much Ikea stuff). To the right you can see one of those Alessi egg cups, which was a present, and my sister’s cough medicine which she left here last week. It didn’t work; she coughed non-stop.

View 1

This is the view outside my lounge window. The road is quiet for once. You can just about make out a London cab hurtling towards us. There is also a phone box, which I once watched somebody kick violently for about 20 minutes.

View 2

My Macbook, where I have just written this.

So there you go. How was it for you?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Walking back to happiness

I think I could walk round London for ever. Well, not for ever, as my feet would get tired and I’d need to stop and eat and take a piss and I’d have to go to work to ensure the bills were paid on time…but, as I walked around central London yesterday I thought ‘yes, I’m glad I’m able to do this’.

I live near Tower Bridge and so can get close to the Thames pretty quickly. I’m not altogether sure why this is a plus. Yesterday I walked along the south bank for a while until I got to the Tate Modern, where there were so many tourists it was like walking through a badly-dressed, decorum-shy jam, and then I decided the best thing to do would be to cross the Millennium Bridge (the wobbly one) and walk through the City.

The bridge takes you right outside St Paul’s Cathedral, which nearly always has scaffolding up around it and isn’t as ‘spectacular’ as a million picture postcards would have you believe. There were lots of people milling around taking photos of nothing in particular and perusing the menu of the Yo Sushi directly opposite the cathedral. I pushed on through and walked along Fleet Street, which was mercifully quiet. The City is almost deserted at the weekend. Such is its importance and dedication to business through the week that come Saturday and Sunday it is a ghost town as all the burned-out City types attempt to recharge their batteries before another onslaught of making money and wearing expensive ties begins. Fleet Street doesn’t house any major newspapers any more but at the very end there is the High Court where reporters always stand with solemn faces to report major divorce battles and the like. Opposite is a shop selling barristers’ paraphernalia. In case you’re interested, a robe is almost £700. I don’t know how much the funny-looking wigs are.

Things start to get busy again as Fleet Street turns into the Strand. The endless row of closed Pret à Mangers ends and shops are once more open for business. The air fills with foreign languages and I move swiftly on as crowds of people gather round out-of-date maps and scratch their heads. I’m always tempted to stop and ask if someone looks lost but am never sure of the reaction I’d get; I’d be mortified if someone did that to me.

And so across the Strand and over to Covent Garden, noticing Nelson peeking over the top of the buses as I make my way over the road. Covent Garden is where people who don’t know London very well usually want to head first, not realising that there is nowhere decent to eat, no nice pubs and- well, nothing really except a few shops. Yesterday it smelled of swimming pools; I don’t know why.

The best thing about walking round London is that there is always something new and even the familiar never seems dull because it gives you a great feeling: the feeling that finally, after all these years, you just might be on the way to figuring out how this bizarre, amazing city ticks. Just for once, maybe for today only, I loved London just a little bit more.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The wrong trousers

I see from ladies’ magazines (we get them at work!) that hemlines are on their way down and it’s all about maxi dresses for the next ten minutes or so. Male fashion seems to be in direct contrast, at least in the City on my way to work. I count around 30 pairs of ill-fitting trousers on my way into the office every day and it’s beginning to make me feel all irrational.

There are not many things a man has to do to stay looking OK. There’s no arduous make-up routine, precious little getting up at 5 am to wash, blow dry and straighten unruly locks and not a whole lot of agonising over which shoes, which bag, which necklace!?!

All a City-working man really has to do before leaving in the morning is firstly plop a bit of product on his hair (for those with hair; what do those without do? Wipe their pate clean? I really would like to know). Then he needs to make sure his clothes are, or at least appear, clean and, most importantly, fit him. I understand why guys with good T-shirt muscles feel the need to wear figure-hugging formal shorts that show off their pecs, but quite what possesses any of these gentlemen to put on trousers two inches too short is a complete mystery.

I’ve railed against this phenomenon before, I know. Once you’ve been walking to work for a while, the view around you starts to mean less and you therefore seek a bit of interest on your surroundings and source it from your fellow commuters. I look at faces and then my eye darts down to the lower half- no, lower than that- to take a peek at that all-important hemline. For some strange reason, many men are either buying trousers that are too short in the leg, have washed something that should have been dry clean only, or have had a miraculous growth spurt overnight.

So, gentlemen, please ensure that your trousers expose no sock and at least graze the top of the heel of your shoe. It really does make you look nicer and is such a simple thing. Then again, it is these internal style tussles which make my journey to work a little more diverting, so maybe I should live and let live. Let their ankles freeze in the name of entertainment!