Saturday, 27 December 2008

A winter's morning...

So I have crept down to tap away and in a weird invert of the Night Before Christmas poem, all through the house everyone is still sleeping. I love these few days between Christmas and New Year as it really does feel like the world stays snoozing on the sofa after the excess of christmas food. London loses it's hectic pace(well, if you stay away from sales madness) and the roads are so quiet, it feels like 1953.
There was a clear blue sky this morning and the whole park was covered in a silvery frost,like a secret world that no-one had noticed yet. I immediately covered our tiny patch of garden with birdseed and refilled the feeders and have been looking out at the usual bird gang,feathers puffed up from the cold and the determined squirrels that blatantly scoff from the feeders hanging upside down from the branch. Oh well,I'll chase them off in a while.There have been wonderful plays on the radio; Northern Lights, Little Women and Peter Pan have all entertained me as I huddle wrapped up with socks and scarves.
Soon everyone will wake and the calm will disperse as the day begins.. here he comes

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Hallelujah Battles..

So in the cruddy world of reality tv generated pop stars(ho-hum) that has the affront to call itself entertainment, the latest assault on our UK charts is a murdered version of the sublime Hallelujah originally by Mr Leonard 'smiler' Cohen. As a protest, us cool dudes are refusing to allow the butchery of some of the world's most beautiful songs and have been downloading the spine-tingling Jeff Buckley cover in a bid to keep the heinous X-factor from claiming the coveted Christmas Number One(tm!) spot.Facebook groups are rounding up members and emails have been sent. Fingers crossed!

Listening to Radio4's The Now Show, I heard the brilliant Mitch Benn sing this spoof which amused me muchly. I was so pleased to find it had been uploaded to t'tube! Whoop! Very clever man that he is.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Waterloo Sunsets and Cloudscapes..

So the second poem that was read at today's wedding was After the Lunch by the wonderful Wendy Cope. A poem about falling in love on Waterloo Bridge, without doubt one of the most romantic places in this often drab, hectic city. And was rather a coincidence because I have been travelling across the 'Dirty ol river' each day this last week and each time as the train shuffles into the station that's just the other side of the Thames, I cast my eyes over Waterloo bridge,St Paul's,the 'gherkin' and downriver to the scaled down sky-scrapers or upriver to Big Ben and the Wheel.The view is mesmeric.

The river can be grey as the sky, the buildings a spectrum of greys and the world still in black and white save an occasional flash of red of bus or boat.

Or pitch black,with electric lights in it's own galaxy revolving round the moon-like dome of St Pauls or a cloudless blue and everything crystal clear in cold winter light.
Or dusk with streaks of scarlet and coral and the lights melting into sky.

Forgive me if it all seems rather cliche and touristy but I never tire of seeing this view with each new light or shade with which it's painted, and as much as I have longings of hitching up my skirts and departing these shores(with the Shoe in tow) the sense of pride when I look along the river is immense.
When I betrayed my suburban north London roots to move south of the river, it was this journey that really made me glad to be a londoner.

Even the most oppressed commuter must get peace from looking up from the depressing daily paper to glance with awe!

Here's the poem. Perfect for a London Wedding..

After The Lunch by Wendy Cope

On Waterloo Bridge, where we said our goodbyes,

the weather conditions bring tears to my eyes.

I wipe them away with a black woolly glove

And try not to notice I've fallen in love.

On Waterloo Bridge I am trying to think:

This is nothing. you're high on the charm and the drink.

But the juke-box inside me is playing a song

That says something different. And when was it wrong?

On Waterloo Bridge with the wind in my hair

I am tempted to skip. You're a fool. I don't care.

the head does its best but the heart is the boss-

I admit it before I am halfway across.

(pics from flickr)

Greenwich Wedding.

Just back from playing at a wedding in the elegant surroundings of the Greenwich Naval College. It's been a couple of weeks since my last one and amidst all my Nutcrackering, it has restored my faith in weddings a wee bit;playing at a considered and personal weddings makes it a joy.
It is one of the most impressive places in London,there is such a wonderful sense of space down by the river Thames, those stately grey buildings their stone edifice fighting their corner against the glittering towers of Canary Wharf. Each time I see this view I catch my breath,the modern framed by the historic. In fact so little has changed within that courtyard until you cast your eyes over the other side of the river and suddenly 200 years of time spring forward in an instant.

The wedding took place in the Admiral's House, a corner nearest the river in a mahogany panelled room, there were no floral decorations but everyone was given plump ivory rose buttonholes. Also her bouquet was dreamy,cascades of variegated ivy more big fat roses and jasmine- so lovely to have jasmine in wedding flowers.
As I started to perform the entrance music, four bridesmaids proceeded down each wearing a black dress in a variety of styles, the first in a glittering sequined sari and the last in a moulin rouge vintage style with birdcage veil and draped choker.
From my position at the front (I usually have the best seat in the house!) I could see the groom's face, and as the bride started her entrance, from the corner of my eye I could see the registrar ask him to turn round but as he shook his head no,I glanced up and his expression was full of emotion-I guess it was doing all he could to keep it together! Sent the tears rushing to my eyes as the memory of nervous anticipation rushed back.
The ceremony was short but very heartfelt. Two poems were read,not the more common poems that I can practically recite and often rattled off without care or thought. Each was beautifully read and chosen for their lightness of heart and with joyous celebration at their centre.The first reminded me to write a post that I have been meaning to write all week and the second by Thomas Hardy was new to me but contains elements of all the wonderful rustic celebration which give his novels such joy and spirit to contrast with all the fateful tragedy.

Great Things

Sweet cyder is a great thing,

A great thing to me,

Spinning down to Weymouth town

By Ridgway thirstily,

And maid and mistress summoning

Who tend the hostelry:

O cyder is a great thing,

A great thing to me!

The dance it is a great thing,

A great thing to me,

With candles lit and partners fit

For night-long revelry;

And going home when day-dawning

Peeps pale upon the lea:

O dancing is a great thing,

A great thing to me!

Love is, yea, a great thing,

A great thing to me,

When, having drawn across the lawn

In darkness silently,

A figure flits like one a-wing

Out from the nearest tree:

O love is, yes, a great thing,

A great thing to me!

Will these be always great things,

Great things to me? . . .

Let it befall that One will call,

"Soul, I have need of thee":

What then? Joy-jaunts, impassioned flings,

Love, and its ecstasy,

Will always have been great things,

Great things to me!

(pics from flickr)

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Reasons to be cheerful- Part 1


Infinitely beautiful from the simplest daisy to the sweetest scented sweetpea.Even their names sound like poetry;lilac,mimosa,honeysuckle,anenome. 'Of infinite variety' and each one improves the day.Echoing the passing of time as each season is reflected in a new flower or colour.
I loved picking flowers straight from my granny's garden. On childhood holidays we would gather wildflowers from the downs and I would press them at first between book and then in wooden flower presses tightening down the screws with each day.I would collect them in scrapbooks.Carefully noting down the names. How very Enid Blyton that sounds! But between that and the wonderful flower fairy books of Cicely Mary Barker the seeds of my obsession were sown. I would gaze for hours at the charming illustrations and the clever way the fairys' outfits would be made out of leaves or petals. I would always decide which one I would be that day.

As it's december my windowboxes are bulging with cyclamen, little bowed heads blowing in a frosty breeze. I must have bought good ones because they have a delicate scent and I even saw a bee buzzing round them. A winter bee making Catford honey I hope..

We bought glorious long stems of Mimosa from the market, a wonderful blossom with tiny yellow pom poms to lift your spirits on a grey day.

There are wonderful flowery blogs but the tops is Saipua. I was transfixed when I first discovered it, such a wonderful textural and nature inspired arrangements. Wondrousness.Oh dreams of being a florist and owning a shop stuffed to the rafters with blooms and blossom. Sigh..

(pics all by me)

Remedy for a poorly boy...

To cure a dose of man-flu, position on sofa wrapped warmly in duvet.Feed him soup,hot water and lemon or orange juice at regular intervals.
Be very sympathetic and don't mention how it is all self induced by a whole week of christmas parties, extra birthday celebrations and a wild stag do.
But most of all make him watch a favourite disney film...

Bibbidee Bobbidee Boo indeed...

Caterpillar: Who are you?

In the words of the caterpillar demanding an explanation of Alice as she peered over the mushroom maybe I ought to say a wee bit about who I am and what the deal is.

I am a freshly married girl living in the big city in a small island who has discovered a wonderful world of beautiful things-words,music,flowers and ideas mainly through planning our wedding. Through this I realised how unhappy I had been in so many aspects of my life and found that my imagination had been resting away for too long. Hasten to add that the wedding and realtionship with The Shoe was not making me unhappy! I always realised that one way I had of keeping sane and as Ann Miller sang as she tapped herself into a whirling dervish 'Chasing the blues away' was to take pleasure in swoonsome music and soulful words, have adventures in our smoky city and green and pleasant land.So this will be a record of things that make me happy, a few of my favourite things. Goodness I really must stop talking in Musicals. But above all stuff that brings light to my days and a twinkle to my eyes.. I'm still trying to find my footing again after my world falling apart, I may tell the story of that and then meeting The Shoe which did make the sun return.
We had a wonderful wedding in July, that was unique,personal and rather bohemian! I shall definitely be recounting the tale of that magnicifent day.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Birthday Girl...

Happy Birthday Me!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Birthday blues and Grumpy Grannies

So it's my birthday this coming Saturday,and usually I luuuurve birthdays and do them very very well. Some of the best have been the Chinese Elvis night, a ropey ol' chinese restaurant in a dodgy part of London crammed in with hen parties,50th birthdays and us, a table full of professional musicians crying with laughter at the rhinestone jumpsuited Elvis. And I love being spoilt and having a day of just doing whacky me things - two years ago we slid down the tubes at Tate Modern and then I got all emotional watching Wicked. It was great.

But I've been feeling a bit 'meh' about this one... perhaps it's because things are really getting serious now and there are definitely a couple more grey hairs that have sprouted in the last few months resulting in hours(did I say I exaggerate a lot!) standing in front of the mirror trying to catch the elusive silvery hair to pluck out..
Or maybe after organising the biggest party of our lives back in July, the idea of more celebrating has rather lost it's impact. I've been feeling rather like a wrung out dishcloth these last few months hence one of the reasons for starting this... Never the less, I am going to make it fizzy and as it actually falls on the saturday well, it would be rude not to have a party. And so to spread the weight,it will be a joint party with Ozgirl and the theme is Grannies Behaving Badly.. As I do have so many granny tendencies: slippers, my collection of teacups and all things floral.
I have been raiding charity shops and markets to find suitably chintzy clothing and have turned up some beauts! There really is nothing better than finding a garishly coloured polyester frock to lift the heart! So with my spirits getting in the birthday mood, at least any grumpiness can be disguised under the party theme.
Dontcha just love this picture-