Thursday, October 4

Free Burma!

Tuesday, September 25

Too much chocolate...

My colleague went to that well-known Swedish furniture shop the other day, I'm sure you know the one I mean; famous for its flat packs and self assembly and even more famous (or is that infamous) for its useless instructions. In any case she surprised me by bringing back a giant slab of marabou chocolate (the best chocolate in the world if you ask me).

My mother once told me that it's better to eat lots of chocolate in one go than to spread it out over the day, as long as you brush your teeth afterwards... I'm not sure whether she said that because she, like me, has zero will-power or what, but I followed her advice nevertheless and stuffed myself. (And then, like a good girl, I brushed my teeth...)

Tuesday, September 18

SPC - treading with caution

The toilet at University College London

The very first time I went to an English hospital I was shocked at how worn out and tired it looked. Having lived in Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands where hospitals often resemble futuristic laboratories, all glass and stainless steel surfaces, it was like entering a different world. Initially I thought that perhaps Brighton General was more out of shape than other hospitals, but I have since been proved wrong on many occasions. And so it never surprises me learn about yet another MRSA outbreak; what with the peeling paint, cracked plaster and scabby furniture that must be left from pre-war days, the cleaning personnel are fighting a lost battle.

So it was with some trepidation I arrived for an MRI scan at University College London this morning. Despite the expected state of disrepair all went well, now I just have to keep my fingers crossed until the results come back.

Saturday, September 15

Mr muscle

“I’m weight training” he calls out from his study as I enter the flat. I laugh and tell him that’s good; he could do with a bit of exercise. “I know, my arms are turning to mush, it’s embarrassing… not what they used to be”, he jokes back. I carry the shopping bags into the kitchen and put them down by the sink, trying to avoid stepping on the cat as she winds in and out between my legs, hoping for a mid-afternoon snack.

“Richard asked me to look through this very interesting collection, it’s from a friend of his father’s… her husband recently passed away, and she has no idea what to do with it. It’s mostly England… I’ve only glanced at it really, but it looks very promising.” My father continues his monologue while I put away the shopping; his voice light and happy. I put a few of his favourite sweets; chocolate covered coconut, on a plate and bring them to the study. He looks up at me with a smile, his glasses balancing on the very tip of his nose, and then he sees the chocolate. “Oh, you are a good and thoughtful daughter” he says with a grin and motions for me to come closer so that he can kiss me on the cheek.

My father is a stamp collector, and hasn’t actually done any weight training in years (although in his youth he was very athletic and once cycled 150 km just to see a football match, and then back again at the end of the game). But he only lifts stamps now.

I suppose stamp collection is a hobby of the past, but it is one that suits my father’s temperament and personality particularly well. He’s a shy man, he’s always been very hard on himself and he has lived most of his life with a sometimes crippling sense of social inadequacy. Stamp collection has served as something of an anchor; it has given him both stability and peace, but just as importantly it has also provided him with a social scene where he has always felt completely at ease.

Being a collector is a fundamental part of my father’s identity and the security it has given him has always extended to me and my mother, and at no time was this more apparent to me than when I was a child. I have an abundance of wonderful evening memories from my childhood when I would be lying in my bed at night, just about to drift off to sleep. The light would be on in the study, and I could see his shadow bending over the desk as he searched through reference books, looking for that all-important connection between a particular stamp and a particular post mark.

Friday, September 14

The ostrich finally pulls its head out of the sand

On Monday evening I went along to a talk by Naomi Klein (author of No Logo and more recently The Shock Doctrine: the rise of disaster capitalism) and talk about rude awakening. I've never been very interested in politics or economics, and rather than having to deal with the horridness of the world I have often preferred to stick my head in the sand... you know, out of sight out of mind...

But Naomi's talk was so accessible and so mind-blowing that I just had to sit up and start paying attention. I was transfixed as she explained how governments exploit crisis situations: wars, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and whilst the country is in a state of shock they make what would otherwise be a political impossibility politically inevitable. Just like electroshock therapy regresses the psychiatric patient or POW to an infantile state, unable to make decisions, so does the crisis or disaster regress the people. And in that window of opportunity, when the people are frightened and confused, looking for guidance, governments can push through policies that otherwise would never be accepted.

And so I bought the book and I've not been able to put it down since. It's shocking how much I never knew; about the Bush administration, about what's been going on in Iraq, about what happened after the tsunami... and as scary as it is to find out, it feels great to finally be awake.

There is a great short film, made by film maker Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein and directed by Jonás Cuarón, that accompanies the book. I tried to download it here but it didn't work. Do have a look at it though, it's both shocking and thought-provoking. You can view it here on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 11

SPC -- a good scrub

Bathrooms on my mind... dreaming of a sanctuary, a haven... to pamper myself.

Monday, September 10

Wet room dreams...

Yesterday I spent the entire afternoon doing serious research at the local bookstore with my partner. The fact that the reseacrh involved us looking through delicious bathroom design books for four hours doesn't lessen the seriousness. You see we are in the process of buying a little flat (really exciting and scary at the same time)... and it's crying out for a new bathroom (it's crying out for a lot of other things too, but our budget can only really stretch to a bathroom for now).

So now whenever I close my eyes I see basins and shower screens and gorgeous tiles and floating toilets and underfloor heating. Trying to work is impossible, I cannot pull myself away from my lavatorial daydreams. It's becoming an obsession.

This is what the bathroom looks like in our flat-to-be -- definitely not my dream bathroom

This is more like it, I love the storage solution underneath the sink, it looks so elegant (although I would probably never fold the towels that neatly...

Gorgeous tiles, and I love the shape of the basin...

Oh yes...

I love love love this... the colour of the splash back, the recessed shelving, the lighting. Just gorgeous.