31 October 2007


Halloween is coming,
Witch's hat,
Giant orange pumpkins,
Black and white cat.

It loses something without the actions, but M's been singing this little ditty for the past month. Apparently, Balloween is now 'at Nursery'. Bless.

28 October 2007


It's freezing cold, pouring with rain, and very very dark. Welcome to autumn, pop pickers. Season of mist, woolly jumpers and duvet-envy. Wake me up in about April, will you?

Actually, I shouldn't complain too much - we headed down to the Quayside today in the sunshine, and ended up in the beer garden at the Free Trade, watching the sun set over the bridges. The small one discovered the delights of pineapple juice and bacon-flavoured crisps, and then had to be carried home to bed.

24 October 2007

Calm after the storm

Another annoying migraine. Bleeeurrgh.
Consequently, a day spent in bed, listening to Radio 4 (and a rather nice afternoon play, about an American tank in the middle of Dorset. Or Devon. I fell asleep in the middle, so I'm not sure) when I should have been working.
Oh well. That's the next few evenings taken care of, then.

20 October 2007

The perils of taking a night off

1. You realise that you've wasted hours watching Hot Fuzz on DVD when you could have been reading the new Nigel Slater book, Eating for England. Bah.

Hot Fuzz was great for the first hour, really tightly plotted, nicely grisly and stupidly funny. Then it lost its way - endless action sequences bore me witless, especially when I don't know which film(s) are being parodied. And a whole DVD of extras?? Where do these folk get the time?

2. Consequently, you don't check your email, and head blithely out into town the next day for lunch at a fine noodle establishment, followed by a bit of light shopping, and a visit to a couple of design exhibitions.

The design stuff was great - lots of recycled products that made you think 'yes, I can do that!'. Even if it would mean collecting hundreds of cardboard boxes and bottle tops, Blue Peter-style, that would clutter up the house for weeks on end in a thoroughly annoying manner. I especially liked a coffee table made out of a washing machine drum, and a recycled formica table.

I was so inspired I went and bought a Pantone mug that I've been lusting after for weeks. Oops. 5757C, since you ask.

3. After a long day of eating, shopping and watching Strictly Come Dancing, you log onto your email to discover that bloody Wagamama have sent you a 2for1 offer, valid for Saturday 20 October only, to celebrate the rugby world cup.


18 October 2007

Knit one, purl one

Thursday night and I'm staring out of my window at the glittery lights in Team Valley below. It's bloody freezing, even with double glazing, so I've decided to have a go at knitting a scarf. Well, it's the trendy thing to do at the moment, isn't it? Even if some people take it a little bit too far.

Bear in mind the last time I knitted anything was the middle of the 1980s. Needlework lessons to be precise. My school was quite, well, old-school about the whole gender divide thing - girls did needlework, while the boys did CDT. Bizarrely, we all did technical drawing, and, more sensibly, cookery.

Anyway, it's 1986, or thereabouts, and 2W girls are sat in the middle of a freezing cold portakabin, trying to decide what project to make for the year. I decide to knit a jumper. A classic 1980s batwing jumper.

I remember lots of dropped stitches, several holes, and a lot of time spent unravelling pale blue mohair wool. I spent hours knitting, even in lunch hour (yes, I had no life). The thing took months, but finally, it was finished. I sewed the pieces together, and...

It was massive.

Beyond massive.

Instead of 1980s on-trend batwingdom (probably several years too late - this was deepest East Anglia, after all) I'd created an F14. Tom Cruise could have taken off in the damn thing, holes or no holes.

I wore it twice. It ended up in the cat basket.

17 October 2007


originally uploaded by rachc.
Sadly, not mine - yes, they're a size 6 but they're a dinky size 6. Why do 2-year-olds get all the cute stuff?

15 October 2007

Arts Corner: Helvetica

On a normal occasion, this would have been a great documentary.

Sadly, I saw it on Saturday night at the Tyneside Cinema, as part of Design Event (linked in to the Dott 07 festival which is currently running on Tyneside). Billed as the documentary plus a talk from Ben Drury (record-sleeve designer) who would "introduce the film and talk about his work" it sounded like a top evening out for sad people who like fonts.

Lots of people showed up (mostly design students bearing notebooks - you can spot the designer glasses and black jumpers a mile off), and were shoe-horned into an overheated auditorium. The lights dimmed. Mr Drury got up to speak.

Now, I might be a bit out of touch with what happens at design events, being only a suburban nonentity, but I'd kind of assumed that the designer would talk a bit about the film, give us a bit of context about its importance, talk about his use of fonts and illustrate it all with a few pictures. Maybe 15-20 minutes, tops. What I hadn't bargained on was an hour-long trawl through a selection of photos of "things that mean something to me" (including endless record sleeves wot I have designed) with commentary in a monotone.

Reader, I took the only way out. I fell asleep.

Which put me in a rather bad mood for the film once I woke up and realised that I could have done this at home for rather less than £7.50 in rather greater comfort.

The film's not bad. It's got really good bits (Eric Spiekermann), it's got fairly dull bits, and it's about half an hour too long (although, that could be due to the fact that when you've already been sat there for an hour, bored witless, your capacity for boredom plummets).

I think it may be time to go back to the Hollywood blockbuster - Ratatouille, anyone?

11 October 2007


Spicy banana and sultana loaf, to be precise. Slightly adapted from a recipe in the Somerfield Magazine (not hip, I grant you. But free. And therefore far better than your Olive, Delicious et al. £3.20? Pah.).

08 October 2007

Things wot I did this evening

1. Made (and ate) stew and dumplings (considering the dumplings received an impromptu bath in a bowlful of water when I turned my back on my two-year-old to get a pan out of the oven, they were surprisingly good).

2. Washed up.

3. Hung up the almost-dry washing and put another load on.

4. Made bread (ok, I just stuck the ingredients in the bread machine, but it sounds good).

5. Arranged professional indemnity insurance.

Spot the interloper?

I've decided working freelance from home is much like being a student - you drink far too much coffee, and there's always something work-related niggling away in the back of your mind that needs to be done. It's quite hard switching off - there's always the tendency in an evening to go and do a bit of work.

There are some advantages, however - proper coffee and cake on tap being two of them!

06 October 2007

This new-fangled stuff is marvellous, you know.

I have moved into a new age of technology.

Videos? Pah.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:



(preferably hyphenated).

It's marvellous, I tell you. Yes, I know it's probably about three years after the rest of the population discovered this fact, and yes, I wouldn't have tried it at all if I wasn't so supremely incompetent with a video that I'd failed to record two episodes of Studio 60. But hey, I have finally arrived in 2007.

I have now decided that watching a tv programme on your laptop in bed while eating dark chocolate is the height of decadence.

05 October 2007

Arts Corner: moody and magnificent

Lost in Translation is one of my favourite films (probably because I'm a sucker for urban architecture, moody skylines and atmospheric soundtracks that don't walk all over the dialogue). I saw it again yesterday as part of the Tyneside Cinema's Tyneside on the Toon series, in the bowels of a hotel on Grey Street.

It sounds like a bit of an odd location - there were no views of distant skyscrapers, no artful neon signs and (thankfully) no inane American movie actresses or terrible lounge singers. But it kind of worked - helped by the free sushi (yay!), Asahi beer, a room decorated with bonsai trees and woodcuts, and ushers in white dressing gowns (odd, but good). Much better than sitting at home on the sofa surrounded by the distraction triple whammy of swirly carpet, washing up and the cat being sick on top of the telly.

I'd forgotten how lovely Scarlett Johannson looks in the film. Finally, someone who isn't a stick insect gets some screen time, and uses it to best effect. She also somehow manages to look cosy throughout, despite spending quite a lot of time in her pants - so I definitely want her wardrobe and her source of central heating. I darkly suspect her cardies to be cashmere, and not available down the local charity shop.

02 October 2007

It's nearly Christmas, you know

so it's time to start saving up for the ultimate in Christmas decorations...Fortnum and Mason's The Paragon Crackers.

Guaranteed to make your guests wince, if only at the stupidity of paying £1,000 for six glorified loo rolls. You do get "sumptuous hand-quilted fabric with real pearl detail" and some rather fantastic "python-print chocolate-coloured keep sake boxes". Sadly, no mention of party hats or jokes.

Update: look, even her maj goes for the budget option.

01 October 2007

Arts Corner: a real dead ringer for love

I got sidetracked tonight while attempting to catch up with email (oh, the delights of dealing with spam after a week away) by a great Arena programme on Dead Ringers. Once you get past the arty, somewhat pretentious Arena programme style (Modern Times did it so much better), there's often an interesting documentary in there, waiting to get out.

I'd forgotten how much I loved Dead Ringers on radio, before it all went pear-shaped on the telly. Like a lot of other things (The Mary Whitehouse Experience springs to mind) it benefited from a medium where you could really concentrate on the writing, rather than the peripherals. Sadly, the documentary focused too much on the impressionists for me (a weird bunch, as I suppose you might be if you spend most of your time immersing yourself in someone else's life) and not enough on the writers, who were the ones who came up with the funny material in the first place.

In other news: the first three minutes of the new Eddie Izzard series, The Riches, look good...