Friday, 6 November 2009

Fireworks Strike!

It used to be Bonfire Night, now it seems it's more like Fireworks Week. A steady splattering of noise explosions, randomly fired in all directions by kids barely old enough to hold them. This year there were two gangs of shooters on both sides, so rather than hide on the boat, sitting targets, we went out to stroll the hood and see what was cooking.

Across the way it looked like there was a proper display going on in the park up the hill, so we trundled off up there only to find a few kids running around with lit rockets in their bare hands, so we abandoned that idea and headed back towards Kings Cross. On the other side of the bridge there seemed to be a relatively organised session of shooters and a handful of people watching along the bridge. Cars seem to have the biggest fright, driving along, not knowing where the next bang will come from, I'm amazed they don't swerve across the road.

We ended up in Kings Cross Place and bumped into one of Jam's friends and chatted about various things from the Eskimo throat music concert he was about to see to cycling across to Portugal for the Boom psychedelic music festival.

Such a relaxed place to hang out, we almost forgot it was Fireworks Week but finding remnants of burnt out rockets in our letterbox on our return home duly bought it all back down to earth. Glad to have survived day one of Fireworks Week relatively unscathed, we huddled down for a cracking good night's sleep.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Dressing Up

Last year Jam and I dressed up as a 'What is it' for Halloween. We were originally a bug of sorts. We'd cut two head-sized holes into a double duvet, dyed it black, although we didn't have quite enough dye and so it didn't take properly and came out a dirty grey, stitched straggly bits of black wool randomly onto it, attached some shiny black material to the lower half of it to represent our stomach, painted our faces blue for the eyes, had one arm hole each and wore black stripy tights – it was a frightful concoction and people were completely baffled and amused by it as we walked down the street and got on the tube.

'What is it?' we heard, a few too many times, and when someone plucked up the courage to ask us, we said in strange bug-like voices, 'We're a What-is-it!'

We were joined together, all night, at an all night party in our friends ubercool factory space, that they had done up with a web of string and ghoulish things hanging from it. They all nearly died of laughter when we turned up, which was the desired effect, sort of, well, we'd come to expect that after the tube journey and we had a fantastic night, although we had to get away from each other towards the end of the night, which entailed me running away to the graveyard crying, drunk, upset by something Jam had inadvertently said, meeting a stranger there who consoled me and told me I should go back and that everything would be all right and my partner would probably be worried and looking for me, which surely isn't meant to happen in a graveyard in the middle of the night when a man meets a distressed girl, half dressed, or rather half not dressed up, but it did happen like that and I went back, much to the relief of Jam and everyone else.

So this year, we thought we'd try something a bit more separable, but still on the together theme, seeing as though we'd been married since the last year's party. I wanted to go as a fly caught in a spider's web, with Jam being the spider. He thought we should go as 'Zomberina's' and borrow a friends all-in-one shiny suit and make skates out of foam to hang on our shoulders. Not a bad idea, although, borrowing the shiny Lycra suit on second thoughts would probably not have been so tasty! We had quite a lazy day on the Saturday and didn't manage to find any suitable dancer outfits, so we opted for the spider and fly outfit instead.

A fellow boater from the next mooring along had come down our way to paint his boat red, we know the chap quite well and offered him and his friends soup and cheesecake after he'd finished. He moored up alongside our boat and we all sat and ate soup and cheesecake as dusk began to fall. We told them of our outfit dilemmas and ran through our final choice, Jules said it was all about the eyes and we needed to make big bug eyes. Time was also of the essence and I pulled out a pair of green glasses which he then proceeded to draw gold honeycomb patterns on to create the bug eyes.

It worked a treat. I dressed all in green, wrapped myself in grey wool, with a knitted-on-large-needles wool band around the head, hair in two buns with twigs of rosemary sticking out of them and attached myself to a large spider's web, which I had crocheted onto a hula hoop, attaching a mummified skeleton and bat!

Jam wore all black, tucking a pillow down his pants at the back to make an abdomen, cutting legs out of foam and stuffing them into various pairs of my black tights, making a hole in one end of a leg to attach a ball of the wool which was attached to me as well – there's the togetherness part – a lot more practical – we could escape from each other when needed!

Even more hilarity on the tube ensued, this time people saying 'oh you're a dream-catcher', then spying the spider and saying 'ahhh I get it now!'

We went to two parties that night, the first, a birthday party in Richmond and the other, the same factory in Bow as last year, opposite sides of the district line, so a long time was spent on the tube, in which lots of people came and spoke with us, admired our costumes and even asked for photos! I wonder how we will top that idea next year?

Friday, 30 October 2009

Sense of Humour

My sister Oli called from Australia in the early hours – by accident, but it woke us from weird dreams – mine about piling shoes into a bath with spider-snails attacking my feet and Jam's about snakes turning inside out, shedding their skins and he was loving it. After that we couldn't really get back to sleep, for some reason the bed seemed to small.

So I slid out and down to the other end of the boat and got forty winks of peace there, woken by my lover making the fire, he tried to romantically carry me back to the sleeping quarters but we got squashed in the galley. I ended up in a pile of blanket and giggles on the floor.

Eventually making it to bed, Jam said he was going to make some waffles and would I like some tea? 'Yes', I said 'and I'd love my notebook and a pen please'.
'I'd love a sense of humour and a large bank account' said Jam and at that point one of the mallards gave it's deadpan laughing call. What synchronicity these birds have in our lives – surely they were listening in?

Birdsong is such a wonderful sound. Lying here guessing the different birds – mallards, coots, a seagull! And the electronic hoot of Ma'am. Clockwork as ever she's here now for her breakfast. Wouldn't it be lovely if she could sit down in the Whispering Garden with us and have a proper breakfast. Sporting a little red neckerchief, polite conversation – ooh did you see Tarporley last night, giving spooky Halloween tours through the tunnel, those kids couldn't get enough of it could they, howling and hooting, echoes through to the Angel.

- Yes and we pretended to be ghostly witchy figures on the mooring, demanding little children for our supper. What fun!

- Delicious eggs Benedict Flora, enthuses Ma'am, could you pass the salt please? So peaceful up here in the Whispering Garden, none of the riff-raff down there can see you, it feels positively sacred here, especially on this church pew, juxtaposed with the bar table and Jam's home-made Kissing Chair, anything could happen.

- Yes it is wonderful just being one step outside into nature, in the middle of London. We're enjoying making our part of the world special.

- And that it is my dear, well I'd best get back to the waterways, thank you so much for your delightful company and a delicious breakfast, you certainly know how to treat a bird well!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Morning Ma'am!

My darling husband leaves at the crack of dawn for work these days, so I tend to wake as well – hard not to on a narrow boat! This morning I was particularly exhausted having been to an immense Clothes Swapping Party we've been partaking in amongst friends for some years now, so I hit the snooze button hoping to re-enter fantasy world but was rudely interrupted by knocking on the side of the boat from our most elegant bird in residence, the swan 'Ma'am'.

She feeds from our hand and comes by every day without fail to have a chat and a nibble, usually in the morning on her start of the bread crawl along our patch of the canal up towards Camden. There's often a gaggle of geese in tow a few minutes behind but quite frankly they're not as polite and so don't get as much attention from me.

Ma'am just seems to know how to behave around humans. She gracefully sits and listens to your woes and patiently waits for the bread to be offered up. She's so gentle you want to stroke her and wash off the muddy brown stains around her neck – funnily enough I haven't tried that yet! When she ruffles up her wings and feathers it's always such a magnificent breath-taking sight.

It's so sad that she's alone. She started visiting us about two years ago and last year had a partner with her. I believe they made a nest further down the canal and laid some eggs, one of the eccentric locals who pushes her trolley along feeding the pigeons out of her numerous bags of bread crumbs told me some kids had been throwing stones and rubbish at them whilst they were nesting and a blue plastic bag had got stuck around one of the swans neck. I wasn't able to find said swan, or the nest, when I went for a walk to investigate but not long after when the swans came to visit, one of them looked like their neck was considerably more oily and dirty than usual and he couldn't lift his head to take the bread properly, we reported to the wildlife helpline, but the next time they visited it was just Ma'am on her own again, looking very sad – if a swan can look sad or maybe I just felt her vibe.

Poor Ma'am. All alone again, just the geese, coots and pigeons to play with and only me to chat to in the mornings...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Someone please smile at her

It's windy. I'm sitting on my neighbour's boat because the internet is down on my boat. The windows are open as my husband cuts tiles and fixes the shower unit; that tile cutting machine smells.
There's a woman walking along the other side of the mooring talking to herself, although I suspect there is someone giving it what for on the end of the wire stuck in her ear for there are loud comments followed by quiet patches. It's a very bizarre conversation and strangely enough not a particularly interesting one, they never usually are. Sometimes though there's shouting and swearing and the odd punch which can be really exciting. This woman has been rabbiting on for hours. It's boring, and loud. Can't she just turn the phone off and walk along the canal and take in the nature and beauty that's all around her and let it slowly breathe away the anger inside her? That would be so much better for all of us. Too easy though to shout and stamp along, oblivious to other people's thoughts and moments.
Can't someone just smile at her? I know they're contagious! :)