Sunday, 25 November 2007

While you wait...

Feast your eyes on this beautiful beast:

Modest, moi? Which question did I answer wrongly, I wonder.

I haven't read the book and won't see the film until it's shown on TV in a few years' time. This is no product placement. I just love the look of the website. (Thanks, Dove Grey Reader, for posting about it.)

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Tête à claques XV

When I moved to London, in 1979, I took over a friend’s flat in Lonsdale Road (one of those cute little streets in the heart of Notting Hill Gate that look like tranches napolitaines, with each house painted a different pastel shade). She was starting a new job with the RSC, in Stratford-upon-Avon, and my coming over suited everyone: she was glad to have someone to look after her cat and her belongings until she could move them to Stratford permanently; her landlord was glad to have a ready-made tenant; and I was glad not to have to live in a depressing bedsit, like on my first attempt at settling in London a few years earlier. The flat was minuscule, but very sunny and convenient (I worked in a publishing house just off Oxford Street, a short bus ride away). I was happy there for a while.

Flash forward to early spring 1983: I had just had a dreadful year battling with noisy upstairs neighbours: a loud Belgian girl and her Middle-Eastern boyfriend who used to play the drums on the floor on their flat, i.e. directly on my head. It had started one Friday evening and had never stopped. The guy had refused all entreaties to be quiet. Finally, because I was a good, reliable tenant, the landlord had agreed to terminate their tenancy and my torturers had moved out.

I had a few weeks of blissful peace, then, one Saturday morning, I was woken up by deafening choral music accompanied by something thunderous that I didn’t recognize. I jumped out of bed and went upstairs. The door was wide open: the carpet had been removed and a young man was sanding the floorboards. When I called out to attract his attention, he looked up and I realized it wasn’t a young man but a young woman. I explained about loud noise, about people like me working full-time in offices and needing their rest on Saturday mornings, about the flats being tiny and very ‘sonorous’, etc. etc. She looked at me with cold unblinking eyes and went back to her sanding machine.

It went on like that for several weeks: she would turn up in the evenings and at weekends to sand and hammer and drill and play music as loud as in a cathedral. At first I couldn’t understand how it was that she could be redoing the entire flat. I wasn't allowed to so much as stick pins in the walls to put posters up. However, when I wrote to the landlord, an old military man who lived in Dorset and had several properties in the area, he told me she was the daughter of friends of his and all became clear.

Her name was Sophie Hicks. At the time she was a fashion editor at Vogue: when she came back from shoots, she used to clutter the narrow lobby of the house with enormous black suitcases bearing labels from all over the world; she drove around in a Jeep, which looked incongruous in that tiny street; she had short back and sides and wore men’s brogues; she stomped around like a spoilt brat.

The previous year I had been toying with the idea of buying a flat, but had shelved it when the loutish couple had gone; after I understood from my landlord that I would never get rid of her, and after he refused to have my water heater repaired (it leaked gas and I could have died because of it), I knew I would have to leave. Which I did, the following year.

Much later I learned she had tried to replace the old bath in her flat with a new, larger one, and the floor had collapsed under the weight. Did I laugh? What do you think?

In the meantime, she left Vogue, trained as an architect and now designs for the super-rich. She’s had three children, but she still looks like an arrogant man who could make someone’s life a misery. I came across an article about her yesterday on the Net and since there is no statute of limitations for slapping I thought I would do it today – 24 years later.


Friday, 2 November 2007

I need a good laugh

I thought I’d wake up to an entertaining list of hanging participles, but none yet. No lovely sentences where the person speaking is hidden in their own breast pocket or men are wearing high heels (see post below) so I had to go elsewhere for a restorative chuckle.

I found it in the Jewish Chronicle online, in an article by the late Alan Coren. Here is an excerpt from it (if you want to read the rest go to Licensed to amuse)

FOLLOWING reports that the threatened dismemberment of the Church of England over the issue of homosexual prelates is apparently persuading hordes of disaffected Anglicans to up sticks and defect to Roman Catholicism, thousands of you have, not surprisingly, written to ask me for my expert guidance in this perplexing matter. [...]

Judaism, for example, has considerable appeal. The soup is good, and you can keep your hat on indoors, thereby making a considerable saving on fuel costs. Also, since you will not be allowed to drive on Saturdays, your car will last about 14 per cent longer than gentile ones. Furthermore, books are read back to front, which means that you do not have to plough through the whole of the new Jeffrey Archer to find out what happens.

Islam, however, may suit you even better, in that if you don’t want to read the new Jeffrey Archer, you can not only publicly burn it, you can apply to have him shot. The main drawback with Islam is that you will have to take your shoes off upon entering the mosque. If it is a big mosque, it may take you all day to find them again.

Buddhism is terrific if you are bald. Nobody will ever know. You can also spend all day walking up and down Oxford Street without ever having to buy anything, and with no socks to wash when you get home. Moreover, the principle of reincarnation is immensely attractive: you could come back as Bill Gates or George Clooney. Then again, you could come back as Jeffrey Archer. [...]


Hanging participles

Hate hate hate them. They are foul... and sometimes hilarious.

Any good ones you’d like to share?

Slap! (No, not you, hanging participles.)

Update (4.11.07): For those of you who aren't quite sure what a hanging participle is, here's a nice one:
Even in her high heels, he was taller than she was.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Déjà vu

I’ve been writing for so long now and my life is so bo-, er, predictable, that I could just recycle old posts all the time. Since I’m still very busy and somewhat lacking in energy this week (mostly because the life force has been sucked out of me by another large organisation and Leonard Cohen wasn't there any longer to revive me) that’s mostly what I’ll do today.

If you haven’t read it already, look at this post Puzzle of the Day and make the following amendments to it:

1) Replace ‘two hours’ by three
2) Add four phone calls (to sort out the mess the Box Office made of my booking)

Oh, OK, if you insist, I’ll elaborate a bit.

This time the performance schedule was less than 1% of the surface of a huge, double-sided sheet full of blah blah about how wonderful the plays will be (yeah, right, that’s if anyone is actually able to book for them).

Next spring, the RSC are doing Shakespeare’s Histories so the plays are called Richard II, Henry IV Part 1 and 2, Henry V, and Henry VI Part 1, 2 and 3, Richard III. In that tiny strip of a schedule, the titles of the plays are printed in a very narrow (well, there’s no space, is there?), very thick, very black typeface and, to make matters worse, everything is in Roman numerals – Henry IV Part I, Henry IV Part II, Henry VI Part I, Henry VI Part II... you get the message. You need a magnifying glass to distinguish them from one another. I was told earlier today that Roman numerals were used because they look ‘posher’ (yes, that person works there; no, I won’t tell you who it is; you can torture me if you like: I have to protect my sources).

There were other things that were confusing in that booking form, but I will spare you. I wouldn't want you to be as stressed by it as I was.

Now I have to send back the wrong tickets. I was given a Freepost address to send them to, ‘... so you won’t have to pay for postage.’ Wow, thanks! Did the person (I can give you the name of that one if you like) think I should be grateful for that, after all that wasted time?

Cliffhanger: will I ever get the correct tickets? Stay tuned.

Slapping the RSC! Again!

Update (13/11/07): Tickets for the correct date did turn up eventually. I will be going to the theatre every week for two months next year: I used to go three times a week all year round when I was younger, but I might not be up to it these days. We'll see.