Monthly Archives: January 2008

Hoover bag news



Within 12 hours of posting my complaint about the dearth of Hoover bags in Wandsworth, I’d had an email from a choreographer, and another from a systems analyst in Australia. The first just said ‘…John Lewis’, the second was a sympathetic tale of similar suction-woe down under.

I grudgingly considered the journey to John Lewis, but then I remembered a vacuum cleaner repair shop in Webb’s Road that seems to have been deposited by aliens from a kinder, more customer-friendly decade. And it’s more or less on the way to work. And it was open at 9.00am. And sure enough, the words ‘Telios 1700’ were hardly off my tongue before the man behind the counter produced the goods.

If only the man who invented USB ports could have advised the vacuum cleaner industry, the world would be a happier place. If you’ll forgive the truism, vacuum cleaners suck.

24 kilos excess baggage


 merton_small.jpgAs I stepped on the scales this morning, I was delighted to notice that I have at long last managed to attain my comedy target of losing my British Airways baggage allowance (23kg) in fat. Plus an extra kilogram for luck. I shall see if I can get a refund next time I fly. After all, that’s the weight of a small child or 7 or 8 very large chickens that they don’t have to worry about any more.

I pondered that thought, for some reason, as I crossed the bridge over the Wandle by Merton Savacentre (see left). Anyone from Belgrade must be curious to know how their own Sava Centar, one of the largest cultural & conference centres in Europe, and named after the river that runs for nearly 600 miles through four countries, could be related to a supermarket in Merton built on the Wandle, a 9 mile-long stream that runs from Croydon to Wandsworth.

The ???? ?????? as I’m determined to call it now, was the last stop on a fruitless search to find Hoover bags for my parents’ vacuum cleaner. The Comet where it came from has gone; Argos don’t have them, Curry’s don’t have them, Smith Brothers don’t have them, and the ???? ?????? like most other places, only stocks bags for the models they sell. It’s no wonder people take drugs – they’re so much easier to get hold of than Hoover bags.

Ballet queen



What seems like an age ago, but can only have been a couple of months or so, Chris and I were having tea at Morden Park Hall, and ambled into the garden centre. Our eyes fell on a camellia called Ballet Queen, and we felt duty bound to buy one each.

It’s a glorious day, and right on cue for a photograph, it seems, Ballet Queen has made her long-awaited blossomy entrance. Tooting & Canary Wharf microclimates notwithstanding, it seems that both Ballet Queens have emerged on the same day: Chris’s blog is on exactly the same subject!

The magic Wandle



The trouble with the London Cycle Network is that you follow a route so far, then find that they ran out of blue signs, so you just have to guess where to go next. Getting back from Wimbledon today, I thought I’d try the LCN route, and then suddenly, all the signs stopped, and I only had half a clue where I was. I turned down a side street, found a park that appeared to have no exit, until I saw a tiny footbridge with no signs on it for anywhere.

And there, all of a sudden, was the River Wandle, something I was beginning to doubt existed, since I’ve never seen it except in tiny bits where it comes out of hiding, like outside the Savacentre in Colliers Wood. (Colliers Wood, it struck me suddenly, would sound much more romantic in Croatian: Rudarska Dubrava, or German: Bergmannshain)

Click on the pics above for a glimpse of hidden London, somewhere between Tennyson Road & Plough Lane.

Silent Dancers


dan_saki.jpgTo South Ken for the second time in one afternoon, this time to meet Dan & Kei for sushi, ramen & teriyaki at Saki in Old Brompton Road, which I only discovered last week with Susie Cooper, who should have been there really, as the four of us have done some happy theatre trips together. 

Dan recently made a beautiful short film about dance, and I’m thrilled that he’s uploaded it to Youtube. He’s got an extraordinary ability to get people to just talk about stuff and be themselves on camera, and this is a prime example. The film’s called Silent Dancers (click to see it), which is quite funny if you know him, since Dan is the least silent dancer I’ve ever met, but then I guess the film’s not about him.

I meant to take the picture in flagrante, while all the wonderful sushi and other stuff was so much in evidence that the photo would have just screamed ‘this is me and my mates in a Japanese restaurant’, but unfortunately I forgot, so all I can offer is this rather beguiling photo of Dan with what looks like a miniature teapot. Behind him, if you could but see it, is a pictorial glossary of all the different types of sushi.

And by the way, today is definitely a day for listening to Madeleine Peyroux, which is what I’m doing now.

London Bridges


edith_thoughts.jpgThere’s something about going over bridges that stirs profound thoughts that don’t have time to form clearly,  or rise completely to the surface before the bridge-crossing is over, and that, I think, is why the experience is so potent. 

But sometimes, you cross a bridge to go somewhere, and the somewhere leaves such an impression that you can never cross that bridge without that thought crossing your mind. (Interesting that thoughts should cross your mind.)

And in time, you accumulate many such thoughts, until a view like this from Battersea Bridge acquires, as postmodernists like to say (without meaning this at all), an excess of meaning. So that’s what a liminal space is.

Or in other words, thanks  for the coffee, I., it was great to see you again.



Up the Opera House (twice in one week, my goodness) to see Sylvia. I bought the ticket off a student who couldn’t go, so I had a £59 seat right behind the conductor in the front row of the stalls for £20. Delibes is one of my favourite composers, and I love what I know of Sylvia, so it was a great way to spend an evening. What I didn’t know about the ballet was that it had two big solos for the alto saxophone. Amazing what you learn.

It’s an odd world Ashton & his costume designer have created – the girls have not an inch of flesh showing, all betighted and swathed in wafty skirts like maidens at a victorian picnic, while the boys are pretty much naked apart from mini-skirts and strange cutaway socks. There’s enough leaping and turning to leave nothing to the imagination. I’m not complaining, but I’ve seen less homoerotic floor shows at The Fridge. In fact, it was a cross between Julian Clary’s campest Sticky Moments, and the kind of vaudeville campery that you get on the Graham Norton show. I half expected to see punters stick ten-pound notes in the boys’ shorts when they were far enough downstage. I shouldn’t be unfair – it’s ballets like Sylvia that provide the model for that kind of stuff, not the other way round, I guess. Or is it?

I hadn’t a clue what was going on or who anyone was, because I forgot to get a programme, but It was all just too silly and gay to matter, frankly. I loved it.

Places that are still there, No.1: Scoffers


scoffers.jpgIt probably wasn’t called Scoffers at the time, but it looks exactly as I remember it. I stumbled across it again recently, almost 20 years after first going there. It was one of those places that you wander into without really knowing where you are because you’re walking & talking and  geography is the last thing on your mind.  I thought I’d never find it again, and that even if I did, it wouldn’t be there. So here it is, and for you too (you know who you are). And just in case I lose it again, it’s at 6, Battersea Rise.

Clapham Junction revisited


Some passer by thought I was mad – ‘You taking pictures of the tracks?’, but as I was hurrying down to Battersea this afternoon to deliver a CD, I caught sight of the view that used to symbolise London for me as a child. The journey from Bournemouth seemed interminable, and you thought you’d never get there. But then you’d begin to see the familiar signs and landmarks that meant you were that close to Waterloo at last. And this one was probably chief among them. Little did I know I’d end up living near there, and cycling past every day.

Sundays like this


To the ROH studios today to play for the Ballet Black class as a result of a late night last-minute phone call from BB director Cassa Pancho who was one of my students back in the day, though I think I probably learned more valuable stuff from her than she did from me, especially about the Language of Hair in women – what changing your hair during the day really means, how much Hair Product is too much, and the peculiar importance of sparkly things & Bacardi Breezers.

As I was on my bike, it took five minutes to get to Regent Street (where the Salvation Army band were marching and playing wonderfully – see left) and the Apple Store to buy an Eyetv for my lovely Macbook. It works like a dream. Sailing down Regent Street, Haymarket, Trafalgar Square, Parliament, and along the embankment past the Tate, I thought, as I do nearly every day, that having a bike in London is the best and only way to travel. You relive the excitement of seeing London for the first time, every time, quite apart from being able to get everywhere quickly and easily.