I had been meaning to look up this clip for ages, and then it came on some countdown thing that I was watching today while despondently clicking through Guardian Jobs. I couldn't figure out if I liked it, which is usually a good indication that I'm going to love it.
Déjeuner du matin-Breakfast-Jacques Prévert Il
a mis le café
He poured the coffee Dans la tasse Into the cup Il
a mis le lait
He poured the milk Dans
la tasse de café
Into the cup of coffee Il
a mis le sucre
He put the sugar Dans
le café au lait
Into the milky coffee Avec
la petite cuiller
With the little spoon Il
He stirred it Il
a bu le café au lait
He drank the milky coffee Et
il a reposé la tasse
He put down the cup Sans
Without a word to me Il a allumé He lit Une cigarette A cigarette Il a fait des ronds He made rings Avec la fumée With the smoke Il a mis les cendres He put the ash Dans le cendrier Into the ashtray Sans me parler Without a word Sans
Without looking at me Il s'est levé He got up Il a mis He put Son chapeau sur sa tête His hat on his head Il a mis He put Son manteau de pluie His raincoat on Parce
Because it was raining Et il est parti And he left Sous la pluie Into the rain Sans une parole Without a word Sans
Without looking at me Et moi j'ai pris And I put Ma tête dans ma main My head into my hands
I had coffee with a darling friend today, and it has helped so much to shake me out of my unemployed apathy. Well, the apathy anyway, not so much the unemployment. We met at Flat White, in Soho. Flat White is like the original (or so I've heard) Australian/NZ cafe that actually created the Aus/NZ coffee reputation. It didn't disappoint, and it was a relief to actually have a flat white that wasn't an Americano with a splash of milk. (I DON'T LITERALLY MEAN A COFFEE THAT IS FLAT AND WHITE YOU DOLTS).
It felt like this:
Like our troubles were there with us, these big white fluffy clouds. And we couldn't see the silver linings in being unemployed in London (there isn't really one, aside from being able to meet during the day I guess). But sitting there chatting together meant our little cloud troubles were floating in the hot chocolate of friendship (OH MY GOD IT'S LIKE POETRY.)
It was just such a damn relief to chat to someone who is in exactly the same position as I am. There was no helpful advice. There was no flippant 'you'll find something soon'. There was no abstract mutterings about recessions and depressions. So we commiserated each other on the shittiness that is job seeking in London, and then spent more time plotting to start a book club. Take that, employment.
I think it might be time to wear my purple leopard print Roberto Cavalli jeans more often. I always think they are too OTT, but if I keep it simple (you know, with my new plain grey tshirt!), could work, no?
Like Anne Shirley, my nose is my comfort. It's little and straight, with a wee silver stud in it. I must have a short upper lip because if you ever watch my nose when I'm talking (in profile of course) it bobs along in agreement with my ems and bees. I have a thing for noses in others, and have received a few strange looks on my spontaneous appreciation of a fine nose.
I also have a thing for teeth. I always wanted braces but never got them. I thought I needed to break my leg and have crutches, get braces, and have a locker with a combination (may have read too many Sweet Valley High books as a kid) to be a legitimate teenager. I never had any of these things, and I'm much less sorry now. Who in their right mind wants to break their leg? Braces sound really painful and expensive. Alright fine, I still want the locker.
But anwyay I've been genetically blessed with white straight teeth.
I was blessed with white, straight, whole teeth for most of my life. A few years ago I was at a club in Sydney with my older sister and three rather hunky Swedish boys we were squiring abound town. At this particular little club they only served beer in bottles, and some miniature person standing in front of me threw her head back at something that must have been SO INCREDIBLY FUNNY with enough force to knock the beer bottle in my hand right into my teeth, chipping the bottom right corner of my front left tooth.
In one attempted sip of a beer bottle I had gone from a smiling, alcoholically-fuelled confident Lady to someone who spoke for the rest of the night with her hand over her mouth. Until I could get to a dentist I felt like I'd lost my entire education along with that bit of tooth enamel, simultaneously shfting suburbs to the west (a definite Sydney reference).
A few days later I was in a car accident (unrelated? perhaps not), and I remember babbling to the policeman (must have been in shock, but probably not) for him not to look at my chipped tooth and that I actually went to a really good school and I was a nice person.
All this over a chip that was in all seriousness about 1 mm x 2 mm.
HOW JUDGEMENTAL AM I??
Anyway, the dentist charged me a mozza to fill it in, and it was good as new, though I've not since been able to eat apples with any sort of Snow White-esque sang-froid.
And then it fell out the other day.
Not the whole tooth (WOULD I BE SITTING HERE CALMLY IF SUCH A MONSTROUS EVENT HAD TAKEN PLACE?), just the cap.
I was out at one of my favourite pubs, Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, drinking and laughing with my mouth wide open, and not a care in the world. The next thing I knew I was reapplying my killer red lipstick in the bathrooms, and instead of the cartoon dazzle I was used to seeing in the reflection, a dark hole had bloomed in that teeny bottom right corner of my front left tooth. My gaping enormous miniature chip! Disaster!
Between talking with my mouth shut, smiling with my eyes, and making explanations of my tooth before anyone I met could possibly have noticed it, unless they had x-ray vision, it was an awful few days. Happens that I had an enormous wedding extravaganza up in Cornwall that weekend and I wouldn't be able to get to the dentist for at least a week.
And you know what?
No one noticed. No one. Until I pointed it out, which of course I did, like a maniac, to anyone that even looked like they were approaching a conversation with me. And then they basically had to shove their eyes into my mouth to see it (trust me, I was chewing mints all the time. With my back molars).
While I felt like my entire face was now a farce - and heaven help me and find me a brown paper bag quickly if ever I break my nose - people were quite capable of holding entire conversations with me, chipped tooth and all. Quelle surprise! If I hadn't pointed it out, no one would have noticed. It's like when someone has a massive zit on their face, and the first thing they say when they see you is 'Oh my God, don't look at the massive zit on my face.' Well of course the first thing you do is look at the zit. And whether it's enormous or teeny, doesn't matter. The only person that actually cares about it is you.
It's fixed again now. Thank goodness. This cap doesn't feel quite as smooth as the other one, but I do feel less like a vampire whenever I gnaw at my lower lip (bad habit).
NB: I wrote this post a while ago. AND JUST THIS SECOND MY EFFING CAP FELL OFF. So now I am going to post this so that I can learn to practice what I preached. And I'm going to a party tonight and gahhhhhh jidasj;fgiasldjfieasjfsjdfaloeifjd dn I'm angry. Stupid bloody dentist stupid face stupid tooth. Not smiling anymore.
I know that Zara has just opened in Sydney, and I'm quite glad I'm nowhere near it. It sounds like the queues are awful, the collections limited, and you can spot Zara shoppers a mile away. Not that spotting a Zara-ite a mile away is necessarily a bad thing. There's a girl at work who seems to shop solely at Zara. And I know this because I want her bag and her coat.
And then I saw their new lookbook. Wowsers. I think they've broken away from their own Zara-ness, and it's amazing.
I love the patterns most of all I think. The genius of that dark chambray/denim shirt teemed with a workday skirt and severe jacket. The buttoned up collars, the scalloped shirts. The deep red scruffy Chanel-esque jacket. Draped dresses in storm colours. Gorgeous. Working in an office I sometimes really struggle to force my rather eclectic wardrobe into office mode. I'm incapable of buying anything practical (I bought my first plain grey tshirt the other day. It was epic), and I love the amounts of personality in this collection, as it blurs the boundaries between self-expression and appropriate occasion.
'I can't live without my computer. My laptop is my life.'
'My camera is my baby. I don't go anywhere without it.'
Sound familiar? I'm sure we've all uttered at least one of these phrases throughout our lives. We are the technology generation after all.
I know I've said all three of these things, repeatedly.
I was given my first mobile phone by my best friends when I turned 17, bless them. I can still remember the sturdiness of that old Nokia 3315 (damn those things were indestructible). Before that was the dark ages, when we all used to race to the home phone, hopinghopinghoping it would someone calling for you. I grew up with dial up internet and MSN Messenger, holding my breath as I waited for the dial up to connect, sign me in and log me on, hours disappearing into inane chats. When the price of film mattered more than the camera, each picture precious and considered, and worthy of the week's wait for them to develop.
Gradually we all grew up, updating to smart phones and data allowances, free wifi, laptop bags, and rainbow wheels of death; digital cameras that snapped and clicked rather than whirred and wound, a thousand photos for a single image.
We are now the ones who are constantly plugged in. Always on line. Totally in tune to our ring tone, our vibrations, our blinking LED lights. We can talk and text at the same time, hold 17 conversations at once on fb chat. We have left MySpace for dust, and haven't quite gotten the point of Google+, though we all have a profile there. We do our homework with a million tabs open on our browser, reading fashion blogs, the paper, tweeting, and stalking, while making playlists in our itunes and plugging our mate's latest filmclip on youtube. We do this all at once.
Our parents don't understand. Mine have instituted a no-phones-at-dinner policy, and if you answer your phone, be it text or call, while at the dinner table, you are instantly on washing up duty. I have learned to recognise the glazed over look of concentration when someone is nimbly texting under the table, and forbear to ask them to pass the salt.
We are bound with cables and all the paraphernalia that comes with our gadgets. Chargers are shared around, easily lost and as easily replaced.
We share our lives online. We back ourselves up. For every photo that is published to facebook and flickr there are several that don't make the cut but loiter on our hard drives nonetheless. We are hoarders of memories, taking hundreds of photos in a single night out. I had over 14,000 photos on my laptop, gathered over just three years.
When I finally saved up to buy a DSLR I was in heaven. It was big, damnit, but it was good. It was worth the weight to carry around, worth ruining a million handbags trying to shove it in there. It was my baby, and if I couldn't fit it in its case, I'd wrap it up in a beanie or scarves, just so I could take it out.
I don't have my iphone anymore. I don't have my laptop, or my hard drive. I don't have my camera.
They were stolen from our car, on my amazing incredible two month jaunt around Europe. I still remember that gagging hot panic, realising that our car had been broken into. At first I just thought it was my laptop. Then I realised I couldn't see my camera. Or my handbag. It was gone. All of it.
Even now, I cannot bear to think of it. It is raw, like a wound that won't heal. And I endlessly go over in my head how it could have been different, how I could have not had them all stolen. But it's no use. They're gone.
I tell myself that no one died. That no one is hurt. And that if this is the worst thing to happen to me, then I am so lucky. That it's just stuff.
And I know it is so ridiculous, so #firstworldproblems to continue to cry over stupid electronic things that are gone. But it's not only the things themselves, it's how much of myself those things contained. I have lost all my photos. All 14,000 of them. All my photos of my trips to Prague and Paris, my London adventures. All the photos of my families and friends. All the photos that I shared only with one other person - the stupid, silly, adorable photos that you take when you're in love.
I have lost all my writing. All my uni assignments. Everything that constituted my portfolio. I have lost my links and my favourite sites. I have lost folder upon folder of inspirational images and content. I have lost memos and phone numbers and reminders. I lost a journal that was in my handbag, one that detailed all the craziness of the adventure so far, scribbles of musings and thoughts about our trip - how glad I was to reunite with my sister, reflecting on how much we'd both changed, and how we were so much the same. I'd even thought that maybe, just maybe, this trip could be the start of a book, a story of two sisters reuniting, of growing up and exploring. Of driving an old car through France, breaking down, drinking wine, dancing in a sunset over pastel coloured cliffs.
It gnaws at me that someone took all this from me. That along with the tangible electronics, they took all of this stuff of me.
I know my laptop has been wiped, and that it is somewhere near Rome (no Facebook, it definitely wasn't me trying to log on in Rome). I know my hard drive, where everything was backed up, has probably been thrown in a bin somewhere. As for my written journal - pfffft. Gone. Those words meant nothing to anyone except for me, if they could even read the English scrawl.
It's just stuff, I tell myself endlessly.
But it was my stuff, I can't help whispering back. Mine.
So what does that make me, a child of technology without all my stuff?
Electronically? Dead and dying. Literally? Not so much.
I haven't died, though I have no iphone.
My life is still with me, and not languishing with my laptop in Rome.
And I guess my camera wasn't really my baby, if it was taken from me so easily.
If I can ever work out this insurance muddle, I will replace the laptop. And maybe the camera one day. I have a new journal, which I continue to scribble in.
Though maybe I really am dying without an iphone. London sans Google Maps? Disaster.
I've had the last two days off work. And when I say 'off work' I mean that I didn't have any work lined up. Them's the breaks of temping I guess, though it makes me incredibly nervous to not be working.
Technically I am grateful that I've had the last two days free. There is a list of paperwork that I need to do that is so ridiculously long and complicated - insurance claims for everything that was stolen while travelling, papers for the car that we left in Italy (poor Turk!), complicated job applications, sorting out tax and Centrelink issues.
And I don't want to do any of it. Sitting in the flat all day, going hungry for hours rather than making myself anything to eat, I procrastinate until I send myself mad. It reminds me of those years of home-schooling, that gnawing anxiety that I should be doing something, surely, with life. Anything rather than sitting in my room listening to Triple J, my books open and ready while I sit and stare out the window at the unchanging front garden.
I should Nike myself up and Just Do It. But I don't want to. I'd rather get all queer-sad and read tumblrs like this: http://thebookstheygaveme.tumblr.com/ , listening to the sound of builders and jackhammers that are everchanging the site outside my window.
Red is my thing. Red glasses, red lipstick, red nails.
I used to work at a pub, and one day the boss, a gruff balding man with the requisite belly, looked at me as I was carrying three schooners from one end of the bar to the other, and said, 'You always have red nails.'
He then did something manly to counteract his fashion insight, like continue to wipe the bar or something super helpful.
Luckily I was concentrating too much on not spilling the beer to give him the eyebrow spazz out I wanted to - that one where your eyebrows want to shoot up in surprise and frown in consternation at the same time, and end up in a sort of scrunchy wriggle. Firstly, he'd noticed something I hadn't even noticed - that I'd been wearing red nailpolish, with nary a deviation, for about a year. This feat was no doubt helped along by the fact that I had a babe of a housemate with an awesome collection of red nailpolishes, and way too much time on my hands (on my nails?) when I should have been studying. Oh for the carefree days of uni! But I used to bite my nails. Not to the Black Swan cuticle savaging point (aaghhkkk! happy unicorns-fairy-ranbows-ok), but just enough that they were never long. And I have ugly hands. A former housemate (not the babe, a housemate of the man variety) kindly calls my hands 'gluten free sausage fingers', and makes a point of asking to see them anytime we catch up. When I moved to London and smiled politely while serving ignorant caffeine drinkers their lattes, my hands spent inordinate amounts of time in washing up liquid. Slaving away earning £6 an hour (yep, try standing on your feet for 8 hours and not even earning £50!!) completely ruined my nails #firstworldproblems. They were doing that split peely thing, where you can peel a layer off the top. I know, it's gross. Moving into the genteel world of office temping, where I fanny around with people's photocopying rather than press releases, allowed my nails a break - I mean a chance to recover. Three months gallivanting around Italy and France and Australia gave them further time to recover, and at some point I stopped biting them (maybe I felt too sorry for them?) and now my nails are long! YAY!
This is YAY! for several reasons:
It makes wearing red nail polish even more fun.
It makes my gluten free sausage finger hands look sort of nearly nice.
I can really enjoy wearing rings, because my hands look slimmer. I used to wear rings anyway, now I don't feel sorry for anyone who happened to have their attention drawn to my hands due to my love for oversized costume jewellery.
I can now hold court with my two sisters who used to be awful nail biters and now have amazing nails. Booyah, I'm catching up wit' you!
So there you go. Don't bite your nails. And enjoy red nailpolish.
Those are the only two possible morals that can be pinpointed out of this long tail about how I like wearing red nailpolish. It's probably so long because I enjoy the taptaptap my nails make against the keyboard while I type. And also, when you're temping, there's often nothing better to do than write inane posts to later put on your blog.
If you are still awake, below are some quick snaps I took of my three little purchases from the MinkPink/Evil Twin/Staple sample sale. i deleted the pictures. The quality is so bad. I WANT MY CAMERA BACK.
A gorgeous deep maroon Celtic-esque kimono. Now I just need to get my sister to send my back my Topshop leather pants after foolishly leaving them in Sydney.
A chiffon-y white collared shirt with black star marks. Faintly pagan, with billowing sleeves that cuff into wristbands.
An olive green maxi dress that will probably not get any wear for a long time, but the cut and fabric are just lovely.
Call it the curse of the weather. Call it sheer laziness. Call it an unsociability born of years and years of wanting nothing more than to be left alone to read my books. Call it what you will, but I love me a quiet weekend. I had the flat to myself, a wedding calling housemates north to Edinburgh. Coming from a freakily large family I crave solitude a whole lot more than the average person. It's all well and good to be able to shut your bedroom door, but to be totally alone to clean the kitchen while only wearing a bathtowel and belting out some stupid song with the unfortunate wooden spoon that just wanted to be washed, is something else altogether.*
So Friday night I hied me home to eat crumpets, read Game of Thrones (OBSESSED) and drink hot chocolate. Saturday caught up with some family to scream at the XFactor while drinking Oyster Bay (which the offie on the corner stocks specially) and then kicked through the autumn leaves over Putney Bridge on Sunday to see the beautiful Laura and new bub Jake.
I love me some babies. Despite the cat lady predictions of my delightfully numerous siblings, I'll leave the felines to others. Also the pictures of pandas dressed in tutus and meerkats and chihuahuas and all those other fluffy things that I think must be photoshopped (leave them some dignity peoples!). I'll take the babies anytime. * Not saying I did these things.
Last night I braved Oxford Street, playing shoulder charge chicken with the thousands upon thousands who cram into London's main shopping area every day. It was 6 o'clock and I'd just left work, opting to wander down to a MinkPink, Evil Twin, and Staple sample sale in Poland Street rather than hanging around for work drinks (thus I sketch my character for you, dear invisible and maybe non-existent readers - I choose clothes over free booze).
The air was warm, and it was mostly not raining, which is a perfectly legitimate description of London weather. The occasional splash of water did plonk itself down the teeny space between my eyelashes and my glasses, startling me and leaving me momentariily blind as I tried to wipe the dirty rain away and leave my eyeliner in place. However, I didn't need an umbrella, and my new suede boots were looking to survive unscathed, so it was mostly not raining.
I'm a fast walker, a determined walker. I know when to stare down my opponent, and I know when to barrel through with my head down, pretending oblivion. I have even been called a charger, and like to think mysef invincible. At least until I am faced with a Woman+Pram. Before such obstacles I valiantly defer pavement. Having nannied for years, I know the rage of the pram-pusher. But on Oxford St, between the meandering tourists, the thoughtless window shoppers with their sudden stoppages, errant children, hunched and harried Londoners, and the inveterate walk-and-texters, I mostly win shoulder charge chicken. Or at least draw, occasionally banging shoulders or handbags with another charger, colliding with an oomph! and a half hearted apology that I can't even hear myself make over my headphones.
Enough witticisms to set the scene.
This was my first time after dark (not hard when it's now dark at 4 pm) along Oxford St this year. It. Was. Magical. Wandering along past Selfridges is something that makes your jaw drop in wonder, before grinning like a kid and maybe even slowing down the charge to admit a little Christmas-esque caper. The Oxford St lights are lit! There are giant sized presents and umbrellas dangling strung above the road in the best fanciful Mary Poppins way. Debenhams looks like striped candy! M&S is a wall of twinkles! Trees which I've never even noticed before (aside from registering that they are things that definitely won't get out of my way. I do yield to trees, I'm not insane) are all a-sparkly and wonderful and pretty. Christmas traditions make sense up here, you know? Have you ever smelt chestnuts roasting? Have you? It's magical. And I remembered barrelling up out of the tube one morning last year around this time, to find that it had started snowing. There was a peculiar hush that morning, as the lights glimmered, and the cars and buses were silenced by the snow. It felt like Christmas.
And last night, I had my first little taste of this season's Christmas sprit.
Pretty pretty art installation in Selfridges
Just waiting to see my first knitted jumper, and have my first suicidal impulse while listening to excessively crap Christmas carols on repeat. Then I'll know it's Christmas.
The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.