Saturday, 30 July 2011

Rule Number 3

Now then, there's lots of nice things at the buffet - lovely fresh salads, some salmon, lots of fresh fruit, amazing dishes of melon, figs and grapes. DON'T come back with a plate of pizza, onion rings, mashed potato and tinned veg with a beer on the side...

..... and stay away from the cocktails in the bar later. 

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Idiot Factor

Right, I've got Factor 50, Factor 30, Once-a-day cream, Aerosol Spray, Waterproof Lotion and half a dozen of those lightweight, white T shirts from Topman to wear in the pool, so, Rule Number 2 - I DO NOT WANT TO SEE ANY SUNBURN.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Lanzarote, Day 1

Right boys! Listen to me. Rule number one. Remember, it's a family hotel, so - NICE BEHAVIOUR round the pool and ABSOLUTELY NO SWEARING!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sarah Has Been Gone For Some Time

Sarah has been doing the morning drop-off in Wimbledon this week and I've been shouldering the burden of the much more trafficky, road-ragey, cycle-dodging evening pick-up. She dropped Ed off at the theatre on schedule at 9.00 and set off on the return trip to North London. Clapham - text from Ed - 'might be finishing rehearsal early, WAIT.' She killed half an hour in Boots buying some travel size toiletries for hols awaiting further instructions. 'Finished. Come and pick me up.' Back in the Volvo. U-turn. By now the shopping destinations of Balham, Tooting Crap and Collier's Wood are rammed. The Volvo crawls along, over-heating. Much later, back in the New Wimbledon Theatre car park, Sarah and Ed while away the hours contemplating the rain dripping down the steamed-up windows.

It's about 5 hours between the end of rehearsal and call time for the evening performance. The journey home takes 2 hours, the journey back takes 2 hours so it's not worth it for 40 minutes downtime. I listen sympathetically to the distressed phone calls from the comfort of LP. I've read Arseblog, walked the dogs, tidied my desk, watched a live stream of Arsenal playing a meaningless friendly in China, walked the dogs, texted the kids at 4.30pm to get up ('we are, chill'), administered paracetamol to a hungover 18 year old and thrown 2 pizzas in the oven for Joe and Phoebe's breakfast. Time for a glass of wine.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


Brian has been gone for some time. He flouted my tried and tested route to Wimbledon and went some trendy new way and has thus been caught up in a street demo near Vauxhall where all the roads are closed and traffic is at a standstill. Never mind. Thank goodness page 11 wasn't quite accurate and curtain call is 10pm and not 9.
I have walked the dogs, planted my geraniums, watered the garden, swept the front steps and made a paella. Might even have time to complete this origami stallion before he gets back. 

Shit! It's Harper Seven. We're gunna be late.

It was a relief to swap the driving seat of the Volvo V60 for seat G27 in the Royal Circle of the Wimbledon Theatre for a few hours on Tuesday night. The show was out of this world. Yesterday morning at 7 we’re back in the car listening to Johnny and Lisa on Capital 95.8. I’m using a liberal sprinkling numbers alongside words here, a la Posh and Becks. Ed thinks their choice of baby name is unfathomable but at the same time it’s cast a seed of doubt as to the coolness of a straightforward one syllable/two letter name and he ponders an imaginary life with either a whacky name or Posh and Becks as parents. I daydream about how I would spend the £161 Euromillions Jackpot as we approach Elephant and Castle roundabout and head towards South West London. I’m down to my last couple of mill when we eventually pull into the car park at the theatre and Ed scoots off to the stage door. According to page 9 of the itinerary he will be in non-stop rehearsals all day. By the time I get back to Stoke Newington it’s lunchtime. There’s a text from Ed.
‘Finished rehearsals going Kung Foo Panda 2’

Brian does the evening collection. Referring to page 11, Wednesday's final curtain is at 10pm so he needs to leave Stokey at 8ish. Of course there's a text just as he’s put his jacket potato in the oven. 
‘Finishing early. Leave now.’

I’m in Abney Park, trying to get myself spooked up ready for the performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream. There are about thirty of us gathered just inside the gates. Its hard to get much atmosphere going stood next to Joe who is eating Doritos and clowning around dodging a swarm of mosquitos. It’s dusk as we are led away into the depths of the gloomy, 32 Acre (that’s a nice name for a sleb baby, but not as good as After 8 which B came up with) Victorian Cemetery. 
Review of the magical show later, when I get back from taking Ed to Wimbledon. Late start today - hope to God I've read that right.

Monday, 11 July 2011

What a Performance!

I don't know WHAT I was thinking of on Friday evening; strolling round the garden, swigging wine and listening to Summer Breeze at full volume. I quickly came to my senses after casually glancing at Ed's show time itinerary for the coming week. 
9 JULY, FULL DRESS REHEARSAL. Shit. Frantically scrambling through a dozen or so sheets of Italia Conti headed paper pinned haphazardly to the noticeboard I boggled at the schedule on the back of page 3 for Saturday morning. CALL TIME AT THE WIMBLEDON THEATRE 9AM! I snatched a list of Things To Remember off Brian. 
'REMEMBER, Call Time is the time you are required on stage, fully warmed up and in costume. You should arrive at the Theatre at least 35 minutes prior to Call Time.' So, working backwards, with the Piccadilly, Victoria, District and Circle Lines all out of action due to engineering works over the weekend, that means getting up at... what? 6am. Make it 5 - 
'REMEMBER, it will be a long day and the children will need a packed lunch, mid-morning and tea-time snack and plenty of liquid refreshment.' Cross referencing with page 4, Ed's timetable Saturday 6-9pm - his final number finishes at 9. Back to the TTR list. 
'REMEMBER, children will only be released at the stage door to a parent bringing a valid ID. No children will be permitted to travel home unaccompanied.' That's Saturday taken care of then.
While I was at it I skimmed through the rest of the week. It looked just as hectic. 
'A Monumental Week of Spectacular Performance' except for Wednesday that is. I definitely remember reading somewhere that all children will have the day off on Wednesday. Signed Mr Vote, Headmaster. Found it! Here, in black and white. Good. I have booked tickets for A Midsummer Nights Dream on Wednesday evening, performed in Abney Park, the huge overgrown Victorian cemetery in Stoke Newington. I realise that I'm probably asking for trouble getting seats for Joe and Phoebe to watch Ed's performance on Tuesday followed by Shakespeare the very next night but it's the only time they can make it what with WOMAD coming up. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to it. Hang on.... what's this piece of paper? 
'Wednesday, London Cast 3 to be at the theatre from 5.30 for the evening performance.'
'ED! What's London Cast 3? Is that you??
Ed. 'Yep... and make sure you bring the car when you pick me up tomorrow. I'm not getting the tube.'

On Saturday evening at about 7pm, after placing a snipe bid on an eBay item due to end later that night, Brian and I had an early supper with no wine and headed to the car ready for the trek to Wimbledon. It couldn't be in a more far-flung corner of town and involves a ghastly drive through every All-Bar-One and Pitcher and Piano lined high-street in London. We got a hundred yards down the road when there's a text from Ed.
'Finishing early.Pick me up 7.30.'
'ED!! we wont make it. Wait inside till we get there.'
'Dont worry. I'll come home with a friend.'
'Are you allowed? I thought a parent had to pick you up?'
'No, it's fine.'
Brian does a U turn and we go home. Dogs greet us as if we've been gone a week. I pour a drink. There's another text from Ed.
'Finishing at 9 now. Pick me up.'
We run to the car. The phone bleeps.
'It's OK I'm getting a lift.'
We stroll home. Dogs go bonkers. Ed texts.
'Pick me up London Bridge. Leave now :)'
We drive to London Bridge. It's desolate and I need a wee. No word from Ed. After 20 minutes of looking for a ladies we go to the Barrow Boy and Banker pub on the bridge. DO NOT go there. The toilets at the nearby London Dungeon would be a lot less scary. Ed eventually shows up and we get home at 11 and go to bed.
He is at the theatre again today. Pick up time 9pm. I have taken the car in to have the smashed wing mirror fixed and made the garage promise it will be ready by the end of the day so I can do the Wimbledon run. I've cancelled my Pilates class because the man with a van is delivering the eBay item that we 'won' at 8.30 this evening and B needs to be here to help him unload it while I go and get Ed. All sorted. I've got ready meals in as I'm anticipating the round trip to take 3 hours. Hang on - let me get the door. 
'Yeah, we finished early.'

Friday, 8 July 2011

Summer Breeze

Brian just opened the back door to let the dogs out for a pee and a waft of jasmine-perfumed air flooded the kitchen. I took my glass of wine and had a wander around the night garden. Capri was lying on the trampoline looking at the moon and Enzo was studying a snail. The jasmine is in full bloom and although it's not a balmy evening (I have a coat and scarf on) it is very lovely out there, with all the flowers glowing ghostly white in the twilight. Its more breeze than summer but it still makes me think of my favourite song of all time. (Don't switch off before the guitar bit.)

Thursday, 7 July 2011

House Arrest

Joe is on his eagerly anticipated work placement. We thought it would be best for everyone if he did it here.
Monday is auction day. As it's only down the road, and part of our job is to be constantly on the look out for interesting bits of furniture, the working week starts with a browse of the sale room.     
Joe accompanied us. He says the auction is dry, smells of old/dead people, is full of shit, and he would rather watch Ed dance, but he thinks it's the highlight of our week so doesn't play up too much. 
We find a nice patio set which we will be pretty on the roof terrace so we plan to return later and bid for it. It's always a bit touch and go at the auction as to whether or not you get it and we had someone else bidding strongly against us.
Here it is in situ.

The deck looks a bit ropey and is due for a repaint so we thought that would be the perfect job for our intern to get stuck into. He sort of agreed, as it only involves a short walk down a flight of stairs and out though the patio doors (9 ft - as the fag end flies - from his bedroom window).
Tuesday. Heavy rain. Intern stays in bed.
Wednesday. Torrential rain. Intern goes on Xbox all day.
Thursday. The deluge. Intern mopes around eating.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Goodbye Norman Jane

I feel a bit sad that Jane Norman have gone into receivership. They took these pictures here back in the Spring. It was a lovely warm evening when the stylists filled the bay bushes with fairy lights and hung pretty glass jars with flickering candles from the flowering magnolia tree. It was a real party atmosphere in the garden as Ed and I sat watching all the action. Looking back on it, that was probably where he got the glamping idea from... hmmm, I can see all the Conti Kids, dressed up to the nines, reclining on silk cushions passing round plates of Haribos and pretending they're roughing it out in the wilds. 

These ones were taken earlier in the day up in the copper bedroom.

And these in the cool, white basement.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Bunch of Tossers

Take 2 eggs, 200 grams of self raising flour and 200 ml milk. Mix together but don't worry if it's lumpy. Heat a tiny amount of butter in a non-stick frying pan. Add 3 teenage boys, lemon and sugar. Oh, and a whippet on guard to clear up any spillages.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow at Lordship Park

OOOooo! At last! the August issue of Vanity Fair is in the shops with Gwyneth in the Parrot Chair, wearing a £million necklace...

Gwyneth Paltrow photographed at Lordship Park by Mark Seliger
     ...and here she is in front of the white curtains up in the Louis Suite, wearing... some earrings.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Blondie comes to Stokie

Eeeee! My favourite style icon from the 1980s was here this afternoon, swinging around in our parrot chair, having her piccie taken in front of the black and white lights. 

Friday, 1 July 2011


JOE (not looking up from Facebook): So, basically, no-one's goin school tomorrow coz Tiffany's comin over from America and we're gunna jam with her in Regents an shit.

BRIAN: NO... no no no no no no no

JOE: Allow. It's gunna be bare dead in school with none of my friends there.

BRIAN: What? None of them? So if I ring, I don't know... Zac's mum she'll say Zac's having the day off to jam in Regents? And Issy's mum? Issy's not going in either? Is that right?

JOE: Hallal my life.

BRIAN: School won't like it. You can't just not go in. Honestly Joe!

JOE: That's moist.

BRIAN: Joe, don't be ridiculous. You're not going to be there next week because of your "work placement". Then you've got ten weeks of Summer holidays to go to the park with your friends. You're going to school tomorrow and that's the end of it.

JOE: Shup.

BRIAN: Whatever. You're going.

JOE: Peak.

BRIAN: I don't want to hear anything more about it. You're going.

JOE: That takes the piss... anyway, there's no lessons coz exams are finished and we'll just be watchin some dry movie an shit an anyway it's EDCL in the afternoon and that's just some waste of time shit they just show you how to switch a computer on an shit.

BRIAN: Joe. We pay a stack of money for you to go to that posh school and all you have to do is show up there. You ARE NOT having the day off tomorrow.

A few minutes later...

JOE: Daddy... have you heard this? (presses button on computer keyboard)