Wednesday, 31 August 2011

School Holidays. Day 56

It's Joe's first day back at school tomorrow so for want of anything better to do he's spending the morning playing Cast Away Island on my laptop.

Brian:  Joe, you promised you weren't going to leave your homework till the last day of the holidays.

Joe:  Chill.

Brian: You've got to type up that interview from your 'work placement', do a self-portrait and wasn't there a load of drama stuff to do as well?

Joe:  It's all under control.

Brian: And weren't you supposed to have read that book for English?

Joe:  Don't stress.

Brian:  But you haven't done any of it.

Joe:  I've done a lot more than anyone else in my class.

Brian:  How can that be?

Joe:  Trust.

Brian:  How can they have done less than nothing?

Joe: Don't worry! It's cas.

My phone makes the text noise and there's an incoming email bleep. Portland Place School: Reminder. Year 11 Work Experience presentations due this Friday 2nd September periods 4 & 5 in the GPS Hall. Make sure they are prepared!  

Me:  Joe!!

Joe:  What?

Me:  You have to do a PRESENTATION about your Work Placement. On Friday!


Me: Joe? Joe!

Joe:  What the ***k is a PRESENTATION? Wait!
(gets on Facebook)..... 
5 minutes later.
Joe:  basically, no-one is gunna do the presentation shit. 

Me:  Well why did school send that text then? Get off that thing and get on with some work. Now!

Joe:  Oh, by the way, I need new school shoes for tomorrow. The soles come off the others. And trousers. 

Me:  Blimey Joe! Couldn't you have told me before.

Joe:  Can you cut my hair? and wash that grey hoodie by the morning? Oh, and I can't get this earring out. I think it's rusted in. Daddy will have to cut it with those tong things.

Me:  Pliers.

Joe:  Yeah, them. And I need to get Phoebe a birthday present.

Me: When's her birthday?

Joe: Friday. Saturday. No Sunday. Hang on. Does October come after September.

Me:  Yes....

Joe: What, straight after?

Me: Yes....

Joe:  No, it's Friday.

.... and so Joe and I head off to Angel for school uniform while Brian prepares a presentation, draws a portrait, does some drama and reads a book.

Some hours later....
Brian. We're home. Brian! Brian!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Posh Pooch

You may remember Thea the greyhound from earlier in the year. She has a charming collection of scarves for every occasion and this red chiffon number was just the thing for a site visit to Clissold House to see how they're getting on with the refurbishment. She was delighted to be informed that Company of Cooks are going to run the restaurant - they do a grand job at Kenwood House and she is very fond of their rare breed, free range, organic, fairtrade sausage sandwiches. Yum!     

Old Skool Milk

At long last I finally feel like a proper housewife and mother: I've gone and got myself a milkman! Gary had already delivered by the time I opened the front door this morning (wearing fluffy mules and negligee, naturally) but standing pertly on the doorstep were six dewy, glass bottles with pretty foil caps. So much more stylish than ugly cartons and it only takes a split second to pop the top off!  

Friday, 26 August 2011

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Christmas Flowers in August

Marks & Spencer have been shooting their Christmas flowers and gifts brochure here this week. On Monday a refrigerated truckload of perfect poinsettias was delivered and ferried into the house. On Tuesday, huge boxes of exquisite lilies and amarylis arrived, followed by roses, orchids and potted azaylias. On Wednesday, exotic waxy anthurium, splashy tropical leaves, fragrant gardenias and spiky protea turned up, fresh off the plane from South Africa: it's been a delightful few days (whippets and box of foil wrapped M&S choccies incident aside. Thank God Joe and his mates didn't manage to break into the 'Indulgent Collection' - a wooden box containing Champagne truffles, Champagne bubble-bath and, well, Champagne). This morning the house is full of Christmassy smells as candles are lit and ladies snip branches of fir tree and twist bunches of cinnamon sticks for table decorations. Stylists fiddle with crystal glasses and sparkling pine cones and there's a beautifully just-out-of-focus Christmas tree waiting in the wings.
Outside the garden is in no hurry to change seasons but is very gently turning ever-so-slightly autumnal. In the evening sun we picked apples and today I've been peeling, slicing and cooking them. I made a batch of apple and blackberry muffins for the crew and I'm going to attempt... wait for it. Toffee Apple Ice Cream! I'll let you know how I got on.   

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Paris Texas

Bumped into our mates Gordon and Lee walking the Labradoodles in Abney Park Cemetery yesterday. Lee, I know you're from Texas where everything is SO much bigger but please, if you want to pose around Stokey with your pooch don't try cattin' Paris Hilton. I'm worried about your hernia luv. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Kandy Prive

The Amusement Arcade designers aren't the only ones inspired by the Palace of Versailles. We quite like a bit of fancy French stuff here ourselves. Kandy Prive - the Brazilian lingerie company, made good use of it when they shot their sumptuous undies at Lordship Park earlier in the summer. 

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Black Hole (I'm not talking about Chelmsford)

After a couple of blissfully quiet weeks in Greece Ed and I hit London (well Chelmsford in Ed's case) with the enthusiasm of a pair of whippets shredding toilet rolls - BRIAN.
While Joe and Ed headed off to Liverpool Street to catch the Essex Express to V Fest, Brian and I went for a stroll around town. We took in the BP Portrait award at the National Portrait Gallery and delighted in slagging them all off for being too drab and worthy. Dry.
Arm in arm, in the late afternoon sunshine, we sauntered past the sparkling fountains in Trafalgar Square and along the Strand until I was drawn to a dark hole beside the Adelphi Theatre, with a neon AMUSEMENTS sign outside. Whoaaa! this is possibly my favourite interior of all time, and definitely a little bit less obvious than the favourite rooms chosen by 9 stylish designers in the September issue of Elle Decoration - ie The Hall of Mirrors in the Chateau of Versailles, Duh!
As I moved closer and my eyes adjusted to the gloom I could make out the sulphury artificial glow of twelve chandeliers, reflected to infinity by mirror lined walls. Wow! I didn't dare go too close and no way would I have stepped inside. Years of programming had informed me that you just don't go into seedy gambling joints and start stroking the arcade games and cooing over the gold mosaic ceiling. I think I'd have been set upon by the dodgy staff if I started taking photos so this furtive shot is the best I could manage with the iPhone. 


I would happily move into this place right now - complete with it's grubby cinema carpet (carefully designed not to show filthy chewing-gum splodges and fag burns), pink-metallic, retro shove-hapenny consul featuring a revolving disco ball and strobing one arm bandits. All exquisitely juxtaposed with the marble columned, gilt-mirrored, perfectly lovely room. Not really so different from Versailles but instead of feeling like a sanitised museum, swept clean of all its over-indulgent history, it's more like a private debauched club - exciting, magical and a bit dangerous.

I hardly need show you the interior of Versailles but have a hunch it's where the Kray Twins got their decorating inspiration.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Return of the Eddie

Sarah and Ed returned from Greece late last night. I hope Ed doesn't miss the sun and sea too much. Apparently, he got in with some Greek kids and thoroughly immersed himself in the local way of life - I don't want him moping around the house dreaming of sunnier climes....

Anyway, I think Sarah will be pleased with the way I've coped single-handedly with running a business, looking after an ever- shifting number of unruly teenagers and two mental whippets.
Now, where's the instructions for the washing machine? Oh, and where can I get my hands on some dog make-up to cover that nasty scar Enzo???

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Smash and Grab

So, we are nearing the end of a traumatic week during which we have witnessed ugly behaviour  from a bunch of ill-mannered and lawless yobs. I have watched events unfold with horror and disgust. Things have been simmering for sometime and a general lack of respect has manifested itself in the kind of actions that any right-minded person would condemn. Things came to a head on Monday with the inclusion of Fabregas in the Champions' League qualifying round squad to face Udinese. It seems that this has forced Barcelona's hand and they have upped their offer for our captain - still daylight robbery in my opinion. So, the Arsenal Board seem to have finally given in to the brazen flouting of regulations and tapping-up of Cesc. Personally, I feel we should have taken a hard-line stance against the Catalans' underhand and disrespectful goings-on all summer and now we are counting the cost of our indecisiveness. The eyes of the world are upon us now and reinvestment must be a priority for the rebuilding of The Arsenal.
El Capitan

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Pins and Needles

"Are you feeling better now?"
"Yeah, I think I'm ok, thanks"
I tentatively raise my head from between my knees and try to focus on the concerned face of the piercer?!?  His dreadlocks are swinging gently at his thighs and he holds a needle delicately between the forefinger and thumb of his right hand while in his left, the white and red of a tissue contrasts with his black latex gloves. Joe turns towards me and grins, proudly displaying a silver pin in his left earlobe.
"Did it hurt?"
"Yeah, it caned"
I pay Manu his ten pounds, fully expecting it to be sixty, and we climb the basement steps into the blinding sun on Camden High Street.


Sarah has taken Ed to Greece for a break, because they needed a holiday, leaving me home-alone with Joe. So, how do we while away the hours? I know, body piercing!

Joe: Daddy, can I get my ear pierced?
Daddy: No, no way. Over my dead body.
Joe: Go on.
Daddy: No.
Joe: Go on.
Daddy: No.
Joe: I think it's one of those things that should be my decision.
Daddy: No way. Forget it.

Some hours later....

Daddy: So where is this place then?
Joe: Just along here, chill.
Daddy: And how do you know about this whatever-you-call-it, surgery? Salon?
Joe: I found it when I tried to get it done yesterday but they said I had to come back with a responsible adult.
Daddy: What?
Joe: We're almost there.
Daddy: Well, it had better be a proper registered kind of place with certificates on the wall and stuff. I wish you'd let me take you to Harley Street.
Joe: Here it is.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Mosh Pit Sartorialist

Just as Joe gets back from Womad in one piece (well, I say one piece - he lost a horn in the mosh pit).....
...John heads off on a lads holiday to Croatia.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Hackney in Bloom

                                                Got back home to our own tropical garden.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

iPod Culture

Touring the architectural hotspots of the island we were really pleased with the way the boys soaked up the culture and didn't just spend the whole time playing daft games on their iPods like most children do.  

If, like John, Joe and Ed, you can't get enough of the fabulous Manrique houses and gardens check out our Flickr photos.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Keith and Katie Price

The pool is blissfully empty while the teenagers are sleeping off their Pina Coladas, but I can’t quite relax. I made it very clear to Katie Price’s ‘people’ that the team would have to keep a LOW PROFILE at the front of the house – especially as they’re starting at 8am. There has already been a text from Keith who is looking after the place while we’re away. ‘ 7.45, they’re here…’ I try to distract myself, looking at the distant mountains, planning the day, resolving to have just fruit for breakfast, I’m sure everything will be fine, but my thoughts return to Lordship Park and the synchronised curtain twitching followed by full on gawping as Katie and her entourage arrive.  After a dozen or so lengths I get out, grab a towel, reach for the phone and call home. Keith is breathless. A fleet of fresh-off-the-production-line, dictator- of-an-African-state-style Mercedes have rolled into the street and are lined up outside the house with their engines purring. Keith is helping ferry in boxes and boxes of wigs and about a thousand dresses while the crew stand around shouting down mobile phones. There’s an impromptu catwalk show happening on the pavement which he is trying to disband while ushering everyone inside. I let him go and fret for several minutes before waking Brian up. The shoot’s a complicated one. It’s for Katie Price TV, featuring models from the new Katie Price modeling academy, filming a commercial for the new Katie Price perfume. Keith calls back. Katie has arrived in a bright pink, customized London Taxi, which has parked out the front next to the red Ferrari that the photographer showed up in. A crowd has gathered. Nice and low profile then. 
Fast forward to 10.30 pm. Boys are on their 3rd Pina Colada. I’m pacing up and down the buffet on the phone to the producer. The shoot’s run over by several hours. Everyone’s on the front steps smoking, drinking and partying (Keith included - he’s now BFFL with Jordan).  At midnight, after he’s Hoovered up a lot of hair, scraped false eyelashes off the floor and emptied the overflowing ashtrays and half-drunk bottles of Champagne he locks up and staggers the ten yards down the street to his gaff.
I text, ‘sorry – sounds like that one was quite full-on, hope you didn’t have plans for tonight.’