30 January 2011

Livre, buch, kitab

1. The Closed Circle- Jonathan Coe
2. Dibs in Search of Self- Virginia Axline
3. Curtain: Poirot's Last Case- Agatha Christie
4. 99 Ways to Tell a Story- Matt Madden
5. Fragile Things- Neil Gaiman
6. Lost Worlds: What Have We Lost and Where Did it Go?- Michael Bywater
7. Exercises in Style- Raymond Queneau trans. Barbara
8. The Atom Station- Halldór Laxness trans. Magnus Magnusson
9. Sweets: the History of Temptation- Tim Richardson


The Atom Station- Halldór Laxness trans. Magnus Magnusson (yes, him off Mastermind)

Halldór Laxness won a Nobel Prize for literature, is considered THE modern Icelandic writer, and has an excellent name. I'd heard of him for a long time, but never got round to reading anything by him. I went to Iceland a few years ago, but I didn't buy any books there because they were all so expensive. The other week I saw this in the local library, so I considered it was about time. Halldór Laxness (haltour ˈlaxsnɛs) Halldór Laxness (haltour ˈlaxsnɛs) Halldór Laxness (haltour ˈlaxsnɛs) ....

Ugla ('owl') is a girl from a remote valley in the north of Iceland in the late 40s who comes to Reykjavik to work as a maid in the town house of her local MP (who's trying to strike a deal to get an American nuclear weapon station built in Iceland) and study music. She takes harmonium lessons off an eccentric old man whose house is always full of the local radicals, and becomes a communist by accident . The general tone is surreal and satirical at the same time, apparently not his usual style, but I enjoyed it and would like to read more. I felt like he was taking the piss out of some very specific targets, and that I would have enjoyed the book even more if I were more familiar with Iceland in the 40s. It was also translated by Magnus Magnussson off Mastermind. I like that.

"It is a characteristic of great art that people who know nothing feel they could have done it themselves - if they were stupid enough"

Sweets: the History of Temptation- Tim Richardson

This does exactly what it says on the tin, tracing the history of sweets from primitive honey cakes to the present day mountain of available sweets. It covers the invention of sweets in India, medical use of sugar in mediaeval times (which gave me a terrible craving for liquorice comfits), the explosion of sugar use in Europe on the back of the slave trade in the 1700s, eccentric victorian industrialists and all sorts of trivia on how you actually make various sweets. In between the chapters are short sections entitled Pic 'n' Mix which each deal with a particular sweet. I mostly read this while stuffing a bar of Green & Black's Butterscotch Chocolate into my face, and you should probably do likewise.

26 January 2011

Typical Grrls- grrrl / genderqueer friendly club night in chatham


So I'm back in Medway. I need to keep busy, and there's not a great deal of stuff happens here (I mean there are fun things that go on, but they tend to be spaced out a bit). Me & Tukru decided to start some things up ourselves. The devil makes work for idle hands.

Here's one thing we're doing. It turned out to be surprisingly easy to set up. A monthly club night with an all-female playlist. Riot grrl, motown, electronica and pop. Free zine and cake on entry. Free entry. Oh we're good to you, and you know it. Here's the crudely risographed flyer I knocked up on the train yesterday. If you're in Medway come and abuse our hospitality.

Thursday 3rd of Feb 8-1 at Poco Loco. Drinks from £2. Check out the Facebook event. And the tumblr for the clubnight.

24 January 2011

There's More To Life Than Books You Know

1. The Closed Circle- Jonathan Coe
2. Dibs in Search of Self- Virginia Axline
3. Curtain: Poirot's Last Case- Agatha Christie
4. 99 Ways to Tell a Story- Matt Madden
5. Fragile Things- Neil Gaiman
6. Lost Worlds: What Have We Lost and Where Did it Go?- Michael Bywater
7. Exercises in Style- Raymond Queneau trans. Barbara


Lost Worlds: What Have We Lost and Where Did it Go?- Michael Bywater
Man, was this book disappointing. It had a quote from Stephen Fry on the cover saying "marvellous!". I was expecting a fascinating collection of things people no longer do, hopefully thought-provoking things I'd never heard of . Instead I got a hurrumphing Telegraph reader lettering-to-the-editor into his marmalade about things these days, and how they're not as good/the same as when he was young. He's the kind of upper middle class man of a certain age who seems to believe that his experiences of life are the definitive version. Disappointing. Glad it was a library book, and I didn't buy it.

Exercises in Style- Raymond Queneau trans. Barbara Wright
I love this one though. I generally love Raymond Queneau. I've got the Oulipo compendium too, but I haven't played all the word games in it yet. Zazie Dans le Metro is one of my favourite films, but I can't seem to find it on DVD. It's another story told in 99 different ways, but this was the originator. It's witty, surprising, and gives you a firework of new ideas. My favourite quote "There were... but what were there, though? Eggs, carpets, radishes? Skeletons? Yes, but with their flesh still round them, and alive. I think that's how it was." from the Uncertainty variation of the story. I think that translator must be some kind of insane genius as well, now I want to read it in French too (although I'm not too hot on my 40s french slang) You ought to read this book.





Malle + Queneau = heaven

Dehermitting



Scrabble Sorting

I've been a hermit since Christmas. Not going anywhere, and not seeing anyone much. You can't stay at home forever, so I ventured out on Saturday, and took Tukru with me. (I drag her out of the house, she tells me when I'm being an idiot (frequently), it works out nicely). Tukru wore a purple wig.

We went to Moogie Wonderland. Art exhibitions, cake, yeye, c86, tropicalia, etc etc. Home at 5am, remembered I had social skills, probably made a grade-a arse of myself (nevermind).

Tukru & Shannon

Tukru & Shannon.

Tukru & Shannon

Pete & Jake

Pete & Jake

Tukru & Me

Tukru & me. I think I was trying to do a toast. Can t-shirt is my new favourite. T's dress used to be mine (I bought it for a wedding or something?), but never fit me right.

Bee

Bee in T's wig (poet and I didn't know it). She liked this photo a lot.

But?

Human Scrabble (demonstrated by Pete- where is his glittery ballgown for the job?)

Pete's Butt

Correct use for human scrabble.

Clare Dunk

This girl's name is Clare Dunk.

Elspeth

Elspeth. (and Pye trying to be rude in the background, not quite there with the timing)

Moogie Ladies

Moogie Ladies.

21 January 2011

Drink-drawing & Reading Objects



My friend Adam from art college runs a pub drawing game night called Drinky Doodle in Brighton. I couldn't make the first one, but I managed to get to the second. It's at a nice scandinavian themed bar. There are assorted themed games where you have to either draw what's on the card you drew out of a hat, or draw the things that are shouted out. Sadly I missed out on the That's Life Drawing they did last time, where you drew stuff out of the magazine. I love those awful "REAL LIFE DRAMA" magazines.

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Vicky, Jack and Lucy a-draw-draw-draw.

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Picture consequences. As each round was finished, the pictures were hung up on lines across the room. It looked most pretty with all the fairy lights.

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A word was shouted out every 30 seconds or so, and you had to add it to your drawing. Words were (in order): Africa, cross-section, mountain, fuck, feline, prosthetic and rabbit. You can't really make out my cat here, he's to the left of the hand o'doom. The cross-section is of a piece of Brighton Rock.

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The last round was drawing Argus Headlines (the local paper in Brighton is famous for its ludicrous cover headlines). Here's my fairly literal (and apparently quite disturbing) rendition of the one I drew out the hat.

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Here's my drawing from the "draw the stranger whose name you picked out" round. It's notable not for my fairly bland, but accuratish drawing of my stranger, but for the drawing of Alex that looks EXACTLY like him, and just is him.

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Next day one of the things I did at art college was a workshop on "Reading Objects". Everyone had to bring in an object whose purpose was mysterious and you had to guess and speculate. I brought in a drum machine labelled in Hindi.

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Three separate people brought in antique tie presses. Two people even bringing in the same model. I'm quite impressed at how many people I know who even own one. Orange peeling tools were another popular one. My personal favourite was the creepy looking child's radiology mask.

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It would probably have been slightly more fun if there hadn't've ended up with 50 objects. 15 or so would've been much better.

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I saw this on the windowsill.

Bathed in Ringflash



I decided to try out my Lomo ringflash with a film SLR over xmas. I set the camera at f 5.6/ 1/125 for 400 asa film (I'd lost the instruction sheet, and that was my best guess), but I could easily have got away with something like f11.

Lomo Ringflash + Pentax ME Super + Ilford HP5

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Sophie and Pete in the pub.

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Chris G- Shot to the heart/armpit (and ringflash to blame)

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Tukru trying on her dream scarf. Grrr.

Flick set with other photos from the film is here

New Colour Zine



Colour zine a

Little Whisper Smoke Signs That You'll Never Get numero uno
16 page full colour 1/4 sized perzine. £1.50 + pp

I thought I'd do a zine focusing more on images and what I've been up to and photographing rather than articles.

I wanted to continue to use titles that were from songs, and were also a total pain in the arse.

Available from my shop

Colour zine b

16 January 2011

Saturday crafternoon of a January



Rekkids

Tukru came round and brought me some birthday presents (shrinky-dinks, sweets, and patches) and we had a crafternoon. She typed up zine bits on my typewriter, which has much smaller type than hers, but tends to get a jammed up ribbon, and I stuck some pictures from my mountain of magazine cutouts into scrapbooks, and we listened to Nirvana and Neutral Milk Hotel and the Beatles and David Bowie and Simon and Garfunkel. We ate some tofu stirfry, and the aldi version of Ben & Jerry's which is exactly like normal icecream, and laughed at BRIAN BLESSED's attempt at a Greek accent in My Family and Other Animals (sedate fun)

Mucky pup

Typewriter ribbon mess.

Tukru Typing

Tap, tap tap.

C'est moi

C'est moi. Avec un dip. Old knackered compact digital doesn't focus so well any more.

14 January 2011

More books



1. The Closed Circle- Jonathan Coe
2. Dibs in Search of Self- Virginia Axline
3. Curtain: Poirot's Last Case- Agatha Christie
4. 99 Ways to Tell a Story- Matt Madden
5. Fragile Things- Neil Gaiman

99 Ways to Tell a Story- Matt Madden

I got this from my sister for my birthday (via amazon wishlist)- thanks Simone. This is based on the classic Exercises in Style, but turned to comics instead of prose. You get the same basic (and slightly dull) story about the author getting up from his work, answering his girlfriend's request for the time, opening the fridge and forgetting what he was looking for, told 99 different ways. My favourites were the tributes to Robert Crumb, the drawings extended outside the frame in totally unexpected ways, the Bayeux Tapestry, the 18th century version and the parody of Chick tracts. I recommend, and I also recommend the Raymond Queneau original (in fact anything by Queneau).

Fragile Things- Neil Gaiman

When I was 12-13 Neil Gaiman was quite definitely my favourite author. Now I can recognise when he's being a little cheesy, but I still enjoy his stuff. This is a collection of short stories including a very creepy sketch for the Graveyard Book, a Sherlock Holmes/H.P Lovecraft crossover from that Shadows Over Baker Street compilation I've never got round to reading, and a poem written from the point of view of Bluebeard. The stories are varied and all interesting. Again, recommended.

13 January 2011

The occasion of my 26th Birthday: in which I venture lead poisoning and eat a lot



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I'm doing an art MA at the University of Brighton. I was living in Brighton, but I've moved back in with my mum in Kent recently because I ran out out of money. I only have to be there in person one day a week though, so commuting's ok. My stuff still wants unpacking.

This was the day I turned 26. I went to university, did some typesetting, and ate and drank a lot.

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Obligatory bedhead photo. I'm not a morning person in the slightest.

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The time. The kermit clock was the best 20p I've ever spent.

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Hey, younger human, it's breakfast time.

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Some presents from my mum, and ones that my dad dropped off the day before from him and my brother. The post didn't come until after I'd left. The mother unit did not wish to be photographed in her leopard print dressing gown.

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An extra pair of converse (I already had been given some black ones that I'd been wearing already), Jan Svankmajer shorts dvd (lots of eastern european folktales on that), hairslides and some much needed money.

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A nice healthy breakfast. If I can't do it on my birthday, when can I? Marks and Sparks, you've done me proud.

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Turn on my decrepit laptop.

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No important emails apart from some birthday wishes. I also share my birthday with Jack London (pleased with that), Sporty Spice, Des O'Connor and Heather Mills (indifferent about those three). Guess I'm destined to either be an author or end up in an acrimonious divorce suit.

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Print off my stuff for uni. My next project is an animated film of the story of Pentheus and the Bacchae done in the style of greek vases. I've only just started though.

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Oscar: "My belly needs tickling". He fell in the bath last week because he got too curious about the running tap, then ran around the house meowing pitifully.

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Showetime for me, with the cats firmly out of the bathroom. I didn't wash my hair, because I thought it didn't need it. I later came to regret this.

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I must admit, by the end of the jumbo-sized bottle, I'm pretty sick of the scent of the lavender one. I think next time I'll get rose or peppermint. Clean teeth, wash face, try to hide evidence of spots, blah, blah, blah.

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While getting dressed, some music. Good old spotify. The cables for my stereo are somewhere I haven't discovered yet.

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I got this dress with last year's birthday money, but have never worn it. The bust fits badly, I think it was meant for some early 60s person who hoiked their boobs up in a cone bra, not a practice I indulge in, and who also was a bit shorter than me. I felt it was about time I wore it.

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Ended up putting a t-shirt and cardigan over the dress. Here you can see my room in chaos. I still need to unpack everything and find a home for it.

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My mum gives me a lift to the station. Normally I go on a tuesday and stay overnight with friends, but I've got nothing scheduled in the morning, because the tutors are marking work. Delightful english weather. Surprisingly I don't see anything on the way that makes me cover my face and feel deeply ashamed of my hometown, but somehow amused at its scumminess.

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Cheap day return, my arse.

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The camera sensor and station screen don't get on, but it says something like St Pancras train in 5 minutes, Victoria in 10. My ticket covers both, but there's no point getting the St Pancras train and going further north than I need. The route I have to take is a little stupid, go into Victoria at platform 1/2, go to platform 17/18/19 and get a train that follows exactly the same route south for about half the journey. All the transport is centred on London.

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I attempt to do some preliminary sketches on the train. It's so wobbly and bumpy that they go a bit wrong, and I end up with a host of chinless Ancient Greek wonders and give up. The people in my film will be made of cardboard, Captain Pugwash style.

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Dionysus came out a bit more useful, although you can see where I went over a bump when I was drawing his nose. I like his leopard paw scarf. I like to be strict with myself and draw straight in pen so I have to get the line right first time. This doesn't actually mean that I get the line right.

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Into Victoria 50 minutes later.

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Grab some sushi and run to get my connection.

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Hello to Battersea Power Station for the second time in 15 minutes.

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Rather than waste pages of my sketchbook I start writing a letter to my friend Kira.

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I arrive into a wet and misty Brighton at about midday.

On my way into art college I get some bits from 2 Brighton institutions.

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Resident Records. My terrible poverty always strikes me hardest in here. They've got a sale rack the moment, it being January though.

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I got this Pains of Being Pure at Heart EP for a fiver. Most of the stuff I wanted was more like £12-15, and I just can't afford it at the moment.

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Infinity Foods next. I like to go in here for the smell alone sometimes.

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To get a snack and some more face wash.

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When I get to college, I drop off some film at Photographic Services and head to..

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Letterpress, to work on my typesetting project. I'm making a small zine to practice hand-typesetting. Here's my typecase. 10pt Baskerville.

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I have to take two lines out, because my address has changed. Putting the letters away takes far longer than taking them out for some reason.

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Ah, moveable type. I'd love to have a go on a linotype machine too, but the college hasn't got an operational one.

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There's no-one else in the studio, so I mess around and take a silly picture. There's something satisfying about the big wooden type. Behind me are the blocks for filling up the blank space on your page. I like the abundance of little wooden shelves and drawers in the letterpress workshop.

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Before I know it, it's lunchtime, and I go and get some lunch with Judith.

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Vegetarian burrito and sparkling apple juice. The university food is very cheap, and surprisingly good. I think a real mexican person would burst out laughing at the "burrito" though. I was very tempted by the sticky toffee pudding on offer, but I needed to save cake space.

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Then I went back to letterpress and set some more type until about quarter past three. I didn't take any more pictures because the place was full of cooler-than-thou graphics undergrads and I didn't really want to have to explain what I was doing. Check out the lead marks on my hand! I did a galley proof, and realised there were several mistakes that I'll have to correct with the tweezers next week. I don't do them now though, because...

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I'd arranged to meet my friend Ed here
(And yes, I did wash my hands very thoroughly, lead poisoning isn't a great birthday present)

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Here's Ed. He'll thank me for making him look poetic here.

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Chocolate pistachio cake and lapsang souchong tea. The bacon of tea. (You can tell it's a long, long time since I've actually eaten any real bacon). The cake was delicious, but a bit overwhelming.

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A bracing walk in gale-force winds along the seafront is exactly what's needed to ease the cake down.

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We decide to go on the pier. When it's lit up it reminds me of that bit in Spirited Away when the bathhouse suddenly lights up. The pier is pretty eery on winter evenings when it's empty and surrounded by stormy sea.

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We get 50p's worth of amusement from the 2p machines. I reckon they glue some of the pennies on to make you think you're about to cause a cascade.

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A pair of hardened gamblers.

Then I have a lecture called "Reading Objects" about collecting things and figuring out what causes people to make bizarre items from George Hardie. Highly entertaining and thought provoking.

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Chatting to Lenka and Elly before the lecture starts.

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George, who's my supervisor, lends me this book. It's a book of texts (in Spanish) and art based on the story of Orpheus. I don't actually speak Spanish, but because I know Italian and Latin I can read it well enough. It's a lovely book.

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After the lecture, the tutors and students always repair to the pub. People keep buying me drinks and giving me posca markers, which is nice. The pub is dark, so I don't bother taking any photos, because I'm not a fan of bog-standard flash. (Jack Daniels, if you're buying ...)

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After the pub, I hot-foot it over to Kemp Town again to meet some friends (Vicky, Jack, Rachael and Amy) at a Thai restaurant. The relentless drizzle makes my unwashed hair feel horrible. Here's Jack and Vicky.

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Presents. I wonder what the tall one could be?

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Posca markers, black-paged notebook and sirop de violette. They know me.

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Delicious starter platters to share- crispy "seaweed", satay mushrooms, julienned vegetables, sweet potato dumplings and (already eaten) spring rolls.

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Delicious curries and coconut rice.

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The waitress brought out banana fritters. I've never had icecream with candles in before. Rachael took the photo. We shared the fritters.

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Poor, trapped candle.

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Time for me to go back on the train, because I got a day ticket. Dear man ineptly trying to chat up an (increasingly unimpressed) girl: you sir, are a charmless oaf. Dear man talking loudly into your phone about business in an interesting kind of franglais: you are also pretty irritating, but at least you're linguistically interesting.

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I decide it's time to test out my new markers. Inspired by Mr Franglais: the life, death, and general drama of the common or garden pipe.

I don't have time to take a photo when I change again at Victoria.

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I bought a drink at the station, and find a seat far from the stink of people eating McDonalds. There always seems to be people eating McDonalds on the Kent train. Ugh. I find two papers as I go along, the Evening Standard, and part of the Grauniad. Guess which one I read first and enjoy more.

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I get home about quarter past twelvish. "Where have you been, and why don't you love us any more?"

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Some post arrived when I was out.

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Some presents from my sister. More markers (I do get through the black ones at a rate of knots), fuji instax film, and a book about story structures. I want to get the Raymond Queneau one too and compare.

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No important emails, lots of birthday wishes. Clean teeth and wash face.

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Feeling a bit tired. Kermit is always enthusiastic.

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I stick the Pains of Being Pure at Heart record on. It's good, but the same as their album. I have to listen with headphones right now, until I uncover the speak cables and get round to going down to Maplin's and getting some new fuses for the stereo amp. I don't normally keep jars of marshmellow spread up here, it was a present (exotic foreign food!) that I haven't got round to putting in the kitchen yet.

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Night!

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