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600k Polish in the UK? Bullshit, there are loads more. and they all live in Streatham.

it's been fascinating watching the changes in the local neighbourhood as the Poles have moved in. Every Asian / African shop has a little sign in the window talking about Polska productys, and the original central European deli up at Streatham Hill that sold delicious black bread and traditional cheesecake is nearly always packed these days - not to mention the newer, all-Polish, all the time deli up at the St Leonard's Church end.

It has long been the case that it is more likely that the white person in the queue next to you is in fact Polish, not British, and now they have families too, which is an interesting new development.

The thing that really says "We're here to stay" though, is the 'Anarcho' student-y house on Shrubbery Road (birthplace of the illustrious egomaniac mayor, Ken Livingstone). It says "Polska!" on the door written in a jaunty "Rad" style, and they play god awful Polish rap and metal-rap, very loudly. The bottom windows are boarded up, andthe top ones have been stylishly painted on from the inside (in lieu of curtains). What put me in mind of "The Young Ones" t'other evening was walking past it, and seeing two of these revolutionary kids from the streets sitting with their legs hanging out of the window, evidently enjoying a joint.

Yeah, London dudes! Streatham - party capital of the new Polish radical teen!

A missed moment of glory

I filled in the 100 words or less form on Beeb news to nominate your favourite local landmark, but didn't realise it was part of some vote or other.

The Crystal Palace transmitters came second in the "South of Birmingham" section. When I tried to look this up 2 days ago, the search failed. If only it hadn't, then fame and fortune could have been mine for the asking. Only another 3,500 votes would have done it. Given that my average visitors per day to this towering edifice is 30, it might have taken more than a couple of days to achieve, mind you.

Having said that though, the hangars that won are amazing.


This is *hilarious*. We had the local freebie version of the south London Press (called "The South London Guardian" or something) posted through our letterbox, despite the "piss off with your spam" notice, and I noticed it had a picture of the Crystal Palace Tower on the front, and a thing saying "Vote for the tower as your landmark" or "BBC vote" or something. They were so short of news, basically, they wrote a piece about this daft vote, without referencing me at all - and made it sound like the BBC had decided the list, which was terribly official.

I was somewhat amazed on the bus.


Well it's the first time I've seen white, puss-y blooms on my tonsils for a while.

In fact, I don't think I have ever witnessed them before, myself. I have heard tell of such horrors. One thing I can say is that it does seem to give you bad breath.

I've said it before but it bears saying again, since this blog is about the experience of having kids. You're not allowed to be sick, with young children. You can be ill. You can have temperatures of 38 degrees (nearly); you can go off your food and spend the whole evening in bed (when the kids are asleep, of course) and you can feel somewhat faint and queasy. But you still have to be "on" when they're up.

Nurse practitioner's appointment in the morning. After having taken Nora to nursery and given James his breakfast, of course.


It's fun to dip in to our friend Richard's diary of his Ed festival. That entry in particular is a bloody typical mix of the social energy you need, the strange feelings of isolation; crap food and exhilerating exhaustion of the festival. You end up being "on" for something like 18 hours a day if you're involved. God I miss it, but at the same time there's a large part of me that sighs in relif that I'm not burning the increasingly threadbare candle at both ends and the middle, and trudging home to a tenament block at 3am.  Rich used to be on what is commonly described as a "cult" TV show on BBC2. Since then he's been tinkering away at this, that and the other in TV and radio writing and performing but he's also been perfecting  his role as a stand up comedian. I've known  Rich longer than I've known many of my London based friends, but I didn't see his  early stand up stuff which ended just post-student. Presumably when he and the boys house shared in Acton.

His "apha male" genes tend to come out on stage, where in everyday life they have mellowed somewhat since his bullish twenties. At least, I say that but that's based on seeing him once last year, whilst pregnant, in a last ditch attempt to actually go out before the social exile of a newborn. There's a slight similarity in that respect to Phill Jupitus, who is a lovely person in every respect, but whose standup I never really appreciated - from out of nowhere he suddenly produced a slightly mean streak; bullish and even if provoked, nasty. It surprised and unsettled me.

Strange. I feel a hankering for comedy these days. It's in my blood. Shame I could never translate my cynicism to the page or in to any performance - ah, I say that, but I never tried, despite various people telling me I should (although they might have been being polite). But - and I'll tell you the problem I have with stand up, as a career. There's a particular chap, who shall remain nameless, who used to do comedy songs. A really, really nice person. Generous spirited, kind... a really good guy. His comedy songs were very average, but they'd raise a smile. A drunken laugh if done at Jongleurs with the office crowds in. When I knew him he was in his late thirties, I'd say. and what was his future? He had a talent, but it would not reach as far as TV, or serious moneymaking, so he was "condemned" to tread the boards forever, traipsing from one underpaid gig to the next. Doing gigs in front of businessmen or oh, god I don't know but this is what stopped me. knowing I'd never be Jo Brand, but a trudging, middle of the talent pool at best comedian, looking at a sea of gigs before me and a sea of exactly the same gigs behind - all at the same level, forever.

This is where Rich wins. He's no middle of the pile comedian. His reviews for this show are as fantastic as can be expected.

God. I have so many Edinburgh memories. Finding out that someone who shall remain nameless never clipped his gigantic toenails (totally out of proportion with the rest of him) when a crowd of us were kipping in a fantastic, Avalon-sourced tenement (of course I wasn't supposed to be there. I certainly wasn't paying for use of the sofa); tracking down some er, substances with the help of Jane Hardee and geting nicely geed up with some, er, other people who shall remain nameless. Going out and buying the Sunday papers, ending up with them spread endlessly all over a darkly painted, stone floored front room. Sally, Stu, Rich, Pete, Simon, Kevin, Danny, Dave, Jane, Malcolm, Stephen, Mackay, Ben, M&S, Emma who was still doing law (I think?) and was gradually being dragged back in. Ed, Becca... watching a Star Trek night in Stephen and Becca's flat; Danny with tears in his eyes, blusteringly justifying himself through a crucial clip of the "Lal" episode. The Marlborough women - perpetually carrying a packet of 10 Silk Cut with you, with 2 left in, such that you can swap for yet another packet of 20 to chainsmoke - sweet jesus I did more damage to my lungs in those years than I've ever done living in London. Losing my bag with my camera and filofax in the back of a cab, only to have the filofax delivered anonymously to the Pleasance after they read my plea in the front, because they worked out from the fliers where I'd be. Watching gig after gig after gig...

And meeting my husband. Ten years ago this week. The guys were doing Oblomov and I was running about trying to get it in the papers. I didn't do too badly, given my limited experience. I also kissed my husband for the first time. It was Mel's fault. She told me to quit being so flaky. She and Emma Williams. "Tonight!" they said. I'd been sitting, banging my head against a wooden table top in the Pleasance courtyard gnawing my fist and bemoaning my fate to several mates whose patience was beginning to wear thin. How could I possibly tell this person, who I knew but didn't know; who seemed very self assured and good christ, he was a good actor, about the oppressive, asthma enducing feelings that were beginning to reduce everyday conversation to monosyllabic idiocy. But, we were being drawn inexorably together; the long distance stare at each other without speaking in the Cafe Royal (? I think?) being the most obvious clue. So it came to pass. That night I kissed his thumb. And then some.

I had to go home a week early. He walked me to my train, and as I stood in the doorway of the Intercity at Waverley station, I said "I love you", and I knew it to be true. Mackay flushed momentarily, and said haltingly "...and you're very lovely too".

But, I knew.

Still ill

I appear to be unwell, which simply will not do.

One upshot of being ill is writig very, very badly mispelt emails when overtired.

I do have things to write about though, up to and including:

-Alex's party, nursery, still feeding at all hours, work anxiety, those book reviews I've been meaning to do...

...and so on and so forth. However, at the moment my immensely swollen tonsil and air of shaky fatigue takes precedence.

I have RSI under my right thumb from pumping out. Damn!

My son

Is huge. i don't mean fat. I mean long. He's so long, he's beginning to outgrow his infant car seat, which should last him until he's at least a year or so old. He's so long, he's wearing (caveate: 'some') 6-9 months clothes and they fit him, not like if he started wearing them at 6 months and they were too big.

Is it any wonder then that the child is still waking twice in the night? (groaaaaan).

This is bloody difficult. Because he's not sleeping through, he can't go in to the bedroom with Nora at 6 months. Nora went in to her own bedroom at 6 months, when I returned to work. Because I have to go to work, I will have to get up earlier than 7 to get dressed and have my breakfast, before feeding James then pissing off. What is the likelihood of me waking James early, by accident, when I get up? To say it's strong is an understatement - the cot in directly nect to my side of the bed. There's nowhere else to put it.

At present, he's veering about wildly in his late late feed. It seemed to stabilise at approx 5am, then suddenly it was 5.40, then back to 4am. The advent of solids hasn't really done much to stop things, given that he can't really digest alot of it right now, plus I'm actively not supposed to give him huge swathes of the stuff, because it'll affect his milk intake (which must be his primary food source for a while yet).

fr the last three days, he cried after tea because I didn't give him enough. As it is, I'm giving him more than is recommended.

Anyway. I'm so tired I keep making elementary typing mistakes.  *Yawn*.

The aftermath

I tend to be quite paranoid about the outside world, in the dark, outside the flat, where I can't see it. i always have been. When I lived on my own in Manchester, I must have iad the cops out at least three times over the course of a year or so (that's when I realised basically, I should not live on my own). So for the first few days after inept burglar man came in through the window were a bit tense. I'm finding that I still can't sleep, and the scaffolding outside doesn't look like it's going anywhere fast, the worlmen haven't been back for over a week. So it's still there, causing shadowns and easy access to everyone's flats (in theory).

Your memory plays tricks with you and starts fulfilling the citeria laid down by your paranoia. If you don't think it out, the burglar idiot, instead of looking like "some bloke" starts to look like a devil gargoyle or something slithery and evil trying to gain entrance to the place where your children live. It's an interesting but uncomfortable phenomenon.

I've been having a lot of thoughts recently regarding the nature of "evil",civilisation and the  - I guess it has its origins in De beauvoir's "A / not A" dichotomy in as much as that which is not evil (in terms of human interaction and development of such), must therefore constitute "civilisation". There's somes Hobbes thrown in plus very likely some kind of reflection on the whole Platonic civilsation thing, so if I were sensible, I would go back and read these people before trying toarticulate my musing. However, that would require TIME, which I haven't got. So instead it will come out as a "starter for 10" hotchpotch.

But now - Bed.

Lebanese cooking

Not as any sort of political gesture particularly, although there may be some empathy with people driven from their homes or killed. Meanwhile, earlier this year, McK bought an absolutely brilliant cookery book by claudia Rosen called "Arabesque" by a woman called Claudia Roden. It's been sitting on our kitchen bookshelf ever since, in the usual way.

In perusing it vaguely the other day, I saw a lovely Lebanese omelette recipe, and I'd been thinking about doing a spinach with blackeye beans and caramelised onions recipe for a while, so I thought - just do the bloody thing. Andthen one thing led to another. These are the Lebanese recipes I've attempted so far:

Spinach with beans and caramelised onions: really nice but I did too many beans. Will do again some time.
Cheesy omelette/s: This you do either as one big omelette (spanish style) or as small individual omelettes. My lovely friends Yoz and Bob were coming over with wee Dexter so for that reason, as well as thinking that maybe Nora might have some, I did them as individual omelettes.
Absolutely *delicious*. Basically, you mash feta, and do your omelette er, batter, I guess, with fresh mint, fresh flat leaf parsley, spring onions and white pepper. Mix it all up together, and splat half ladel-fuls in to the omelette pan. Out came these fantastic, sun shaped, crispy little chesy delights, bursting with fresh,crunchy onion flavour, and the aromatic mint and parsley - wow. Wow. What's truly marvellous about this food is that whilst in the UK we have come to understand that"the meditteranean diet" is very healthy, we tend to put the blinkers on once we've got to Spain. Here is more Med food which is closely linked to Greek, for example and is positively humming with fresh healthiness.
Then today I went a bit bonkers and made green lentils with caramelised onions and pasta (nice and earthy but I made too much really) and much more impressively, an astonishingly delicious lentil soup with rice. So incredibly simple. Stock, lentils, rice, coriander, pepper. 45 minutes of cooking and yet more caramelised onions plus some ground cumin (my favourite spice) placed on top. The real clincher though is a quarter of a lemon, drizzled in to the soup when you have yours placed in front of you. Mysterious, new but there again, comfortingly familiar.

There are many more recipes I want to do from the Lebanese section - the idea is to "do" one culinary adventure at a time. The Moroccan section has some delicious looking vegetarian dishes too. Meanwhile, there's still one portion of the soup left (but not for long). I don't think I'd be sticking my neck out if I said that I may well be cooking that for myself for lunches fairly regularly when I go back to work.

You know what else? Much vegetarian food that you find in UK based recipe books is dull as ditchwater, tasting of nothing. The ubiquitous tomato is dragged in at any opportunity as if to say "Look! It's Meditteranean, it must be good!". But here in the space of a few days, I've discovered really new, and exciting tastes - very different from anything I've had in restaurants, using completely fresh and easily get-able ingredients. The food is for the most part extremely simple to make and yet is fantastic. That book was an excellent investment.