Images by me
Images by me
It was just as I reached the bus-stop this evening that another wave of stomach pains hit me. I sat down on the bench and breathed in and breathed out and stared at the floor, fixated on the slightly old vomit where someone else had been unlucky earlier in the weekend. The pains didn't subside and I started to wonder what I was going to do. My phone was in the bathroom at home; there was no-one at work; I had an appointment to get to. I was on my own. The thought of fainting into someone else's vomit was too much so I moved away from the bus stop and lent against the wall at the side of the pavement, staring at the floor and people's feet trotting past, going home, going out, going past all the while trying not to let my panic escalate. "Come on Rachel" I told myself, "breathe and get on the bus. Once you're home you can ring up, cancel the appointment and then lie down".
A hand reached out and took my arm. I looked up and a kind lady slightly older than me said "Let's get you to a cafe so you can sit down and I'll get you some water. Do you need me to call you a doctor?" and with that she walked me over the road and did exactly that. I declined the doctor but almost cried, well, actually, I cried a little bit, at her kindness. She lent me her phone and I cancelled my appointment and then called M who called me an Addison Lee car to come and rescue me. And she waited there, with me, in that cafe, until my taxi arrived and I gave her a lift to her office on the way. On the way, we talked. Two strangers, thrust together into a shared situation. She too was a lawyer who had followed a slightly different career path. She was qualified and successful. She told me that I would be too.
So many people tell me that they could never live in London; it's too dangerous and too impersonal, that no-one cares, that you could die and no-one would notice. Ok, so I once had my purse stolen on a bus but not today. Today I was in the city of London. I needed help and in my moment of need, someone helped me. And I am very grateful.
Lying in the park earlier, propped against a picnic hamper on one of those plastic backed picnic rugs and the sun warming my face, I looked around my group of friends and though "some people don't have birthday parties this great yet this, for us, is just a normal weekend". A dinner party until 3am on Friday night, lounging and then dinner and a party on Saturday and a Sunday afternoon picnic and pub visit to round off the weekend; a large group of our closest friends and some of the last decent weather of the year. Perhaps I am not so old yet.
Oh, I should be a headline writer... Or not. But last night I did get to taste a little of someone else's job: that of a music journalist. Now, you might have heard of a night club called Fabric. And you've no doubt heard of the 02 centre (otherwise known as the Dome). Well, Fabric has opened a sister super club at the 02 centre called Matter. Is the headline thing making sense now? Anyway, BestFriend's boyfriend got us 2 press passes to the press launch. So BestFriend and I dressed up and went out. On a school night.
Matter is like a cathedral for dance music lovers to worship their DJs. If God is a DJ he is surely to be found at Matter. That is, if he can find it. It is a long walk from the tube station along a bumpy track which did not have high-heels in mind. Inside however the sound pumps out of enormous speakers and soars to the very rafters of the club (well, VIP and VVIP area anyway). Lasers cut their way through the smoke machined air which hovers low over a sprung dance floor which makes the crowd lift as one as the beats lift you higher and higher. It also makes you, ahem, vibrate. Yes, all parts of you. The lights cast shadows over the lower areas illuminating auditorium style concrete benches, last night prettily occupied with posers, soon to be occupied with those dance music lovers which could be mistaken for refugees by the time the night is out. Look to the left and there is a bar which runs the whole length of the wall, grey, concrete, metal, the whole place is grey and clinical, and staffed by hundreds of Matter worker bees who fill drinks, collect glasses, keep control, signal to the smoking area. Look up, which you will, as you will wonder why it is so light for a night club and you will see higher seating areas and a strange walkway, which looks rather like the guitar track in Guitar hero, only upside down, and then right right at the top, a red tinged area, the VIP section. Find the stairs, if you can, being careful not to scratch your jewellery or silk dress against the rough metal railings or concrete edges, or to trip your satin shoe against a rough step (trainers are better footwear here by far) and enter the VIP area and you will find cosy seating instead of concrete benches and a birds eye view of the whole club, reinforcing your impression that once you are a VIP you are on top of the world and have the world's permission to look down on everyone else. Once you have grown bored of the unusual view of the sound booth and countless posing people - have you ever seen primping like that of a male band about to have their photo taken - you wind your way back down the steps (or take the lift if you are so inclined) and return to ground level and to cold clinical concrete. The bar area is full now, so you have to push past people gathering around strange alien tables, the noise so loud that it almost feels silent - you can see people's mouths moving but you cannot work out what they say - the blue UV lights casting a hospital like glow over everyone. Once past the crowds round the bar you head back up to the middle floor, in search of loos. Unisex ones or up the metal staircase to the girls only? It matters not, they are roughly the same. Cubicles round the edges, big metal rectangular troughs in the middle. Not as cool as the huge round metal ones at Fabric with their complicated foot pedal system which immediately singles out the newbies, but still trough like enough that the animal illusion is complete once pilled up people start washing in them, or more pleasantly, vomiting in them. The doors are kinder on the ear than the prison style clanking ones at Fabric; the loo paper however is of substandard quality. Thankfully the Dyson hand-dryers make up for it. Wander around, for that is what people seem to spend most of their time doing, a pointless continuous movement of people, until you have seen your fill, listened to your body weight in sound, carried yourself into oblivion on a tidal wave of intensifying beats which lift you up and up and up... Fabric is not a venue, it's a scene, someone once told me. Matter is more of a venue, I think, but time will tell.
Matter, The O2, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 ODY
The BBC asks: "if you loss your job today, what would you take from your desk?". In other words, what personal items do we have in and on our desks to make the long working days just a little bit more personal?
So here goes:
... according to the Sunday Times... (blue text by them, purple added by me)
1 GOLD HOOP EARRINGS For days when you wanna look J.Lo glam. These shouldn’t be so big as to look like you haven’t got over the gypsy trend, nor so small as to make you look like a three-year-old on a council estate.
Seems I have failed already. No gold hoop earrings in this British girl's jewellery box. But seeing as I have only ever had one day when I wished to look J.Lo glam (and that was at a fancy dress party with the dress code Bling Bling) I suppose I am not missing out. My earring taste is a lot more subtle. Pearls, shells, that sort of thing.
2 A BERET For bad-hair days. It will take you straight to Kim Basinger in Batman. Just don’t obsess about the angle: they should be worn with nonchalance.
Gosh, not getting off to the best start am I? Berets to me are less Kim Basinger, more too old for CCF. Beanies or trilbies are my hat of choice these days.
3 A VINTAGE OSSIE CLARK DRESS Separates the women from the girls. Fabulously flattering at any age, from 18 to 80.
Doesn't so much separate the women from the girls as the haves and have-nots. Do you know how much a vintage ossie clark dress costs? Well, Shikasuki, my favourite vintage shop, sells them. I tried one on when wedding dress shopping. Thankfully it didn't fit - it was £750 for an ankle length crepe dress which made my (size 8-10) hips look fat. Beautiful, yes. Fabulously flattering, I think not.
4 EXPENSIVE BLACK LACE LINGERIE At least one set. For obvious reasons.
Finally, something I do own. Although it depends on your definition of 'expensive'. For obvious reasons.
5 A PAIR OF THERMAL SHORTS For when you want to wear a skirt without tights, but it’s a bit parky outside.
What? OK, who is writing this? This is England. If it's cold you wear tights. Even in August. Thermal shorts? Never even heard of them and I thought I knew about these things...
6 SILK STOCKINGS A rite of passage for every woman — and, subsequently, for her man. In slightly unusual shades — such as petrol or burgundy — they make an outfit. And in this country they can be worn for three-quarters of the year.
Exactly - so why the need for (5)? Mine actually happen to be burgundy (and are tights, but near enough).
2/67 A DECENT TRENCH COAT Some people are scared of trenches because they look fussy — they’re not. Everyone from Burberry to M&S does them, so there’s no excuse.
11 A VINTAGE DRESS One that’s seen much better days — for being very trashy in.
That's more like it... yes, I have several of these, mostly from the aforementioned Shikasuki although a couple from my mother's wardrobe via the old dressing up box. My favourite is bright emerald/turquoise silk shift which is just trashed enough you don't mind wearing it but fab enough that it looks the part.
12 A PAIR OF MAD SUNGLASSES They should be too mad to go on a date in, but just mad enough to feel liberated.
Tick. In fact, I have such a small face that all sunglasses look slightly mad on me. My favourite pair is a pair of RayBan aviators which are enormous but still look cool...
7/1213 A SHORT, BLACK BOB WIG Check out of you-ness and be Louise Brooks for the day.
15 A T-SHIRT DRESS One you’ve had since you were 22. Just throw it on and go.
Many of these - mostly from American Apparel who make the best ones. Just right for a summers night raving at Fabric.
16 A PAIR OF MEN’S BROGUES For looking playfully serious.
There are lots of these in our house but M wears them so well that I leave that look to him...
9/1617 SOMETHING DELICATE AND ANCIENT It must be kept in acid-free tissue paper — anything made of Victorian lace, for example.
11/1819 WHITE CORDS Less flash than white denim, more elegant than jeans. Wear with a navy pea coat, and you are Jackie O.
22 BOLD STATEMENT HEELS Six inches? Toe cleavage? Huge platform? Orange PVC? Perfect. Shoes that get people talking. And never stop.
I don't actually tend to go in very much for plain shoes - so all mine are statement pieces one way or another. See wedding shoes for confirmation...
23 A BLACK CASHMERE ROLLNECK If you must wear basics, console yourself with luxury. Audrey Hepburnesque and great with jeans and minis.
Well, it's a black roll neck, at any rate. Goes with everything especially to work.
24 HAIRSPRAY (ELNETT) AND KIRBY GRIPS For dramatic evening up-dos.
Not much more to add to this, is there?
17/2425 A CAMEO BROOCH These are practical, but always remarkable, and their colours don’t clash with outfits — unlike jewelled brooches.
18/2728 JAPANESE DARK DENIM JEANS Very simple, narrow, but not skinny, wide or bootcut. Never, ever wash them.
29 A SLIGHTLY-TOO-SHORT LCD (little coloured dress). Black is okay, but purple (see Michelle Obama), red or jade are better.
The same one that falls under the vintage dress category above.
30 A COLOSSAL COCKTAIL RING For when you need instant cheer.
I have a red one from Shikasuki but these days I find my engagement ring does the same job...
21/3031 DECENT WELLINGTON BOOTS Le Chameau, Argyll and Hunter all pass muster. Never be caught in a shiny novelty pair — you will be outed as a novice in an instant.
33 A BRETON TOP Insouciant, witty, timeless, French, sexy.
I have a couple but am careful when to wear them as it is my Mother's signature style.
34 CASHMERE SOCKS It’s not a style thing, it’s a love thing: a love-yourself thing.
One of my favourite things about winter...
35 A SILK SQUARE It can serve as a belt, a neckscarf, a duster — and as a headscarf, is just perfect for autumn bike rides.
My favourite was my mother's. also looks good tied on a handbag or round the brim of a hat.
36 A HIDDEN TATTOO The element of surprise is essential.
Nope, none. Hidden or otherwise. I just can't imagine finding something I wanted written on my body for the rest of my life
26/3637 RUBY SLIPPERS Just the one pair?
28/3839 A FAMILY HEIRLOOM Bracelet, brooch or diamond-set watch — to ignite conversation.
40 A SHAG-ME BRA To be seen peeking out from your top.
Hmmm. Not a fan of visible underwear. But yes, I do own a couple...
29/4041 A PAIR OF GOLD LAME LEGGINGS Because you never know when you might be called upon to go dancing, and it’s hard to keep up with what the kids wear in clubs these days.
43 SOMETHING FROM CHANEL Anything at all.
Not yet; I am working on it...
44 A PAIR OF FAKE SPECTACLES For last-minute librarian chic.
Who needs fake ones when you can have the real thing?
No fur stole, fake or otherwise, much as I would like one. Maybe I will keep looking in the vintage shops as I could never buy one new.
45 A FUR STOLE Fake works fine. Guaranteed to elicit attention when worn flung over shoulders with red lipstick.
47 A BIG, PATTERNED, WOOLLEN SCARF Something hippie-ish you can swathe yourself in come rain or shine. The best are bought on holiday and have bright and pretty colours. Will take a T-shirt and jeans to stylish and original levels.I own many, many of these. I can't remember a holiday when I didn't return with a new one. My favourites though are limited to two: the red and gold silk knitted one with peacock feathers that my father brought back from China and a grey & red woven one that my sister found for me in Vietnam.
I had a telephone call last night which I answered just as I returned home from BestFriends house, at the respectable time of 10.30pm. It was Littler A, back at university and on a train heading towards London. At least I think she was on a train. It's what I think she said, but then it was hard to hear her over the din. She may have been in the monkey enclosure at the zoo, or the common room of a public school. There was definitely shrieking. "Rachi baby!" she giggled, "what clubs in London stay open all night on a Thursday?". I thought back to the days when I used to be able to party all night, on a whim. I thought back to the last club I had been to on a school night, Mamalanji, where I had danced til 4am and still made it to work. I thought of my sister's budget and reached for Time Out.
When is the last time I saw some sunshine? I need some sunshine in my life. Everything is so grey, even the jumpers I am wearing are grey. It is cold, chilly, too chilly for the second week of September. Where is the Indian summer that we were promised to compensate for the greyest August on record?
I am practising being a house wife. We picked blackberries at the weekend, two bagfuls. Thankfully we had Lily the dog with us. Dogs = plastic bags (unused). We brought home, well, back to the holiday cottage, two large food bags bursting with sweet smelling carefully picked purply-black ripe blackberries and I made them into blackberry goo. Perhaps it has a proper name but I do not know it. The blackberry goo is now in the freezer. Back in London I made applesauce. Two carrier bags of Shropshire garden apples. I cut and cored and peeled and persuaded M to help as well. We made a pressure cooker full of apple sauce. The apple sauce too is in the freezer, in small Tupperware boxes. Next weekend when friends come for Sunday lunch I shall make some pastry and fill it with home made apple and blackberry goo. And make custard to go with it. On Tuesday I made banana and ginger and chocolate muffins with some left over bananas, a bit of ginger and the ends of two packets of Green & Blacks dark chocolate. I went to open the cake-tin to put the cooled muffins in but it was already occupied by some white furry mould and what might have been the end of something else I made a few weeks ago. The muffins are now in a Tupperware jug. I think I need some more practice.