Tuesday, 18 September 2018

A genuinely brilliant bit of acting

So much sex/romance in films is so robotic and un-erotic. I was quite transfixed by this performance - feel the chemistry!

Couldn't find a good clip in English but, hey! equally arresting . . .

Friday, 7 September 2018

Small London wanderings

Very much restricted wanderings this time as I only had part of a day to explore my home town.

I arrived at my Air B&B at midnight - five hours after I said I would, due to a four-hour delayed flight and another hour standing around at Stansted airport with about two hundred other people all also wondering where their baggage had got to.
Luckily, the very lovely host was totally understanding, made me tea, asked what I was doing in London and showed me - after making me a hot-water bottle - to my lodgings - a beautiful garden shed. Actually, not a shed - more a recycled wood cabin with found 30s windows and tea-chest interior cladding.


I don't think I have slept better for months.
I lay there thinking how odd it was to be in a small wooden house in a Clapton garden within this vast throbbing city, and how really quiet it was and then I was out for eight hours - unheard of!

After my agent meeting the following day, I returned to the shed, had a rest, read one of Mark Haddon's short stories (excellent) and then walked a very, very long way and got lost (no GPS, thank you!) but it was an interesting getting lost, mainly around the Hackney Marshes area and ending up at a pub called The Approach near Victoria Park where a lot of my novel, Hoxton, is set.
I met up with friend, Sophie, and we discussed life generally before yawning into our drinks and deciding that our respective sleeping places were calling.


The interior of a wonderful café called 'The Tram Stop' somewhere between Clapton and Hackney

The Hackney Empire. Somehow, I've never seen this/these buildings before! One of a few architectural symbiosis of old and new that, to my mind, works.


The Mighty St Leonard's Church, (from a bus) home of my Character, Hoxton.


                               Beauty salon on Kingsland Road.


One of a billion or so overlooked door and window lintel decorations in London

I'm not sure why I photographed these two edifices but I just liked their air of silent resignation to the next bit of decay and graffiti; respectively sitting under about 150/60 years of drizzle watching human-progress - or not.

Global-warming evidence near the Hackney Marshes. A very happy olive tree.


Top of bus-shelter debris. I saw quite a few surprising things on the bus from Hackney to Covent Garden - a credit card, shoes, a sandwich, books, glasses . . . Thrown up there from the street, or from the bus, passing biplane . . .
This bungee-rope must have been there for a decade or so judging by the moss that surrounded it. I once started a short-story about a man who lived on a bus-shelter roof. I might continue it.


                                           A tiny building which must be mostly a fireplace


                                    A wistful bulldog


Interesting bit of modern architecture encompassing London yellow brick, steel and glass.

A magnificent drinking fountain in Victoria Park - I loved the way the trickle has been designed to enter the little oval pool with a groove so the water returns to the base. And the pebbles! Wow.

A slice of rails, woodwork, ironwork, cables, brick and tenacious buddleias growing from wall-cracks

And back to the airport. I'm sure the duty free bit has expanded again to feature further meters of people thrusting bits of perfume-saturated white card at you; and even more chocolate/tea/booze and useless plastic crap than you can shake an advertising exec at.

There's always a spotlight area for a certain product halfway through the D-Free bit - last time I think it was Toblerone, and before that M and Ms? The current Giorgio Armani installation was rendered somewhat ludicrous by the 'no climbing' sign on the pretend boat-gangway.

I bought a small tin of Earl Grey as a congrats present for my son passing his driving test, avoided everything else, ate a very nice black-bean thing in Leon and settled down with a pot of tea to write my meeting notes out - just another member of the huge human colony perched on seats and taking Instagram pictures of their meals. We are a strange lot.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Finally . . .

About five years ago I got out of a swimming pool with a new writing idea sparking in my head:

Woman in the future, living in a London church with a horse called Kafka.

Many, many, many drafts, edits and readings by wonderful readers later, HOXTON has been taken on by an agent. Still work to do but after her last comments I can see the shape of the book so much more fully now.

One of my early readers was a young man called Charlie and he just texted me this reaction to my news.

The wellest of well dones!! Hoxton is unlike any novel I've ever read - optimistic, anarchistic, post-capitalist, Francophile, sci-fi - yes please!! A publisher would be mad not to bite her hand off.

I can now say: Kate A Hardy is represented by Sandra Sawicka at Marjacq Scripts, Holborn, London.



                       St Leonard's Church in Sureditch (Shoreditch) where the book is mainly set.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Two ferrets and a Soda Stream

Nope - not a new Curtis film, the result of going early to a Vide Grenier (car-boot/yard-sale) this morning - not that perhaps anyone else would have bought ancient taxidermy specimens. (Except Andy, if you read this). Five euros a piece - s'got be a bargain! The soda stream has yet to be tried but I can't see there's much to go wrong there.


So, what else has this season's scavenging unearthed? It's been a good few Sundays - last week procuring several shirts for Mark at a euro each. Actually, this is odd - how we always seem to find him shirts as he's not exactly a standard Southern France man shape, more Nordic, Viking, even.
Last weekend also resulted in clothes for me, a huge salad platter, an exceptionally nice etching for 5 euros, teapots to replace broken ones, a 1970s wall-hanging to funk-up Mark's music room and various other (mostly) useful items. Why anyone bothers to shop for new stuff is a mystery to me - OK I draw the line at certain things like . . . underwear, and . . . that's about it. Maybe not a second-hand pressure cooker - bit scary.
 A bit scary, is also how much stuff we, the human race - or at least the members of it who have manufactured all these non-vital things - have managed to accumulate over a relatively short period of time. This was just one small amassing of a few folk's spare room rubbish, in one small French village. Imagine all the millions of boot sales and variants of, all over the world. Eek. We are indeed heading towards a possibly not too distant new Earth-Epoch - Plasticusgallusossum era, perhaps. A plastic and chicken bone sedimentary layer. The end of the consumers.
Oo, dear, this is getting a tad dark.
Time for a cup of tea in one of our new 1970s brown teapots.

                 Suitably apocalyptic and lovely etching from a couple of Sundays back.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Housewife guilt relieved by the April Freshness of Lenor

Part of last post rant.

Plastic rant . . .

I have to have these from time to time, and THIS really warrants one.

We all (or most of us) now realise that endlessly producing billions of plastic containers every day is totally unsustainable and polluting - to say the very least.

We all use plastic  - this keyboard I'm typing on, the car bumper I tied back on with wire this morning (rather proud of that), train seats, plane seats, televisions, audio-equipment, fridges, washing machines, guttering, drains, food containers, the everywhere water bottles and just about everything else. Should we not be cutting back on unnecessary products rather than producing more and more CHOICES, to thus use plastic for essentials like medical equipment?
Yes, there is an argument re jobs in such sectors as body-care products but maybe there just isn't a choice any longer. Hair = a shampoo product, and it's now possible to buy solid shampoo in a cellophane wrapper. We have some and it's great. Clothes = a need to wash them. Get a refill at your local eco store. It's less expensive and does the job.
And we move on to the subject of this particular rant. Fabric conditioner - with a big CON. This must be one of the cleaning companies most heralded products. An extra substance to dunk clothes in for really no reason. Meadow Sweet, Island Oasis, Snuggle, Final Touch - quite an appropriate name, perhaps - Downy, Fluffy, Fleecy, Comfort, Lix (ugh), Purex, and of course the massive Lenor range.
One or two products might suffice? Nope. A whole new range in even more shiny thick plastic bottles has appeared in our local supermarket.
I only went in to get a cube of yeast and some dog chews but stopped transfixed by the in-your-face and will-be-in-your-bag display featuring (bizarrely) a wolf and an erotic version of Little Red Riding Hood - I think.
Imagine the meetings, the trays of Danish pastries, the gallons of coffee consumed while ad-execs agonised over the names and colours of these useless and planet-knackering products.

The perfume of secrets - whaaat? Covering up some old poo stain on a toddler's trousers? Séduisant - seducing fabric softener? I Suppose they are trying to move away from cosy, soft and comforting?


              This really should being in Ann Summers shop and be called Sweat Liqueur


                                                             Charm and mystery.
Come on . . . you could have been a little more imaginative, surely? Alien-craft sex-chamber; the lost jewels of the Queen of the great oceans?


                                                And you should, Proctor and Gamble.

Governments should ban this water-polluting, land-fill garbage. Iron clothes if you want them soft, and if they smell a bit unlike a spring meadow, a woman dressed in a red cloak or a wolf (?) so what.

I've just found an old Lenor ad I recall from way back featuring a housewife wracked with guilt over her daughters' prickly nightdresses. Will post for a comparison . . .

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Road Trip

Not exactly heading across America in an open-top fin-tailed limo; rather a couple of hundred kilometres across the Tarn and Averyron departments in a beaten-up old Renault Kangoo, but it was Road-Trip enough to us. Us, being Moi et 'The Boy' - now twenty, and avid explorer on a smallish scale.
After checking unwieldy and creased paper maps (no GPS, thank you!) we booked an Air B and B and set out on a voyage to Cordes-sur Ciel as the name was so strangely beautiful - Cordes on the sky. First stop was Lautrec, a small stone village, (Hello Sophie, if you read this, and thanks for the recommendation) not far from Albi.


As the sun was already crashing down at eleven o'clock we had a small wander, drank thermos tea and bought a skein of garlic from a woman platting the bulbs together in a garage/atelier. Garlic is THE thing here and was promoted outside every shop along with clothes, table-cloths and many other fabric-y things dyed in the soft and beguiling Pastel - a blue dye made from a plant cultivated in the region. I resisted a marvellous blue, embroidered bolero, walked the rest of the vertiginous streets and we moved on to Gaillac.
After parking on the outskirts we walked down to the river and admired the arching main bridge but not the magnitude of dog poo everywhere. (Think it might be a good investment by the Marie or the town to invest in some dog-poo bins). First impressions were of a rather sad cousin of Albi, further along the Tarn, but after a further look - and not a very comprehensive one as it was now about forty degrees - we liked it and its air of faded grandeur, which may be changing - up or down, wealth-wise; it was difficult to tell.


After returning to the mobile-oven/car we drove on to Cordes desperate for a shower and a lie down in a dim room - curtains wafting gently, tea brewing, etc - to then read the Air B and B blurb and discover check-in was after 5.00 pm. Arg.
Approaching Cordes, especially in our hallucinatory, overheated states, it was possible to see where the name heralded from - the town almost suspended on a hilltop like something from a Miyazaki film. The climb up there was not going to happen so we sat in a café for a while, slapped at wasps and decided on a further drive to somewhere called Carmaux where there is a particularly fine abandoned coal mine. Yes. Travelling with The Boy does mean detours to look at crumbling factories and disused quarries but happily, I love all that melancholic wandering about in such places even though they are better viewed under scudding cloud and fine drizzle, not ragingly blue skies.
So, we left Cordes and drove about sixty K in the wrong direction but ended up near Najac where I was able to get in, and convince Him, to swim in the river Aveyron which was the best thing ever - deep, cool water, overhanging trees and little blue dragon-flies zipping over the water's surface.


                    Wild swimming opportunity  

After, we visited Najac on seeing the 'Un de les Plus beaux village de France' sign. And it was. Unbelievably Beau. So much so, I wasn't sure it was actually real and kept imagining Gerard Depardieu might appear in medieval costume and swagger off to le catering van at any moment.



Back to the B and B which was now get-in-able, had showers and lay about for a while before climbing the cobbled streets of ancient Cordes. It was rather wonderful, a bit like a tiny version of Carcassonne without all the plastic swords and other rubbish. After the usual farting about when trying to choose where to eat the one special meal of the trip we opted for the oldest and most established restaurant and sat in a stone courtyard under the interlaced branches of a three-hundred year-old Wisteria.



                    Cordes-sur Ciel

The next day dawned slightly cloudy (Wheee!) We set off to find Carmaux without getting lost, and early enough to be able to explore and not just collapse in cafés.
And it was SO worth it. Carmaux council, or whoever owns this deserted coal-washing plant are keen, understandably, to keep people out so it took a bit of locating. In the end it was surprisingly easy to park and walk half a kilometre to the site - now mostly overgrown with Poplar and Brambles. I don't think I've ever been to such a marvel in our catalogue of disused industrial places. Vast, towering walls of concrete and broken glass, crumbling staircases and a the weird coal-washing 'vats' themselves. I suppose to demolish something like that would be SO expensive and probably dangerous - having seen quite a lot of what looked like asbestos lying about - that the place just sits there rotting a bit more every day. And it's not exactly a Battersea Power station location either - penthouse flat anyone? Nope. Not in a rural, ex-coal-mining area of the Tarn.



we know how to have a good time . . .


Happiness is a disused coal-washing plant.

Then, onto the open cast mine itself . . . and found it was no longer an interesting, abandoned place full of rusting machinery. Instead some sort of 'loisir' camping/horse-riding area that the council had very sensibly devised and constructed on the ruins of the old site. We did see a 'bucket wheel excavator' something that Ezra has shown me pictures of from a German coal-field and looks like something from a star-wars film. This was a small one, but nevertheless impressive.

Weariness had descended from the heat so we drove homewards in a very convoluted way as I was obsessed with wild swimming in something - river or lake. Unfortunately all the magnificent 'barrages' we did find were No Swimming ones, and the waterfalls we started to trek towards were signposted as miles away/proper footwear required. So, air-conditioning on, I stopped meandering about and headed back through the shimmering heat haze of the Tarn to the equally boiling Aude.


A nice field in the Tarn