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Writing about Hammersmith is odd. Because I'm not so much writing about a place as about a time. When I did the first version of this (1998-2000), it was set when, and where, I was living - and although I've moved, it hasn't. Nowadays I feel as much 'from' Kingston as I do 'from' Hammersmith and indeed some of the things I think I remember nostalgically from Hammersmith are, I realise when I think about it, actually Kingston. Hammersmith was also about living in inner London in my 20s and 30s. Kingston gave me a bit of a restart but when my local closed down in '08 I just started going on about how far out of town it was, rather than finding a new local (the Lamb in Surbiton is the happening place at the moment. I am sure Surbiton is going to be on the up in coming years as a new generation arrive who don't associate the name of the place with The Good Life). Then '09 was even worse and in '10 I got made redundant, but all these events centred on Kingston rather than Hammersmith which was receding further and further into nostalgia while still being at the other end of an 85 bus ride (to get to the borough) then change to a 220 (to get to Hammersmith proper although my area was never the Broadway so much as the top end of North End Road).

I cannot however imagine setting the work in progress in Kingston instead though. It feels too suburban, not enough complexity, not enough history (the story is really about how the past entwines with the present). Setting it here, in South Birmingham, is another matter and I am quite prepared to find out that it would be a possible - certainly the river Bournbrook that is in and out of daylight in this area could be significant, and why shouldn't the Bristol Road stand in for the A4? Then there's the canal. Much that is mysterious could happen along a canal like that (of course much that is unpleasant already does but that is not a reason not to write about it). I'm just not qualified to write it as I haven't lived here that long nor investigated its past.

However the rewrite / remake makes more sense than the previous version because I've been able to work out the relations between the characters better. For example there was one meeting between two of the characters which was forced in the original version and I don't think it was likely - but there is a very good reason in-context why they would meet, so why not use it?

I spent yesterday working on the allotment, then selling cupcakes, then at an author reading in Waterstone's. A good day. And that was after writing in the morning. But I still want to go home. I shouldn't move house, it doesn't do me any good with my sense of place.


Oct. 27th, 2012 08:44 am
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What's kind of fun is rewriting scenes from the original (1998-2000) version so that they now make more sense; or realising as in the latest case that a scene from the old version can go into the new because it fits perfectly there (rewritten accordingly).

I've had to file off the serial numbers of my old local as, good as it is, I don't want to give it a free advert. (although TBH did that stop Ian Rankin?)


Oct. 26th, 2012 09:24 am
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I now have an estimate for the repair of the Zip which involves basically replacing everything except the wheels and the engine! Understandably this is 'uneconomical to repair' as the bike is only worth about £300 - £400.
From reading around I get the impression that I can either get a payment for the bike or get the bike back to repair myself. I'm tempted given the relatively low value to take the money as I have no money at all at present and probably wouldn't ride the bike much until next spring.

The other part of this is the legal business which is dragging on and looks like the legal company are going to take a large fee for taking the other driver to court. Is there any way to avoid this?


Oct. 24th, 2012 09:29 am
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For some reason last night I dreamed I was at a staging of "'Tis Pity She's a Whore" which took place in a water tank (full) on scaffolding.


Oct. 16th, 2012 12:40 pm
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Further to this entry:

It seems Hammersmith and Fulham is the fourth most expensive area for housing in the country and at the same time has one of the highest rates of council housing. 

I did actually find this out as part of the work in progress. Having put a character in my old flat (built as council housing but never used as such), she speculates - as I did - that the local authority was using the estate to house council tenants short-term. I was trying to find out whether this was in fact true. I was however not able to determine that.
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So yesterday I went to the dental hospital and now need to adjust to a brace. Since then I have had physio (more painful than the accident or the injury), been to the allotment and planted cabbages and onions (and been cornered by an allotment-holder who told me uz lads didn't know we were born, ee'd taken all iz own teeth out wi pliers), and am now making a cake (or rather the bread machine is making it for me). Tonight is the writers group and having missed my last two reading slots I'm hoping to take over one that has been vacated (I certainly put forward my claim to it but did say that there are new members who might like to read instead). I do have something to read after all.

And having locked myself out of my own Flickr account (though I can access it as a visitor and so can download my own pictures that I don't have on the MacBook) I am trying Fotki for new photos. It isn't so much that setting up a new Flickr account would be too easy it's that it's owned by Yahoo and my Yahoo accounts are locked hence the being locked out of Flickr.

Had a dream in which I turned up in an expensive club as a passenger in a Mercedes Benz but was asked to leave, however the 'doorman' (a very tall young man) once outside was sympathetic and said the management had some odd views sometimes. 

How much?

Oct. 5th, 2012 07:59 am
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You won't often hear me mention property prices but ...

a one-bedroom flat in a block near a tube line and also near the A4. In a street where a former girlfriend of mine - a single mum and not at all well off - used to live, so it must have been reasonably inexpensive at one time.
Price of flat. £375,000. 
How much!? You could buy three probably better than that around here. Something better in Chiswick or Kingston for a lot less than its price tag.
No surprise to learn that this is the Barons Court area of Hammersmith / Fulham. Somewhere which used to be ok but now seems to have changed beyond recognition, so crowded, so expensive.. No surprise that the Work In Progress, set there in 1997, feels nostalgic (although it really is partly an exercise in nostalgia).

And then

Oct. 3rd, 2012 12:03 pm
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there's the name of that character. Of course the spelling is a Victorian transcription. Giving it a more modern transcription makes it much clearer. 


Oct. 3rd, 2012 11:08 am
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Just discovered something I hadn't put into the first version of this, about one of the main (historical) characters, although bad me for making the obvious (and wrong) assumption. It also gives me a much clearer sense of what one of the present-day characters is doing / what's happening to her.

Plus I am learning much good about the position of women in Ancient Egypt.

OTOH* I seem to have disposed of my copy of "Magic in Ancient Egypt" by Geraldine Pinch which I would have bought at the time of the first version c. 1998. A quick check of my diary reveals I went to the British Museum to research Egyptian things on 23 January 1999 and I probably bought the book then. A shame I don't have it any more, because it was useful.

* and not OTO, though as I recall they (the Ordo Templi Orientis) make an appearance in the first version.

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Of course now that I have two prints of pictures by local artist Jan Bowman I find that the walls of this flat are too solid - at least the external-facing ones - to hammer picture hooks into. I will need to get a drill (have already been offered the loan of one). 
The flat is looking ok though apart from some magnolia walls that need repainting. It should also stay fairly warm as despite not being centrally heated it is compact, has storage heaters, and is on the top floor thus heated from below. (this was also the case for my Hammersmith flat which this resembles but is a bit larger and has more natural light).


Sep. 5th, 2012 05:59 pm
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Printer problem seems to have been that the ink cartridges were empty but the printer software being an outdated version and thus not able to run properly under OS X 10.6 couldn't detect that they were empty. Fortunately I had been out this morning (after working on the allotment and as well as getting a haircut and doing food shopping and picking up a parcel from the post office depot, such are days when I am not working) and bought some cartridges. It now works properly anyway. It does have wireless printing but is on the desk anyway as there isn't anywhere else practical to put it. Being a scanner/copier as well it is also quite large by the standards of modern-day lasers.
The previous printer, a Laserjet 1050 I bought in 2005 I think so it lasted a while (it still works now, but I really need something that will let me scan and copy, now that it isn't so easy to do it at work). Previous printers included a couple more Laserjets (IIP and IV I think), a DeskJet 690, some misbegotten dot matrix thing for printing labels and probably a Government-Surplus DeskJet 550 or similar. It always seemed to me that printers were more accursed than other bits of IT kit due to their resolute physicality - either they print or they don't (or they chew up your printout and sit there smugly jammed). Meanwhile inkjets unlike lasers seem to be priced on the Gillette razor principle by which the machine is cheap but its consumables are expensive. I don't think I had more than about three toner cartridges during the entire 7 years I had the Laserjet but inkjets are another matter.
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I can report that my old house is still standing, although needs work to the plaster downstairs where it got rain damaged (rain on the outside of the wall damaging the inside. Go figure). This is apparently going to be done next week. The garden was fairly overgrown but as I never kept it pristine it wasn't too hard to restore although those hedging plants at the end were never supposed to turn into full-size trees! I also started to make a gate to prevent the new tenants' dog from getting into the next garden (there is a shared path). Neighbour will take this project over. Had a glass of wine with these neighbours and caught up with all the local goings-on. I feel like I don't _not_ live there so to speak. Even though the house is being rented out for another year.

As well as that I went to a new restaurant in Kingston: Stein's, which does straightforward German food - I had pork shoulder with dumplings and red cabbage and sauerkraut and a pint of German beer. But the place and the time - a riverside terrace overlooking the Thames, and the western sky lit up with sunset and swans drifting on the dark river. I was alone but wanted to be.

Now it is back to Bham, and I have a new printer, a HP Photosmart (new to me anyway) which although it claims to have printer cartridges nicely pretends to print but puts nothing on the paper.
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Last night, went with the French meetup group to see "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie". Looking at reviews of it later I can't find any that match up with my theory about what is going on.
And what is that?
my obviously wrong idea )
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I can remember what I was doing when 7/7 happened. At work in Riverwalk House, on the tenth floor, when news started coming in of travel disruption due to some kind of incident. Someone memorably said "this city has the resilience of a paper bag," which was harsher in hindsight. People started phoning out to find that the mobile phone networks were down, and our email system was taken over by the Resilience division. For a long time we had no idea what was going on. People got home as best they could - I remember making phone calls from Raynes Park Station which was as far as I had been able to get (I'd moved out of Hammersmith to the outer suburbs four months earlier).
There is nothing about it on the news today although I suspect that BBC London may have something. Not being in London any more I wouldn't know.
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So I now still have the MacBook, 2006 vintage, battered but still working, and the Lava 7-inch tablet I,'m writing this on, and also an Acer Iconia, 10 inch, which doesn.'t seem to replace either of them. I bought it on M.'s behalf but she doesn't want it. I could re -eBay it or keep it though it isn't as portable as the Lava nor as versatile as the keyboard,-equipped MacBook. The Lava seems very much like a PDA to me. The Asus eeeTransformer came up in discussion as a notebook replacement;do you need a hard drive if you need a hard drive if you keep data online or just don't have much data?
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First proper day at the job was good. 0830 till 1730 instead of 0900 till 1600 but WTH. Did finance sort of stuff and was able to field my first enquiry call which went something like this - \
Caller: "I am interested in a flat for my wife and me."
Me: "I'm sorry, they're single occupancy only."
Caller: "What do you mean, they are single occupancy?"
Me: "They are for occupancy by only one person."
Caller: :"What do you mean? By only one person? I am looking for a flat for me and my wife."
Me: "Yes, they are for single people only. I can put you in touch with other organisations ..."
Caller puts phone down, no doubt disgruntled that single people are allowed flats and he can't count himself-plus-wife as one person. Saving me the hassle of explaining why people on their own (many of whom in this case are formerly homeless or older or both)
might be permitted to benefit.
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Looking through the data from my now-defunct Palm Zire that I'd backed up onto the MacBook I think I've just discovered a recording of the moment I decided to move from Hammersmith to Kingston.

Distorted it is but it is recognisable. Recorded in the Grey Horse, Richmond Road, one Sunday afternoon as I recall, on 24 October 2004 (not '05) - as far as I can tell.

I do have this on a legit CD as well, giving credence in this instance to the suggestion that 'home' recording actually inspires people to buy the music / go to the gigs as well. And when I made the recording I already had the same song on JJ Cale's "Naturally" though it is such a different version that I didn't recognise it.

The Zire was in use when I moved from Hammersmith to Kingston but I'd thought it lasted something like 2003-08. However a list of 'cameras I have owned' suggests it was just 2004-6, not long at all (and the 72 was only launched in 2004.). I got rid of it because the battery wouldn't recharge, which is likely no reason as you should be able to get a new battery.
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I have a new Tablet PC. 7-inch. Not the Asus eee Transformer which comes with a keyboard and is indeed a laptop in disguise, or rather the reinvention of the notebook PC, with the Netbook (almost the other way round: a smaller oldstyle notebook) looking like an idea whose time has gone.  And as one who remembers fondly the old palmtops the Lava reminds me rather of them. It does not however have Bluetooth, which my Zire 72 had and so was easy to transfer data to and from and could also hook up to a real, if folding, keyboard. The Lava is annoyingly closed-off from what I can tell despite having internet access. I have had to subscribe to Dropbox in order to copy files across that I wanted to read on the Lava. For all I know a lot of people were on Dropbox all along, it being one of those things like mail forwarding that is an obvious solution for some while others didn't even know about it. 
For writing, not so good especially as there does not seem to be a decent WP app for it (it uses SlideMe rather than Android Marketplace to source its apps). I am having fun using PaintEasy to draw pictures - the Lava having a resistive screen rather than capacitative may be a plus for drawing - using a plastic stylus. PaintEasy is nice (and not the only paint program available - I would like Sketchbook but not avaiable. Tried PaintJoy but it fell over too much) but beware the Undo function, it will crash the app. So will backing out of the New Layer interface (yes, it does layers too). OS is Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread which is two major versions back. What likelihood of upgrading to Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich I don't know.
So the Lava is very unlike the Dana which I bought recently and which is quite honestly useless (except possibly as an external keyboard to something) - Palm OS but with a pitiful display and poor battery life. The Lava's screen is bright and usable. Internet access tends to use the Mobile version of apps e.g. FB, Google. There is a PDF reader but it is not ideal. 
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Just had the news that an old family friend died, aged 89. The funeral is on 5 July in London - I may have started work by then. That'll be the second family funeral in not long at all.

Apart from that I have now been fitted with a hearing aid, which makes a lot of difference - in the right ear anyway. 


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