Thursday, 29 December 2011

Bah Humbug....

A belated Happy Xmas frock fans.  I feel I should wish you season's greetings even though I'm not a fan of this time of year!

Xmas is for small children, people who love Ferrero Rocher and those who come from large families.  I fit into none of these categories.

Once upon a time when I was a small being, Xmas was something to look forward to.  I remember going to visit the old bearded man in the so-called "department store" in Devizes but not really believing he was 'the' Father Christmas.  Even little old me wasn't that stupid.  How could anyone possibly travel as far as he did.  He only had one outfit too...which bothered me slightly.  There's something slightly strange about little kids sitting on an old stranger's knee once a year.  At any other time, he'd be arrested.

I remember finding an Xmas stocking at the end of my bed every Xmas Day but never hearing Mum put it there.  My Xmas stocking finds were probably more exciting than my main presents - no sweets for me but instead a pop music annual each year which my Mum probably still has stored somewhere- sorry Mum, I'll have them back one of these days.  I remember one year when I woke up to find no Xmas stocking (due to my visiting Aunt forgetting to put it out for me) and I was traumatised.  Seeing as I still remember this event probably 40 years on, this has scarred me for life!  This was nearly as bad as gorging myself on satsumas (easy to peel you know!) for a whole 24 hours and then projectile vomiting them out again for a further 24 hours.  I didn't eat a satsuma in years and the smell of oranges still makes me heave.

I remember getting great presents back then - a pogo stick (I was pogo stick champion in my own little world), roller skates, a Katy Copycat and so many books we didn't know what to do with them.  Mum must have saved her cigarette money up for many a week to afford these things but I played with them constantly and made it all worthwhile.

Those memories come from the late 60s/70s when I liked the simple things in life, didn't have a flat, a double bed or live in a place with shops that open over the holiday period.  Nowadays, we do the Xmas thing because we have to.  We reduced our present-giving this year - just one big one and one "useful" one each.  It works.  I came home with a lighter bag but with a bag full of things I wanted.  Think about it kids.  As much as I love to see my family, none of us really enjoy Xmas so perhaps next year, we'll not do it at all or, at my suggestion, give presents on a normal weekend in December.  I don't like being obliged to give presents on a certain day.  I like to think I'm a kind, generous soul and will give presents to who I like, when I like, thanks Father Christmas!

Sorry for the bah humbug blog folks....and sorry Mum & Gran that I didn't want to wear paper hats, play charades, or watch Only Fools & Horses for the umpteenth time.  Just joking readers....they would hate those things as much as I do!

and a P.S for anyone that believes in this sort of angels always show themselves on special days. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

North London & Me

A year ago last Saturday, I closed the door on my lovely little flat in Brighton for the last time.  I did wonder if I'd done the right thing when I saw the squirrels on the tree outside my bedroom window, said goodbye to my lovely neighbour Roy and looked down on the pretty garden downstairs.  A year on and I know I did the right thing.

I think perhaps that things are meant to happen for a reason.  Perhaps I was meant to leave my great job at Linden Lab, perhaps I was meant to meet that person that saw visits to London again, perhaps it was fate that there were no jobs in Brighton that I wanted to do.  Who knows?

It really was Plan Z in my life that I moved back to London after 11 years away.  I got stuck into Brighton life, had a good group of friends, a good job and really no need to leave.  Then my office closed suddenly and 25 of us had big decisions to make.  Maybe if I could have afforded to take a job as an Admin Assistant and work for £18k, I'd have stayed....but maybe not.  It was such a sudden decision to move back but that's how I roll!!!!

As is my life, I just happened to write to a company in Bayswater that were looking for an Office Manager at that very second.  They hadn't even advertised a job but the timing was right.  I got the job and had a month to pack up my flat and find a new home in London.  Fate again - I came up to Crouch End to look at two flats that day, two flats that fell through as the landlord hadn't allowed access...but 5 mins before I arrived, another flat had come onto the market - the flat I'm in now, the flat that happened to be in the street I wanted to live in.  If only life is always that easy....

So here we are, a year longer in the job I got but happier working freelance, enjoying my flat & the block I'm in, and loving life in Crouch End.  I really couldn't have chosen a nicer place to live.  Yes I am a snobby N8 resident and long may it continue.  I love Dunns Bakery, seeing C listers in the street, having my oldest & one of my best friends just down the road.

Brighton will always have a huge place in my heart.....but Crouch End, I'm very happy to have met you!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Your name's not down, you're not coming in......

Now, see this is what happens when you don't keep your blog up - too many goings on to write about.

Luckily being the Virgo, Office Manager type that I am, I've made a note on a pink post-it to remind me of where I've been and what I've been doing since I last wrote this.  Deep breath......

The week before last there was another Carnaby Street discount night.  You'll remember the last time I went to one, we ended up at the Pretty Green opening night and many a free glass of bubbly was consumed.  The idea of the evening is for all the shops in Carnaby Street to discount their wares by 20% and entice the general public to buy them.  What actually happens is the whole of London descends, purely for the fact that every shop has free drinks.  We nabbed our free mulled cider, mohito and rum punch, checked out the Quadrophenia exhibition (surprisingly very good) and finished off buying take-out cupcakes at the Hummingbird Bakery.  Roll on the next one!

Even bigger deep breath.....By chance I got given two free tickets to see Adam Ant at the Troxy on Sunday.  Lovely venue, hellish place to get to on a weekend with no transport running!  I'll not comment on the support bands, other than to say "Ann Summers eat your heart out".  Mr Ant, however, was a complete star.  It could have gone either way - it went the right way.  Not a fan of Goody Two Shoes, even though the delectable Mr Goddard made it sound bearable, but job well done sir!

Are you keeping up frock fans?

Thursday night saw the private view of the Punk & Beyond exhibition at the Signal Gallery.  Particularly liked the black & white photographs of Poly Styrene.  Extremely busy night with queues down the road apparently and people having to show email evidence before being allowed in.  The only famous folks I recognised were Gaye Advert, Billy Childish, Don Letts & Mark Keds but I'm sure the punks in the room would have known more.  The exhibition is on into December so check it out.

Finally and up-to-date now, today we headed to Primrose Hill Xmas Fayre.  Lunch in my favourite restaurant Trojka, followed by mulled cider at The Queens and consuming of yummy puddings.  I've never seen so many celebs in one place as today.  Only missing from the Primrose Hill gang was Jude Law & Ricky Gervais I think....oh and perhaps Gwen Stefani.  Paps - you had a field day today.

I've realised that every single I've been to above was free (well apart from lunch & cider in Primrose Hill anyway).  If it hadn't been done already, I'd write a book about how to have fun in London and not spend a penny.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Go Keith Go

It's been a fairly quiet week in N8.  Autumn in London is proving to be a winner though and everything is looking very pretty out there right now.  The trees outside my living room window have now lost all their leaves and if I stand on tip-toes, I can see Alexandra Palace high on the hill.

On Tuesday, the lovely folks at The Society Club Soho put on an evening downstairs at The Sun and Thirteen Cantons in Beak Street.  I loved the venue and I think it has huge potential for other nights.  It's a tiny little cellar bar but very atmospheric and perfect for the night.  Oldfashioned Daisy did a few songs before the main act, the "rock & roll" poet Murray Lachlan Young.  Although I'd heard of him, I'd never seen one of his shows but will definitely be back.  Just my sense of humour!  Below is one of my favourite poems about Keith Richards falling out of a coconut tree (as you do!):

What the hell did you think you were doing?
So blind that you just could not see
Not a thought for your legion of worshipping fans
When you shinned up the trunk of that coconut tree
If you’re gonna go Keith go Keith go
If your gonna go Keith go Keith go
If your gonna go Keith go Keith go
Don’t do it like that Keith no Keith no
Go in the middle of a hard blues riff
Go at the end of a laced up spliff
Speedball death plunge, Lear jet smash
Coked up gunfight, high-speed car crash
Kohl black eyes white rock n roll skin
With your hand on the fret board cigarette grin
Do itlike a king pin Debauchee
But not falling out of a coconut tree
Keith, man, what goaded you on
Was it Ronnie Wood? Who said you should?
Or was it Elton John that you tried to prove wrong?
When he called you King Kong, did you snag your sarong?
C’mon Keith, baby, tell us please what the hell was going on
If you’re gonna go Keith, go Keith go
If you’re gonna go Keith go Keith go
If you’re gonna go Keith go Keith go
Don’t do it like that Keith no Keith no

That, dear frock fans, is the extent of excitement this week.  Although we did venture out to the Kinks night at The Clissold last night, it really isn't worth writing about.  Thank god for The Alexandra and its' great jukebox over the road, that's all I can say. What DID happen to my Jane's Addiction track though?

Sunday, 6 November 2011


The past week saw my first week of self-employment meaning more time for fun...which was the point of my self-employment in the first place.

Inbetween finding new clients and having meetings, I managed to have a lovely day with visiting friends who showed me the delights of Exmouth Market and the surrounding area.  I can't actually believe I had never been to that part of London before but now I know it's there, I'll be back.

We started off having brunch in Caravan ( which I loved.  It had an almost scandinavian feel about it, with big wooden tables, and people working on laptops.  I had creamy soy mushrooms on sourdough bread which were scrummy.  I feel I should probably make it my mission to try out the rest of the menu sometime very soon.

Exmouth Market had a nice feel about it - lots of interesting little shops and places to eat.  I can imagine it's a nice place to work so perhaps I'll target those interesting shops for work opportunities.

Next stop was the gorgeous old Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell (  A bizarre place founded in apparently the 12th Century.  Although it looked as though the only people that might drop in would be one old man and a dog, it's obviously very popular and filled up quickly, despite only just opening up.  Although I didn't feel anything strange in the pub, I can imagine it has it's fair share of hauntings!

Look Mum No Hands next ( in Old Street.  If you walked past this place and didn't actually know about it, you could think it was just a bicycle repair shop.  It is (and sells bikes I think) but is much more than that.  There's a cafe', a beer garden and a noticeboard full of flyers for events they're holding.  The food was fantastic and I enjoyed my Goats Cheese & Butternut Squash homemade pie with salad.  It seemed to be a popular lunch venue so don't be surprised if you don't get a table straight away.

Final stop, cake at Drink, Shop, Do ( in Kings Cross.

I'm sure it looks as if all I do is eat and drink...probably true in reality.  I'm considering changing the name of this blog to Pies & Me very soon.

In other news....Friday night saw a special night at the Society Club Shop & a preview of the "We Can Be Heroes" book that will be published shortly.  The book's about the club scene in the 80s and full of gorgeous pics of the Blitz Kids and all those connected with that scene particularly.  Lots of interesting folk with an interesting past turned up and a few familiar faces.


Sunday, 30 October 2011

For Jonnah.....

My blog posts are usually about is a bit different.

3 years ago today, my friend Jonnah took her own life so this is for her.

I hadn't known Jonnah long.  I was living in Stockholm, running a weekly club called "Another Sunny
Day" in a godforsaken turkish restaurant on a Monday night.  Jonnah came to nearly every club night.
I noticed her straight away as she was a little 60s girl who wore the best outfits!  Before I knew her name, I called her the "lovely lady with the lovely dresses" in my Facebook album.  I got to know her & her boyfriend Charley from that club....they kept me company on the door and their lovely little indiepop band "The Mare" played for me.  I remember that night particularly as one of the band members had to leave the club before they even played as his girlfriend went into labour.  Priorities and all that!

I moved back to Brighton and kept in touch with Jonnah via email.  We'd talked about them coming
to the Brighton mod rally the following August and she was already excited about it.  Then, one day,
I suddenly realised that I hadn't heard from her in a little while and checked her Facebook page.  That's when I discovered something awful had happened.....I didn't understand all the updates as they were in finnish and swedish but I did understand the one word that scared the hell out of me and made me mail someone to find out.

I had no idea Jonnah had idea that she would do what she did.  Every time I saw her, she was happy & laughing & dancing.....and thankfully, that's how I'll remember her.  Sometimes I guess you don't know everything about everybody. 

So Jonnah, this blog post is for you.  I won't forget you & your dresses.....I hope you're at peace now.

To Charley (if you read this) - I hope this doesn't upset you x

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Way out West

Good morning Frock fans!

Tis another sunny day in N8.  I'm happy to report that Crouch End looks as pretty in Autumn as it does in Summer.  There's a squirrel outside on the lawn, foraging for snacks....I fear he may be out of luck in this area...unless he likes tofu or some other expensive organic matter!

Things have been pretty quiet in my world as I've been concentrating on getting better after the doctor FINALLY confirmed I had sciatica.  I think I'm getting there at last, with the help of Naproxen and Solpadol on occasions.  Hopefully the physio which I'll start in November will kill it completely.  I don't like taking the painkillers as they kill your brain cells off I'm sure.

Anyways.....last weekend I ventured out West.  I work in W2 at the moment so very close to Notting Hill and Westbourne Grove but during the week there's just no time to look round.  We walked from Notting Hill, down Portobello Road and into Golborne Road. 

I hadn't been to Portobello Road since I lived in London during the 90s.  Strangely enough, my last memory of that area is running into my eye-liner wearing friend Adam (who would have joined These Animal Men in the blink of an eye if he'd had been asked).  He laughed about how his Mother had got a new lodger in and he hoped he liked britpop as he'd be subjected to it on a daily basis.  Sadly, 3 days later, Adam died in his sleep so he never got his chance at britpop stardom.  RIP sir.

Portobello was as crowded as ever and full of Italian tourists who insist on wearing over-sized rucksacks 24 hours a day.  We managed to make it to the veggie takeaway bakery in one piece and I will be returning!  If I'd have thought that pasties would have made it home to North London in one piece, I'd have stuffed one of those Italian's rucksacks full of them....unfortunately, if truth be known, I would have eaten them all before reaching Kings Cross.  The Ladbroke Grove end of Portobello was much more like I remembered it & I enjoyed looking round the vintage stalls.  I noticed how much real fur there was and was quite shocked.  Although I don't mind it, I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing it and I'm surprised it's as popular as it is.  Perhaps, having said that, it isn't and that's why there is so much on sale.  We had lunch (& a cheeky glass of Rose') in The Elgin....which was a welcome break from the crowds.  Nice food, great decor & men in Curiosity Killed the Cat caps....just my cup of tea.

We finished up in Golborne Road.  I much prefer that end of Portobello - jumble stalls & space to breathe walking up there.  Very much a portugese area, there are lovely little shops, people eating authentic portugese food from stalls in the street, and a really relaxed community feel.  As there was no space to sit in the obviously very popular Lisboa cafe', we ventured to a similar one over the road, drank proper strong coffee (!!!) and ate portugese cake.....2 drinks & 2 large slabs of cake for a fiver.  Golborne Road is right next to the infamous Trellick Tower.  I imagine the flats in there sell for a fortune now and being a nosey type, I would love to have a look.  If anyone reading this lives there, please invite me round for tea.

My last official 6 days at work are coming up and then I'm on my own.  Wish me luck Frockers!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The times they are a changing

Good Morning Frock Fans!

I can't believe it's been so long since I wrote on here.  The ever-continuing back problems have rather got in the way, as well as some big changes which I'll be rambling about.

I've had a birthday since you heard from me last.  I am now officially middle-aged and am considering stocking up on Tena Lady and booking myself on a Saga holiday next year.  Am I hell!  I don't think I'm ready to retire quite yet so don't expect to see me wearing tan tights up the bingo hall quite yet kids!

So, what's been happening?  Soho Society Film Club is back and I'm so glad it is.  Over the past few weeks, I've been to some great nights showing great 50s/60s footage as always, and a fascinating talk by Jack Kerouac's once partner, Carolyn Cassady.  She's such a character, the same age as my Gran, but smokes like a chimney and partied later than the rest of us in the roof terrace bar. 

The Society Club Shop is now up and running in Ingestre Street, W1.  We had a lovely hour there one morning, drinking Earl Grey from proper china teacups, looking through all the great books and loving meeting the interesting folk that drop by.  I'm hoping that anyone reading this will support the shop - you'll love it and you never know who you might meet.  They've started to put on events and there's a great exhibition of biker photos on at the moment - check it out. big news is that I've resigned from my job.  This could be the worst mistake I've ever made in my life but possibly the best thing I've ever done.  Time will tell.  I want to be more flexible with my working hours and with what I do, when.  My website is up and running ( and I'm on a self-marketing mission.  From 1 November, I'm going to be offering freelance services to creative companies/individuals, helping them with paperwork/finances/events etc. etc.  I'm a trier if nothing else and I've already had some interest from people.  I'm determined to make this work.  I want to work for interesting people, be a lady that lunches (when she wants to), work early, finish early....and I will.  Watch this space.....and also send any potential work my way eh???

I've got a very uninteresting afternoon of household chores today so just to cheer myself up before that - here's a picture of some cake!  Maison Bertaux - I love you!  (


Saturday, 17 September 2011

Cheap as Chips

I've been away from this blogging lark for a couple of weeks....mainly due to a bad back of the worst kind.  The painkillers killed the back pain but they also killed part of me off for a few days.  I've been in hospital only once and the sedation I remember then is the same as the sedation after those stupid tablets.  My back is now better and I've stashed the horrible things away until I'm in dire need another time.

After my blog about mods, we ventured to Waterloo last weekend where the Scoot the Bridges scooter cruise was ending up and where the Crawdaddy r 'n' b club was on in the afternoon.  As much as I love the whole mod scene (see previous blog), so many of them are set in their ways, to the point of not venturing anywhere they don't normally go or should go according to Mod Law!  There is so much out there to see & do much more than Carnaby Street, Pretty Green & the Modernworld Art Gallery (*cough*).  It was such a disappointment to see very few people at the Crawdaddy do...people that missed out on great music.  They also missed out on the subtle aroma of cheese pasties however...which rather put us off too!  Dear Mods....there's a whole world out there....try some of it.

Whilst in Waterloo and whilst the scooter folk went elsewhere, we had lunch in a little old greasy joe's cafe' called Maries.  I was hesitant about even writing the name of the cafe' if I'm honest as it's a little gem and little gems are best kept to yourself.  Too late now though.  Maries has menus that are spelt wrong but that adds to the feel of the place if you ask me!  It's rare you can find proper good food at such cheap prices.  If I thought 60p for a mug of tea was a bargain, I was even more pleased to get a main meal of mushroom omelete and proper thick chips, plus cherry pie and 2 types of ice-cream for less than a fiver.  I will be back and may even have 3 courses next time.

Cue fanfare - the Soho Society Film Club started again on Monday after the Summer break.  This time round, we watched a few old GPO shorts and listened to a very knowledgeable soul talk about the film industry in London in the 30s & 40s.  I realised after Film Club that the lovely Sanctum Soho Hotel where it's held was actually featured in a BBC documentary called The Rock & Roll Hotel a little while ago.  The documentary showed the renovation and opening of the hotel, and all the stress that Mark Fuller was under doing so.  Apparently there are little "extras" at the Sanctum such as a guitar doctor (!!!!!) and a huge library of porn you can hire out.  Please note that the latter isn't listed as such on their website but I presume you only have to ask!!!!

When you hear from me next, I will have returned from my Saga holiday and will be a year older.  Let's pray my vital organs don't give up on me before then.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Mods & Me

The past weekend was a big one in the mod calendar - the New Untouchables Brighton Mod Weekender.  Hundreds of folk from all over the country (and some from Europe) headed to the coast for 3 days of dancing, drinking & generally checking out everyone elses' shoes.  It's the one weekend in the year where you can guarantee to catch up with those people you havn't seen since the last August weekender.

My experience of mod weekenders started when I was probably 16 and went to Torquay.  Looking back, my first mod weekender was probably actually a scooter run but I enjoyed it nevertheless.  As I moved away from my early teenage mod clothes and into much "nicer" outfits, I progressed to the Isle of Wight, Hayling Island and Clacton "Dirty Weekenders" (as they were called in the 80s!). 

I have a love/hate relationship with the Isle of Wight - love because I had some great memories of my first visits there, and hate because the very last time I went, I remember being so angry over derogatory comments made over a boy I was seeing then (who happened to have dreadlocks), that I stormed off in a huge strop and refused to go out to the evening club....I never returned to a mod rally in the Isle of Wight after that.

The mod scene has been a huge part of my life since I was 14.  I've slipped in and out of it but have always had a deep love for the music, the clothes & the scooters....regardless of what I wore myself.  My secondary school and the tiny little town it was in, was full of mods...which is how I was introduced to the scene I guess.  I remember a memo coming round at school which said that "green army coats are no longer allowed".  I also remember the uproar that caused!!!!!  I went to see Secret Affair at Chippenham Goldiggers around that time.  I loved them then & I still love them now.....which reminds me....are we getting our tickets Claudia????  I bought my clothes in the charity shops of Devizes (our nearest town), cut my hair off and well & truly looked like a boy.  I never did really go for that 60s white boot look.  I always thought it was a bit "fancy dress" and still do now if I'm honest.  I got older, my hair got shorter, and I started to hang out in Swindon...the centre of mod-dom!  I made friends and started going to clubs there.  The 80s were a great time for the scene and a time I was very lucky to be part of.

I had a break from the mod scene in the early 90s, thanks to knowing one of New Model Army, moving to a hippy town and being surrounded by people with dreadlocks.  I moved to London with my dreadlocks, went to Blow Up when it started at The Laurel Tree and within a week had my hair cut off again.  Thanks to some disposable income, I started to get some clothes made at Charlies tailors in Carnaby Street, went to the rallies again and the rest, as they say, is history. I still have friends I knew in the 80s....we've all grown up....but some things never change.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Country goings on....

I'm back from a very needed few days away in Oxfordshire & Wiltshire.  Have you missed me?

First stop - Chipping Norton via the Oxford Tube and Stagecoach.  Amazed that even the Stagecoach bus from Oxford City Centre had wi-fi.  Modern times indeed.  Using my Macbook on the bus was a novelty until I remembered I get travel sick if I even so much as read a magazine so that novelty was short-lived.  The bus to Chipping Norton wound its way round little country roads, past Woodstock and Blenheim Palace.  I felt I'd been that way once before and I think it was en route to Castle Morton festival back in the 90s, when we followed new age travellers' vehicles for miles, not knowing where we'd end up.

Chipping Norton is a pretty little town with lots of lovely places to eat, drink & shop.  If I wanted to live the rural life again, it would be top of my list.  I still don't totally understand why but there are strange little knitted things all round the town - flowers, insects, random bits of blanket - all tied on to benches, lamp-posts, etc.  Apparently they change according to the time of year - hearts around Valentines Day and I'm guessing the flowers because it's (meant to be) Summer.

I loved my couple of days in Oxfordshire.  My friends have the loveliest house and cats, and I'll be back again (if they invite me). 

Next stop - Swindon.  I don't really know what to say about Swindon.  As a young mod, it was an exciting place, full of charity shops stocked to the brim with bargains, northern soul nights, lots of mod-related it's not...that's about it really.  I pass through and come out the other side.

Final stop - deepest darkest Wiltshire.  A short trip this time but long enough to give my 88 year old Gran some more laptop lessons.  As I mentioned on Facebook - Grans have things in their cupboard that no-one else has - Crunchy Peanut Butter, Mint Sauce...that sort of thing.  Grans are good. 

What you hear about it being a slower pace of life in the country is all true.  The bus that took me to the train station this morning gayly ambled its way round half of Wiltshire, picking up the most bizarre people on the way, working to no timetable whatsoever.  You never know when you might actually arrive at your location - you can only hope for the best.

Back in the smoke now....what's happened while I've been gone?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Car Trouble, Oh Yeah!

Crouch End is quiet tonight - the same as most nights really.  I'm thankful I live in a relatively wealthy area at times like this - times of unrest and generally uncomfortable goings on.

London burnt this week - my new home, where I work, the city which I've fallen in love with again and I'm angry that it's been taken over by mindless idiots with nothing better to do.  I was brought up to respect people and property, always say please, and thank bus drivers when you get off!  I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would think it's acceptable to smash up someone's shop/home, burn peoples' livelihoods to the ground and walk away without a care in the world.  The closest the rioting/looting got to me was Wood Green (15 mins up the road) which was completely ransacked apart from, ironically, a shop called Loot that was untouched.  The morons who casually looted JD Sports (and had the audacity to try trainers on outside for size) should expect a knock on their door anytime soon.  Then Camden, my old stomping ground, under siege it seems.

Like I said, Crouch End is quiet and hopefully the rest of London is too.  Maybe all the idiots will stay in tonight, posting their lootings on ebay, bragging about what they got on Twitter...that sort of thing.  Carry on children.....but be prepared for the consequences. 

Middle aged women everywhere - prepare to hyper-ventilate.  While the capital was in chaos, I was blissfully unaware of so much of it except for the odd text message asking if things were ok.  Monday was my long-awaited night out at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, at an Adam Ant event.  Such a great location and just up the road.  Two films were shown - some old footage from a 1981 gig in Japan and this year's Hyde Park performance.  The films were followed by a Q&A session with the man himself, who came across as intelligent, interesting and witty.  It was interesting to see such a variety of types of people there - everyone from original Adam & the Ant fans and people from bands, to people from the 60s/mod scene.  It seems he appeals to everyone, even after all these years.  Mr Ant finished off the night with an acoustic set, with songs across the board from the obvious Goody Two Shoes and Ant Music to Wonderful which I'd never heard before but which was beautiful.  He threw in a couple of T-Rex tracks which will please my Mum who would have been in her element - Adam Ant AND Marc Bolan - eh Mum????  Mr Ant - you are indeed wonderful in every way - stay happy.

Off for a cup of tea & a cold shower.  Cheerio.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Vintage at the Southbank

Oh dear, where to start?  I'm feeling bad that I'm even writing this as Mr Hemingway is going to have yet another bad review on his hands.

Last year we spent a day at Vintage at Goodwood.  Despite the rain, we had a great time.  There was so much to look at, so much to buy & so much to do.  I seem to remember we spent probably £60 odd on a day ticket but it felt worth it and I would have done it again, given the opportunity.  It felt like 99.9% of people who went had made a real effort and I was in awe.  I was naive this year and imagined that Vintage at the Southbank would be much of the same.  I knew it wouldn't feel quite as special being in London but all the same, I looked forward to it and booked the Friday off work so I could spend the whole 3 days down there, taking photos, seeing some bands, doing lots of people watching.

Alarm bells began to sound pretty quickly when it seemed nigh on impossible to make any sense of the programme - what was on, when, what was free, what wasn't. A million emails went back and forth between us all, trying to figure it out.  Then the ticket prices started to drop - hugely.  This is never a good sign and I felt for those people that had paid the full price of what, I think was up to £100.  As we still couldn't see what we were actually paying for, we (luckily) didn't buy a ticket so avoided that annoyance.

So...Friday.  The vintage market was ok I guess....lots of stalls but not a lot of space.  I think I'm probably spoilt by lots of vintage markets where I live so nothing really struck me as spectacular.  The best part, if I'm honest, were the free samples of Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer.  Oh, the furniture was pretty lovely but I couldn't get that home on the Northern Line.  We spent the majority of time in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, where the NUTs had put some free bands on and thank god they had.  DC Fontana, Big Boss Man & the Small Fakers were pretty amazing....The Yardbirds however, weren't.  I'm positive Johnny Depp turned up to watch The Small Fakers....and I don't blame him one little bit.

Saturday.  Don't even get me started on Saturday.  It was hot, it was crowded with people that wouldn't know vintage if it slapped them in the face and I found it all very distressing!!!!!!  The best way I could describe the market was a bad fancy dress party - lots of silly little posh girls buying "vintage darlink" with Daddy's money and middle-aged women in white go go boots who should know better.  I am a middle aged woman I might add so am allowed to say that.  This wouldn't have happened at Goodwood but the fact that any old Tom, Dick or Harry could walk in off the Southbank made for a trying afternoon.  There was absolutely nothing of any interest in the free areas so my visit on Saturday was very short...I can't even say sweet. 

Sunday.  3 days on and still unsure what the hell we could get for free and what we couldn't!  We blagged our way in on the guest did many of our peers it seems.  The whole of the Royal Festival Hall was a sweat-box - no air-con and completely unbearable.  We nabbed our free ice-cream and went out onto the disco terrace overlooking the Thames.  With a very large Pimms in hand and the world seemed a nice place again.  Seeing lots of smiling people dancing to "proper 70s disco" in the sunshine was a nice sight and you know it's a good party when the East End Elvis's turn up (or is that Elvi?).  We watched Graham Gouldman from 10CC do a set of 60s hits in The Leisure Lounge and he sounded lovely.  Highlight was seeing Bill Wyman walk round the stage.  We ventured into the Soul Casino briefly to catch a tiny bit of Norman Jay and some tunes courtesy of Mr Piller.  As much as I would have loved to see Mr Ant do a whole 2 songs (!!!!) in the Revue, a tenner just wasn't worth it.  Sorry Adam.

So, overall, not a great weekend at all Wayne.  It could have been so much better.  Nothing was worth the money that was being charged initially.  The words "tumbleweed" and "clueless" have been used a lot this weekend and they sum it up perfectly.  Thank god for good friends, Crabbies & sunshine.  #justsaying.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

What to do on a Monday?

The Soho Society Film Club has been running every Monday downstairs at the lovely Sanctum Hotel for 7 months now and has been something I've looked forward to week after week.  Apart from obviously the great films they put on, I enjoy collecting my free book every week, people watching, Old Fashioned Daisy's songs, and never quite knowing what the evening will it drinking cocktails in the roof bar after the film or watching a stripper!

Last week was a bit different and had a 40s theme.  I'd raved about the film night to my Newcastle friends since I started going so was particularly happy that they were in town and able to experience it this time round.  The film was the 1947 "It Always Rains on Sunday" which followed some funny little public information type shorts....the sort where the women talk with a plums in their mouths and everything is so very nice!  We got given a book, wrapped in brown paper with a ration card, and ice-cream in wafers.  Lovely.  If I had a wardrobe full of 40s clothes, I'd had worn was a very beautiful time fashion-wise.

This week, film club finished for Summer.  It'll be strange not going for a few weeks but no doubt we'll survive and will look forward to it starting up again in September.  A total change to last week's film, this week we saw the Elvis classic "Blue Hawaii".  I've never particularly been an Elvis fan but the film made me smile and was a nice easy watch for a Monday night.  The lovely owners of the Sanctum gave out free drinks to everyone and I would have taken them up on their kind offer, had it not been a school night.  So, thanks to Mr & Mrs Pereno for some great nights over the past few weeks.  See you in September.

Other goings on.....the opening of the photo exhibition for "Young Souls"....a short Northern Soul film which has just been released for download.  The night was sponsored by Kopperbergs.  We left before it got dangerous.

And it wouldn't feel right without mentioning that Amy Winehouse died this week.  It's been a sad one....particularly knowing friends of hers and seeing how upset they obviously are.  Whatever you feel about her, in the end she was a young woman who had lost her way...some people are stronger than others.  R.I.P Amy xx

Sunday, 17 July 2011


Rain has dampened play today and I'm home, getting my house in order like a good woman should.

Last weekend, the N8 folk ventured to Kiss the Sky for a few cocktails.  I had the green ones, that's all I know!  I will return for perhaps the blue ones next time.  I'm liking the venue a lot and at the point men in distasteful t-shirts or shoes turn up, we leave.  Early evenings are definitely best for a quiet green drink and some nice tunes.

In our quest to become Soho socialites (!!!!), off we went to the annual Soho Festival in St Anne's Gardens on Sunday.  What a bizarre but fun day it was too.  Although not a big square, the festival consisted of stalls, lovely food & drink, a palm-reader (who was apparently VERY accurate by all accounts), a great toilet (!!!), The Correspondents, various well dressed Soho characters and, the highlight of it all, Adam Ant doing a few acoustic numbers.  Imagine the sight if you turned up not knowing what was going on - a parrot painting competition, transvestites, a horn blowing competition, women with fruit on their head and the Ant.  You'd think you'd overdone the Piriton or something.  What a thought.

Mr Ant was on top form and looked well & happy, which made me happy. He was a favourite of mine when I was a teenager, as he was with so many other people.  I'm glad he's come out the other end of all the horrible things that have happened, and long may his recovery continue.  Looking forward to seeing a longer set & some films at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley in a few weeks.

On the day, we drank Prosecco and Pimms & Lemonade, ate Soho Mess (Eton mess but not!), bought some little things and enjoyed it all.  Roll on next year.  I hope it doesn't get more commercial as I like it as it is - small but perfectly formed.  The day finished off nicely with a coffee at Bar Italia...what could be better?

Brighton yesterday, a very wet & windy Brighton.  I got a haircut, ate nachos, drank rose', ate ice-cream at my once favourite ice-cream parlour, Scoop & Crumb, bought dome umbrellas and looked at the sea - briefly.  Also caught up with my favourite toddler - love to you Dolly.  Brighton doesn't feel the same these days but I'll always pop back.  Maybe when I get itchy feet in a decade or so, I'll go back....I've learnt never to say never in the past year.

Toodle Pip frock fans x

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

South of the River....

It's not often I head south of Soho - not because I dislike South London nor because I think I'm going to get the vapours - more that so much goes on elsewhere.  I havn't really spent a lot of time down that way since I worked for LWT on the Southbank, in my 17th floor office that overlooked the Thames, and, more recently, during a few weeks of illicit liaisons in Sarf-East London.  This weekend however, I ventured back, with a friend in tow.

First stop was the Tommy Nutter exhibition at the Fashion & Textiles Museum in Bermondsey Street.  The museum had somehow passed me previously but I'll be back as they seem to have a lot of great exhibitions on.  I particularly liked the cutting room set-up and the little order book, as well as obviously some fantastic suits.  I liked what I saw of the back streets of London Bridge & Bermondsey - obviously an area under regeneration.  It had a nice feel about it.  We walked past the new Shard building, which is huge, and nearly gave me a nose-bleed just thinking about working on one of the highest floors.

We spent the rest of the day on the Southbank, near my old office, bringing back memories of many an hour spent in the Studio Bar, sniggering over the likes of Westlife, and getting over-excited over Paul Weller.  *Sigh* - those were the days.  We had a great time on the Southbank and, if we'd had passed on the raspberry beer and a polish sausage lunch, we could have done it all for free.  We loved the individually themed beach huts, the "beach" and the brilliant water feature which, if I were a big kid, would have jumped right into the middle of given half a chance.  We went round the Festival of Britain exhibition, played on the old typewriters, took photos of the 1950s house and finished up by doing a bit of unexpected C list celebrity spotting.

I'm a convert - South London rocks!

Back to Soho last night though and back to our favourite Monday activity - Soho Society Film Club.  Last night's offering was "The Girl Can't Help It" which was obviously a popular choice as it was a sell-out.  We ventured up to the roof terrace bar for the after-show party, with Gaz Mayall on the decks, drank cocktails and played "WHO is that person that I recognise?".  The Film Club manages to pull together such a wide range of people - from authors & actors to A list celebs (in my book) and us.  Long may it continue without being ruined by everyone and their dog catching on.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Friends & Me - For Dawn

The said heatwave actually only lasted about 2 days but even in such a short amount of time, I've managed to burn myself to a frazzle AGAIN.  You'd think I'd learn after all these years.

One of my best & oldest (not as in age but as in having known her) friends came to visit from NY for a few days this weekend.  When we met in the 90s, we were part of a huge group of people who came together via the britpop scene in London.  We had our in jokes and laughed til we cried on regular occasions.  (Note to those friends - remember the "he's got a pulse" incident?).  Sadly, we all grew up and went our separate ways at the end of the 90s.  Those important people in our lives stayed in touch, thanks to Facebook and determination, and even though we don't all get together very often, when we do, it's like we only saw each other yesterday. 

We ventured to my new favourite place, The Railway Tavern, twice this weekend.  It's obviously Jimi Mistry's favourite place too and he seems to be there a lot.  I was, however, more excited about seeing OB from Hollyoaks...for pure comedy reasons.  Fantastic to see friends from Brighton who have just moved down the road from me and who are loving their new London lives so far.

It was CBML's 1st birthday this Saturday.  Well done Jet!  I feel strangely odd if I don't make it to the market when it's on every month as there is always something to look at and always something to buy!  The hat that I've been eyeing up for the past 3 months has been reduced from £30 to £18!  I'm hoping that by the next market, it'll be a tenner and I'll swipe it up!  Dawn purchased a gorgeous pair of red 60s shoes.  I'm always sad that I don't have normal size 5 feet so miss out on so many lovely things.

We went dancing on Saturday night!  To Hip City, at it's new, much improved venue.  The club is as close as it possibly can be to my all-time favourite mod club, Sneakers.  I started to go there when I was 18 or so and it made a huge impression on me.  Sundays meant, more often than not, driving up to London from Swindon, getting changed in a restaurant en route, and dancing at The Bush Hotel for a few hours, before driving back to Wiltshire in time for work the next day. 

Other things of note this weekend.......a gorgeous meal in Thaitanic, the Crescent Road plastic bat returning, and a planned picnic on Primrose Hill that resulted in us eating our sandwiches on the bus before even getting there!

See you soon Miss C x

Monday, 20 June 2011

Rainy Days and...umm Sundays

Do you like what I did there?

Will this rain never end?  Why does it always rain when I have visitors?  Weather questions that need to be answered!

Alison & Jimi came to stay this weekend and I was hoping to show them Crouch End bathed in sunshine.  Alas no!  Nevertheless, we had a lovely time...just a lovely time in the rain rather than the sun.

Highgate Fair in the Square was on Saturday.  There were about 50 or so stalls, mainly run by local groups/charities.  I was very happy to see the lovely ladies from The Little Chill Cafe' (soon to open their own bricks & morter cafe') selling their wares.  If I wasn't already full from mascarpone cheesecake, you all know I would have bought something.  (Talking of which, why is there never any Sloe Gin Eton Mess at The Angel Inn when I go?).  The Pearly Kings & Queens were out in force again.  Another there really such a thing as a Highgate Pearly Queen?  Surely you can't hear the sound of bow bells in N6!  We walked back to Crouch End after the fair, along lovely Hornsey Lane and over the infamous, unmentionable bridge where a man lingering around by the railings, muttering to himself, made me feel very uncomfortable.  I hope he made it home safely.

Saturday night?  Zen Sai Happy Hour?  It'd be rude not to.  Where were all the 50s folk this weekend?  At least Johnny No Cash turned up or it would've been dead as a doorpost.  I think we drank our way through the Happy Hour menu pretty easily....from mango daquiris to melon & strawberry concoctions to dark & stormys.   I was born to drink cocktails you know....cocktails and champagne.

On a whim, we decided to go to the Doublebreasted Modzine alldayer, A Little Mixed Up.  We got to see a couple of bands, The Mynd Set and Modus, both of which were pretty good actually.  I don't like alldayers much normally.  The thought of being stuck in a dark & dingey pub from early afternoon to gone midnight generally fills me with dread....I remember being stuck in The Forum once at a mod revival day and climbing the walls...not because I don't like the bands or seeing people, more the fact that you are quite often nowhere near anything worth being near, with nowhere else to escape to. 

Sunday, rain, and breakfast/brunch (what time does brunch happen???) at Haberdashery where I had a particularly scrummy halloumi veggie breakfast.  As my friends said, Haberdashery have got it right in just about every sense.....good service, good value & yummy, interesting food.  Tea always tastes better from teapots and out of china cups, and tea at Haberdashery is particularly good. 

Finished off the weekend with a quick trip to East Finchley Festival in Cherry Tree Wood.  Not a lot to say about it really rained.  The stalls weren't really my sort of thing but then again, I'm a fussy so and so.

Monday, 13 June 2011

The weekend starts here!

Another weekend gone in the blink of an eye.  I'm very aware that on a Sunday night, I'm already planning the next weekend's goings on but am also very aware that my life probably won't be quite exciting in Winter!

An early start on Saturday so as to get to the Hobbs 75% off sale in Belsize Park before everyone else!  Getting there 5 mins early paid off as 15 mins after the advertised start time, it was carnage!  Posh birds scratching each other's eyes out over a suit jacket.  Not true - I made it up - but it was crowded with middle-aged North London ladies grabbing anything that looked like it might have fitted them - whether they wanted it or not.  For once, quite a few things were too big for me but I did end up going home with a nice black skirt with pleats in the back AND which was a size 12.  Take note everyone, a size 12!!!!!  A quick trip to the Emporium Bakery afterwards, just for a coffee I might add.  They re-stocked the cakes just as we were leaving - the swines! 

Whilst in Belsize Park, we walked past an interesting little place that turned out to be the Everyman Cinema.  We will be returning as it looks like it could be a nice little venue.  Shame we missed the Vidal Sassoon film.

Saturday night was random to say the least but, looking back, was fairly interesting I guess.  We went down to the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank to watch a supposed re-creation of Ready Steady Go!  (part of Meltdown this year).   Now, in my mind, a re-creation of a cult 1960s music show should consist of bands of the time, playing songs of the time, surrounded by dancers on stage.  Manfred Mann kicked it off with "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" (one of many singles that my Mum gave to me when I was 12) and I had high hopes for the night but there was a wasted opportunity for greatness!  Amongst the original bands were current artists, singing their own current songs.  All a bit wrong if you ask me!  When Carl Barat came on, the elderly couple next to me asked who he was!  I felt a bit for those people who paid over £30 expecting something a bit different than they got.  There were, however, moments of brilliance - Sandie Shaw (who looked like she was having the best time in the world) and David McAlmont.  Nona Hendryx dragging people on stage to dance was a cringeworthy moment but not as cringeworthy as her tribute to Dusty Springfield, where she didn't know the words to "I only want to be with you".  Uggh.

Our omnipresent mate Dave was djaying after the show.  The Elvis wig dancing men had turned up, which is a sign of a good night!  If anyone reading this knows anything about them, I'd love to hear their story.  They are of a similar ilk to the Michael Jackson jazz dance man from Brighton!  Geno Washington did a free (what seemed like) 4 hour set which must have been pretty darn amazing for his fans.  I saw him once, years ago, in Swindon where, I think, Teddy White & the Popular Boy Crooners supported him.  All these years later, he's still as mad as a box of frogs but I love him.

Rain prevented play yesterday so that was my weekend.  Over & out.....

Thursday, 9 June 2011

It's been a long time coming....

and Take II.  I've got over my strop from the other day and am hoping I don't lose a whole blog again because of some silly update on here.

So, where were we?  Oh yes, Monday nights mean Soho Film Club don't they?  A couple of weeks ago we went to a night called "Strip, Strip, Hooray" - a series of short films featuring the glamour model come actress, Pamela Green.  The said lovely lady only passed away last year but from a full room at The Sanctum, it'll be a long while before she's forgotten.  I loved seeing curvy women as I am one!  They made me realise that it's ok to have big boobs, big hips and a stomach....I forget that sometimes, so thank you Pamela and your buxom pals.  After the films, and a reading from her book, Trixie Malicious did a short striptease act which was strangely enjoyable and particularly funny when Mr Pereno got involved!  Apparently another lovely lady, Debbie Harry, popped in during the films.  I'm sad not to have noticed her but I'm sure she would have looked as fantastic as ever.

Looking through my diary, it seems I've visited a million and one vintage fairs since I last wrote a blog.  Can't Buy Me Love at The Boogaloo (soon to be a year old), Hampstead Vintage, NL Vintage, Pop Up Vintage in Crouch End, Bar Boot, Primrose Hill Vintage and the (possibly) last Wills Moody Rock & Roll Jumble Sale.

Out of those, I will always recommend Can't Buy Me Love, both the market and their shop in Muswell Hill.  Jet does a great job and I have no doubts that it'll continue for a long while to come.  Onwards & upwards Miss Payne!  I particularly enjoyed Hampstead Vintage Fair.  I think it was their first one and it was pretty impressive.  Some nice items, and some bargains amongst the expensive things.  I picked up a nice blue dress for a tenner.  Now that IS a bargain in my book!  Primrose Hill Vintage was another nice little trip out.  It was more 40s & 50s than 60s but once again, some nice items.  Prize for the best vintage day out though goes to Wills Moody.  I'm sad that I didn't get to more of them, having only moved back to London a little while ago and now they are no more at the lovely little social club in Euston.  There are rumours that the Lexington may be the next venue and here's hoping.  Anyways, I digress.....having been bought up on jumble sales, Wills Moody is definitely my thing.  5 mins in and I'd got 3 dresses, a top and a pair of shoes, all for £11. 

I think I may well have made it to the end of a blog entry without my damm Macbook losing it.  So, before it does, I'm off!  Have a lovely weekend readers! x

Friday, 3 June 2011

Ooh Matron!

I'd just written a whole page about going to see a night dedicated to lovely Pamela Green, strippers, Soho and Bar Boot....and the darn thing crashed, not saving any of it.

I am now in a strop! 

When I can face it again, I'll start again.  In the meantime, here's a picture of Pamela to keep you going!