Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Thoughts arising on a train journey


The 17:32 from Reading to Plymouth. Calling at Newbury, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Exeter St Davids etc … (after that, I stopped listening really. Evidently, the guy opposite me wasn’t listening at all. He’s just found out from the guard that the train doesn’t stop at Westbury and is none too pleased. He'll have over an hour to wait for the next train back from Taunton. Ooops!…)


Witho and the work laptop


On her way back from a business trip. Woo! Get her, eh, with her business trip. Next thing she’ll be claiming expenses! At £86 for the return ticket (Standard Class, Taunton to Maidenhead), you bet she will be!


The main thing troubling me at the moment is an episode of Property Ladder I was privy to the other night. It involved the refurbishment of a beautiful, 1930s house. I’m not talking about those 1930s semis which are ten-a-penny in suburbia, I’m talking about the white stucco “streamline moderne” style villas, with their curved walls and chrome railings. The kind of house that makes you (or me, at least) stop and look, then stop again and look again, eyes wide and mouth at least partially open.

So, refurbishing a house like this is all about preserving that streamlined, clean look, right? About maintaining that feeling of light and space with simply designed furnishings, right?


Apparently not, according to the protagonist of the show who gives new meaning to the word “bimbo”. A simpering, bimbling twit of a woman who invested her life savings into the systematic massacre of the house, who used its interior as a vomitorium for a mish mash of lunatic and hideously kitch design ideas, who splattered the smooth, uncluttered contours of the house with her turquoise, pink and purple “diarrhoea”.

Ultimately, she built a rod for her own back. She was supposed to be selling the house for a profit, but she made it unsaleable and destroyed any hope of a profit by her extravagances. All credit to Beeny – she may be looking a bit rough this series what with being up the duff ‘n’ all, but she tried to warn the girl on a number of occasions to no avail.

I was upset on behalf of that house. I used to have a 1930s apartment. Nothing like as grand as this house, but it still had the curved walls, the spacious rooms and the first signs of “modernity” (the original fitted kitchen was still in situ with a fold-down ironing board and breakfast table). I never allowed that flat to achieve its potential, I was too scared to just get stuck in, like when you’re sitting there in front of a blank canvas and you hesitate to make the first brush stroke for fear of spoiling it... Evidently, the subject of this programme had no such qualms.

Soundtrack to a journey

Bent, Swollen
Les Nubians, Bebela
Renaud, Mistral Gagnant
Gypsy Kings, Bamboleo
Coldplay, Warning Sign
Bronski Beat, Smalltown boy
Radiohead, Just
Pet Shop Boys, Loves comes quickly
The Clash, London Calling
Dire Straits, Private Investigations
Moby, Natural Blues
Zero 7, The Space Between

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