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Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Granny is back in the UK, having fought her way through the travel chaos, about which she need say no more. All you have to do is read the papers, online or off. Her problems were minor anyway compared to those of others. Lucky her. She is due to stay for a month - longer than intended, but there is a memorial service for her kids' father in mid September and it is not worth her returning for her island for 10 days, then coming back for that. So here she is, attending to mostly routine, mostly uninteresting matters with which she is forced to bore herself but will not bore you. She is not entirely happy to be back. She misses her Beloved back home on her currently sunny island. Here weather is lousy - well, cold by her standards and cloudy = and her beloved family not quite a comfort zone just now. Sudden death does tend to stir things up. And no, that's not material for blogging either. Sorry about that. (But actually you might be sorrier if she did let it all hang out. Big Brother families aren't.)

So what changes? Not this delicious area, the cheap foody delights of which she is still exploring. Pakistani mangoes? Yummy. Like no mangoes you ever tasted; the perfumes of Araby included - something like that. Huge bunches of any herb you could want, including rocket, peppery, delicious, forget the expensive supermarket plastic pillows. This is the real thing. Home-made feta cheese, Haloumi ditto, falafels ditto, boiling fowl at £1 apiece (Granny hadn't seen a boiling fowl since the 70's or thereabout. If some of you don't know about such things, she will tell you you boil them slowly for a long time and get the best stock ever; and the flesh is pretty good too.) And this is leaving aside the fact she can trot down the road to a Chinese bakery, which sells Chinese food as well as bread and croissants, a Lebanese French patisserie with honeycake alongside the tartes aux this or that, endless cloth shops, a market full of cheap phones, knickers, trainers and cheaper food - no, not supermarket cheapness, vegetables, fruit all shapes and sizes and in season. A multi-ethnic community like this one has not succumbed to the blandishments of Tesco, Sainsbury, etc. Yet. It wants real food. It gets it. Good.

Downside of her new flat - which in most respects she loves? She has found only one real one; pee on the stairs. Perhaps blokes out there can explain to her the reason for this - leaving aside too much beer/being taken short, etc. (Blokes, because, for obvious reasons, if females are taken short they have to find other remedies.) Is it something purely animal, to do with marking your territory? She'd prefer graffiti herself. KANE /WAYNE/ DANNY/DAVE/BANKSY WUZ HERE. At least that doesn't smell. Her dear Kiwi flatmate/flatsitter has told her that while she was away a notice went up in the lift urging residents not to spit or pee in lifts/on stairs. (Something you don't see in blocks in Mayfair.) One day it had been torn down, a riposte had been scrawled on the wall: FUCK OFF NAZI FASCISTS. The notice itself lay on the floor, drowned in urine. Luckily the caretakers do a good job cleaning up, disinfecting, so the problem is not as bad as it might be. In yuppy conversions like the one she abandoned at the end of July, on the other hand, the problems attack you on the inside: cars wake you in the middle of the night, pipes leak, sound carries, space is mean, storage space non-existant and prices twice as high. Granny, sitting here, her music on loud as she likes, her view sky, trees, her goods stashed away in the ample cupboard space can live with the lack of glamour (a polite way of putting it) in the hallways. She really can.

So what's changed in London since she left? One thing strikes her: THEY'VE CLOSED BOW STREET MAGISTRATES COURT.. Ah; now that's a thing. It takes her right back. Many many years ago, she spent a morning there, locked up in the cells downstairs waiting to be called up before the beaks. Are you curious? If so you'll have to wait for an explanation. Right now Granny has to prepare for visit of eldest granddaughter, which means some shopping. Eldest granddaughter does not like exotic foods of any kind. Granny has to get in some baked beans and cheddar cheese. Etc. Feta cheese, tahini, fouls mesdames WON'T DO. A shame really. Eldest granddaughter will learn some day. Just now it's her powergame and it's not for grandmothers to go to war on that one. Hizbollah tactics do not work on children. Or anyone come to that. Nor do retaliatory tactics. Granny will therefore toe the population-in-the-middle line. If you want to know the secret of her criminal past you'll have to come back next time.

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