Archive for November 2007


28 November, 2007

Dunno. Maybe it’s some sort of delayed reaction to the chunky cords, a kind of psychic backlash. It’s been building up over the last couple of weeks, growing in barely perceptible stages from thought to 26112007524.jpgfeeling to urge to desire to compulsion. Hence, yesterday, I find my feet turning as if of their own accord into the emporium of the mystic that lies along the high street on the way to the Caffè Nero near work.

I have a sentimental fondness for sandalwood incense sticks though its been a long time since I’ve had any. I did light one up briefly when mrssoulcompost was pregnant with sonofsoulcompost a couple of years ago, but she had a bad reaction to the thick musky perfume and they’ve been either out of bounds or out of mind till now. It’s a throwback to a 90’s hippy thing possibly, the smell landing me straight back in a flat off Ladbroke Grove in the days when my ear was pierced, and I lived off cheap red wine and B&H and wore a cheap leather jacket to work.

But that was a long time ago. A different me. Now I feel conspicuously out of place walking up to the counter in my sensible trousers, carrying my packet of incense sticks like a teenager buying condoms for the first time.

“They’re very good, you know,” says the middle-aged woman behind the counter. She has a warm biscuity voice and long blonde hair with wisps of grey and a belt with an outsized silver buckle. “I call them the Rolls Royce of incense sticks.”

I think I smile and mumble: er, yeah. At least I don’t say they’re for a friend.

As I write this, a little part of me is back in Ladbroke Grove, and the ever so faint musty smell of damp in the study, the source of which I have yet to locate, is consigned, for the moment, to oblivion. Or somewhere like that.


Traddy Daddy

19 November, 2007

19112007506.jpgThey arrived in the post last week, neatly packed in crinkly plastic inside a sturdy cardboard box. Mrssoulcompost has been filling her wardrobe with stuff from a classy mail order firm and left the catalogue lying around on the kitchen table. I had a leaf through the men’s section, and there they were: in ‘charcoal’, ‘corn’ and ‘olive’, thick cord trousers sported by rugged-looking models with earnest expressions. Something in my head went click and I had to have a pair.

Mine are olive. I know they look a little roomy, but that’s the cut. Nice deep pockets too, for squirrelling away all my essential urban accessories: now, how often do you get that in a contemporary man’s trouser? And the weight of the things makes you feel like, in a tight spot, they could hold you up on their own, or at least be relied upon to go and fetch help. Very reassuring.

Oh, come on! These are the sort of trousers your dad – no, your grandad – would wear. The voice of youthful vanity, ever fainter these days it seems, asked me to stop and think about where this was leading. Well, I did think about it; you don’t invest in trousers like this without considering the consequences. Anyway, I’ve gone and ordered a second pair; in ‘corn’ this time.

And so I enter my corduroy years. Maybe Bletchley Park Chic will even catch on as a look in time. But if it never does, or at any rate while we’re all waiting, as the late Nina Simone might have been moved to say, they are feeeeulin’ good.

The Wheels on the Porcelain Bus…

15 November, 2007

It’s wonderful having a brace of little boys. Exhausting, but wonderful. I know there was a time in my life when I didn’t have children, and I know that it wasn’t all that long ago. But try as I might to locate it in memory, my attempts to reform in my mind the experience of long lie-ins at the weekend, reading the whole of the Sunday paper, impromptu visits to pubs or spur of the moment, well, spur of the moment anything, are like trying to capture smoke in a fishing net. I have been consumed. Life’s pleasures come now in different guises and I like to think I take less for granted. In particular, time.

Anyhow, this week has been illness week. Of all the changes to my life I’d imagined might happen when children arrived, the rampant incubation and transmission of illness was not amongst them. But at this time of year it’s a weary preoccupation for all the family’s I know. This particular bout began three days ago when sonofsoulcompost summoned me to his room in the small hours with a wail that would have put a banshee to shame. I approached his bed, in the dark, barefooted, cooing and hushing in what I hoped would be reassuring and soporific tones. I stepped on something cold and wet and squidgy which was, as I discovered a moment later when I turned the light on, most of his dinner.

We’ve all got it now. Even secondsonofsoulcompost. One after the other, we topple like do1441363651_d9216710dc_m.jpgminos.

The joys of parenthood, eh? After me now: the wheels on the porcelain bus go round and round…

PS the photo is of the classic loos at the London Library in calmer times. I really couldn’t inflict a view of ours on the world. Mrssoulcompost would never forgive me.