Sunday, 23 January 2011


Nathan and I have spent the last two days with a broken tumble drier stuffed into the back of our car. The people who sold us the new one promised to recycle the old one, so we stuck it in the car because we didn’t want it cluttering the kitchen up any more.

Unfortunately, last night on our way back from Hampstead, Nathan realised he'd need the back seat of the car to take some people to a showcase he's doing in Hertfordshire this afternoon, so we had no other option than to haul the tumble drier out of the car, and stick it with the rubbish bins on Southwood Lane. We're both well-behaved, community-minded individuals, so promised we'd either put it back in the car tonight or call the council to have it removed first thing tomorrow morning. It nevertheless felt incredibly naughty to be dumping something so cumbersome on the street. I kept imagining we were being watched on close-circuit television and that we'd be arrested for fly-tipping, or worse still, visited by a deputation of Highgate supremacists.

Anyway, to cut what is turning into an incredibly dull story short, when I walked past our tumble drier earlier today... It had turned into a fridge! Genuinely! I have no idea how this happened. We left a tumble drier on the street last night, and, in the night, someone has taken it away and replaced it with a fridge! A big tall fridge. Just as white, just as broken and just as ungainly, but definitely not a device for drying clothes. How can this be? This isn’t the place in Highgate where people dump their white goods. Who on earth wanted our tumble drier? And whose chuffin' fridge is this?

I'm currently braving London’s defunct Sunday public transport system. I'm returning from Canary Wharf, where I’ve been watching Dancing On Ice with Sascha and brother Edward. We had wraps and listened to the wonderful sound of waves lapping onto the beach, which apparently appears under their balcony at low tide. I’ve either never noticed it before, or never been in their flat at an appropriate moment. It’s such a romantic sound; so astonishingly rare for London, and it gets really intense when a boat passes on the Thames outside. I rushed out onto the balcony to enjoy the moment a little more. The eerie green meridian line laser looked particularly bright tonight against the black winter sky. It’s one of my favourite things about London. I love what it represents and I adore the way it shoots through the heavens.

I sincerely wish this photo was one of mine, but it shows the laser beautifully

Am I the only person who feels that there’s a whiff of optimism in the air? I always feel very acutely at this time of year. There’s freshness in the wind. The birds have started singing again and it surely won’t be long before we see the first signs of spring. The long, hard slog is almost over and we can all start a much needed new chapter.

January 23rd, 1661, and Pepys' house was a veritable hive of activity; his wife and servants rushing around like worker bees, preparing for a party they’d be hosting the following day.

Pepys ducked out of the mayhem and spent the afternoon with the inventor, Ralph Greatorex; my favourite character in the diaries. They visited Gresham College, a modern centre of learning and a precursor of the Royal Society. Greatorex talked about his desire to visit Tenerife to do some scientific experiments at high altitude. At the time, the mountain on the island, at just over 12,000 feet, was considered to be the highest place in the world! My initial response was to scoff at the lack of knowledge that existed in the 17th Century, but then it struck me that 350 years later, I didn’t even know there was a mountain on Tenerife! I’m actually fairly surprised to learn that Tenerife is even big enough to have a mountain that high. Where do all the beaches and holiday resorts fit in?

PS - for those of you who like a titter... Please listen to this

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