I wrote in Costa in Highgate today and got speaking to a charming elderly Jewish lady, and a barista, who came from Oregon. I could hear a Canadian-ish lilt to his accent so I randomly guessed that he was from Minnesota, which he found hugely amusing. I was annoyed with myself because when I first heard him speak I felt sure he was from Washington State, which would have been almost on the money. I'm pretty good at identifying accents but he'll have simply thought I was plucking random state names out of the air like Americans do when they ask if we know the Queen. He's training to be a pastry chef. Or at least he was. He told me he was tired of London and then said he'd recently split up with someone who was keeping him here, "but the breakup has nothing to do with my decision to leave." "So why DO you want to leave?" I asked. "I'm just tired of the place," he said "and it reminds me of my ex..."
The elderly Jewish lady sat and watched the cafe with her wise old eyes, her hair scraped back from her face in a little Alice band. I exchanged a few pleasantries with her but wished I'd talked some more. There were plainly an endless supply of fascinating stories in her brain. I should talk to old people more. Sometimes I don't because I worry I'll switch on a tap which I won't be able to switch off again when I want to return to work. That's a terrible admission isn't it? But I guess there's nothing worse than talking to someone who plainly wants to be doing something else, so sometimes I don't strike up a conversation and do the London thing of pretending to be engrossed in something else. Perhaps I need to simply make more time available in my day for nattering.
I moved from Highgate to Hampstead and worked for another hour in a Starbucks on the other side of the Heath. Seemingly for no reason other than to see how the other half live.
I came home and found Nathan and Abbie in the sitting room recording a knitting podcast. I asked them if they felt like Richard and Judy. They both laughed but neither denied it! Stichard and Bloomy.
Abbie's Ian is here this evening, so we have a house full. Six of us (including the two cats, who seem to be happily wandering about.) We're watching a hugely quirky 1960s documentary called The London Nobody Knows, which shows life in the slums which once lurked behind the swinging city. It is a fascinating piece which even ventures into an egg-breaking factory! That's an egg breaking factory. I know!
The joy about 1960s documentaries is that they merely show what is/was rather than needing to have a point, a narrative or fake jeopardy. When you walk into a pitching meeting these days, the commissioning editor will usually ask "but what's it about?" "well it's a documentary about the River Thames." "Yes I know, but what's it ABOUT?" You're meant to say, "it uses the river as a metaphor for the transience of the modern day working classes." If you go in for a meeting at Channel 4, you have to say "it's about dodgy immigrant porn star parents and it's called 'Shit Mums.'"
Speaking of documentaries, tonight marks the fifth anniversary of the premiere of my most controversial film, Tyne and Wear Metro: The Musical. Since its premiere I'm proud to say it's racked up 104,000 hits on YouTube but this time five years ago I was in turmoil. The film trended on Twitter, but the vast majorly of people were saying the most awful things. The two that stand out in my memory are "who wrote this? A gimp?" And "this is the worst thing to happen to the North East since Margaret Thatcher." I'd never known such anger and vitriol and it was the first time I discovered what Dave Gorman means when he talks about the bottom half of the Internet.
We watched Alan Carr this evening. Boy George was on as a guest, speaking about his new role as a judge of The Voice. Boy George is our fairy godmother. It was on his show, Taboo, that Nathan and I got together, so, oddly, if it wasn't for George, I would probably not be married. Or I'd have married a lawyer. George is known for his enormous hats, and, as a little joke, they brought a huge top hat down from the ceiling for him to stand underneath. He looked a little uneasy as it descended. Unsurprising, really. A little known fact about Boy George is that he was once nearly killed by a falling giant glitter ball. Fact! He was doing a concert and it dropped from the ceiling, landing a foot from where he was standing. George was so freaked out he immediately fainted!
You learn something new every day!