2nd January 2019

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Life on the edge, Birling Gap


Previous Years:

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2nd January 1999

Rainbow at the Oxford Physic Garden

My boyfriend and I went for a daytrip to Oxford. It was cold - I remember that - but I thought the light in the gardens was very beautiful. I wanted to visit the physic gardens because a year of so earlier I had done an evening class on Garden History and got quite interested in places like this. I think the Oxford Physic Garden is the oldest one of its kind in the UK still in use. 

There were about 20 people in that evening class, all of them women, I don’t really know now why I chose it, though I did like looking at some of the books we were supposed to study. We also looked at a lot of slides and I can still remember the somnolence of sitting there on a Thursday evening in the dusty dark and listening, with my eyes mostly shut to the slide and click and whirr of the machine. The course met in the art room of a Comprehensive school in Holland Park, where the toilets we had to use had no locks on the doors and no mirrors above the hand basins which were always bunged up with loo paper because there weren’t any plugs either – it must have been a rough school, or maybe I’d just forgotten what school was like.

2nd January 2009

Curly and the Monster, West Hampstead

The ginger cat is Curly who belongs to us, the other cat is nick-named ‘monster’ and he comes from two houses away – he’s a bit of a brute.


When I look at this photo I’m struck by how Un-January-ish the garden looks. This was the first flat in London that I shared with Dave. We lived here for about two years I think. I loved this little courtyard. So did Curly, which is why she is seeing off the ‘Monster’. Actually, this monster cat went on to inspire a story that I write around the same time all about a diabolical, husband-eating creature that lives on the railways of London and preys on unsuspecting people who don’t heed the warnings about it. There was a heavily pregnant woman in it whose husband thought she was going mad when she became hysterical about cats. It was Rosemary’s Baby meets some kind of story where giant wild cats eat people…perhaps not one of my best.