True Worship

I went to London, this week, to be interviewed by a social worker on behalf of friends desiring to adopt a child.  Such a long way to travel and a rare opportunity to meet friends afterwards, we conspired to rendezvous at Westfield Stratford, study the Olympic Park in progress and share a meal before wending our weary ways home.  What an eye opener.

The tube, always one of the least attractive aspects of London and that day home to a suicide at Embankment, has further disintegrated into a heaving and entombing mass of sweaty, seething, censorious humanity.  Ears afflicted by tinny tones, shallow conversation and neighing guffaws (trust me that was just the businessmen), I alighted into a bottle neck of eager worshippers tortuously snaking down steps and through doors to the temple to materialism which is Westfield.

Propelled through doors, a mere panic attack away from the station entrance, Westfield is the essential experience for the 21st century.  Thousands of bodies bejewelled, bedecked and often prancing on six inch killer heels and platformed soles, writhed, seethed and simpered their way around the modern day tower of Babel.  Every class, colour, creed and nationality appeared to be represented.  Literally thousands of bodies being whisked up and down elevators, in and out of units, queuing for LSD styled thrills in artificially darkened retail outlets.  This truly is The Age of Aquarius.  Fondling coats and jackets priced at hundreds of pounds a piece whilst validating and venerating the creators, true worshippers were satiated.

Across a bridge spanning railway tracks (literally and obviously on the wrong side of the tracks) lies Stratford Broadway; the old, dishevelled, fast-becoming-redundant shopping centre – reeling in the shadow of its larger, glossier, endlessly more decadent successor – which has faithfully served its impoverished community for more than twenty years.  Surrounded by struggling, dingy and depressing independent shops whose exteriors – and interiors – are rundown, familiar, once-essential aspects of the traditional environment of East London, Stratford Broadway (where shawls cost a pound and coats, eight), appears to hear its own death knell and eulogy.

No juxtapositioning could better sum up the cause of UK rioting and dissatisfaction.  Yet the faithful pilgrims, consumed by their passion, fail to notice the plague already rooted in their midst as they blithely worship at a shrine in which not one single shop is life sustaining or prolonging.

I invite you, I encourage you – visit Westfield Stratford.  Don’t just take my word for it; stand and watch – go to hell yourself.


Back To The House Renovation!

I hope that your week has been a peaceful and successful one. 

Here, almost all the stained glass windows have been re-leaded and cleaned.  Our specialist, Paul Bradbury, is very talented and I wholeheartedly recommend him to you.  The final window – on the second floor half landing – is dark and a completely different style from all the other stained glass in the house.  At Paul’s suggestion, we are removing the panes and using them as display items.  In their stead, we will have a commissioned piece.

Allowing the house to relate its history has been a driving force of this project.  Whilst we have no intention of replacing or reinventing lost features, integrity demands that we preserve as much as possible and sympathetically include further beautiful and useful additions.  Including a new window, which fills the top floor with light and elegance, helps with that aspiration.

The week witnessed the flooding of the kitchen, as a lead pipe broke (whilst being replaced) in the bathroom above.  Disasters frequently present themselves as a conclusion to the “school run”; approaching the house at 9am-ish and 3.30pm-ish, usually leaves me pondering which part of the fabric of the building – and/or which builder – will be in a less desirous state than when I left!    “To be fair” (a local colloquialism), almost all disasters are due to the parlous state in which the house was maintained for a large part of the last 42 years.  Slowly, but surely, the neglect is giving way to a phoenix-like transformation.

By being completely oneself, we give permission to others to be entirely who they were created to be, rather than the façade which the world forces upon them.  My final struggle, during the last 7 days, relates to this belief and the subject of flooring.  Having been guided by my guardian angel builder for 8 weeks, it was time for me to assert my preferences, tastes and opinions.  I can’t afford Amtico for the bathrooms and the Karndean, I liked, blew the budget at a whopping £40 per square metre – minus the trim, contrasting edging and fitting.  Add to that, the limited range and it was back to faithful lino or vinyl. 

Well, well, well, hasn’t vinyl changed?  The vinyls, I chose, came in a range of fabulous colours (with embedded glitter for candlelit pazazz) and were not masquerading as stone, wood or anything else!  They have 15 year guarantees, so who could ask for more?  How many people would be averse to changing a floor every 15 years, especially when the expected lifespan of even a “top-of-the-range” cooker is less than that? 

So, as I return to the “patchworking” of the cloakroom walls – a notion adopted from Jocasta Innes – remember, assert yourself; restored stained glass is gorgeous and vinyl is NOT the second-rate option.


Happy Mothering Sunday

For You who has wiped away the tears of disappointment and silently watched the animated expressions of parents and their children, I pray for peace.

To You who has waited and hoped in vain for the dot, the line, the indicator that you too will one day feel the fulfilment you witness in others, I pray for comfort.

To You who planned for moments and celebrations which failed to happen, I pray for healing.

To You who believe that you are alone with your broken heart and earth-shattering longing, remember many of us have travelled your way.

May the love and joy of Mothering Sunday be yours, no matter your situation or circumstance.  Don’t give up…