TEN… things I did in August


1. As a friend was having a birthday picnic down by the Thames near our old university campus, Royal Holloway, myself and a carload of alumni/dear friends (plus one graduate of a different establishment, but we shan’t hold that against him) took the opportunity to revisit our old home. Although campus is being used at the moment to house Olympic/Paralympic rowers and therefore a good chunk of the grounds are security gated off, we could still get around Founders, the magnificent original building built in 1879. I lived there in my Fresher year – in a turret room no less. The furniture was all original Victorian, mismatched and the desk was ridiculous for use with a computer. The entire hallway smelt like burnt lasagne no matter what had been cooked. Every year or so I went to investigate and was weirdly gratified to find it still did! I was a little saddened to see that they’ve spent this summer renovating the rooms for the incoming first years. They’re much more practical but they’ve lost so much heart. The corridor smelt like paint – but also, happily, lasagne.


2.Buckingham Palace was one of the rare London tourist traps I’ve never been to, but last month I got the opportunity to visit with my aunt, brother and sisters. Being the Bank Holiday weekend, it was rammed. Being the Bank Holiday weekend, it rained. Still, it was amazing to see rooms and courtyards that are so familiar from television broadcasts. After a soaking in the storm and a long trudge around the state rooms though, the hot chocolate in the garden cafe was welcome!


3. We went to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (the best in the franchise: discuss!) at Film4’s summer screening in Somerset House. Aside from the fact that the ‘bouncers’ felt my tote bag so thoroughly that they squashed the food I was carrying for dinner into unrecognisable lumps. it was a great evening. I love watching films in settings that are not the actual cinema (or my lounge!). The weather stayed fine, despite the storms and flash floods of the day before. I was only disappointed that the audience did not chant “Kali Ma! Kaaaali Maaaaa!”


4. It was a good weekend for classic films, because the next day I went to a ‘Back to the Future’ marathon; all three films, back to back. It was the first time I’d seen them like that and you really do get more out of it. I definitely appreciate how cleverly the three films are interwoven now. Some trivia! Although the ‘present day date’ for the films is October 26, 1985, the film actually premiered in July of that year. A few months later, on the real October 26th, 1985, a group of people showed up at the mall used to film the Twin Pines Mall location to see if Marty would arrive in the DeLorean. Sadly, he didn’t.


5. I hit 50,000 words on my novel-in-progress. Although I’d been gearing up, waiting for it to happen, I actually got too into the flow and didn’t notice when I sailed past the landmark. When I did notice, of course, I went straight into the bathroom to take a picture of myself for posterity. That’s ‘five’ for ‘fifty thousand’ there, I’m not waving to my own reflection. Next milestone will be to reach the plot point that I’ve designated ‘three quarters of the way through’. Hopefully that will happen in September!


6. The other half and I took a walk along the South Bank after a dinner out rather than get the Tube. I was fascinated with the statues of Wenlock, the Olympic mascot, stationed all the way along, and I’ve since seen some Mandevilles (the Paralympic mascot) dotted around London too. Click here for information on the various walks you can do around the city that takes them in.


7. I read Sarah J. Maas’ fantasy novel ‘Throne of Glass’. When I say read, I mean I devoured it. I courted hypothermia by staying in the bath long after the water had gone cold because I just. couldn’t. stop. reading. I’ve since bought copies for friends with birthdays and whored my own copy around like a mad thing. It introduces the story of a young assassin, Celeana, who is labouring in Salt Mines after being apprehended. She is offered her freedom by the Crown Prince, but only if she acts as his champion in a ‘Hunger Games style’ competition to find a new Royal Assassin. Just read it, it’s fantastic.I can’t wait for the next installment in what I hope will be a very long series.

8. The nights draw in fast one we’re into September. In anticipation of this, my other half bought me a ‘dressing gown poncho’ that can double up as an owl costume. Winning.

9. I’ve been clicking on to Clients From Hell when I’ve felt in need of a giggle. Here’s a beaut:
After sending two invoices for payment, I sent another and called the client when the receipt that they had received it came back.
CLIENT: Why are you calling me?
ME: You haven’t paid and this is the third invoice I’ve sent.
CLIENT: It’s even more than the last one!
ME: Yes. The contract you signed stated that I would add a late fee for payment.
CLIENT: You mean I have to actually pay you? I thought you were joking!
ME: What on earth made you think that?
CLIENT: You’re a freelancer!
ME: And…
CLIENT: Well, you work for free! If you were supposed to be paid, you’d be called a paidlancer or something!

10. We’ve decided to introduce ‘Bad Movie Night’ and our first adventure was the 1980 classic ‘Flash Gordon’, where an American football player journeys into space and does battle with the intergalactic tyrant, Ming the Merciless. It was as cheesy and entertaining as it sounds, certainly with a bottle of wine added to the equation. Can’t wait for the next cinematic treasure.


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