Monday, July 31, 2006

Monday Moaning

No, not really. I haven't done anything much on journeying except I continue to follow Mike Carter and his trip round Europe on the his BMW bike. I am thinking of getting in touch with him, because what he's doing at the moment, ties in with what I'm trying to do. It would be interesting trying to add a touch of critical theory to his experience. He's also got a blog on the go but it's a bit like a ghost town. Not enough angst to compete with the other Observer Blogs. Had I the resources, I would do something similar. Anyone out there want to part with your hard earned cash, so I can go a-wandering? No. Didn't think so. Just thought I'd ask.

Yesterday, the Anonymous poster raised point. If you want to go somewhere, you have to leave where you are first. Yes, I know it's obvious. There's always then a feeling that where you are just isn't interesting enough, or maybe it's lacking a certain something. If there isn't enough to hold you in one place, is the grass really greener on the other side? And when you get home again, does it stay home?

I suppose if you're running away from something, the change of city, country, country won't allow you to escape. If you're running to something, I suspect the outcome will be different. Issues around relationships, self-image, self-esteem are very portable. But if the traveller is actively looking for something...that feels different to me. It feels more of an adventure, a curiousity that needs satisfaction. And let's be honest, it is possible to do both at the same time. One of the joys of being human, to embody paradox.

Today, I worked out again. Nell McAndrew's Peak Energy. Damn near killed me. It's harder than the one I normally do which is Maximum Impact. I think I'll go back to the easier one and build myself up slowly. I am determined, I will have a flat stomach.

One day.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Work in Progress

My apologies, I have let the blog slip this week. This was in fact a deliberate move on my part. I needed some time to think about where I was going with my project and what I wanted to achieve. Of course me, being me, it wasn't that straight forward. (Yes, I know the meaning of life is 42, but that doesn't help at this point).

Why are journeys so powerful? What is it about the act of travelling from one place to another that has the ability to promote change and growth? Why has this metaphor become so entrenched in the way that we perceive reality, so that it is used in everyday, creative writing and therapeutic language? David Byrne sang 'we're on the road to nowhere'. There is a rune, Raed, devoted to travel and growth. In the Tarot there is the Fool (0) who starts off on his journey towards enlightenment found in the World (XXI) card. We have the story arc, which describes the hero's journey. Why is journey such a powerful metaphor?

These are the questions I'm dwelling over at the moment and I have to say, I have very few answers, despite the two glasses of wine. Am I the only one who finds travel fascinating? Even commuting? I need some help here. Tell me your weird and wonderful travelling and commuting stories.

In case you wonder what I get up to on a Wednesday evening...these are some of the members of the Norwich Chant Collective out on a trip to the beach. This was before we got caught in the mother of all storms. Yes, I know. My bum looks HUGE in this. Me and the photographer have had words.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Many apologies, I've been slack this week, I missed blogging another day yesterday. It was boy's last day in middle school and there was a bit of running around I had to do which included a last minute invite for his friend to sleep over. I fed the boys and then hid in my bedroom as they giggled their way through Fierce Creatures before keeling over at about 11.30 last night.

I did have a brief conversation with friend's dad this morning who is a creative photographer. It was a 3 o'clock in the morning thought. Given how much of the human body is on display in magazines, we see women's breasts, hands, waists, what we don't see photographed is naked feet.

Baby feet are things of beauty and joy. I see baby feet and I immeadiately think they need kissing. They are soft and clean and unused. Adult feet on the other hand, I'm not that keen on. Not things of beauty. I think clean adult's feet are okay. When I visited the Hayward Gallery, Georges Bataille took a picture of a man's big toe and I think he maintained he was being subversive by doing so. But I do wonder, what would a beautiful foot look like?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Oops I did it Again!

Forgive me Father, for I have spent money on a pair of fabulous shoes, that I'm breaking in as I speak. They were ONLY £19.50 from Marks and Spencers! They are blue and shiny and look great with jeans. I'm going to a party on Saturday, so I get to test drive them then. I did buy boy some school trousers and other necessities, so I wasn't completely irresponsible (and they are fabulous).

Apart from that, I have been melting slowly in the heat and humidity of this British Summer. I feel I'm blaspheming whinging about the heat, given that I spend most of the winter hidden under 3 or 4 layers of clothing and ruining the environment by over-heating my flat. However, it is a sad fact that most British architecture is designed to hold heat in and it makes going into some buildings just torture. At least my flat is well designed, so if I leave the front door open (and show off my piles of laundry), I get a good through-flow of air.

I'm still wracking my brains as to how to make the project work. I'm now thinking about interviewing random people on the bus, recording their voices and then construct a performance around it, with maybe some video footage from the window of a bus. I've got to talk to my tutor soon, it's beginning to drive me nuts.

Oops. Too late.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Slow but Sure

It's another 3 shower day. It is seriously hot, fortunately, by keeping the flat well ventilated, it's failry cool at the moment now the sun has gone down.

I'm really pleased with myself today, I have done all I set out to do. Did some exercise, worked on my project, shovelled out the kitchen and tonight I attended boy's summer concert. As usual, it was a complete last minute thing, to the point where the school hadn't had the time to give me a ticket. Fortunately, the teacher on the door knows what we're like and let me in without a quibble.

As far as my project is concerned, I'm really struggling to find the heart of my journey, and without it the project will stall. I took 83 pictures today using boy's camera, I'll download them tomorrow, but I don't think I've been able to find the image, or even a series of images which typifies the journey. It's getting to the point where I think I need to find my CP tutor and buy him a cup of coffee. Some advice would be most welcome at this point. Maybe more beer is the answer.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Today, I had a list of things I wanted to do. Instead, I've done a Tarot reading for a friend, did some shopping and cooked a Thai green curry, which was seriously yummy. Boy was most put out there wasn't enough rice for seconds. He is being converted to the spicey side. If I'd let him, he'd have chilli for every meal.

Apart from that, I've been getting myself together. Tomorrow I start on my exercise regime proper (hmm...I think I might have mentioned that before), I'm going to try and get to grips with the journeying project and do some reading for my dissertation. Times a slipping by.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Easy Sunday

Today, we did a whole lot of nothing. As the state of my carpet can verify. But I don't feel guilty, that's what Monday's are for. Boy and I watched Conan the Destroyer right through to the end. Another example of how perception changes through age. I remember thinking when I was 14, how cool it was. Now I think it lacks cool, acting and decent special effects. In the midst of it, I had to go and sort out a row between a blackbird and the cat.

As it's summer and hot, I leave my front door open and the cat likes to wander out and about, or sit in the sun on the carpet. Blackbirds have the most amazing, piercing alarm call; a kind of 'chuck, chuck' noise and they can go on for as long as the crisis lasts. After 10 mins of racket from this blackbird, I go out to see the cat looking innocent and a lady blackbird with a beak full of caterpillars giving it up large. I chase the cat inside and the bird off the balconey and return to Conan. The next minute the ruckus has started up again. Boy had let the cat out and the bird objected, vociferiously. It was just like dealing with small children. 'Stop winding little Johnny up. Johnny, leave Suzy alone'...that kind of thing. Honestly. And don't tell me that cats can't swear under their breath either.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saturday Sighs

Bit of a slow blog day today. My grand achievement of today was to shovel out the kitchen, tomorrow it's laundry and the rest of the flat. Boy went to a BBQ this evening, had to use a crowbar to pry him away from his mates. They are all looking forward to going to the start of their summer and high school in the autum. It's difficult to believe that time creeps along so quietly and resolutely. One minute it was winter, now it's summer. Soon it'll be back to college for my last year and I still haven't managed to pin down my dissertation or get this project off the ground. sigh. Not to worry, there is time to waste still.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Aching Bones

I'm knackered. What more can I say? When the alarm went off this morning, I realised that I haven't exercised in a long time...everything hurt. But got there in the end, despite the lies and damn lies told by the bus timetable. Had to put up gazebos again, doesn't bode well for any camping I might be tempted to do, there was much useage of colourful language, slippery guy ropes and earwigs. Eewww!

Today's festival was a bit more frenetic. I spent time in the shop tent, running for the workshoppers, chatting to kids and teachers, litter picking and dancing. I really like the other volunteers; and the kids and teachers were just great. Boy thought so too. To the point where he was just about rioting when I said he couldn't go with me today, he had to go to school. I think he forgave me when I told him he could keep his t-shirt.

More Bhangra dancing! Just fabulous. In case you don't know, Bhangra is a harvest-festival dance, done by farmers in the Punjab region in northern India. It's a man's dance and is very energetic. NEAD have been having the same troop come down from Birmingham for the last 7 years and they are a real hit with the kids (and adults). They do a traditional dance to get the show going and then do a more modern version at the end and then they make everyone do a very simple routine to finish the show. It gets the kids and teachers shaking their funky stuff, which is brilliant to see.

I think what I like about their performances is the fact that they are men dancing. Performing intricate as well as robust manoevres and they make it look effortless and very masculine. Men in England, dance generally, under the influence of alcohol, or duress. Finding a man who will dance for pleasure is like finding a four-leaf clover. It's almost as if they feel it's effeminate, which in fact it isn't. Dancing in any form, is physically demanding and requires good co-ordination, balance and a sense of rhythm. I think it's a real shame more English men don't dance, they should take it up, if only to improve their chances with the girls. A straight Englishman who can move well, won't be alone for long.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

On the Voluntary Trail

This has to be brief because it's late and I was up and functioning before 8am this morning. Rather than twiddle my thumbs over the summer, I thought I'd do something useful so I'm volunteering with NEAD again. Today and tomorrow are their Our World Festivals, where 1,500 to 2,000 kids hang out in a school playing field and listen to stories from Ghana and Scandanavia, try out Indian dance from Kerala and sing in Urdu, not to mention covering their playground in Rangoli patterns and watching performers from all over the world give it up large.

I'm a marshall, which means I get to wander around talk to kids and teachers, partake in the workshops and I had so much fun, when I got home this afternoon I informed boy we were going to do this evenings' event as well. Boy and I shook our stuff with an African storyteller teaching traditional dance and then we Bhangra danced like there was no tomorrow.

Of course there is a tomorrow, and I'm doing it all over again.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Sorry about yesterday, it was a slow-blog day. I'm struggling to think if I managed to achieve anything constructive; I probably did, but can't remember. I looked at my dirty dishes for a bit; actually, I'm still looking at them. But they'll keep for another half an hour as I blog and catch my breath.

I braved Magdalen Street for some tins of coconut milk and cheap rice. Magdalen Street has some of the best curry houses in Norwich, some fabulous ethnic grocery shops and one of the worst reputations in the city. After dark it can be quite dodgy as the little brown stains keeping the chewing gum company on the pavements can attest. I visit Miah's, where you buy Indian Basmati rice in 10 kilo bags, not to mention the most amazing selection of exotic spices for not much money. They have pepper sauce from Barbados, tinned bread fruit from Jamaica and tinned pigeon peas.

After I bought my groceries, I grabbed a bus and did a half-circuit on the 25 route. The summer is making it's presence felt in the brown grass and drooping leaves. I'm amazed by the state of undress of some people. Don't get me wrong, I'm not what you'd call prudish. I think the human body in it's natural state is a beautiful thing, whatever the size or shape. But, my grandmother was a good West Indian woman who believed that men did not go without a shirt unless they were digging a hole, and even then a string vest was preferable.

So, I've been on tummy watch today. There were flat ones, hairy ones, bulging ones, ones with shiny rings and sparkly studs. Then I started looking at footwear. I am gobsmacked at the acute discomfort which women endure in the name of fashion. High, high heels with straps you could use to floss your teeth. From afar they look attractive until you notice the slightly swollen ankles and the mis-shapen toes. Give me boring trainers any day, they might not be sexy, but at least I can run for the bus in them.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Monday in London

At the crack of dawn (for me), I sped into London courtesy of One Railways and met up with father #3 who had flown in to see a concert given in honour of one of his old chums. It has been a couple of years since we've seen each other and it was good to catch up on news. We exchanged compliments, he's looking well and he says I look well (the sign of a well-trained man 'no dear your bum doesn't look big in that). We had an early lunch and then headed off to The Hayward Gallery. The eagle eyed among you will notice I've included them in my links.

Wow! Where do I start? I'm beginning to think Georges Bataille is the God of all things artistic and if heaven is The Hayward, then I'm moving in tomorrow. The Hayward is this strange terraced type building on the South Bank. The display is called Undercover Surrealism and features works by Picasso, Dali, Picabia and Miro with quotes from Georges Bataille's Documents, as well as some stunning pieces of African and New World Art which influenced the Cubist and Surrealist movements. Father #3 is also an art gallery buff and was very kind as I tried to show off my newly gleaned bits of knowledge. I think I'm falling in love with the London Art Scene, which is a bit scary because a) it's not really the Art Scene, it's just the mainstream stuff and b) I suspect it'll be unrequited and expensive.

The exhibition is open until the end of July and I'm determined to suck up to as many chums in London as I can so I can borrow a piece of floor, to go and see it again. Did I mention that it's half price on Mondays at the Hayward?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Andalucian Images of Carmina Burana

It was quite an interesting take on Carl Orff's Carmin Burana, one that I am not convinced worked. The recorded music was interspersed with impassioned flamenco dancing and the occasional solos by key members of the troop. There were also various contraptions on stage which several dancers suspended themselves from. A couple of dwarves and the stallions completed the spectacle.

The flamenco dancing was just stunning. The dancers beautiful and charismatic. I was enchanted by the way the women danced in their white dresses with impossibly long frilly trains, which became at times an extra dance partner. I loved the way they kicked the skirt from side to side. Unfortunately, I felt that too much time had been spent on the dance, and when the principle dancer tapped her way over the crucifix and was then cricified, I soon became bored.

Given that Carmina Borana was a quick tour of medieval life, beginning and ending with O Fortuna, with stops via the taverna and affairs of the heart, and includes one of the most lovely prayers to the feminine divine, I felt more attention could have been made through props and costume to reflect the vivid Andalucian life; as it was the costumes were white, or black. There were heavy religious overtones, which I wouldn't have minded had they included the joyful and celebratory and down right lacivious to balance the dirges. The Andalucian stallions were beautiful, but wasted in two excursions one of which they had four dancers prancing in front of them. The cast of 30 advertised were in actual fact, half of that, which given the restrictions of space on the stage was not necessarily a bad thing. Ultimately, I felt the performance did not do what it said on the tin, which was a real shame.

It was a missed opportunity to show that medieval life that Orff put to music, is not that different to life now. Major concerns of living with the hands that fate deals one are universal. Drinking and love are still the ways people try to offset the feeling that there is no such thing as a happy ending and fate really is out to get you.

After going to the theatre last night and the cinema this afternoon, I realised that my Sunday morning habit of going to the cinema first thing in the morning is a truly excellent way of avoid other patrons. People talked all the way through the performance and rustled their way through snacks of all textures and sounds, not to mention the mobile phones flashing and beeping throughout. My authoritarian leanings are coming out, I'm afraid, patience still is not one of my virtues.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Theatre Tonight

I am still ridiculously excited about going to the theatre tonight. You would have thought that having 2 weeks to prepare for the event, would have meant I'd have calmed down by'd be wrong. I will let you know how it went tomorrow.

Hottie rang me today as I bleached the bejesus out of my bath and kept me company as did my chores. We are busy making plans to paint Liverpool purple in August. Don't know if this is enough warning to everyone in Liverpool to evacuate during that period?

Apart from that had a very brief bus journey in the evening, but any recollections disappeared with a pint and a half of beer to celebrate the end of term with my sub-editor. More tomorrow.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Life on the Buses

One of the things I've noticed when travelling round Norwich, is that the bus users are generally quite polite. When the bus stops and passengers get off, most say 'cheers' or 'thanks'. Which I never thought about it particularly until I got on a bus in London. Not only do people ignore each other completely, staring fixedly at the chewing gum splodged on the floor, and avoiding all eye contact, but when someone acts courteously, like giving up a seat for an elderly, or pregnant woman, there is a round of tuts of disapproval.

This week, I saw a harrassed mother to a small child trying to manage said child, collapsable and unwieldy buggy, plus three large bags of shopping. Two other passengers got up, one lifted the buggy out, the other grabbed her shopping, while she convinced her small child that they really needed to get OFF now. The bus driver joked with her as she tried to get to grips with everything; no one looked grumpy, or put off by the small delay. Only when she finally got small child strapped into the re-assembled buggy and drapped her shopping over the handles, did the bus driver pull away. He had wanted to make sure she had got everything. I like living in Norwich.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Reality of Babies

I called in on the blog covering Jennie's story in The Observer, and was completely surprised by the vitriol expressed by the commentors. People have not, in the main, reacted well to Jennie's plea for a co-parent. No immediate offers for the honour of providing the sperm, money and occasional weekend visit.

I go all 'aahhh' at the thought of babies. Tiny baby feet, the joy of being pregnant, the roller coaster of labour, big, big boobs. I spent about an hour and a half in the company of a 1 year old today, who was for the first hour and fifteen mins, asleep. In that time, I realised that actually Jennie really needs to think again about it.

I do feel for her. It must be awful to be enthrall to your biological clock without the ability to sort it out through normal means. 'Normal' being, with a bloke in a committed long-term relationship, or even with a bloke in a non-committed short-term relationship, or even with a bloke and a turkey baster. I think the advice given by one of the contributors to the blog was right, she should get a hamster instead. Damn sight less messy.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Other Travellers

A few weeks ago, I came across a great article by Mike Carter in the Observer. Suffering a mid-life crisis he's decided to follow in Ewan McGregor's fabulous biker boots and head off round Europe for the summer. The link is to his blog.

It struck a cord because I also have a travel bug. I also have no money. So where as I would really like to go back to Trinidad for the summer, I take buses round Norwich instead. No discernible difference to be sure; but it's movement. And rather than looking for comfort in the different, I'm finding it in the familiar.

In Public Places - Private Journeys, Ellen Strain distinguishes between a tourist and a traveller. Essentially, a tourist is looking for a good time, while a traveller is searching for the "authentic". She makes a very interesting point that both are protected by the experience they're looking for by the coach or train. The metal body and air-conditioning protect both from the environment they are moving through. A bubble which protects them from the heat, flies and smells. The tourist/traveller watch the world go by throught the frame of a window; the environment they move through, they experience like a movie in a theatre. Further distance is provided by the ever-present camera. She called it the distantiation of framed mobility.

I found the first few chapters of her book very thought provoking. She made some very interesting links to Baudriallard and his concept of the simulacra and certainly having experienced the 'real' Turkey last year, I am inclined to agree with her. Tourists want their perception of the 'real' not the reality experienced by the natives of that exotic country. They don't want to see the Masai living in brick houses, with mobile phones and i-Pods. They want Tesco bacon and Asda sausages in a Muslim country.

I'm finding a sense of connection, not distance, in my circuits round Norwich. I'm beginning to recognise people and look out for people. The big, hard man with the small black puppy is continuing to woo people at the bus stop. Other passengers and I exchange smiles. The bus drivers still pop up to see if I'm alright at the university stop, and then promise to wait for me as I snatch a comfort break during the 10 minute wait at the railway station.

While I haven't got a clue how this is project is going to turn out, I do know I'm enjoying the ride.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Let Down Again

I've been so good today. You'd be proud of me. I finally got round to doing my neighbour's garden and she is ever so chuffed. Loads of pretties, not a lot of dosh. I got footed it to the UEA library where I spent an hour doing some research on journeys and waded through some of the most dense writing to rival Roland Barthes and show Fredrick Jameson a thing or two. And then...and then I tried out the camera my boy lent me. And it died. Flat battery. Typical.

When I did a search on the UEA and NSAD catalogues I found quite a section on journeys and tourism and it looks really interesting. I'm not going to cover it tonight, I'm really knackered and I've got another early start in the morning. But the good news is that the literature should provide a theoretical framework by which I can hang this project, and it looks fascinating, even if the language is somewhat dense.

I'll leave you with this fabulous quote by Ellen Strain from Public Places-Private Journeys: ethnography, entertainment and the tourist gaze. "As a core component of the tourist gaze, the illusion of demediation offers the false promise of communion with authenticity and an escape from the very mediation that the semiotics of tourism unveils."

Is there a bullshitologist in the house? What exactly does that mean?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Technology and Hot Days

It's official. I'm technologically inept. I was going to test drive the camera today and I couldn't even turn the damn thing on. D'oh! However, the boy came home, rolled his eyes and he couldn't make it go either, so I no longer feel quite so stupid.

Today, is a three shower day. It's really, really hot. What's even better is that my hayfever is behaving itself, I am no longer a woman of mucus and goo! Which I'm sure the cat appreciates, she hates being woken up by my coughing and spluttering.

I did make it out the flat today and went on another trip round the town on a double decker 25 route. Today, the bus driver popped up to see if I was lost. He seemed a bit bemused at my explanation and his parting words were 'do you get on with it then, you'd have been better off in November, my beauty'. I do like Norfolk endearment 'my beauty'. When I worked behind the bar I got called a lot of things, it took me quite awhile to get to grips with 'duck' and 'luv' from complete strangers, but it sure as hell beat 'oi'. I digress.

As the bus rumbled along, I thought through the heart of this project. After a complete circuit, I'm still missing it. If I can get the technology to work, I should be able to provide a link to the pictures I take along the way. I'll try and put them in date and route order. Also, I was thinking about taking routes outside of the city, but that will obviously depend on what's happening with boy.

It also occurred to me that I might aproach First, to ask permission to take pictures on their buses and also for financial help with the travel costs. But as I'm not sure where I'm going with this yet, I'd rather do a few runs, get the images up and see what my avid readers suggest. A bit of research might not be a bad thing either.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Parenthood Perils

I've gave up on the detox last night, when I found a bowl of Thai green curry waiting patiently for me in the fridge. I can honestly say I don't feel any better for it. I'm sure it would have helped if I'd have followed a proper detox plan, so I'm aware that I really shouldn't whinge about it too much. Maybe I'll try again - next year.

Trawling through the on-line papers and blogs, I came across a rather sad story in The Observer. Jennie, a 41 year old woman is looking for a co-parent for her child. Her history is peppered with abuse and failed relationships; and now to make her life complete, she wants a child.

I must admit, I do feel for her. Maternal hormones are sneaky, irrational things. They make you go soft and weepy when you see small babies. Your arms do feel empty. Baby feet just need to be kissed. Having said all of that, personally, I think she's bonkers.

Having a baby by yourself, without proper support from family and sperm donor is seriously hard work. The committment needed to raise a child has to be 100% from both parents; and even with that support, it can be lonely and heartbreaking. And ultimately, why have children when they're going to have to be brought up by professional carers, because you have to go out to work to keep a roof over your head, and food in your mouths? This problem is endemic with two parents, worse for single parent households. Poverty and parenthood go hand in hand. The list against goes on, I've actually pared it down to these few paragraphs.

But it's easy for me to say this, I've had my boy. I don't regret it, ever. And I tell him that I'll be a fabulous grandmama.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Detoxing and Modesty Blaise

A good friend of mine recommended detoxing. I thought, I'm feeling a bit low after the end of term, knackered, I've given my liver a bit of a kicking, sure why not? Yesterday, I spent on my futon, reading Peter O'Donnell's 'Modesty Blaise' and drinking smoothies and water.

Do I feel any better for it? I had the worst night's sleep for quite awhile, I've woken up with a splitting headache and I don't feel ready to fight my way out of a bowl of cold spaghetti. Oh that's right, I'm supposed to feel like this. I have given in and am having a cup of coffee though. A woman has to have at least one vice to make life worth living; 1 cup of coffee is not going to send me to Tartaris for all eternity.

I first came across 'Modesty Blaise' in a serialised comic form in the Trinidad Express. In my tender years she became my role model, she was independent, fiesty, sexy, gorgeous and never apologised for being herself. I collected all of Peter O'Donnell's books. Unfortunately, I no longer have them, and they have been very difficult to get hold of. Imagine my joy when I saw that Sovereign Press are re-releasing the collection again. The first one being sold in Waterstones for 99p!

Reading it again was like a home coming, but like many books that I've read when I was young and come back to much later, the experience had changed for me. I noticed different things. Written in the 1960's, it was very much of its time. The gadgets date it, but not overly so. It is the money that really places it; Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin retired from their life of crime on half a million sterling; had they been recruited into the Civil Service they would have expected a grand salary of £2,000 per annum. In many ways, it's very gentile; the settings are described with a sensuous detail to delight connisseurs of fine cigarettes, alcohol and good jewellery. Fine details which would be unappreciated in today's bling and fling society.

Modesty Blaise is very much a fantasy woman written by a man. I was going to compare her with Lara Croft, Catwoman and a couple of Bond girls and then I realised...they have all been created by men. I'm going to ponder that one for a bit longer.