Monday, 20 October 2014

John Byrne and Contemporary Artists

I was very lucky on Sunday to be child/hubby free so that I could meet a friend in town who wanted to see some art exhibitions. He was a very old colleague who contacted me out of the blue which was a nice surprise and having the art was a nice way to avoid any awkward pauses while we caught up. He cracked me up as he kept stopping on stairs mid conversation - it was bizarre and contraire to my always-moving self.

We met at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street, Edinburgh. This is about 5 minutes from where I work but I've never managed to get there - my loss as the building is a neo-gothic wonder. The exterior lobby area is breath taking- with stunning stained glass windows and a painted ceiling. Like a dolt, I didn't take any photos.
I had been meaning to go for ages to see the John Byrne Sitting Ducks exhibition - and luckily managed to catch it on the last day. My favourite artworks were one of Billy Connolly and another Tilda Swinton. There were also many self portraits and family portraits - fascinating to see how he portrayed himself, his mrs and children. I wish I had had time to look at each in detail.

Other fascinating areas of the gallery were the library with it's phrenology exhibition and the Remembering the Great War exhibition. I need to look into Field Marshall Douglas Haig who's strategies led to so many deaths and the poppy appeal which began life at the Haig Fund to help ex-servicemen. 

After a wander around the gift shop, we went in search of lunch. Ending up in Rose Lane North for a non-spectacular lunch. But it filled our bellies and we were energised enough to make our way to the 
Scottish National Gallery where I wanted to see the Generation - an exhibition of contemporary artists. This is a great museum to visit as the two buildings house a wide variety of art so there is bound to be something for everyone in there. And it's accessible being just 5 mins walk from Edinburgh Waverly Station, in the pretty Princes Street Gardens. They had a bit of a shift around so some paintings that were housed in the lower gallery are now in the main one. I like seeing them in new settings. However, I did struggle with the paintings that are hung up high as the lights hit them so you need to move around to actually view them - not easy when it's busy. There is also a very loud hum in the main gallery which was off-putting. The gallery is pretty bonkers as it's actually two buildings connecting by an underground passage. So without realising it, you are in the other building. Luckily there are some red and blue dots to follow. I have to admit that I didn't really warm to the Generation exhibition - nothing interested me but there are so many paintings in the museum that I love and always am astonished they own Rembrandts that it was fine. I recommend checking out the North of the Border paintings especially the one by Peter Graham and the Gainsborough - the Honorable Mrs Graham who was a beauty and had the most fabulous dress on. I'm really looking forward to the fashion exhibition due to start mid November. 

So there we go - my soul is somewhat replenished after what has been an awful few weeks. And if you read my foodie blog, you'll know that I finished the day with a lovely haul of sweets. All in all lovely ...though I was a tad guilty when I got home as Mr Plummy has caught yet another cold :(. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

10 years...

10 years ago I was

  • Single
  • 6 months into a job as a designer (though my title was Research Engineer!)
  • Travelling up to 3 hours a day to get to my job
  • Living back in London, with Dad, saving up to buy a house
  • A person with a very healthy bank balance
  • A person with the freedom to do whatever the fuck I wanted
  • Lonely
Today I am
  • The person who cried in an office where I work part time doing a job that I wasn't hired to do, in too few hours
  • A mother who resents her child who didn't ask to be born, because I gave up work for her. 
I don't know what happened. No I lie, I do know but I am still confused. I met a man, we decided we wanted a baby, he proposed, I accepted, baby got cut out by skilled doctors and life changed forever. In the last 7 years I have moved house 5 times. I hate moving house. I hated the second move out of London to be near people who didn't visit us. I hated the fourth move as I love London and had even come to love Plumstead and didn't want leave. 

Thing is we were parents who decided that one of us should stay at home with the kid while the other worked. Having grown up with two working parents, and being married to a man who had had a stay at home mum - I was convinced that it was a good choice. So we decided he would stay home, while I worked. 
Thing is I started to breastfeed and I wanted to carry on breastfeeding. But I couldn't figure out how I could do this, where I would store my milk, how I would get back to my baby should she need me if I had to commute an hour and half each way, each working day. I couldn't bear to leave her. So we changed plans, he went to work and I stayed home
Thing is Mr Plummy was made redundant and we again moved up here, over 200 miles away. The first time we lived in Scotland sucked (see 2nd move above). But this time, we moved to the shitiest place I had ever lived and I became very ill (doctors couldn't figure it out, but I think it was due to crippling loneliness).
Thing is I come from a family of women who have been let down by their husbands. My mum, my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandmother - all had husbands who let them down. The lesson was that I must never ever rely on a man, I must always work. 

Thing is I like to work. No scratch that, I need to work. I loved being one of the first girls in my family to get a degree (and the only child in my family of 3 boys and 1 girl) and after quite a few years of shite jobs, finally becoming a designer. I was so proud of myself. 
Thing is. I love my daughter. She's amazing. It wasn't always easy and there were times I locked myself in a room to stop myself yelling at her. But being with her and helping her transition through 5 house moves was important. We know we did good - teachers tell us they can tell that she has a home parent by her behaviour and command of language. Its not often a parent gets compliments, I gobble them up when they come our way.  
Thing is my husband is not like my dad or my grand-dads. 
Thing is while kiddo is at school I got bored. And that old niggle - the pride of being someone in paid employment started to really bug me
So I did a course on nutrition and started teaching small groups. But the hours weren't enough and were too few. And then there is all this conflicting evidence on what is good nutrition anyway?
So I looked for and found a part time office job. In Edinburgh. Joy was me. I'd go in and be all Mary Tyler Moore walking along Princes Street. Yes,  there were days I was bored but I would just skip off to Jenners toy and yarn departments after work and be happy. I still had the other job for the rewarding challenging stuff so it was all OK.  
Thing is my job changed because there were changes in our head office, people were shifted about and I was asked to take on a new set of duties. Ones I would never have applied to do. I hate it. I am not proud of what I do. I hate going to work and today I ended up in tears in front of one of the managers. 
I want to leave but I know at my age, I will never be given another job again. So I'm stuck. I am so ashamed that I cried. I am so frustrated that there is little opportunity to find part time work around my kid's school hours. And I'm so ashamed that I didn't stand my ground 7 years ago, and demand better conditions so that I could continue a role I was proud of. 

Thing is I love my daughter. I am so proud of who she is and have marvelled at everything she has learnt and I don't know how much I would have missed if I had been at work. 

10 years from now I plan on being in a better place than I am now. I just don't know what the fuck that will be and how the heck I will get there. But I'll be damned proud when I make it. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Judy's affordable vintage fair Edinburgh

I went along to the Assembly Rooms again today but this time it wasn't for a show, it was for the fun Judy's Affordable Vintage fair. I arrived around 1pm and though there was a very short queue, inside the hall it was packed. So much so that it was a little difficult to get to any rails.
I was more interested in kitchenalia but sadly though there were a few fab stalls, they didn't have any cooking equipment. I did spot some nice white and red plates being sold by Mabel on the Table though I was too lazy to buy them. I'll have to look her up and see if she still has them.
There were some ladies set up doing hair and make-up which was a great idea for anyone who was off out for the evening.
I was really hoping to find some lovely 50s style dresses. In my youf, I used to wonder around markets in Camden Town and Portobello Road looking at the gorgeous old stuff from that era.  Unforutnately, most of the stuff at the fair today was a bit too small for me. I asked one stall holder who told me that most vintage stuff comes in small sizes which amazed me when you think of the beautiful full bodied women from the 50s and 60s (Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and a tonne of Bollywood actresses). It was too crowded for me to look through all the racks but I enjoyed seeing the stuff and hope to go back if the fair comes back to town.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Platform 2, LocalMotiveMarkets

Ah here's me thinking I was done for the night but there's one more: Platform 2 from LocalMotiveMarkets.

This is the new market that will be at Edinburgh Waverley station every Friday from 1pm to 7pm. I had a quick look before catching my train home. As it's new it is still quite small. There is a mix of stalls from those selling handmade bags and felted goods, jewellry stalls, a great looking art stall (Stones of Scotland) and some food stalls. I was going to try cheesecake from one stall but she couldn't guarantee it was vegetarian and was very surprised to tell hear about animal vs vegetarian rennet and the easy availability of veggie cheese in all supermarkets! Philadelphia is veggie and makes lovely cheesecake cake-stall-lady.

It's a lovely idea and I hope that it continues to grow and grow (especially as I always forget that Scottish Farmers' markets are on London they were usually on a Sunday!!!!)

Beggars and bagpipes and stuff

There are things you cannot get away from in Edinburgh. Some I think about too much.

There are beggars on the street. Whenever I've visited the city (including  years before we moved to Scotland), I've seen the beggars on the streets. In London it was a common sight when I was growing up but I never got used to them. And the ones in Edinburgh are ever present. There is one on Princes Street who sits with a cupboard piece claiming he wasn't a druggie/alcoholic - the same sign as he has been showing for years. It's remarkably pristine.
There is the East European woman who sometimes sits outside the station cup in hand. And there is the one who claims he is a ex-soldier, with a noble expression, his service record readily available for anyone to see.
One very rare morning, I found his stuff in it's usual place but no soldier beggar in site.

He was back the next day, glasses perched on his nose while he read a book and waited for people to put money in his hat.
Ironically this part of the street is also where the Jesus lovers stand all day with their leaflets about the love of god blah blah blah.

As Fringe begins the number of beggars ramps up. Somedays I pretend they are spies for the local police keeping an eye on the people around the streets. I will give money to the street artists like the man that carves a dog sculpture out of sand, or the Big Issue sellers s and to the local homeless charities.

Bagpipes - early morning starts mean that I don't hear bagpipes when I am in the City. But by the time I go home the drone of the pipes is in the air delighting the tourist. Most often polluting it with the same old tunes. But every now again, usually a young piper, plays something different and then I will stop and listen. They rarely have the US or Japanese tourists around them at this time which is a bonus.
More street music that I enjoy are the south american band that often joyfully play outside Jenners or M&S, or the flautist who plays modern pop song tunes outside the station.

Anyhooo, I haven't forgotten my aim to make sure I always look at the Castle and never forget it's there. Sometimes though ...that's hard! And in foggy weather, I hope that I don't trip over a person whilst looking up at the amazing buildings around.