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September 2011
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Goldsmiths Ltd.

Tarantulas and things

I like those news roundups they do at the close of each year, to pad out the dead gap of TV between Christmas and New Year, when you’re too full to channel hop and you’ve already watched Home Alone and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  They put a pleasing, symbolic cap on the year, feeding out our recent twelve months of history with the same detached smugness as the Doctor in Supersize vs Superskinny who shames the fat people by posting what they’ve eaten that week through a transparent tube.

I know we’ve still got four months to go until Christmas (though not in monthly magazine land, where we’ve just begun work on December issue – it might be early September in London, but it’s Christmas around my desk) and only two thirds of the way through the year, but we’re already looking at a pretty packed montage – cuts, student protests, a royal wedding, Japan earthquake, Egypt, hacking, riots, Gaddafi – they may have to release an extended version.

Someone (it might have been Adina so I’m not taking it too seriously) told me that much of this year’s chaos could be down to the moon being very close to the earth; the gravitational pull is apparently making us go a bit loopy. It goes without saying that whoever told me this wasn’t a scientist.

I had Gretchen and Rosa around for dinner at my place on the night the riots kicked off down Clapham way a month ago, unaware – despite phones buzzing in our handbags like angry wasps – that all hell had broken loose and my poor housemate Daniella was stranded at Wandsworth Common. We did what is now (in retrospect) an overly dramatic drive-by in Rosa’s mini, bundling her into the car like a fugitive on the run.

Clapham softened in the aftermath of the looting; momentarily losing that hard air of mistrust you notice is absent in tourists and country folk. Even Debenhams muscled in on the action with ‘We Love You Clapham’ posters pasted over their new windows. A month on, things are back to their cynical norm and all that’s left of the rush of Woodstock feeling are the boarded up windows of TK Maxx, which became an unofficial site for a mass graffiti love-in, a mixture of heartfelt community messages, badly adapted Burt Bacharach song lyrics (‘what Clapham needs now, is love, sweet love’) and the odd HANG THEM ALL!! which I think sort of misses the spirit a bit.

‘Tell you who’s going to do well out of this’ said Adina the following day.

‘Who?’ I said.

‘The glaziers’ she said, giving me a dark look, as if to imply that the glaziers were  in on the whole thing, that the grassroots violence had actually been carefully orchestrated by an Everest crime ring.

After spending the next month nose to the fashion magazine grindstone, I went away last week to Cyprus with the girls, where I baked my skin on the Dulux scale from ‘blue white’ to ‘white toast’. We spent much of the week hanging out with the 62 year old ex-pat next door neighbour Carol, who pitched up on the patio on day two of our stay wearing hotpants and 6 inch cork heels, a plate of tuna dip in one hand and a tinkling G&T in the other. She took us to a no-frills Greek restaurant on our last night and we ate a sumptuous buffet of feta salads, barbequed chicken and enough houmous and Tzatski to keep the Clapham Waitrose stocked for a month. After dinner, Mario the dancer and his accompanying band of billowing-sleeved merry men did a traditional Cypriot dance between the tables – like flamenco, but with an edge of Michael Flatley.

And did you know that tarantulas are native to Cyprus? We didn’t, until one scuttled out from under a living room sofa just after we’d arrived and settled into the house, like a surprise Big Brother contestant.

A perfect chorus of textbook girl screams rent through the living area before Zan managed to prod it into a dust pan with the end of a broom and shovel it onto the patio (‘ohmigodohmigodohmigod!’) as I bravely directed her from on top of the kitchen table. It was 2am, but we couldn’t then get into bed without pulling every piece of furniture in the entire house away from the wall in case it had family nearby: ‘don’t worry’ said Carol the next day ‘they’re more scared of you than you are of them’ – I’m not so sure; the spider seemed pretty relaxed sitting in the middle of the living room carpet, wondering why everyone was standing on sofas screaming.

Back now, with a white toast tan and a nice bit of feta weight, just in time for my very first fashion week on Saturday. I don’t really have anything to wear, but andogyny’s pretty big this season so I can always just borrow something of Ed’s – and at least there shouldn’t be any tarantulas. Wouldn’t rule it out completely though. I’ll keep you posted.

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