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Finding More Happy (Part 12)

22 Jan

There’s nothing I love more than a kooky place that doesn’t conform to expectations and today’s visit to the India Club in the Strand, is totally up there with not meeting expectations.

First off, if you do go there, don’t have any high expectations about the food. While as a country, curry maybe the UK’s number one food choice – this fact pretty much seems to have passed this establishment by. I’m not saying it’s inedible, it’s just not really very good.

Anyway, I reckon that’s by the by, because if you do go here – you should go for the experience.

The experience of the India Club is like no other Indian restaurant you will go to – especially not in central London. Because the fact is, this place appears to be running on some sort of unheard-of-non-commercial lines. The food is cheap (even if it isn’t very good), you can bring your own booze and you can stay for hours on end and the staff say nada.

Seriously, I’ve never been to such a chilled, cosy, comfy place in the Capital where you sit on squashy sofas, admire retro décor and put the world to rights for so many hours on end.

Full marks for finding happy today – the India club enabled lots of quality time with friends 🙂

Finding More Happy (Part 11)

21 Jan

Knowing I have another annoying day lined up with yet more arguments I start the day with the gym. This I am finding is a real boon. I don’t particularly like the gym, but I know mentally it keeps me a lot calmer when under pressure.

In the evening we go out to the local pub with our new neighbours to welcome them to the area. Since moving to London, I have made a real effort to get to know our neighbours and to be the typical non-Londoner – that means I do talk and smile and say “Hello” and I do invite you out and I do actually make an effort to be friends. My brother, who has lived in the capital since being a student, finds my behaviour weird.

I take great pride in my weird behaviour and every day make a concerted effort to say “Hello” to least one stranger on the street. Most of the time they reply, but at the very minimum they smile, or nod something in acknowledgement.

Does it feel weird? Yes, sometimes. Sometimes, even I, want to go about my business and not have to connect with anyone, but I don’t know if that’s a good way to live. We all need other people and I think it’s good to try and connect – even in a small acknowledgement of somebody else’s existence. Saying “Hello” or sharing a smile does this.

Finding More Happy (Part 10)

20 Jan

I started the day well. Despite not wanting to go to the gym, I went. I rowed, I sat up, I lunged, I star-jumped, and then I cycled. And then I felt very pleased with myself that I was heading back home while most people were making their way to work.

This afternoon I had a Society of Authors Management Meeting. As our new building in Bloomsbury is being refurbished we’re “on tour” at the various offices of the top publishing houses in the country! Not bad eh?

Today’s meeting was at HarperCollins on the 17th floor of the News building (aka Murdoch Towers) in a big tall glass building that wasn’t The Shard.

Or this building.

Anyway, having found myself to the right building I was adorned with a rave party bracelet and accompanied in the lift. I understand. They don’t trust me.

I take too many random photos.

Anyway, I kept it super professional and didn’t take any photos of the phenomenal view until coffee break. Charlie Redmayne, CEO, gave a talk, and I have to say he was particularly charming.

Anyway, we did all the management conversations and various things you do at such meetings and then we headed off to the pub. I would like to say that’s my most favourite time of the day, but that’s probably not very professional. *cough*

Anyway, at said pub wine bar (we are professional after all, even if I am just pretending). I decided upon a professional topic of conversation with the professional writers I was lucky enough to be in the company of.

“So…,” I started (as I do many sentences) “I’m really struggling with my motivation and concentration when it comes to writing at the moment.”

They all looked at me and nodded, waiting for me to elaborate.

“And so I was just wondering…how often and how long do you write for?”

The answers came in turn: Every day, but weekends off. At least three hours, usually four, tops at five hours.

“Ah!” I reply, my face furrowing into an unwitting confession of sorts, “I appear to not be writing enough.”

“How often are you writing?” Came the alarmed response.

“Well, I try, but it’s hard, you see…”

“You have morning, don’t you? Mornings are the best time to write.” Asserted one professional and highly esteemed writer who’s sold a gazillion books.

“Well, the thing is…the tenants, the tenants have to be sorted first…”

He rolls his eyes at me and retorts with a sneer in his lip and a full-on-worried-shake of his shaggy eyebrows. “I had a tenant once. Urgh!” He screws his face tighter in disgust at the memory, “thank goodness that episode is over.”

Another novelist, some 45 books published and counting, butts in: “You must plan your day around writing.”

“Plan my day around writing?” I question, my voice raising querulously at the sheer audacity and lunacy of such an outrageous idea.

“Yes, of course!” They reply in unison, looking at me queerly as though I’m some sort of unrecognisable miniature curio found in the back of an antiques shop.

“How on earth would you ever get to write unless you do?” retorted the gazillion-selling, tenant-relieved pro.

How on earth indeed, I said to myself, and committed the conversation to memory.

Sounds like I need a better plan!

Finding More Happy (Part 9)

19 Jan

Starting the day arguing with a solicitor who you’ve been waiting to hear back from for over a week and have had to involve the head honcho to get a response, is not the best start. But hey, arguments are made to be fought and won – and so I’m remaining positive.

And I’ve learned positivity is definitely a state of mind you have to work on – and I mean work on. It really doesn’t take long before you find yourself slipping back into your old neghead ways about this, that and t’other.

So in mindfulness of this feat and sick to death of looking at my screen I decided to go to the local Co-op to buy some coleslaw. Admittedly, not the most interesting adventure, but it would get me out of the house and there – as I saw it – was the break point of my day. This was my excursion out to find more happy.

Now, I am not a shopping fan. In fact, I am a rather good aficionado of online grocery shopping, because:

  1. I can’t be bothered to walk around a supermarket
  2. I can’t be bothered to carry all the bags – especially not up three flight of stairs
  3. I really swear there have got to be more fun ways to spend my time than grocery shopping.

I fill you in on this, because what follows perhaps makes more sense in that context.

So, as I was saying, I was going to Co-op to buy some coleslaw (if you must know, I was going to re-heat some leftover pizza for tea and figured coleslaw would make all the difference).

Anyway, as I’m bustling down the road, I see a great expanse of shiny red and white that has never appeared on my radar before. Now, I’m sure they have branches all over the place – and you’ll be familiar with the shop “Iceland”.

So I stood outside gawping inside at all the frozen goods on offer and pondering if I should step over the threshold…is this the sort of place that would stock coleslaw?

inside iceland

Seeing as I am in the mood to try new things I decided to venture in and check it out – yes, I am an Icelandic novice and so today was my first foray into the world of the frozen goods shop.

Excited and intrigued by all the offerings I soon found myself taking photos. I don’t know why. I am obviously incredibly sad and possibly deranged. But anyway, I found myself taking pictures of the stuff on offer – which given I’ve taken them, I may as well share them here.

Now, as I was taking a few snaps I became aware of a presence that appeared to be watching me. Glancing around I saw in my peripheral vision, what looked like the behind of a security guy. Putting this presence down to my paranoia I continued down the next aisle – pausing, photographing and pondering.

And then when I was perusing over the merits of a bottle of wine (Chardonnay, in case you wondered) for £2.99, I was pounced on.

“Excuse me, can I help you?” Said the voice of the man dressed in Iceland overalls who was trying to appear taller than what he really was.

“I’m just looking at this wine,” I reply, “it seems very cheap, but I don’t know anything about the brand.”

“I’ve seen you taking lots of photos, why are you doing that?” He stood facing me in some sort of cowboy showdown, like I was meant to suddenly pop the cork and take his eye out or something.

“Well…,” I say, hesitating about what I would say. Could I really share my wonder of the Iceland treats, or would he think me a prick, or a maniac, or worse? I fumble with the bottle, stroking its smooth neckline like you would a furry cat. “Well, you see…,” I continue “I’m planning a party and so I’m taking photos to remind me of the things you have…” I trail off not wanting to get too involved in this crap party I’m obviously planning, but also pleased with myself for my quick thinking.

He looks at me squarely, taken aback by incredibly credible response. “Oh, OK,” he replies, and if I may say, a little disappointedly. I don’t know what he thought I was going to say, but I think, he thought it was going to be way more exciting than what I did say. He looks at me in a confiding manner, as though he’s about to share a bit secret. “It’s just people who are in here and taking photo’s they’re usually…,” and he left the sentence hanging.

“Usually what?” My mouth wanted to shout!

I looked at him eagerly, edging him on to finish his sentence that was left like a smelly fart all over the aisle.

He looked back at me with my eager face and brightened. “If you’re planning a party, I’ll go and see if we’ve got any more of that wine in the back – though to be honest I don’t know if we will as you’re in the January sales aisle and if there’s only that one bottle there and you’re holding it, that could be it…”

“Oh, OK,” I reply, somewhat disappointed. Not only was he not going to finish his sentence about why people are usually taking photos, but he was now going to find me more wine of the wine I didn’t even intend to buy.

I look about and see another security guard, all uniformed up and checking me out. I smile broadly at him and he shifts his weight while still staring.

I am buying this wine, I realise.

I wait patiently to find out how much more of this plonk I’ve got to buy and wonder about the excuses I could use so as not to buy up Iceland’s stock room of cheap Chardonnay.

The guy puffs back holding aloft a large bottle of beer.

“I’m really sorry,” he says breathlessly, “that’s the last bottle of wine you’ve got there, but I did find bottles of this beer that’s cheap – you could always take this for your party.”

“Oh, that’s so kind,” I reply, and smile sweetly, “but, you know, it’s a girl’s party and we only drink wine!”

Finding More Happy (Part 8)

18 Jan

Goodness, sometimes it can be very hard to find more happy. Which I guess is one of the challenges of this style of thinking – shit very easily can overwhelm you and before you know it, everything stinks and feels like it.

So, after an annoying day which involved a lot of everything but produced nothing, I was overjoyed to go to the theatre to watch Outlying Islands.

The Kings Head, Upper Street, Islington is one of my fave places – this is a remarkable venue who really understand and put on quality productions.

The complimentary vino in the interval was much appreciated and found me more happy as I didn’t have to open my wallet again 🙂 But, the star of the day was the outstanding show – definitely more happy found from watching this 🙂