The occa­sion of my 26th Birth­day: in which I venture lead pois­on­ing and eat a lot

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I’m doing an art MA at the Univer­sity of Brighton. I was living in Brighton, but I’ve moved back in with my mum in Kent recently because I ran out out of money. I only have to be there in person one day a week though, so commuting’s ok. My stuff still wants unpack­ing.

This was the day I turned 26. I went to univer­sity, did some type­set­ting, and ate and drank a lot.


Oblig­at­ory bedhead photo. I’m not a morn­ing person in the slight­est.


The time. The kermit clock was the best 20p I’ve ever spent.


Hey, young­er human, it’s break­fast time.


Some presents from my mum, and ones that my dad dropped off the day before from him and my broth­er. The post didn’t come until after I’d left. The moth­er unit did not wish to be photo­graphed in her leopard print dress­ing gown.


An extra pair of converse (I already had been given some black ones that I’d been wear­ing already), Jan Svank­ma­jer shorts dvd (lots of east­ern european folk­tales on that), hair­s­lides and some much needed money.


A nice healthy break­fast. If I can’t do it on my birth­day, when can I? Marks and Sparks, you’ve done me proud.


Turn on my decrep­it laptop.


No import­ant emails apart from some birth­day wishes. I also share my birth­day with Jack London (pleased with that), Sporty Spice, Des O’Connor and Heath­er Mills (indif­fer­ent about those three). Guess I’m destined to either be an author or end up in an acri­mo­ni­ous divorce suit.


Print off my stuff for uni. My next project is an anim­ated film of the story of Pentheus and the Bacchae done in the style of greek vases. I’ve only just star­ted though.


Oscar: “My belly needs tick­ling”. He fell in the bath last week because he got too curi­ous about the running tap, then ran around the house meow­ing piti­fully.


Showe­time for me, with the cats firmly out of the bath­room. I didn’t wash my hair, because I thought it didn’t need it. I later came to regret this.


I must admit, by the end of the jumbo-sized bottle, I’m pretty sick of the scent of the lavender one. I think next time I’ll get rose or pepper­mint. Clean teeth, wash face, try to hide evid­ence of spots, blah, blah, blah.


While getting dressed, some music. Good old spoti­fy. The cables for my stereo are some­where I haven’t discovered yet.


I got this dress with last year’s birth­day money, but have never worn it. The bust fits badly, I think it was meant for some early 60s person who hoiked their boobs up in a cone bra, not a prac­tice I indulge in, and who also was a bit short­er than me. I felt it was about time I wore it.


Ended up putting a t-shirt and cardigan over the dress. Here you can see my room in chaos. I still need to unpack everything and find a home for it.


My mum gives me a lift to the station. Normally I go on a tues­day and stay overnight with friends, but I’ve got noth­ing sched­uled in the morn­ing, because the tutors are mark­ing work. Delight­ful english weath­er. Surpris­ingly I don’t see anything on the way that makes me cover my face and feel deeply ashamed of my homet­own, but some­how amused at its scum­mi­ness.


Cheap day return, my arse.


The camera sensor and station screen don’t get on, but it says some­thing like St Pancras train in 5 minutes, Victor­ia in 10. My tick­et covers both, but there’s no point getting the St Pancras train and going further north than I need. The route I have to take is a little stupid, go into Victor­ia at plat­form 1/​2, go to plat­form 17/​18/​19 and get a train that follows exactly the same route south for about half the jour­ney. All the trans­port is centred on London.


I attempt to do some prelim­in­ary sketches on the train. It’s so wobbly and bumpy that they go a bit wrong, and I end up with a host of chin­less Ancient Greek wonders and give up. The people in my film will be made of card­board, Captain Pugwash style.


Dionysus came out a bit more useful, although you can see where I went over a bump when I was draw­ing his nose. I like his leopard paw scarf. I like to be strict with myself and draw straight in pen so I have to get the line right first time. This doesn’t actu­ally mean that I get the line right.


Into Victor­ia 50 minutes later.


Grab some sushi and run to get my connec­tion.


Hello to Batter­sea Power Station for the second time in 15 minutes.


Rather than waste pages of my sketch­book I start writ­ing a letter to my friend Kira.


I arrive into a wet and misty Brighton at about midday.

On my way into art college I get some bits from 2 Brighton insti­tu­tions.


Resid­ent Records. My terrible poverty always strikes me hard­est in here. They’ve got a sale rack the moment, it being Janu­ary though.


I got this Pains of Being Pure at Heart EP for a fiver. Most of the stuff I wanted was more like £12-15, and I just can’t afford it at the moment.


Infin­ity Foods next. I like to go in here for the smell alone some­times.


To get a snack and some more face wash.


When I get to college, I drop off some film at Photo­graph­ic Services and head to..


Letter­press, to work on my type­set­ting project. I’m making a small zine to prac­tice hand-type­set­ting. Here’s my typecase. 10pt Bask­erville.


I have to take two lines out, because my address has changed. Putting the letters away takes far longer than taking them out for some reas­on.


Ah, move­able type. I’d love to have a go on a lino­type machine too, but the college hasn’t got an oper­a­tion­al one.


There’s no-one else in the studio, so I mess around and take a silly picture. There’s some­thing satis­fy­ing about the big wooden type. Behind me are the blocks for filling up the blank space on your page. I like the abund­ance of little wooden shelves and draw­ers in the letter­press work­shop.


Before I know it, it’s lunch­time, and I go and get some lunch with Judith.


Veget­ari­an burrito and spark­ling apple juice. The univer­sity food is very cheap, and surpris­ingly good. I think a real mexic­an person would burst out laugh­ing at the “burrito” though. I was very temp­ted by the sticky toffee pudding on offer, but I needed to save cake space.


Then I went back to letter­press and set some more type until about quarter past three. I didn’t take any more pictures because the place was full of cool­er-than-thou graph­ics under­grads and I didn’t really want to have to explain what I was doing. Check out the lead marks on my hand! I did a galley proof, and real­ised there were sever­al mistakes that I’ll have to correct with the tweez­ers next week. I don’t do them now though, because…


I’d arranged to meet my friend Ed here
(And yes, I did wash my hands very thor­oughly, lead pois­on­ing isn’t a great birth­day present)


Here’s Ed. He’ll thank me for making him look poet­ic here.


Chocol­ate pista­chio cake and lapsang souchong tea. The bacon of tea. (You can tell it’s a long, long time since I’ve actu­ally eaten any real bacon). The cake was deli­cious, but a bit over­whelm­ing.


A bracing walk in gale-force winds along the seafront is exactly what’s needed to ease the cake down.


We decide to go on the pier. When it’s lit up it reminds me of that bit in Spir­ited Away when the bath­house suddenly lights up. The pier is pretty eery on winter even­ings when it’s empty and surroun­ded by stormy sea.


We get 50p’s worth of amuse­ment from the 2p machines. I reck­on they glue some of the pennies on to make you think you’re about to cause a cascade.



A pair of hardened gamblers.

Then I have a lecture called “Read­ing Objects” about collect­ing things and figur­ing out what causes people to make bizarre items from George Hardie. Highly enter­tain­ing and thought provok­ing.


Chat­ting to Lenka and Elly before the lecture starts.


George, who’s my super­visor, lends me this book. It’s a book of texts (in Span­ish) and art based on the story of Orph­eus. I don’t actu­ally speak Span­ish, but because I know Itali­an and Latin I can read it well enough. It’s a lovely book.


After the lecture, the tutors and students always repair to the pub. People keep buying me drinks and giving me posca mark­ers, which is nice. The pub is dark, so I don’t both­er taking any photos, because I’m not a fan of bog-stand­ard flash. (Jack Daniels, if you’re buying …)


After the pub, I hot-foot it over to Kemp Town again to meet some friends (Vicky, Jack, Rachael and Amy) at a Thai restaur­ant. The relent­less drizzle makes my unwashed hair feel horrible. Here’s Jack and Vicky.


Presents. I wonder what the tall one could be?


Posca mark­ers, black-paged note­book and sirop de viol­ette. They know me.


Deli­cious starter plat­ters to share- crispy “seaweed”, satay mush­rooms, juli­enned veget­ables, sweet potato dump­lings and (already eaten) spring rolls.


Deli­cious curries and coconut rice.


The wait­ress brought out banana frit­ters. I’ve never had icecream with candles in before. Rachael took the photo. We shared the frit­ters.


Poor, trapped candle.


Time for me to go back on the train, because I got a day tick­et. Dear man ineptly trying to chat up an (increas­ingly unim­pressed) girl: you sir, are a charm­less oaf. Dear man talk­ing loudly into your phone about busi­ness in an inter­est­ing kind of franglais: you are also pretty irrit­at­ing, but at least you’re linguist­ic­ally inter­est­ing.


I decide it’s time to test out my new mark­ers. Inspired by Mr Franglais: the life, death, and gener­al drama of the common or garden pipe.

I don’t have time to take a photo when I change again at Victor­ia.


I bought a drink at the station, and find a seat far from the stink of people eating McDon­alds. There always seems to be people eating McDon­alds on the Kent train. Ugh. I find two papers as I go along, the Even­ing Stand­ard, and part of the Grauni­ad. Guess which one I read first and enjoy more.


I get home about quarter past twelvish. “Where have you been, and why don’t you love us any more?”


Some post arrived when I was out.


Some presents from my sister. More mark­ers (I do get through the black ones at a rate of knots), fuji instax film, and a book about story struc­tures. I want to get the Raymond Queneau one too and compare.


No import­ant emails, lots of birth­day wishes. Clean teeth and wash face.


Feel­ing a bit tired. Kermit is always enthu­si­ast­ic.


I stick the Pains of Being Pure at Heart record on. It’s good, but the same as their album. I have to listen with head­phones right now, until I uncov­er the speak cables and get round to going down to Maplin’s and getting some new fuses for the stereo amp. I don’t normally keep jars of marsh­mel­low spread up here, it was a present (exot­ic foreign food!) that I haven’t got round to putting in the kitchen yet.



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