diamond geezer

 Saturday, January 19, 2013

I'm reading Angelmaker at the moment.
You'd probably enjoy it.
8:59am: The stores at Stratford City are preparing to open. Staff hover behind sliding panels, waiting to pull them back so the day's trading can begin. But Westfield's malls are almost deserted, bar a few early souls wandering purposefully to their intended destination. The volume on the bouncy background music drops, and a voice announces that "our stores are now open". Nobody rushes. Assistants take their time to prop shop doors open because they know that nobody is waiting, and the cavernous trading floors remain empty. By this afternoon it'll be crazymadbusy in here, as teens and couples and families clog the malls with zombie shuffling, but for now Westfield is about as good as it gets. In John Lewis the staff outnumber the customers by some considerable margin, especially on the upper floors. The London 2012 shop on the third floor remains open, still attempting to flog the last remaining Mandeville shoulderbags and £2 Paralympic teacosies. I have soft furnishings almost completely to myself, but a member of staff still springs into action to man the empty cash desk as I approach with a handful of sale-price bed linen. Waitrose is a joy, because nobody drives this far this early, and the day's selection of price-reduced produce remains as yet unclaimed. The wise go shopping before the masses are even out of bed.
It's an East End fantasycrime novel, with clockwork bees.
I haven't got to the clockwork bees bit yet.
1:00pm: It's bloody cold on the upper platforms at Stratford station. Trains are being terminated here because of engineering works, and staff are busy trying to direct more-lost-than-usual souls to the correct location. The train to Norwich has been cancelled, so passengers huddle in two small shelters for warmth. Eventually the next train from Norwich pulls in, and freshly-wrapped Anglianfolk pour out of the carriages. A dozen schoolgirls cluster by the top of the steps, trying to work out where the rest of their party might be. They're off to support someone local in a singing competition, and have been busy making placards out of old cardboard boxes on the journey down. The bus station is surrounded by an off-grey layer of freezing snowy sludge. Near to the entrance a short lady with a very loud voice is inviting sinners to repent and accept the Lord Jesus before it's too late. Two other gentlemen are trying to dispense leaflets inviting the curious to a 3-Day Prophetic Convocation (starts Thursday, opposite the Holiday Inn), to little effect. One of them asks if I'd like a free book about a man whose parachute failed to open, but no thanks, and anyway my hands are full of rucksacks.
But the lead character's already been down the Fleet sewer.
Thumbs up for any novel which manages this in chapter 1.
7:00pm: The washing machine is spinning, and the washing up bowl is full. I've been giving the flat a bit of a pre-spring clean, which means finally banishing a pile of Christmas decorations to their out-of-season storage box. I've discovered £3.30 in change, a pencil I thought I'd lost, a long-unfrozen pea and a couple of receipts for items I no longer own. One particularly stubborn stain, which I'd started to think was untreatable, has finally proven susceptible to two different chemical solutions and vigorous scrubbing with an old toothbrush. I should probably hoover the floor again, or I should buy socks that don't leave curled-up black strands across the carpet. And I need to remember to dust behind the three doors in my flat that I don't usually close, because it turns out there's ground level evidence. The worst thing about clearing up is knowing that I'll never remember where I put half this stuff, even though now it seems the most logical place to stash it. Come tomorrow the gradual untidying can begin again, but for now, yeah, that'll have to do.
The first eight pages of the book are taken up with glowing book reviews.
This strikes me as overdoing the praise somewhat.
11:30pm: An all-day event at the Dome is chucking out. Despite announcing in all the blurb that it would definitely finish by eleven, it definitely didn't, and those with last trains to catch have had to leave before the finale. Some head to the river, for a sinuous journey back into town. Most head to the tube, where North Greenwich's escalators are coping well with the influx. Nobody heads for the cablecar, because it's useless, and anyway it's closed. And only a handful queue for a bus, which is good because it's easy for everyone to get a seat. The 108's departure is slowed by an Oysterless non-Londoner who presents the driver with a ten pound note, unfamiliar currency round these parts. And then we're off, and no really we're going under the river, and look there's the Olympic Stadium, and here is where we get off.
Anyway, I suspect you might enjoy Angelmaker too.
I just wish I'd had time today to read more of it.

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