It's nice to have an excursion planned; I bounced down the road, wrestled with Foucault on the tube, stopped off at Butler and Wilson
for a pair of sparkly earrings (stuff the grey shirt!!), bought sandwiches, crisps and chocolate and then meandered down Portobello Road, window shopping.
The feeling of the swinging sixties is still palpable: slightly odd bohemian women of a certain age (mine, probably), lurk in the dim recesses of shops festooned with jewellery, feathered headgear, twenties-inspired beaded dresses and handbags.
It was cold and sunny, the perfect winter day.
I overshot Caroline's street, passing through a phalanx of builders eating their sandwiches and stretching after a morning's work, and there she was, smiling and waving at the window. The painter was busy, rolling fresh paint on to the walls with a silently hissing roller.
Caroline made tea, and we sat and talked about music, feminism, technology, and everything interesting under the sun, flanked by her extraordinary paintings.
One one side, hermaphrodites leapt into the air in a basketball game watched by hundreds of tiny people, all exquisitely painted. On the other, a work-in-progress of flowers sang out in brilliant blue hues.
Her walls are lined with books on art, politics and music, and her conversation is humblingly knowledgeable and totally stimulating.
After lunch with Caroline, my brain feels wide awake and I feel as though I need to rush off and immediately do things, change the world, write books, draw pictures, sing songs: she is a very alive
person, a tireless campaigner for the underdog (especially women: underbitches, perhaps, to borrow a term from the ceaselessly misogynistic hip hop men!).
Refreshed, I left as the mirrored splash-backs for her kitchen arrived.
Later I downloaded a couple of articles for the paper I have to deliver in Leeds in two weeks time. I am weeks behind with it and I've decided that rather than being detailed and plodding through facts, I am going to be philosophical. The facts are there, but the story is far from enchanting; my challenge is to infuse energy into subjects that people don't want to talk about. And that is quite a challenge....
Offsprog Two returned from the student march. They had been corralled by the police into a street where there was an empty police van left for them to attack, and of course some silly people attacked it and made news headlines; nobody mentioned that the van was empty, and it seemed obvious to us at home (Offsprog One was here watching it with me on News 24) that it was a stunt van, left there on purpose.
Stuck for two hours in the freezing cold, some of them lit little bonfires to keep warm, which were reported as acts of deliberate destruction. Some of the schoolchildren (that is what a lot of them were) were frightened and were crying because they did not know how long they were going to be stuck there hemmed in by the police, and did not know what was going to happen to them.
This has been quite an education for Offsprog Two in media manipulation.
Ah well, the evening flows by: shall I do some more work or shall I watch another repeated episode of Poirot?
Caroline's website is www.carolinecoon.com
Get well soon Martin! x