Sunday, 25 December 2011

It's Christmas

It's Christmas, but we're not ready. Not wrapped, not ready with the food. The house is also trashed, part in thanks to inviting a few people over for Christmas Eve drinks. Very nice it was too, but didn't really help our general sense of readiness for the rest of it. Poor Mr M has been asking us to wrap his presents and put them under the tree for, well ever since the tree went up actually. He seemed a bit disappointed when it got to tonight and he realised that, though he would find his wrapped presents under the tree in the morning, it will then be time to open them and too late to just sit and gaze, and feel, and guess. Is that what makes Advent so appealing? The practice of waiting. The anticipation almost better than the actuality. I know that delayed gratification is good, but surely we're onto dodgy theology here?

It's 1.30am and we've just met for our last starry night. Though R also has at least another hour of wrapping to do, she brought with her port and cheese to mark the occasion, which we enjoyed on top of one of the bins!  It was cold and late so there wasn't much deliberating before placing it near the Creperie, which will be open tomorrow. It won't be the only place open on Chatsworth Road on Christmas Day. Before I went out tonight we realised we didn't even have enough potatoes, let alone the cranberry sauce we've been meaning to buy these last few days. I was pretty sure I'd find somewhere selling potatoes, but good old Chats Supermarket had the seasonal sauce too. Not bad going for early in the wee hours of Christmas morning!

Before heading out to star-land N and I got the kids round the Christmas tree to light the candles. We sang a couple of carols (yes I know it's weird but he has Danish blood and those Scands have a thing about singing round the tree and having lit candles dangling from the branches) and then I read the story of the birth from The Book of God. The kids were a bit restless, to be honest, but I loved reading it again. Wangerin tells it so well. The account is so viseral. Messy, noisy, bloody, scary. But beautiful too. Like any birth of any baby. Only this one had a new star, risen in the East, to mark him out as Emmanuel. God with us.

Happy Christmas!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

You ought not to be doing that...

We got told off tonight. I've been wondering if I could call him a Hackney Ranter, but he was quite reasonable really. Sort of reasonably pointing out that we were defacing the pavement and that we were old enough to know better. When we told him that it would wash off in a couple of days' time he wasn't really satisfied and added that he was teaching his children to have respect for other people's property and that if we were not respectable (I read 'white' in there, though he did not say it) the police would have probably already arrested us. I expect that the fact that we were painting it by the no dumping sign didn't really help. But, you know, he sort of had a point. Just because no one has accosted us before tonight, and just because the Turkish guys outside their shop were quite cool about us spraying it in front of them, doesn't really mean that it's not just plain, old fashioned, illegal graffiti. (Do you know, I am not even that sure of the legal position. Is it illegal? Could we actually be arrested if a copper came along at the right time? I find it hard to believe that Hackney police officers - are there any collective nouns which aren't derogatory? - would even bat an eyelid. More important fish to fry I would imagine. But do petty theives think that too?) And I wondered, whether our whiteness, our age, our sex had prevented others, who have witnessed these spraying moments, from saying anything. If I had seen a couple of young boys with their spray cans out on Chatsworth Road I may well have accosted them myself. But a couple of 'respectable' looking women of a certain age? I probably wouldn't bother. So, maybe it's good to know that the community has got a conscience after all. Even in lone voices. Poor R... 'I didn't recognise him. He's not a parent at the school anyway.' Yikes! I hadn't thought that she might have quite a lot more at stake than me. Maybe she'll come tomorrow in disguise?!

Before we went out tonight I thought I might rather miss this nightly ritual. I think now I feel it'll be good to take a break from it!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Dancing a starry jig

We both had a visitor in tow tonight. Two curious onlookers. It's been interesting to see, from the few we've had along for the ride, how their attitude differs. From the fella earlier this week who, though he seemed a little nervous, never the less seemed to be rather enjoying the whole affair, to the lovely ladies tonight, one of whom obviously thought we should be being much more bold and paint some stars on the tops of the round, black bollards which creep up the edges of Chatsworth Road. I find myself quite resistant to their suggestions, whatever they are. Wanting to keep control of it. Wanting to be the one to decide where tonight's celestial being will be placed. Somehow wanting to hog the experience. To drink it up for myself as though there's not enough to share. I don't find that very easy to admit. Aaaarrgggh! I'm baring my soul on the internet. Stop it! Anyway, one of them suggested we sing a hosanna chorus after we'd painted it. I think we'll leave her at home next time, though I sort of knew what she meant. There is something deeply uplifting bringing a gold splash of colour to birth in the grot and grime of a Hackney street. Maybe we should develop a little gold star dance. Mind you, the whole photographing of it malarky can turn into just that, with R often finding some extraordinary revelation in the pictures on her new smart phone. Today's random blob of paint which appears in the picture is a dove. Obviously. Which makes the fact that yesterday's star is already covered up by a huge pile of rubbish all the more disheartening...

Getting blasé?

After dinner, as the guests leave, she gives me a nod, reminding me that we have a job to do before the evening's done. Her other half is walking home too, so comes along for the ride. We turn onto the road and he says, where are you going to do it? Well, wherever we fancy really. What, you haven't got a plan? Erm... no, not really. Well, what about here? OK. And there it is. 20 seconds later we are saying out goodbyes. As I walk home I think about those furtive first ones and wonder what all the fuss was about. Did we really feel we were doing something so terrible? So naughty? It all feels so mundane now somehow. Just popping out, get the can, hold the template, quick spray and Bob's your uncle. Tonight we didn't even wait til the passersby had disappeared. Just did it there by that tree just opposite where the corner shop guys were hanging around, smoking and talking. Is this the Advent experience? That the waiting, the journey, just becomes part of normal life. Or am I not leaving space for this to sink in, not giving time for reflection and thought about it? Has it become just something we do each night which doesn't really touch anything else?

When we got back B&B are still sitting in our lounge drinking whisky. 'Where do the stars lead then?' she says. 'Erm. Nowhere really,' I find myself replying.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

No 21 is in Vegas

Oops, it got late last night and today's full of people arriving and cooking. So, here's No, 21 for your delight. Thanks to R for the cool image. It looks like Vegas, which is appropriate as it was outside the Star Discount Store, but it is in fact that same lil' ol' street in Clapton! Just goes to show that London's streets are paved with gold if only you know where to look!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


N and I have spent quite a large part of the last 4 months of our lives on the internet researching and buying kitchen related stuff. Tonight I find myself, at 1.30am again (I love the fact this blog seems to be operating on East Coast US time zone - even when I post well into the next day London time it still shows as the day we actually did the spraying - yippee!), looking for spotlights to buy. Not any old spotlights though. N has made it his business to see that our new kitchen, though it will have many lights, will not be chucking out CO2 emmissions willy nilly. What that boy doesn't know about LED lighting is not worth knowing. But it has made for a rather over complicated (in my view) approach to internet shopping. Like buying the transformer, the bulb, and the housing all from different suppliers. The rather lovely John Lewis lighting bar which I found had to be returned because the GU10 bulb it boasted was interchangeable with a dimmable warm white LED GU10 of the correct size. Which is a shame because I really liked that light! So, another late night, another internet search for something which will satisfy his need for low wattage and my need for loveliness. Our lovely builder often rants on about the trouble with people like us being wedded to the internet is that the internet is full of information written by people who don't know what they're talking about. And sometimes I can see his point. If one more catalgoue or product review tells me that the taps will bring serenity and calm to the kitchen, the colour of the paint will harmonise with anything in the house, the handles (I ask you!) will mean we are bang on trend or that sink will change my life in profound and beautiful ways I will not be held responsible for my actions.Sorry, was this supposed to be about stars. Oh no, I've got to the pontificating stage of blogging... help!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Story telling

Don't you just love what chewing gum does to the star? Tonight we went round giving some of the earlier stars a bit of a shine. I think we'll be having words with the manufacturer of this spray paint. It's not weathering very well. In a couple of the places we could hardly see where the star had been. How are my kids ever going to spot the starry trail if they've all washed off? Feels a bit like re-spraying when you do the annual Christmas services at church. I mean, year after year you tell the same old stories. The angel Gabriel, a young girl, a crazy announcement, the incongruity of the whole virgin thing, the star over the obscure Middle Eastern town, the stable, the shepherds, the kings. (Herod's slaying of the babies even got a mention tonight but usually we tend to gloss over that hideous chapter). Over and over we tell them. School concerts, sunday school, christingle services, nativity performances, carols by candlelight, midnight mass, Christmas morning services with bells on. But somehow, like the gold stars, the stories need retelling. I guess like any good stories - they wouldn't be good stories if you didn't retell them. And they seem to have lasted quite well. A couple of millenia in fact. I wonder in the retelling, do they change us, or do we change them? I think I should stop trying to theologise at midnight. I need my bed. Anyway, at the carols by candlelight, B&B gave me my top highlight of Christmas, as they have these past couple of years, with a beautiful duet of 'Lullay lullay my little tiny child'. It comes out of that grizzly Herod story, but it's an amazing carol. Thanks guys.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Shop

 No time to blog tonight. Too much last minute Amazon shopping to be done. Every year I promise I won't overuse that ubiquitous monument to Mammon and every year I find myself here: a week before Christmas, it's midnight and the only shop open is Amazon. The saviour for those whose present list is a lesson in organised chaos. Anyway, enjoy 3 pictures of the same star tonight instead. Appropriately enough this one was left outside The Shop: Chatsworth Road's famous shop front which has the open hours in a neat notice in one corner: Mon-Sun: closed. A lesson to us all I think!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas concerts

Anyone with a child of school age would know exactly what I mean if I say I've been a bit waylaid by the Christmas concert season. There just seems to be so many these days, with numero tres in 'big' school now too. On one hand it's been that stressful feeling of trying to squeeze work hours into days which are a little bit overfull with cheesy Christmas carols being sung by children with teatowels on their heads. On the other it's that realisation that you're actually avoiding your friends as you take your seat so that no other parent you know will be able to spot the tears creeping, unbidden, down your cheeks. Honestly, this year I think I must be a bit over stretched with kitchens and the like - there were even one or two moments of fighting that lump rising in my throat when my children were no where near the stage. I find it quite overwhelming to see such a mixed bag of kids (we're talking Hackney here... over 40 different languages are spoken by the 640 pupils) singing songs which tell of the incarnation, the mystery of angels, peace on earth, a gift for all people. And sung heartily by girls whose dark skin and headscarves and cultural background make them more like Mary, more like those from the long ago story, than I'll ever be.

Anyway, all in all a bit of a busy week, which is why the blog fell off the agenda last night. Still went to be at 2.30am even without doing it though. But then when I called R tonight to see if she was ready to roam, she had to be woken up and dragged out of her daughter's bed where she'd fallen asleep doing the bedtime story. We're both as bad as each other. Are the stars helping, or hindering, our Advent journey?!

Sixteen - above right - sheltered from another rainy windy night in a phone box; Seventeen - above left - outside the disused dentists where an impromptu gig was taking place in what was a photographer's art gallery in the week and seems to be a pop-up art place of some description. Good gracious, who'd have ever thought that would happen on Chatsworth Road?!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Remembering Ev

Ten years ago today our lovely friend M lost her sister. At 45 years of age Evelyn's death was premature and, for the family, losing her 5 days after an aneurism which came out of the blue, was also just too quick. We had decided to remember her tonight, with a simple lighting of a candle at the beginning of our monthly evening of chewing over chunks of the Good Book. However there was a last minute clash of church events tonight so we decided to join forces with those planning a Movie at the Manse, and instead of reading and talking, we did a bit of watching. The film felt right for the moment: The Way by Emilio Estevez, about a father losing a son and starring his own dad, Martin Sheen. Tom, a wealthy, hard-nosed, ophthalmologist from California goes to Spain to pick up the remains of his estranged (and only) son who has died in a storm  in the Pyrennes on the Camino de Santiago - an ancient pilgrimage across the northern coast of Spain to Santiago de Compestelo. On a whim Tom cremates Daniel's body and sets out to complete the 800km journey scattering his ashes as he goes. I loved the film. Fantastic windswept scenery and a window on the complexities of human interaction gives a beautiful backdrop to the exploration of our vulnerability and spirtiual yearnings and the enormity of pain and loss in grief and separation. (Sorry that sounded quite a lot like film blurb). It was great, anyway. And I cried a lot. Then we went out on Chatsworth Road to place another lovely golden star and we sprayed it for Ev.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Advent bags

At home we have these Advent Bags. When the kids were small I got a playmobil Christmas set and lovingly made 25 little gold and red drawstring bags out of some crinkly material I found in the church bins the morning after a Hindu wedding. The playmobil set had Mary, Joseph, the baby, donkey, shepherds, sheep - the usual suspects. Even a pair of mice. But it didn't quite stretch to 25 objects. Over the years I have begged, borrowed and bought playmobil figures from other sets so that there would be one figure in each of the bags to open every day in advent. I am quite pleased with the slightly frumpy Elizabeth, the paint spattered innkeeper (it might not be there in Matthew, but I have it on good authority that the only reason he couldn't give the holy family a room that night was that he was in the middle of a large scale refurbishment), the ghastly looking Herod and sword weilding Roman centurion. But the highlight, for me, is definitely the rather swarthy debonair Quirinius, complete with swirlling cape clutching a matching book in his hand. The fun we've had this year teaching K to pronounce that one!

Anyway, this is a massive digression from the case in point, which is this: every year the kids have a great big argument on December 1st as to who's going to open the first, and which order they will open the next in, so that they can get to open their favorites. Then we have a few more arguments when someone opens the bag on the wrong day. But essentially by about December 10th we've usually missed a couple of days because we all forget to open them. I was musing on this as I traipsed out tonight to meet R on an unusally cold night. Because, in contrast, we haven't forgotten a single one yet. Well, to be fair, she hasn't. Left to my own devices, who's knows what would have happened. It feels like a discipline. But one which you would miss if you didn't bother with. I've got to the point that I would feel left out if she went out to do one on her own. 11pm would come and go without a 'moment'. I may even miss the nightly ritual come the 26th Decemeber. In our procession version of Advent Adventure tonight, she told the kids the story of John the Baptist as we remember him in the 3rd week of advent. How he called people to get their hearts ready for God. To set aside moments in our lives to give God space. Maybe that's what our starry journey is.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A tingling sensation

The wind howled, the rain lashed, the rubbish blew in circles over our heads (but we didn't hear music in the air!). Another fantastic night to go gallivanting. Earlier she said "Why don't you take it and do it on your way home before it gets too wet?". But it's a discipline I told her. Yes yes, you're right. So that's what I tell myself as I pull a warm scarf around me, heading out into the elements when a cup of tea and a cosy radiator beckon. Phrases of carols are racing round my head as I leave the nativity service preparation I'm doing."His wings of drifted snow, his eyes aflame". "Star of silver sweep across the sky". "He come from de glory... he come from de glorious kingdom". How crowded the Christmas imagery is with heavenly bodies and constellations! Seems a million miles away from a rainy windy night on Chatsworth Road. We're getting more efficient though. Needs must in this weather. Already we know we're heading to the bus stop. There will surely be a dry patch there. Otherwise, why would you bother with a bus shelter? It's quick and it feels right - when we step back at our handiwork it really does look like it belongs there. I pretty much run home, hoping a bit of exercise will shift the shivers. The rendevous, the spray, the documentation, the leave taking couldn't have taken more than 10 minutes. Never the less I still have 15 minutes of the tingling fingers of poor peripheral circulation when I'm back indoors. I suspect that encounters with miraculous heavenly bodies may have a similar effect. I quite like the idea of an encounter with God leaving a long term tingling sensation!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Gold blobs

The rainy dilema again tonight. Put it somewhere easy to spot, but risk it being washed out by morning; or put it somewhere dry and risk it being hidden from view most of the time? A little cable cover outside the phone box provided a compromise. Dry (well, after she cleaned it off with the cuff of her coat. Honestly she has no shame that woman). Semi lit by the light from the phone box. Dark background for a nice bright star too. And a real bonus is that some how (because it's in a 'box' shape?) it looks a little like a Hollywood star. I wonder whether there's a subliminal desire on both our parts to have some sort of golden recognition for who we are? And this Advent Adventure is merely a pretty sad short cut to Hollywood Boulevard?? I don't spose when you get your Hollywood star you also have to end up with a gold finger... This Clapton version is a messy business. Especially when you try to recreate a washed out one from day 3. On that bumper by the school. It was too wet a night for such a touch-up job and we watched the gold leak from the pointy sharpness into a bit of a blob. A gold blob. From the famous Chats Bouvelward Walk of Blobs. Been feeling a bit blobby myself today. Too many late late nights painting and sorting kitchen stuff. Yawned all through church. But then it was Christingle-with-the-kids service. Love the smell of the oranges. Love the candle thing. Even love the sweets. But the whole thing as a spiritual icon leaves me a bit cold to be honest. Gimme a star any day.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Star searchers

On the pretext of getting oranges for the Christingle service tomorrow at church, I persuaded my starry girl to come on a wander. I cajoled her quite a long way past the veg shop in order to happen across the first (or most northerly) star thinking we might be able, with a few prudent 'shall we cross here?' suggestions, track the whole line. But this is the place of the rain and the lost spray can cap and the hysterical laughter, and I couldn't find it for the second time of looking. We spot the next (no. 6) on the zebra crossing near the school. Then the very shiny one, on the pavement, near the deli (no.9) and she's off, all excited about looking for stars. A couple of fortuitous crossings bring numbers 4, 7, 8 and 10 across our path. But I realise two things. Firstly it's a very long road. I say to R tonight "We need to be doing 5 per night if anyone's going to notice them". "Who says we can't?" she replies, with a glint in her eye. Secondly some are fading fast and if the person who actually put them there can't find them, maybe it's time to be giving them a bit of a helping hand with a second coat. Tonight she brings an Advent Pilgrim with her, who tells us of a group she's heard about called the The Guerilla Gilders*. They go out with a bit of gold leaf and bring a touch of Midas to bits of street furniture. How cool is that? Maybe we could get them to touch up the earlier stars? I suspect the real McCoy lasts a bit longer than spray paint.

*A quick google reveals little. I guess the definition 'guerilla' sort of precludes a blog about what you're up to.

 By the way. Here's no.7 up close and in all the glorious Hackney context too. Just for completeness you understand.

Friday, 9 December 2011


We met Valerie tonight. I'd have probably walked on by, mouthing a few platitudes, but not really wanting to stop and give the time to hear her or see her. Not so for that other one of us though. R stopped, made eye contact. Asked if she needed help. Delirious with the cold, the alcohol, the pain, she rambled on finally half falling into the nearest take away shop. Muttering about being thrown out by the hospital, not wanting to die and a terrible past we couldn't even begin to understand, R touched her arm, held her hand and paid for a curry to warm and feed her. I started the evening talking around dinner about kichen refurbishments and the price of cabinet fittings. I finished the evening at a party to say goodbye to friends moving to Germany where the band played and the wine flowed. And Valerie came inbetween.

Star girl

A dog and a girl accompanied us tonight. The dog had a sparkly pink and gold scarf for a lead. The girl was in pyjamas which seemed fitting (though they were stripey, when really they should have had stars on them). She skulked with the dog in a doorway while we worked. She is the eldest daughter of my conspirator so she was fulfiling the role of child-who-is-super-embarrassed-by-their-parents extremely well. We planted a rather wet, but extra shiny, star this time on the (ssshhhh!) pavement. I think we're both a little too eager for people to begin to notice them and the gutter just isn't cutting it. I have wanted, these last days, to go with my three after school to the veg shop, or to get bread, or just use any old pretext to wander down the road in daylight in order that they might spot them. But this is the tired end of term and the small one can barely make it home, let alone go wandering around looking for stars. My eldest noticed I had a gold star on my phone wallpaper. She said excitedly to her friend "We saw that star in the road!" Maybe I should let her in on the secret. We could do with a shared thing, her and me, just now. We seem to be fighting a lot; cycles of shouts and rage and tears and hugs. Its easy to feel like a rubbish mum. And I think at the end of each hiatus she feels like a rubbish daughter. It breaks my heart. My star girl.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The star with a halo

The star placing tonight was snatched, quickly executed: meeting her off the train and catching a moment as she walked home. Her middle one has got stars in her eyes, but not in a good way. Two seizures in two days, both full blown flaking, shaking affairs in full view of her new class mates. How hard is that? Thinking a lot about M tonight. Thinking that she could do with a lucky star. A guiding star. A star to hold onto when the mist closes in. She's got one, of course. A deep faith holds her and often rises up, somehow unexpectedly, through the craziness and merriment which bubbles out of her. A long while ago she was an angel in a Sunday school play in a forest and I have the photo still, of the most radiant of cheurbs, blond curls bouncing all around her pale face, with a mischievious, somehow whistful, angelic smile playing on her lips. A true star girl. Seems pretty fitting that tonight's star developed a sort of halo...

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Edible stars

Stars featured in a diferent medium for us tonight. A pastry guru amongst the Crafty Ladeez chanelled the genius of Nigella for us and many, many mince pies were made. The quality, it has to be said, degenerated in direct proportion to the amount of mulled wine consumed, with each of the myriad batches being a little more overdone than the last lot. But terrifically tasty they were, even to me and I don't even like mince pies. Earlier we had set out on the original Advent Adventure, (two mad mandolin players, 8 kids, 2 slightly embarrassed looking mums) singing and holding candles aloft, down that our very own starry street. I tried to engineer the route passed as many stars as possible, but at least two were overlooked, leaving me to have to stop precariously on a zebra crossing and say, as nonchalantly as possible, "Oh, look! A gold star in the road!" This resulted in all of one raised eyebrow from my eldest child. I think we might have to make them a bit more obvious. I definitely find myself wanting to put them in places kids will see them. I think they're the only ones that'll ever notice them. The rest of us are running around too much with our heads full of too much stuff.

There's one more star in the sky

She nearly got run over trying to take a picture of this one. "There's a car coming!" I yell, trying not to attract too much attention from the Hackney street cleaner team busily sweeping the pavements. Somehow it feels a bit worse to introduce more stuff to clean up when the poor guys are out in subzero temperatures at 11.45pm. If I was a street cleaner, would I want to clean off a gold star in the road? It's not a question I've asked myself many times before. She says "Did you hear that Jim's dad died?" "Yeah." "A crazy neighbour of mine told me once that she believed when someone died a new star appeared in the night sky". I break into a song and dance routine from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. She doesn't skip a beat: "I've been thinking that maybe this star tonight is for Jim's dad". Not sure that Jim will ever know that somewhere on a Hackney road there's a gold star to his dad's memory. But I still kinda like it.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Four and Five

Playing catch up tonight. A weekend bereft of star gazing left us a bit bolder than before. "Shall we choose to do them outside the run down shops? Or places we like? What about outside the mosque?" she says. I didn't even know there was a mosque on this street. But we end up under the gaze of zebra crossing lights wanting to do these two in places where they'll be seen. The template's a bit bent so the fourth (left) is a bit blobby. A bit more effort with our tools and we fix it for five (above). Seems to resonate with me somehow with today's readings from Isaish on "preparing the way". But maybe I'm trying too hard on that one!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Star spotting

I can't tell you how excited I feel wandering down the road to see if I can see the stars. And the anticipation of what sort of state they'll still be in is huge. Mind you today I couldn't even find the wet rainy night one. Had to ask her which bumper we'd left it on. Something about it being so wet, and so cold and so obvioulsy like we were up to no good which made it impossible for me to remember where we had done it. I realise, too, that parked cars are a problem. What is the point of littering the place with symbols to point us in the direction of Christmas if no one can see them? Maybe that's the first Advent lesson? Maybe that's how God feels about the prophets.

Lessons learnt so far

First lesson: spray paint doesn't like wet surfaces. We struggled to find a spot which didn't actually have a mini river running through it (chosen road is on a slight hill). Is this why all the graffiti art you ever see is on a vertical surface? Second lesson: Trying to find a dry spot under a car for this sort of activity makes you look extremely suspicious. You know, even more so than usual. Third lesson: Never rush the paint job otherwise the cap might flick off and you will be left scrabbling under said car in the pouring rain, getting wet knees and crying with laughter. We had to dash home and steal another cap from a different spray can to be able to complete the job. So while we're learning fast about the life and trials of street artists (I use the word loosely) I guess it will take a few more until the lessons of the star journey across Advent start filtering in.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The first one

"Oh I could get used to this" she says, spray can rattling in her pocket. It's raining, but not much. I get to post my library books back en route. He's done the template. Says he'll tweet it. "That's not the point" she says. "People are supposed to discover them". It's midnight but it's never very quiet round our neighbourhood. But lots of strange things happen too. We're banking on being just another couple of people doing strange things which everyone ignores. We find a nice spot round the corner of the library. Between the curb and the traffic calming island. She bobs down. I pretend to be doing something with the bike and it's done. We walk off quickly but can't resist a Lot's wife style glimpse back over our shoulders. "It glows in the neon!" she cries. We high five. A couple of crazy 40 something mums in a soggy deserted Hackney street at midnight on a Wednesday in December. Gold paint on our fingers. And the mystery of the waiting time marked by stars in our hearts,