Friends with Radiohead 

It was the night before my 30-year school reunion. I should’ve been on WhatsApp excitedly swapping stories with old friends I haven’t seen for more than a quarter of a century – but I decided to go to Glastonbury to see Radiohead instead. 
Well…obviously…I wasn’t – actually – at – G l a s t o n b u r y…more…on my sofa in front of BBC2, but, as Thom Yorke spun his spells, it surely began to feel like I was there.


A set-list to blow your socks off. NUDE, WEIRD FISHES, AIRBAG. At one point bowing guitar like a cello. Even speaking between songs shock. I think the band have been together about 30 years. I’m not a natural “fan” of anything (too fickle ?) but I come close with Radiohead. Our thing began with my first ever hearing of Creep very loud at 2am at a Belgian music festival. Honestly,  I thought I was imagining it, it seemed so close to me. What is this! I love this! These are my people!

My sister later gave me a cassette of The Bends. Nobody could resist OK Computer (… fitter, happier, more productive…). We lost touch for a while but rekindled things when I picked up In Rainbows (at least a decade after its release, but, to my middle-aged ears, fresh as a daisy). I bought last year’s A MoonShaped Pool the moment it came out. Does that make me a fan, now, then? – Nah! I prefer to think of Radiohead as my good old friends.

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Last year in a textiles exhibit at the local museum I got to see a bit about the tools and tough manual labour that went into the manufacture of linen. Until recently, everyone wore linen undergarments next to the skin, under a hard-wearing outer clothing of felted wool. No doubt there are some very good reasons why this mode of dressing has been abandoned – I wonder did cotton take over because it was cheaper or more comfortable. The underlayer was seldom washed, the outer layer almost never. Take that! A+++ washing machine. 
These polka dots are not regular. 

The best fabric store in the world is having a closing down sale.

I have three metres of a Chinese calligrapher gone mad. I have no idea what to do with it.

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Haberdashery II

The haberdashery adventure continues with some ribbon for another Japanese pattern. 

When I use Googletranslate it tells me to “insert the race on the frogs at the end” which, I have deduced means “put lace on cuffs”. For another pattern with a peasant-girl neck I have chosen some quiet ribbon for threading through. Three colours of Gütermann thread (because my teacher insists on it – and she knows).

 You should’ve seen the temptation of fripperies and folderolderies I had to resist to bring this home from a haberdashery shop that eschews the creamy good taste of the Botón de Oro, and instead seems ready to cater to Miss World Louis XIV Liberace drag queen flamenco wannabees.

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In Real Time

Victoria begins its 138 minutes at about 4am in a Berlin club with Victoria dancing. 

When it ends at 6:18am you haven’t left her side, not once, not even for a moment. 

All you need to know about this film is SEE IT. Don’t read a plot summary before you go – just let it happen. It’s a belter. 

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Love and honour 

Før Snøen Faller. In the first scene a young man prepares himself for a dangerous journey.

Siyar will persevere, travelling from Iraqi Kurdistan to Istanbul to Berlin to Oslo. He’s searching for his sister. As you travel with him you realise, first, that he intends to kill her for she has brought dishonour on the family, then, that he is far too young to know the meaning of love or honour. 

So many unforgettable scenes: In one the ghost of his father appears but offers no answers, in another a chase on foot through the streets of Istanbul ends in an unexpected way, in another, the audience’s favourite, he wakes up with a pigeon. 

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Even before I became an avid seamstress, one of my favourite things to do in Santander was always ogle the haberdashery. 

I’ve bought some lovely creamy French lace and real mother-of-pearl buttons for a Japanese blouse pattern I’m working up to. Buttonholes – a skill I’ve yet to acquire. 

Here they shop the old-fashioned way. All the goods are behind the counter, guarded by some fierce, monolingual matron. The consequence is that to make a purchase one must first know precisely what it is one wishes to buy. 

And, gruellingly for me, all the attendant Spanish vocabulary. Browsing is not a thing at the Botón de Oro.

More old-fashioned sights of Santander: non-ironic, no-hipsters-in-sight barber-shop pole.

Old ads for a shoe repair place or a ship’s passage to South America. 

The best pinchos here at El Diluvio. And…spot the just-landed spaceship hiding behind the bandstand?

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Spectacularly self-effacing 

Renzo Piano has designed an egg-shaped, just-landed spaceship of a building for an arts centre in Santander. 

The site is right on the waterfront and already has a wealth of gorgeous historic buildings and parks. The genius of this new addition is how it fits right in, how it hovers discretely above the horizon in an effort not to dominate the view, how it is reflective but not flashy, how it makes you feel as though its heart’s desire is to be invisible – it seems to be saying “I’m only here to help you appreciate this spot, this weather, the light on the bay today”.

Right now, just a week after its inauguration, it’s acting, with its wealth of external staircases and suspended walkways, as a big playground for grownups. How accessible it will be inremains to be seen. 

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