Saturday, 31 December 2011

Fairly average expectations

I'm generally uncertain about Dickens. I have read A Christmas Carol, a story so familiar that it would be difficult to hold the author's constant overuse of commas against the general bonhomie of the tale.

I got stuck two thirds of the way through Oliver Twist. I don't know if it's just me, but page after page of long winded descriptions of unrelenting child abuse and ridiculously named characters didn't endear me to the scruffy little tyke.

I loathe the way he names his characters and I am uncomfortable with the rampant anti semitic descriptions of Fagin. But most of all, I was bored. Bored shitless. I know vaguely that it all comes right for Oliver in the end and I just couldn't care enough about the bits inbetween. I also can't read it without visions of Ollie Reed reeling about and singing songs about picking pockets. Oliver Twist has essentially been ruined by its own success.

So it was with a general air of gritted teeth that I agreed to watch Great Expectations with my mother. Mostly to get her to stop reading this blog and therefore seeing the one about the twat who was horny. I just don't need that kind of stress in my life.

Gillian Anderson played Miss Haversham perfectly. Someone once said I was like Miss Haversham, which I think is a bit harsh. I clean my house at least twice a year and I've thrown out the wedding dress. But Gillian. Who would have thought back in the day when she was trying to maintain some kind of sexual chemistry with David Duchovny she'd turn into an immense period actress?

The actor who played Pip (no idea who is he and can't be bothered to check) reminded me uncomfortably of the angular faced lad who plays Edward Cullen. I kept expecting him to sparkle unconvincingly every now and again and try and find the mopey goth girl in the corner for dry humping and angsty conversations. He was the dullest part of it, which is not how it should be. I'm pretty sure we should be bewitched by Pip and be rooting for him. But Pip's a bit of a dick. He turns his back on his poor relations and lords it up for a bit on the back of a fortune left to him by an unknown benefactor. He assumes it's Miss Haversham. Turns out it was Magwitch, who is THE best character in the entire thing bar none.

Ray Winstone was cuddly and lovely as the sometimes murderous but kind hearted criminal and I adored him. Strange choice of wig, but other than that, just gorgeous.

So far, this has been my favourite Dickens experience which I rounded off by watching the always ace Sue Perkins narrate a documentary about his wife. He was a right cunt by all accounts. Spent most of the time trying to get off with her sisters and made her pregnant about 20 times. I knew there was something off about him.

Bleak House is my last roll of the Dickens die... we shall see

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The sights and sounds of Royal Leamington Spa

There are some beautiful venues in the Georgian town of Royal Leamington Spa. It was so named because Queen Victoria herself liked it a bit when she visited once, so they say. Her statue now graces the bottom of the historic Parade, just opposite the Pound Shop and that discount place.

Today, Leamington's gleaming streets are filled with a cornucopia of delights, including 79 branches of Cafe Nero and many, many pizza outlets. Oh, and a Robert Dyas. I have heard whispers of a Nandos. I sincerely hope I live to see the day.

A bustling town during the day time, Leamington boasts no less than 273 Big Issue sellers and approximately 89,000 accordian players who fill the air with the same three bars of Fur Elise over and over again. At Christmas this changes to Jingle Bells, the strains of which will follow you as you take a leisurely stroll up the Parade past McDonalds, Savers and Tesco Metro.

But it is at night when Royal Leamington Spa comes into its own. On Warwick Street - one of the main thoroughfares of our beautiful town - one can choose from The Glasshouse (a brightly lit and austere room full of empty chairs and sad barstaff), Saint Bar (a lovely vaulted space with a dancefloor, a DJ and more children than a Wacky Warehouse but with the added advantage of lots of underage girls in their underwear), Kokos (it's important to look down a lot in order to avoid the vomit that will inevitably adorn the dancefloor, but do try not to meet anyone's eyes).

For a more upmarket affair, turn onto Regent Street and visit The Sozzled Sausage. Once, many years ago, The Sausage was the busiest pub in Leamington. Luckily the management has had the foresight to rectify this issue and now kindly make sure there are never more than five people in the place at any one time.This allows for a lot of personal space and there is never, ever a queue at the bar.

However, if queues at the bar are your thing - and I'm sure some people actively seek out a place where it can take up to 45 minutes to watch a half wit measure a shot of gin - then hie yourself to The White Horse. With a huge capacity and a lovely large outdoor area, The White Horse is perfect if you need a lesson in learning patience. During 2010, I taught myself how to meditate just by wisely using the time stood at the bar in The White Horse. Other things you can do include counting in binary in your head, learning a language, reciting Joyce's Ulysses out loud or studying quantum mechanics on your smartphone.

Winding your way back home through - particularly on a Friday or Saturday - you can expect to come across several fights (mostly verbal), 12 arguments between people all of whom appear to be named Craig and Tracey, various young ladies sitting on the kerbside outside Halikarnas, one of the finer kebab establishments in the town and, if you're very lucky, you may catch a glimpse of one of Leamington's famous alcoholics.

Sometimes I play a form of bingo while smoking a cigarette at night. I award myself points for every crying girlfriend screaming: "But Wayne, I lovvvvvvvvvvve you.", every manically giggling student, every inexplicably tuneless chav male, every braying pissed posh lady and every boyfriend yelling: "Just fuck offfffff Tracey, you're mental." I got special points for the time I heard someone scream: "I want to die, I want to die, I want to die." over and over again.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Dorian Gray: did he need the picture anyway?

The other day I started thinking about all the books I haven't read yet. Not ever being able to read every book I want to read is just one of my ever-present background fears. Others include apocalypse (specifically nuclear), being orphaned, getting wrinkles, not ever getting a dog, breeding with someone and then ending up silently resenting them for the next 40 years.

So I decided to just do it. Start reading them. Get on to that pile of Dickens that I have been ignoring since forever. The only Dickens I had ever read was A Christmas Carol. I wrote a whole essay at degree level about Bleak House without ever opening the actual book. And this was before the days of nicking stuff from the internet. Fuck, I'm old. And a genius, clearly.

Anyway, as I have recently seen a film of Dorian Gray, I thought I'd have me a bit of Wilde before I got stuck in to Dickens' ouvre. I knew the story roughly before the film of course: Faustian tale, pretty boy's soul stuck in painting, he never ages etc etc, blah blah. In the film he kills himself after living a rather awesome-looking life of drugs, fucking and general depravity.

The book, however, is rather different. For a start, Dorian is a schmuck. He's a knobhead. He's a totally shallow albeit fit guy. He doesn't need to make a deal with the devil to lose his soul; I'm doubtful he had one in the first place. He's an empty headed scumbag. All he thinks about is how ace he looks and how he can put his penis in people. This is true before he loses his soul to the painting and it's true afterwards.

He's 20 years old as he sits for his portrait. The artist is clearly gay and fancying the pants off our Dorian, who idly plays with his emotions. Everyone loves the painting but none more so than Dorian himself, who can't stop staring at his own face. What a tool.

In passing he wishes out loud that he could swap his soul in exchange for always looking so awesomely smooth.

He falls in love (lust) with an actress who he then goes off in about a week, leading to a really familiar situation. After proclaiming his undying love for her and asking her to marry him, he changes his mind literally overnight. He goes to dump her: "You have disappointed me. I can not see you again." She cries and wails and pleads and begs because she believed him, you see. Silly girl. Silly, silly girl.

He watches her fall apart and muses: "There is something ridiculous about the emotions of the people whom one has ceased to love." How many times have you seen that in the face of your asshole boyfriend as he does a total about turn and decides 'we need a break'? No? Just me then?

After walking out and leaving her drowning in a lake of her own snot, he dusts himself off with the thought that "Women were better suited to bear sorrow than men. They lived on their emotions."

He's wrong, naturally, and she kills herself. His first thought when he finds out? "She had no right to kill herself." What about meeeee? He very quickly decides that: "The girl never really lived, so she never really died." This cheers him up immensely and puts him in the mood to go and sow his seed to the four winds.

This is the first moment he notices a change in his portrait and figures out the whole soul-loss deal. He momentarily thinks about destroying the painting and therefore saving everyone else from his horrible behaviour... but that soon passes as he concentrates on how many women and men he can dip his increasingly used wick into. He doesn't want to do the right thing because he only wants to do things that feel good. To him. Regardless of the consequences. As he says: "I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, to dominate them." And that's what he does.

This is the point I think. He isn't a victim exactly. He has a choice. He always has a choice. He has a vague idea that he's hurting people but shakes it off because he is shallow inside and out. He has the attitude of the born beautiful and I don't actually think he would have acted any differently had he never had his soul trapped in his painting. He would have been just the same but wouldn't have been able to shag quite as many people on account of his opium-rotted features and terrible breath.

Various adventures ensue, including him killing his artist friend and generally acting like my university boyfriend (apart from the killing bit). Eventually even Dorian gets sick of himself and decides to destroy the painting, not in a noble, self-sacrificing way that the film has you believe. No, he just wants to destroy it so he can live out the rest of his life normally. It doesn't occur to him that to kill his soul will destroy his own self.

Anyway, he does kill himself and his corpse ain't pretty.

I didn't expect to get the distinct feeling that Dorian really doesn't need a portrait to be a complete bellend.




He is my ex.

Monday, 19 December 2011

I'm texting you because I'm horny. LOL

And with those fateful words, Phil from Coventry sounded the deathknell for any possibility of us meeting for that coffee.

Online dating is still not really working for me. As you can see.

Phil from Coventry had seemed like an alright guy. Bit young maybe. But he had a correctly shaped face, decent head of hair and is an aeronautic engineer. So I thought I was pretty safe in thinking he would be relatively intelligent. Definitely more than the average crayon eater anyway. I mean he does things to plane engines.

A few texts back and forth had me slightly losing what enthusiasm I had had. But he did own a dog and we seemed to be getting on OK. Got to be worth meeting for a coffee, I thought to myself. After all, what's the worst that can happen? People keep telling me I'm too picky, too specific, I mean, maybe what I should do is just date everyone that asks me and hope that one works.

There is that old saying, throw enough shit at the wall and something'll stick. So maybe Phil will stick, I thought.

So we arranged to meet on the Monday.

On the Friday I was at work when I got a text from him at around midnight.

"I'm texting you because I'm horny. LOL"

To which my response was: "What the fuck?"

To which his response was: "I am horny though. LOL"

To which my response was "...."

I was properly shiveringly grossed out. We hadn't even met and yet he seemed to be assuming that I would act as some kind of sext-line relief every time he found himself alone with a hard on. Bleuuuuuurgh.

On the Monday he texted asking if I still wanted to meet.

After I had picked myself up off the floor from my sudden onset of laughter, I declined on the basis that his text was, er, offputting.

His response?

"But I WAS horny. This isn't going to work if you get offended every time I'm horny."

I thought about trying to explain to him how he appeared to have missed the point somewhat. And, in fact, there are probably very few girls who would be flattered by clumsy attempts at sex texting from someone they haven't even met yet, and that perhaps he might want to rethink his strategy in future.

And then I thought about life being very short and just left it.

Turns out people who fuck about with aeroplane engines don't have to be intelligent after all. Good to know.

It tastes like ashes

Last night I watched a film that blew my mind. It blew my mind visually, aurally and mentally. Melancholia is by far the most affecting film I have seen in years. In fact, in the metaphorical post orgasmic glow I can't actually think of another film that filled me with such tension, awe, pain, sadness and a weird sort of vindication.

Von Trier courted controversy with his pro-Nazi comments at Cannes this year. But it appears he either did that for effect, or it was a ill-judged joke, or... actually I don't care. I think he's probably socially awkward and cocked up something that was meant to be a commentary on something or other. It's a shame, though, that this may have coloured peoples' opinions of him to the extent that they may not ever watch this film.

As a sufferer for many years, I have never seen in a film a depiction of the depths of hopelessness and nihilistic drag the canker of depression can cast over a person's life. After a sublime and beautiful opening sequence which features a series of apocalyptic vignettes set to a pulsing Wagner (nope, steer away from the Nazi connection please...) score we already know without question that the world is going to end.

We then join Kirsten Dunst's character, Justine, on her way to her wedding reception. Her charmed life and the love from her new husband radiates in her smile. She looks beautiful. Perfect. Happy. Smiling. We reach an enormous mansion that turns out to be the home of Claire and her family. Claire is Justine's sister and appears uptight, bossy, control freaky and mean.

Von Trier first tells Justine's story by allowing her to unravel before our eyes. Before the wedding night is over it is clear Justine is suffering from severe and debilitating depression. "I thought I could do it," she says, speaking of her relationship, her wedding, her life.

Claire is angry. Claire's husband, a scientist who also happens to be Kiefer Sutherland in a rare non CIA role, is even angrier.

"I tried," says Justine plaintively to Claire. "I smile and I smile and I smile." Her mask isn't enough and her true self leaks through, slowly poisoning the traditions and fakeries of her own wedding reception. A reception that includes Justine disappearing on numerous occasions. She escapes onto the golf course, of which her brother-in-law is so proud, and alternately pees while staring at the constellation abover her and shags a stranger following a scene where her husband awkwardly paws at her as she stiffens and finally runs away.

The marriage is over before it has begun and she says goodbye to her husband. A failed attempt to communicate with her supremely selfish parents renders Justine absolutely alone with only the darkness inside her.

Alone, that is, except for Claire. Claire is her reproachful but ever present support.

"Is everyone in your family crazy?" snaps Kiefer.

"She's my sister," she answers.

Justine lives without hope and without hope there is no future. Which is why, when it becomes apparent that a planet called Melancholia is hurtling towards earth and may possibly collide with it, therefore rendering life obsolete, Justine is calm and unafraid. She is not frightened of the obliteration of mankind as, to her, life on earth is evil.

Claire is the pillar of support that helps Justine function through the catatonic stage of depression that follows the wedding. Justine can barely walk. She cannot wash herself. She cannot eat. Claire holds her up next to a bath, baby talking her into stepping into the water. Justine folds in on herself, wailing like a child. She has regressed to a state where she no longer has to cope with the darkness around her. Sleep is her little death and Claire keeps her alive through that.

In the second part of the film we switch to Claire. It becomes clear that calm, rational, capable Claire is chronically anxious, possibly self-medicating and really freaking worried about the planet that is on its way. Her scientist husband reassures her over and over that there is no danger.

As we already know that this isn't true, the tension ramps up slowly, slowly, slowly.

Justine is now a calm presence in the background of Claire's increasing panic. The day finally arrives and we sit with the family as they watch the planet come closer and closer. It seems inevitable that this is the moment. But the night passes and the planet appears to recede.

Except that it hasn't.

And as inexorably as Justine's darkness encroaches on her potential future, the shadow falls over the earth again as Melancholia comes closer.

Claire's husband commits the ultimate betrayal when he realises his calculations were incorrect. While Claire is dozing in the sun he takes all of the tablets she had stockpiled and kills himself, leaving Claire alone to face the end of the world.

Alone, that is, apart from Justine.

So Justine, Claire and Claire's sun face the end of the world together and the final scene ratchets up the tension unbearably. The planet hits, the screen fades to black and then it's finished. And I'm quietly hysterical on the sofa. Snot, tears, the works. As I was at someone else's house this was a tad embarrassing.

I googled reactions to the film and they are almost a 50/50 split between 'it's really boring and miserable' to 'it changed my life'.

I urge you to watch it and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Kids say the funniest things

Don't they?

Like this, for example: "God made the world".

Shocked I was, I don't mind telling you.

Context is probably needed here. A week or so ago, right in the middle of my martyrdom to the burned leg (it was still weeping and hadn't yet crisped up), my mum brought my nephew over to see me. He's five years old and, of course, he's hilarious. What five year old boy isn't?

I'm not a gooey type about children. On the whole I much prefer animals. But I do like my nephew. He's in my top three kids that I like to spend time with for a few hours before leaving them to go back to my nice, quiet house.

We went to Cafe Rouge for lunch. I don't go there very often, partly I think because I worked at the Solihull branch about 12 years ago and they paid me something like £2.50 an hour and kept the tips. I do hold grudges, it has to be said.

I didn't realise that Cafe Rouge in 2011 is akin to a fucking Wacky Warehouse (not that I've ever been to one, but I've been to something that I'm reliably informed is very similar and it involved hundreds of screaming, snotting, oozing children hurling themselves around the place). We were wedged in between two families who seemed to have at least 15 children each (on closer inspection it was three), all of whom were yelling, crying, chucking chips around and generally making me feel uncomfortable.

And then my nephew said, and I quote: "Children shouldn't be allowed in here if they are crying."

After I high-fived him we talked a little about stuff. You know, school and Star Wars and things. Mum told me that he's been selected as Joseph for the school nativity. I understand, from observing gushy office-mum behaviour in the past, that this is a Great Honour.

I asked him whether he was pleased. He said: "No. I don't wanna. I don't like Mary."

We couldn't get out of him why he doesn't like whichever unfortunate lass who is to star opposite him but he was very clear about the fact that: "jesus is a doll", and said this phrase with such derision and contempt that my heart sang a little.

So I thought I was on safe ground when I asked him whether he believed in 'god'. I assumed he would roll his older-than-his-years eyes and say: "As if Auntie Debs, I would be taken in by such fairy tales and nonsense."

Instead he did that 'um' thing that kids do when they push their tongue in front of their lower front teeth. In the 80s it used to denote that they thought you were mentally inferior. I'm sure it doesn't now, what with it being 2011 and all.

I can only describe his expression as shocked when he said: "Of COURSE I do. He made the world."

After a short but intense conversation, mostly one-sided, where I explained to him the difference between provable facts and ridiculous stories made up to control people, I let the subject drop. With him. I turned to my mum and asked "What the fuck?", without using the word 'fuck' but wholly conveying it - a skill I have honed throughout the years of talking the lovely refined lady that she is.

She blithely returned that as he goes to a religious school - despite the fact that neither of his parents are religious in the slightest - that is what he is taught. On a daily basis. Now, I don't have a problem with people believing in things I don't believe in. I really and truly don't. If you have developed a theory and a rationale for believing that the world was created by a big man who lives in the sky, then fine. Go for your life.

I do have a problem when children are taught that one point of view is a fact, without recourse to other theories. Particularly when those people are five years old. An age where truth is imperative.

"Why does he go to a religious school?"

"Because the other ones in the area are horrible and this gives him the best chance to get into a good senior school."

"Well, what's the POINT of that if all he's going to come out with is a messed up view of religion as fact?"

Just as mum managed to completely steer me off the conversation (she just stops interacting with me until I have to eventually stop ranting) my nephew took a renewed interest. He said: "I think god put the dinosaurs there..." and looked mighty uncertain about it all for a second.

From this I take great hope. And when he's a couple of years older I'm going to show him some books I think he should read...

Between you and me

I've been having a dabble in online dating recently. It's a thing I've done before, with varying degrees of success.

I went out with one guy for a few months. He lived in London as they mostly do on Guardian Soulmates. I was looking for a man who might read the odd book, you know? Or maybe have an opinion on something that would make me stop and think.

What I got was a slightly taciturn lad who refused to acknowledge me as his girlfriend after four months of dating. Dating that involved dragging my exhausted ass to London and schlepping round parts of the city at beer festivals and shit. Stuff that I wasn't, to be honest, that in to. I asked him outright if he saw me as his girlfriend and he said: "Hmmm. No, not yet."

And then it was one of those moments where the scales fall from your eyes. I realised that not only did I not care that he didn't see me as his girlfriend, I didn't want him to. So programmed was I, after years and years in a relationship, to feel I need a boyfriend that I literally hadn't stopped to consider whether I wanted to be with  him. Weird, huh? So I finished with him forthwith. Naturally, then he decided that he did want me as his girlfriend after all. None so queer as (male) folk. Never been at all sure why women have the crazy tag.

Anyway, I'm digressing. As I tend to do. My second foray into internet dating a couple of years later resulted in the one I have christened Twatface. Or Asshole. Or Knobhead. Broke what was left of my heart into tiny pieces so he did. Still, we had nice holidays.

Earlier this month, prompted by boredom and curiosity, I decided to reignite one of my profiles. I gave Guardian Soulmates a miss as it's filled either with London-based body fascists who live in Chelsea and work in banks, or really pretentious arty types with thick rimmed glasses and speak like they thought Nathan Barley was a documentary.

I decided to go to match.com. You know the one with the puke-inducing advert where a stalker sings to a girl at a tube station and she doesn't, as would be perfectly natural and understandable, spray her perfume into his eyes while simultaneously kneeing him in the bollocks. No, she falls in looooooove with him.

It's almost a month in and it's been hilariously predictable so far. I am actually considering branching out my freelance business in order to write profiles for men on online dating sites. Because they're SHITE. I mean, REALLY shite:

"I like staying in and going out, I like too (sic) watch films and eat nice food (really). I like too (sic) go out with the lads, LOL, (FUCK OFF) and play extreme sports (reaaaaaaaaaaaaaallly?). I'm looking for an easy going girl with no baggage, who is slim and athletic (usually from a man who most closely resembles a fat Karl Pilkington). My friends would say I am the life and soul (doubtful). I'm a really easy going (balls) and attractive (I'll be the judge of that, sonny) man who is looking for a partner in crime to snuggle up with on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a DVD(yaaaaaaawn)."

I play profile bullshit bingo. It's the most fun thing about being on there.

The point of relaying this is partly a symptom of my unedited stream of consciousness style of writing (you lucky, lucky people) but I will now get to the point of this post. Which is thus. I was chatting idly to a man on Facebook chat earlier. A man I met on the internet and went on a date with maybe a year or so ago. Lovely guy, but there wasn't any chemistry. We're Facebook friends. We chat every now and again. He told me he is seeing someone, to which I responded positively, because it is a nice thing. A nice guy is seeing someone new and is happy, which makes me happy about it. 's generally nice.

So, we're chatting about me and relationships and I say:

"i just need to stop being so picky i think, i'm not at all sure i actually want a relationship between you and me"

He comes back with: "that's not an option right now Deb"

I looked askance at this for a while.

Quite a long while in fact.

What's not an option? Had I said something else that had disappeared from the screen? Had I misunderstood something? WHAT'S not an option?

And then, I put myself in the mind of a man. Ohhhhh...

So he thought I meant that I was considering a relationship between me and him: "I'm not sure I actually want a relationship between you and me." As in, I was randomly and a propos of nothing propositioning him five minutes after congratulating him on his new girlfriend. And his male brain hadn't assimilated that and come to the conclusion that he had perhaps misunderstood. He went straight in with the: Oh, no, I'm sorry but you can't go out with meeeeee.

Quite obviously, I meant: "I'm not sure I actually want a relationship COMMA between you and me."

As in, I'm taking you into my confidence here dude.

It did make me snigger in an irritated fashion. Which is something to behold I tell you. And it also made me question, once again, whether men are born with an inbuilt level of self-esteem that wraps them warm in a cosy duvet of a life time's snuggly denial about their level of attractiveness. Because increasingly it seems to me that men have, at their core, the central belief that all women find them heart-stoppingly sexy and are either just being coy or are too shy. 

I guess my lesson for today is, do watch the commas when you're IMing people, yes? For you don't know what kind of scrapes you could get into. Scrapes that will most likely leave you spluttering incoherently about punctuation mistakes on a blog.

Tch.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Burn baby burn

Things have been not going that well recently. I've been depressed. I've been proper black-cloud-navel-gazing-staring-at-the-wall depressed. Yeah, I know. It's boring listening to someone wank on about how dowwwwn they are and how shit their life is. Especially when it isn't, actually, that shit.

But that's what depression is isn't it -  it's an illogical way of seeing the world. It's like trying to make out shapes through a gauze curtain and hoping you've pasted the right kind of look on your face when out in company. If that makes no sense to you, it could be that the codeine is restricting my ability to write, or you're one of the lucky ones who've never had to deal with soul bending depression.
Anyway, my point is, it's been a shiteous couple of weeks. I spent far too much time on my own last week, which as anyone who suffers from depression knows, is a Bad Idea. It lets the voices take over just a bit too much and generally results in not being able to get out of bed and staring at walls for an unfeasibly long time.

But I'm lucky in many respects, I have a couple of jobs that force me to interact with people and some lovely mates who cheer me up.

On Saturday I had to attend one of these jobs. One which involves talking to a lot of people and generally having to get into a better mood to survive. So that's what I did. And half way through my shift I started to feel a lot more positive. See, I said to myself (in my head, natch, I'm not completely mental), things aren't that bad. People are nice (most of the time), just start to pull yourself together. You know, think more positively. Maybe everything will be ok after all. The shift was coming to an end. Bonnie Tyler was the last song of the night. I fucking love Total Eclipse of the Heart. It had turned into one of those cheesy singalongs. I was feeling, well, happy.

And then.
And then.
And then I walked past the coffee machine at precisely the moment that would ensure the jug of scalding water which was just falling off the side would hit my thigh at full force, drip all the way down my tights, into my boots and form a pool of boiling water just by my ankle.

I can still feel the impact if I think about it. I have never ever experienced pain like it. I shrieked. Screamed even. Howled probably. And ran blindly into the kitchen peeling off my clothes as I went. I didn't even care that I was undressing in front of most of my co workers, all I could think of was to get the clothes off me.
We faffed around for a bit, because I was doing that whole British stoicism thing (when I had stopped screaming). And also I couldn't really process that my skin had melted off my leg. People were very kind and helpful and gave me ice and talked me out of passing out and lent me clothes and eventually took me to A&E.

It was eerily quiet when we arrived. By this point I was starting to want to sob helplessly. The thing about burn pain is, well the pain doesn't stop getting worse. It doesn't reach a peak and abate, it just sort of keeps burning. On and on and on. I held my hand about eight inches from the surface of the skin and could feel the heat emanating from it. That's scary in itself. Your leg is wrapped - comically - in cling film and heat is radiating from it as the pain grows more and more and more intense.

I still felt that I was probably making a fuss about nothing. I always think that. I thought that when my appendix exploded inside of me. Right up till the moment I came round from surgery I thought that someone would have a go at me for making a fuss about nothing.
I was through triage in about two minutes, which was most welcome and, after a short lecture by the nurse about the proper treatment of burns (under cold water for 20 mins, cling film and THEN casualty, just for the record - to be fair, there wasn't anywhere I could have stuck my leg anyway, unless you count the kitchen sink and that's just not very hygenic is it?), he started pouring cold water on the rapidly forming blisters.

I could practically hear my skin, or at least what was left of it, hiss in relief. He whacked some damp pads on my leg and then buggered off for about four hours. I stared at the wall and wondered what the fuck just happened to me. 

In that time, people came and went. Heart attacks, people need resuscitating, a woman giving birth next to me... It was all go. It was actually just like the TV show ER. Without the crash carts and sexy doctors. Actually, it was far more like Casualty: harrassed, worried staff legging it around trying to help an endless stream of, mostly ungrateful, people.

They deserve a fucking medal for doing that job. Never again will I moan about any job I have. That's obviously a complete lie but you get the idea.

Two days later the bandages were slipping. I looked down and there was a big open wound on my leg. I limped to the pharmacist hoping for some kind of miracle tape I could squidge over it. Naturally they sent me straight back to the doctors, who stripped the wound to reveal this:



I mean, what the FUCK is that on my ankle? Some kind of creature? Am I growing a new body? Turns out it wasn't just a superficial burn you see - as the nice nurse assured me at A&E - it's actually 'quite a serious burn, dear. It's a second degree burn.'

Oh, I thought. Lovely.

They declined to burst the blister as it is, of course, my body showing how amazing it really is by growing a protective layer, pumping out healing liquid and protecting itself from infection. I was actually in thrall to this miracle of nature. Until I couldn't get the look of the thing out of my head. Every step I took, I could feel the liquid SLOSHING around. It was like hobbling around while carrying the Elephant Man's head as an appendage. Utterly disgusting.

So the next day they hauled me in to burst it. I had a vague idea it would be a delicate operation with a sterilised needle perhaps. Two minutes later I was aware that actually how they do it is to tell you to lay face down while they go in with a pair of SCISSORS. I felt the liquid ooze all over my foot and held back a heave. And then she casually cut away the dead skin. All of which I could feel.

As disgusting as that blister was you see, it meant I could actually walk without searing pain. Now I put my foot down on the floor and the blood rushes to it. Of course this happens every time anyone stands up. The difference is there is usually several layers of skin to stop it feeling like your leg is going to explode. I have to have a little scream every morning when I get up. It's a good way to start the day. 

I suppose my lesson from all of this is, if you think you're depressed without a massive burn on your leg, you know you are when you have to deal with it. As soon as this is better I will run and frolic and dance with gay abandon. And on that note, I'll just leave you with this. Just because.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

So do they know it's Christmas or what?

You know when you have one of those half-remembered whispers of a memory in your head? And over the years it crops up as part of a conversation, or a time of year? But you're never quite sure of the details? No? Well, perhaps it's just me. I have loads of them. Loads. I never know what's real and what isn't.

I was convinced for years that my dad had first got ill when I was five. I mean, totally convinced that his first heart attack was when I was five. How can you misremember that? Well, it turns out I was nine. So, go figure. I have pretty much no idea which of my childhood memories are true, accurate or I've just smooshed them in my head into something else entirely.

Anyway, I was having a conversation the other day with someone about the first single we ever bought. On vinyl it was Stupid Questions by New Model Army (for some unfeasible reason I didn't have a record player till I was about 15), and on cassette, well - and this is the weird memory - I could have sworn it was Do They Know it's Christmas? but on a computer game cassette.

This was back in the day of course. It was 1985 and as my dad worked in IT and we always had the zenith of technology at home. Which just happened to be a Commodore 64. Oh yes sirree. None of your Spectrums for us. It was Vic 20 straight onto C64. It took at least 40 minutes to load Frogger I seem to recall.

I remember playing Ghostbusters - which was awesome - and that fecking Hobbit adventure game which was really difficult. I remember my dad's friend was a local hero cos he'd finished it in three months. Well, I think I remember that. I could be completely misremembering it. Do I even exist? Descartes would say yes, just cos I'm thinking about it. But what did he know, really?

So annnnnnnnyway, to get back to the point. Tonight I was idly flicking around the music channels, just in that kind of mood. And Band Aid's original Do They Know it's Christmas? was on. So I remembered this half remembered thing and the conversation I had the other day and decided to Google it.

And behold, this is what I found:



And it all fell into place. THIS was what I remembered. I wasn't going mental. I wasn't misremembering. It did exist. I didn't realise that - as Wiki now informs me - that it was the second year release for the song (I thought it was the first). I do remember that you had to quickly stick it into a regular cassette player - not the loading deck - and keep winding until you found the song.

I remember the sleeve art really clearly now I see it again.

So, for those who don't remember Softaid (I mean, how could you not? Oh, you weren't born you say? Fair enough), it was released in late 1985 by Quicksilva for the ZX Spectrum and the C64 specifically in aid of famine relief. It was very big at the time. You've probably heard of Live Aid and suchlike. And Bob Geldof. He did one decent single and then just spent the rest of the time yelling at us on TV to give our fooking money. Oh and procreating. Which we're all very thankful for. Imagine a world without Peaches Geldof.

I don't remember any of the games however. It's possible I only used it to play the song. I loved that song. Even though it took me 10 years to work out the exact lyrics.

I really like this factoid I found out while researching this post. After Do They Know It's Christmas? was released in 1984 it went straight to the top of the UK charts (a much bigger deal back then than these days. You had to sell more than 25 copies for one thing. And piracy meant recording it off the radio on a Sunday afternoon). Every week it was at number one, Top of the Pops ran the supergroup (Sting, Paul Weller blah blah, we all know who was in it) recording of them all miming their lines. All except Bono. U2 were only just getting started and they weren't deemed big enough to appear on Top of the Pops. So Paul Weller mimed his line as well.

This tickled me. Sometimes I wish we were back in the early 80s. A world where Peaches wasn't born and the world didn't know who the fuck Bono was. Happy days indeed.

Still loads of people starving in Africa though. Epic fail Sir Bob.

Girl crush

There's girls I find aesthetically pleasing. Women I find beautiful. Women I like to look at. I mean let's not kid ourselves. We live in a sick society that judges people by the way they look. We always have and we always will.

But it's more than that. Beautiful people are revered. For an accident of birth. Every supermodel could have been you or I, if only we'd had those genes and had been born at that time, in that space, with that particularly symmetrical face and freakishly lean body. It's nothing they have done. It's nothing they have learned. They create nothing. They teach nothing. But they are revered the world over. Just for the accident of their birth. It's really really mental.

And it permeates down from the dizzy heights of supermodels and A listers to the people you meet in the street, the people you work with, everyone. I know I forgive a good looking man lots and lots of things just because of the way he looks. I'm not proud of it, but it's true. I can also be dismissive of men I don't think are aesthetically pleasing. What a bitch, eh? Except I know people do it to me too. It's human nature I think.

With women it's more complicated. I think beautiful women can intimidate me initially, but so many of my good girl friends are just gorgeous that that clearly doesn't last. But then, I often find people who are consistently horrible to me become ugly in my eyes anyway. I guess it all is entirely subjective.
Anyway, I'm rambling. It's insomnia time again, people. And the point of this post was to create a list of my girl crushes. I don't know why. It just feels like the right thing to do. This is my top ten of women that I love to look at. Obviously they're all famous because otherwise it would be pointless to share on a blog post. And a little creepy.

1. Fairuza Balk.
I have loved this woman's face since I first saw her in Return to Oz. She's pretty much my age so at every stage I have wanted to look like her. Right through Gas, Food, Lodging, The Craft and even American History X. She's tiny, and dainty and snarly and sexy. Her features are strong and defined and I think she's absolutely gorgeous. Obviously I like her best in The Craft. I so wanted to be Nancy when I was 16.



2. Elisa Dushku
I could never really work out why guys prefer Sarah Michelle Gellar when Faith was so much sexier. Even if she was in a video by those awful Canadian dirge meisters. You know, the ones who did that song about being a rock star that ended up on the DFS adverts. Rock. And. Roll. I've also read somewhere she's as dumb as a rock which kind of takes the edge of it. But it does explain the music video.


3. Julianna Marguiles
Whenever ER started - when the hell was that anyway? It feels like it was a long, long, long time ago. I remember my dad going off to play computer games when it came on cos he thought it was shite, and me and mam would sit and drool over George Clooney - anyway, I liked this woman's face. I think she's gorgeous. And the hair. I want hair like that.


4. Mila Kunis
Perfect, so she is. Way hotter than Natalie Portman in Black Swan. Which I guess was part of the point. I think - I could be wrong about this and I can't be arsed to google it, but I think she went out with Macauley Culkin for years. That cannot possibly be right, can it? He peaked looks wise in Home Alone 2. Hang on, I have to check now. Yes, yes she did. Wowsers.


5. Starbuck
This is specifically the character, rather than the actress. Who is lovely I'm sure. But I definitely had a crush on Starbuck. Mind you, I had a crush on Adama Senior. And Gaius. Maybe I just watched way too much BSG...

6. Winona Ryder
Veronica Sawyer. Nuff said.




7. Sherilyn Fenn
Loved this lady in Twin Peaks, she dressed like Lynch's 50s sex siren fantasy and is extremely sexy. And she also starred in one of the funniest films I've ever seen - Boxing Helana. If you haven't seen this, I highly recommend it. It's about Julian Sands being obsessed with Sherilyn's character, to the point that he chops her arms and legs off and keeps her in a box. Hence the title. It's marvellous. Specially the end. I won't ruin it for you.


8. Jennifer Connelly
Hmmm. Another dark haired, flawlessly complexioned, strong eyebrowed woman. I appear to have a type. I did not know this.


9. Zooey Deschanel
She was the reason I watched The Happening. Seriously. The only reason. And she made a good Trillian. It's annoying when people say she looks like Katy Perry who, although a nice looking lady, needs trowels full of make up to look half this good.


10. Drew Barrymore
I'll admit, I'm struggling. I've probably come to the end of my ladies I have a girl crush on. Drew just edges in there.

So, I think we've identified that I have a type. With the exception of Starbuck - and I think that was mostly because she is the coolest character in any TV series, possibly ever. And an angel. Or a cylon. Or something.

By the way, and just to be clear, it's a platonic girl crush thing. Apart from Mila. Probably.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Trainspotting

I was in London the other day. For work. I know, right? Imagine having to actually get up at a specified time and get on a train? It was like a foreign country. Like an out of body experience. And, as is usual when I go to London, I was overcome by the futility of living.

I mean, really. What's the point? Well, to be more specific, what's the point of living if one is commuting. Using the British transport system. I honestly think if I had to do it every day I would swiftly be having a Falling Down moment and going postal.

I was briefly distracted by the fact that the new trains to London had nice seats, were clean and they had FREE WIFI. Un-fucking-believable. It's the future, man. I couldn't work out why more people weren't excited by this fact. And then I realised it was 6am and no one wanted to face the reality of the existence they had created for themselves at that moment.

But, I noticed on one of my trips to the toilet (bladder the size of a walnut, I swear. One coffee and it's game over), everyone was taking advantage of it to do really important shit on their ipads - Facebook and films. Oh, and one Angry Birds. Thank fuck for distractions from the despair and pointlessness of the everyday, eh?

But the train was fine. On the whole. It got light, it was quite pretty outside. But then came the tube. I am in awe of Londoners and their ability to use this crowded, hot, filthy, disgusting form of transport on a day to day basis. Like it's a normal thing to do. To stand on a grimy platform, breathing in hot air, giving total strangers stink eye even if they blatantly got to the prime spot first. Standing just on the yellow line in some kind of tiny act of almost rebellion. Only to watch train after train roll up with people pressed to the windows like lambs to the slaughter, no one to get out, and roll onwards having absorbed about five from the gathering throng on the platform.

Four trains went by until I could squeeze on. With my face wedged underneath some guy's armpit and being too short to reach the grab handle on the ceiling, I looked at all the other dead eyed people, trying to act like they're not completely invading someone else's space. As I was trying not to inhale and wondering just how long I could hold my breath - could I make it to Oxford Street without having to breathe in? It seemed like a feasible option given the alternative - a fat, sweaty guy barged on. There was no room. None. But he made room for his bulk with just the strength of his halitosis and lack of shame. What a bastard.

Except he's not a bastard, this unfortunate everyman who became the focus for my ire. He's just some schmuck trying to get to his crappy job, just like everyone else. Except me. My job's cool. Obviously.

People do this EVERY DAY. Over the years my I have manouvered my working life to ensure that every subsequent job role is a bit nearer to my house. My last proper job at a games developer was a whole 20 seconds away. And now, I often work from my bed. And if not my actual bed, I work from under a duvet. Winning. As Sir Sheen would say.

But other people choose to do that journey. Every. Single. Day. Just to get to a job they probably don't even like, with people they secretly wish would cease to exist overnight. Oh, I know some people love their jobs. I've read about them. But let's face it, they're definitely in the minority.

After my work was done, I decided to beat the tube by getting a black cab. Holborn to Marylebone. Easy. 10 minutes said the driver. 50 minutes later I trailed into the station just behind my colleague who had got the fucking tube.

Fuck you London. You suck.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Things I get told at work

I have a weird life at the moment. After years and years and years of being an office slave, a few months ago I singed a few bridges and took a flying lurch into the unknown. On the same day I left my (not very well paid but at least regularly waged) PR job, I went into what has now become my second home, the local, and begged for a job. I actually did beg as well.
They took me on part time. And so began my Weird Life. Three nights a week I work like a dog behind a bar. It's brutal. It's seriously brutal. You don't get a break at all, unless you smoke. Non smokers are fucked. So, as a reluctant smoker, I'm sort of forced to smoke more just so I can sit down for 60 seconds occasionally.

I get shouted at. Frequently. Just the other night I chatted to the chef for a millisecond and got screamed at. By the end of a hot, sweaty evening I'm covered in beer and the unnamed gunk that seems to be everywhere. My feet are wet and my back aches. I've been groped, leered at, sneered at and laughed at by increasingly drunken customers. And I'm knackered.

If I come in in a good mood, I'm asked whether I got laid last night. If I come in a bad mood, I never hear the end of it. I'm called old, a spinster, weird, moody, angry, and, memorably, the other night was likened to Gordon Ramsey. I hope not facially. I'm frequently told I don't work hard enough, that I chat too much and that I'm too slow. It's sort of like working in the 1970s. And there are no rules, or at least, they seem to change every day.

And yet, today, as I sat learning how to make Long Island Ice Tea and Raspberry Mojito and tasting them at 3 in the afternoon when most people I know are tied to a chair in some grey office block, I realised that between this job and my writing, I'm pretty fucking lucky.

[PS. If you see spelling errors in this blog or the previous blog it's because I'm writing it lying on the floor with a fat cat lying on my hands. Tis difficult to type.]

It's only a SANITARY TOWEL

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Can anyone understand that?

"There's, like, seven planes of existence and we are down here and they are up there. And they pass on into the spirit, you know? And there's lots of different kinds of mediuming (sic) and mediumship (sic) and some in the spirit (sic) will talk to me and some will appear to me. I talk to them through my third eye and there are 122 chakras. Not many people know that. I can see all of your auras. But not in colour. That's not part of my gifting (sic). I can only see them in white. So, yeah."

So, yeah. I went to see a 'demonstration of spirtuality and mediumship' tonight. I'm pretty sure mediumship isn't a word. Obviously I'm cynical about the whole thing. I have watched some on the telly and have been alternately amused and disgusted. Preying on vulnerable bereaved people isn't nice. Pretending to be possessed on Most Haunted is funny. So, I figured a fiver would be well spent to be either disgusted (I do enjoy that) or amused. I was wrong. Oh, so wrong.

A nervous, chubby bloke from Kenilworth (A medium. From Kenilworth. I mean, really) proceeded to sweat profusely in the corner of the pub while fumbling his way through an explanation (of sorts) of his 'gifting'.

A quick look around the tiny audience showed five people who he's clearly related to, a couple of tipsy girls, a few enthusiastic middle aged ladies, two people I know who came for the laugh, and a complete and utter psycho. He was easily the most terrifying thing about the entire evening. I spent most of the night trying not to meet his killer stare. I imagine that's the look he gives you just before he peels your skin off and fashions it into a suit. Luckily, he left early.

After approximately twelfty hours of explaining his craft we got to the messages.

"You know when you get a bit hot? That's a spirit letting you know it's there. And if you get cold? That's a spirit. And if you have pins and needles? That's a spirit. If you shiver? Also a spirit. Anyone can do this. But I'm going to be working with spirit (sic) tonight by talking to them in my head. OK?

"Right, I have a man called Richard. Can anyone understand that? He's 6ft 2. And dead. Anyone? Can anyone understand that? He likes building things. You know, general manly activities. Fishing mainly. Anyone? You? No? OK.

"There's two dogs. One's small and one's medium to large. Does anyone understand that? No? Anyone? No? OK.

"I have a woman. She was old and frail and didn't feel good before she died. In her 80s. She's a grandma. Anyone here lost a grandma? She liked flowers. She wants to stress that she liked purple flowers. Can you understand that? Anyone? No? OK?

"I have a woman between 60 and 100 with an E in her name? Anyone? Oh, you. Thank you."

As everyone in the room would probably know someone who was dead a few hands went up. His relief was palpable as he turned to the recipient of his message.

"She's called Doris. Does that mean anything to you?"

"No"

"Oh."

I spent the next hour counting the tumbleweed as it went past.

I have dead relatives coming out of my ears. I have dozens of them. Parents, grandparents, friends. Loads. I've been to more funerals than I have weddings. I'm a fecking gift for a medium. I'm not going to lie; there was a tiny, weeny part of me that secretly wanted it all to be true and have my dad send me a message. Although, to be fair, if me dad wanted to say something to me, it's unlikely he'd pick some highly unconvincing dude from Kenilworth as the conduit.

The only dead person in that room was the hapless medium himself. I have never seen anyone actually die on stage before. Not so THOROUGHLY.

He probably should have seen that coming.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Nail varnish remover. Yes. Really.

Yesterday I accidentally punched a wall while walking past it resulting in a cut across the vein in my right hand. I smashed an entire bottle of rum at work resulting in the loss of two hours wages. I stubbed my toe so hard on a chair that I fell over and cried. And finally, I tried to remove my make up with nail varnish remover.

Marvellous.

I'm almost in awe of my own stupidity. I honestly don't know how it's possible to be so vacant and so clumsy and so ME to do stuff like that. I mean, nail varnish remover? Really? I only realised when my eyes started to burn and I began to choke.

In other news I'm anxiously awaiting my contact lenses. I have a costume for Halloween that I've actually put some time and effort into. Usually I rely on the fact that I'm good with goth make up and go as a generic witch or corpse bride. But this year I'm working at our Halloween party and decided to go as the Black Swan.

For those who have seen the film and know me well, you'll most likely agree it's a good choice. Not, I hasten to add, because I see any resemblance between the divine Natalie Portman and me physically (quite obviously, I would have thought, although someone the other day did say: How are YOU going to make yourself look like Natalie Portman? It hadn't actually occurred to me at that point that anyone would think I would even try to. It's the character I'm going for. Capice?). But I definitely identify with the character. I'm often to be found mindlessly peeling the skin from my fingers and only noticing when it bleeds and repressing my rage and psychosis. I jest. Ish.

Anyway. The costume should be aces but sort of lives and dies on whether these contact lenses I've ordered arrive on time. I paid for two day delivery. Three days ago...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tearing off tights with my teeth

Not literally. Obviously. It is, of course, a lyric from Insomnia. Which I have used to illustrate the fact that for approximately the 15th night in a row, I can't fucking sleep.

So instead I'm smoking a, frankly ill advised, fag and listening to the millionth episode of The Ricky Gervais Show. You've got to love Karl Pilkington.

I remember the days when I couldn't stay awake. I remember sleeping through parties, through university, through Sundays. Sleeping till 2pm was the norm. I remember my parents yelling at me every fricking day to get the fuck out of bed.

How is it that these days, sleep eludes me unless I take valium. How?

I can't turn off the swirling nonsense in my brain. I can't shut the voices out. I try reading, and all that happens is I end up reading an entire book in a night. I even watched Glee, thinking that would send me off. But I started getting involved in it and watching an entire series. I've tried writing. Shit, I've even tried working. And nothing helps.

It could be because I've been ill for about the 18th time this year. Last night for instance, I was knackered. Absolutely knackered. Late night on Saturday followed by work on Sunday should have allowed me to drop off like a normal person. But instead I spent four hours hanging over the toilet being inexplicably sick.

Now that's stopped and I'm just sitting here. Albeit it with a very dodgy stomach. Maybe it's that.

But if I could just switch my brain off. I mean, is it normal? Is it normal to be analysing every, single situation from every, single angle? Is it normal to be wondering if I should channel my energies away from being angry every day to, I dunno, being kinder to people? Would that make me feel better? Would that help?

I tried it in Tesco the other day, as it goes. There was an old woman faffing with packing her shopping. You know how they do. It seems to come as a surprise that, once they've pissed about finding the money and counting out the change, they have to put the shopping in bags and move away fast. Because the next person, ie. me, is standing there wishing they'd hurry the fuck up so they can leave this horrible place full of chavs and BOGOF deals.

Usually I wouldn't say anything, but I would radiate impatience until they've gone. This time, I looked at her and said: "It's fine, take your time." And she said: "Oh, I'm so sorry, dear." And she was nice. And I said: "Honestly, it's fine, I'm not in a rush." And she calmed down and managed to pack it up and then she thanked me. And it was nice. It was a nice feeling.

Perhaps what I need to do is stop being so fucking self obsessed and think about other people more. Maybe then I could actually sleep.

Among the many books I'm currently reading (Snuff by Terry Pratchett - Sam Vimes centric Discworld novel - obviously brilliant; Mad, Bad and Dangerous - a study of the treatment of mental illness from 1700 to the present - very interesting; Catch 22 - for book group - very funny; Karl Pilkington's latest - again, because he makes me laugh) I'm reading one called How to be Kind.

I have a plethora of self help books. Because I do like to fit the stereotype of a neurotic spinster cat lady in every way possible. (As an aside, someone in the pub actually, in all seriousness, called me a spinster the other day. Apparently it's 1865). I have them all. I have ones about anxiety, ones about agoraphobia, ones about depression, ones about breaking up, dating, how to stop thinking about your ex, how to stop being angry, the list goes on and on and on.

But when I was in the library I found this book called How to be Kind. It's an interesting idea. Be nice to people and you'll feel better about yourself. I quite like it.

I find it easy to be caring and nice to people I know and love. I would do pretty much anything for my good friends. I don't mind putting myself out in any way at all for them. It's people I don't know I can be impatient with. People who I don't click with immediately that I unconsciously dismiss. Or people that have pissed me off, I can hate with the fire of a thousand suns. I hold on to grudges and find it very difficult to forgive.

Maybe that's where I should concentrate on making changes. Worth a try, eh?

Now I have word vomited all over this blog, maybe I can GET SOME SLEEP.

Good night.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Ten things I like

This is most definitely trickier. But I'm almost positive there are ten day to day things in this world that I actively like.

But first, I HAVE to get in a number 11 on the hate list. Big Issue sellers. Particularly Big Issue sellers who mistakenly believe they have the gift of the gab and come across in a sort of cockerney cheeky chappy way, as opposed to a harrassing, rude and FUCKING annoying way.

Right. Likes.

1. Coffee. I really really like coffee. It has to be real, but other than that I'm easy. Cappuccino, americano, whatevs. Don't care. But I have to have it every day. Most recently about five times a day. This has coincided with my insomnia. Oh.

Coffee literally gets me out of bed in the morning. I've even got into the habit of drinking it last thing at night before bed. Who does that? Weird. I would rather give up eating than coffee. Fact.

2. The Guardian on a Saturday. I like The Guardian every other day but I only read it online. Or on the Facebook app. Which, by the way, is creepy. I don't particularly want everyone to see exactly what I've read. They'll see that I mostly leave the actual news out and only ever get stuck in to the culture section. When did Facebook get so JUDGY? But on Saturdays I go and buy it. It costs me £2.10 and it's 210p well spent. I read it cover to cover (obviously apart from Sports and sometimes Money) and I freaking love it.

Even the shit bits.
3. Reading. I like reading immensely. I was a child with no need for friends. I genuinely didn't really understand the concept until I was about 13. To me, most activities - school, socialising, exercise, family - were just distracting me from my main purpose in life. Which was to read all of L M Montgomery's books over and over again. I used to read under the bedclothes until ridiculous times of night. I loved it, adored it. It made my life worth living. When I hit puberty, for the first and only time in my life, books took a backseat for a couple of years. I was far too confused by everything that was suddenly going on and I forgot about it. And then when I was 16 my mum gave me Therese Raquin for Christmas, with the rather curt instruction to 'for goodness sake, expand your repertoire Debbie'. So I did. That took me through 19th century french, english and russian literature. Through Terry Pratchett's entire collection. To books on madness and love. Poetry, Shakespeare and Bridget Jones. Marian Keyes and Biggles. Endless awesomeness in paper form. And more recently in Kindle form. Of course, it does mean that one has to stumble across the occasional Finkler Question or Twilight, but that's a risk I'm willingt to take. Reading is what separates us from the beasts. Reading and thinking. Absorbing other peoples' ideas, dreams, theories, nonsense. It's what makes me tick.

4. Singing. I love singing. I'm a decidedly average singer. Possibly less than average. I don't know. I don't really care. Increasingly I spend my days working at home while singing along to one of the twelfty million music channels I have. Right now it's Edge of Glory.

5. Men. Yes, despite my rantings and ire, I don't actually hate men. That would be ridiculous. I hate one man right now, for instance. And I expect that will fade with time. I love men, I love being around men. My male friends are awesome. Fascinatingly different from my girl friends. I like looking at men, and I like flirting with men.

6. My friends. Obviously. Really is so obvious it almost doesn't warrant a mention, but every day, without fail, one of my friends will either a) be there for me even when I know I can be the highest maintenance friend at times, b) make me laugh till I almost wet myself, c) reaffirm my faith in mankind.

7. This Hollyoaks trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymp29R4XF2g

I don't watch Hollyoaks - at least I haven't for a long time. But this trailer is a slice of awesome. Maybe if they spent the cash on decent actors and script writers instead of shiny stuff like this I'd watch. But hey ho.

8. Cold weather and bright sunshine. Yesterday was almost perfect - a couple of degrees colder and it'd be there.

9. Running. Especially interval running. Running fast is the best I probably ever feel, apart from when things are looking particularly rosy in the bed area. I cannot believe it took me 32 years to be brave enough to go out and do something that would make me feel this good. I mean, obviously, it also makes me heave sometimes and sweaty, hot and look like a tomato. But it's transcendental.

10. I like the things I've achieved this year. I like the fact that I'm a freelancer. I like the fact that I've made a tonne of new friends. I like the fact that I've broken free of a destructive and ridiculous relationship. I like the fact that I'm free to live life how I want to. And I should remind myself of this every day.

Wowsers. Writing this has done things to my synapses and made me feel all, uh, what is it? Positive. That's it. Positive.


Ten things I hate

I'm often mistaken for an angry type. A ragey girl. Someone with 'issues'. Or it's assumed I have permanent PMT. Which, by the way, really pisses me off.

So anyway,  I thought I'd channel some of my pointless rage and just take a moment while in the throes of caffeine induced insomnia, to catalogue my top ten petty hates.

So, just to be clear, I'm not including Nazis, child abusers, politicians and Jordan. Just take those as read.This is more about the things that really dick me off on a day to day basis.

Some of you on bookface will be familiar with number 1: buskers. Specifically accordian players. Even more specifically, Leamington Spa's inexplicably vast array of shiteous accordian players. They appear to be mostly of the Polish variety (and I'll explain how I know this, and no I'm not being racialist, I'm just pointing out a fact) and their repertoire consists entirely of three bars of The Godfather theme over and over again. My aquaintance with these accordian players began a couple of years ago when it became clear that this dickless wonder was actually going to stand on my street outside my window 'playing' his tunes for eight hours on a Saturday and then eight hours on a Sunday. All year long. Not one to not confront my deamons, I went out and had a little word. This was after many Saturdays were destroyed as I sat in my house wearing ear plugs and gently weeping.

Long story short, we had a fracas. He accused me of being racist. I said I don't give a fuck where he's from, he needs to leave the area stat. He refused. I called the cops (oh yes, I did) who informed me that no buskers in Leamington have rights to be there and can be moved on. Oho I thought. And I went out to see him once more. I informed him that I will come down and move him along every single day of the year until he fucks off. I did also give him the option of actually learning how to play his instrument.

There are now no accordianists on Regent Street. I expect to be knighted shortly for this service to the community.

Number 2: people who sniff incessantly. I used to sit next to a woman at work who spent the whole day snorting great big flobs of phlegm. I can only assume she would let her nose run right until it was about to drip onto her desk and then take an almightly double inhale so that you could hear it juicily reentering her nasal passageways. Every five minutes. For the entire day. I fantastised about ways to make it stop. I would sit there and think: "It would be OK to ask her to stop, wouldn't it? I mean, that would be OK, right?" But no. It's just not something you can do in an office. Along with putting up with bodily odours not normally sensed outside of an abbatoir and people smacking their lips through their tenth packet of crisps of the day, it's just something that you have to put up with in an office.

I now work freelance.

Number 3: the man who I sat next to on the train from York the other week. The man who systematically and noisily chewed, gulped and yomped his way through the entire refreshment trolley. I felt like I was eating with him, so visceral was the experience. And every time I thought he must be full, he'd buy something else and masticate away, for all the world like a cow chewing that cud. But with more sound effects. Sir, I despise you and everything you stand for. Which is mostly eating by all accounts.

Number 4: urinating. It's such a goddamn waste of time.

Number 5: whistling. That kind of aimless, tuneless whistling that old men do in bookshops. Who are they being nonchalant for? Why do they feel the need to make a noise for no reason? Are they drowning out thoughts of their own pointless existence?

Number 6: Liz Jones. Liz is a columnist for The Daily Heil. She is a bigoted, unpleasant, bizarre creation who is very possibly a sort of paid troll. In which case the whole thing is actually quite amusing. I suppose. She likens herself to a kind of hybrid Carrie from SATC and Bridget Jones character. And yet she's 65 if she's a day and most closely resembles Alice Cooper. She chronicled her appallingly bad marriage in graphic detail and writes like a pre pubescent teenager with questionable grammar. The Mail sees fit to send her on actual journalistic assignments and invites her commentary on famine, war and murder, which she always brings back to the fact that she was stood up on Millenium Eve. Seriously. Horrible.

Number 7: The Daily Heil.

Number 8: The Finkler Question. 2010's Man Booker prize winner and six hours of my life I'm never getting back. Just shit.

Number 9: Jamie Oliver. I was struggling for a second there and then his fat tongued face popped into my head. An average cook got lucky, coasting off the 90s love for blokey, laddish culture, Jamie burst onto our screens with The Naked Chef, where he pretended to cook in a pretend house with pretend friends. Heinous. Since then he's reinvented himself as a christ-like saviour of our health. Which translates to him moaning a lot about school meals and then going to the US and being laughed at by transfat-soaked American fatties. He proudly states he has no time for his family - that's a wife and four children - because he wants to spread the message. He's a 21st century missionary and he's fecking annoying. Also, before preaching to others about their weight, he might want to have a wee look in the mirror. His face is expanding at a rate of knots and soon won't fit onto our screens at all. He also spits when he talks, which can't be at all hygenic when it comes to preparing food.

Number 10: Indian summers. I don't want to be sweating half way into October. I don't want to be viewing endless arses squeezed into ill advised hot pants. I don't want to see chavs with their shirts off for any longer than strictly necessary. And, please, for the love of god, stop telling me to get out and enjoy it while it lasts. I cannot wait for winter.

Tomorrow I will be scraping together for a top ten of things I like.

Maybe top five.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

I felt kind of bad, so...

you know, about my Jodie Marsh post the other day.

So, I thought I'd rebalance my karma by posting a picture of her taken yesterday all dressed up nice and glamourous.

Enjoy.

Don't tell me who to cry for

In case you haven't noticed, and I'm sure most of you haven't on account of the fact that you hardly ever look at the interwebz, a man called Steve Jobs died last week.

Of course, as is usual when someone even vaguely famous dies, Twitter, Facebook and (probably, although I wouldn't know because I just can't get the hang of it) Google + were aflame. And with Mr Jobs it was even more vehement, on account of him being basically the god of all that is normal and natural to us these days.

As an aside here, I'm really glad Twitter and Facebook weren't around when the Princess of Bulimia got into the wrong car a la Paris. That would have been irritating.

Anyway, my point is, Steve Jobs died. It's pretty fucking tragic. He was 56 and he'd been sick for a long, long time. I'm sure his money bought him the best care possible and perhaps he eked out a few more years than ordinary paupers would. But nontheless, the big C got him in the end.
And it's sad. The degree to which you were sad will, as is always the case, depend on your emotional investment in said corpse. For me, the first celebrity death that properly upset me was Freddie Mercury. I cried quite a lot.
Kurt Cobain didn't get much of a flicker of interest as I thought grunge was too mainstream at the time, plus I was 16 and so enormously self-involved that I didn't honestly notice that much. As long as it wasn't Andrew Eldtrich then I was good.

I felt bemused and isolated when old crazy Lady Di bought the farm, not because I was sad, but because everyone else seemed to go batshit mental for at least a week and I felt well left out.

Now Amy. Amy got to me. She was just too young. Obviously Kurt was as well but at the time I was 16 and he was 24, so seemed retty damn old. Amy was just 27 and as I can barely remember turning that age, she seemed like such a youngster to me. Such a waste.

I posted something or other on Facebook about it. Hey, I'm not ashamed of bandwagons if I give a shit about the cause. I was more frustrated and boggled that we can watch these damaged people implode over years and years of media coverage. It's like a long running Victorian freak show. Anyway, when I posted on the book of face, people were in agreement. You know, loads of RIPs and sadfaces. Twitter was the same.

And then it started to change.

Slowly but surely during the hours that followed more and more posts cropped up along the lines of: "She was one druggy. Who gives a shit?" "What about the Norwegian massacre?" "What about the Boer War?"

OK, so I made the last one up. But man, it pissed me off. One tragedy does not outweigh another. It is possible to be sad about ONE thing (ie. a mentally ill girl who had a great musical talent) AND also be sad/empathetic/sympathetic towards the victims of terrorism, f'r instance.

I was reminded of this when Mr Jobs shuffled off his mortal coil. Of course it exploded across the interweb like a wildfire. Geeks everywhere hung their heads and said a little binary prayer for the late genius. But even I, as a non-techno-geek, felt a stab of sadness for one of the greatest minds of our generation. He actually did change the world and if people want to express their sadness on social freaking networking then fuck the FUCK OFF with things like this:

Fucking trolling, weakly reasoned bullshit. If you want attention post about your sex life. Leave the big stuff for the grown ups.

Grief (of all kinds) is ENTIRELY subjective so don't ever, ever tell me who I am allowed to cry for when they die. I'll make up my own fucking mind.

RIP Steve Jobs.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Easy target

I have a long standing fascination with Jodie Marsh. Strange but true. A few years back she kept a blog, which was completely and totally unintentionally hilarious. It was about her nights out at the Sugar Hut and spent a lot of time chronicling her clear alcoholism and justifying wearing outfits such as:


And this:



Many of her blogs went on and on and on about how she was all natural and didn't have fake tits like that Jordan. And then she went and got fake tits.

And then she went and advertised for a husband. On TV. How crashingly low must your self esteem be to stand in the middle of London begging for someone to come and be 'auditioned' for the role as your husband. At one of the castings there was a total of four men. And two of them were drunk.

Soldiering on, Jodie decided to become a tattooist. This was also filmed for a TV show. She failed hard. But not before branding her own father with an enormously shit tattoo.

After a spate as a lipstick lesbian Jodie disappeared out of sight for a couple of years.

And then last week, this happened:


Jodie announced her sudden devotion to a career as a body builder. For a TV show.

"Every single person is jealous of my body" chirps Jodie.

Of course they are love. OF COURSE they are. Who wouldn't want to look like a man with fake tits covered in ronseal? Who, in short, wouldn't want to look like this?



I just wanted to share that with you all. You're welcome.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Weird shit what I have watched on TV tonight

Yeah, I know. Triple whammy of blog posts. It's called procrastination. And tense, nervous energy.

There's tonnes of things I could be doing right now. Should be doing in fact. Things that range from laughing at Fatman getting high on catnip to finishing the pug's head to deciding whether or not to just get the boots from the asos sale.

But while I have been doing stuff, I have also had my favourite friend in the room - the TV.

Things that I have caught bits of tonight include the new series of America's Next Top Model. Fricking hilarious. For the uninitiated, this is a reality show that brutally cuts down a group of stick thin gazelle-limbed girls who all look like bambi on heroin until there is but one single, emaciated winner, who then gets some ropey magazine deal and maybe a Cover Girl commercial. Suffice to say, it's taken extremely seriously by the girls. Not so much by Queen Tyra who presides over the starving children at her mercy and thoroughly enjoys ripping their tiny ideals apart and jumping on the pieces. Her trick this year is to tell a load of them they've been booted off and then back track and shout 'surprise' as she informs them they actually HAVE got through.

Half of them collapsed into a quivering wreck of bones and bling, genuinely confused as to what the hell is going on. For the rest of the episode you get to watch them visibly dissolve into paranoid wrecks as they clearly expect Tyra to leap out and screech: "psyche" while chucking their suitcases out of the window.

There's one who looks like her jaw is actually going to cut through her skin, it's that sharp. She has cheek bones that would severely damage any guy who goes anywhere near her. There's another one who really does look like a 19 year old skinny indie boy, which Tyra says is 'in'... I mean she looks EXACTLY like a boy.

The rest of them spend the time picking listlessly at plates of food (I think it's a contractual thing to show them eating once an episode so no one can point the finger at a show that's blatantly encouraging anorexic, vulnerable young girls to learn to further loathe themselves on the basis of a completely subjective and flippant comment from the panel of 'judges'.

After that I watched a bit of University Challenge. I adore it when Paxman gets all irritated when they take more than three nanoseconds to answer. "Come ON. Come ON." They all look terribly young. I can no longer tell the difference between anyone between 15 and 25 without IDing them.

Then it morphs into Embarrassing Bodies. I was vaguely aware of it because people were talking about sagging boobs and back acne. But I just happened to look up as a young girl happily spread her legs for that weird doctor who has no body fat and a bad hair transplant after complaining of itchiness and discharge.

"How long have you had these symptoms?"

I was thinking a couple of days... maybe a week. That would be normal, right?

"A year and a half." More than 500 days of her life have been spent oozing an itchy prurient discharge. And it didn't occur to her to go the free doctor that she is entitled to? Or go online and see that some canesten would clear that right up? Or even watch the fucking TV for the constant adverts aimed at women's problems? No, she waits a year and a half and then shows her vagina to the nation on TV.

Is anyone else confused by this programme? I understand the ones who have horrendous problems that need expensive or specialist surgery. I think that they are brave. It's sad that they have to prostitute their diseases in return for high class medical care, and in some cases, ANY medical care. It's all a bit John Merrick for me. But I sort of get that.

But people like this lass who clearly has thrush - why wait? Why put it on TV? Why? I looked up just as the doc was describing the discharge as "oozing" and I saw something that I cannot now unsee. I was also eating peanut butter at the time and had a moment or two of fighting with my gag reflex. Actually I'm fighting it again right now. Seriously. She is never getting laid ever again.

And after all that, he's like: "Get some canesten."

So, over to Dancing With the Stars. This is the US version of Strictly Come Dancing. But it has proper people on it. It has Ricky Lake! And David Arquette! You know, the Hollywood actor (of sorts). And some girl from The Hills! And Chas Bono - that's Cher's daughter who is now a man. Yes, really. It's awesome. I highly recommend it.

I have also been reading Catch 22 and pondering the dichotomy paradox. So don't be thinking I'm a dumbass, yeah?

Invisible woman

You ever get the feeling that you're actually invisible? No, boys, not invincible. Invisible.

Today has been a day of fuckwits being fuckwits.

I was informed by a company that I would very very much like to work for, a company that I hold in high regard, that I have an interview with them. A date was pencilled in. That date was last Friday. I was told to wait for confirmation. I received none. So, me being me, showed willing and called them up. I was told: yes, we definitely want to interview you, we're waiting for someone or other to come back from New York and then we'll be in touch.

Fine. OK. I figure no point in calling again because that would be annoying.

Still nothing. So I call again. Nothing to lose really at this point. Oh, how wrong I was. Turns out that the interviews were on Friday but he forgot to tell me. He forgot. HE FORGOT. Someone forgot to confirm with a candidate that they were due in.

And now you see, well, even though it's my fault (says he - freely admitted it was an error on his part) I still lose out because they've selected for next stage. So, you know. Shrug.

By this point panic and tears were rising in my gorge. I don't mind as much not being selected at all. That happens all the time. Believe me. The last six months there isn't a job I haven't applied for. But to be offered an interview, to be told that I sounded perfect for this, and then to lose out because someone FORGOT ME.

I meep out: But that's not fair, can I still be interviewed.

I can hear the shrug in his voice as he mumbles something about it being his fault but hey ho. Like this happens every day. Like a golden opportunity is dangled in front of you and then taken away just like that.

I feel like an X Factor reject. I can see Louis Walsh's asinine grin in front of me as he plays with my emotions. Look at what you could have had.

The only thing left to do is run

I haven't been running for about three weeksish. Possibly a bit longer.

If any of you have been concentrating at all then clearly you should ignore that whole: I'm going to run every day for a year post.

My speciality is declaring things and then failing to live up to them it seems.

I got sick a few weeks ago and stopped running because if I had run I think it's not exaggerating to state that my sinuses would have actually exploded. It was hard enough getting through my various jobs and coming home to die in between. And then, like all good habits, it was extremely easy to break.

How is it that bad habits - smoking, drugs, food, inappropriate men - are so difficult to break. Impossible even, apparently. Actually the food thing is pretty easy at the moment. Safe to say eating is not high on my agenda right now.

But you get my point. All of those things, the nice things, the fun things are bad. And the good habits - running, cleaning, doing all the shit that's stacked up to do - you miss one and then it's like: ahhhhh fuck it.

For three weeks I've been convincing myself that I'm too busy, too tired, too whatever to run. Or I have to just finish this thing first. Considering that this thing is crocheting a pug (don't judge me) and I'm a total beginner clearly that's going to take some time. I've become an expert in procrastination. I haven't tidied my bedroom for about two months. I'm living like a teenager. Going to bed at 4am. Drinking too much. No schedule. No routine. Crashing from one minor disaster to another. Oh hang on, no, that's just how I've lived my ENTIRE life.

But no more. I have had a rather upsetting conversation with someone this morning that has, once again, made me question mankind in general, and men in particular. So fuck em. Fuck it. I'm just going to run. I'm not going to sit here and think about all of this bullshit. I'm going to run till I puke. And then I'm going to run some more.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

On the wagon

Is it my age? Last night I ingested less booze than most people would have on a normal week night. And yet I have struggled through what appear to be appalling hangover symptoms all day. To the extent that my boss sent me home from the pub because I was green, sweaty, puking and a general embarrassing mess.

I have that itchy paranoid restless weirdness that comes with a monster hangover. And yet one glass of red wine, a couple of gins and a bit of rum really shouldn't have done that to me. N'est ce pas? That's not normal to get sick from that. It just doesn't happen.

I know people - lots of people actually. Many, many people. Possibly hundreds - who can happily consume at least three times that amount, turn up for work and be absolutely fine. How is it that I am a gibbering wreck? I mean I know I have ten years on some of them, but not all of them I don't.
A couple of them are almost as old as me.

This may sound like a whinging post (shut up) but it's also my itchy, paranoid attempt to analyse what exactly happened to my alcohol tolerance. Last time I was dumped I was going through at least a bottle of red wine a day with no particularly dire consequences.

Actually perhaps it was the extremely ill advised croque monsieur before going to work which, to be fair, may have been the thing that pushed my stomach over the edge. A plate full of bechamel sauce when your guts are doing somersaults probably isn't the best thing. Eugh. Greasy cheese and ham. Would you excuse me for a second? I just have to barf again.

But I feel like a twat. I'm too old to get sick from alcohol. I'm too old to get sent home from work.

I'm going to give it up. From now until Christmas I'm just not going to drink at all.

Fact.