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


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.]


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?"



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.