Monday, 31 December 2012

That was the year that was.

Wasn't it?

That was an entire year of our lives - gone. In a haze of repetitive nights out, crass fumblings with various members of the opposite (or indeed, same) sex, Groundhog Days at work, desperately convincing ourselves that being a PR consultant/media coordinator/internal communications knobber is in any way important. OK, there I'm speaking entirely for myself. I mean, if you're a doctor or a surgeon or a vet or a hairdresser or a barista in a coffee shop where I want a good coffee then, obviously, your work is vital.

365 days of the same old shit. Or was it 366 this year? It did feel long it has to be said. Long and very very short at the same time. Does it really matter if one gets up and goes to work in the morning? Or goes to the pub on a Friday? Or goes to see the latest crappy film at the cinema? Does ANY of it really matter? Of course not. The world keeps spinning no matter how skinny or fat you are, no matter what you create or don't create, no matter who you regret or don't regret. All in the end is harvest, people.

So, with that in mind, and with the fact that I seem to have hit the zenith of nihilistic despair during the last month of 2012, I am suggesting to myself that for 2013, since nothing matters anyway, I should put all my effort into having a jolly good time.

I will shrug off my almost puritanical nouveau moral code (not even sure where it sprang from if I'm honest. One minute it was all booze, class As and not giving a shit and then it was all sobriety and not sleeping with people just because they're there). I am going to drink, imbibe, do the dirty with whomsoever I choose, cease lamenting fools and their ways, go running again, stop being afraid of everything, take my new friend up on her offer of acupuncture, go back to the Buddhist monks, write a lot, draw a lot and generally live 2013 like it's my last year on earth.

True nihilism brings its own rewards, I'm discovering. Because if nothing really matters then there is nothing to worry about.

Bring it on 2013. Happy new year to all my friends, enemies and indifferent readers who only stumbled onto this blog via a tortuous route involving Jodie Marsh. You know who are. As Prince says, party like it's 1999. Only make it a good 1999, not like the actual one which was a real bloody let down.



I love a good diagnosis, me

After a month or so teetering on the edge of sanity I've finally been to the doctors, where I have been redeemed with a diagnosis. It's chronic sinusitis. Not a breakdown. Not all in my head. Not crazy times. Just an illness. This makes me inordinately happy. 

It probably says a lot about my state of mind when I say I'm glad I'm ill. But days spent alone, trying to sleep, feeling too weird and off kilter to do anything or see anyone, have left me going a bit mental. A bit Yellow Wallpaper. If you don't know what that is, then Google it and read it, it's very, very good. Only difference is there's no man oppressing me. I do that all by myself. 

The other day I was so woozy and tired that I just couldn't keep my coffee cup straight so I just sat and watched as boiling water slid down my hand and into the crevices between my fingers, where it set up shop and scalded me. I now have angry, red marks all over my hand. 

Last night I was sent home from work for being sick. It wasn't the fact that it was Craig Charles' Funk & Soul night that did it, honest. I swear that man follows me round the country. During the short time I was at work I found it increasingly difficult to do anything without heaving, to add up, give the correct change or pour a good pint. I was, in short, a liability. I also semi convinced myself that the rash on my arm is meningitis. 

It isn't. 

I have been weepy and thick headed, unable to concentrate, plagued by nose bleeds and headaches. I mean, you would think that's most likely a brain tumour wouldn't you? If your only company is a demanding fat cat and the internet, that is. 

Sleep has been massively elusive and fun in short supply. Apart from a lovely day with my friends on Christmas Day, this festive period has been decidedly un-ho-ho-ho. I could count the hos on the fingers of one hand. 

Bit like at work. 

When I do sleep I'm plagued by recurrent nightmares. Not of the kind where it's sort of like a horror film and actually quite cool, with anonymous enemies. But of the kind where people I love are horrific to me in various ways over and over again. I wake with a thick head, a slim grasp of reality and start to colour people with what they've done my dreams. 

See why I'm pleased it's just sinusitis? 

A short trip to the chemist, I'm £30 down (three lots of drugs you see. I briefly got very pissed off that I had to pay that and then I was just grateful I don't live in the US where I wouldn't be able to afford to see a doctor at all), and filled with hope that, after a short course of antibiotics and with the help of steroids, I'll be able to make January my party month. 

I'm also much clearer as to why the NHS is on its knees. An extremely obese pensioner was in front of me collecting a veritable sack full of drugs. I mean, I thought I was bad with my monthly happy pills, but this was something else. They went through the list of repeat prescriptions to see what she wanted next month. I counted 25 items. She didn't even know what any of them were for. From ear wigging I definitely heard high cholesterol and diabetes medication. I really don't want to come across all Thatcher here, but for fuck's sake. Losing a few stone would most likely take care of those for her and she'd be on fewer drugs. Which is good for everyone, surely? 

Assume half the population grasp drug after drug with a greedy hand (I remember my hellish grandma had a cupboard full of proper hardcore medications that she never used but wanted to stockpile. Thousands of pounds worth ended up being thrown away regularly) then no wonder the whole system is fucked to the core and a lot of people aren't given the help they need. 

For once I was glad to have paid for mine.  


Saturday, 29 December 2012

Breaking the blog fast

I was allowed to leave work early on account of it being a bit shit. Looks like most people are saving their liver-destroying drinking binge for New Years Eve, so we were light on clueless divs getting so hammered they vomit up their own spleen. Although we did serve a round of 25 vodkas. To five people. 

I haven't blogged for ten days. This is because of a crisis of confidence, friends. Enemies. Whoever actually reads this. Despite rising numbers of people reading, despite really enjoying writing general bollocks, I have lately wondered who the hell I think I am to write anything that anyone would want to read. Who am I at all?

This isn't like me. I may be a pain in the ass at times. A whiny bitch at others. A needy and annoying individual with many faults, but I love my writing. It's one of the few things I have confidence in. It temporarily releases the little pressure cooker in my head that's constantly just about to blow.

It's just lately I seem to be doing that disconcerting thing of seeming to be outside of myself. Disassociation the shrinks call it. It's sort of like watching yourself go through the motions of normality but as if you're an automaton. So I might be at a party, say, and involved in a conversation when suddenly it's like I'm hovering over myself and thinking "Jesus, is that what you look like? What you sound like? What are you talking about? Just shut up." Usually by this point I've lost the thread of the actual conversation and am probably standing there like a retarded guppy fish. 

I second guess everything. Every sentence I say. Every text I send. Every blog I compose in my head is immediately relegated to being a bit shit. Or that maybe it'll piss someone off. So I don't write it. I don't say it. I don't text it. I don't blog it. I've had a few people unfriend me because of this blog, a few people insult me, a few people question why I think I have the right to say this, that or the other. It usually doesn't faze me. It has recently.

I'm assuming this state of mind is because of the events of the last few months. They'd probably take their toll on anyone, even all the people I know who seem to be able to handle everything without breaking a sweat, and definitely without losing any sleep. 

This year has been a big one. An odd one. A hard one. Not hard like starving people in the Third World hard. Or dying of a horrible disease hard. But hard for me. During 2012 I moved from a place I felt comfortable, popular and secure to a place where I knew no one. 

I started two new jobs with all that entails. On 7 January I will start another one.  

I have been fired once. From the job that I moved here for. For 'not fitting in'. This threw a spanner in the works as it was, after all, the whole reason I moved here at ALL. Then again, it kind of suits me fine. There are some places you just don't want to fit in, believe me. Like any of the Fuhrerhauptquartiere before 1945. Or the AGM of the Ku Klux Klan. Or this place. 

The second job I fit in just fine and have met some lovely people, I'm relieved to say. And I do, it has to be said, have high hopes for the new new job in January. 

I have moved house twice and am likely to move again soon, due to the fact my landlord who, I've just found out, handily lives in Thailand, doesn't see the need to make sure appliances, you know, actually work. 

Friendships back home have changed, people have moved on without me, while I feel I've been madly floundering. I try too hard to hang on to things, this I know. I wanted it to remain the same so I could somehow keep a life there and start a new one here. But it doesn't happen like that. 

Finding out who my friends are has been eye opening, revealing and interesting. And kind of distressing. No one likes to feel the waters close above their head as soon as they leave somewhere but I think that is what happens. If you choose to leave, very very soon it's like you were never there. Obviously I'm talking about a very few individuals who I thought I was closer to than I was. Leading to all sorts of questions about the reality of friendship and relationships in general. How much does anyone really know anyone? What with everyone constructing facades for different situations, different groups, different places and times, is anyone ever really, truly themselves?

I have met some fantastic people who are making me feel more at home every day. But I still see doppelgangers of friends from home all over the place and wonder what's going on back there.

I want to focus on where I am, not where I was. 

That's going to have to be my goal for 2013.

And lots of blog posts that are much, much funnier than this. 



Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Paedophilia or the Olympics?

A discussion was had today about what 2012 will be remembered for. As the Year of the Unmasked Paedo. That was my thinking. A colleague did suggest that perhaps, actually, it'll be the Olympics, which I had already forgotten about.

I kind of hope he's right. I mean, what are people of the future going to think? What the hell are we supposed to think?

This was, of course, after today's tasteful revelation featuring Ian Watkins, singer of Lostprophets, ex of Fern Cotton and Alexa Chung, emo-rawk pin up for many a Welsh teenager.

And he didn't even work for the BBC.

Immediate confused speculations regarding potential groupies who may have seemed of age were dispelled following the news this afternoon that he's apparently been accused of plotting, along with a female fan, to rape a baby. Yes. That's PLOTTING TO RAPE A BABY.

All in all he was charged with six child sex offences, as well as three separate charges of possession, making and distributing indecent images of children and of possessing extreme porn, some involving animals.

I first saw the headline this morning, and thought they meant H from Steps. Which would have been shocking enough. But the Lostprophets Ian Watkins? What? He's my age, for Christ's sake. Actually, he's younger than me. For some reason, perhaps media exposure, part of my brain is convinced that those who abuse children are old and probably some kind of DJ.

Since Saville was unmasked for the absolute brutal monster he appears to have been, I heard many people say things along the lines of: "Ooooh, he had a look about him." and "I always thought he looked dodgy." which he kind of did. I grew up with him on TV on Jim'll Fix It and, at the very least, he looked like someone you didn't really want to meet in the flesh. After the fact it's easy to see.

I doubt that anyone will be making such claims about Ian Watkins. We like to think we can spot signs of depravity and threat to us or our children, but obviously we can't. At all. History shows this over and over again. You can't trust a priest, someone in the public eye, a doctor, a rock star, a stranger on the street. You can't actually trust anyone, it seems.

It's almost too difficult to comprehend in any real sense. Hence the inevitable jokes and flippant comments that circulated quickly after Saville and will do after this and have done after every kind of horror imaginable. It's human nature, and a defence mechanism.

This continues to confuse me. Does it mean that for some reason, paedophilia is on the rise? Or is it just that modern technology exposes it more easily? How do you get that twisted? What would have to happen to turn that switch in your brain? How do people actually go through with such things? How can people be so inhuman? How do they sleep at night? How to they maintain the skein of normality? How do they reconcile it? Are they insane? Or broken? Are they victims somehow (I really don't know how, but is it a chain of damage from generation to generation)? Or evil?

Let's hope, at least, that Ian Watkins is the last to be discovered, at least in 2012. There's still 11 days left though, so perhaps that's hoping too much.

And, as for what 2012 will be remembered for, I'll try to sieve out the horror, the killings, Syria, Connecticut, the floods, the uncovering of paedophiles and the many, many other horrific things that have happened and focus on the Olympics and that but it's kind of an uphill battle.

Hopefully the Mayans were right and we won't even have to deal with it after Friday or, failing that, may 2013 bring more hope to the world.

Monday, 17 December 2012

TV's not just for Christmas...

I watch a lot of TV. A LOT of TV. I'm not comfortable with people who say with pride: "I never watch TV actually," or even "I don't own a TV". They should be sitting in a corner rocking. They should be sprinting to Comet - are they still a thing? - and grasping the first TV they see. To be without a TV is to be without a soul. That's what some philosopher said.

And yes, that philosopher is me.

TV is my friend, my confidante, my distraction (once even when in flagranti I watched The Big Bang Theory over his shoulder. True story.), my teacher, my guide and my pleasure. Yes, I do live alone. And yes, I am single, since you ask.

Tonight f'instance. I have had a comforting background accompaniment of Strictly Come Dancing, Come Dine With Me and Click. Click, if you haven't seen it, is up there with Adam Sandler's best. His best are shite. How did this guy ever get so far? It's one of the enduring mysteries of our time.

I have also been reading, talking to people, cleaning and cooking. So, watching TV does not dull my senses. It does not stop me enjoying intellectual pursuits. For example, I just learned about how Zack and Mimi made a porno. But TV does have some drawbacks. Particularly at this time of year. Adverts, for one. Fucking Christmas adverts. They seem split between perfume, supermarket and department stores. I didn't know anyone actually went into department stores anymore.

Perfume adverts feature proper A list celebrities (almost all American, presumably to avoid humiliation in their home country, like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation) abjectly debasing themselves to sell something called Envy or Premiere or Lust. This year I think Brad Pitt wins. His portrayal of a mangy lion relaying a confused speech about inevitability is selling, hang on... I think it's Chanel. I could be wrong, but Chanel do have a history of terrible adverts. Remember the one where Nicole Kidman says something so cringingly awful that it must rate up there in her top 3 horrific moments - the first two almost definitely have something to do with Tom Cruise I should imagine.

Then there's that one with Scarlett Johansen. One of the sexiest women in films and they've given her Margaret Thatcher hair. And made her spout shit about how she's just looking for one thing. Love. It's a wonder she managed to prevent herself projectile vomiting all over the camera.

I can't help wonder whether all perfume adverts are some kind of hilarious in joke between actors and directors. They have eyes and ears, so they can see and hear how fucking awful the end product is. I like to think it's a sort of camp, knowing humour underlying all of these expensive and futile snippets of film. The alternative is too terrifying to contemplate.

Adverts that most definitely don't have a sense of humour are the arse-clenchingly awful, mostly misogynistic and yet somehow also misandric supermarket 'adverts'. In fact, they manage to insult pretty much everyone and make out that Christmas is some kind of depressing, fatalistic grind of a tradition that cannot be escaped and most definitely cannot be enjoyed. They mostly depict harrassed mums running around preparing for Christmas day, with men relegated to a sort of buffoon character. The mum looks tired, harrassed and upset, the kids look spoiled and ungrateful and the men bumble about in Christmas jumpers. But wait, right at the end, look, it was all worth it. And it's Christmas. And they wouldn't have it any other way. Somehow managing to sum up the worst of 1980s Sunday lunches and highlighting everything that's distasteful about Christmas - greed, laziness, waste - they make me want to blow up every branch of Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury's. Tesco I'll let off just for this year because their adverts don't make me actually scream and hit small children.

Leaving us with the cloying, fake sentimentality of departments store Christmas adverts. They always have some classic song murdered by some wibbly voiced girl and some kind of harking back to a mythical time that never existed where everyone is rosy cheeked and has a huge, loving family to surround them at this special time of the year. This year they're the same old hackneyed shite. Except for John Lewis. With the snowman dragging his stumps across country to (presumably steal, as he's a snowman and thus has no money) a hat and scarf for his snowgirlfriend. I'm pretty sure he'd have been able to find an H&M or something much nearer. It has the Power of Love murdered by a wibbly voiced female and should have me punching holes in the wall. But I like it. It makes me feel nice. Don't tell anyone though.






Friday, 14 December 2012

Ban guns America. Ban fucking guns. How many times?

How many times? How many times will people be mowed down by a nutter with a gun? How many times will children be killed randomly and indiscriminately because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and the local psycho found it easy to get his hands on a gun? Cinemas, schools, temples... this year people have been shot in pretty much all the places you'd think would be safest.

Why?

Because every single one of those killers - clearly very disturbed and ill people, who may have been in some form of hell of their own, I don't know. We can only speculate as to what would make someone kill strangers at a cinema, or children at a school or worshippers at a temple - could get their hands on a deadly weapon. Just like that.

At the time of writing, 27 people are known to be dead in today's atrocity at a primary school in Connecticut. Twenty of those are primary school age children. One of the adults is the mother of the killer. The 20 year old killer had a gun and he walked into two classrooms and he just killed. Everyone.

Twenty children between the ages of five and ten. Twenty children who came into school this morning. Twenty children who never left. Twenty children looking forward to Christmas. Twenty children with parents, families and friends who are now in unimaginable torment. Twenty children whose brutal deaths will traumatise the kids who survived for the rest of their lives.

Fox News is already blaming video games, movies, the violent culture we live in. Fox News can go fuck itself. How anyone can moralise about video games when they support a society that gives open access to actual, real guns blows my tiny mind. You can blame abusive childhoods, too many FPS, too many viewings of Die Hard if you like. But if these twisted, broken, ill, evil people couldn't get guns in the same way they could go out and buy a car, then these poor, dead children would most likely be alive this evening. And still looking forward to Christmas.

Obama says it best



"As a nation, we have been through this too many times.... We will have to come together to take meaningful action regardless of the politics..."

Trying to pass anti-gun legislation with a Republican Congress is going to be yet another uphill battle for Obama. His sanity is increasingly highlighted by the demented country he is trying to drag out of the dark ages. If I prayed, I'd pray for him. And the murdered children.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

I just want to look a pig in the eye, fair and square

Tomorrow is the dawn of a new era. It may well be a relatively short era, but it's definitely a new era.

Due to years of niggling guilt and a week of being shouted at by three good friends, all of whom have taken the vow of not masticating animals, I've decided to be a vegetarian. For at least the duration of a month's trial. You don't get much more committed than that now, do you people? It's more commitment than I generally give to any job or relationship.

So from tomorrow, which is what? Hang on. From Friday 14 December, for a month, not a single piece of meat will pass my lips. And should it prove to be the worst month of my life (highly doubtful, to be honest, I've had some right beauties this year) then I will concede defeat and apologise to the pigs.

I don't think I'll struggle that much. I haven't eaten pig for ages. Apart from the cheese and ham toastie the other day. I suppose my friend was technically correct in the view that just because "I didn't like anything else on the menu" doesn't mean it counts as not eating pork. Oh, and a couple of teeny weeny sausages last night. It will be chicken and fish I will miss the most I think, but I do genuinely like nut cutlets and Quorn is more than palatable these days. Even if it is grown in vats somewhere near Milton Keynes.

And, to be honest, I can no longer reconcile my almost obsessively weird love for animals with the eating of said animals. Because it's not just cats and dogs that turn me into mush. It's cows, pigs, sheep, snakes, spiders. Basically all animals. Anything with eyes that can look at me. Apart, perhaps, from the woodlouse. Something about hard exoskeletons makes me heave, I'm assuming it's some throwback to deep rooted fears in my animal brain.

But everything else. I can be reduced to tears of wonder by gazing into a cow's eyes. That's actually true. I fell in love with one when I was out running once. He was looking at me with these soft, trusting, beautiful eyes. And I could have wept for all the burgers I've chowed down over the years. I wish it was like The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, where special cows have been bred who actively want you to eat them. They wiggle up to you in a restaurant and ask you which bit you'd like to carve. They practically beg you to fry up their most succulent bits. Then it would be OK. Probably.

Some of my fellow animal lovers who have been vegetarians for many years have sporadically asked me over the years why I am not one. And I never really have an answer. I think mostly because I like the taste of meat. There's no point denying that. I really really like it in fact. And I'm not precious about it, I'm almost certain I would equally enjoy the taste of human flesh, should it be presented to me at a particularly interesting barbecue.

But does that mean if I had been born and brought up somewhere in Asia where cat is regularly eaten (I am not being racialist. It's a fact), would I just happily cook up a Fatman lookalike and have it for Christmas dinner? I mean, maybe I would. I've often looked at him and thought that'd he'd make a tasty alternative to a turkey. Could also feed a large family for at least a week.

Basically next time I'm at a petting zoo/hanging over a fence making goo goo eyes at sheep (this happens more than you might think)/stroking a cow or marvelling at the cute wondrousness of a little pink porker, I want to be able to stand up tall, look them in the eye, and tell them that I, for one, will never put them in a sandwich.

I could have waited for New Year and added it to my usual list of resolutions (giving up smoking, drugs, going on the rob, arson - I like to have a few I can immediately tick off). But I also know that if I did that it would be the kiss of death to actually DOING it. So instead, I'm making a December 14th resolution. They always work out better.

So it begins. Let's see how I go.



Sunday, 9 December 2012

The horror... the horror...

"Five shots."

"Of what?"

"FIVE SHOTS."

"OF WHAT??"

"As many drinks as possible for a tenner."

"Er. No. You tell me what you want and I'll get it."

"TEN SHOTS."

"OF WHAT?!"

And so it goes on.

To the strains of Merry Christmas Everyone.

There's something sinister about being behind a busy bar, five deep in people, while three staff are off sick. Eyes stare at you constantly, getting increasingly pissed off as they have to wait more than 30 seconds for 19th vodka shot. The drunker they get, the more they stare. As if eyeballing you intently will somehow speed up the process in any way. As if it makes you want to serve them faster.

And the drunker they get, the ruder they get. Obviously not all. We have some delightful customers, many, in fact. But there's always the bad drunks. Obnoxious drunks. Drunks who delight in sending you backwards and forwards by ordering one drink at a time. Drunks that get angry when it turns out they don't have enough money after all and yet expect you to give them the drinks anyway. Drunks that can't handle it when the bar shuts. Drunks that spit on you as they speak. Drunks that are just too drunk to even frame the words of the drink they want.

2am is the optimum time for the drunk men to "Smile, darling" me, which coincidentally is the exact same time I'd like to lay them out with a fist to their sweaty, scrunched up face.

And then when they finally go, we scrape the sweat and the scum from the dancefloor. And clean sick out of the sink with our bare hands. Well, I haven't had that misfortune yet, but an adored colleague has. It made him sad.

Having said all that, I do kind of love it. And it's 1000% more enjoyable and more morally sound than my last job. And, when I'm back from a shift, and had my bath in bleach, it's quite satisfyingly exhausting. I'm sleeping better than I have in months...



The X Factor. Shit, isn't it?

The X Factor. It's a British institution isn't it? Sort of like rising unemployment and pretending to give a shit when there's a royal wedding. Like being all surprised every winter that it gets cold and having a transport system that breaks down when it snows in a different county.

It's been going on for years and years and years. Forever, possibly. It definitely feels like it might be almost forever. And it's given us such treats as Wand Erection, Cher Lloyd, Jedward and Wagner. It's given a platform to so much talent, like, um, well that Leona lass. She was good. And it gave Chezza Cole a job when she really needed one. Oh, and it gives the scum of Britain the chance to sit in the audience and scoff at mentally ill and deluded people. They get to boo and jeer and laugh at people who have very possibly been manipulated into thinking they're very much better than they actually are, purely so they can be ripped apart in front of a baying crowd. It's very British.

The mentors are astounding this year. Nicola Sherzinger seems intent on being the wacky one and has a curious predilection for double entendres. Usually about boy bands who are only just over the age of consent. She also likes to whoop and holler a lot. Louis is the same as he's been since 1902. He tells everyone they're amazing (apart from Christopher Maloney, obviously) and that he "wants them in the final." They can't all be in the final, Louis. Then it would never end would it?

Tulisa, who is a singer from N Dubz, is another mentor. She seems to most closely resemble a whinging chav. It really is the best way to describe her. She's changed a lot, looks wise, since she started last year. They've done a right Chezza Cole makeover on her. She's all hair extensions and big, square teeth, bad dresses and shoes she can't walk in. She looks like she's itching to be back in her velour tracksuit. She also has a face like a slapped arse and seems to hate everything about the show. Which is, actually, fair enough.

And then Gary. Oh Gary. We all used to like you, you know. We thought you were somehow the quiet but dignified one in Take That. When Robbie went all successful, how we felt sorry for you. And then when you came back, suddenly much hotter than you'd ever been, how we rejoiced. And then it turns out that you have absolutely no personality. If I could describe Gary Barlow as a colour, it would be beige. A sort of beigey taupe.

And so to the final. It was tonight. Or at least, half of it was.

It's a very confusing final. Because the three finalists are absolutely terrible. Properly dire. Really REALLY bad.

Jahmene, who looks like he belongs on an evangelist TV channel in the States exhorting people to repent, screeches like an unearthly barn owl. He genuinely can't hit a note. And then they tell him he's amazing. A "young Luther Vandross" if you will, according to Louis. Who I think might be high. He wants to "clean upi the music charts" and show the kids that you don't have to take drugs and be cool to have fun. You can go to church and sing gospel. Yeah, that's going to be a right winner with the single buying public isn't it? Who doesn't want a condescending, oddly voiced, manchild telling them what to do in the form of song? This is Britain. We don't do Christian music.

Christopher is the creepiest motherfucker I've seen on the small screen for a while. He looks like he'd kill you and wear your skin as a suit. He only says three things: "I wanna thank the people for keeping me in", "I'm doing it for me nan" and "I'm the people's choice". On rotation. Over and over and over. His skin is a peculiar shade of orange and his performances can't even be called cheesy. That would be too kind. It's like horrific karaoke by your drunk, embarrassing uncle at a wedding. That everyone just wishes would stop. He's getting booed regularly. And he's in the final. How can someone be in the final and be getting booed? Presumably the kinds of people who go to watch the final are the kinds of people who give a shit enough to vote, so they're booing their own choice? It makes my brain explode.

And then there's James. He has the eyes of a cow in a giant baby's face. And he's from the streets or something. Or he lived in a hostel. Or he didn't get to go to university. Something tragic like that anyway. He wears Deirdre Barlow's glasses and screws his face up as he sings in the oddest way. I think the facial expressions are there to show that he's emoting. Which is good, actually, Jahmene doesn't emote when he sings and Christopher is dead behind the eyes. James "keeps it real" a lot and "makes it his own" by 'freestyling' during very well known songs.

Tonight, the mentors travelled to the home towns of the contestants to greet their fans. Jahmene inexplicably arrived via helicopter at a school where his 'fans' consisted of children too young to even know what day it is, and his church's gospel choir. James roared up in front of a genuinely massive crowd on a motorbike.

And Christopher? Christopher was sent back to Liverpool on the train. Not even first class.
About ten toothless old crones sang his praises outside his nan's house. One of them sang a tuneless dirge in support of Christopher. Another cackled manically. At least three of them looked like they were on day release from the local old peoples' home. Gary turned up later, looking like he would  literally rather be anywhere else. And while Christopher's nan forced fondant fancies on the poor guy, Christopher himself decided to present multi-millionaire Gary Barlow with a shitty frame he'd clearly got from Boots, most likely on 3 for 2, "to put his OBE in". Stunned silence, until Gary graciously accepted. "Ah cheers mate. I hadn't, um, even thought of that." Christopher and his nan are like Roald Dahl characters. Off kilter, slightly sinister and very likely to keep your stuffed corpse on display in their living room.

I kind of hope he wins.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The most wonderful time of the year

Should I get a Christmas tree? Would that help any? Would that magically make me feel part of it all? Should I hang lights all over my house and tinsel and all of the things that I used to love? Not even when I was a child either, I used to love Christmas right into adulthood. Because it meant family, and safety, routine and comfort. I would go home always. Mum would cook dinner. We would eat it, cuddle the dog, open presents. All of that stuff. It was probably as close to the adverts as you can get. Obviously we ignored all the deep rooted issues going on. We ignored and ignored and ignored.

And for that one day, it always felt comforting for me. Even when was a horrific, drug-imbibing, selfish little twat at 16 and I was more concerned with getting shitfaced on Christmas Eve. To the extent that dad greeted me at 3am once with a clout round the ear. I think I would have been around 16. I was at the bottom of the drive at 3am snogging some guy and I heard his shout: "DEBORAH". I was all giddy with vodka and snogging and I figured, it's Christmas, how bad can it be? Well, he twatted me round the ear and, although it did shock me somewhat, I admit I milked it to make him feel guilty. And guilty he did feel. And I was glad. And Christmas Day was comforting and family-like, warm and cosy. I had my parents, even though I was horrendous, they were still there, I had my family home where I felt safe, I had an uneasy truce with my brother because he loves Christmas, I had my Poppy dog and endured my grandparents in honour of the occasion. It was all how it should be.

All through university, drug problems, men problems, endless endless life problems, Christmas was the same. And I loved it. The smell of it, the rituals of it, the gifts my dad chose for me, because he always, always got it right, which made me feel real, like someone really knew me. The feeling of belonging somewhere. I'd start to get excited in November, and I loved all the cheesy shit. The lights going up in town, the shop windows, the planning for Christmas parties, choosing presents. I loved it. Even in the middle of my worst teenage rebellion when I didn't like anything, I liked Christmas.

And so it went on for 23 years. Until it didn't anymore. In my 24th year, a grandfather died, shortly followed by my dad. Several months later Poppy followed. Christmas was with mum in the new family home on the Isle of Wight. They had moved a couple of months before dad died. Suddenly there was no dad. No family home. No ritual. No will to make new ones. We had a toast to my dad at Christmas dinner. Sitting around a table like mannequins. Eating food because it's there. Every now and again feeling shards of griefshock piercing our lungs. At least that's how it seemed to me. An almost horrified wonder at the fact that the world hadn't stopped. That people had the utter gall to celebrate Christmas like NORMAL. Didn't they know what had happened? Didn't they care?

Well. No. They neither knew nor cared. Because it's just normal isn't it? People die every day. Every single day. And the living just get on with it. But it's weird how it changes the world. Nothing is ever the same again, that's true. I've felt like I'm sleepwalking through someone else's life a lot of the time. And at Christmas I feel extra removed, even more on the outside. Like there's a bubble of the Christmas spirit and I can see it but I can't feel it. There's no joy in any of it. And I'm still likely to have to fight back tears while Christmas shopping, especially when I see a daughter with her father.

I'm a lot better than I used to be though. I can take part now in Christmas Day. I spend it with friends these days. My family is all dead, apart from my brother and my mum. And my brother and I no longer speak at all. So I spend it with friends, and it's nice. It's always lovely. It's especially lovely to be part of someone else's family, at least for a day.

And I still like buying presents for people. That's not lost its fun. I like to spend time and energy finding something perfect for them. I still mentally buy my dad gifts every year although I managed, at least, to stop actually buying them a few years ago. That's progress isn't it?

And I know, inside, that there are millions of people who feel like me at Christmas. People who don't have families or rituals or a place. I know I'm not alone, and it's only the media interpretation of Christmas, with the sickly adverts and the constant harping on about family, family, family, that make me feel alone sometimes. But it's not real. It's just tinsel.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Scroobius Pip: I stole his scarf

Let's be honest. I didn't really know what to expect. I only knew of Scroobius Pip through younger, hipper friends and I thought he did music with dan le sac. I mean, he does, so I was right. And also wrong. Because I didn't know he'd started as a spoken word artist and I didn't know that the gig I'd said I'd go to so I could review it was his spoken word tour. That's because I'm a bit lazy and I just read the pertinent words, ie. Scroobius Pip at The Duchess, aka my new place of work, aka my new home from home, aka just across the road.

And then I had a really bad day and decided that no, I wasn't going to go to a club and potentially be bored shitless just so I can review it. I'm going to stay in, drink tea and watch University Challenge.

Then my boss texted and asked me to cover a shift.

So I girded my metaphorical loins and thought I'd just dig in and endure it. It probably wouldn't be that bad, would it? It's just that... well... spoken word stuff is just so cringe inducing isn't it? If it's not stand up comedy and it's not music, then it's just someone reading out the words they wrote in just their voice. It's so naked and exposed. So much room for error. It's performance art. Words that I try never to utter and certainly try not to be in the same room as. I really don't like awkward performing on stage. When words hit dead air and disappear into a vacuum of blank indifference, it's terrifying.

A Brummie guy came on stage. He started talking. I think he opened with a joke and I felt comfortable. Stand up comedy I know. Stand up comedy is fine. And then he started talking in rhyme, sort of like rapping but not. And I was immediately uncomfortable. But as he went on, he got me interested. So much so that I felt irritated when people asked for a drink. Although that's not massively unusual for me I suppose.

Then a girl called Kate Tempest came on. And she started reciting (reading, speaking, rapping, I honestly don't know what to call it) more rhymes (poems, verses, flows??). And they started riffing off each other. And it was good. I can't even say why in retrospect. But the words, and their passion and their energy and their drive made it something good. The only time Polarbear lost me was when he was talking about his city and how much he loves it. And that's only because I also grew up near Birmingham and don't have that love. But maybe that's because I'm from a leafy suburb near Solihull and not the streets. I'm just not urban.

One interval later and Pip himself came on stage. He'd been loitering by the merchandising stall so I'd seen him earlier. A tall guy with a huge beard and dapper dress sense. And, as it turns out, a really really Essex accent. I hadn't expected that.

He started with a story about how he can't go to his local pubs on account of the massive racism that's rife in the area and the fact that locals assume he's a Muslim terrorist because of his beard. He, rather gorgeously, explained how he couldn't then dissuade them as it would add grist to the fantasy mill of 'us' and 'them' so generally just goes with it and then leaves quickly.

Then the poems started. Death, suicide, grief, regret and unrequited love featured heavily. The unrequited love one was the lighthearted effort, he explained. I started to love him a little bit. Mesmerising performance, a totally unpretentious delivery, and words that cut through to how life is. My tiny mind was actually blown.

I love words, music, lyrics, stories, books, novels, non-fiction, anything that makes me feel. That simplifies all the banal shit we deal with in a lifetime of human experience and cuts to the core. I listened to this guy talking on stage for an hour and bits of it were actually sublime. It woke my brain up. Made me feel alive.

It even transcended my irritation with that guy in the audience. You know that guy? The one who laughs in 'recognition' before the punchline? The one who so wants to be seen as the artist's biggest fan that they alternately heckle with embarrassing sycophancy or cackle with a laugh that can be heard in the next city? Well, that guy was there. He reminded me of that guy in the audience of every performance of a Shakespeare comedy who ostentatiously guffaws at the 'jokes' to show he understands them, despite the fact that they're a) really easy to understand but just not funny and b) no one has genuinely laughed at them since Elizabethan times.

After the show Pip showed himself to be absolutely lovely and indulged in a fair amount of banal chit chat while we cleaned up the inevitable detritus that follows any gig ever.

He won me over. To his words. And to spoken word. A whole genre I previously dismissed, all because I wouldn't have the guts to do it myself and risk the indifference of the audience.

Shitballs. I picked up a scarf from backstage with the honest intention of returning it to the artists. I missed them and then absent mindedly put it on. It's in my house. I just had a text from my boss pointing out it is actually Mr Pip's and he'd kind of like it back.

Oops.




Monday, 3 December 2012

I've never felt more British...

... than when, upon receiving the happy news via Facebook (where else?), I immediately (and totally against my wil), started thinking about Wills spaffing away into our Kate, even though she's but a commoner, and them making a baby machine. 

It's a hard thing to do and no doubt needs the country to posture in plastic patriotism once more. It's ages since the 'lympics after all, we've got to do something with all the leftover union flag branded shite haven't we? 

So there we have it. And just in time. News of Katie's 'makeover haircut' - a way more pathetic attempt at a fringe than my first, second AND third tries -  wasn't cutting the mustard enough to distract the masses from impending doom, gloom and Leveson. We needed a baby. As a nation, we needed a baby to carry on the line of Saxe-Coburgs. Um. Windsors. 

Poor ol' katenwills. Probably been banging away ever since the wedding in a desperate quest to make a new one. Probably had officials measuring her ovulation and chucking them together at the right moment. At least it's got half a chance of a decent hairline with some fresh genes into the mix. I mean, look what adding some ginger genes in did for Harry.

Mind you, they've been together forever by now, and married over a year. Maybe it isn't his. Maybe he couldn't do it. Maybe she didn't want him to do it. Maybe it is my dream, and it's like the Tudor court all over again, with intrigue and plots and babies being smuggled in in bed pans. Maybe it's HARRY'S. Maybe that was the only way we could ever get a king without a receding hairline and huge ears? When did Wills turn into Charles anyway? I seem to recall he was quite dapper in his youth. And he's only about 30 now. 

Of course it won't be a plot. It'll be a nice, boring, brown haired baby that they will call Diana and it will grow up in uber privilege and become accustomed to profligate spending and an unshakable superiority complex. If we're lucky it'll get a drug habit and an interesting boyfriend at some point, but more likely it'll play polo and wear bad dresses. 

I heard the happy news when my friend told me that someone she knew had liked Harry's status on Facebook. Harry has a page said I? And went to investigate. And he does. He actually has a page. Obviously he doesn't run it. We know this because it has respectful pictures posted of various royals doing tedious things. You know, the Queen standing. Kate standing. Wills, erm, standing. That kind of affair. And if it was Harry's, it would most definitely be written in textspeak banging on about who he and his chums were doing at various parties. And there would be far more pictures of him in inappropriate dictator-based fancy dress costumes. 

The comments are hilarious; mostly of the ultra patriotic but with that weird fake chumminess some Brits do. All 'well done Wills, we're so proud of you Kate', as if they're people who they've met and spoken to and who would spit on them if they were on fire. 

It's not that I think Wills, Harry et al are evil. Or that I wish any harm comes to them. Of course I don't. But they have no place in our times, not as the monarchy and not as people I have to care about simply because they successfully bonked without contraception. 





Saturday, 1 December 2012

Covered in sticky stuff

When I was 17 I used to go out in Birmingham on a Friday and Saturday night. And I'm pretty certain that back then, way back then, in 1993, drinks weren't as cheap as they are in my new place of work.

You can get a vodka mixer for £1. ONE POUND. And on Thursday and Saturday nights you get a free shot with that vodka mixer. So that's 50p a drink. Mental. Also the reason that at the end of a shift, as I discovered tonight, you can find the staff sluicing vomit out of the toilets. In fact, by the sounds of it, if it's only in the toilets then it's a good night.

It's been a long time since I was a hard drinker. But, man, I haven't seen people drink like this in years. It's borderline terrifying. And they just don't stop. On and on until they can't even get their drunken, saliva sodden lips around the words: "Vodka and lemonade."

And the anger and sheer disbelief when the bar shuts at 2.30am is tres amusing. Not so amusing is that, during after shift drinks, while discussing piercings, we realised that the last piercing I had (in 1993 - my nose, since you ask) was in the same year that one of my new colleagues was born. I could literally be her mother.

I'm not sure how I keep ending up behind a bar, but it does feel like my natural home in many ways. And so much more honest than many jobs I've had. People come in. People give me a pound. I give them booze. That's it. No power games. No politics. No trying to please people who just won't ever be pleased.

True, it's 5am and I don't see sleep happening any time soon. And I was slightly worried about walking home as a group of disgruntled, and very drunks, assholes spent a good 15 minutes trying to kick the door in after we closed. I'm covered in that unnamed sticky film that just happens when working in any kind of a bar or club. It's not just booze. It's like you soak in all the noxious gases emanating from people by osmosis. It feels like it'd be quite nice to soak in a bath of bleach right now.

There just seems to be a pattern emerging here, maybe dark and dingy clubs and pubs are my natural habitat. And now that I'm too old to get as wasted as perhaps I used to, maybe working in them is what's always going to happen. I'll most likely end up at 60 years old serving shots to embryos.

Still, it's at least 5,000 times more enjoyable than my last job.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

I luv life

The most annoying, trite, twatty thing men say on a dating site. Well, one of the most annoying trite, twatty things men say. See also those who specify - actually specify - that they want someone without "any emotional baggage". These are men in their thirties. Surely, if they were ever unfortunate enough to meet a girl with no "emotional baggage" she'd be a vegetable? Or a corpse? Perhaps in a coma? Maybe that's it. Maybe these men would rather go out with a corpse vegetable in a coma than deal with the fact that she may have had emotional reactions to situations in the past.  

Also, maybe the ones who say they are happy with everything and "don't see the point in being upset about anything" would rather go out with a mannequin. Ideally one without any opinions. As an intelligent, cognisant human being, it's not possible to never be upset about anything ever unless you are a psychopath. Or made of jelly. Or are void of all human emotion. Or you're Spock. 

And even he had to master his emotions. 

This is all that is wrong with internet dating in a nutshell. It allows people to create such an elaborate fantasy of the person they want to go out with that they actually demand qualities that are inhuman. And it must be some kind of commentary on the way we live now that it all seems geared to demanding women who say less, think less, emote less and weigh less. 

You should see some of the sights on these sites. Some of the men. Oh good lord. GOOD lord. Let's just say my definition of "athletic and toned" and "attractive" don't match theirs. They can look like Shrek with man boobs but still have absolutely no qualms in stating that they are specifically looking for a lady who is "very attractive", "slim or athletic" and weighs no more than 8.5 stone. Yep, there is a weight category. And OK, so I'm verrrrry sensitive about my weight, it's true. But when a man who looks obese in his profile shots specifies that he will only consider a woman between 7 and 8 stone it makes me angry on many levels. 

I saw one the other day that said he would accept a date from a woman up to 6ft 2 inches in height but her maximum weight had to be no more than 9 stone. 

Obviously I don't know what kind of fantasies women spin on these sites, apart from my own. Which appears to be searching for someone akin to Rochester from Jane Eyre crossed with Lord Byron and Jim Morrison. 

Having glanced accidentally in the mirror at art class and nearly jumping in disgust at my haggard, sick and, frankly, ugly appearance, I guess I'm just as guilty as everyone else. 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

"Looking for a home for my cat...

"... One year, three months old. Very affectionate and friendly."

This is the first advert I saw on Gumtree while searching for a really reputable looking pimp to hire me just now.

What is wrong with this picture? I'll tell you what's fucking wrong with this picture. There is no excuse in the fucking world to try and get rid of the pet you can no longer be arsed to look after on fucking Gumtree. The cat is not a commodity. It is not something that you can pick up and put down. I don't see any listings for children on there? "Looking for a new home for little Jeremiah. He's house trained and micro chipped. Very affectionate." That, I can almost understand.

Let's leave aside, for a moment, the issue I have with people who take on pets only to dump them when they realise that actually, it's quite expensive, and a bit of a pain in the ass and you have to, you know, give a shit about this animal that YOU undertook to look after. Somebody that I used to know adopted a cat and then fucked off to another country. "But, what about your cat?" I said. "Oh," he said. "They kind of just come with the house don't they?"

No. No they fucking DON'T. Cats that were family pets don't just magically "look after themselves" the instant people can't be bothered.

Here's my second issue. If you have to get rid of your pet for whatever reason - perhaps your new partner is allergic or thinks animals are dirty - don't then take a photo of your pet and put it up on a fucking website for any psycho to take heed of.

What you could do, actually, is take your pet to one of the many, MANY animal charities (Cats Protection, RSPCA, local shelters, Blue Cross, PDSA. There are literally hundreds) who will take your bundle of fur from you with no questions, no charges and no blame. Here the poor abandoned furry thing will be looked after and you (assuming you give any kind of a shit at all) will have the peace of mind that any home they go to will be vetted and its new owners checked out.

If you can't even face that, perhaps because it makes you look like the uncaring douchefuck you are, then leave kitty outside one of those places and the staff will look after her.

I emailed the Gumtree prick and suggested that perhaps it would be kinder to take their beloved pet to an animal rescue charity, rather than just taking some cash off whatever dickhead rocks up after seeing the advert.

Judging by the age of the cat these assholes are trying to palm off like an old pair of shoes, I'd guess that they got her as a fluffy kitten and then got bored with her as she got older and just went about doing her cat thing. Cats are discerning pets. And they don't just dole out affection on tap like some kind of blow up animal doll. If you get a cat purely because YOU want affection, rather than you want to make sure the animal has a nice life, then you're a douche.

I really hope this kitteh ends up with someone better than her first family. Someone who perhaps will stick with her until, oh, I dunno, the end of her life?

I hate people.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

I hate Tolkien

Over the years it seems Tolkien had to defend his writing against those who said the interminable Lord of the Rings was an allegory for anything from World War II to Catholicism. Which it clearly is, by the way. The religious bit rather than the war bit. He had his own horrendous experiences during the Great War before inflicting it on an unsuspecting world. He actually served at the Somme before being rather marvellously invalided out and spending the rest of it holed up in Blighty writing endless shite about elves. Or orcs. Or whatever they're called.

Apparently he never expected his work to become popular. I can see why. It's not a popular position to take clearly, as The Lord of the Rings trilogy has been voted Britain's favouritist ever ever book a couple of times now. It topped a poll of the nation's favourite book. This boggles my mind. Not that people like it at all - I get that other people have different opinions to me (I mean, they're wrong, obviously, but they are allowed to have their opinion) but for so MANY to cite it as their favourite book leads me to believe that most of those polled haven't actually read it but have some vague idea that it's intellectual-ish yet still sort of cool because all forms of nerdery are in.

Tolkein is hailed as the grandfather of the fantasy genre. Yep. He started it. And his first effort - The Hobbit - was discovered by accident by a publisher who decided to give it a whirl. Next thing you know people are gagging for stories about dragons, rings and hairy-footed midgets.

He's one of those writers who insists you become utterly immersed in the world he spent 10 years creating. You can't casually read Tolkien. You have to concentrate. You have to try and remember all the interlinking and back stories and details. And more than that, you have to care. All well and good if it wasn't so fucking boring.

I first came across Tolkien at school. I was 10. Our teacher used to read The Hobbit to us every week after swimming. I have next to no memories of school or my childhood but I remember the desperate boredom of these sessions in detail. I remember trying to stay awake while a cacophony of bewilderingly dull characters with ridiculous names bimbled around for aeons.

Many years later and being dragged to the cinema by my ex to watch the final Lord of the Rings film brought all those feelings rushing back. Three times I got up under the mistaken belief that it must have ended by now, only to realise that there was yet another scene of hobbits clinking tankers in fucking Hobbiton to endure.

And now they are making three more films of The Hobbit. Why only three? Why not split it into 12? 20? Squeeze 50 episodes out of it? Why not have it going on for fucking EVER?

I'm reading Titus Groan at the moment. Again. If you want a fantasy world that'll immerse you and won't treat you like a rather boring child, then you should read Mervyn Peake. What wouldn't I give to have someone somewhere put the money, time and effort into making films worthy of the world he created? Never going to happen is it? Not while the massive franchises crash on. And on. And on. And on.



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Stop. Grammar time.

For someone as perennially single as me, you'd think I can't afford to be picky, right? At my advanced age I should just take whatever's on offer. Beggars can't be choosers and all of that. Wrong. This beggar is well fussy.

Back in the day, I couldn't measure potential mates on the basis of their ability to distinguish between your and you're or their propensity to call me 'hun' or say LOL. These things didn't exist. Life was so much easier then. I met my long long long term ex at a train station. I offered him a cigarette. The rest, as they say, is history. I didn't get the chance to measure his grammatical prowess. Although he was reading L'Etranger, which was intriguing and sexy and made me think that he would never call me 'hun'. And, to be fair, he didn't. Although I never did see him pick up another Camus during the next eight years.

I don't mind friends calling me 'hun', I should add, although I do find it odd. If it was the short form of honey, it would be 'hon'. So why hun? It just always makes me think of World War 1 and their helmets. I can't help it. I seem to recall my iPhone used to think that too and would autocap it. Because so many people need to send urgent text messages discussing the Hun on a daily basis, natch.

Obviously this comes up a lot more with online dating, emails, texts and IM. I can be having some amusing and potentially charming banter with a fellow who looks pretty fit and then he'll do it. He'll drop the 'h' bomb. And follow it up with a LOL or two. And, before I know it, I've gone from wondering what he'd be like in bed to wondering what it'd be like to punch him in the face with a dictionary.

I mean, what's wrong with me? Since when did the misuse of apostrophes rule someone out as a nice, fun, sexy, kind person? But it's just annoying. Because it's lazy. It's not difficult to learn a simple rule, such as your/you're. It really isn't. It's just as easy to type 'ha ha' as LOL. Substituting 'z' for 's' randomly - why? Even if he's got a Doctorate from Oxford, the minute he types LOL he's instantly relegated in my mind to a lazy, fatuous oik who has probably never really read a book.

The overuse of exclamation marks and question marks also puts a dampener on my libido. There's just no need.

And then if I ever make it to a date or even, gasp, a second date, the need to be cuddling up to me and the wish to sleep in my bed puts the kibosh on the whole thing right there and then. I don't like sharing my bed. With anyone. Not my best friends, not drunk people who really need somewhere to sleep, not boys. I just. Don't. Like. It.

Helena Bonham-Carter and Tim Burton have separate bedrooms in adjoining houses. THAT'S what I'm looking for. I have no wish to be woken up with that poking into the small of my back every morning. I don't like morning sex until every party involved has brushed their teeth and, ideally, had a shower. And given me approx three hours of 'alone' time in which to wake up properly.

I don't like going to sleep in a tangle of sweaty limbs, no matter how good it was. Because as soon as the post-coital glow has gone I don't want to be touched and pawed at. I don't want to be squeezed and groped. A nice cuddle, a quick cigarette and then separate beds for a restful, luxurious, stretch filled kip.

So, in short, I'm looking for someone who knows the difference between there and their, never calls me 'hun' and if he absolutely feels he has to, at least spells it 'hon', and would be happy never to sleep in the same bed as me.

Easy.


Friday, 16 November 2012

When does it start feeling like Christmas?

You know on the ever-changing Facebook where they target adverts at you and helpfully give you more and more suggested pages to 'like'? It's shit isn't it? It's annoying, irritating and, frankly, insulting sometimes. I've had a few suggestions to like something called christiandating.com. I just feel like Facebook doesn't really listen to me, you know? I thought we had something special. I talk and I talk and I talk and I thought Facebook understood me.

Yesterday there was some link to Sainsbury's. I think it was Sainsbury's. Some bloody supermarket anyway. I can't actually imagine why anyone would bother 'liking' a Sainsbury's page. How much can you like Sainsbury's anyway? Presumably it's for the chance to get 10p off something at some point. I personally don't like brands befriending me. It's weird. It upsets the balance of them working hard and constantly to find new and better ways to rip me off. I don't want them to then pretend to be my friend. It's icky.

This Sainsbury's link had a poll. The question was: When does it start feeling like Christmas? There were a few options. I can't remember what they were. But there were also a lot of comments, so, being the unemployed timewaster I so clearly am, I had a wee look down them.

Almost overwhelmingly there were various iterations of: "It feels like Christmas to me when I see the Coca Cola lorry advert." Often accompanied by LOL or some kind of emoticon. I hate emoticons. And I hate internetspeak unless it's coming from the point of view of a LOLcat. I just don't get it. It makes me cringe. Especially now that it's morphed so there's actually 'in joke' versions to show other geeks that you don't actually speak like this and your aware of its utter shitness but you're one step ahead of everyone else. Things like roflcopter. I don't even get it. I don't want to get it. Use words. With letters.




Back to the Coca Cola lorry advert. I mean what in the living fuck are these people on about? It doesn't feel like Christmas until I see a fucking advert for Coca COLA? That's Coca Cola, sponsors of the Berlin (more commonly known as the Nazi) Olympics in 1936? Coca Cola who have had to pay out at least $200 million to victims of human rights abuse in Colombia, for which it was liable? Coca Cola who have been held responsible for at least 179 human rights violations and nine murders? Coca Cola who are systematically bleeding wells dry in the Third World? Coca Cola who use over 290 billion litres of water every year to make their shitty drink, which they plunder from countries where people are dying every single day from starvation and thirst? That Coca Cola? I guess nothing says "Let's celebrate the birth of a mythical figure" like feeling some kind of weird, manipulated emotional connection to a brand that wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire?

But just because their advertising is amazeballs and they, by the way, invented Father Christmas. I know this because we are told ad nauseam. Until the '30s Father Christmas in his red hat and obese
body didn't exist. It was more about St Nicholas and rather nice European folk tales before then. But fuck that shit. We don't want tales of satsumas in stockings and home made presents. We want sticky drinks of dubious origin. We want shiny things. We want decorations. We want to spend MONEY.

And now Coca Cola don't even have to use some kind of friendly face in their advertising. They have managed to get people hooked on a false feeling of nostalgia and excitement (for what they're not quite sure but they definitely want to spend a LOT of money. And quite fancy a coke actually, come to think of it...) at the sight of a lorry. A fucking delivery lorry. With Coca Cola in it. A lorry that says Happy Holidays. Which, by the way, up until about five years ago, wouldn't even have meant anything to anyone in this country, used, as we were, to crazy phrases like Merry Christmas.

If you must "feel like Christmas" how about conjuring up some goodwill based on something a bit less shit, eh? I have no idea what Christmas is meant to "feel like" by the way. Seems to me it's a cynical manipulation and exploitation of everyone's entirely natural general sense of nostalgia and  the promise of filling that gaping black maw of despair you've carefully buried under layers of consumables and tinsel for so long now.

Still, I really really fancy a diet Coke right now.



Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The answer to all my problems?

I don't make any secret of the fact that I'm on a dating site. I don't find it especially embarrassing or strange. I met my ex-boyfriend online. And I quickly discovered that, much like buying clothes over the interwebs, you only realise the flaws when it arrives at your home and is unwrapped. Then you may well find that the material is cheap and it doesn't actually fit. Sadly, there are no refunds but you can always throw them away.

I signed up again when I moved to York as I thought it would be an excellent way to widen my pool of friends, if nothing else. And, yes, I am still the type who has a tiny thought in the back of my mind that one day my (dark, sexy, brooding, hilarious) prince will come and take me away from all of this. Yes, I still have a small flicker of the fantasy, even though real life boys and relationships have firmly shown me over and over again THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN and the most you can hope for is someone who will refrain from sticking his nether regions in other women's lady parts either "by accident" or because "I was drunk, it doesn't count" or "you're not a size 8".

Disappointingly I haven't met anyone from the site who I would like to do the beast with two backs with. Or even a tiny beast with a half hearted hump.

I have been emailed by quite a few promisingly good looking types who then turn out to be only "sort of single", "on a break", illiterate or just plain mental.  These days it's become more of a website to check out of morbid fascination. The emails I get range from the bizarre to the offensive, with some normal-ish ones in between.

Just yesterday, in fact, I got an email from a 57 year old man that simply said: "Are you horny?"

These kinds of emails actually make me throw up a little in my mouth. Obviously these men are mailshotting lots of ladies in the hope that one, poor, sad, desperate one will presumably say: "Why, yes, old, ugly man. I am horny. Would you like to have some kind of sexual conversation over Skype? Excellent."

I like to think they just randomly select women to send these kinds of mails to, and that it isn't anything in my profile that's just crying out for a letchy old fucker to send me disgusting emails.

Also yesterday, I also had a text from a guy that I was talking to a while back, as it had become apparent that, although very good looking, he was in fact semi-literate, thick as pigshit and arrogant as fuck. A winning combination. I stopped texting him probably around three months ago, after I became bored with trying to figure out his textspeak missives. But suddenly, out of the blue: "Still wanna. mt. Hudd-fld,"

I think Ben from Huddersfield was under the mistaken belief that I have been crouched desperately by my phone for the last two months just waiting for that moment where he would ask me to come to Huddersfield. I also think that he's now pretty clear that wasn't, in fact, the case.

And then, while at art class, I had another mail. It was from Leedsguy761. It simply said: "I run an escort agency in Leeds. You would make £150 an hour. Interested?"

Hmmm.



Sunday, 11 November 2012

All we can do is adapt while we're still here...

We watched a lot of shit TV tonight. I made my mum watch The X Factor. I'm pretty depressed and it seemed to be the right kind of thing to suit my mood. But it was too much, even for me. In fact, I think it may have snapped me out of the depths of my absolute despair by giving me the realisation that, shit as things undoubtedly are, my life is too good and too short to spend it watching various eye-bleedingly boring children churn out ear-bleedingly awful covers of superior artist's songs. A guy with the eyes of a cow, the teeth of a tramp and the musical interpretation of an accordionist did something terrible to an Adele track. And I snapped.

I gave my mum the remote and told her to go for her life. This is usually dangerous territory as it ends up with endless episodes of something called The Mentalist. Which isn't nearly as amusing as I thought it was going to be.

And we came across a film. "It's set in Glasgow or something," said ma. I saw it's called Perfect Sense. And then I saw it has Ewan McGregor in it. Sold. This is what we shall watch. I'd watch bleeding anything with him in it. Even a really tediously self indulgent series about him riding round the world with his posho chum.

Perfect Sense is a slow burning pre-apocalyptic film. And it blew my mind. It came out in 2011, the same year as Melancholia, another beautifully shot pre-apocalyptic film. These are far more terrifying than post-apocalyptic. The gathering sense of doom and dread escalates until it's almost unbearable in both films. And I've had a look at the reviews and they are similar: split between people who think the films are boring and that 'nothing happens' and people who have their minds blown apart and feel like they've genuinely watched something profound.

No prizes for guessing which way I went.

It's at its core a love story. Ewan McGregor is a chef, Eva Green is a scientist. They meet. They shag. You see Eva's tits. Eventually they start to fall in love. And while they do, a weird epidemic starts spreading around the world. A profound and intense period of grief and depression, accompanied by much wailing and gnashing of teeth, is followed by the loss of the sense of smell.

So what? I thought. That's actually not that bad. I imagined living without a sense of smell. It would be annoying, but it would be OK. I know people like that already. People adapt quickly and move on.

We follow the entire story through the eyes of Ewan and Eva, accompanied by her rather Bladerunner-esque voiceovers.

Next to go is taste, just after another intense emotional outpouring.

People adapt and move on. The relationship intensifies. As long as people have each other, there is no real cause for alarm. People go back to work. Ewan's restaurant starts to devise different kinds of dishes, based on looks and texture, rather than taste.

Weeks pass. Life, as someone keeps cropping up and saying, goes on.

As with Melancholia, where you already know the world is going to end and spend the film in almost unbearable anticipation of the moment when it happens, you can see clearly what will happen in Perfect Sense. You begin ticking senses off on your fingers. And waiting.

Next is hearing. And when the characters go deaf, you go deaf. There is complete silence for many minutes as you watch the characters desperately start to adapt to even this. After this you never hear a character speak. There is just the rather beautiful soundtrack and occasional voiceovers. Just before the deafness came intense anger, leading Ewan to be pretty beastly to Eva, leaving our lovers estranged.

And just before the sense of sight goes, an intense period of happiness floods everyone, along with the wish to reconnect with loved ones. The film's final scene is Ewan and Eva finding each other again, just as their sight fades to black. Wisely the story stops there, leaving your agitated and affected mind imagining the chaos that would ensue, with everyone in the world profoundly deaf, blind, mute, scrambling around for food, trying to adapt.

The last sense to go will be touch.

I'm glad the film stopped where it did as I'm not sure I could have handled that, outside of vague pictures in my mind.

In the same way as Melancholia it leaves loads of intense and mixed feelings, about the nature of humanity, about the adaptability of our species, about the instinct to survive and, ultimately, how we have no control over our destiny. All we can do is adapt while we're still here.


Saturday, 10 November 2012

"Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow"

"I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love."

Mitt Romney ladies and gentlemen.

The man who looked, for a few scary days, very much like he could have been President of what is still the most powerful nation on earth.

Mitt is, let's face it, an unmitigated twat. He's in favour of renewable energy as long as it doesn't cost anything; he wanted to give employers the power to decide whether female employees can get free contraceptives on their health insurance; he emotionally declared that he had seen Martin Luther King Jr marching with his father George Romney. He was later forced to admit that, in fact, he hadn't. He had meant it 'figuratively'. After he looked up 'figuratively' in a dictionary.

He wanted mosques to be wiretapped and foreign students to be placed under surveillance to improve domestic intelligence. Yes, really. He opposed Obama's first bill as President in 2008 --
that of equal pay for women. Romney hates pornography but is a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association with the fiery passion of a crazy religious right wing fucknugget.

He hates unions. He hates porn. He hates women. He supported 'abstinence' education. This is where children get no sex education apart from being told not to do it. Yeah, that works Mitt. That's an excellent idea.

He vociferously opposed any new gun measures and made it clear that, should he be elected, he wouldn't change a thing as it might annoy lawful gun owners. He wanted to build a fence along the entire 2,600 mile border between Mexico and the US, equipped with armed guards and enough technology to electrocute those motherfuckers.

My whole life there have been morons in the White House. The earliest I remember was Reagan and then Bush Snr, Bush Jnr... growing up I thought that it was the law that American Presidents had to be half wits. Whenever Hollywood created a President, he was intelligent, erudite, stylish, fair minded, liberal... and yet reality gave us various incarnations of the moronic Bush family.

I genuinely never expected a President like Obama to ever be elected. He's intelligent, erudite, stylish, fair minded, liberal. He's pro-choice, supports same sex marriage, wants to strengthen social security and education, end the war in Iraq, finish the campaign in Afghanistan and stop Iran going mental with nuclear armaments. He's not a religious nutter. He can kill flies like a ninja and can do all of the potentially embarrassing President things while still seeming cool. He is way more than America deserves. And he's kind of hot.

And I know that a) I have about as much political understanding as Fatman and b) I'm not American but it is important to me and I did a little jig of joy when I heard Obama was in for another four years.


Obviously, any political stance is emotive and difficult to intelligently argue, because everyone thinks they're right. The crazy ass right wingers who really, truly thought Romney would be their next President no doubt think they're completely right in hating poor people and not wanting everyone to have equal rights. 

But here's the thing. They're not. They're utterly wrong. There is no justification for pro-life, misogynistic policies, no justification for treating immigrants like shit, no justification in being openly racist and no justification in backtracking, lying and agreeing with whoever is nearest to you at any given moment. There's no justification behind assuming people who earn $250,000 are of 'middle income' and proudly declaring you're "not going to bother" with anyone poorer than that. There is no justification in being such an out of touch, bigoted old fool and expect to run America. Although I suppose, in his defence, he'd seen many of a similar ilk end up in the White House. 

Thank fuck that, despite a late push in the media for Romney, just enough Americans realised his utter fuckwittage in time and voted for the best hope they have. And let's face it, whatever Obama can or cannot achieve (while being blocked by the Republican knobrots in the Senate) he is a man who will never ever say anything as inane as this: 


"I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said. Whatever it was."

Bye bye Mitt. It's been no pleasure whatsoever.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Straddling past and present..

I only put the word straddling into my title so I could put it in the keywords and hence get a lot more hits on the offchance that it's a blog full of porn. That's an actual true fact. I need a boost.

Anyway, I've had a right shitty couple of months of it. A rancid crapfest of bad luck trickling through my life, gathering pace until it a veritable flood of excrement seems to be forever lapping at my feet. Wading through it is increasingly fraught with moments of actual full on nihilism and the need to just lie down until it stops. The utter pointlessness of any kind of endeavour haunts my consciousness like the aftermath of a bad trip.

And then something nice happens. Like I speak to a friend, a real friend, on the phone. Or I make some new ones. Or I'm asked whether I'd like to work from the One&Other office, which is almost entirely staffed with lovely people. Almost.

Forming bonds with new people is hard. And it's even harder when you're at a low ebb. This year has been freaking weird. I made a move that I never thought I would make. Moving away from my safe but dull haven. If anyone asked me whether it would be a good idea to take a punt on a job and move their life across country to a place where they know no one at all, I would probably say no. It's not a good idea. Particularly if you're single, 36, neurotic and, um, complicated. It's hard. It's lonely. And there will be many, many times when it seems the worst idea you've ever had.

I struggle to remember why I was so keen to leave Leamington. I have a terrible way of romanticising the past. It's part of the reason why I cling on so hard. To bad relationships. To friends who talk a lot but don't actually follow through. To boys who are just awful. To things that have happened in the past and hurt me, and I just cannot, cannot, shake off.

So I spend a lot of time living in the past, wishing I was back somewhere else. When actually, of course, it wasn't that ace in the first place. If I was having the best time ever in Leamington, I wouldn't have moved heaven and earth to leave. I wouldn't have taken a chance on a job that turned out to be rather more than a disappointment. I wouldn't have found myself where I am. In York. Living in a beautiful flat that could be taken away from me at any time. Alone but starting to make friends. Unemployed but hopefully not for long.

Half a step in the past and half a step trying to push forward to a better future.










Thursday, 25 October 2012

Thinner, lighter, faster...

... are all the things I will be. One day. But for now, they're all the things the iPhone 5 already is.

As usual, Apple fanboys and girls were whipped into a frenzy of anticipation before launch, culminating in an all night orgy of, um, queuing to get their sticky fingers on the iPhone 5. At £550 for the one with the crappest storage, it ain't cheap. But is it worth it? And more importantly, what cool shit can you buy to go with it? Let's ask Siri. Actually, let's not. Because Siri is still a bit crap.

Never mind. The phone looks ace and is altogether more sartorially pleasing than any iteration so far. It's all aluminium and thin and tall. It's got a bigger screen and is dead fast. Changes include a back made of Gorilla Glass so you can drop it when drunk and some really annoying things too. For instance, Apple have got rid of that weirdy 30-pin connector that all their products have had since time immemorial. It's been replaced by something called a Lightning Port, which means if you want to use one of the 9,372 other Apple chargers you already have lying around your house, you'll have to fork out £25 for an adaptor. Hmmm.

And, perfection lovers, the shiny new phone back is easily chipped and dented. Which brings me on to the point of my post. Yep. It's time to look at some of the accessories available so you can get yourself a nice protective case or 12. So let's go. My top five things you should almost definitely buy.

Rich fashionista's choice: CalypsoCase Rainbow -  limited edition leather cases in black, red and silver designed by Lara Bohinc from calypsocrystal.com. And they're a snip at £120. Oh come on, you just paid nearly £600 or a phone, at least splash out to equip it in the manner to which it is accustomed. Cheapskate.


Practical and tough: Cyngett UrbanShield case for £25 at uk.cygnett.com. Looks cool and perfect for your business-like 'grrr' days.

Pure aceness: Breffo Spiderpodium. I love this. It's like a spider. A colourful, bendy spider. It's a stand and holder and if you get bored of using it for the iPhone you can just scoop things up with it. Endless fun for £15 from breffo.com.

It's not fashion but you'll need it: Lightning to 30 pin adaptor. If you were concentrating above, you'll see that you'll need at least one of these bad boys. It's £25 from apple.com. Where else?

Best thing ever: Griffin Kazoo for iPhone 5 case in Monkey, Elephant, Tiger or, um, Koala? Seriously. These are possibly the best things I've ever seen. And they even have compatible apps so you can customise your phone's background to your case.  £20 from griffintechnology.com
There's a tonne more out there so make sure you check out all the fancy sites where you can customise your own design and, apparently, get a case to match every outfit. Or you could go here Whatever It Takes and find a case designed by your fave rapper, soulster or rocker and know that some of your easily squandered cash will go to charity.

Just make sure you buy plenty of cases. You're most likely stuck with that phone for at least two years...



Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Enough with the shit...

I'd like to share something that isn't negative, cynical or sarcastic. That isn't tainted with disappointment, nihilism and ennui.

No, really, I would.

It's true that fortune has been projectile vomiting on my eiderdown recently - although, as people keep reminding me, you never know what's going to happen. Which is very true. These last few months could, indeed, be the making of me. Although winning the lottery, falling in love with a non-douchebag and not seeing someone who once put their tongue in my mouth on Embarrassing Bodies having major dental work on their rotten teeth and blackened gums, would also be the making of me. Just in case the sprites of fate, justice and karma feel like listening at any point between now and my inevitable demise.

So, onto the good stuff. Although I have to digress just very slightly. Tonight, while in the throes of my first ever kidney infection (I do love firsts) I remembered that I haven't yet watched any of this season of Made In Chelsea. It hasn't disappointed. Spencer Matthews is more hirsute and flabby than ever, while attempting to play the alpha male - even though all of the rest of the cast, including his doormat girlfriend just cannot stop laughing at his greasy oikishness - and it just always fills me with joy to watch Ollie, Binky and Cheska cavort around, orange of face and facile of tongue.

There was a whole scene with dialogue like: "Oh yah. Prada is, like, classic." "Yah, black. You can't go wrong with black. It's, like, a really good colour." "Yahhhhh, black. Yahhh."
It was amazing. A-maz-ing.

So yes. The good stuff.

It's my flat. I love, love, LOVE my new flat. I adore it. It has wooden floors and an exposed brick wall, beams everywhere, five huge sash windows in a row giving this ever changing view of a main thoroughfare of York. It's at the bottom of The Shambles and all human life can be glimpsed at different times of the day.

The church opposite attracts tramps, students, drunks and hipsters alike. Not to worship at it. That would be weird. No, they come from far and wide to loll around outside it on the grassy bit, smoking fags and eating Gregg's pastries. At night there are the ghost walks, complete with tolling bells, the screaming of drunkards, the nightly cry of "Yummy Chicken!" as some very drunk person discovers, to their everlasting joy and relief, that they can get a greasy chicken kebab from my downstairs neighbours

In short, it's a little slice of perfection in an imperfect world.




Sunday, 21 October 2012

Like a punch in the gut...

As I've recently moved, and subsequent events have taken up a lot of my time, I'm only now getting round to sorting out the last of the tedious utilities, bills, changing of addresses and general yawningly dull activities that follow doing pretty much anything in our bureaucratic society.

I've spent an hour tonight looking for my TV licence. I know that the TV licence people are generally rabid about making sure everyone and their dog pays. And to be fair, I do love my TV and I do love the BBC so I pay with no particular beef. But I can't find it. And without it I can't change the address. And their website asks for the email you signed up with, so I gave the address I use for everything. It doesn't recognise it. I find it difficult to believe I would suddenly have used a different email address but I must have done. Ten minutes on an automatic phone line and finally I get told to call back in normal working hours. Bastards.

So I'm looking through every pile of paperwork I can find. And I can find a lot. And then something flutters down to the floor. It's a printout of an email my dad sent to a friend. It's not dated, but it wasn't long before he died. An email from an account that doesn't exist from a person that doesn't exist. I printed off all the emails I could find after he died, desperate for some reminder of his words. His actual words.

So I read it.

And there it was. All over again. The twisting agony of grief remembered. Because that's all it takes. A reminder of his voice, of his essence, him. And I could scream. I miss him. I miss him. I miss him. I seem to have fostered a life spent mostly alone, on the outside, looking in. I don't spend Christmas with my family. I don't even see most of my family. I don't want anything to remind me of what I had, what I lost and what I wish more than anything I could have back. And what a pointless, pathetic wish that is. To bring back the dead.

Is there anything more pathetically human than grief? Why not live in the now, Deb? Why not embrace, fully and completely, what's right there in front of you, rather than living 11 years in the past?

Well, I'm trying. And I'll keep trying. And maybe, one day, I'll be able to see something of my dad's and not want to scream in pain. I wish I could get to the stage of ruefully looking back at the good times. But I can't. All I feel is loss. And pain. And loneliness. And, quite often, a real sense of nihilism.

Someone - a therapist probably - went through the cycles of grief with me. They put a time limit on it. After 12 months you're pretty much back to normal, apparently. I don't seem to have followed that pattern. Although I can look like I have most of the time. And that'll have to do.




Thursday, 18 October 2012

Seasons of mist...

I love Autumn. I imagine this is how everyone else seems to feel at the start of summer. That awful chirpiness that seems to infect people, leading them to sprawl around public spaces wearing hot pants - always with the hot pants -  and imbibe disgusting designer cider drinks or £5 a bottle.

Summer is aggressive and intense. It screams at you to get out and enjoy it. And if you'd actually rather stay inside with the curtains closed watching films in a darkened room people bang on about how "you're missing the best of the day". No, I'm not. The best of my day is spent in a darkened room watching films. That's what I want to do. I do not want to go and sit in a field, suffering from  the never ending snotfest that is my hayfever, getting hot, itchy and sweaty while waiting for a Morrisons sausage to blacken on a throwaway barbecue. I don't want to sit in parks surrounded by groups of aesthetically unpleasing people getting shitfaced and vomiting in the sunshine. I don't want to get sunburned. Hell, I don't even want a sun tan. I like being pale. I want to look like Emily Bronte in the throes of TB, not some tart from TOWIE. 

I hate summer clothes. I hate bikinis. I hate not being able to wear biker boots and leather jackets. I hate getting sweaty every time I move. I hate the smell of drains and Victorian sewers when it hasn't rained for months. I hate to see the trees gasping for a drink. I hate the sense of decay and overwrought humidity in August. True, I was spoiled this year, what with the arctic temperatures and never ending rain and I'm glad. 

And now that we've had an early cold spell and Autumn has arrived I feel renewed. I feel hopeful and happy at this time of year, no matter what's going on in my life. I love the way Autumn smells; wet leaves and crisp air. I love the colour of early evening Autumn skies, with their mellow pink sunsets and scudding clouds. I even love the rain. Fresh and cold like rain should be, not sweaty and heavy like mid-summer downpours. I love to see the leaves turning and falling and walking through them and sniffing. I love the nostalgic anticipation of Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Remembrance Day and Christmas (although I only really like the run-up, actual Christmas is hard), the possibility of icy frosts and frozen mists and hopefully snow. I love being outside and walking really fast and not getting hot. I love the clothes; fake fur, leather, lace and black, black, black. Even the makeup is better; kohl and new dark nail varnishes. 

So you can keep your summer and its sticky glare. I'd choose Autumn and its soft, enveloping darkness every time. 


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Old people are mean

I have been up since 5. Chronic insomnia, too much coffee, wandering round town on my own since 9.30 this morning. I'm the first to admit I might be a bit, um, sensitive right now.

But really. Where is the need? Would you ever go up to an elderly man and suggest he does something about his paunch, halitosis, incontinence or misogyny? No, you wouldn't. Because you're probably a nice person. And even if you aren't, there's some kind of unwritten rule that states you have to be nice to old people. No matter how horrible they are.

I just went to an outdoor book sale. In the churchyard opposite my flat. I like looking through old books. It calms me down. And if it's for charity then so much the better.

So I'm looking and, remember, there's a very good chance I will buy. I haven't spoken, made eye contact or otherwise engaged the gentleman behind the counter in any kind of conversation.

But he takes it on himself to hold a book out to show me. It is a recipe book for diet recipes. And he says: "You look like you could do with cutting calories." And then he laughs.

I appreciate I'm not exactly a sylph-like figure, but I was under the impression that I wasn't exactly so obese as to cause ridicule from strangers. Clearly, I was wrong.

I didn't even have it in me to say anything. I just left (without buying anything) and started to cry. It was ok though, I was wearing sunglasses so no-one could see.

Like I say, undoubtedly over-sensitive through lack of sleep. Still, I'm trying to cultivate an eating disorder right now. Maybe this will help. Every cloud.

Oh, and by the way, he was easily 16 stone with a face like a collapsed football. But I didn't want to ruin his day by telling him.