Monday, 30 April 2012

Have you got any ID?


No. I don’t have any ID. Do you know why I don’t have any ID? Because I’m thirty-fucking-six-years-old. I didn’t need ID when I was buying booze and fags as a 14 year old, so I’m fucked if I know why I’m constantly being asked to provide it now.

I don’t have any photo ID because I don’t drive, since you ask. And, no, I will not be bringing my passport into One Stop in order to be allowed to buy a £5 bottle of wine. You twats.

This happened to me on Saturday. I had had a trying day and felt like some wine. Even though I apparently can’t drink it without feeling nauseous. The risk seemed worth it. Anyway, I went to the counter and was met with the now familiar dead eyed stare of a cashier who is going to ask me for ID. And who is not going to let it go.

“Have you got any ID?”

“No. I’m 36”

“Well, I can’t sell it to you.”

“I’m sorry. Perhaps you didn’t hear me. I’m THIRTY-SIX years old. In four years I will be FORTY. I don’t have ID because I don’t drive and I’m not bringing my passport in to have the privilege of buying some shitty cheap wine.”

“Well, it’s not my fault.”

I decided to challenge this as I was pretty sure it was her fault.

“Do you literally ID everyone?”

“Everyone who could be under 25.”

“Look at me. LOOK AT ME. Do you REALLY, HONESTLY think I could POSSIBLY be under 25?”

She sold me the wine. Begrudgingly. As if she was doing me the biggest favour ever.

Then something struck me. “So it’s still legal to drink at 18?”

“Yes.”

“But you have to be 25 to buy it?”

“No, you have to look 25.”

Flaw in the system, surely? I’ve seen with my own eyes plenty of teenage girls who could easily pass for a 45 year old WAG and therefore can presumably purchase their Apple Sours with aplomb, but a young(ish) looking mid-thirties person gets treated like a fecking criminal trying to buy emergency wine.

And surely it’s completely subjective anyway? When I worked in the pub, I had to ID people. But 80% of the customers looked about 12 to me. I can’t tell ages very well at all. Neither, let’s face it, could this lady.

Anyway. I got my wine. And yes, it did make me feel sick. But also drunk. So that’s good.


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Can you help me? Hmmm?

I am writing something. And in order to complete it I need some help.

Did you lose your father (bear with me) when you were between 21 and 35? By lose I mean, did he die? Just to be clear. I don't really want to hear about the time he went missing in Tesco.

If you did, it goes without saying, that I'm sorry for your loss, but I would also like to interview you. It would be completely confidential and would only go as far as you are comfortable with.

Mail me on Facebook or at debbie_hender76@hotmail.com if you are willing to help. I would be extremely grateful. And the book would be a lot better.

I thank you.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Five weeks and counting...

So I've been here for five weeks now. That's kind of weird. My old home seems really far away. My old life seems really far away. It can't be this easy, can it? Is that all there is to it? You just pack up and move all your shit and go to a different place and slot in and then bam, there you are. Getting on with it in a completely different town, with completely different people? I mean, that's it?

Even the massive amounts of stress at the beginning seems a long time ago. Far longer than five weeks. Do I feel settled? I don't even know. I definitely feel more settled than I thought I would five weeks in. I thought I'd be spending every evening blubbing into my pillow, lamenting stuff and things. But I haven't been really. And the panic attacks are almost under control. Most of the time.

Work people are fully ace, which helps a lot. Oscar the office pooch helps a lot. Possibly having a proper job with real hours and fully visible cupability helps. It's not like I didn't work my ass off when I was freelancing. But, well, let's just say I did most of my work in the middle of the night, half naked, lying on my living room floor. Hang on, wait. I mean writing. I wasn't freelancing as a hooker or anything. Although, now, there's a thought...

I've even met some cool people outside of work. Well, a person. And he'll probably have friends, right?.
But I miss people. I miss some people a lot, lot.

I don't wonder when I'm going home anymore though. I just wonder: what happens next?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Kelly fucking Osbourne

At work we have this thing where we decide who each other looks like. It's extremely amusing. A designer, let's call him Ricardo, has a board of lookalikes to himself. These range from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall through the Milky Bar Kid to Jeffrey Dahmer. It's very funny.

The production manager is Geoffrey from Rainbow. Head of design is Chris from Family Guy.

I was joining in the general hilarity and then asked who I looked like.

Big mistake. Huge.

Now I'm nothing special. This I know. In fact, I'm acutely aware that if I was about a foot taller and my face was differently shaped, then I could possibly pass as prettyish with a full face of makeup. So I wasn't exactly expecting Rachel Weisz or Scarlett Johanssen.

But this:



This crushed my soul.

A girl who is mostly known for being fat and has a face wider than should be humanly possible. A girl who dresses like some kind of reject from an emo convention? Really? Of all the people in all of the world, Kelly fucking Osbourne?

So there's a lesson in this. Never ever ask who you look like. Because you might just be told the truth.  Unless you already look like Angelina Jolie. You're probably safe in that case.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

According to McGee

I did my first 'thing' this evening. You know, my first 'I don't know anyone, I need to join something thing'. I don't really like joining stuff, as a general rule. I find it worrying and tedious. But I really wanted to learn to draw properly and I thought I'd give it a bash.

I didn't even have to talk myself into going that much. I just decided I would. I mean, I'm so far out of my comfort zone these days that I've kind of forgotten what it was. So, walking into a class full of people I don't know should be a breeze. And it was, kind of.

Obviously I was slightly intimidated when I got there. Everyone did that thing they do in American Werewolf in London and turned around and stared at me. Actually, maybe they didn't. But it felt like that. And I didn't know how to work the easel. And I clocked pretty early on that everyone in there was a proper artist to some level. Even the kid who arrived late and had to phone his mum to tell her he was there OK said he was a beginner, but it turned out he had dropped out of A-level art. So, not a beginner in the true sense of the word. In the sense that they have no idea what they're doing.

The teacher guy is some kind of art gallery owner and artist himself, as far as I can tell. His gallery is called According to McGee and looks pretty cool http://www.accordingtomcgee.com/ He's very much my kind of person. He says 'fuck' and 'shit' so I think we'll get on. Although I found myself doing my reticent, stand offish thing that I do when I'm with a load of people I don't know.

I think I'm conscious of being new in town and not knowing anyone and I don't want that to come across, so I go a bit 'yeah, whatever'. I don't know why. It didn't suit me when I was 16 and it sure as hell doesn't suit me now I'm 36. (Fucking HELL, I am never going to get used to that. Technically, I'm not 36 for another five days but I'm trying to break myself in).

We started with graphite, which made me whimper a bit. If it isn't pencil shaped I get frightened. After he saw my first attempt Mr McGee politely suggested that maybe I should start with a pencil "just to get the outlines". Too right. I have no idea what I was drawing but it bore absolutely no resemblance to the naked German lady on the floor.

A couple of attempts later and I was let loose with the graphite and chalk to learn shading. I say learn. I think a monkey could have done a better job. But I really enjoyed it. Like, I REALLY enjoyed it. I was getting right into it and then it was time up.

And then, gulp, we had to turn our easels round and show the class. I mean, where's the need, really? Easily the most intimidating bit. And the drawing I'd thought was alright five minutes before was thrown into stark relief in among all the actual artist's drawings. It was shit. Especially as I'd unwittingly placed myself next to a guy who apparently already sells his for a living. But, what the fuck. I did it. I liked it. And I'm going to do it again.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Kitteh wars

There was a cat stand off of epic proportions today. Yeah, Leamington might be having sonic booms but in York this is what's happening.

I have acquired cat friends since moving here. There's Johnson, a totally derpy massive black and white fluffmonster with cross eyes and markings on his face that make him look like a retarded kitler. There's sinister ginger and white cat - the matriarch of the backyard I fear. She stares a lot. And then there's a little ginger one that keeps running inside my house like he owns it every time I come home.

In the absence of human friends they're keeping me going.

Fatman begs to differ. Vociferously.

He and Johnson (my friend and I thought he was called Johnson because his name tag says Johnson. Her husband pointed out that Johnson is clearly his owner's family name. Whatevs.) had a staring match through the lounge window.

Fatty really needs to learn that other cats exist in this world. And that it's unlikely that it will be just he and I until one of us dies and eats the other. I  mean, one day I'm totally getting another cat. Probably another ten cats. And a dog or two. At some point he's going to have to deal with this.

Johnson derped happily through the window, occasionally raising a gigantic paw as if to tenderly touch Fatman's face. Fatman hissed, spat and did that growly thing that makes him sound possessed. After a few minutes of this I closed the blinds to block derpster out and took him out some biscuits. Fatman commenced growling for the next million hours.

A while later I went outside only to be met with the impassive gaze of Johnson and his army of followers. Three cats sat at different vantage points on the walls of my yard. Staring. Just staring. It was like the Midwich Cuckoos. With cats. Infinitely better than children any day.

I'll be moving on to human friends any day now. Any day.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

So I'm just going to come out and say it...

I'm lonely. God damn it, I am lon-e-ly. Truth is, I've done the frenetic bit. I've done the whole moving and sorting and fingers crossed I'll like the house bit. And I'm just... here. In fact, it's three weeks to the day since I got here. And yes, York is a beautiful city. Well, parts of it. Parts of it are a bit like Coventry. But I suppose there are parts of every city that are a bit like Coventry. The innate Coventryness of places is something that cannot be escaped from, it seems.

I like my house. It's nice. But it's not wonky and cold and weird like my old place. I miss the rattling, ill fitting windows and the sounds of people screaming their drunken way home at night. I miss bumping into 20 people I know on the way to the paper shop. I miss meeting my friends for lunch. I miss Jephson Gardens. I miss the tramps in Jephson Gardens. I miss the Clarendon. I miss post boxes. There are very few post boxes in York. Why? Why is that? I miss the lady in the paper shop on Regent Street. I miss Toni from the cookshop next door. I miss The Saus... ok, so I don't miss The Sausage. I do miss Moo though. In fact, I miss going out with my friends. I haven't met any here yet.

I'm lucky that the people at my new job are very nice and welcoming. That's a good thing. And having an office to go to again is pretty cool. I like being able to sit up properly to write. I near crippled myself working from my sofa this past year. I do love Oscar the office dog.

Truth is, I've gone a wee bit shy. Going out seems a bit daunting. I'm not normally shy. Perhaps I've used up all my bravery with the whole moving thing. It has depleted my reserves of, well, everything. I suddenly feel like I don't know how to make friends. It all seems a bit, well, much.

Someone said to me that I'd find out who my real friends are when I've been away for a while. And it has to be said that there are people I thought I would have heard from, and haven't. And people that I never thought I'd hear from and I have.

I'm just waiting for the day I wake up and my first thought isn't: "When am I going home?"

Monday, 9 April 2012

I really hope the Mayans were right...

When I was a kid I became briefly obsessed with the Titanic. And what happened to it. And how those poor people must have suffered so much. I was a weird kid.

It wasn't the scale of the disaster, exactly, it was the fear of the dying that obsessed me. I read loads of books and found out everything I could. In the days before Google this was quite a mission. I imagined how terrifying the moment must have been when it struck the iceberg. And the rage people must have felt against the 'unsinkable ship' bullshit nonsense they were span. I mean, I'd have been well pissed off and considering composing and extremely strong letter to White Star. If I hadn't drowned in an icy grave that is.

I even watched James Cameron's Titanic. Not at the cinema though. I couldn't stomach Leo in those days. And I was not at all impressed in general. I liked all the usual stock Titanic things - all the Oirish paupers having a marvellous time below decks while all the rich toffs were mean to each other over champagne upstairs. I'm sure that's exactly how it was.

I hated the love story. Obviously. I mean, who didn't? I would have been quite happy had someone pushed Winslet off her raft. Which, by the way, was patently big enough for Leo as well. She clearly didn't want to be saddled with some oik in real life. She was probably well relieved when the whole disaster occurred. Got her out of a right sticky sitch. No one had to know she'd been whoring it up like Lady Chatterley.

Anyway, Cameron's epic schmoozefest killed my fascination somewhat.

And then, this year.  Every day there's a new documentary/film/mini-series/special coverage. James Cameron telling us all again that he totally like loves the whole shebang. Leo and Kate are back in the cinema, in glorious 3D this time. Careful Kate's norks don't poke your eye out when they're (oh so terribly realistically) standing at the front of the ship. Real people really died on the Titanic. How about leaving them in peace?

Oh, 2012. How very tedious you are. You just had to be the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster didn't you?And it's not just that. Oh no siree. Loads more.  I am sick, sick, SICK of hearing about the Olympics, about Euro 2012 and about the fucking arsing Jubilee. 

I wish I could sleep through this whole fecking year, or at least until about September when all this shit'll be over. I won't have to pretend to give a flying fuck about the Queen living forever and ever and ever. Or a grandstanding sporting event that is only about money, sponsorship and corruption it seems. And, really? We  really needed to host the fucking Olympics during the worst recession since the 70s? REALLY?

So, no, I don't want to watch a commemoration concert for the sinking of the Titanic featuring fucking Jamie Cullum and Katie fucking Melua. I don't want to watch a sporting event partnered by MacDonalds and sponsored by Coca Cola. I don't want to go to a street party filled with people replicating some kind of faux-patriotic monarchism that was last in existence in 1953. And that was probably only because people really wanted to go a street party and have cake cos of the rationing.

Just. Stop. All of it. Now.

Personally I'm hanging in there for 21 December 2012 and the Mayan's date with doom. Now that would be worth a street party.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Feeding the trolls

Sooooo. The Daily Mail has done it again, huh? Everyone's dancing to their tune. Social networks crashing under the weight of disbelief, disgust and ire over Samantha Blick's puff piece about how it's so hard being beautiful because women are jealous of her and men keep giving her things. Something like that.

This swept t'internet like a raging case of herpes yesterday when it was published. There are over 5,000 comments on the article itself, ranging from the: "You're mental love, I've seen better heads on a mug of beer," through the "I feel sorry for her, poor woman." to the "Why am I reading this utter utter nonsense?"

The latter was repeated by the great and the good across Twitter. People like Lauren Laverne and Derren Brown; intelligent people, people who 'don't normally read the Mail' commenting on poor beautiful Samantha. People openly wailing: Why am I doing this? while not being able to stop themselves doing it. People knowing that they're being manipulated somehow by someone but not quite getting it together to just stop looking, stop clicking, stop feeding the troll.

I read it, obviously. And I had all the reactions that everyone else had: what the fuck; average at best; what a twat; women obviously don't like her because she's massively deluded and up herself, not because she's so beautiful. People don't like her because she's a maniac who clearly orders a drink and then takes the waiter's attention as more proof of her sublime and irresistible beauty. So basically she's a knob who's written a knobby article for a knobby paper. This actually happens every day in the Mail. Every single day there's bullshit in there that is laughable, blatant lies and generally manipulative.

A quick search of the author's past articles throws up one about how her husband chooses what she wears, and she's happy with that. There was one last month about how she uses her charms to manipulate men in the workplace. Endless pieces about how successful she is and how much of a victim she is. Horrible, negative, empty, vapid nonsense.

None of these got more than about 100 comments. It's almost like they decided to ramp it up and have her write a feature BEGGING people to react. And react we did. In our thousands. And the Mail got what it wanted, more hits, more press and more money.

The Mail is the biggest troll the interwebz has ever seen. Let's stop feeding it, eh?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

York, petrol and masturbation

I was so stressed last week I considered masturbating in public. But I couldn't find anyone willing to film it so I resisted the impulse.

Is that even topical anymore? Or do you now think I'm a raging pervert?

I wouldn't know. I haven't even seen the news for about eight days. I have no idea what's going on. Something about it being hot and then something about people setting themselves on fire because they want petrol. Or have petrol. In their kitchens. And they're inexplicably pouring it into a jug.

That woman who set herself on fire was actually from down the road from my new house. I don't disagree that the advice from that Tory knobber was ridiculous and dangerous if you have only one brain cell. But also, filling a jug with petrol in your kitchen? When the gas hob is on? REALLY?

My first week in an actual office job passed in a blur of dogs, clients, trains, new people and London. I haven't been in an office all day for about a year. I'm used to doing a bit of work from my sofa and then meandering down to the pub to pull pints and swear a lot. I think I'm in shock.

After my first day I staggered back as exhausted as if I had run a marathon. And then I had to do it AGAIN. Four more times. Rounding off the week with a quick trip to London for a not at all terrifying pitch meeting. Weirdly you can get to London from York faster than you can from Leamington Spa. It's magical. Or, as a colleague pointed out, a different line. But I prefer to think of it as magical.

Oh, I also learned that apparently I've moved into the arse end of York. The real scumhole area. Walmgate is traditionally where all the prostitutes used to trade. And these days, as you walk through the anicent Bar, you're hit with blocks of council housing and One Stop Shops. But I kind of like it. I feel more at home. I don't really do posh. And I don't do suburbs. So it suits me for now. And, let's face it, there's a Waitrose five minutes down the road so it's hardly Moss Side.