Friday, 28 March 2014
With so much to write that I'm writing in my head as I fall asleep and I'm writing in my head when I'm swimming and I'm writing in my head when I'm working. All of this and yet I can't seem to get the actual thing I want to write, finished.
Why is this?
Why should there be words and words and words and none that fall into the right order, in the right way and at the right time?
I have been distracted, it's true, by what some people call life events and what I call horrible, shitty things that happen for no reason and make me very angry. I have also made the mistake of immersing myself in the work of a writer who is and always will be far superior to me - a week solid of reading Wolf Hall, followed straight away by Bring Up the Bodies, has almost convinced me that there is little point even attempting to finish my book.
With writing around of that standard, how the hell will I ever make an impact? And then I remembered Twilight and thought there's hope for me yet.
Inspiration strikes multiple times a day. Motivation doesn't.
By the way, I just looked at the most common search terms that bring people to this blog. One of them was "goth wet tits". So that's nice.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
I have been out with two people I met online - when I say 'been out with' I mean had a relationship with. And I have dated many, many, MANY others. I have learned so much about men during this journey. So very much. It's been a beautiful and mind expanding experience and I have seen enough photos of torsos and penii to last me a gosh darn lifetime.
So I thought it was perhaps time to share the wealth, as opposed to outright taking the piss out of the weirder/creepier/stalkier ones. Although that will, of course, continue to happen. Because I can't stop, can I? As long as I occupy this place on the shelf, I have to keep trying. Keep putting myself out there. Keep up the vain hope that there is someone left who isn't attached or married AND isn't a raging egomaniac/boring bastard. Got to keep on keeping on.
From the point of view of someone who is in a relationship or marriage, internet dating must seem most peculiar. For those of you who managed to snag The One, or even an approximation of The One, before internet dating became a thing, it must seem alien as a concept. Dating itself is not something we do particularly well in Britain. It's very much an American thing. Here no one is sure of the etiquette. Do you multi-date? Is that OK? Is it alright to get narked if you've been on a few dates and then you realise they're messaging loads of other potential replacements? At what point have you crossed over from 'dating' to actually being in a thing? And why does everyone assume it's OBVIOUS?
Those who internet date fall into two camps. One group met someone very quickly and think it's a perfectly reasonable way to meet a partner. These are the friends everyone has who 'met their husband/wife/concubine online'. We've all got them and they're generally very happy and talk about internet dating in glowing terms.
And then there's the other camp. The one I'm in. The one that's increasingly disgusted, despondent and depressed by it. Even when you wade through the millions or messages from morons/freaks/perves and weirdos and find someone who seems OK, you're instantly competing with every other girl they're already talking to. In a throwaway society, internet dating makes feelings even more transient. It's an empty, soul sucking experience.
I say all this not out of bitterness but as a sober warning to you if you're considering taking up the gauntlet. Prepare yourself properly. Accept that rejection becomes a way of life - either doing the rejecting (more often if you're female) or being rejected (sadly, if a man is half way attractive they are so overwhelmed with offers from horrified women hoping that there is someone who isn't mentally defective that they become blase and tend to treat you like you're as disposable as the Kleenex they're trying to replace), accept that you're more than likely to date quite a few (thousand) frogs before you get anywhere near a vague prince, if you're in your thirties then it's important to realise quickly that men your age are almost exclusively interested in women at least a decade younger than them, and conversely, you will get a LOT of messages from 19-24 year olds who think that they're either doing you some kind of a favour so you'll be desperate to blow them or they honestly think that all women's fantasies revolve around shagging some lad in his early 20s. It wasn't that good when I was in my early 20s, there's no fricking way I'm going back to that.
So once that is out of the way, there are a few other things to look out for.
- Immediately discount anyone who describes himself as 'genuine' or 'a nice guy'. People who are these things don't announce it like it's something they've acquired. The high probability is that he is neither of these.
- If you're on OK Cupid, use the questions when screening. There are many, many sex based questions. There are questions about whether they are into rape fantasies (yes, really), questions that tell you whether they're racist, questions that tell you whether they're a creationist or anti-abortion. All of these can be a disappointment if they appear to look semi human and can write in full sentences. But are also useful.
- Do not be afraid to say that you're not interested. You'll find that some guys will just keep messaging you over and over and over. It appears that some people approach it like they're sending out marketing emails. So they copy and paste the same message and spam it out to 100 girls. A week later you get it again. And again. It's tragic.
- Do not feel flattered when you get upwards of 50 messages in one day. It's because you are a woman and they are desperate. The ones who you want to meet don't need to do that. They're off shagging someone else.
- Do not make the mistake of thinking just because you've been on a few successful dates with the same guy that it means anything. At all. Nine times out of ten they are juggling a few and the chances are that you will be stashed on the back burner sometime soon. Fuck that shit.
- Assume everyone is a player. Sorry guys, but that's the only way to survive this bullshit.
- Cut and run the instant they show they're a douchebag. It could manifest in one of several ways. They could blow hot and cold for no discernable reason. They could be lovely and keen one day and switch into distant fuckhead man the next. They could play communication games. They could suddenly reveal themselves to be an obtuse overgrown manchild. They could casually drop in the conversation that they usually go for someone thinner/younger/more beautiful. The second this happens cut and run. Do not waste your breath, time, energy or interest anymore. Not even if you really thought they were nice. They're not. You were wrong. Boo hoo. Next.
- If they demand you go to them, tell them to bog off. It might be 2014 and this might be the age of no one gives a fuck, but for a first date, if they want to meet you and they asked you out then they should come to you.
- If they show up in a shirt that's tucked in, then politely finish your drink and run away. No good comes from a man in a shirt. Mark my words.
- If the conversation appears to be flowing and he's giving good chat but you come to the end of a couple of hours and you realise that he has been talking exclusively about himself then it's a no no. These men are common in the wild. They mistake the sound of their own voice with the dulcet tones of heaven and aren't interested in anything that isn't coming out or going into their gaping, flapping maw.
- If they look askance at you because you say fuck then it's a goner. Fuck off.
- If they have a posh car that costs more than a deposit for a house, and particularly if they've given it a name, then run away. Far away. And fast.
- If they have recently split up with a spouse or long term girlfriend (and by recently I would say within the last 12 months or even two years) then no, they're not over it. What they are is desperate, scared and broken manchildren who want a nice lady with big boobs to make them feel better and safe again.
- Never relax. It might seem to be going well but men are a mystery. Often they say the diametric opposite to what is in fact happening. They do this because either they're thinking with the wrong head, temporarily, or they think that the best way to communicate with someone is by passive aggressively grunting while leaving you to guess.
- Don't show any enthusiasm. Generally at this juncture, it can be common to skip ahead a bit. Make a few 'potential' plans. Maybe a film that's coming out or some vague festival chat. Be very very careful of this. Anything you say they will hear: "I want to marry you. You're my dream come true. Can I please have your babies right now." So, if you say: "Oh, there's a gig on in a couple of months. It looks ace," they will hear: "You're irresistible and I must have you and trap you and you will never be able to go and shag other women ever again and please please marry me." BUT, and it's a big but, if THEY do something similar (mention a gig, potential future plans) it's totally A-OK fine. But don't read anything into it. Because then you'll be labelled as CLINGY and KEEN.
- Be aware that they will still be cruising the internet dating site they asked you out on. They will be messaging other women and they will be setting up other dates. Whether they go through with them will depend on whether you pass their arbitrary tests and prove yourself worthy to be in a thing with them.
Thursday, 20 March 2014
It's International Happiness Day everybody. Oh GOOD. Because we live in a world so mired in bullshit that we need a 'day' for fucking everything.
But only the positive stuff.
There is no International Suicidal Tendencies Day. Or Fuck, I Have Herpes Day. Or My Boss is a Twat Day. Or I Seem to have Misread the Signals and Now Feel like a Total Tool Day. Which, by the way, is the one I'm having RIGHT NOW.
None of that. Just shit like International Hippie Smiley day and Be Happy or Die Day and Conform you Stupid Motherfuckers Day.
It just makes me despise humanity that tiny bit more.
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Who's your favourite King? Mine is a toss up between Richard III and Charles I II. Oh and George III. Also Francis I of France was pretty cool.
But the king who has fascinated me for the longest is Henry VIII. He was a bogeyman to me when I was about ten. While school was skipping all the good bits of history I got my hands on a Jean Plaidy book called Murder Most Royal. Jean Plaidy, for those who don't know, was a historical fiction writer before it was cool. Very focused on all the sex and cruelty, which at that tender age seemed from not just another time but another universe.
I read in horror about the huge demon like figure who killed his wives. And his friends. And who went through life wiping people out. The worst kind of despot. Abandoning his wife after 22 years. Abandoning his children as and when he wanted to. And the woman who slept with her brother to get this monster a child.
I had to close the book half way through I was so terrified. All of them, Wolsey, Cromwell, Cranmer... They were all so grotesque and cartoon-like. Henry became the bogeyman in my nightmares.
As I read on and found out what he did I began to think that just thinking about him might conjure him up. Him and the ghosts of all the friends and enemies he killed. He scared me more than Freddy Krueger.
As I got older my understanding of human nature and Tudor politics cleared up some of the dread he instilled in me until I suddenly saw him for what he was. A giant, petulant, indulged dickhead who thought with his dick and rationalised bad decisions by blaming other people. A bit like my ex boyfriend.
Only problem was his rationalising involved torture and cruelty and killing. Because of who he was and when he was.
He's been a life long semi obsession so when Wolf Hall was released I avoided it. I don't want to read something that bastardises the truth as I see it. I am sick of people taking the Tudors in vain. That HBO series was an embarrassment and Philipa Gregory had managed to dumb the entire period down until it's a soup of heaving bosoms and stupid theories.
I want something that will treat the players with the respect they deserve. Anne Boleyn, for example, was not a witch. She did not fuck her brother. She played the must dangerous game you can think of and, in the end, she won. He may have killed her but it was her daughter who lit up the Tudors.
And so I finally read Wolf Hall. And it's perfect. Finally a voice for Cromwell that sounds plausible. Finally a way through this alien world and aan understanding of what it might have been like.
Everyone, from Mary Boleyn to Mark Smeaton is brought to life in a way I have never come across before. It's awe inspiringly good.
I'm coming up to the hard fall of Anne and I kind of want to stop. Before she dies. But I won't because without her fall there would be no rise of Elizabeth.
And that's what this man, this fat, bloated, ginger bully left in the end. After all the scheming, killings and machinations to get a prince and he ended up with a girl as his legacy. Far more than he deserved.
Saturday, 15 March 2014
When bad things happen to good people, there are ramifications.
When someone dies and they were the cornerstone of your world then everything changes. Completely and irrevocably.
When someone dies young it isn't fair. It isn't just. And it isn't okay. No amount of platitudes and clichés can change anything. The moment that person dies and leaves you alone in the dark without them, you change.
It can be said that it defines you from hereon out.
My daddy died 13 years ago tomorrow. It's 13 YEARS since I was able to talk to the person who means the most to me in the world.
I look at that number, 13, and it seems meaningless. It feels like five minutes ago that I last spoke to him and it feels like maybe I never spoke to him at all. Sometimes I feel like I made him up. Like I just dreamt all of it.
I still dream about him often. Sometimes that's a good thing. In fact, it's definitely a good thing. Because then I see him and speak to him.
If you've never experienced grief; pure, deep, white hot grief then first, congrats and second, imagine yearning for something or someone with every fibre of your being, with every cell of your body and brain and at the same time knowing that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how much you miss them. It doesn't matter how much it hurts. It doesn't matter that guilt, pain, fear and abject sorrow haunt you all day and all night. It doesn't matter. It's one of the only times in your life that you will be in agony and absolutely no one can help you.
Weirdly it doesn't lessen as the years go by. It looks like it does from the outside because those that are left behind have no option. You can only cry for a finite amount of time. You can only talk about it for a finite amount of time. Endless mourning isn't a luxury that our society affords us. Maybe that is for the best. Maybe the Victorians had it wrong and the best way to deal with your soul shrivelling up is to have a fast funeral and get back to normal. Back to the office. Back to routine. Back to how it was before.
Except the world has twisted on its axel and nothing is the same again. I became oddly amused by the weirdest things. I blurted out my daddy's story (it was very short. He died in the night. I wasn't there. I couldn't help him. I couldn't even hold his hand. He just died. He was there one day and not the next. The end) to people I barely knew, I felt like I was made of glass and would shatter if I spoke loudly.
I felt an overwhelming urge to help my mum somehow. I felt all the sorrow in the world. People's faces seemed altered. I wondered what pain and horror they were all hiding. I felt like I had no skin.
Thirteen years on and things have changed. I can laugh and talk as loud as I like. I can look at people without wondering how they can exist in this painful, empty, pointless world. I have many times of happiness. I can sometimes think of him without feeling like someone stabbed me in the gut. I cry less often. I talk about him rarely. I write about him seldom.
But somewhere in the attic of my soul there is a box where all the grief and rage and pain and deep, deep sadness live. It's locked and chained.
Sometimes I open it and sometimes it is ripped open by a memory or a moment and I'm shocked and horrified all over again. But mostly it's safe and contained.
Someone once told me, a long time ago, not to let it define me. That it's maudlin. That the past is the past. Grief is ugly and bitter and black. But it does define you. Even if you don't want it to.
Rest in peace Ian Henderson. As long as I live you will never be completely gone.
Monday, 10 March 2014
I'm embarrassed to say that it took me until my 38th year on this planet to 'get' the lyrics to a much loved Cure song.
I vaguely thought it was political.
I'm an idiot.
I read L'etranger at the weekend. And as it unfurled in its sparse, clipped glory The Cure came into my head. Ohhhhhhhh. I thought. Ohhhhhh I seeeee. And enjoyed a moment of understanding with Bob that surely brings us closer than ever.
Lots of music has pushed me to read things I would never have read at the time. My obsession with Jim Morrison took me to Huxley and eventually Blake, for example. How did The Cure not lead me to Camus?
The Outsider or The Stranger, depending on the translation you get. I have been meaning to read it for years.
It's the story of a man who feels nothing very deeply either way. He recognises that, really, nothing matters. His mama dies and goes in the ground and the world carries on turning.
He kills a man on a beach. He has a choice but he kills him. The outcome, in the end, is the same. Whether he dies by the guillotine or dies naturally, in the end its the same. It's a book about the absurdist nature of humanity and in his final rant to the priest he accepts the meaningless and finds peace. Shortly before he gets his head lopped off.
Very French that.
It's a beautifully written book. I'm far more about the words being few but resonating deeply. There is, no doubt, a place for rambling explanations and hugely detailed description. Especially in the fantasy genre. And I can appreciate them. I can like them. Sometimes I can enjoy them.
But I don't remember them and I don't have the urge to read them over again immediately because I know I have only touched the surface.
I'm glad I waited till now to read Camus. I would have had a very different interpretation as a teenager. And would, no doubt, have missed so much.
Because of when he was writing and the events that overtook him (TB and WW2) it must be tempting to only frame his work within those contexts.
Straight after The Outsider I read The Plague. Less immediately profound and more disturbing in lots of ways, it's a brilliant allegory of occupied France. But it's a lot more than that too.
I do love it when a writer blows my tiny mind.
Friday, 7 March 2014
Don't ever say 'live, laugh, love' to me. For I will projectile vomit in your face. I will vomit until the vomit drowns out the facile bullshit that just came from your mouth. I know you wouldn't, by the way. You have way more style than that. But the universal you. Not so sure about them.
I cant fully articulate why this should be so. After all, we are all alive aren't we? And who doesn't like to laugh? And everyone loves everything and everyone these days. Only today I was expounding on how much I love the flapjack I made, for example.
So none of the words are bad in and of themselves. I think it's just the kind of trite mantra like state of it. It's the sort of 'quote' that isn't even a quote, rather it's just some random words chucked together because they sound positive and easy and achievable.
They're the kind of words that are splashed over a black and white photograph of a beach, or a picture of a laughing child. In a horrible font. and shared on Facebook.
The kind of shit you see on the dating profile of a bona fide sociopath who thinks everyone should 'be happy' because 'life's to short (sic)' and who likes to 'live for today' and 'try everything once.'
Maybe if they were balanced oout by some realism. Some yin to the yang. Some dark to the light. Some depth to the empty. Like: 'live, laugh, love, die, rot, disappear'. Or: 'live, laugh, love, drink, fight, cheat, leave'.
Sort of finishes it off. Gives it an arc. Pulls it from the meaningless to the meaningful. Without the dark we can't properly enjoy the light. And without the fear of loss nothing is precious.
Live, laugh, love now because tomorrow you could be worm food.
There. That's good. I might make a meme.
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
There are quite a few that may well do so also - cheap food cooking will remind you of lunch, Lynx body spray will remind you of every boy ever and patchouli will remind you of those that broke out into the alternative circle first - but of all the smells that sum up that era, Dewberry and White Musk rule.
For some ungodly reason, everyone went around drenched in Dewberry and White Musk. The Body Shop was extremely popular. I should think that's mostly because it was cheap, now I look back. We could all afford the gift sets at Christmas and the little bottles of perfumey scent stuff.
I washed my hair yesterday with a blueberry scented shampoo. Big mistake. My gag reflex kicked in and ever since then it's like the ghost of Dewberry has come to visit. If you haven't had the pleasure - and that would mean you're under around 33 years of age - it's a sickly, sweet cloying smell that may have some passing acquaintance with fruit. It's thick and makes your nose twitch and long for fresh air. It is, in short, fucking disgusting.
Our teachers must have spent their time gagging for some breathable air what with all the Impulse, Body Shop and Lynx going on in their classrooms. Poor bastards.
But it did make me think of the power of smell. There is nothing more evocative than smells. Nothing that takes you back to a specific moment with such clarity.
For me, Lypsyl still makes me feel like I'm six years old, buttoned up in my duffel coat and ready to walk to school in thick frost and cold, cold air, willing the time on until Christmas. The dust on Christmas lights when they're first turned on makes me ten years old again, with the stomach lurching excitement of Christmas to look forward to. The smell of my new dog's head makes me feel 15 and being comforted by the late, great Poppy Henderson while sobbing about some pointless, meaningless teenage tragedy.
Walking past bars in the early hours wafts stale beer in my face and takes me back to every busy shift I ever worked in a pub. The smell of Bacardi makes me immediately 17 and very regretfully sick. Millions of smells can stop you in your tracks, no matter what you're doing at the time.
It's a strange and beautiful phenomenon, perhaps one of the best ways to really properly remember a moment in time. Far better than a photograph or a conversation. It brings with it the feeling of the moment right back there. So, 32 years later I can remember exactly how excited and happy crisp winter days made me feel. And Dewberry brings back the stench of confused adolescence right up in my face. Could do without that one actually.
Monday, 3 March 2014
2. Because 'bite size' means news about Syria can be absorbed at the same rate as headlines about Jennifer Lawrence tripping over. Again.
3. Because media outlets are keen to make sure consumers only have tiny pockets of awareness about anything important.
4. Because the points can be split up with PRETTY PICTURES, LOOK, SHINY THING.
5. Because Buzzfeed.
Saturday, 1 March 2014
She's been scared of the sea since I've had her. This isn't particularly surprising as she is a tiny weeny dog, used to the mean streets of Romania and the sea is a massive, threatening, stormy thing that has made her get wet against her will on a few occasions.
The fact that we've had Armageddon style storms for the entire time she's been here hasn't, I'm sure, helped.
I've learned lots about my Sushi over the last couple of months. She absolutely loves walking on grass, for example. The sea scares her and she can't stand men in hats. Very sensible I think.
But today was so beautiful that I took a selfish decision to walk her to the beach. I just really wanted to go to the beach. I sat on some rocks with her and just had a lovely little think about everything and nothing. It was magical and restful. She sat next to me like this and we contemplated our navels in the glorious sunshine. I don't take her to the water's edge anymore because she really doesn't like it and I essentially live to make her happy now.
And then she skipped like a gazelle over the rocks that I belatedly realised you're not actually meant to walk on.
I sort of get Twitter. I've only ever regularly used it for work purposes and marketing shenanigans. Otherwise, I get a bit bored. I did go and attempt to get back into it the other day. Someone asked me if I'd been hacked as I was apparently being 'random'. I thought that's what Twitter was for. But apparently not.
Instagram though. Nah. I just don't get it. I finally joined a while back. I've been resisting Vine (because I'm not clever enough to be hilarious in seven seconds. Six seconds. Whatever), Snapchat (I don't need to see your face every time you have something to say) and the myriad social networks that are apparently a thing but I became intrigued by Instagram due to people I know cross posting to Facebook.
When I say intrigued, I mean vaguely interested every now and again.
So I joined.
I put up a profile picture and I filled in the tiny bit where you can actually use words to say something. It's a thing I've noticed about social media and dating sites. The space for words and interesting stuff has become tinier and tinier. The space for pictures - usually of yourself - has become massiver and massiver.
So, we started with Facebook where people quickly learned that statuses about their feelings weren't welcome but hilarious bon mots are. Where people strive to outdo each other with how liberally political they are or how very amusing they are. Where lives are airbrushed and everyone's a comedian. But at least we get to use words.
Twitter is this but even more so. Now you don't have to bother with all the other stuff, you can just spaff out hilarious, witty, clever titbits every five seconds and suck up the validation of favourites and retweets. You can participate in the novel ability to talk directly to celebs, or at least, directly to their PR run account. You can feel like you're actually friends with major stars because they're bound to have read your really funny and clever Tweet. I mean, they won't say anything because they'd make all their other fans jealous, but clearly you're on the same wavelength.
It's also genuinely useful for news and shizzle. Hashtags make sense on Twitter. Something happening that you want to know about? Search the hashtag. That's a thing I can get on board with.
Hashtags on Instagram. Oh dear. I don't know if it's because the vast majority of selfie taking narcissists don't understand what the hashtags are for, or whether they just want to give their eager followers every single chance to see every single selfie. I saw a girl with the usual pursed lips, tits out shot. Her hashtags were things like: #selfie #blue #eyes #girl #followtofollow #instafollow #sexie #babe. So someone's going to go and search 'blue'? Why would anyone do that? That makes NO SENSE.
None of it makes any sense. It doesn't make sense to me when people post multiple selfies every day. All with the same expression. Why would you do that? Hey - you look exactly the same when you're tired/excited/posing/asleep. I don't even know how you do that, but your facial expression NEVER changes. And yet these are the kinds of posts on Instagram that get thousands of likes.
Now you don't have to be funny, clever, witty, inventive or even that good looking. You just need to tap into the apparently endless maw of people just waiting to give the thumbs up (or heart or whatever it is) to your next photo. Of yourself.
My grandma would have loved selfies. She was a wicked old woman and when I went to see her just before she died (for the first time in years) she was living in a care home. Her husband had died a couple of years earlier. Her son (my dad) had died 8 years earlier. She has two grandchildren and a daughter in law who would have given her the world. But how did she end up? Living in a nice flat with loads of pictures on the walls, of course. Of herself. Not of her family. Not of her only child. Not of the husband she lived with for 60 years. But of herself.
That's what she wanted all along you see. Just reflections of herself. Everyone existed in order to reflect back to her what she wanted to see and hear. She was narcissistic to a disturbingly high level and I can't help but think she'd adore Instagram.
I've been told that there are many other ways to use it and, if you follow the right kinds of accounts, then it can be really cool. I can see how that could happen. And I've had a go at searching for things I might find interesting. I've been stymied every time by the endless selfies. I have been known to take the odd one, one has to for internet dating purposes if nothing else, but when people take pictures of themselves at every moment, it's freaking weird.
Talking of which, apps like Tinder have taken the concept of internet dating and distilled it down to one thing. Yep, you've guessed it. A photograph. Of course seeing what people look like is important - vital, even - for internet dating. No one is going to go on a date with someone whose face they haven't seen. But to take it down to just one pic - swipe right for yes and left for no - is fucking depressing.
No one even needs to construct sentences any more. Just get your tats out and some dude somewhere will send you a dick pic. It's just so fulfilling.