Saturday, 28 February 2015

The curse continues

One day at the beginning of this week I received an email saying that my dog, my beloved. amazing dog, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the RSPCA Ruffs competition.

This means that she will be seen by approx half a million dog lovers online, and I will hopefully be able to conjure up enough likers for her to get through to the finals. And even maybe win.

This made me dance a jig.

Shortly afterwards, I said to my new boyfriend (WEIRD, CANNOT GET USED TO THAT) that things are going too well and that it's making me edgy.

Edginess abounded.

To move into a new place I love, to start having feelings of the warm and fuzzy kind for an actual human being, to have my pooch publicly recognised as Queen of the Universe, it's all a bit too good. Something's going to happen. Like my head's going to snap off my neck. Or my foot will fall off. Or I'll need to have an extraneous organ removed. Or my hair will start snapping off. Something.

Luckily - PHEW - the very next day my toilet broke. Not a biggie, you may think. And so did I. One plumber later and it turns out I need a brand new bog. Well, let's look on the bright side, right? You don't get a new bog every day of the week do you? Might be quite nice. Means I get to shit where no man has shat. That kind of thing.

Five tortuous hours later - a long time when you need a wee really quite badly but are hindered by the fact that plumber has removed your toilet entirely and then left the flat with no explanation. Just as you're starting to weep internally - and possibly externally - he trundles back chatting away about how he's just been catching up with the builders downstairs.

Do you want to like, replace my FUCKING TOILET MATE. I said. In my head. I rictus-grinned my way through the next two hours and then had a wee. Aaaaaaaaaaah.

That must have been it. The yang to the yin. The bad to the good. Balance has been restored. All is well.

Or not.

The very next day after #toiletgate I turned my hot tap on and instantly lost all power. Ahhh, a switch has been tripped, I nodded wisely to myself. I know about this. You just find the appliance what done it and you unplug it. A hair pulling hour later it turns out to be the water tank. Yeah. couldn't have been the cunting toaster could it? Had to be the fucking hot water tank that is now going to have to be replaced. I have no hot water until some unspecified time next week. Still, I don't like to wash, so it could be worse.

And as I go to heat some food, it instantly is. Somehow, for some reason best known to the gods of fate, my brand new purple microwave now no longer works. It's not the fuse. It's not the socket. It's just gone: "I know what you need, you need to not have a proper job, be struggling for money, worrying about paying bills every second of every day, cancelling fun trips to see friends because you have to go to your 90th job interview, have no hot water AND have a broken microwave."

TA DAAAAAA.

Still, could be worse. Live, laugh, love. Etc. I blame it on the ley lines meself. Or all them suicides what happened in this house. Must be that.

Also, I will be blogging heavily, extensively and extremely annoyingly about Sushi's bid to become the RSPCA dog of the year, so keep your eyes out.




Monday, 23 February 2015

Oscars: hot or not?

I fucking hate the Oscars. What an abysmally dull and facile depiction of the vacuous nature of Hollywood it is. With extra dresses. Don't forget about the DRESSES. Because who isn't transported into paroxysms of glee and frenzy by the fact that women wear DRESSES. And rich women wear expensive DRESSES. Some of the dresses are white. And some are black. And some aren't white OR black. But they're important enough to take up one million trillion column inches the next day.

I hate the speeches and the self congratulatory bullshit they all come out with. I hate the 'feminist' speeches at the altar of bullshit by people like Meryl Streep. Or was it Glenn Close. Whatever. Pretty sure they're the same person anyway.

I hate the red carpet 'interviews' and the rictus grins. I hate the fact the narcissitc 'jokes' by the host and the constant insistence that everyone in Hollywood are like super excellent friends. Look at these people, nay these heroes talking to each other almost like they're actual human beings. Some of them even are probably. But I bet my ass that most of 'em can't stand each other. It's a strange media construct, that all of the very rich and famous party with each other, and hang out like the cast of Friends.

I don't even watch the Oscars and yet all this I have absorbed. I know, for instance that people think Naomi Watts was badly dressed. That Scarlett Johansen's outfit was a 'miss'. That Jennifer Aniston shouldn't wear beige because her outfit was 'too beige' and that Anna Wintour always looks like the same sucked out corpse wherever she is.

The fact that legions of 'journalists' spend all of ten minutes compiling these lists of who looked 'hot' and who didn't is a mixture of disgusting, tedious and hilarious. I can imagine the state of some of these assholes who spend their time trying to convince us that beautiful women in expensive dresses are suffering some kind of malfunction, ScarJo, for example, looked absolutely smoking, even when John Travolta was licking her face, which I'm assuming felt as revoltingly reptilian as it looked, and yet I have seen at least three publications (including what used to be broadsheets) insist she looked shit.

Look at her. LOOK AT HER. How in the name of buggery bollocks can anyone be trying to attempt to say she looks anything other than polished and preened? And boobs. And dress.



What a weird tradition. And it's not just a female thing - men get attacked or praised for what they're wearing. I mean, how did that even start? Why has it become such a thing? It's almost like the clothes matter more than the awards. Imagine. That.

And then the way that the winners act. Like they've been beatified. Like they actually now believe that they are a cut above the rest of the human race. It's a fucking statue because they acted in a film. Acting is, of course, an artistic discipline, but for the most part, none of these actors are doing anything that is particularly noble, or enlightening, or earth shattering or that will change anything. And yet the fucking self love that it perpetuates. All because they get paid millions to essentially dress up and pretend to be other people. Fucking MAD.

People will, as they always do, say to me: "Well don't watch it then you moaning killjoy arsebag." And I say to them. I bloody didn't watch it. I never do watch it. And yet because I am a human being and am on the internet a lot, somehow it has permeated into my consciousness to the point that I know that Rita Ora (who she?) wore a totally see through dress and the whole of America still doesn't know who the fuck she is.

So, yeah. Oscars. Facile, futile, dull, pointless narcissistic preening from a bunch of overpaid peacocks with more money than sense. Seems to me there is far more art out there worth absorbing than this bunch of dickbags.





Wednesday, 11 February 2015

That's a lovely name

I met one of my new neighbours today.

This is what happened:

Me: "Hey"

Him: "Hello. Are you new?"

"Yes, I moved in a few weeks ago."

"Nice to meet you. I'm C---, what's your name?"

"Debbie."

"That's a lovely name."

"Thanks."

"It's my late partner's name."

"Ohhh er ah."

An awkward silence, broken by:

"Do you like the house?" sez he.

"I love it." because I do. It's not my wont to be particularly enthusiastic about anything outside of Wolf Hall but I really love this house.

"Oh, that's strange. Most people hate it."

"Do they? Why?" Incredulous I am.

"The bad vibes."

Here he starts to walk off. I stop him.

"What do you mean? What bad vibes?"

"All the suicides."

"WHAT? WHAT SUICIDES?"

"Well, there has been one since I've lived here."

"How long have you lived here?"

"14 years."

So, like. One.

One suicide in 14 years.

That does not qualify my house as the 'Suicide House' of the neighbourhood. That is probably statistically quite normal, I'd say. With my vast knowledge of such things.

But I mean, people die. My dad died in our house. But because no one who has lived in since knows that, they don't go round calling it the 'sudden death house'.

"Right. Any others?"

Here he gets vague.

"My friend came round. He's very sensitive. And there are strong energy lines in the garden. Strong. Not in the house. But in the garden. Your part of the house was the nursery, of course, but I expect you know that."

No. How? How would I know that? What? HOW?

So now I have the man in the tower and the little ghost babies in my flat.

And then.

"Do let me know if you need help with anything. Lovely to meet you Debbie. Bye!"

Huh.



Friday, 6 February 2015

Finding the sunshine

I don't like self-helpy, positive-thinky, smoothie-drinky twee bullshit

Telling someone who's depressed that they just need to get over it, they just need to get up and go out more, just try harder, just, you know, not be depressed is pointless. It's also ludicrous. And borderline offensive.

Telling someone with severe (or any level of) anxiety that life would be more fun if they could just, you know not be anxious, is pointless. And counter productive.

So this post is not about that.

This post is about my dog and something I've noticed about her that has helped me feel that the world is not always a void of horror, black and vileness

As well as being utterly adorable, snuggly, delicious and perfect, my dog has an unerring way of always making the best of whatever is in front of her.

I found these pictures the other day. They are of Sushi with her damaged leg. A few days later her left leg was chopped off.

I know my Sushi now and I know that she was terrified here. She was scared and skinny and alone and defenceless and confused.





Here she is with a cat that is bigger than her. Look how teeny she is. 



I cried when I saw them.

And then I looked at her face snuggled into the blanket next to me. She radiates contentment. She is comfortable and warm right now, in this second. She is loved right now, in this second. She is fed right now, in this second. And she puts all her energies into thoroughly enjoying it. Fully and completely.

Sushi isn't thinking about what happens if she loses it all. Or if she can't find food tomorrow. Or if it's cold later. Or if she's too fat. Or if she isn't pretty. Or if she's lonely. Sushi is just doing her Sushi thing.

She also finds the patch of sunshine whenever she can. No, not a nauseating metaphor. she literally finds the sunshine.

It's been cold as fuck on Craggy Island. It's never cold on Craggy Island. People don't know what to do. I keep seeing confused people still in t-shirts stumbling around looking at the sky agahst, as if they've never seen such a thing before.

Sushi knows cold. She's lived on the streets during Romanian winters. So now she makes sure at about 10.30 in the morning she's in the strong sunlight that permeates through the conservatory at my ma's house. Without fail - as long as it's not raining - there is enough sun in there to warm her bum and lull her to sleep in a cloud of utter contentment.

Somehow this tiny dog has found her way through years on the streets in one of the harshest places in Europe for dogs, been hit by a car, lost her leg, travelled to England and landed on me. And she's the happiest soul. She has charmed her way through her life and I know that if there ever came a day (over my dead body) that she wasn't mine anymore that she will make her way to the sunshine again.

She's a survivor and an inspiration.

Too much? I'm just talking about a dog aren't I?

Balls. One of the things I've come to realise is that you should unashamedly love what makes you happy. Sushi makes me feel utter happiness when I hold her, when I walk her and when I watch her being hilarious. It's possible for me to forget everything else when I cuddle her.

Just as she can feel content in the sunshine, I can feel content through my connection with her. And fuck whatever anyone else thinks. Some people need money, or stuff, or clothes, or shoes, or a corporate career or kids. I need to write and to be around animals. And maybe that's my sunshine.


Tiny high five for the best dog in the world. 




Thursday, 5 February 2015

How to give up things that you really really like but are really really bad for you

In my case, stuff like smoking. And horrible men. And sugar. And booze. Or none of these. Or just some of them. Whatever the poison, whatever the thing, giving stuff up is actually simple. It's not easy but it is simple.

Giving up smoking was a Huge Deal before I did it. And now that it is 13 months in, it doesn't seem like such a big deal. It's just something I do. Every day I choose not to smoke. Well, I should say that every day that I think about it, which isn't every single day at all.

And I was convinced that I needed cigarettes. I'm a medicated headcase you see. I get panicky being around people. I can't even travel to certain places. I fear vomiting. I fear death. I fear fear. And I felt that cigarettes were helping. Because they'd make me feel better when I smoked. Plus I really really liked them. And they do look cool. They just do. Smoking has always been and will always be hella cool.

This cool.


And this cool: 



But, it turns out, without fags them I'm neither better nor worse. My lungs, of course, are better. I can run further and I can breathe more clearly and I don't smell and I've saved a few hundred quid. But my anxiety is no worse. And it really hasn't changed my life that much at all on a day to day basis. Feelings still come and go, anxiety still wells up and then recedes, sometimes things seem awful and black and scary and sometimes they seem pretty cool. Turns out the fags had nothing to do with any of it. I don't need them at all.

It's quite mental that there is an entire industry around giving up smoking. Like there is some magic fix. Like there is an outside force that can do it for you if you buy this book, take this drug (seriously, that is a demented idea), suck on this vapey thing or chew this revolting overpriced gum. It's easier to buy things, pay for snakeoil than make the choice.

Because it turns out smoking is totally under my control. When I have a yen for a smoke, which does happen, particularly when I am stressed or anxious, which is approx 89% of the time, I just choose not to. And the craving passes. Every time. So if I do something else for a bit I will forget.

And it's as simple as that.

Choose life, man.

Or at least, choose to do what's least damaging to yourself. However you measure it.

If only everything was so simple.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Deb 4 Cromwell

Sometime last year I picked up Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

Two days later I put it down again. And then picked up Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.

A day later I put that down and realised I'm in love with Thomas Cromwell. I mean, obviously. Of course I am. I always should have been. I've been reading Tudor history (fiction, faction and fact) since I was about nine and first picked up a Jean Plaidy.

I was so terrified by her depiction of Henry VIII in Murder Most Royal when I was about 11 that I started having nightmares about him. He was an ogre. A monster who murdered his wives. And just about the most fascinating person I'd ever come across. More fascinating even than Freddy Kreuger. And infinitely more terrifying.

I remember thinking that if I lived in those times and had to make the choices those people made, I would have said anything to keep myself alive. I would have had no truck with martyring myself. I would have happily recanted whatever was asked of me, if only to avoid being ripped limb from limb, burned at the stake or hanged, drawn and quartered.

Jean Plaidy rewrote history as tawdry romance. Bodice ripping sex romps with lost of torture and murders. It's a common treatment of the era. This was back in the day before historical fiction had a resurgence. My choices were Jean Plaidy or full on scholarly stuff. And I chose salacious terror. Everyone seemed to be in fear of their lives and everyone was sleeping with everyone else.

For all its terrifying fascination, Plaidy's Murder Most Royal, and particularly her books about Mary, Queen of Scots, completely caught my girlish imagination and started a semi obsession with the era that saw me read my way through every book possible.

Philippa Gregory's resurgence and 21st century sexed up treatment of the Boleyn Girls... Alison Weir'd back catalogue... Everything and anything. So when it came to 2009 and Mantel's Wolf Hall, I'd sort of become blase and fed up. The American series, The Tudors, starring a ridiculous cast and lots of fucking further convinced me that no one gives a real shit about the period and would rather turn it into a vaguely fact based Game of Thrones incest fest.

Fuck it, I thought.

No one can tell me anything new about Henry VIII and his buddies.

Then came Mantel. I still couldn't be arsed, honestly. Especially when she won the Man Booker prize. Every Booker prize winner I've ever read has been a bore-fest. So I picked up Wolf Hall in a charity shop. And it blew my mind.

It's easily the most genius depiction of these well worn characters I've ever read. Turning Cromwell into a real man, saving him from the usual depiction of cold, harsh asshole who just really wanted to make it difficult for More, showing him as human. Spinning the whole story on its ass and giving a new perspective? Astonishing. Mantel is one of the smartest writers I have ever read. And I've read a lot.

To see it played out on TV in just the perfect way just underlines the strength of her characterisation. Whoever has adapted her books has done a stunning job. Not just for the way it looks - every scene looks like a Holbein - or the perfect casting (Damian Lewis, finally FINALLY a convincing Henry VIII) - but for the writing. Somehow the Cromwell from the books is there, on screen. He's there.

Critics have moaned that it's not completely historically accurate. Which is nonsensical flim flam. Mantel makes no bones about the fact that this is her interpretation of Cromwell and his actions. Bizarrely, critic types, she wasn't actually there, so can't swear for totally certain that this is what he felt, this is how he thought, this is how he survived, this is why.

It's an era that is part familiar to us and part completely foreign. How can any of us really know how it was?  We live in a time of unprecedented freedom of thought, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Mantel spent five years researching Wolf Hall and it's as near as perfect as it's possible to be.

The last in the trilogy is out this year. I'm not sure I can stand the trauma of Cromwell's inevitable fall. Mantel has made me fall in love with a man from the 16th century. I don't want him to die.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The man in the tower

I live in a house that is pretty freaking awesome.

It looks like this (note the Grim Reaper to the left of the tower):



And it has a tower. The tower is there because back in the day Queen Victoria hightailed it down to the island so she could splash in the sea and do the dirty with dear Albert. She liked it so much she built a gigantic house with towers and shit:



And then all the posh people that had to do everything she did also came down and made Ryde, which was a small crappy fishing village, into a central hub of everything that was ace about Victoriana. Lots of bustles. lace, sailors, smuggling, black, repressed sexuality and, before long, mourning. .

So the dude who built my house built a tower too. According to my woolly sources, he may have been some sort of naval type and liked to look out over the sea, but he could have just been trying to keep up with the Saxe-Coburgs.

Whatever the case, it has a tower.

The tower is directly above my bedroom. When I moved in my, erm, well, my boyfriend I suppose I should say cos that's what he is, made sure to point out that there was probably a man living in the (locked) tower and that he would probably press his face against the misted glass window into my hallway. The window goes directly into the tower, but would only ever allow an obscured horror movie style face to show through, all distorted with that opaque glass.

As it's locked, I thought that I would not be able to see for myself where this man lives, but when I encountered an open door and a bemused builder the other day, I pushed him aside and legged it up there.

I made discoveries.

The room is has high ceilings and fat cherubs in every corner.



It's a store room with detritus and gubbins from the 60s and 70s. Someone used to sleep in there or at least get changed in there, before a night on the tiles. I know this because he left his Hai Karate there. Half used. Still smells as good as it did in the 60s.




As he used Hai Karate, in my mind he looked like this (the one on the right, obvs):




And for casual wear he would favour something like this: 



He was a social realist who liked a bit of salacious fiction:


And a bit of soft core phwoar:




And I'm totally OK with the fact that he lives in the tower room. He sounds ace.