Saturday, 29 December 2007

Dissatisfaction

I have yet to do my Christmas blog, things keep cropping up although the most recent event ought to enable me to get more done.

My television died.

If you like a black screen with an irritating repetitive clicking sound then I have just the tv for you.

Damn it. I'd watched one episode of the DVD I got for Christmas, the third season of The Secret Life Of Us. Which is, by the way, one of my all time favourite programs. So having it sitting on my shelf, taunting me with its newness is really quite distressing. Well disappointing.

I need a new tv. Right after the expense of Christmas. Excellent.
I'm thrilled.
No really, it's just that I'm hiding my ecstasy really well right now.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Song Of The Week III

I absolutely adore The Peatbog Faeries. I can't remember the first time I heard or saw them, only that I was hooked from the very first moment.

I think my favourite song of theirs is either Caberdrone or Macedonian Woman's Rant, but as I can find neither on youtube, this is the one I'm going with.

As far as I'm concerned, if there's fiddle and pipes you just can't go wrong. I'm pretty much in heaven.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Song Of The Week II

I absolutely love this song. I'm very grateful to my good friend Dominic for introducing me to Laura Marling and this song captured my attention from the first time I heard it and it has just grown and grown on me.

I've seen some comments on youtube that say the video is dull, now maybe I'm dull too, but I like the video too!

It's all rather super chaps!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

World Domination

I've been driving around today as I've finally started my Christmas shopping, and nearly completed it too by the way!
Anyway, I have come to the decision that when I finally get around to taking over the world I am going to start making some new laws.
The first one that I am desperate to instigate is that the imbeciles who make random manoeuvres in the road without indicating should have their tyres shot out. In fact all the drivers that get to T-junctions and fail to indicate which direction they intend to take will be getting their tyres shot out.
I have yet to figure out the logistics of this but I figure, seeing as I'll have taken over the world I'll have minions to think about the boring logistics.

I had thought about the death penalty for the indicator-less imbeciles but I wonder if that is not a smidgen on the extreme side. So it's death to the tyres instead.

I'm working on more laws and punishments for more heinous crimes, such as failing to recycle properly. I'm not sure what the punishment is for that yet. I think the shopping expedition has curtailed my imagination.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Countdown

I guess the countdown has officially begun. It's less than a week. Which also probably means I should get started on that whole Christmas lark. I do work best under a deadline so maybe leaving it until the last minute will be my new way of doing things.
I was always up late the night before an essay was due so maybe that's just the way I work. Although it might also be that I loathed essay writing and avoided it as long as humanly possible.
I've been quite frank this past year about my dislike of birthdays, which goes almost hand in hand with my dislike of Christmas and New Year.
For me the antipathy towards Christmas stems really from it being so incredibly commercialised and the sheer length of time it goes on for. If the excitement started in December I might find it easier to get excited, but by the time December finally rolls around I'm already weary of it. There's only so many illuminations the eye can take in before it starts to roll backwards into the head.
I was thinking about the twelve days of Christmas. Now most of the old songs get covered in the end, updated a little but really, it'd have to be the ninety days of Christmas. How long before advent calendars start in November?
I sound like Scrooge I'm sure, a certain amount of ribbing seems to be expected by those who share my feelings about Christmas. "Bah Humbug" being bandied around with regularity.
But you know, I don't really mind that, because it's better to accept these things, admit to yourself and everyone that there are times of the year you simply don't enjoy. We're all different. My Christmas is usually my festival time, hanging out, doing the things I love, listening to music I love and feeling completely and utterly relaxed. Maybe it's the essence of Christmas that seems to be being lost.
This is essentially a religious celebration, although over dates once celebrated by Pagans, it is now almost wholly seen as a Christian celebration. Not long until the Solstice though, which is on the 22nd. However, we forget all the origins and become obsessed with the gifts under the tree or the Coca-Cola'ised Santa.

Don't get me wrong, I love gifts, both in giving and receiving. Who doesn't really? Honestly?
Maybe I'm just being more honest this year about Christmas because my festival was so unhappy earlier in the year.
Maybe I'll just concentrate on working out some stonking resolutions for the brand-spanking-new year that is starting to work its way into my consciousness.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Song Of The Week I

I'm somewhat addicted to music, most of it of the folk variety, although my favourite thing about that genre is that it's such a hugely broad genre and can effectively encompass a myriad of other genres from blues to bluegrass, from country to klezmer, from fado to reggae, and so on and so on...

However I don't think this particular song would ever sneak into a folky genre.
But I love it all the same and it's been one of my most listened to songs this week, so in this splendid feature that is purely for my own benefit here it is:

You Know My Name by Chris Cornell:

I don't know exactly what it is that hooks me about it, but I love it. I did from the first time I heard it.
It made me want to watch the movie too, which, by the way, I was disappointed by. I know you some of you loved it, but despite how much more real Bond was, I missed the Bond of Roger Moore. I'm sure that's sacrilege to many but I like humorous Bond. I like Q and I like gadgets. What can I say. I'm a geek.
I know that Daniel Craig's Bond was closer to the Bond of the novels, but still.
That's not to say that Mr Craig didn't make a damn fine Bond, for he did.
Anyway, as is my wont, I digress. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Dogsitting

I'm not used to having a dog. I forget that if you put something edible on the floor, it's not likely to remain there for long. I also forget that this pooch:has a predilection for discovering what treasures you have chosen to throw away. Unfortunately, yesterday I chose to throw away an almost empty container of Poppy Red hair dye. The little white Louis is now a little pink. I may have chortled a little.

I was walking him this morning and saw the funkiest blackbird. It had a completely white 'forehead' and was covered with little white spots, so that it looked almost polka-dot. It's been a long time since I've seen any wild albino animals, I guess they're too much of a target to predators, but damn he was funky. I want one!

On Monday when I went to the barn I pulled up in front of the barn doors and noticed a flock of birds splashing in one of the big puddles and realised I was watching dozens of fieldfares all enjoying a good bathing session. I sat in my car and watched as they seemed to play, splashing each other. I can't remember the last time I saw a fieldfare and I wonder if they're on their way to somewhere warmer, stopping briefly in my puddle for a spruce up. I checked, and it seems they winter here, so I'd love to know where they spend their summers.

I've been after a chair for my bathroom for ages and on Monday I spotted the campest purple chair ever, and for a bargain price so it was mine. Or so I thought. Someone else has proclaimed ownership:

It's a bit of a rubbish photo, but Mifford is already covering my camp chair with her furry self. She really believes that what's mine is also hers.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Ouch

I finally relented and went to the doctor. I'd decided in my head that the spasms of pain were phantom gall bladder pains. Yeah, because I had medical training and everything. Ahem.
Turns out that my kidneys are unhappy. And in turn I am unhappy.
Who knew that if you ignore pain it doesn't actually just eventually go away.
After wandering round London coping with bouts of pain and then round Lincoln Christmas Market last night with it kicking off, then this morning waking up with it I decided it was time to relent.

I had a splendid time at the Market last night, despite being soaked to the skin and doing an excellent impression of Alice Cooper with my non-waterproof make-up. It was raining so much that I was dearly sorry I'd got annoyed with my huge umbrella so quickly and made the rash decision to leave it in Harriet's shop - which looks splendid by the way.
On a positive note, it did mean that there was nothing to prevent me from running and jumping in puddles, when you're already soaked, what difference does it make?

Monday, 3 December 2007

Adventures In The Big Smoke

"Our weapons were our instruments,
Made from timber and steel,
We never yielded to conformity,
But stood like kings,In a chariot that's riding on a record wheel."

I made it there and back to London without sustaining injury, although of course not without incident.

Gin and I made our way to Newark to hop on the train and make our way down South. We were somewhat premature in our arrival in Newark and decided to pass some time in TK Maxx where I wish I'd purchased this hat:

I think it looks suitably eccentric I'm sure you'll agree. It's a damn shame it's not in my wardrobe. Anyway, after resisting the purchase of a hat and Gin not resisting purchase of a new skirt and handbag we made our way to the station where the train was running just three minutes late. All rather a smooth start to the weekend, which is a little unsettling in my world of chaos.
However, we made our way to our plush First Class seats and had the delight of being seated next to two of the most po-faced women I've had the misfortune to know. They also managed to be rude and ignorant, one actually holding a magazine between us when she spoke across the table. I mean really, did she think I gave a shit what she had to say?
The younger of the two managed to drop her case/bag on Gin's head, at which point she became profusely apologetic and proved that there was someone human living deep inside the miserable exterior.

The tube scares me to death. It's like my brain just refuses to even attempt to understand the map of the various lines. I stand in front of it and it starts to blur like a magic eye puzzle but fails to reveal any magical image. So I followed Gin around as we went off to buy some tickets to get ourselves from Kings Cross to Hammersmith. The last time I've seen queues like that I was hoping to buy tickets for Cambridge Folk Festival. We stood and queued patiently, finally reaching the front to be greeted with a screen asking us which zones we wanted to travel in. Hmm, you'd think we'd have known that, but no. We plumped for zones 1-6. Turns out we needed zones 1-2. Oh well. We made it Hammersmith, emerged from the tube and paused to check which direction we should head in to locate the hotel. At which point a hugely tall man accosted us, demanding fags whilst calling us darling. The guy towered above me and I fairly ran in the opposite direction dragging my wee case behind me.

Gin had made a rather splendid choice on the hotel front and it was above a lovely pub, the room was really good too (with the exception of my need for oxygen after climbing the stairs to get to it). I laid myself on the bed and marvelled at the fact in the space of just a few moments I'd heard more car horns and sirens than I've heard in the past few years. There's something about living in a village that makes you forget this other world exists. The sky started to darken and I drew the curtains, the room was cold and I wanted to keep the heat in. I flicked on the television at one point, sat on the bed, put my pillow behind me and leaned against the headboard. I hadn't realised that the bed and the headboard were not one. The bed suddenly shot away from the wall, leaving me flailing to avoid falling down the ever increasing gap. I'm the picture of elegance don't you know. Later as we got ready to go to the gig I pulled back a curtain to look out and remarked that it never gets dark. I'd forgotten that too. I'm so used to being able to step outside and see all the stars in the sky. Out at my barn the dark is so pervasive that you can barely make out your own hand held in front of you.

Eventually we made it to the venue. We joined yet another queue, this time to park our coats. I have no idea how the two girls checking coats in were so slow. It was painful. There can have been no more than a couple of dozen people in front of us and it took the best part of half an hour. I started to wonder if it would be possible to be in the centre of a crowd, bouncing and still wearing a heavy winter coat. I'm sure it's possible but whether you'd also survive I have no idea. As soon as the coats had been parked we went to grab some drinks and were told that if we had bottles of water that the tops would have to be removed. Err, why? We puzzled and asked and were told that they could be used as missiles. Yeah because the empty bottle would never be used as a missile. And as for the glass bottles that littered the floor later on? Hmm, I'm not sure I understand their thinking. Very soon after we got our drinks the support act started. You never know quite what you're going to get with a support act but I can honestly say that Ash Grunwald was absolutely excellent. His guitar playing blew my mind, at one point strumming so fast I couldn't see his hand.




Seriously, check it out at about 1:50. Oh my god! Obviously it doesn't hurt that he's incredibly hot with amazing hair.

So then it was time for The Cat Empire and oh my goodness how good were they? Fucking amazing! It was like being in the middle of the carnival. The gig was sold out. I danced and danced and bounced and bounced. I don't think I could ever tire of hearing Harry scat or watching Felix! It was a night for the beautiful men. Gin and I were a few rows back in front of the stage and right in the middle of the melee of dancing, I love being there getting soaked in the atmosphere, but I span round and looked at the three levels of stalls above me and every person was on their feet and dancing and jumping. It was as though you couldn't help but move to the music. The only downside was the incredibly drunk dancers who ended up slamming into you, smacking you in the head or such. One ended up almost collapsed against me repeatedly, I hope he bears the bruises from our wee skirmish!
I'm aching today from all the dancing, which is always a good sign that I had a great night!
For a good portion of the evening a pair of incredibly tall men stood behind us, talking about their desperation to hear them do 'The Chariot' (lyrics from which appear at the top of this entry), one of the guys was apparently quite desperate for the toilet but afraid to leave as he was sure as soon as he did that they'd play it. Gin and I kept exchanging glances and chuckles. Until we heard him say that if he didn't go soon it would start to dribble out the end. I collapsed into giggles as Gin advised him that peeing whilst standing behind her would be something she would be quite unhappy about. Ah, the extra entertainment.

They did play The Chariot, for their final encore of two. I love the moment when the sound of the crowd changes, there's this almost imperceptible moment as the noise changes from the applause and cheering to the slow stomp that demands more, increasing in speed until you're clapping and stamping as fast as you possibly can. As the band retake the stage you suddenly feel the stinging in the palms of your hands. I love it.

Sadly, as we were slowly shuffling off the dance floor to retrieve our coats there was a bit of a dampener on the end of the evening as we made our way up the stairs I saw a pint of beer thrown over a young lady. I went and checked she was ok, chatted with her a while, waited with her as we all retrieved our coats, made sure that someone would take care of her as she wasn't a Londoner either. The thing that got me was that she kept asking why I was being so nice and you know, I honestly didn't feel that I was being. I just know I'd want someone to be decent to me if the situation was reversed. I'm not sure what it says about the world that we are surprised when people are kind to one another. Again my village mentality where we look out for one another comes to the fore, I can't imagine being any other way.
Anyway, if you're out there reading this my lovely, I hope you're really well and that I hope you do really well at University. Lots of love and luck to you x

Gin and I headed off to find food, the gig had started unnaturally early at 6pm so we hadn't had dinner. I can't quite adjust to the fact that everything is open so late. The buses stop at 5pm around here! And places have stopped serving by the time gigs end. The only thing that was ever open as we ended an evening in Lincoln would be the late night chip shops. Gin and I headed into Cafe Rouge though and it was really very nice. A gorgeous spinach tart, followed by a trio of desserts. I'm ashamed to admit I only finished one of the trio. I couldn't even manage the chocolate cake! Then, back to the hotel and an early night although I was again amazed that the noise never stops. I don't know when my bumpkin persona will ever leave me. But I'm used to almost absolute silence and the incessant traffic and sirens stunned me.

Sunday came around, we slowly brought ourselves to life, showering, dressing and packing up. We sauntered down to breakfast and then set off for Liverpool Street to meet my niece, Chloe, for a spot of retail therapy.
As we met Chloe we endeavoured to locate the left luggage to stow away the overnight case we'd taken. We stood in yet another queue and finally the man yelled 'Next' and it was our turn.
"How many?" he asked
"One" I replied
"Are you all together?"
"Yes"
"And you just have one case?"
"Yes! We're girls AND we can pack our stuff into one small case!"
The look of disbelief and shock would have been less had Nessie herself strode into the room.

We wandered around Covent Garden where I think I found my favourite Christmas decoration ever. Just one of these and I could declare my house decorated. I could also however call it packed to the gills.

I'm loving the way the people posed in front so that you can get a good sense of scale. Quite considerate of them.


We wandered in and out of shops, my favourite obviously being the Cybercandy place. They sell Cookie Dough Kit Kat Chunky bars, what's not to like? I mean really. Although the Pinky bar I bought and ate earlier may have left me feeling a little sick. Turns out that mallow, caramel and chocolate isn't the greatest combination after all. My, what a disappointment that is. No, really. I'm disappointed.

A little while later a crowd had gathered and we joined them to see a woman performing on the circus silks. I was so completely absorbed in it, I only took one photograph - and it's not a good one, but I'm sharing it anyway. Oh you lucky people you.

It's worth pointing out that the only thing below her was concrete. She was holding herself up completely and it was absolutely brilliant, twisting herself up in the silks, then dropping to just a couple of feet from the floor. An unexpected delight, and something that made a tiny, tiny place for London in my heart, that you can walk around and see this. Or indeed watch the man juggling a chainsaw outside.

Eventually we said our goodbyes to Chloe and headed off to collect our case, which we could hear the man dragging in our direction as you would an excited puppy. In fact it had a habit of wobbling around like a puppy with an over-active tail. Both Gin and I took to talking to it. Hmm.

We arrived at Kings Cross early and decided to find a pub outside of the station to sit in and have a drink. And a huge plate of nachos as it turned out, my they were good! As the time for our train drew nearer we headed back to the station and as we entered we were hit with a feeling of dreadful foreboding. There was an incredible amount of people just standing around. We moved towards the boards to find the platform for our train. Oh dear. Every single train was delayed, for an unknown length of time. It's amazing how cold one's bottom can become when sitting on a platform floor for a while. Eventually they called us and tried to fit two trainloads of people onto one train. Accosted by drunken men as we stepped on the train we made our way towards our seats, hearing along the way that all reservations had been cancelled and immediately slid into two vacant seats. Relieved to have seats we relaxed and were pleased to note that the people sharing our table on our return journey were friendly. Hurrah! Sadly not everyone was feeling friendly as an altercation started in between the carriages. GNER staff seemed to appear from nowhere. We had an unplanned stop as they tried to eject the people involved. We were all thrilled for the further delay. It made for an interesting journey though. Well it would never do for it to be straight forward. I'd be lost without my chaos!

We eventually made it home, after relaying our tales of drama and hilarity to our fellow passengers and raising some chuckles, we dismounted the train and Gin thanked them for being a wonderful audience.

I had a great weekend. When's the next gig?

Friday, 30 November 2007

Immeasurably Excited

Tomorrow I shall be heading to London. Now, I am quite terrified of the Big Smoke but that is offset by the fact I shall be watching these fine fellows:

I adore the cat empire and I cannot wait to have a tremendous dance. There will be pinkness to the face and much glowing. Basically I'll dance so much I'll be very sweaty. My how attractive that won't be. But I don't care!

I'm a real bumpkin, I love the countryside. I've said this before, but I like living where everyone, even the truculent teenagers, says hello or wishes you a good day. I like that we all make eye contact and smile at one another. In the city everyone seems to stare unblinkingly straight ahead or at the pavement. Around here we saunter and stroll, things feel leisurely. I find it hard to switch to city mode, especially London-mode where everything seems to work at a much faster pace. It makes me feel like I should be dressed in the stereotypical dungarees with a piece of straw for chewing.

However, I'm seeing The Cat Empire tomorrow and I'm terribly excited. (Not sure if I mentioned that already). Did I mention the dancing? Oh how I love to dance.
I love their description of themselves: "Where hip hop meets reggae, where jazz is played with dirty hands, where a Cuban line meets an Aussie rule, where nothing seems in place, but sounds like many places played in one earthy chord. This is the island where The Cat Empire was born." Oh yes indeed.

I'm quite excited you know.
The real bonus to all of this is that I get to go with my sister, Gin, who I see very infrequently as she's hidden away in the wilds of the Orkney Islands.
I'm doing a little excited dance. It's a shame you're missing it.

And now I'm off to view an auction, which is equally exciting.
I love auctions, although I am incredibly prone to bidders twitch. As belied by the lamp in my bedroom. If I haven't won the lots I wanted then I start to get twitchy and bid for things that I don't entirely want to own. And those are the ones that I win. Also belied by the number of old trunks and suitcases scattered around my home. Mmmm auctions.

Next weekend is the Lincoln Christmas Market, if you've never been - shame on you. 'Tis wonderful. Although I think if I were to partake of the Hog Roast or the Mulled Wine I might get more into the spirit of it. But seriously? Eugh! I'll stick to the roast chestnuts thank you very much.
Also next weekend, my other sister, Siobhan will be over so that's super-cool too. Ha! I'm listening to Isaac Hayes singing 'Shaft' and it made me write super-cool. I'm so impressionable.

And also next weekend, my beautiful friend Harriet is opening her first shop and I'm so very excited for her. You should make sure to visit her website... go on, it's over there on the sidebar, under Heating Up The Credit Card. She's tastyvintage.

It's more excitement than I know what to do with.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Sheila?

My phone rings, a number I don't recognise is displayed and I wonder who it can be, run though all the possibilities and yet with my imagination, I'm never right.

Me:Hello?
Caller: Sheila?
Me: Er No, I think you have the wrong number, I'm sorry.
Caller: Oh, I'm so, so sorry.
Me: No that's fine, don't worry.
Caller: I'm really very sorry.
Me: Really it's fine. Bye.
Caller: Sorry!

A few minutes pass. My phone rings. This time I recognise the number.

Me: I'm really sorry, it's still the wrong number.
Caller: Oh my goodness, I'm trying to.. well... my granddaughter... bad car accident. Oh my goodness.
Me: Oh... Er...
Caller: I'm so very, very sorry.
Me: No really, it's no trouble. Don't worry.
Caller: Oh but it is such trouble for you!
Me: Honestly it's fine.
Caller: Oh I'm sorry. I don't know what... Oh dear...
Me: Um...

And she was gone. I might add there was a significant amount of slurring.
I love that I just sit here, minding my own business and the weirdness just comes right to my door. But seriously, what is it with me and wrong numbers?

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I don't know how I got to be 32 and have no idea of the general storyline of Wuthering Heights.
I knew Heathcliff was a dark brooding character and I knew Cathy was cold and wanted to be let in at the window (thanks to Kate Bush obviously).
So, when I came to read the book I was shocked to find Heathcliff wasn't the hero I expected. I thought that he would follow in the footsteps of Mr Darcy and Mr Rochester. I'm stunned at how wrong I was. I don't know that I've ever read a book where the hero is such a villain and I'm not sure how we ever romanticised him.

On the flip side it was really refreshing that I didn't know what to expect, that the whole story was such a surprise to me. I've since read an essay about whether Heathcliff was actually meant to be interpreted as a murderer too. It's clear he's violent, malicious and cruel but whether he's directly responsible for the death of Hindley is subjective, although I feel sure he was indirectly responsible.

After going to a lecture about Jane Eyre and hearing a little about Emily Bronte as well, I was even keener to read Wuthering Heights and I'm pleased I have done. I like the way that she develops her characters and I loved Joseph, even though I had to read his speech over and over to understand what he was saying.

I'm really enjoying catching up with some of the classics, interspersing them with contemporary fiction, it feels like opening more and more doors to more and more worlds.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Spiderweb

Just a little one as I promised to share my spiderweb tights - to fully illustrate that they are indeed funky but useless against the cold.

Behold:

Friday, 23 November 2007

Duck Races

I finally got round to getting all the little videos from my phone onto the computer. I had to share this one because it really tickles me, although you may have needed to be there.

Every year we have duck races in the beck just down the road from my house and it's just great fun, with the village green filled with stalls, the road closed, a brass band playing. It feels so typically English and I love it.

It also reminds me of the warm days we had and with the nights closed in now and a chill permanently in the air, it's nice to remember.

So here you go, the final race of the annual duck races, complete with my chortling.

video

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Beyond The Surreal

I don't know if it's just the sheer volume of things that I'm thinking/worrying about at the moment but my dreams are moving into a world beyond the surreal.
The dream about
the tiger was bizarre enough, but the one of last night was so incredibly bizarre.
My real world is a strange enough place that it doesn't feel possible that things can get weirder in my dream world.
And then I have a dream about peeing in public without a hint of embarrassment and being chatted up at the same time. And as for the part where my doctors appointment was broadcast via speakerphone? Really, try to find that in a dream dictionary. I dare you! No! I double dare you.
And if you do happen to be able to tell me what it all means, that'd be just great.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Solitary Shoes & Sirens

I didn't slide down the stairs on the big flattened box and I sorely wish I had. Which is better than being sore I suppose!

I was very good, took all my boxes for recycling and then decided to pop and do some shopping, but as I had a chore to do in town, I parked at the supermarket and walked in. I have to say, it's bloody cold out there today and whilst my tights are damn funky, the fact that they're not unlike cobwebs means they don't keep your legs too toasty.
Anyway, I digress (again)!
As I sauntered into town I noticed a single, solitary shoe. Really, why did I just write single and solitary. The word solitary doesn't really need that addition! Tautology! One of my new favourite words. Thank you to the lovely person that taught me it!


Oh! Digression!

So, this shoe got me to thinking. Why is it always a single shoe? When do you ever see an abandoned pair of shoes? And this shoe was all moccasin-like, I'm sure before it got rained on that it was toasty-warm. Why did its owner decide that they'd rather have one warm foot and one cold foot? Did it drop off in the car park as they stepped into their vehicle and they failed to notice that they were driving with a bare foot? If that's the case, exactly how much beer would you have to consume not to notice a thing like that?

Also, you always see a single trainer by the side of the road. Where does it come from? There you are driving down your country lane and a bright white trainer sits staring at you. Did I disturb it from some deed? Are all these single shoes having affairs with the single socks that run away from the washing machine? Are they eloping off into the sunset together?
It has to be said that a sunset made from escaped socks and shoes might not be a particularly fragrant affair.

And on a note that is totally unrelated apart from the fact it was also a thought that spent some time in my mind today, I saw three ambulances making their way through town centre traffic this afternoon as I walked back to the supermarket. As long as I live I don't think the sound of the sirens will cease to send shivers down my spine or create a feeling of nausea deep in my stomach. I find myself looking to see how many are riding up front, wanting to know if they're going to help someone or are on their way to the hospital.
I instantly find myself imagining being in the position of the person needing help and the sense of urgency you must feel. Every second drags as you wait for help. I want to go and shake the people in the cars who fail to move when the ambulance closes in behind them. The same is true of fire engines.
I want to shake them, what if it was your house on fire? What if it was you, your parents, your children, your partner, your friend in or waiting for that ambulance? What then? How you'd curse that ignorant driver then.

Adult Supervision

Sometimes I think that I might need some kind of supervision.
I got this computer chair a few weeks back and am finally getting ready to take the box to the recycling. Now it's a huge box and once I'd flattened it, I was overcome with an overwhelming urge to slide down the stairs on it.
Because really, how much fun would that be? Admittedly it would be more fun if I didn't have the precarious stairs that I do have. I think you need stately home stairs for that kind of thing.
For the record, I haven't done it, but the box remains at the top of the stairs. Temptation is a terrible thing.
If only I didn't have this dodgy coccyx...

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Eavesdropping

As I stood in a Post Office yesterday a dapper older gentleman stood at the adjacent window chattering happily. The lady serving him asked him how he wanted his money and he asked for small notes. There was then the clatter of coins and he started, looked down, looked up at the lady and said; "Well not quite that small!" She chuckled and said that was just the change for the item he'd just paid for.
He grinned, cocked his head and said; "Oh, I'm so sorry, I'm all of a tizz today, my wife kissed me this morning and I wasn't expecting it."

I'm still chuckling to myself.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

High Heels

There comes a time in life when you have to accept a few home truths.
I have to accept that, as much as I covet high heels, I absolutely, cannot walk in them.
I went to the hospital this evening to see my stepfather, following a surgery and thought I'd be good and park a short distance away and have a bit of a walk. Except I was wearing heels. I never wear heels. About a quarter of the way my calves started to complain and I pondered the wisdom of parking where I had. Half way I started to panic about the walk back to the car.
Three quarters of the way there my left ankle decided that it seriously objected to my choice of footwear and refused to proceed.
It's really difficult to limp in heels. Just for reference.
So let's bear in mind it's almost freezing out there, I am walking like a crazed drunkard, I go for the only option available. Shoe removal.
I wouldn't believe a pavement could get that cold.
On a positive note, my feet were so numb that it didn't hurt to walk on the gravel.

I made it back to the car, forced my feet back into the shoes and drove to the hospital and parked as close to main entrance as possible. I walked (read:hobbled) across the car park and made it inside the hospital. As far as the chapel, where I didn't stop to pray but to remove my shoes. Walking in bare feet whilst wrapped in a huge winter coat doesn't make you look at all odd. Ahem.
I held my head high and strode on, I'm used to getting strange looks and as time goes on I just don't care any more.

It was good to see that Tim was doing well, they both eyed my bare feet and the shoes clutched in my hand and Mum said that explained why they hadn't heard my approach.

I gave up completely on even trying to walk back to the car in them and strode back down the corridors in my bare feet and out into the cold air, ignoring the glances from passers-by, I'm sure they thought I'd escaped my strait jacket.

It's been ages since I drove barefoot, but I couldn't bear to have them back on my feet. I picked up Gary for the pub quiz, hobbling out of the car after he demanded I go into the house to see his exciting news. And I was mightily pleased I did! They're buying a house. It's exciting and brilliant.

So, off to the quiz. I walked to the pub, insisting Gary let me lean on him so that I didn't enter the pub shoeless. Weird that I worry about the floor of the pub, more than that of the street. But seriously, would you want to be barefoot in a pub toilet? No? I thought not!

Anyway, I am home, without incident, my shoes kicked off in the conservatory, never to be worn again. My ankle aching gently. I think this means my gorgeous orange shoes have to go. It's time to give in and accept if I want to wear a heel, it has to be of the kitten variety.

And by the way, we did really badly in the quiz, I moved aside for Gary to be able to collect the booby prize when our team was called out. Then we were both shocked to discover someone had actually been worse, with almost half the amount of points we had. How that's possible I'm not quite sure.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Posturing

Recently, every time I've driven to my barn the pheasants have been out in force. I really want to know what is driving their behaviour as there is definite posturing.
It's not the mating season and yet they are facing off against each other, staring down, totally unaware of everything around them. I had to stop on the road as one pair unblinkingly tried to intimidate the other, before they alternately jumped, feet first with claws outstretched at the head of the other.
Why are they doing this?
One friend suggested their pea sized brains makes them stupid, but that seems overly harsh. They must have something that leads them to behave in this manner deep in their instinctual behaviour.
Another friend suggested that as winter approaches perhaps it's a claim for territory as food grows scarcer. That's my current favourite theory.

I just know it's really quite impressive to watch, their colours are so bright and vibrant it's hard to tear your eyes away. I would love to be a photographer to be able to sit and capture an image of them.

The past few days the air has changed. Winter is squeezing Autumn out of existence and the chill in the air is clear as your breath forms clouds in front of you with each exhale. Finally I get to dig through my trunk to find my wealth of scarves and wear my long vintage gloves. Simple pleasures. Aren't they the best kind?

Friday, 9 November 2007

Question

So, here's a question.

Why did my smoke alarm choose to start its death throes not only in the middle of the night, but also during a power cut when I had no lighting by which to see?

They say timing is everything, but quite frankly, its timing sucked.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Wrong Numbers

Phone rings.
I run up the stairs, cursing forgetting to bring the cordless downstairs.
Me: Hello!
Gentleman Caller: Hello, how are you?
Me: Fine thanks, and you? (thinking, who the hell is it?)
G. C.: Who is it?
Me: Who am I or who are you? (thinking, is it a test to see if I remember them, then thinking, shit, I don't remember them)
G. C.: Who are you?
Me: Who were you expecting?
G. C.: My sister.
Me: Then I'm definitely about to disappoint you.
G. C.: Oh, I wanted to wish her a Happy Birthday.
Me: Well, you're five months late, but you can wish me a Happy Birthday if you like?
G. C.:Happy Birthday!
Me: Well thank you!
G. C.: I suppose I'd better go find my sister.
Me: Ta ra!

That now holds the record for the most belated birthday greeting of my life.

On an unrelated note, my friend Paul - who has blackmailed me in the past, called me last night to tell me he forgot to poke his jacket potato. Which, isn't as rude as it sounds, but it did result in his oven door blowing open.
And Paul... I'm still waiting on photos of the debris.
The moral of this story - always prod your potato.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

A Friend Of The Family - Lisa Jewell

Ok, so it's not going to win the Booker prize or anything, nor any other prestigious literature awards, but I really enjoyed it. But then, I've enjoyed everything of hers that I've read. She has a way of describing the characters that make you feel you've met them somewhere before, throughout the course of the book you feel like you wish you were friends with all the characters.
She creates an empathy in you and I always fly through her books.

She took what seemed like a perfect family, exposed their flaws, all flaws you felt you could have in yourself or recognised in others and made you realise that people change. Who you were is not who you are, nor who you are going to be.

Yeah, so it might have a hint of the old Mills & Boon, you know you're likely to get a happy ending and you know what? I love that once in a while. I'm a woman, I like my fairy-tale endings. I love Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing and Amelie just as much as I love Battle Royale, Leon or Like Water For Chocolate.

So, as I haven't even mentioned it really, A Friend Of The Family tells the story of Bernie & Gerry, happily married for 40 years and their three sons; Tony, Sean and Ned.
Tony's in a relationship with Ness and unsure, running his own business which he's made successful but isn't happy.
Sean, a published author who is in love with Millie until she throws him a curve ball and he questions everything.
Ned, home from a three year stay in Australia - where he's left his girlfriend, Monica who loses it when he leaves her and takes to sending him her hair and eyelashes amongst other things.
Then there's Gervase, the lodger who knows things...

I really liked it, easy reading and I was almost tempted to pick up another of hers that I haven't read from my shelf. But am moving on to Wuthering Heights instead, which I can't believe I've never read.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Love

I love Autumn. I sit beavering away at my desk and the only view I have from my window is of trees. More and more of the sky is becoming visible as the leaves fall and the skeleton of the tree is revealed.
I've loved watching the colours change, the remaining leaves are a bright yellow and starkly contrast against the deep green of the evergreen firs.
I love the confetti feeling as you walk and the leaves tumble around you.

But what I really love is running, skipping and jumping through the piles of leaves that accumulate on the paths. I love kicking them and watching them fly. Because there are parts of me that never grew up and I hope they never do.

I love jumping in puddles. Running in the rain until I'm soaked through. I love finding a grassy hill, laying down and rolling all the way to the bottom so that I'm so dizzy it's only the colours of the heavens and those of the earth that let me know which way is up.

I love the smiles that these things put on my face. Such broad smiles that your cheeks hurt, which in turn leads to those hearty laughs that come from so deep within you.

These are indeed, a few of my favourite things.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Here On Earth - Alice Hoffman

I laid in the bath this evening, bubbles seeming to continue to multiply whilst simultaneously popping near my ears and decided to read a couple of chapters of my book.
I'm not entirely sure what time I got into the bath but I think it was about two hours before I finally realised the water was cool and the bubbles had all but gone.
Turned out that a couple of chapters wasn't enough, I finished the book. And loved it.

It went in a direction that I felt I should have anticipated but hadn't and was hanging on every word. I occasionally find myself jumping to the last sentence of the page I'm on, in a rush to have an answer to what's happening within the paragraph I'm reading.
I remember my grandmother read a lot of crime books, she told me that she always read the end of the book first so that she wouldn't grow to like the character of the murderer and end up being disappointed in them.
I can understand that to an extent. The characters in this didn't develop as I thought they would, the relationships changed in ways I didn't expect. What I was sure would be the end didn't even feature.
There were lines I wanted to memorise for their beauty whilst carrying envy I didn't put those sentences together myself.

All this from a tale of a mother and daughter, March and Gwen, gone to a funeral in March's home town and the story of the strength of her passion for her first love.

I loved how the storytelling swapped from mother to daughter to friend to person to person in the blink of an eye. Seeing everything from all angles and so very accurate in showing that so many situations are not the way you imagine because your vision is coloured by your assumptions.

It was beautiful and sad, touching and heart wrenching.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Tuppences

As I stood in the Post Office this evening with my mammoth pile of parcels a guy came to the window and I overheard him saying he wanted to pay a bill. I wasn't really paying attention until I heard a strange noise and glanced in his direction. He had a huge margarine tub filled with tuppences and pennies.
I attempted to surreptitiously glance at the bill to see how much it was. Almost £200.

I tried to imagine what £200 in tuppences would look like.
The lady behind the counter narrowed her eyes and said "It isn't ALL tuppences is it?"
The chap said that not all of it was, but a lot of it was coins.
Then proceeded to tip them all out.
It was the kind of noise you dream of every time you play a fruit machine. Or in my case those tuppence machines that I play until my fingers turn black, all the while determined to win the piece of tat just out of reach. Then when it finally falls and is within my grimy hands, I stand, stare and wonder what the hell I was thinking. Well it's either that or my determination to make the giant overhang of coins make that delicious crash, until you stoop to collect your winnings and realise you fed the machine with over a quid and have twenty pence to show for it.

Anyway, it would never, ever occur to me to go in and pay with a margarine tub full of coins.
I'd be incredibly embarrassed. What's so uncool about coins? Especially those little pennies and tuppences?

Patterns

Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.
- G. K. Chesterton

I like to see patterns in things. Most of the time I imagine them, but I like the world of coincidences.
When I collect my parcels together and complete the certificates of posting I like it when all the people have the same initial, or all live in houses with names not numbers. Just feels like something in the world lined up neatly.

I've rediscovered my love of reading and am to be found, nose deep in a book at some point every day. I've always had a love of books, but once out of the habit of reading it was far easier to sit and watch tv instead. Now that my love of fiction has been reawakened I'm flying through book after book.

I'm currently reading Here On Earth by Alice Hoffman which I can't get enough of. It sat on the shelf for a long time and now I feel sorry that I didn't get to the story before. But I like the pattern that I'm imagining exists that links book to book to book. The main female character is called March, in my previous book (The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd) had characters called August, May & June. See? There's a link, they're all named after months of the year.
I know I'm imagining it but still...

And the link from The Secret Life Of Bees to the book prior to that (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee) laid in the racial tensions evident in both.

Is everything linked in the world in some way? In this small world of ours? Is it all subject to those six degrees of separation?

I must say though that I really liked The Secret Life Of Bees, every now and then you watch or read something and wonder if maybe you don't want to be a beekeeper? Or a jet pilot (Top Gun)? Or able to talk to the animals (Dr Dolittle)!
Those stories set in a time of such change, like The Secret Life Of Bees and To Kill a Mockingbird really change your view of the world and they make me wonder how I would have felt and behaved all those decades ago. Would I still hold the same views that I have now? After all, Atticus Finch speaks about how women weren't allowed to be on juries - he joked that we'd talk too much and ask too many questions. Uttering such a thing today would result in uproar from the sexual equality groups. Although I am all for equality, it has to be said, I'd quite like to have been spared from the mind-numbing boredom that was jury service.

Anyway, I am loving all the books I'm reading. I've either been very lucky or am too easily pleased but I haven't, thus far, found many books I haven't enjoyed. I found D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow quite hard work but enjoyed it all the same somehow.
The only book in my life I can ever remember hating was Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I know it won awards but I couldn't even bring myself to finish it. Nor could I bring myself to allow it shelf space.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Karma's A Bitch

So I've driven to Stansted and back today already and it's only 10.30am
I love other drivers, I really do.
I'm very grateful for the way they examine my rear bumper so closely when driving behind me.
I also love how, when driving precisely half a mile faster than the lorry in front of them, a lorry pulls out and proceeds to take five miles to overtake. I like how they indicate to let you know they're going to pull out, but how they always time it until they're three-quarters of the way into your lane anyway, thus encouraging you to test that your brakes are operational. I appreciate how my safety is at the forefront of their mind.

And to the guy who drove remarkably slowly in front of me, refusing to pull in, then when finally overtaken seemed to develop some sort of temper tantrum and floored it as he passed me again, I say Ha! And once again Ha! I hope you enjoyed your little chat with the gentleman in uniform that pulled you over. I love Karma, especially when it's a bitch (and not at my expense).

I'm pleased to see Friday roll around, it hasn't been the best of weeks, with its fair share of bad news. I almost made a full week without injury too, until last night. I look like a troop of mosquitoes partied on my arm, but I just burned it. What is the name for a number of mosquitoes? A swarm? Hmm, if so, they need something more impressive.
After all, it's a murder of crows, a crash of hippos, a parliament of owls, I think that mosquitoes deserve something, purely for their irritation value.

I just looked and birds have, by far, the best collective names.
Check it out:
A murmuration of starlings.
An unkindness of ravens.
A convocation of eagles.
A charm of finches.
A pitying of turtledoves.
I wonder how much they vary country to country, continent to continent?

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Dreams

I don't usually remember my dreams these days but last nights has stuck with me.

So, although I'm at a house I've never been in before I know it's home.
I'm in the front garden behind a bush (what I was doing there I have no idea) but suddenly a full grown tiger strolls into the garden. He sniffs around the lawn and then saunters out again. I emerge from behind the shrubbery and make a dash for the front door, which is one of those that is almost entirely glass and as I turn to shut it and lock it, the tiger has reappeared.
In a very human manner he's got a paw in the door to stop me shutting it. Then suddenly his nose is in the gap of the door and I'm punching him in the nose!
(Because that would happen!)
He pulls back and I shut the door but whichever way I turn the key it won't lock and I have to keep pushing on the door to keep the tiger out.

And this is where it gets weirder, for some reason the tiger is suddenly sitting on a newspaper, not a broadsheet, just a little tabloid affair. The tiger shrinks and goes to sleep. I open the door, roll up the tiger in the newspaper, run down the street and throw it away.

I run back to my house, but the tiger has woken up by being thrown away (funny that) and is chasing me again - and is back to full size! His paw is in the door again as I slam it shut but this time I manage to remove the paw and lock the door.

Then I woke up.

What the hell is that about?
Now I know your dreams are supposed to work through what happened that day, but I was not in contact with a single tiger all day! Honest!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Calamitous

Tim and I drive to the airport so that he can fly off and join Mum in France.
We arrive, take a ticket from the machine, which gives you precisely ten free minutes - is it me or is that not a wee bit on the stingy side?
East Midlands Airport does everything in its power to ensure you will end up paying for your parking, yes, you get ten free minutes - but it then forbids you from stopping almost anywhere but a designated space, all costing precious minutes. Now it's not that I'm especially tight with money, it's just that if I'm going to take out a mortgage, I'd prefer it to be for a house, not for parking in their car park.
Eventually we find somewhere to stop, Tim unloads his things and heads off to the departures whilst I head to the exit, still with five minutes to spare. I get to the exit, wind down the window (grateful to be in their car which has windows that wind down unlike my own lovely vehicle). Ticket in hand, I stick my arm through the window and aim for the slot. I'm not sure if the car rolled or if the wind caught the ticket but suddenly it was gone.
I flung the car into reverse, leapt out (ripping my skirt in the process - naturally) and was faced with about two dozen identical tickets littering the floor.
Excellent.
I made sure that the rip to the back of my skirt wasn't causing any kind of indecent exposure, crouched down and started rifling through the tickets. I won't even try to describe the looks I got from the passing cars because I'm sure they're quite easy to imagine. Finally I found one, with today's date and the approximate time we arrived. I ran back to the car, hopped in, drove back up to the exit, inserted the ticket without incident and the display read 'this ticket has already been used for exit'.
Shit!
I reversed again, jumped out (without further tearing to my skirt) and started searching again. Found another and repeated the process.
You know what they say about third time lucky?
Ha! Second time lucky for moi!

Oh yes, the barrier lifted, the display told me to drive safely and I was free.
Ah the thrill of the open road.

I'm really quite pleased that the next airport trip is to Stansted.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Random Notes On My Day

I opened a brand new carton of milk this morning, sleepily poured it on my bran flakes, settled myself on the sofa and took a mouthful.
It's really unfair that unopened milk, well within its Best Before date would go off. The label should change colour or something.
It does make me wonder where on the scale of nasty tastes sour milk comes. I'm giving it a high vote!

Then, I only had enough peanut butter for one slice of toast.
Does the cosmiverse not appreciate that I do not function well in the morning and to not press me with challenges?

Later on though, the Red Arrows took off directly above my head, which was mighty cool. I could almost make out the rivets on the planes.
And, as if to make up for its taunting me earlier, the cosmiverse did not place in front of me a single slow driver and for this I am truly grateful.
However, it did choose to taunt me instead with a beautiful bedroom set at Hemswell. Maybe I need some maple....

I spoke to my sister, Siobhan, who regaled me with the nightmare of her recent move to Bristol, but she's loving her new place. As she picked up the Texan accent so quickly when she was living over there, I'm wondering how long it's going to be before she's uttering the words 'Alright my lover?'

Words

It doesn't take a talent to be mean,
Words can crush things that are unseen.
- Jewel

I've rattled on about my love of words before and I adore those lyrics from Jewel's song 'I'm Sensitive'. Words are such a powerful thing. I know that they make up a tiny portion of a face to face conversation, with the rest coming from body language, tone of voice, etc.
There are, however, for me some words that no matter how they're spoken, I just can't abide.

And to be honest, swear words don't even register to me. They certainly don't make my list of hated words.

Top of my list is 'stupid'. Personally, I find it to be the most offensive word in the English language. If I hear it the hair on the back of my neck stands on end and I stiffen, wanting to admonish the user. It's a damaging word and a cruel word. I remember hearing one lady tell me that they had banned it in their house and feeling grateful I wasn't alone in my hatred of it. I think it has to be the biggest insult anyone could lay at my door.

Next comes 'nice'. Is there a more mediocre word in the English language? What does it express? Really? Almost nothing. Which is what it's worth. It has no passion, it screams 'I couldn't be bothered to think of anything better to say'.
Many years ago (more than I like to admit) when I was at primary school, we had to write a poem. We had to take the word 'insect' and create a poem where each line started with the letters from the word. I know there's a name for those but it has escaped my memory for the moment. Anyway, the word nice was banned, but I used it in my poem and my teacher insisted I rewrite it. I never understood her hatred of that word, but I've grown to agree with her.
I hear it fall out of my own mouth and cringe, desperately searching for something to replace it. It's just so non-committal.

Also on the list is 'cute'. Although it's the application of the word I object to, more than the word itself. Kittens, puppies, baby seals - all undeniably cute. Small children, also guilty of cuteness on occasion.
Adults? Not so much. We grow to be attractive, handsome, pretty, beautiful. To me, you get to an age, where being called cute is no longer complimentary, it starts to feel like 'I couldn't think of anything else to say' is what it really means.
If I'm wrong, which is eminently possible, I just want to know: What makes an adult cute?


On the flip side. I really love the word tegulated. Not because it means anything special, just because I like how it sounds and how it rolls in the mouth.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Book Titles

I've mentioned my handling of books many times.
But I haven't mentioned the book title & author combination that has yet to be beaten from first place in my list of favourites.

It's just genius.

Ready?

How To Swing Better by Gay Brewer.

I love it. I'm puerile and I know it. It's about golf by the way.

I found a book today by a Rudolf Rocker and I've developed a desire to marry a Rocker. Just so I can introduce myself as Mrs Rocker.

Furry

I drove over to meet Harriet in Horncastle for lunch as she had a short 'meeting' over there. To pass the time we decided to head to The Old Co-Op for a bit of browsing. I love it there and at its sister shops. It's a wealth of junk and collectables. As a hoarder I'm dangerous in such an environment. I'm quite convinced that if I had a space like this, it actually wouldn't look too different. Old suitcases piled 20 feet high. I can't help it, I love the old things with their stories. The wealth of stuff they have there actually beggars belief. It has to be seen to be believed.

Harriet and I ventured upstairs to where fabric lies in piles and covers rail after rail. I sidled carefully past all the fur which never fails to send a shiver down my spine. I poked and prodded at various fabrics and wandered around the room until I suddenly noticed what looked rather like a small dead dog. A fur had fallen in such a way to make it look like it had legs. I jumped back, cursing and pointing it out to Harriet. At this point I also managed to stand on a wire coat hanger which flicked over and hit me in the leg. Scream? Moi? Maybe just a little. It scared me to death, I thought the thing had come to life and was biting me.

And Harriet? She laughed at me.

But she did buy me a brie and grape baguette for lunch so all's well that ends well.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Jinxed

Well, it's my own fault really.
I shouldn't have brought it up.
You know what I heard this evening?
Frosty the Snowman. I ask you. It's fricking October.

Went to the music quiz tonight. It's once a month and it's a damn cool quiz. There was a chap sitting on his own and took a quiz sheet as they were being handed out. I was a little amazed he was going to have a solo attempt and in a moment of generosity lent him a pen. Which, by the way, he didn't return. I admit I may have taken that pen from Barclays myself, but even so. Anyway, Gary and I attempted the CD covers part of the quiz and realised we recognised an exact total of zero. We normally get around half. It was getting to off an abysmal start. It has to be said that we were mediocre and at the end elected to swap with the chap sitting on his own. To my mind at least we'd be able to mark a sheet that would be worse than our own.
How wrong we were.
We swapped sheets, he'd answered almost every question and he'd completed a couple of the album covers.
So, marking started and we realised we had been beaten, by 30 points no less.
Not only that.
He won the whole damn quiz! Fifteen teams and he was on his own.
I suspect he was wearing one of those ear devices and being fed answers secretly from the outside.
After prompting Gary suggested to him that maybe he'd like to join us next time and be on our team.
When his winning was announced the team on the next table suggested that maybe he'd like to be on their team, to which Gary and I squealed that we'd already bagsie'd him.
Turns out, he lives in Nottingham and isn't likely to be here again, so quite frankly he should have shared out his winning beer tokens if you ask me.
On the upside, Gary did get to go home with a lovely polo shirt as a prize for our being quite crap. But only third from bottom. Oh yes, we weren't worst. Amazing really.

I have hiccups.
That's not relevant apart from the fact it's currently really annoying me.

Another thing that was annoying was the owl outside my window at 4am. How do you go about making a catapult from a pair of fishnets? It's not that I wish the wee owl any kind of misfortune, I'd just like to attempt to persuade him to roost elsewhere.

And, as I'm on a roll of random blatherings...
I would like to ask why some people see very faint patchy mist and feel the need to switch on their fog lights? You end up driving behind them being slowly blinded. Whilst I'm sure they think they're being super-safe. However, if you can turn on your full beam and not have it reflected in the 'fog' in front of you, it's a sure bet that it's not that foggy, if you can see the car in front of you (a quarter mile in front of you), also a sure bet you don't need fog lights. You can clearly make out the junction you want to take? Then turn off your bloody fog lights! I'm sure that you're supposed to turn them off as soon as someone is behind you anyway, a bit like dipping your headlights. Grumble, grumble.

Actually, one last motoring related grumble. What is it with people not indicating? It's like a phase half the motoring population are going through. They get to a t-junction and nothing, you are left to guess which way they're going. Sometimes their lane placement gives it away and you assume that because they've pulled to the left that they're going to turn left. But one cannot be fooled, because the non-indicators change their minds and turn right when you least expect it. I especially enjoy driving down the road, pootling along at sixty when the car in front of me slows, I look around the car, there appears to be nothing in front and nothing in the road. Is he going to stop? Is there a problem with his car? Should I overtake? Who can say. At that point you realise there is a junction ahead. Maybe he's planning a turn, but he's choosing to surprise you. I just love that. If I overtake is he going to choose to turn right and demolish my car? Or, is he going to turn left and leave me cursing I didn't overtake? Ah but I guess that's why the horn is so beautifully located near the steering wheel, so that it may provide your own bleeping as you hoot and curse.
Road rage? Moi?

76 days...

Did you know there are 76 shopping days till Christmas?
Oh yes indeed.

Last Wednesday I saw a big blackboard announcing there were 83 shopping days left and it sent me into a momentary panic. I almost felt obliged to start writing cards. Or else arrange sale of a kidney to pay for all the gifts that need buying.

My mother was requesting Christmas wishlists and making cards, the shops are full of decorations and calendars for 2008. I've quoted Loudon Wainwright III before but his song about Christmas is brilliant:

Suddenly it's Christmas,
The longest holiday.
When they say "Season's Greetings"
They mean just what they say:
It's a season, it's a marathon,
Retail eternity.
It's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.

How long is it going to be before the strains of carols start being heard being pumped through supermarket speakers? Before everyone starts flooding the shops, desperate to get the best gift?
I'm starting to feel a sense of dread about the whole thing. And I can't get the damn countdown out of my mind.
It won't be much longer before the competition to see who can complete their Christmas shopping first commences. Where's the fun gone? By the time Christmas comes around I'm so sick of it that I'm rather looking forward to being able to go to the shops and not be confronted by endless images of Santa and his ho-ho-ho'ing. I'm turning into Scrooge!
No, that's not true, I'm just a little nostalgic for when it felt less mercenary. When the build-up didn't last for three months.
Ah well, can't fight consumerism.

And, because I love it so, I'm posting the whole song before I go.

SUDDENLY IT'S CHRISTMAS
Loudon Wainwright III

Suddenly it's Christmas,
Right after Hallowe'en.
Forget about Thanksgiving;
It's just a buffet in between.
There's lights and tinsel in the windows;
They're stocking up the shelves;
Santa's slaving at the North Pole
In his sweatshop full of elves.

There's got to be a build-up
To the day that Christ was born:
The halls are decked with pumpkins
And the ears of Indian corn.
Dragging through the falling leaves
In a one-horse open sleigh,
Suddenly it's Christmas,
Seven weeks before the day.

Suddenly it's Christmas,
The longest holiday.
When they say "Season's Greetings"
They mean just what they say:
It's a season, it's a marathon,
Retail eternity.
It's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.

Outside it's positively balmy,
In the air nary a nip;
Suddenly it's Christmas,
Unbuttoned and unzipped.
Yes, they're working overtime,
Santa's little runts;
Christmas comes but once a year
And goes on for two months.

Christmas carols in December
And November, too;
It's no wonder we're depressed
When the whole thing is through.
Finally it's January;
Let's sing "Auld Lang Syne";
But here comes another heartache,
Shaped like a Valentine.

Suddenly it's Christmas,
The longest holiday.
The season is upon us;
A pox, it won't go away.
It's a season, it's a marathon,
Retail eternity.
It's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.

No, it's not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree;
It's still not over till it's over
And you throw away the tree.

Friday, 5 October 2007

For A Woman

I went to view the local auction today. It's always really busy and as I pulled into the car park the only space left was one in the corner by the entrance. An awkward spot as the gates stick out into the space a little. I contemplated abandoning the car in the middle of the car park as is the norm when the spaces are full, but decided to back my beast of a car into the space.
I was half way in when a car a few spaces down started to back out and I cursed my timing but continued reversing.
The other car stopped in front of me, in the entrance to the car park and I assumed someone was coming in, but no other cars appeared. I didn't think much more of it, finished parking and clambered out.
The driver of the car wound down his window and shouted out "That was good parking, for a woman" and promptly left.
Now, should I be complimented by the fact he waited until I exited the car so he could tell me that he was impressed or offended that he assumes women can't park?

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Tearing....

I get ready to go to the barn, throw everything in the car, get to the barn and realise I forgot two things so drive all the way home again. I'm now rushing as my military timed packing has been thrown off. I fling myself back into the car and something doesn't feel at all right.

I arrive back at the barn and investigate. I've torn the lining of my skirt. My white, thin skirt. I really don't have time to go home and change again.
I pack up everything and head to the post office.

I realised that I needed to stop at the doctor's surgery to request a repeat prescription. The thing that was worrying me - could you see my underwear because of the tear to the lining. I attempted to check my reflection in my dirty car. No good. So, I confidently strode into the doctor's reception, made my appointment and requested my prescription. Then when it came time to leave, I attempted a sidle, trying to make it appear that I was interested in something on the other side of the window. All the while my brain was screaming 'can they see my pants?'

I get back to the car and drive the very short distance to the post office and sidle inside. A miracle has occurred and the post office is empty. I get to the counter and start handing over parcels. The door opens, a woman enters and she stares at me. Is she staring because she can see my pants or because I'm staring at her? Then two men enter. I attempt a nonchalant lean so that my backside is facing away from all of them, I fail to achieve this and just look ridiculous instead.

I slink out of the post office and try to decide whether to just go into the shop and buy milk or to go home and change then come back and buy milk. The good thing about a little supermarket like that, you can walk sideways and pretend to be pondering over your shopping choices. I tried carrying my basket behind me, but you have to be double jointed for that, and you also need to not have bought four pints of milk. That stuff's heavy. When you're paying for your goods at the checkout, the entire queue has an uninterrupted view of your behind. I stood there willing my skirt not to be see-through.

I got home, I ran straight to the full length mirror. Good news is that I don't think the village got to see my underwear. Bad news is that I really have to try my sewing skills before I wear that skirt again.