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.