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Sunday, 2 November 2003

extending rubber family

My cousin, Troy, lives one street away from me. I don't know what number house she lives at, because I've purposely forgotten, and she doesn't know which house I live in because I've banned anyone from telling her.
It's not that I don't like Troy - far from it, she's the most interesting, entertaining member of a huge extended family. It's just that I don't seem to 'do' family very well.

I remember the last time I bumped into Troy at the local market, while ex-DH's super-quiet tiny sister Mouse was visiting. We agreed to meet up that night to go clubbing in (at the time) hyper-trendy Shoreditch.
Which, not ever having been one to really socialise with the hundreds of relations who also live and work in London (gerroff! It's my city ... I was here first ... et cetera), I regarded as a pretty pro-family, modern thing to do.
Having steeled Mouse with the information that Troy was a little bonkers, that (until I'd taken up the mantle by outing myself at a deeply catholic family wedding as a screaming bender), she'd been the twenty time winner of Black Sheep of the Year.
Given that all my friends are gobby, loud and opinionated (sorry guys, but you are. *grin*), this was probably no great shock to Mouse. However, I was a little paranoid that she might perhaps report back to exmotherinlaw that not only was I scary, the rest of my family were both too loud and squint.
This was before Troy moved into the next street from here. So we trollied over to Troy's slightly-trendier-place-than-now, and rang the bell. (While watching the local six year old vandals run screaming through a disused factory wielding burning brands - see what I mean about living in gunpowder-related lawlessness?) Mouse was already sinking well below her collar with trepidation, and ex-DH was desperately trying to gee her up that it was a mere five minutes of house party, that soon we'd move on.

Troy, who, like me, is taaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllll, threw open the door, screaming a greeting. She was in five inch platform shoes with stack heels, and a tiny tiny tiny rubber nurse's uniform.
Judging by the daisy-stalk neck and pinprick pupils, she was coked out of her skull.
"It's mah cuzzzzen!" she shrieked in a Mancunian accent, flung open the door and stomped inside without further ceremony.
"Guyys! Guyyyys! This is mah cuzzzzen! Where's the vodka - lez drink vodka! Eeeeeeeeee!!!!"
Deep intake of breath, and I followed her inside. This is the fucking thing about family. There's nothing you can do. Certifiable or not, they don't go away.
Fifteen minutes passed: during which cocktails of cocaine, prozac and one pint of vodka were consumed, and we seriously considered swimming in the minging, stinking February canal out back, before I realised that the front door was still wide open, and neither Mouse nor ex-DH had come in.

They were sat in the dark on the wall outside, where ex-DH was trying to talk Mouse down out of a full-on panic attack. A panic attack brought on merely by the sight of my cousin towering in the doorway. Teeth had been clenched, nails had dug into breezeblock, and the words "I can't go in there" had been hissed like venom. This is the fucking thing about family. There's nothing you can do.

Needless to say, we all went clubbing, Troy offered to pay the ancient taxi driver with services of an - ahem - non-monetary nature, and the only person who actually scored either man or beast was Mouse.

I have sixteen living aunts / uncles / godparents, not including their relatives. That adds up to twenty cousins, and they mostly haven't even bred yet. Half the family still seem to live in or around the same valley, oop north, still feuding about the same things as when I was a kid.
Tomorrow, my parents are coming up to visit. Please god don't let them pop into Troy's flat to say hello on the way ....

This page graced by sarsparilla at 12:41 AM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 2 November 2003 1:01 AM GMT
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Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 4:50 PM GMT

Name: boz
Home Page:

Didn't I leave a comment here earlier, or was I dreaming?
Oh, I must not have hit the post comment button, so anyway,
Go England ... whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 5:27 PM GMT

Name: paul
Home Page:

YOu know, Vanessa, sometimes your page isn't there loading up, and sometimes I've left comments that just disappear.

That said, your family sounds awesome, except for the cocaine. Never a fan, me. I don't really have much of an extended family, so I don't know if I'm missing something or not. The roles of my extended family were taken by my friends.

My question is, how did Mouse manage to score if she's a wilting lily?

Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 6:53 PM GMT

Name: sarah
Home Page:

When I came out to my mam, the first thing she said was "well! I thought your cousin was one of those,but not you!"

my cousin being 34, still lives with her mother, and looks a bit like harry potter.

I have a tiny family due to my parents falling out with both their families, and I used to wish I had a big family. not so sure now like :P

Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 8:31 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Thanks for the frequent comments, Sarah!

Harry Potter looks does sound a bit of a dead giveaway for a lesbian cousin, I must admit.

Took me ages and loads of nerve to come out to my family at age 24/25 ish - mum's first comment was "oh that, you told me that when you were 18". Doh!

Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 8:47 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Sorry - it's angelfire. It sucks. It loses everything. Thanks for trying.

Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 8:52 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

1. Yeah, angelfire is awful. It keeps crashing, the links bar has been out of order for a week, which infuriates me, and it loses everyone's comments. I'm midway through trying to build a mirror site at upsaid - - but it's slow going. Sorry, and thanks for persisting despite this pig of a web interface.

2. God, don't judge my whole family by that one episode. It was years and years ago - and no, none of us apart from her do cocaine. That said, spending your twenties in a big city like London, you mingle often with people who are part of a drug culture, and you become accustomed to knowing people whom you know are - well, the lights are on, but someone added a disco ball - and it not being the done thing to pass judgement on their casual drug use. But I'd like to point out that I don't, myself - I'd lose my job instantly, for one, and I enjoy my |genericjob| too much to risk that, and for a second, I don't feel any need to medicate in that sense. So there.

3. How did Mouse score? Have you never noticed quite how socially powerful an absolutely silent person can be? She could have had her pick, by the end of the evening. She certainly ended up with more suitors than Troy did. It was rather impressive.

Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 8:59 PM GMT

Name: someoneSomewhere
Home Page: http://no

I think we're related.

Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 9:26 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Given the amount of relatives I've just blogged about, it seems likely, doesn't it?
Option 1: you're my cousin and you live next door and you're thinking 'oooh cripes, she's a right bitch, isn't she'. You can gain absolute authority by reproducing all the times I've been appalling on your blog, I suppose. Sorry!
Option 2: it sounds like I might be talking about you, but I'm not. Scroll down to the fireworks post; if no-one in the photographs is a cousin of yours, then it's not you. Breathe a sigh of relief; your cousins are nicer than me. I'm glad for you.

Final disclaimer: all the poo and cocaine anecdotes are up to ten years out of date. If you're under thirty, it's not a stamp of approval, and it's not an advert. Cocaine makes you stay up all night and pogo to bad seventies glam rock. It makes sex appallingly horrible. It makes you wake up with cringeworthy bruises and even worse anecdotes. And it makes your friends vageuly amused by your stupidity, but also hate you. It does. They'll never feel remotely worried about betraying your privacy ten years down the line to blog what a wanker you were when you were off your head.

But I do actually hope I haven't offended here. While simultaneously not doing much about it. It is the internet, after all.

Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 10:12 PM GMT

Name: Handsome (he mumbled, diffidently)
Home Page:

This will be long. In part because I am reposing faith in your telling me you wouldn't mind. So, there. ;)

First, and most shortly, Angelfire. Please bear in mind, every blogging interface sucks sometimes. Blogging is one of those trendy things that is exploding on the web and everyone wants a piece of the business so everyone is trying to load their blogging software up with innovative and useful bells and whistles and like the latest version of Windows, there are always features that don't work well.

However, all my sites are on Angelfire, including my blog. I simply don't use Angelfire's blogging software. Mind you, it shows; in the early days of all three of my blogs I got hateful comments from other bloggers screaming at me because my blog did not look like their blogs because I was not using any sort of template. I taught myself very crude and rudimentary HTML skills and I have used them, and my mediocre artistic talents, to entirely create my own web pages from a blank Angelfire HTML shell. And yes, my blogs and my Doc Nebula page and my World of Empire page all look very crude and amateurish and it drives some people crazy but @#%$! them. I've had a few problems, but never to the level that every other blogger I've ever read has complained about from their platforms specifically designed for blogging.

But, yes, if you're going to go to a pay service from a free service, you'll probably find the pay service works better.

Now, on family... oh my god.

I have a large family. Three younger brothers, Sean, Pat and Paul, and I'm currently staying with Paul in a very small one bedroom apartment. He sleeps out in the living room on the futon I used to sleep on in my own apartment, I have the bedroom (it works out best this way; there is a front door in the living room and a back door at the bedroom so we have separate entrances and Paul is much more social than I am so if his friends are over and I'm feeling sullen, I can just retreat to my room and shut the door).

Among my immediate kin, my brother Sean has two natural children, one adopted son (who is actually my second cousin, son of my cousin Scott), and three stepkids by his second marriage to my current (adorable) sister in law Erica. Sean's daughter, whom I've never met, is like 14, I think, his son, Austin, is around 18 months, Hunter is like 5 or 6 (and has become a real little monster) and the other step kids whom I've also never met are like 7, 8, and 9 or so.

My brother Pat has one kid, Kolton, who is, like, I think, 9.

I also have... um... three... six... eight first cousins, who, among them, have... hmmm... Chad and his wife Mel have two kids, who are like 5 and 7, I believe; Scott and his wife have two kids who have both been adopted, one by my brother Sean; Ashley and her husband have two quite young kids now... and I think that's it.

My mom is married to her third husband and I have stepbrothers and stepsisters with kids, too, but I rarely see them and have no emotional relationship with them, so I don't care.

Still, since moving to Florida from New York State in 1997 I've gotten much closer to many of the cooler members of my family... my three brothers, my cousin Chad, my cousin Ashley, my mom, of course... and since moving out here to Zephyrhills that has only gotten more intense, with Chad and Mel living about a quarter of a mile away and Paul, of course, in the next room.

And, yes, you're right. Family, ultimately, you just have to deal with.

I am less of an outsider with my family than I am with any other group, but it's because they love me and tolerate my eccentricities and my egregiously anti social behavior far better than strangers ever would. There are times when we're all together for some holiday and I feel, briefly, very warm, immersed in the heart of my tribe, as if there is some place on Earth where I actually belong and fit in. I am the perpetually solitary, very weird, very geekish brother/uncle/son/nephew/cousin, the horribly opinionated one that no one ever makes the mistake of trying to talk politics or religion with, but still, many of my family members are cool and the ones that aren't I tolerate on the rare occasions I see them, and they tolerate me, and that works out well.

But, yes. Family, ultimately, you just have to deal with. Sometimes they do go away, but the way they do it inevitably saddens you, because family is always part of your heart, and when they leave, it makes your heart a smaller place, even if you rather detested them when they were still there. (And, of course, if you absolutely adored them, well, it's horrible, but we all know that.)

I will say, I don't have any cousins who have ever offered to blow a cab driver instead of paying the fare, but since everyone in my family except me drinks (and most of them smoke dope), there are doubtless anecdotes that have not been related to me. ;)

Sunday, 2 November 2003 - 11:20 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

1. Angelfire: I do pay for their service. I pay $60 a year for this shite. I did the decent capitalist thing and threatened to remove my custom, and they politely told me how to do so. They don't give a fuck if they get my money or not. I'm also paying $24 a year for upsaid, while I'm transferring it all over, and #35 a year for my webhosting over at (if I could be bothered to move all the unprinted photos from there and faff about with movable type, I might have some bloody money left, but I can't.) But you're right, everybody moans.
2. Family: I love to moan about them is the unwritten coda here. Where would you be if you had nobody to moan about?
3. She didn't offer to blow him. This is England, we're superficially articulate and literate and confident in text format. In person, we're deeply deeply reserved. In England, any normal woman would only offer up a flash of her knockers. Or at least, only slightly worse. We did have enough money, and nobody was averse to paying the poor, shocked bloke, which is why it sticks in my mind so.
I did have a taxi driver in his late late fifties this summer try to persuade me that many many women offer sex instead of a taxi fare, that it's fairly normal, but I'm afraid I think he was a minging chancer who was trying his luck.

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 10:46 AM GMT

Name: sarah

aye well, it's the first time I've read a blog by a queer lass that isn't incomprehensible or a big brag about how many mental illnesses they have. (not that there's anything wrong with that sort of website, but I don't find them personally entertaining)

anyway, you keep writing about kebabs on my site :P

I never had to tell my dad, he just knew. Mind, he was showing me how to fix basic plumbing, change fuses and build flat-pack furniture when I was 8 because he "didn't want me to ever have to rely on a man" I wonder if he regrets this advice..

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 12:23 PM GMT

Name: someoneSomewhere
Home Page: http://http:/no

We're not really related. It just sounded like an anecdote from my family. They are all nutty.

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 1:21 PM GMT

Name: NC

Are the indispensable? indispensible? blog links coming back? I was just on my way to becoming a blog addict and now you've ruined that for me :-)

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 1:24 PM GMT

Name: NC

> ...super-quiet tiny sister Mouse was visiting...
super quiet...tiny...Mouse...yikes! that's me 10 years ago. Since when did I have an out of body experience and not know about it!

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 6:22 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

I know what you mean, but isn't it statistically rather more bizarre to be a lesbian and not have mental problems, or something?

Either we (as in we the third of poofs without a psychosis yet) are terribly terribly well adjusted, or we've got a big one waiting for us next year.

Mmmmm, kebab.....

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 6:27 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Sounds like you have a blog somewhere inside you waiting to tell us all about that one. ;o)
Let me know when you decide to write it, I could do with a bit of reassurance that my extended family isn't the maddest in the world.

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 6:35 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

I managed to put a rotating five links from the ones I had listed into the buttons box on the front page, but it's a bit annoying that it sometimes only lists blogs that I don't go to that often.

The full list of the blogs I had listed when the sidebar broke is actually up here. Mucho thankee to Boz for giving me the idea of doing the separate links page.

I know what you mean, trying to remember them all is annoying, I remember a new one every week, and forget ten old favourites.

It's indispensible, yes, much like risible, btw - ;-)

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 6:37 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

I know what you mean, I was super quiet super-shy kid. I didn't talk to a boy till I was 14. And I didn't talk to a boy again till 16.
I don't know when I morphed into a loudmouth opinionated witch. I'm hoping it might be a chrysalis phase?

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 9:51 PM GMT

Name: sarah
Home Page:

aha one up on you there, thanks to heavy drug use in my early teens I got all my nutcase tendancies out in the open early on, and all happily sorted with by the start of my 2nd year at uni - my brain is now safe and sound. hooray!

On the other hand, I think someone should tell you that the Government is using computer chips in Kebabs to keep a track of your whereabouts.

that article is class, tho. Doesn't explain the sheer unpredictable insanity of bi chicks and their prediliction to gaudily-colouyred hair dyes, however.

Monday, 3 November 2003 - 10:21 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

1. Lol, that reminds me of a corny line my dad used to say when I was little: I'm not a nutter! I got a certificate to prove it.

2. I foil the government by only eating chicken or houmous kebabs (houmous, sure sign of a lunatic).

3. As I get older, I find myself increasingly amused rather than horrified by rightwing journos. Eeeek, I'm turning into Anne Widdecombe, etc. My favourite line in that article: 'everyone's a fruit and nutcake. Chuckle.

4. Flexy sexy girls dye their hair, eh? What was that Briar was just posting on here about her new pink hair job? Mmmh?

Tuesday, 4 November 2003 - 10:34 AM GMT

Name: sarah
Home Page:

see, it doesn't help that my a-level in geography means that I can only think of humus, and in fact, you are eating kebabs made of decomposed organic matter.

anyway, you're blatently talking about small lumps of meat delicately placed on a skewer and not the elephants-leg shavings from the Turkish take-away. Unles you can get humus elephant-legs..

Tuesday, 4 November 2003 - 7:48 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Hummous as in food is very closely related to humus as in decomposed brown organic matter, I believe. It certainly looks like puke.
I quite like the elephant leg shavings from a good Turkish place, actually, but I prefer a sis or a kofte kebab, if I were eating a sheep - best of all is ocakbasi. In fact I spent 30 minutes of a meeting today going on about Turkish rice and ocakbasi meat, till everyone complained that if I didn't want to get on to the point, they had better things to listen to.
And half the room was Turkish.

A level in geography! That's very outdoorsy. I got a grade U at 16. I thought reading Adrian Mole would help me revise, but the Norwegian Leather industry wasn't actually on my syllabus. All I could remember was glaciers and ox-bow lakes.

Tuesday, 4 November 2003 - 8:41 PM GMT

Name: sarah
Home Page:

and the lofty fjords?

ah, no, that's someone else. I revised the urban redevelopment of Hull like mad - I knew everything about Hull - and the question in the exam was about Glasgow. I actually did start my answer with "Glasgow is a lot like Hull - " and got a B :P

I had a friend at uni who was doing a degree on "the Geography of Women" but the fact she'd tut at me when I asked if she had any topographical maps should tell you what sort of Geography it was.

Tuesday, 4 November 2003 - 9:22 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

My only real memory of Geography was the spit bubble that used to form on Mr Walter's lower lip, below his prominent teeth, whenever he used to get overexcited by describing his brother-in-law's potato field.
He was in charge of writing references. I met him again when I was 19 and he wanted to book up a scout footie pitch, and he'd just written one for me to work in the local council parks office. He didn't have the spit bubble anymore.

Wednesday, 5 November 2003 - 10:03 AM GMT

Name: sarah

I was taught by Mr "Prince of Darkness" Anderson and chubby bubbly yorkshireman Dr Knill, who I swear was straight out of Teachers (you kna, the channel 4 comedy thing) Mr Anderson was only in his thirties, but he looked like a pure evil vampire, with slicked back hair, really prominent cheekbones and really evil eyes. You could imagine him rising out of his coffin in the geography stock room.

Wednesday, 5 November 2003 - 8:30 PM GMT

Name: Vanessa

Most teachers have stupid teacher-ey names and/or look weird. It's a miracle anyone ever got educated. ;-)

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