Wanna Buy a House?
I knew I'd feel like this today, after a three hour long appraisal. Like a sugar-deficient crash.Still, I have broadband. Wooo!
I knew I'd feel like this today, after a three hour long appraisal. Like a sugar-deficient crash.Still, I have broadband. Wooo!
You know the answer already, don't you?
Two minutes into the journey, having fought weary battles, red in tooth and claw, to gain seats on the bus, I looked up at the route map on the wall. Wrong bus.
Cue every single person on the bus telling me how to get off and get a bus to Victoria. This is London. This is wrong. People in cities this big don't talk to each other. They're not helpful. As Quiet Writer put it the other day, long spells in big cities breeds disconnection of the strongest sort. Come to London, where we ignore you because We Prefer It That Way. You don't chat on the bus!
Red faced and more like a tourist than ever, I fought my way over the help-offering throngs to get to the exit. Routemaster buses have an open platform at the back, meaning you can jump on and off any time the bus slows down (except if you're paraplegic of course, when you can only fall off, no jumping on there for you). Only this is no bloody use to you if the bus is speeding around the Hyde Park Corner junction, in the middle of eight lanes of traffic all doing 40mph at the time. And leaving by the exit lane diametrically opposite to the one you want. Lovely traditional West Indian bus conductor did his best to cheer me up by encouraging me in a hysterically-pitched scream to jump off and dart amongst the traffic via a strip of dirty grass verge every time we skimmed a traffic island at breakneck speed. I was nearly crying as I protested that I would break my neck because of the breakneckingness of it all. Eventually, my cowardice meant we ended up back at Marble Arch, and having to walk for half an hour to cross back over Hyde Park Corner. The fascination for the entire lower deck was palpable, all craned their necks to see my crestfallen trudging as we got off, still brassily debating how I should best have managed the transfer to a Victoria-bound bus. Glad I lightened their day. But by now I don't think I'm going to shed the feeling of being a tourist in my own city.
One hundred yards from the next bus stop, three Routemasters heading swiftly towards Victoria skim past us. At exactly the right moment, Derby whips out a hand and leaps onto the passenger platform of the last one. She screams encouragement at me. I leap.
Mid-leap, I begin The Wail. The one that the widows in Palestine do on telly. The heart rending "NOoooOOOOoooOoooooOOOOOOOooooooOOOOOooooooo" that makes every single head on the lower and upper decks turn to see me miss the platform and land in the gutter.
Derby keeps my nerve up by uttering encouraging whooping and screaming noises as the bus pulls away, accelerating. She's joined in this by one or two amused London commuters on the seats nearest the doors. I run.
I can run. I just can't be gainly about it. Or fast. Or successful. I was always the one who gave up in the hundred yard dash at school, and not only came last but walked the last half, whingeing noisily. But now, I ran. It was like Chariots of Fire and a heart attack, crossed.
As the bus got to the stop, I was a mere thirty yards away. The lower deck roared to the driver to wait, as one, I swear. Panting, sweating, wheezing, I hurled myself towards the platform. Derby did some celebratory whooping.
And I desperately tried to control my raging redfaced gulps, groans and unfit gasps as I oozed past faceless solicitor type forty something blokes. All of whom were giggling.
I'm feeling very sorry for myself - very poverty stricken, very cold, very hard done by. My savings are going to paying the rent on the new place, while I'm also paying the mortgage on the old. Suddenly, Tybalt thinks this is not a shared expense (unlike when it seemed likely to be her expense, I might point out. )
Said savings run out at the end of March. Complicated, now, by the fact my car is broken and I can't afford to get it fixed, which means I have to walk for forty minutes along a traffic clogged road to work. It's not so bad in the mornings, although the empty stomach doesn't help, but the evenings when I can't cadge a lift from peachykeenyboy are freezing, particularly since I left my ski jacket in Belfast airport for someone to nick, and I can't afford a new winter coat, and I don't have a hat or gloves. (JatB gave me a coat, but the arms are too short, so I'd be a frozen stick wristed scarecrow.) Whinge. Whine.
It means I have to get up at the same time as I did when I lived the other side of the Thames, twelve miles away. Moan. I'm getting deep and meaningful looks at work for wearing trainers, but the size of the blisters and cuts on my feet mean I have a fairly putrid looking get out clause. Whimper.
It makes stomping out to the Internet Palace to blog a little arduous, involving stepping out from a barely heated flat into a freezing bone cracking gale of sleet as it does. More Whine. Whingeosity.
On the upside, it'll help me to walk off all those choccy biccies I've stolen off peachykeenyboy instead of paying for lunch, lately. (The man can afford it, stop giving me that reproachful look, you.)
I managed to buy a hat and gloves for #3.50 from the hypermarket tonight (although my abnormally small head means the hat looks fucking awful). And best of all, this morning, the point along the final hill when I got to tired to walk with energy and fall into a defeated trudge was a good quarter mile further along than yesterday.
GHN [Glaswegian Hard Nut]: Ah give yez a clue, iss a freevurb.I'll give you a clue: look at the URL up there.
GT [Gullible Twat]: A what?
GHN: A flee burr.
GT: No, I'm sorry, I didn't understand that.
GHN: A feemur.
GT: Um. Ahhh, right.
GT: No, I'm afraid I didn't get it.
GHN: Ah'll spill it feyoh; iss a F.L.E.B.O.U.R.
Then an expensive meal out at the Cafe du Jardin by the Royal Opera House, with yidaho. I ate steaks of rare ostrich, washed down with quantities of champagne (well, a few glasses). Unforch, I got a cheapo internet deal on the food, so (it's not necessarily subsequent, but I hold strong suspicions) the service, timing, seating, delivery, and refreshment was all shit. One hour and fifteen minutes between bread roll greetings and ordering your initial drink is not really on, is it? I've had better meals at bloody Nando's. And better customer service in Tesco. Still, the table was too dark to see your food, that may have been a bonus.
And the ostrich steak? Well, it wasn't as tasty as the time Toulouse fed me a pig's ear, but it had the texture of beefsteak, with the taste of a peculiarly tasteless porkchop. And knowing I had bloodied ostrich inside me gave me the queasies, all right. Still, company was excellent, and not knowing the way home in the slightest, I set off driving without a map and made home it through pitch black wonder-where in thirty five minutes flat. Amazing.
Still don't know the way home from Covent Garden, though.
Sunday: I did my washing. That may seem simple, and if I could work out a way to get my washing machine from the third floor of a flat in East London to Pengeistical Paradise, then it might actually become simple. However, currently I'm at the mercy of Service Wash Mistress, who is one who likes to scold excessively. This week I returned ten minutes later than the time she suggested. I should have known she likes to go on a break at that moment, it turns out. That in fact she's quite entitled to shut the shop and go home during that break if she wants to. And that would show me to turn up at the right time. Plus, manmade fibres in pillow protector cases will melt in a hot dryer, so I'm a terribly, evil soul, for asking her to wash some. She bundled the wet ones in a bag with my dry washing to teach me the error of my ways.
It's not me being rude or overly middle class (in that bullying wheedling kind of way that sets my teeth on edge when I hear other pushy middle class types complaining) - I'm passive to the point of supine in any confrontation that I don't care about winning. (Note the implied codicil, please; I love real confrontations.)
Fourteen pounds, correct change please. Next instalment this Saturday. Let's see what she can think of for me to do wrong by then.
Monday: my parents came to visit my new flat. I tried to make them walk the two miles uphill to Dulwich or Crystal Palace (and ergo any cafe that doesn't serve a side order of melted lard with any order, drinks included), but they moaned and whined and complained. Blimey, i thought my parents went yomping on the Wiltshire Downs every weekend. Was I surprised. And not a bit relieved.
So we decided to grab some food - from the nearest pub, because my mum's poor shell shocked tootsies were hurting (snnnn, would never dare say this to her face, but as she'll be reading this from home, she's out of thumping distance). So we went in the pub whose grammatical horror of a name: "The Two Half's" has me wincing every time I pass it, where the horrible seats and chairs of yore have been ripped out, and replaced by a caribbean pool parlour.
Ordering fish n chips, you don't expect that much - you do, however, expect not to catch them pulling a plate out of the freezer to go straight into the microwave, and you certainly don't expect to find a wimpy burger salt packet nestling secretly underneath your mouldy damp chips. Sigh.
Ack, a fight breaks out agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain in the internet palace. I'll finish this tomorrow. Arrrrgh.
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But I failed. The wind was whipping a new parting in my hair and I couldn't get up that damn hill. And sought refuge in my duvet. Sigh.
It was a very familiar feeling, trying not to touch someone, trying not to wake them. It was stressful in a way that being on your own has never been.
I've been avoiding putting my house on sale. Four months since I should have done it.
I had to do it yesterday. It wasn't my favourite thing to do ever. And I woke up feeling tense in every muscle, looking for someone who wasn't there, worrying she'd know that in my dream I'd killed her.
The Worst Defamers of the Pert Nostril
5. Kate Hudson
4. Gwyneth Paltrow
3. Keira Knightley
2. Charlize Theron
1. Julianne Moore
PhiladelphiaOh, the shame of it all.
The Nutty Professor
The Last Samurai
"I call people rich when they are able to meet the requirements of their imagination." Henry James.
I want to see Balanchine's work because I've been brooding on greatness lately. Not in a Caesar way, I mean other people's greatness.
There's that thing of when you describe an artist's work as 'great' and usually you mean for this decade, or if you're lucky, great in the context of the century.
There's very few people you'd call great in the classical sense of the word - great like Da Vinci, great like Newton, great like Michelangelo or Shakespeare - certainly in the last century.
(I was surprised to find that some people don't consider Picasso to be great on the Michelangelo scale, actually, but there you go, these things are subjective for a few hundred years at least, aren't they?)
So anyway, Balanchine died in the eighties and was fabled to be one of the greatest choreographers that lived ... so a triple bill of his work, at the ROH as an added plus, is irresistible - much in the same way as when you attend university, you're culturally obligated to go to at least one lecture by whomever that instition's world beatingly great mind of the moment is - whether you understand quantum physics or not. Culcha, innit? How could I have lived in the twentieth century and not see Balanchine's choreography?
Given that the Thursday matinee is on at the same time I'd agreed to spend with Derby, some pussyfooting about was necessary to secure agreement. I mean, you never know if people actually like ballet, do you? I don't, so why should they?
Attack of the Vanessa Mindflab occurred at 6 pm, when the phone rang as I left the flat. I was midway through walking three feet to my car. At 6.20 I rang off, and the Mindflab ceased. I look around and find I'm on a British Rail train to Charing Cross.
How did that happen? Train tickets cost #4.70, my savings only pay the rent till April, and that's my Balanchine money gone. I'm not very good at living within reduced means, and if I'm going to start lapsing into fugue states where I wake up halfway to Wales, things can only get worse.
Cat logic. A strange man is tapping at the window at the front of the house. One must throw oneself bodily through another window, at the rear of the house, and run wildly into the great unknown in case he ever comes in.
It being Scaredy Cat, the disappearance caused no alarm. I noticed the window a little further ajar than I believed I'd left it, so I shut and locked the thing, and carried on cleaning, scrubbing, paying bills. It started to rain. A memory did flicker, then, of when ScaredyCat once ran out of the french windows at Duch's house to hide in a clump of bushes. She was too scared to move, even when I stood right over her; as a strictly indoor cat, she'd never experienced rain before, and thought it might Get Her.
Chuckling at the memory, I wondered where she'd hidden herself, and got on with scouring the bathroom walls with bleach. The frenzy of cleanliness was bound to occur only irregularly, and I had to reap the benefit quickly before the fit passed from me.
Two hours later, Window Bloke decided not to bother fixing the rest, and scarpered. No reappearance of Scaredy Cat. In fact, increasingly smug expression settling over the features of Other Cat. (they live in fervent hope of the other cat's sudden death.) It dawned on me what I'd done.
I opened all the windows and yelled. There was no way a creature with a brain the size of a jelly tot would remember the way back in. Dragging on a hoodie and trainers, I ran out into the communal garden to stand in the mud and the rain, shouting cat blandishments at the bemused neighbours. The garden backs onto the lawns and sheds of several large, grand looking houses - the sort that indulge in stained glass hall windows and subdued peeling porticos. I know this because I had to scramble in an ungainly fashion over the six foot tall fence to scream into each garden. After thirty minutes I found me an extremely sad and bedraggled Scaredy Cat, who sliced a deep gash in my hand before I scrambled back over the mud and now broken fences to throw her in through the back window.
At this Precise Minute Other Cat leapt back out. Made a beeline for the fence and scuttled under an improbably narrow crack.
Suffice to say, my pastel carpet is now trailed over with solid lumps of crusted mud, my cats have had a right old adventure, the likes of which they'll be wailing and grumbling about for at least four days, and I have a stinking cold.
Celia Johnson. This is what I always used to wish being a lezzer was really like.
First off, Dee brought some sweets to Belfast from her last jaunt to Japan. Dee tests X Box games for a living (too late, geekboys, she has a bloke) and goes to Japan to try out unreleased new games a lot. She brought some salted plums to Belfast.
Her rare, favourite, delicacy.
Dee was generous enough to offer us one each, despite them being her favourite foodstuffs, and only available at great effort and expense in the land of the rising sun. The pressure was high to respond ... if not well, then politely. Gratefully, anyway. They were like miniature purple nectarines - furry, a little larger than a fat man's thumb, and smelt faintly like urine.
Mistake number one was saying that out loud. A tentative lick of the bruised looking fur revealed a strangely yellowed salty taste - much like when you lick the shell of a pistachio. Mistake number two: "ugh, it stinks of piss."
Apparently, they taste better than they smell, so I reminded myself that this was a gift, a treasured sacrifice, and bit into the thing. Mistake three.
An acrid flood of pickled egg pungency had me running to a sink to spit the thing noisily and publicly. If you met me in person, I'm dead polite, you know. Manners are important to me. I'm ashamed to say (four) that I made gagging noises while Dee watched me spit her precious fruit prize into spit covered pieces into the bin. In fact I only stopped going on about it hysterically when Yidaho came in, so that I could smile, smack my lips, tell her they were just peachy delicious, why didn't she try a whole one?
But it could well have been an aberration (sorry, Dee), a one-off taste explosion nasty.
Rather than a paralysis of my ability to experience the new. However, last night's menu sampling at 'Garlic n Shots' set the seal upon my atrophied sense of experimentation. Set the seal, padlocked it, threw away the map. But good.
I began with a garlic beer - light Scandinavian lager, with chopped, raw garlic floating at the head. (One glass. Don't like so much the process of having to chew my beer.)
Next, rubbery game in a garlic goulash, with aioli, accompanied by mashed raw garlic mixed with a little potato. J@B had kalamari stuffed with chopped garlic. By this time, I was swimming with nausea, and had to check there was no garlic in the damn ginger ale as I dropped bunch after bunch of garlic, desperately.
Once the queasiness was quelled by parsley munching, I ordered the dessert - opting for garlic chocolate truffle with a garlic and raspberry coulis, while J@B had a skewer of whole roast garlic cloves dipped in chocolate sauce laid across garlic honey ice cream.
It was putrid. The flavours didn't so much blend as wash over you in separate consecutive waves. For bravery's sake I managed two teaspoons, then had to make a dash for the Haagen-Dazs shop and espresso with six sugars.
When did I lose my ability to appreciate the new? Although I do value the ability to wield the mighty power of the truly atomic garlic burp - certainly proving useful in securing seats on the train journey home - it's a sobering, frightening prospect. Nothing new. Ever again. Ulp.
Yeah, yeah, okay, so the irony's not lost that most people wouldn't dare feast on a garlic layered smorgasbord the evening before Valentine's Day, but I did get a Valentine, thankyouverymuch. From my mobile phone company. Innit.
London Bridge station, though, emphatically is not a place for tourists. It's a local station, for Commuter People.
A map, ma'am? I couldn't possibly. Advice on what line is quickest, ma'am? I'm very much afraid that I couldn't tell you. Directions, ma'am? Oh dear, no. I'm sure I couldn't help you, ma'am. Allow me to ask my LUL colleagues. (These would be the LUL fuckwits who later advised me that Charing Cross is definitely on the Jubilee line...)
Waiting for a tube. Then the next tube. Then the next. The next. And the next.
It dawns on me that it's not actually going to get less crowded in here, and I'd better board one of the things. This actually isn't crowded by London standards. Just give in, and shove.
Still my new touristical status means I get to be far more brash and intrusive with my camera, and never have to worry about sporting the appropriate social class identifiers. And the people. Colourful. Pretty.
I can't stop staring.
Is my mouth hanging open?
So anyway, my superiors think I don't do that much, I'm idle, and shiftless. They note my unkempt attire, my poor punctuality (one verbal warning) and my laughably high sick rate (one verbal, one written warning, on an annual basis, over the previous decade). They feel frustrated at my inability to prioritise bureacratic paperwork over getting the job done well. (They said this! Don't they see how foolish that makes them look?)
They suspect me of failing to do even the basics correctly, and think there may be some merit in investigating my records. However, in public, they prefer pretend that I'm faultless and a paragon of civic virtue from whom my colleagues could learn a thing or two. They find me deeply frustrating when I pass on promotions I don't want, and think I should believe in myself more. Sheesh. Cheers, madhippyboss.
My colleagues think I'm a workaholic who tries to do too much. And fails. They think I'm married to my job, but wish I were more empathetic. They think I interfere too much and realise that I never delegate because I don't trust them to walk and chew gum at the same time. However, that gives them less work, so they don't mind in the slightest. Because of this, they mostly forgive me for never fulfilling any request which might be difficult or cause me inconvenience (symbiotic relationship, see?) They're fully aware of my governing precept that if you don't want to do a job, do it supremely badly (you'll not be asked again), and find it ridiculous. Which I think is a fair cop.
My junior colleagues think my content and delivery is top hole, old bean. They frequently think when I train them up, my presentations can't be bettered, doncha know. However, when I set up projects, they frequently can't understand what I want them to do, because my verbal instructions are so painfully contorted, even (especially) when they ask for clarification. I'm disorganised, apparently, and in high pressure presentations they think I panic and give out way too much pointless paperwork. All true, I have to say, although I do regret saying 'damn, be brutal in your evaluations, I'm never doing this crap again' a little, now.
My suppliers think I'm without parallel, the only person at my company who gives them any hard data useful to work with, or positive feedback; however sometimes they're surprised to note that I can't recall who they are.
My customers prefer dealing with me to other colleagues, but think I'm disorganised, and I don't set out projects and expectations clearly enough. They think it's somewhat out of order that I can't be bothered to get to work on time in the mornings. Also, they don't like to tell me that they like dealing with me, because I might get smug, so in face to face dealings they enjoy pretending that I'm twenty times crapper than the previous faceless operative. Gee, thanks for that, guys.
Pffft. Like I give a shit.
It's not a fair contest if you forget to vote for yourself!
Bah, I lost by one vote. That Teddy's gonna get a grumping for this.
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Bitch of the day (shamelessly stolen from Paul): today I paid bills and wheedled with Free UK broadband suppliers, a division of ClaraNet and now officially CUNTS and WANKERS of the highest order, because they won't cancel the account at my old address which neither I nor anybody else will use, then they politely rang me back to let me know I need to pay an entirely new #60 connection fee at my new address. When I asked them what was to stop me from deserting their stinking cunting stupid bollocking company and signing up with a company that would charge me in a less swingeing money grabbing fashion, they politely agreed ... nothing. Can a disconnected telephone voice sound like it's blushing?
Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck
I missed the FUCKING plane.
You know I thought I'd experienced road rage before.
Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck