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Thursday, 11 March 2004

Massacre


Mood:  incredulous

Everything I was going to say today was blown out of the water by news from Spain. I don't usually blog politics on here (I have other outlets for my rabid liberalism, slowly morphing with age into drooling toryness), but I can't square it with myself to blog some crap about toenails or salt, when one hundred and ninety people have been killed on their way to work for no bloody reason.

So instead of me wanking on about something pointless, I'm going to quote an email from Tris, about this outrage. Tristan, as well as being a generally all round great bloke, is part Spanish, and was replying to Looby's question: Al-Quaeda or ETA?

It's the Spanish general election this Sunday, with the horrible ruling conservative PP party currently just only about a percentage point ahead in the polls, as opposed to 6 or 7 percent last week.

I imagine therefore that it is ETA, although I don't think anyone's claimed responsibility yet.

As you may know, the Spanish government recently closed down the Basque language newspapers which was read by many Basque people, because ETA used it to announce stuff.

I know that occasionally the newspaper was a mouthpiece for ETA but this was because ETA came to them, they are reporters reporting the news, and the paper carried all sorts of news.

This decision outraged many people. It would be like the Irish government closing down "An phoeblacht/Republican News" or the Saudis closing down "Al Jazeera" because the IRA and Al-Qaeda, repectively, used it for announcing stuff. The Spanish government also outlawed Herri Batasuna, the alleged political wing of ETA (which, to make analogies, would be as outrageous as the British government outlawing Sinn Fein) and closed down their offices, nicked their computers, etc.

This outraged people as it smacked of the old Franco days when people were not even allowed to speak non-Spanish languages in Spain, let alone have newspapers written in it.

The bomb attacks, if they are ETA, are very very stupid and horrible, set off by lamebrains. If it is ETA then, this may be a backlash of the recent right-wing PP attacks on their freedom. But to do these attacks three days before a General Election, with the conservatives looking like they may lose power (a couple of polls even had the socialists slightly ahead!) then this is surely one of the most classic cases of Schadenfreude or however the feck it's spelt.

This will push the vote back towards the hardline PP. Had PSOE got in, I dare say that they would have not been as anti-Basque. Idiots.

That is, of course, if it IS ETA. The government is saying it's ETA. Which is of course what the government would like the Spanish to think.

If it is Al-Qaeda, and if the Spanish government know it is and are saying it's ETA (hey I'm a wannabe screenwriter I'm allowed to think laterally) then this would be a major scandal. As an Al-Qaeda attack like this would mean that PP would almost definitely lose the election, as 91% of Spaniards were against the Iraq war in the first place. They believe that the Spanish government have made Spain more vulnerable by sticking their noses in where we're not needed, and by supporting a phoney war against a country that was no threat to us.

I dare say that until it's confirmed it's ETA, we won't know. And if it's the government confirming it's ETA, well.....!


This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:20 PM GMT
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Oopsy


Topic: Creepy Lesbo
Umm, sorry. I missed a day. I was working (for variety) and mostly sleeping too much.

Is it wrong to wake up at one in the morning and make yourself pancakes?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:33 AM GMT
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Tuesday, 9 March 2004

Bored Now


Topic: Looby

Think I have to go into work tomorrow, whether I'm well or not, just to halt the rot of immobility that a week of staying indoors sick infects you with.

Wish the damn cat was immobile. This week, the cat has entertained me by:
1. Leaping on top of the wardrobe to destroy it. Successfully.
2. Jumping out of the window and running away.
3. Watching me scale the nearby six foot fence to look for it, when actually, it's behind me.
4. Getting lost on a ground floor windowsill and forgetting how to jump down.
5. Spending its three am time by hooking a paw into the wardrobe door, and pulling all my clothes out forcibly through the crack.
6. Jumping into the full bath.
7. Climbing inside the wardrobe, and then using claws alone to attempt a vertical scaling challenge up the face of a silk shirt.
8. Once grooming the bath water from legs is done, jumping into a full bath again. And standing in it, meowing at the plug chain.
9. Jumping into a full bath a third time. This joke can never get old, right?
10. The proper way to dry off is to curl up and sleep in a human's lap.

I need external stimulus that isn't cat related.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:38 PM GMT
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Monday, 8 March 2004

Scenery


Topic: Belle de Jour

I'm not done with thinking about the issues raised in a previous post - the one that tried to explain why the dyke scene scares me. It's going to temporarily make the blog look a bit like a messageboard if I do this, and I'm sorry, but the guys who commented on that post got me wondering about several things, and I want your responses. (Gay or straight, if it needs saying.)

Why does what we 'identify' as have such an impact on the kinds of spaces we make available on the scene? Isn't 'gay' a broad enough genus to allow for some individualism?

Cyn
The straight dating scene sucks, but lesbian hook-ups sound almost unbearable.
It seems from what you describe, many (most?) lesbians identify themselves first as lesbians; you seem to i.d. yourself first as Vanessa and secondarly as a lesbian woman, putting you out of synch with the other women.
For the life of me I can't think of any good suggestions--probably best as I know bugger all about dating (either sex) or shagging a woman.
Do any of the gay clubs have tea parties?

Vanessa
At one point, someone in London set up a wine bar for 'professional lesbians' who disliked the meat market feel of the scene. I, Tybalt and Toulouse went along, to see who was there in its second opening week. It was very white, tiled, green ferns and piano (very Ritz). As Toulouse later said, it reminded you of a seventies film about the twenties, somehow.
Needless to say it folded as soon as their money ran out. The next lesbian club to set itself up was Candy Bar, which marketed itself as lapdancing for dykes.
Sigh.

And why the clothing rules? What's wrong with long hair, with skirts or heels? Okay, so it's covertly enforced, but you try getting a snog if you don't fit the mould in these places. What's so threatening about looking different?

lemonpillows

I soooooo know where you're coming from. Was just talking about this today with a friend. The whole thing about not being able to go out and stay sober because of the sheer amount of hassle you get - it's easier to stay in.

That said though, I *forced* myself to go out, even though I had plenty of excuses and no motivation for it. I'm starting to get used to it now. It still stinks, but I suppose it's better than nothing, and I've actually enjoyed myself a few times.. Try forcing yourself out one time.. See if you end up enjoying yourself.. You never know...

Vanessa
I always enjoy myself - I'm not shy once I'm out. It's the ordeal of working yourself up to it and wondering if it's worth it, I think.
I think.

Lemonpillows
True, true.. Finding something to wear is just so traumatic nowadays. Has all sorts of connotations - especially if you're going somewhere 'gay'. It's like the hanky rule. Whether you wear a t-shirt and jeans/shirt/blouse/trousers/skirt.

Do we even know what kind of a scene we actually want, anyway?

lemonpillows
I dream of a 'gay' place (preferrably lesbian, actually) that sells *decent* tea and coffee.. Where you can lunch, chat, smoke in a special smoking area, but be unaffected if you sit in the no-smoking section. With relaxing but very very good music. Free newspapers to read and comfy sofas to sit on.. And stays open as long as the pubs do.. And where everyone dresses how they damn-well like.
*sigh*
I maybe be waiting a long time...

Vanessa
Well, that's what First Out was always like, in my experience, but you'd have to move to London. I dunno, maybe I'll crack open a copy of The Killing of Sister George and make believe I'm in the Gateways...

Sarah
oh! First Out! That's where my london friend always takes me when we don't feel stylish enough to face the Candy Bar! I loved that place. Has it shut now or something?
even in Edinburgh, other lesbians never *really* liked me. I think I scared them, or they scared me, and I much preferred sitting with the gay men anyway. I'd rather have gay friends than friends who are only friends because they're gay. You have to say: if this situation/us/this place was straight, would I be here?

Vanessa
That's a really good way of putting it.
I think First Out is still open, but the website seems to hint it's being redecorated. I'm up for the #1 shorts next weekend, anyway...

Creepy Lesbo
No, First Out is open and fine. Not redecorated last time I went. I'm probably not the person to be posting this after my last post but yes, I know the pressure to drink. I also know the consequences. There's a culture, especially if you're northern, to drink as a lesbian, but I think any lesbian feels it. And not just to drink, but to drink hard. It's Loaded culture for lesbians. Beer, women, fags, fighting, football... Sums it up pretty well. Alternatives? We need another geeky TV show with lesbian icons in really so we can organise video evenings. There are coffee mornings held around Greenwich for lesbian couples. But that's couples. I've seen people try to set up alternatives but they just don;t seem to work. Lesbians pretend they are interested but it's back down to the 'we want a shag and we want to go for a beer' basics on most people's part, even if one or two are there legitimately.

Vanessa
You ever been to Southopia, Creepy? This gorgeous opera singer wanted me to go there on Sundays last year, because of needing to protect her voice, she stayed away from places that were smokey and didn't drink. She said it was a kind of 'older' feel to it, that brunch on Sundays was all about kicking back and playing board games. The way she described it sounded nice, but Kennington seemed too far away at the time, and I never went to it.
I quite liked the Glass bar, too, although I haven't been there for about three years - but it could sometimes seem cliquey as ever, and sometimes a bit too 'old'.
I've never heard of Greenwich coffee mornings. I used to be sure that having a dog would be a way to meet dykes, but I can't stand the stinky beasts.
You're right, it's not about wanting a shag, it's about wanting a social circle that isn't exclusively couples or exclusively straight. I suppose it doesn't even need to be gay if it weren't for that awful feeling that straight women my age would drop everything they ever knew in a second if the offer of babies came up.

Sarah
I know I could put "Getting drunk and having meaningless sex" as a hobby, but I'm thoroughly sick of having no other way to meet gay women. It'd be nice to have somewhere a lot more chilled than a nightclub, a lot less markety and more with the having a sober conversation thing. I'd like somewhere I could go with Ellie (my straight mate) as she says she wouldn't object to going to "gay" places with me, just not the nightclubs. I'm trying to get round to going to one of the Uni's gay nights with her..
Now, a quiet gay bar, something like First Out would be really good up here - Newcastle's gay scene is very loud, very young, and very mixed. The last quiet bar where I felt happy sitting talking to the barstaff and friendly strangers closed down about two years ago - now it's all loud style bars and drinks promos and house.
Mind, the pubs I go to with my friends are quite often lesbo-tastic; they market themselves quietly as "gay friendly" and attract an alt crowd anyway. If I put a little bit of effort and confidence into myself, I could start a conversation with a lass in The Head Of Steam. The place does Women's Poetry Nights, f'fucks sake.
Course, the scene in Newcastle is a million miles from that of London.

Is it that different from any straight singles scene? Why - this is years down the line - why isn't there any more choice?

e
Being of a slightly homebound disposition myself, I can understand what you,re talking. If I had had to face the clasic singles scene in order to find a mate, I can guarantee that I would still be unmarried, at home, talking to the canary and knitting socks by now. Singles scenes are like a meat market whichever persuasion you are. Being lesbian surely doesn't make you want to go and flaunt your stuff any more than being straight does- which is where I have a few problems with the term "gay scene"- I mean how does being gay make you any more like the next gay person, and likely to get on with them, than being, say, a teetotaller or a Freemason. Are people really so defined by their sexuality? I suppose hanging about in a gay scene of some ilk means that you know you are meeting people in non-threatening, accepting, congenial surroundings. Although meat markets carry their own threats, which you have to be feeling self-confident enough to ride.
I know that some people do meet their life partners in singles' places, but there are plenty of other ways to meet people, thankfully for me.

Vanessa
Your comment made me think about what the gay scene is really there for, e.
I think the experience of growing up always being the outsider, always feeling that you can't tell the truth because your friends will do more than reject you, they'll incite people to beat you, and the cultural legitimising of hatred of gays (which existed when I grew up, and still exists, no matter how many independent readers hope that it doesn't) has more more direct influence on the gay scene than any function of finding mates.
See, I have a theory about the scene. If, like me, got picked on at seven different schools for being gay, you couldn't really help grow up feeling like there's something wrong with you. People go on the scene to relive a part of their adolescence that was denied them; the part where you 'belong' to a group, and have a strong common group identity.
Kind of: 'Hey, I'm not a loner! I have *all these friends who look like me*'.
Most gay people I know seem to have gone through a phase where they embrace the scene, then the community, and then slowly move away from it as they develop confidence in their own individualism. It seems to be a standard stage.
The thing about finding a partner on the scene - that's not the purpose of it, that's merely convenience - there aren't so many homos in the world, so your chances are raised in areas of high concentration where there's less at stake in being visibly gay. I don't think finding someone is the *purpose* of the scene, it's a side effect. The purpose is to allow you the adolescence the straight world denied you. Therefore, it's always, inevitably going to depend on cliques, uniforms, conformism. Because those are the forces that shape your teen years.
So given that the scene is never going to be a safe place for individualism. Given that numbers mean there aren't plenty of other ways to meet people, you're left with what?
The secret smurf societies, I fear.
Anyway, that's my two cents.

Opinions solicited. Seriously.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:57 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 8 March 2004 9:18 PM GMT
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Sunday, 7 March 2004

Sonar


Topic: Vic Jameson

It's okay, I've cheered up now and stopped ranting. I'm very very very busy procrastinating today. So I've read just about every blog on the sidebar.

Which leads me to a bit of an advert for audio-blogs.
If you've never heard me ooohing and ahhhing the comments about Kat's voice, you should listen to this. I love listening to blogger's voices - somehow it makes them seem farther away to be smacked in the face with their foreign accents.

And criminy, do they sound foreign. You forget how the internet disguises and homogenises our differences. And how the blogs you read are written by real, cute, complex, demanding people.

I mean, who knew Bitter Little Man would talk like he writes? Or that Fridge Magnet sounds quite normal, really, despite the predilection for penguins? Or that Ryan's voice is as cute as his photos?
The Hard Artist's audio posts are legendary in my single occupancy basement flat in Penge. Mind you, if you want a sheer testosterone injection, no-one can beat the Grand Ennui. He sounds like I imagine Jack Nicholson kisses. Or Beaker. One of those guys. But enough about my strange predilection for mature men.

Sigh. I love audio posts. I have to make do with my imagination for all the northern lesbian bloggers out there, although I have spoken to lemonpillows by phone (conversation ran along the lines of: "tee hee, you have an accent, tee hee hee", but I blame the champagne.)
As per usual, I've fantasised wildly about what Eurotrash and SarahSpace's accents are like. If I had decent blog software, I could do one. As it is, if you have a broadband connection, because it's huge, you'll be forced to make do with a crappy video of me wandering round the house talking to myself.
I sound dead common, me. Like a fishwife. Nothing like a Sarf East Lahndaner. Honest.

God, what a ramble this post turned into. I apologise for the dreadful quality of posts over the last week while I've been procrastinating wildly.
Here, have some quality. Here's a line that made me think found on Alyssa's site:

Epicurus posed this question of religion two thousand years ago: If God is willing to prevent evil but cannot, he is not omnipotent. If able but not willing, he is malevolent. If neither able nor willing to prevent evil "then why call him God?"

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:19 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 8 March 2004 6:41 AM GMT
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Saturday, 6 March 2004

My Name Is Vanessa and I am a Literary Snob


Topic: Shy Lux
I never do memes. Why don't I ever do memes? When I need a space filler, I just write the same old crap as ever about how I'm cold and my weekend was tedious.

So here's a three month old meme: The Big Damn Read, which I already blogged about loathing. Ones in bold are the ones I've read, okay? I suspect the ones not in bold will be more telling, anyway:

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Suskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13?, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews


My god, that was every bit as depressing as I thought it would be. You see how many were children's books? Number 188 isn't even a book, it's a children's publishing category.

What's wrong with a country to need 140 of its top 200 books to be children's books? If you took the GCSE and A level syllabus books off of there, you'd be left with what? Crap and big name movie adaptations.

There are four books that I love mentioned on that list, and I have a strong feeling of wanting to grab them, wrench them from the claws of these morons (who would read a whole series of John Irving, for goodness sake?), and save them from the ignominy of inclusion on this horrible horrible horrible list.

I feel tainted that I did this.

I need a quotation from Curtis White to cleanse myself of the horror of contamination:

"The Middle Mind is the dominant force shaping our culture today. Seeping into politics, literature and art, it's all about pre-packaged, easily digestible media that requires no thought. And it's creating an increasing inability to properly consider the development of our society, or to initiate change. ... It's about the music we listen to, the films we watch and the books we read, from Jonathan Franzen and Oprah Winfrey to Harry Potter and The Hours."

All of whom serve as horrific warnings of the dumb commodification of art in my mind. The groaning infected whine of a cultural consciousness stymied and dulled by the atrophied thought that pseudo bollocks such as Lost in Goddamn Translation had something - anything - intelligent to say. The last 'taps' played over the death of our collective soul.

I guess that's why I don't do memes, then.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:28 AM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 6 March 2004 4:46 AM GMT
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Friday, 5 March 2004

Blue Paint and Prejudice


Mood:  accident prone
Now Playing: Nutt: 'dirty Edmonton Whore'

Topic: Belle de Jour
So, it turns out that I'm scared of dykes, see?
When I packed in drinking, I was worried about the effect on my social life, on whether I felt up to the challenge of entertaining people without a chemical prop. It hasn't been that difficult. But the gay scene? Nahhhhh. No way. No way have I ever seen the gay scene work without drink or drugs.
Ever
.
So, I kind of decided I'd wait a month or two, find my feet as a non-drinker, get through the hurdle of Christmas without passing out beneath the family tree doing sherry farts. Then I'd try socialising in safer, not so alky crowds, right?
You know, where there's some focus other than getting off your tits and trying to grab a snog with absolutely anyone around, no matter how repellent.
You know, the general tone of any night out on the gay scene.

But there are all my prejudices about gay culture to address before I can work up the guts to get out there. I have to deal with my snobbery, and balance it against my tedium.
Most gay culture, I could take or leave it. Well to be precise, I could leave it. Tybalt says I'd be a classic homophobe but for the accident of genetics that made me actually gay myself. I really couldn't care less about butching up, coking up, hanging around with short fat women in dirty bars because the lesbian pound can't afford to run any decent dives, or inflicting horrific injuries on myself on Stoke Newington footie pitches every Sunday just because all those baby dykes grew up isolated or bullied without a sense of community or shared purpose. There are far more differences of class, education, lifestyle, preoccupations and - well, enthusiasm between me and most gay women I meet than any accident of gender programming that says 'hey, we're both gay!' will resolve.
I mean, I'm not boring, I'm not going to go to gay theatre, throw myself into relentless pursuit of Martina, or stand around at dyke detective novel book signings, credit me with some taste. I've tried going to the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, but frankly, I've never gotten beyond martinis at the lobby bar to actually see a film.
And all those groundbreakingly gay artistic endeavours? 'Shopping and Fucking', 'Beautiful Thing', 'Bound', 'But I'm a Cheerleader'? Well, they were shit. Just because they're gay I'm supposed to not know they were shit? Suddenly? Fuck that.

But then there's the realisation that my safe, supercilious disrespect of anything gay isn't actually helping. Truth be told, is a pretty obvious safety catch.
So, fine line to tread. Between my snobbery and my fear, and the rocket under my arse that I unfortunately know it usually takes to change ingrained things.
I did make the right noises. Come NYE, I committed myself to some arrangements, with dykes I knew vaguely, or in some cases barely at all. First I agreed to sign up for a lesbian book club, thinking: it's in a quieter bar, one of the few that I like, I know the owner, and feel comfortable there - and okay, something for me to focus on, I can use my brains to deflect them from noticing that I'm not drunk. Only problem is remembering not to talk too much.
(Hey, it so turns out that I'm the world's only book club stalker - I infiltrate and go undercover to every book club within a ten mile radius - I'll do anything it takes to find out what book you're reading, but I'll never attend your damn saddo craptacular loser book club, right? Reading, fine. What, socialising? Nyeh.)
Dyke nights out I have turned down so far this year: the lesbian book club - twice. The house party. The evening touring east end bars. The charity wine tasting. The thai meal. The country walk.

I had an excuse for all of them, you know.
The east end bars - well it just exploded, and then everyone invited friends of friends of friends, and then there were fifty lesbians coming, and I only knew one of them, Toto, and not that well at that, and I wound her up by drunkenly texting her at four in the morning when I was upset about Tybalt once, even though, damn, she's not well, she's got way worse problems than anything I can whinge about. So that was a real reason not to turn up, and anyway, Toto didn't even notice I didn't show.
The dyke house party - this cool journalist woman I had dinner with last summer invited me, forgot she had, found the blog, mailed me and invited me again - why didn't I go to that? Well, god, I fancied the hostess, Taj, and she was the hostess, right, she woulda been busy. So that woulda meant I knew, um, let me see, nobody else there. Nah. Another no show.
The lesbian book club: well I missed three of those, but at least my old book club stalking form meant I read the books. It was just when I decided to move out - calendar left in the old place, with the computer, with the dates on, busy trying to build a bed in the new place and so on. Clean forgot.
Then two weeks ago, an old old friend, Minsk, emailed me out of the blue. Invited me to a charity lesbian wine tasting.
Why does that sound so filthy dirty? A lesbian wine tasting?
I'd know Minsk, whom I haven't seen in maybe three years, I'd know her girlfriend, Jude, the people there would be nice, normal ... there's a high incidence of mental disturbance amongst lezzers, you've no idea how weird these things can get.
And then I was tired, I had no money, certainly not enough money to pay for wine I wouldn't drink, then the charity donation after that, and it was in North London, on a week night, and ... and ... I didn't go.
Oh yeah, there's plenty of excuses.

The country walk is on the day I'm s'posed to sort out solicitor's stuff with Tybalt. The thai meal is the day after my replacement bank cards have failed to come through, so there's no cash to get there, or to pay for the meal, and if I didn't pull out with twenty four hours to spare, the organiser would be out by twenty knicker, and besides the only woman I would have known there, the one I fancied, the one I went to the opera with, she's got herself a girlfriend, and then she decided not to come anyway, and then it exploded as usual, and forty people were suddenly going ... and ... if I didn't ... if I .... if .... if ...

You know, though, anyway, what the fuck? I never met any decent mates on the scene.
So what do I do? All the dykes I know are in couples. Last weekend I felt shit and I felt cold, and I made up for it by buying some blue paint, and some blue bath oil and some blue explosive stuff, turned myself into a gigantic smurf and sitting in a lukewarm tub of Malice's Blue Pee while it snapped, crackled and popped. (Yes, there are photographs. No, you can't see them. This site gets enough damn hits for Va..ne..sa Bl..ue as it is.)
What do I do with the next forty years of my life if I'm too nervous to go out on the scene? Do I paint myself blue every weekend? Out of boredom?
Do I join some perverse online blue-painting sub sect of gay smurf fantasists that hold meetings? Where I won't fit in because I don't know many people, and I don't drink, and I feel uncomfortable with the blue-paint drug use? Pffft.
When did I become scared of dykes? Come to that: when did I become scared?

You know, I've been trying to think of an English equivalent of a particular Americanism today. Suck it up. I don't think there is one.


This page graced by sarsparilla at 1:46 AM GMT
Updated: Friday, 5 March 2004 11:24 PM GMT
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Thursday, 4 March 2004

Topic: LondonLifer


This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:05 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 4 March 2004 5:43 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 3 March 2004

Evidence


Topic: Casino Avenue
You know you're really ill when ....
You ring in sick to work, leave a message, and they ring you back to ask if you were actually speaking in English or not
When yidaho MSN's you, you refuse to believe it's actually her, and demand she text proof of her identity before you'll reply
You dream that peachykeenyboy has sent you to organise a work team bonding outward boundey thingy at the North Pole
Every time you speak it turns into a whinge
The phone rings next to your bed and it seems too far away to pick it up
Your hair is so greasy and dirty it's started to go all Alex Parks all by itself
When someone texts you, you put the phone to your ear and wonder why they aren't speaking
Footnote:
And when you take a few aspirin, you'll discover that (1) a raging fever really warms the place up, and (2) yidaho has spent all afternoon trying to push your raddled mind over the edge by sending repeated texts along the lines of 'it's in the orange airing cupboard', 'beneath a polo mint', and 'which?'


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Vanessa/Female/31-35. Lives in United Kingdom/London/East London/Bow, speaks English and German. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection. And likes Literature / Movies/Food / Eating / Drinking.
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This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:49 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 6 March 2004 3:43 AM GMT
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Tuesday, 2 March 2004

Povvy


Topic: Casino Avenue
Some of the older, forty plus, women at work were comparing their lifestyles to those of their mothers. Marvelling at the fact they could remember washing done on a washboard, and then put through a mangle. At how their parents did without dishwashers, yet they've become essential timesavers in their own lives, to the extent that none of the women present could imagine doing without them.
I thought about how quickly things from previous decades date. We got our first trimphone in the eighties, but only had two people to phone with it. It was years before we got a (VHS or Betamax) VCR, because we thought it was a passing trend that wouldn't last. The finger crushing agonisingly stiff typewriter that you typed letters to the bank on, or the treadle table that the engraved Singer sewing machine fit into. I remember that you got taught to beat eggs with a whisk not a machine, to rinse hair with beer or orange juice, to cross out a mistake neatly, to use your carbon layer twice, and make puddings with leftovers.

I listened to the conversation, sniffling slightly in my four sweaters, my chair carefully positioned nearer the heater than theirs, but I didn't say anything. I couldn't contribute to the wonder at how far we've come, because your perspective switches incredibly rapidly if it's taken away. It's not the march of history or inevitable progress, because it only needs one or two little changes for you, here, now, to lose a lifestyle that you really made assumptions about.
As they talked about their dishwashers and washer driers and SUV cars, it brought it home how far removed my life has become from convenience and dishwashers, from yuppie smug success and that feeling of entitlement - in one fast month.
I was stopped from speaking out by a combination of poverty (the bank has cancelled my debit cards, I have lost my cheque books), cold (my flat's 'economy' heating system means it's warm at four in the morning, the rest of the time I have to sit here in scarf, hat, gloves, hoodie and blanket, and still my nose goes numb), pain (my car's still broken and there's no money to fix it, or to get transport, so I have to walk everywhere, which - being a delicate flower - means my feet have metamorphosed from lily white soft callouses into bloodied, blistered, raw gaping messed up wounds, and walking anywhere hurts), stench (no hot water to bathe in except at 6am, no washing machine to clean clothes in), and hunger (no money for food, have to fast at work, and eat the furry sprouting potatoes I brought from the last flat at night).
I didn't speak out - why? Was that shame? (and there I believed myself to be shameless) It's not exactly my fault this stuff is happening - living in two different places, paying two sets of bills has it's price.

Meh, cold does seem to make your brain work slower. It took me two weeks of sitting indoors under a blanket to figure out I could just go and buy an electric heater.
Cold, hunger, and pain make you sniffle and sleep with a hot water bottle stuffed up your sweater for longer than you should. I feel ill. In fact, that's my excuse for such a whingey rant of a post. So you'll have to make do with a crappy whining post. Hey, I tried to hold off on the Oliver Twist overtones, here.

Interestingly, yesterday, when my feet were bleeding, and I took four hours in the frost to ride the cheap buses up East to switch the heating on in the old flat, because the estate agent said people viewing it felt chilly, which was a psychological disincentive for them, I 'spent' more money than I've ever spent in my life. I dropped the price of the flat by ten thousand pounds. Oh boy, was I in trouble for that one. But dammit, I can't live a long time like this, I need a rapid sale, and that won't happen if the place is overpriced.
It's odd, being poor after years of being fairly rich. I mean, I was poor twice before - as a kid in the seventies, before moving south, when we lived on factory land and thought everybody couldn't afford puddings (by eck, it were bitter in our cardboard box) and during four years as a student, when pride wouldn't ever allow me to go to my parents' house for a single vacation. But it's different being poor and, well, old. In a way.
Old as in, I'm not seven and willing to believe that the second hand colour telly we waited years for makes us millionaires. And old as in, I'm not twenty two and there's no way I'm doing ten crappy jobs shovelling the shit from someone else's poor service skills just so I have enough money for a travelcard.
And you know what else? Old as in, I have a credit card.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:59 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 March 2004 10:42 PM GMT
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Monday, 1 March 2004

Between the Lines


Now Playing: Velvet Underground: 'Perfect Day'

Topic: Hurtling to Obscurity
Quick exchange with Cyn yesterday, via blog, underlined the fractured, distorting nature of understanding others through this refracted lens of an online journal. Cyn's a solid silver superstar, so she kept my identity anonymous, but I freaked out a little.
Typically. Cuh.
Here's what Cyn wrote:

Between The Lines

Last night (or more accurately this morning, as I keep a vampire's sleeping schedule) I spent several hours perusing the archives of a blogger whom I've only known of for a few months.
In that time, I've read of her continuing emotional and financial recovery from the dissolution of a relationship of nearly a decade.
The writer has not detailed what happened that caused the relationship to founder, so in hopes of gaining perspective I went searching though her blog's archives to get some background.

One sentence.

That's what she wrote initially and for some time thereafter of the break up.
What she did write of in a rather profuse manner was of virtually drowning in food and drink--an attempt she later acknowledged, at getting though this bleak time. Her writing during this post break-up period to be charitable, was unremarkable. She alluded to having often been either hung over or drunk when making some of the entries so this sums up the why of it pretty neatly.

The writer I know of--the writer of the present--is easily among the best of the bloggers I've read. Her writing is of a caliber far beyond that of many scribes who are regularly published in books or magazines.

So in reading of those dark days, I was rather surprised that despite having had so much material for her blog, that she used none of it. Only months later did she write in an overt way about how much she didn't reveal of herself--ever.
This acknowledgment came within an entry that mentioned the emails she'd received in the previous months. Some of her readers made allusions to her being a "party girl," while others looked deeper, connected the dots, and saw that she was in great pain.

Thankfully, the writer seems to be past the worst of her recovery from becoming single again.
Having waded through so much of her documentation of her life, I feel I "know" her better. She seems more vulnerable--there's less bravado (though her kind of bravado must be read to be appreciated). I know more of what she wants me to know.
Though I lack her sharp writing skills, we do have in common a desire to not document the depths of our psyches and only apologetically do we offer the mundane details of our lives. Sometimes I wonder if I'm shortchanging myself by not exploring my feelings in more depth. I've come to the conclusion that what I write is within my comfort zone.
And I strongly concur with the writer--one only reveals as much as they wish--the blank spaces are for the reader to fill in.


(I added the link to the post I think she meant)

Here's what I replied:

My blog's relation to truth is allusive; I have a row, I write about the Iraq war; I feel deserted by all my friends, I write about the noises in the attic; if I want someone to know that I've slept with someone else, I blog about everyone I ever shagged, and leave a telling gap that they'll notice. You can bet your life that if it's truly truly important, I can't put it on my blog, because it would hurt people.
For one thing, my job is emotionally and physically consuming, but if I blogged about it, it would break the terms of my contract, and I'd be disbarred. So two thirds of my life becomes unbloggable, right there, just like that.
At least three exes read the blog, and so do their friends, as well as my entire family.
There is a recording of the penultimate conversation I ever had with the ex, and publishing it on the blog was her supposed excuse for splitting up with me, but we both know it was a catalyst - knowing all the inside info of how much you can grow apart in a year means that many of the entries for the two months prior to that indicate unease and conflict in my relationship with her. She always always had a problem with my level of self disclosure online. I couldn't say to anyone that it wasn't their right to object to that. But one of the many splinters of glass that opened the wound was the blog, and her reading into it what I hadn't meant to put there.
She was the one who thought that my blog described one long party. And her friends, too. What my blog is actually documenting is my journey between two nervous breakdowns, but apparently I'm not supposed to say this in public arenas. Another splinter. One of millions.

So, there's no blog entry that comes right out and says what happened with my ex partner. There's two that I find most revealing, but you'd have to be me and know the code to feel what they're saying. Life is in code, and nobody knows anyone else's key.
This one I wrote at some godforsaken hour of the morning, when I was rolling drunk. I had the feeling I was about to be dumped, but was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt for 14 days. Unfortunately The Doubt wasn't going well, and I felt like an actor in someone else's drama. Fortunately, I was so drunk you can barely tell.

This was a coded message to someone whom I'd rejected, whose absence I couldn't bear any longer, whose lack in my life was, for me, so painful it was physical, wholly engrossing, blocking out everything else with its enormity.

D'you see what I mean? I know which post tells more of a truth, but you couldn't hope to without that background, that swell of emotion behind the words. There's no way a reader could read meaning into the second post, yet for me it represents a flood of emotions I can barely comprehend, let alone verbalise.
If I haven't told it to my closest friends because it's too threatening, too sodding scary for me to confront what happened, then it's damn stupid of me to blog it.
The only realistic record of my relationship online is the one that my memory unlocks.

The trouble with blogs is that for the reader they're entertainment. For the writer, they're anything but - attention seeking is the closest it gets. I frequently want to shake Creepy Lesbo, hug her, or take her out to the pub. But if I did that, if I turned up in real, offline reality and presumed to know her, she'd probably never blog again. I know lots of people from (usenet) online whom I've met in real life. I'd hate to meet fellow bloggers, somehow.
For me, the blog isn't entertainment.
It's practise. For reality.
For a life that's in part not being lived if one is spending so much time blogging. For the day that the obstacles that prevent me from going out and living it without a safe, online buffer zone arrives.

Anyway, I wanted to give a response to your post. I'd noticed that someone had read the archives (there's actually text files of them on the site, because I didn't want anyone to worry I'd notice - okay, by anyone I mean exes, yeah.) I clicked onto your blog today as usual, as it's one of my top daily reads. I read a paragraph, realised who it was about, felt my heart leap into my throat with panic and went off to get a valium inside me so I could continue. I was grinding my teeth involuntarily all the way through reading it.
When I did, it wasn't so bad as I'd expected. Thanks for that. [?] Ack, I'm probably a paranoid fucker anyway. You're probably talking about Wil Wheaton.

I'm publishing this on here because I need to be less cowardly in the line I tread about what I allow to get out there. It's cowardly to pretend that nothing happened, or that I wasn't equally at fault in the general disintegration I was trying not to blog.
I don't want Cyn to think I minded her post - I'm glad of it, it made me think. It was more than a little flattering, too - always good. But more than that; replying in my usual paranoid fashion to Cyn's post reminded me of a few things. Firstly, it reminded me it's always good to post a regular disclaimer - "The truth is vague, incomplete and embellished, and subject to all of my usual distortions. So are the lies."

But mostly, it reminded me of what I've been reading lately of disturbances between cliques* in Brit Blogpuddle (only the yanks have a blogosphere), and the hurt feelings that have ensued as all parties have felt themselves judged, and critically at that.
* Oooer, hope they don't mind me calling them a clique - not very nice, is it?
Made me realise something: all these blogs are crap. I mean that in the kindest sense ... they're not truthful in the slightest. They make sense, if ever, only to ourselves.
And, conversely, if we publish our personal crap on the interwebnet, we deserve to dissected.

Blogging: At Your Own Risk.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 11:36 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 1 March 2004 11:40 PM GMT
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Sunday, 29 February 2004

New Belle on the Block


Topic: Vic Jameson
Every time I read Just Pop It In, I squirt my pants laughing. Something about the scurrilous, wicked, wanton repetition of the c-word gets me giggling like there's a slug in my socks. Even better, Charlene's been stalking me, much as I'd hoped to stalk many of you, and has discovered my true identity:

? ?going to London to see my eldest - I decide to play safe and walk. Nice one, old tart fitted out with good walking shoes in amongst the many and varied tourists trekking through each others photo-shoots. There I am, not far off Westminster Abbey minding my own when this hairy 6' something 16 stone

(though he would say 183cm 97Kilo - and don't even think of reaching for your calculator to check my conversion 'cos I am old enough to remember when conversion was the real thing - yeah Towns Gas to North Sea Gas!)

ploughs into me while chasing after a bus.

Now I had thought in my mind's eye (mind's eye?? oh well) that Vanessa was a svelte, chic London Dolly Bird ( ouch - that may not go down well - but I am thinking praise here ) but I was pulled up short, after all - I only read her blog. I mean ? was he Vanessa? I only assume that she... and this hairy flying twat did say something like "..'king blog.. bitchy..popit..I..am..Van..issa" in hefty mid-european. I mean was he - her ? and did he/her recognise me/me or I am displaying that country yokel thing that everybody in London knows everybody else? or did those Tequila's the night before remove the last neurons in my head?? ?


This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:33 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 28 February 2004 8:46 PM GMT
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Saturday, 28 February 2004

Let's catch up with the damn calendar, hey?


Now Playing: The Grey Album / Yo La Tengo / Grateful Dead
Topic: Eurotrash
Thursday: Derby turned up in the ten minutes I thought I had to myself, and we collected Krystal from Crystal Palace (hence the pseudonym - there are methods to some of the bits of madness, you know), which not a palace, to go look at Eltham Palace, which is almost a palace. Confoozled? You will be. I've been trying to get to Eltham Palace for three years now, along with Kinky, so we can ooh and ahh at the Art Nouveau fittings.

We never made it, but this time, hell, I got there five minutes after closing, which as close as I've ever gotten, and at least got to look at the gardens. I ignored Krystal and Derby (okay, it was the other way around), and noticing a weird parallel between the Art Nouveau carvings I could see, and the heavyset figures in William Blake prints, done about 150 years earlier, I set to taking pictures that might look Blakeian.

First prize (of a nearly new refrigerator that I have nowhere to put) to the first person to spot which Blake print it's meant to remind you of. With a tie-breaker (where whoever can help me move my washing machine down three flights of stairs or fix my car) wins. What, me, manipulative? Desperate?

It was buggering freezing (hah, this post was written a fortnight ago, remember, before I actually knew what poverty and cold were), and we wandered over to Blackheath, for coffee, cake staring and pottering around the bookshop. I continued to take too many photographs (dunno what it is about digital cameras that means you take three hundred snaps when two good ones would do, but heck, I have bandwidth to spare this month), of skies, of hands of speakers animating their coffee shop conversations, of reflective shop frontages, of tulips, delicatessens, fruit. I really need a bright, preferable violent coloured large canvas in my beigeious flat, and Selfridge's will upscale a phot for #500, so I figure some print shop somewhere will do it for way less.

In the shops, something about the pompous, discreet middle classness of the place worked on my coffee high to transmogrify me from a mild mannered seeker of art nouveau bibelots into a raging cultural snob.
In the deli, I took umbrage at the request not to take pictures and resolutely took around fifty more covert snaps. Hey, Harv didn't introduce me to the world of commercial espionage for nothing, I can do spy stills.
In the tiny independent bookstore, I held forth loudly about Philip Roth's annoyingly gratuitous wanking passages. (Can't be bothered to explain.) I raged at the bloke working in Starbucks about the mispellings and grammatical errors on his door sign for fifteen minutes.

Later, there was a Thai meal in Crystal Palace with a load of people who all do the same job as me. Most of my friends eat Thai fairly often, but I'm the sort who finds a food they love and eats nothing but for the next six years, gorges on it till she explodes, and can't face it ever again - so I haven't gotten around to Thai gorging on more than a few occasions. Plus fried food, however exotic its point of origin, never much appeals when there's nothing else on the menu.
And the menu was the problem. The weirdness of poring over two sides of A4 and not knowing what a single dish might be is usually only something that happens on far flung climes. To find it in Gypsy Hill is disorienting. And the speed with which four out of six fellow diners ordered suggested they had just three dishes they knew weren't fried seal brains, also - though I wasn't brave enough to say.
I stuffed myself, then spent way too long - noticeably, oddly long - in the toilet. There was this weird silver ball in there, see, and I wanted to get it just right for a Mirror Project piece.
The evening ended with Derby staying over, then staying up till five in the morning chatting (I hadn't seen her since last spring; she's a trained counsellor - a dangerous combination.)

Friday: Derby was up and out for breakfast with an ex colleague and a six hour drive home after three hours sleep. Me, I slept all day, and when I did get up, it was to snuggle under a blanket on Pink Nasty and watch the entirety of CSI series one on DVD.
There's something enervating about living quite so quietly, then slamming yourself back into a social life that makes you feel a tad invaded after two or three days of socialising. My car had broken, and it was the perfect excuse to sit back and veg, crawl back into my shell, and hide from the world, happily.

Saturday: I thought I'd resolved my differences with Duch. I'd cut her for two weeks, she'd cut me for two weeks. I'd resolved never to get pissy about why - if anyone's unaware that shouting 'you donkey' repeatedly at people isn't going to increase their popularity, then it's not something I'm going to change by whining about it, and I swore to accept my mates for what they are. The week before had involved a five hour phone call, so we seemed quits, all bets off, as it were. Friday had involved mucho trauma by phone call too, and I'd arranged to travel the 25 miles and back to hers this night.
I reckoned without every single thing in the flat deciding to break that day. The AA guy fixing the car decided to take five hours to turn up - JatB got there quicker, and she was coming from the opposite corner of London. As soon the car it was finally fixed, I could rush out and get some urgent Jaffa cake replenishments. So the car repair guy says 'only drive it to a garage, it needs repairing NOW'.
Pfft. We all know that women's cars magically mend themselves if you leave them in the car park long enough, right?
Meanwhile, am running round the hypermarket, trying to get back in time to meet JatB, who's bringing a warm coat (it's getting colder...), and some small painted canvases for the beigeiousness, plus ringing fmc to see when I can visit her new place in Pantydrawer (or whatever the Welsh word for Swansea is).
Rang Duch and asked if it was okay if I didn't come over - fifty mile round trip, damaged car, rushed off feet, bloody frustrating day, JatB waiting outside my door, plus Duch was already going out earlier on with someone else. She agreed, and I thought that was that.
Wronnnnnnnnnng.

Get back to find the answerphone message from hell.
I am the devil. I am unsupportive, mean, have abandoned my friends.
I am thoughtless, and worst, guilty of not being kind.
Oh shit.
So I pressganged JatB into coming with me for moral / normality support to Duch's, and set off. An hour's drive to NE London. Another drive to the pub, where I got sick of drinking cheap, flat cola, while others downed exspensive Belgian Trappist fruit brew. Can't pubs serve proper coke? Cinemas manage it. A restaurant in the Village, too much food, and watching people downing Sambuca after Sambuca. Lifts home to NE London, lifts home to NW London, 2am dash home to SE London. And the car dies.
Still, at least I cleared my name.

Sunday: spent in bed, or watching dvd's under a blanket, freezing my socks off, recovering from spending all night driving the car to its knees, and wondering why I feel obligated to nutters.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:06 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 29 February 2004 4:32 PM GMT
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Friday, 27 February 2004

Wanna Buy a House?


Mood:  lazy
Topic: Yidaho
Four things:
this is pretty

this surprised me

this is for sale - two careful owners

I knew I'd feel like this today, after a three hour long appraisal. Like a sugar-deficient crash.
Still, I have broadband. Wooo!

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:37 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 27 February 2004 11:02 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 25 February 2004

The Continuing Dull Diary of Last Week


Topic: Eurotrash
Wednesday: Got up too late to meet Krystal and Derby at the British Museum (thank god, had enough seminars in there/at the museum tavern while at uni to last me a lifetime of damn Egyptian mummies and olde englyshe caskets), and rolled into Seven Dials at the crack of three pm to meet up for shopping and... erm... walking and sipping coffee. No fucking at all. (theatre joke, okay?)
It was freezing brass monkeys, and I had to wait forty minutes at Seven Dials so the whole afternoon involved lots of racing about the West End - tea in Neal's Yard, snacks in Chinatown, wandering through Soho, Golden Lion Square, Bond Street, Selfridge's, Marble Arch ... all very normal, although I have to wonder how come since I moved out of reach of a London Underground station, I've spent more time in central London than any point since I lived there?
Ah yes, the touristical fun and games started when I tried to board a bus at Marble Arch. I had cheap tickets to see Bombay Dreams (which troubled my brain exactly as much as watching an opera did, fact fans) in Victoria, and needed to get there fast. It's over a year since Derby moved Oop North from London, so I was trying to look all hard-nosed London local, by charging up to the third bus stop without checking the schedules, and hopping straight onto the first bus that came along. Mistake. Seems that Mayor Ken has introduced bus token stands, so that in congested areas, you pay your money to a machine, then simply wave a slip of a ticket on the actual bus. Didn't tell me about it, though, didya, Ken? Even though I pay #1600 a year in council tax, ya bastige.
Red-faced, I suffered the indignity of bus-driver-rudeness, getting off the bus again and watching it speed away, and most gallingly of all, German Tourist pleasantly showing me how to work the token machine. Sigh.
Next bus was a Routemaster, so I brushed off the shame, left the German vandalising the token machine (hah!) and thought I'd be able to regain my Thirteen Years in the Inner City Local's Demeanour.

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.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:14 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 25 February 2004 9:18 PM GMT
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Whingeing Pom Alert


Mood:  smelly
Topic: Hurtling to Obscurity
My 302nd blog entry since I started in July 2003.

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.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:34 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 25 February 2004 8:36 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 24 February 2004

Borrrrrring Diary Post Again....


Topic: Eurotrash
Tuesday: Trying to get phones, electricity, voting rights and gas connected, I come up against the age old problem of the esoteric password you can't remember. That, and the claws scraping against iron Glaswegian accent of my interrogator:
GHN [Glaswegian Hard Nut]: Ah give yez a clue, iss a freevurb.
GT [Gullible Twat]: A what?
GHN: A flee burr.
Pause.
GT: No, I'm sorry, I didn't understand that.
GHN: A feemur.
GT: Um. Ahhh, right.
pause
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.
I'll give you a clue: look at the URL up there.

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.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:20 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 28 February 2004 6:05 PM GMT
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Monday, 23 February 2004

Me, the Internet Palace, and a Diary Open. Less Than Fascinating


Topic: Eurotrash
So what's been going on?

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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Vanessa/Female/31-35. Lives in United Kingdom/London/East London/Bow, speaks English and German. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection. And likes Literature / Movies/Food / Eating / Drinking.
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This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:12 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 28 February 2004 6:05 PM GMT
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Topic: Hurtling to Obscurity
Yeah, I'm getting broadband, me. Famous last words.
I am superwoman, honestly I am. I fixed the bars that fell out of the window. I dealt with the toilet blockages (ew). When all the curtain rods fell down, I put up new ones. I called the AA about the car refusing to start. I found the cat that wetn missing, and deflected them from the new slamming the wardrobe door all night game by judicious use of stinky perfume.
I sorted out the estate agent's leaflets on my old flat, and learnt to live with how their fish eye lens had made my sky blue walls look vomit inducing turquoise. When Duch went ape at me for no reason on the answerphone, I politicked my way out of it.
I wore four sweaters so the raging blast of chill winds racing through my flat would not harm me. I spent the weeekend under a blanket. I retrieved a coat of sorts. I even tried to go buy a hat and gloves, without too much success.
I tried to walk the two miles uphill to the internet cafe to blog.

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.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 1:53 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 28 February 2004 6:07 PM GMT
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Thursday, 19 February 2004

Too many visitors and things happening this week to pause for breath for even a second, it seems. Hopefully I should have broadband access at home by the weekend, and I can learn to blog daily again.

In the meantime, jatb is about to give up her extraordinarily well written blog. I'm sad about that, but I really want her to keep on writing. Fingers crossed. Somehwere.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:03 PM GMT
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