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Friday, 2 April 2004

The Sunny Side of the Street


Now Playing: The UK premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra and Bruch's Violin Concerto with Leila Josefowicz


Walking to work this morning, the road divided neatly into two.

I customarily cross the busy road at exactly the same spot each day, just *after* the sign for a 'Byron House' that reminds me of bad sex in my late teens. Coming up to the library traffic lights at the edge of Home Park, though, a lamp post heavily smashed into three crazily skewed pieces blocked my way. The jagged spike sticking into the road had a traffic cone jabbed onto the end to warn oncoming lorries of imminent decapitation, Omen-style. The other two segments of ruined street furniture were still connected, and had been neatly hooked over a seven foot garage fence, only posing a hazard to the poor carwash jockeys who'd have to open the fence later that day.
The pavement was slicked thickly with oil and broken glass, reflecting rainbows into a grim and drizzly morning, but there was no other sign of an accident. This lamp post was around twenty five feet high - whatever had managed to slice it cleanly into triple parts had to have been extremely heavy, and in extremely bad shape itself. But apart from the sheer angles of the lamp debris, there was little sign of the machinistic carnage that obviously occurred.

Continuing down past Home Park, I walked past another junction, this time having to step into the busy road to navigate the path railings that had been battered with enough force to pull loose from every pile bar one, and stay hanging horizontally in mid air at hip height across the footpath, still straining to be free from the last leg left embedded in concrete.

Again, no evidence of whatever had smacked into five inch thick steel with enough force to uproot it and bend its struts into a ninety five degree rictus.
But, plainly, at this point, you'd realise you were walking to work along the unlucky side of the road.

What if I were walking past the next lamp post to be mown down by juggernaut number three? I crossed early.

On the right hand side of the road, the clouds lifted slightly and the drizzle stopped at exactly the right moment to smell the wet rhodedendrons in heavy bloom over the church walls. The hawthorn trees by the older houses were beginning to put out their April blossom, and the pavement was fringed with beds that contained copious daffodils, and even some sickly looking clumps of pink clover.
The sun began to shine, but it being an early Friday morning I didn't think to look up and search for a rainbow.
Marching energetically to my last morning of genericjob before I go on leave at lunchtime, I felt glad I'd crossed the street. Things felt good.

But, as ever, the dreadful weight of a ponderously obvious metaphor slowed my stride, and I realised that life is both sides of the street, coexisting. The raining grey left with the historic cake makers, and the sunny, flowering side with the council flats that reminded me of bad sex.
I turned into the cake shop and bought a cream cake for each of my customers that morning. Heck, if I felt like that, so, probably, did they.


This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:03 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:22 AM BST
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Wednesday, 31 March 2004

"Not since I listened to the invasion of Iraq under the mistaken impression that it was the Archers have I been so content" - Radio 4 two seconds ago.


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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 10:05 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2004 4:47 AM BST
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There Are Silences Between These Lines


Topic: Lactose Incompetent

Things I've been trying to avoid blogging lately: the fear, the filth and the fury.


From the book I'm reading:
"Unconsciously Milton was adhering to the Greek custom of shaving after a death in the family. Only in this case what had ended wasn't a life but a livelihood. The beard fattened up his already plump face. He didn't keep it trimmed or very clean. And because he didn't utter a word about his troubles, his beard began to express silently all the things he wouldn't allow himself to say. Its knots and whorls indicated his increasingly tangled thoughts. Its bitter odor released the ketones of stress. As summer progressed, the beard grew shaggy, unmown."

I have sort of hinted at the fear. I haven't succeeded in socialising without drinking, therefore I don't yet believe that I on my own am enough. I no more answer the phone than last year - now I'm usually asleep if it rings, then I simply didn't want to speak, but the outcome is similar - I miss the call.
Mostly I'm rushing around, knackered, with the bizarre result that I feel stressed by the pressure to socialise. It was absolute agony forcing myself to go away for two weekends in a row - I had a cold, was tired, felt nothing more pressing than the need to curl up under a duvet all weekend. The threat of its absence seemed a privation of the worst sort, and I came >this< close to cancelling again and again, eventually having to force myself out with the rationalisation that viewing work as normal and friends as a trial is madness.
I was right, of course, once you're there, out, it's fine, and had a great time. Yet, somehow, the agoraphobe inside is so thankful I have an empty unbooked holiday next week, with not a single brunch chartered. How do I let myself get into the sort of state where friends seem like a drain on my resources? Insane.

The filth: mundane. Mundane and compelling. It's getting dirty around here. No washing machine, vacuum cleaner broken. Tybalt's cat sitting each weekend lends itself to feeding said animals things that will make them puke the next day. I'm sat here under a blanket, surrounded by the debris of my Easter huevos, wondering how I'm going to get cat-puke mark number three out of the carpet. Ew.

The fury: like Milton's beard, the less I speak to Tybalt, the more the repressed feelings emerge. The quietus provided by my south London beige refuge is slowly allowing things to escape.
Problem: the prominent emotion arising is utter rage. Rage to the degree that I feel unable to address it or to speak sensibly about it.
On a superficial level, I've managed to hack a sort of 'working relationship' out of the mess of the disintegrating partnership, in order to sell the house. It seems improper to address my feelings of vehement fury to her; we're not in a relationship any longer, I'm happy not to have to deal with any of her irrational resentment, and likewise, I'd rather keep a lid on mine. Distance is my ambition, really.
But the rage doesn't let me just listen passively to an excuse, or a petty demand, a text message bill for #13.75, or a blandly craven or selfish statement from her. It bursts into furious flame inside me. It rips apart the spoken forgivenesses and apologies, and remoulds them into lies. Untruths.
I'm pretty mild. I'm generally pretty tolerant. But rippling beneath that is a dementia right now - it's slowly seeping out at work, and beginning to dribble into my dealings with friends. It's so bad it makes me feel as if I should confess. Literally. To a priest.
It's alarming. When will this rampant bitterness escape? Exorcise itself? And how?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:54 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:28 AM BST
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Tuesday, 30 March 2004

What in hell do you think this place is, anyway?


Topic: Belle de Jour

I haven't had a spare moment for ages to post things that have been happening IRL, and now it's all building up, madly, until I have two lives - no, three, no four: bloggable, unbloggable, secret, and anecdotal. Time to do a mass catch up.
To recap, the strange, inexplicable occurrence of A Life caused a warp in the blog-time continuum, rectified only slightly by the acrostic worm hole of a post on my first evening off for ages.
Sleeping too much again has had a lot to do with it; I can't count the number of nights I've had to pass out utterly cream crackered at about six or seven o clock lately. Thank christ I have next week off and not a single thing to do, not even for fun. Heaven.

Movies have been fun, but somehow I've been stuck on the letter M. I noticed that I tended to veer towards the end of the alphabet, mostly out of panic when wandering round alphabetically stacked video shop shelves. But lately it's been Mona Lisa Smile, Mystic River, Master and Commander. I've tried repeatedly to see 21 Grams, as my best film for the past two years was Amores Perros, by the same director, but it's not even alpha, that, it's numeric, so the dice is against me so far.
Yeah, Mystic River was okay, but 'M' movies are pretty ropey - two bags of crap aren't really balanced out by one mediocre. And who does Sean Penn think he is, with that embarrassing Al Pacino pisstake he's been dining out on of late?


Farting is my new secret hobby. Farting horribly. Full of beans and fruit. Mind you, I'm awful regular. Mr Kellogg would be proud.
Upset stomachs aren't the source of the - ahem - 'high fibre provision' my water system is having to cope with, though. For some reason every month I have a stronger period than previously. There's a respite every three or four months, when it's just heavy, but jesus crikey frig, man, when it's not, then twenty minutes is all it takes for my womb lining to rip through any type of non-drip barrier. Think of the creature's acid blood in 'Alien'. Mmm-hmm. That's about right.
City of Culture? Birmingham? City of weirdo acid flashbacks, more like. Have you seen that new attempt to make the old bullring's admittedly supremely shitty 800 year old market site into a Gaudiesque work of art? They've created a miniature city where once stood a shitty bus station - you think you're in a shopping centre, and you see the street outside, but there are still four floors beneath you, two of which lead to streets outside. The whole thing is a little spiral city, winding over on top of itself to fool you into thinking any directions are simple. Once you've looked straight on at the silver monstrosity, your eyes stay crossed for a good ten minutes, slowly uncrossing, which doesn't help. It's not just my bad sense of direction, either. Believe me, we asked several locals how to get to the mainline rail station two minutes away and got about fifteen different directions from all of them. None of which were right. And if they're going to build winding streets in mid air, why build them all on a constant incline, so that, still bug eyed from looking at the eyesore, you permanently wonder if you're falling upwards off the pavement at a forty five degree angle?
Keeping my wits about me is hard enough in Birmingham as it is, already, after an unfortunate incident about nine years ago, when, while staying there with fmc, I raided her fridge for what I thought were tasty cookies and spent the next eight hours fingering street signs in the Bullring, asking people in lifts if the lift was real, going into bookshops to count how many books they sold, etc. I remembered my own name sat in the front seat of a car somewhere on the M4 several hours later. Brrrr.
I've fallen off the wagon three times in the last fortnight. I drank in the pub with Yidaho, with the result that: we forgot to go see 21 Grams, I started to find short fat middle aged Iranians fascinating conversationalists, and we ended up in the same old same old local bar at three am, eating chips and flinging wine about. The hangover was like a bloody hurricane, lasted for two days solid. And what did I learn from this?
Nothing - the Friday after, I drank three glasses at a work do, then spent the rest of the weekend getting trashed in Birmingham, being chatted up by overly short fat middle aged Britishers*.
God I'm so off booze now. The hangovers were rank. Staying off it by choice, not coercion, this time.

Been blogging elsewhere in secret. Which has been fun. Not so I can bitch - heck I'd have to actually bother speaking to people I dislike to do that, but just because I wanted to try a 'topic blog'. I have a total of 8 visitors over there now, compared to the 150 a day here. Four of them were me, two were wrong numbers, and one was a referral from 2001, bizarrely. Hah. I offer two free cats, slightly naughty, to the first person to find where. (As if.)
Lousy daughter, that's what I was on mother's day. I had the great idea of going to visit my parents, hanging out, relaxing and stuff, and taking some yumlicious stuff as a present. As it turned out, I rolled in six hours late, passed out asleep as soon as I'd eaten, didn't wake for another fourteen hours, ate all the food in the house (which my mum had to then cook for me), then slumped in a sad hungover stupor on the sofa till it was too late to do anything but go home again. If there ever was an inheritance, it's yours, Sue, after that. The shame!
Only my lazy-lousy-daughter plans were thwarted (jebus, that's nearly a poem - well, okay, a limerick) by yet more bloody terror alerts on the railways, trying to get home. Stuck for two hours in a siding somewhere just west of Paddington station, we listened quietly to the driver's scarily descriptive 'information bulletins' about the two abandoned packages on platforms 2 and 9, and texted people. It was the same train that smashed into another in a fireball several years back. Although fourteen years of living in London makes you pretty immured to bomb threats, this was the first time I can remember since 1992 (when a car backfired, and everyone in Russell Square threw themselves flat to the ground - don't know many European countries where such a response would have been as instinctual before 9/11) that I noticed genuine fear in the saucer shaped eyes around me. Everyone was pretending to be irritated and disgruntled at the delay, but their eyes told a different story - told the driver to take as long as he liked, just get us home in one piece. Freaky.
Greek food frenzies, though - mustn't forget the Greek food frenzies. A chance comment on the blog led to Krystal frighteningly generously offering to come get me from work in her under used chariot, collect my dirty smalls, and go wash them at her house while she cooked me a smorgasbord of Greek delicacies to satisfy the idle fantasies that reading 200 pages of 'Middlesex' (a greek diaspora epic type thingy - you know, long, full of greek things) had infected me with. Bloody hell, I could hardly walk after that.

(*with apologies to Lux!)

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:43 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:39 AM BST
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Monday, 29 March 2004

Holy Mackerel


Topic: Vic Jameson

I'm temporarily stunned. Too many layers of meaning.

First shock: Noam Chomsky has started a blog. !

Second shock: some cheeky berk has submitted one of his posts to my favourite popularity ratings catcher, Blorgy. !!

Third shock: (It hasn't happened yet, but I know full well it will within minutes) Noam Chomsky - the Noam Chomsky - will have his post rating ripped down to 2.5 in favour of some well meaning but inconsequential crap from Dooce. !!!


Noam Bloody Chomsky. For whose theories I fucked up a Sociology A level, but good.

Just too many layers. !!!


This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:55 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:28 PM BST
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Saturday, 27 March 2004

Travel Narrows the Soul


Topic: Yidaho

If I had a wife
Plague o' me life
I tell you what I would do
I'd buy her a boat
Set her afloat
And paddle me own canoe ... hoy!


I was working for peanuts in a hotel in Athens aged seventeen, and on a cold bright autumn morning, I sang that to a bunch of guys who were both patrons, and co-workers. French guy, customer, bit slimy, but no more so than most, stood behind me, and hugged me after I sang it.
Behind the bar, Moroccan guy, co-worker, sweet as anything, turned to my dappy English boyfriend, usually too blasted on drink or hangover to do anything but squint at the world, and silently handed him a seven inch carving knife, nodding towards the Frenchman.

Or me. I'm not sure which.

The more I ever travelled, the more parochial I became, and the more I realised we're never going to all get along.

I'm off to Birmingham for the weekend.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:53 AM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:31 PM BST
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Friday, 26 March 2004

Act Your Shoe Size


Topic: Creepy Lesbo

Tonight I was initiated into a secret corporate society of older Irish scary women. It was scary and hilarious, all wrapped up. The average age was 52, and they were more ribald and dangerous than most women a quarter of their age. And getting away with it. If I were passing out cold with my face in the curry at any of my local restaurants, I'd not live it down as fast, for sure.

I'm hoping if I hang around them long enough, I'll find out where the bodies are buried at work (taken me damn near a decade to infiltrate this far), and learn to be utterly dominating like they are.

When a taxi driver turned up, all scarlet too tight tracksuit, spiky blond hairdo and blaring ragga at a million decibels from his boy racer, speeding his tits off and giggling fit to bust, he was no match for them, no match at all.

"Are you Australian?" they grilled him as he took a corner on two wheels.

"I'm from Mile End, love." Giggle giggle. "Why do you think I'm Australian?"

"Ah, well, near enough," colleague spits, "you're all convicts."

It wasn't enough of a warning shot across the bows, though, for a nuthead cab driver quite this ripped off his tits, and the poor fool continued his manic banter, unaware of just how few strips had been torn off him.

"Final tip, love: you're a cab driver. Try shutting your trap."

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:59 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:37 PM BST
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Thursday, 25 March 2004

True Love


Topic: Belle de Jour

Never done this before (repeated something from a dating website on my blog, I mean), and please forgive me for being so malicious and crass, grovel, grovel, but I must just share with you one or two traits I found unappealing about someone whom I was mailed by an online dating thingy as being a particularly good match for me. Far from reading as a potential shag, several things struck me as hitting bullseye on my 'cross the street there's a lunatic coming' radar.

I dunno, what do you think? Could this be my perfect significant other? Does she sound my type?

Strike 1: Gabrielle seeks her Xena
Strike 2: located in: Nottingham
Strike 3: my bust is 104ff
Strike 4: I am a huge fan of multi-culturalism, and make it my business to embrace as much of different ways of life as possible
Strike 5: When I go out, I dress in bright colors, such as sarees, & other eastern dress, however when I'm in all-female company, where allowed, I just go naked, it's very liberating.
Strike 6: I also indulge in white witchcraft, watch talk/reality tv shows
Strike 7: My big trademark, though is my fetish for other womens feet and shoes, which really turn me on
Strike 8: I have even learnt to use my feet as I do, my hands, writing & doing my hair & make-up with my feet.
Strike 9: I already have hundreds of pairs of sandals & mules, I'm a bit like a lesbian Sex & The City girl
Strike 10: The lady I'm looking for has dark/ish skin, is feminine, could be gay,bi or straight, If the latter, I'd still like friendship. I'd also like to get to know other white ladies, who are like me
Strike 11: I'd like to get to know other women with bi-racial children we can discuss the issues surrounding that
Strike 12: Oh and I 'd like a tall woman, with long hair or short hair
Strike 13: Body Art: Visible tattoo, Strategically placed tattoo, Inked all over, Belly button ring, Piercings you?ll have to ask about, Fanged
Strike 14: Best Feature: Feet
Strike 15: I practice yoga, & practice my pschic skills. I'm also into clubbing, & latin dancing
Strike 16: Favourite Things: Basically, womens feet/shoes, TV talk shows, like |Trisha, reality shows, the books I read are mostly about feminism, nature and spirituality.
Strike 17: Last Read: The Female Eunach
Strike 18: I keep Reptiles, Birds, Exotic pets
Strike 19: Education: PhD Post Doctoral - I garduated in Nootingham, UK [I *swear* I didn't edit that bit]
Strike 20: About My Date: only requirement is ehtnicity: Black / African descent, Asian, Latino / Hispanic
Strike 21: My turn ons: Tattoos, Body piercings, Long hair, Skinny dipping, Flirting, Thrills, Public displays of affection, Dancing, Sarcasm

Good God! And my profile appealed to this freako undoubtedly kind and worthwhile individual?!

This page graced by sarsparilla at 1:08 AM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:49 PM BST
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Wednesday, 24 March 2004

Under a bloody armchair, I tell you


Topic: Creepy Lesbo

Wednesday's agenda was: into work early to plan failsafe Plan B's for if colleagues fuck up while I'm out, four hour intense brain-draining meeting in Forest Hill this morning, same old crap back in Catford this afternoon, verbal warning from Hippie Boss at three o 'clock, run around feeding underlings who are doing shit tasks because I mis-scheduled their day for an hour, then two hour serious big sensible meetings with a billion customers.

The sort of day that calls for a pinstripe suit, in other words.

The sort of day where being unable to get out of your flat because you've locked yourself in and lost the key till around ten o'clock may cause some minor inconveniences to you, and may make you so damn stressed you have to sit down and do some breathing exercises quick before you start gouging strips out of your arms with stubby desperate fingernails.

The sort of day where the key has rolled under a nasty pink armchair in the bedroom. You know, that room where I never ever take keys. Of course I'd look under never moved furniture in there.

The sort of day where it will seem like elegantly symmetrical retribution that all of Hippie Boss's plans and work turn out to be useless at the morning meeting, and you can demand that this incompetence be officially noted, and warnings given.
And offer to be the person who delivers the dressing down to Hippie Boss.
Even though you know you've drunk too much coffee and everyone else is gulping and trying not to say anything that might be repeated.

The sort of day where you might embarrass yourself when you reach for four chocolate eclairs in a row, decide your pinstripe suit is warmer if you huddle under your dad's old oversized duvet style coat at the conference table, then sneeze coffee explosively over the official papers.

The sort of day, where, hatchet job completed, you will return to site to receive your expected dressing down, but protected by the knowledge of the morning's public Hippie Boss humiliation - only Hippie Boss confounds you utterly by not giving you any warning at all, and professing that the meeting was merely to have a chance to catch up** and make sure you were all right.

The sort of day the fickle finger of fate decides this is exactly the moment that you should lose your voice entirely, and be reduced to a guttural croaking sound.

**Shyah, sure it was. Suuuuuuuuuuuure. That's exactly the sort of meeting that gets cc'ed in triplicate to all your line managers.
Paranoid? Moi? Twenty points to me, I think.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:07 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:51 PM BST
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Tuesday, 23 March 2004

Now I'm Warning You


Now Playing: Muse
Topic: Creepy Lesbo

I have loads to blog, but no time to do it properly.
I've been waylaid by work.
Trapped and taunted by stress.
Fingered by the requirement that somebody do all the overtime that's been mounting up round here. (Aargh, just reminded myself of the twelve hour shift tomorrow.)
It's verbal warning time of year again, and, as I get one every bloody year - a meaningless one, as they really don't want to jeopardise my loyalty to them - I'm counting not only the minutes, but the ways; will it be the skiving, the insurrection, the bunking, the tardiness, the lying, the lack of organisation, the sickies, or the deceit? Who knows?
Senior manglement have been found publicly wanting, again, as they have every year in the last ten, and so they need to tug the strings , to rustle the red curtain, to jostle the scenery and prove that 'it's not them without imagination, drive, or dedication, it's these bloody underlings' (which is where I come in).
'Nobody could work with them'.
Who cares, really, you learn not to expect feedback in public service jobs (well, I suppose getting kicked in the face by a customer today was some sort of feedback, but still, the corporate ethos is to pretend that *that thing*, *then*, did not happen) but my internal dialogues continue in heavy preparation - it's irritating to keep rehearsing these blatantly insouciant rebuttals.

Can one be actively apathetic?
It seems an ambition I might effectively strive for.

Today I saw a raven trapped inside Sainsbury's. It was quietly hopping above the cigarette kiosk, hoping not to be noticed.
It looked too powerful and real-worldish to be inside a consumerist disneyland in miniature like that.
Made me think of Creepy's foxes.
And of the ravens in 'The Human Stain', a book full of gigantically meaningful random quotations:

"I will go to America and be the author of my life, she says: I will construct myself outside of the orthodoxy of my family's given, I will fight against the given, impassioned subjectivity carried to the limit, individualism at its best -- and she winds up instead in a drama beyond her control. She winds up as the author of nothing. There is the drive to master things, and the thing that is mastered is oneself."
I suppose everybody feels out of place sometimes, like that raven trapped in an airless, airconditioned supermarket, trying to avoid being pointed out, and therefore noticed. Hounded, perhaps. In fact, I know they do.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 11:34 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:57 PM BST
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Monday, 22 March 2004

Nasal


Now Playing: Broken Social Scene - Pacific Scene
Topic: Empty Fridge Light

I think I have a phantom pregnancy.
Not only do I have a belly the size of Wales, but I can smell *everything*, you know, the way hounds do. Yeah, yeah, laugh on your own time.
I can't stop smelling the reek of old fat from greasy spoon cafe's on my coats, and I nearly went into olfactory raptures on the train yesterday, when some uppity snooty cow got on and hogged all the seats while wearing my first girlfriend's favourite perfume.
Virgin birth, anyone?

Smells no-one should like, but I do:

Warm flagstones in the sun
Petrol
Parmesan
Metal zips
The nape of someone's neck
Plastic wrappers
New books when you crack the spine open
Broken crackers
Short hair
Other people's washing powder
Dirt under fingernails
Waterproof coats
Teddy bears and cat fur
Lipstick
The space between fingers
Gravy
Cat happyfarts
Tar
Dead skin along the side of your thumb nail
Oats
BO (but only if it smells of onions, not vinegar)
Newsprint - papers and magazines
Soil
The smell orange pith leaves on your hands
Sudden drops in pollution levels
A big pig sty
Lap top cases
Water

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:15 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:59 PM BST
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Sunday, 21 March 2004

The Simple Journey


Topic: Yidaho

I had, like, wow, this rilly normalistical blog ready, and then, like, this rilly big bomb scare at Paddington, that was like, totally seriously awesome, and it, like, meant I was stuck on a train all evening instead of being able to, like, blog about it all? And I, like, totally watched The Simple Life reunion on cable before I left? And now, like, ohmigod, wow, bereft of any normal non-transport focused interaction, right? Rilly, I can't speak, like, any other way? I mean, ohmigod, whatever?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 11:43 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 4:04 PM BST
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Saturday, 20 March 2004

Euphoria Transit


Topic: Yidaho

It is ages since I blogged from the train. Usually I'm prevented from reflection by travelling everywhere on shanks' pony, which leaves me pink palmed, breathless, practising the tendons and trying to feel alert to the muscles that are warming up - trying in fact to feel anything other than the cold rain on my nose, and the blister forming beneath the callouses on my sole. Walking's a more solitary activity - your interaction limited to shrugged greetings, fleetingly awkward manoeuvres which rarely progress beyond 'shall I catch her eye', 'has he seen me' or 'shall I overtake yet'.

Train travel, and I'm bombarded by other's phone calls home, excited conversations, wild clothing combinations, faces both animated and bored.
In two minutes I've been treated to four SE London fight narratives, enthusiastically mimed in replay, and a host of tips on how to avoid paying the fare (apparently saying 'sorry, me fohh-ren' to the ticket inspecter yields least success.)

Safe in my seat I can stare out at a dramatic, lowering blue sunset, Canary Wharf in granite blue and silver outlined on the cold pink horizon as wash after wash of navy thunderheads gloom threateningly above.
I can listen to the rails' repeated rumbling energy, trying to decipher a rhythm, a tune, words, from its weighty creaking rattle.
Or look the other way, avoiding the picturesque sunset, and see greenish flickering gold window reflections jewelling against the dried blood coloured boxes of inner city tenements.
Peer into the still lit offices, emptied of their usual occupants, each tenth window revealing a thin moving figure who looks like me.
Or watch the sky in the oily gun metal platform puddles as the train slows to a judder, the surface calm but cold, the bridge platform frozen in space, the Thames churning below.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 1:06 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 4:08 PM BST
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Friday, 19 March 2004

That Bandwagon that was rolling by a while ago...


Now Playing: the chitter chatter of internet munnikeys chimping their wares

Topic: Vic Jameson

Sometimes the story just won't die ...

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:06 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 5:18 PM GMT
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Turns out, nobody asks permission, see . . .


Topic: Vic Jameson

The results of the MIT Media Lab Blog Survey are in. Apposite timing, too, what with events snowballing around BdJ (always a little too near to BDSM for my taste), and Creepy being hounded out of her blog [by evil witchy schoolmarmy types who think it infringes the privacy of their previously unknown online pseudonym].
"Formerly viewed as a marginal activity restricted to the technically savvy, blogging is slowly becoming more of a mainstream phenomenon on the Internet. Thanks to much media hype and some high profile blog sites, these online journals have captured the public?s imagination. As novice authors plunge into the thrilling world of blog publishing, they soon realize that publicly writing about one?s life and interests is not as simple as it might seem at first. As they become prolific writers, more bloggers find themselves having to deal with issues of privacy and liability. Accounts of bloggers either hurting friends? feelings or losing jobs because of materials published on their sites are becoming more frequent.

"Here we report the findings from an online survey conducted between January 14th and January 21st, 2004. During that time, 486 respondents answered questions about their blogging practices and their expectations of privacy and accountability for the entries they publish online:

- the great majority of bloggers identify themselves on their sites: 55% of respondents provide their real names on their blogs; another 20% provide some variant of the real name (first name only, first name and initial of surname, a pseudonym friends would know, etc.)

- 76% of bloggers do not limit access (i.e. readership) to their entries in any way

- 36% of respondents have gotten in trouble because of things they have written on their blogs

- 34% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in trouble with family and friends

- 12% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in legal or professional problems because of things they wrote on their blogs

- when blogging about people they know personally: 66% of respondents almost never asked permission to do so; whereas, only 9% said they never blogged about people they knew personally.

- 83% of respondents characterized their entries as personal ramblings whereas 20% said they mostly publish lists of useful/interesting links (respondents could check multiple options for this answer). This indicates that the nature of blogs might be changing from being mostly lists of links to becoming sites that contain more personal stories and commentaries.

- the frequency with which a blogger writes highly personal things is positively and significantly correlated to how often they get in trouble because of their postings; (r = 0.3, p < 0.01); generally speaking, people have gotten in trouble both with friends and family as well as employers.

- there is no correlation between how often a blogger writes about highly personal things and how concerned they are about the 'persistence' [ie, longevity when cached online] of their entries

- checking one?s access log files isn?t correlated to how well a blogger feels they know their audience

- despite believing that they are liable for what they publish online (58% of respondents believed they were highly liable), in general, bloggers do not believe people could sue them for what they have written on their blogs.

"The findings in this survey suggest that blogging is a world in flux where social norms are starting to flourish. For instance, many bloggers reveal the names of companies and products when they blog about them, except when they write about a company for which they currently work or have worked in the past. More bloggers are becoming sensitive about revealing the full names of friends on postings as well. But for all of the careful publishing guidelines that are starting to evolve, bloggers still do not feel like they know their audience. For the most part, they have no control over who reads their postings. The study also shows that bloggers usually have some idea of their ?core? audience (readers who post comments on the site) without really knowing who the rest of their readers are ? in many cases, this latter group makes up the majority of their readers.

When confronted with questions of defamation and legal liability, respondents in this survey paint a conflicting picture. In general, they believe that they are liable for what they publish online. However, bloggers in this study were not concerned about the 'persistent' nature of what they publish ? which tends to be a major aspect of liability ? nor did they believe someone would sue them for things they had written on their blogs. Moreover, 75% of respondents said they have edited the contents of their entries in the past. Even though most respondents explained that they usually edit typos and grammatical errors, 35% of respondents said they had edited for content as well: entries they decided were too personal, entries they thought were ?mean?, some respondents mentioned having gone back to entries to obfuscate names of people. These results reveal a certain naivete in how most bloggers view 'persistence' and how it can operate in networked environments such as the net, where information is being constantly cached. As blogs become more pervasive and their audiences grow, the ever-'persistent' nature of entries and the direct link to defamation and liability are likely to become even more of a burning issue."

MORE

This page graced by sarsparilla at 12:08 AM GMT
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 12:10 AM GMT
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Thursday, 18 March 2004

The Strange Tale of How I Told Mrs Opposite to Learn Some Fucking Manners


Topic: Yidaho

Okay, in person I'm quite mild mannered and polite. Almost to a fault, in fact.
I like turning the other cheek and being magnanimous, and for one reason; it's a stance.
A few weeks ago, I was parking my car in alternate positions in the huge, rather empty off street private car parks we have here, and relishing the security of it all. No more annual break-ins, no more monthly drilling of your locks in that ole East End stylee. I can park numerous places, now, all of them totally utterly parking permit free, bird shit free and crime free.
Parked up a slightly awkward incline, next to the outhouse where all the rubbish gets lobbed, I returned to my car one morning to find a post-it note stuck to the windscreen.

THIS SPACE IS

RESERVED

DONT

PARK.HERE.AGAIN.

Well, you know, I haven't worked alongside the great unwashed of Catford / Enfield for ten years to knock my knees together and quail at some retard threatening me on my doorstep. One of the great side effects of the crisis management and general abuse that so addicts me to my thrilling job is that I'm scared of no one. No one.
You can come at me with whatever weapon you like, you can try to hurt me however you want, and there is no way in hell that I'm going to turn away until I've disarmed you literally and metaphorically. That's right. You're going to apologise.
One of my best such moments was aged 24 in the race-riot-strewn estates behind Euston, when a gang of chemically altered teenagers decided to bottle my head in for being gay. I loved the look of horror on their faces when instead of running away, I turned and walked towards them. I made damn sure they apologised before I left.
I read that inane post-it note, left on the car that, given an option, I'd prefer never to have parked in the same spot twice, and laughed at the world of hurt unfolding in my imagination.
This is probably how squillion decade long neighbourly disputes begin.

I got me a post-it note from my own secret poison pen stronghold, and left a fairly terse message on the miscreant's own grimy windscreen. Something along the lines of 'I don't see a fucking sign, do you?' and 'Learn some fucking manners' (particularly proud of the oxymoron there).

Oh how I prayed the anonymous note writer would go further. I wanted a show down. A full blooded barney at dawn. I was quite happy to go toe to toe and twat the owner of the grimy grey shitmobile. Preferably police called.
Dammit, I have nine months of untapped dead-relationship rage inside me, I wanted to rip my fingernails along someone's face.
No joy - the reply disappeared, grey grubby shitmobile hogged the space possessively, and eventually the opportunistic rage subsided into a mere burst of 'and another fucking thing' rantation if I was having a grim day.

I don't think I've particularly wound my neighbours, so far. I play the radio pretty loud in the bathroom once a day, but it's Radio 4, it's hardly eardrum shattering. My bogus landlady had told me her old schoolfriend, Pilchard, lived upstairs, and had a cat. Poor bloke looked freaked when he walked towards the stairs with some cat litter and a strange woman in a pink fluffy hat yelled 'you're Pilchard, aren't you?'
But aside from my usual slight stalkerish tendencies, nothing to suggest I was a newly planted sociopath in their midst.

Polite beyond the broadest definition, I tried to avoid a meeting with Mrs Opposite this week - Bogus had told me she was an old dear - slightly deaf, and extremely quiet. On Monday, I could hear Mrs Opposite across the hallway slamming her door to run in and out of the flat. This is London, I don't want anything more than frosty civility towards neighbours - so I decided to wait a moment before charging out to begin my two mile morning constitutional.
The coast seemed clear, but as I stumbled towards the hall light, I nearly broke my ankle on some grey dusty car cleaning materials in a grey dusty bucket. So that's what the crashing and slamming had been in aid of. Early morning car wash.

The horror - the palpable gut lurching horror - as I emerged from the front door directly in the path of the mystery note writer's grimy grey shitmobile. As Mrs Opposite looked up from her grubby bucket seat behind the steering wheel.

Me heap big Sarf Lahnnun hard woman, eh? I did my Moron's Best shiteating grin, limply waved hello, and scampered.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:52 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 12:13 AM GMT
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Wednesday, 17 March 2004

Contained


Topic: Vic Jameson

I had to read some (mostly powerful) poetry written by a colleague today, and this one line sticks in my head, and won't go away.

"I don't belong to these grey walls"

Creepy Lesbo has come up against the obstacle of friend's objections to her blog, and is inviting ideas about what to do. I say, up sticks, shut the blog down, start a new one - new links, new pseudonyms, new everything. We'll all find it eventually, Creepy. You don't belong to blogspot, you don't belong to your readers, and you don't need to be held hostage to someone else's sense of propriety.

I dunno, I just can't imagine William Burroughs shooting his wife in the face, and his mother saying "you're not going to put that in your damn blog book".

Creepy's writing is honest, and it's good because it's excoriatingly honest. Painfully, brutally honest. She reminds me of Dickens in a weird way, because I hang on waiting for the next instalment to slice up another part of lesbian life, lance another pompous fart's asinine self-serving behaviour, dissect it and boil it in acid flavoured blog-jelly for me to read about.
Nobody could sit and knowingly be a topic for unforgiving focus like that. So I say move it. If she's censoring herself, she'd be censoring more than just a few words. She'd be censoring the writing, the unburdening, and the talent that keeps improving every time she publishes another instalment.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:18 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 March 2004 4:29 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 16 March 2004

Mosaic


Topic: Belle de Jour

Forewarning: I only just this week discovered how to do a < strike > html2 thingumah, so I'm going to over use it even more than the italicising for the next few months.

If you have two hours of sleep over a three day period, then you see a grey lady walking through the kitchen at the corner of your vision, sudden holographic large spiders scuttly up walls, and even indoors, it looks like a fine rain is falling.

Last Thursday, someone at work puked in technicolour down a stairwell, mananging to splatter three flights of stairs, vertically. I was the most senior person onsite, so of course I did the senior thing, and walked away, pretending not to have noticed the streaming puke shower behind me.

Yesterday I was sat researching something on the office pc at work when I fell off the chair. The whole thing tipped on its side.
There was nothing wrong with the chair. Some subconscious part of me simply decided to sink in a south westerly direction, and take the comfy wheelie chair with me.

I just about managed to quell a fit of sheer, futile pointless fury on Monday morning, on the grounds that it was stupid. Somehow I became incensed that most British blogs I've read this weekend (excepting four bloggers whom I've already thanked) didn't bother to abate their tales of deoderant and how supercilious they were when they went to Sheffield for even one millisecond to mention what happened in Madrid.
I swear, I was shaking with pent up rage about it - I was all set to delete every link apart from the four who mentioned there'd been a terrorist massacre, like, next door.
Dunno where that came from. I can't surely have pre- mid- post- and inter- menstrual ferociousness tension, can I?

When I don't sleep, my stomach bulges into this perfectly round, protruding pot belly very rapidly, until I do. I've been patting it and feeding it Snickers all day. Seriously, today I had to wear an old oversized gap skirt of Tybalt's, because not one single pair of jeans or trousers I owned (in a wide range of sizes!) would close over the pot. Me! In a skirt! With a bowling ball belly! What larks, Pip, what larks.

If I hide my sock drawer in the hallway, and sit in the space, I can pretend I have a very low very uncomfortable desk, and imagine the pain in my legs is because I'm not used to Japanese furniture.

I'm trying to resist the impulse to take my walkman on the morning / afternoon walk to and from work. It's not like the deep throaty rowrrr of traffic is particularly precious to me. I just want to hold off the wealthy isolation that music affords me as long as possible. This morning, not having a walkman as I walked to the area office, unsure of my way and stumbling slightly to make my deadlines, I heard:
A loon-grinned pretty older woman asking me if I'd like to share a tract about Jesus.
The morning chorus being shattered by a particularly resonant and hoarsely grouching crow.
My footsteps, which made me look at the mist hanging aroung the fountain in Mayow Park as I passed it.
The sound of a street sweeper on almost every single street corner of Lewisham. Come on, Mister Mayor, you blobby self congratulatory tosser (I met him last week, this is true) - six street sweepers in one mile of quiet side streets is more than entropy. No-one could chuck out empty crisp packets fast enough to keep them all employed, surely?
The three or four pairs of small boys wrestling.
It's obscene to have so much energy as small boys do.
The office workers who are quietly, insanely singing to themselves. But not quite quietly enough. I like to think of them as nascent Jeffrey Dahmers - I imagine that the tedium of their cubicle-centric environments have unhinged them six years ago, and today is the day they'll allow the other staff to notice; the day of becoming - of taking back their stapler and burning down the building.
(Well, you have to have some way of feeling superior of a morning.)

Someone in my building lobs half a loaf of mouldy bread into the communal garden outside my window every day, and I get to sit and watch Cyril and five wood pigeons (my most hated feathered foe) fight for it.


Cyril

Frosty brought her (to be fair, very pretty and well behaved) newborn baby into work today and asked me to hold it. It was involuntary, I swear. The flinching: "eww, no! What if I drop it?"
Anyway, she swears she's dropped it, too.

Back on the coldest night of February, I ordered a large mink blanket (fake fur, though) online, to curb the shivers. It still hasn't arrived, and now every day I walk past the nasty nylon cyan navy and turquoise spattered fleece throws labelled "MINK!" in their plastic carry cases in the fifty pee shop window, and shiver a little inside.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:37 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 March 2004 4:34 PM GMT
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Monday, 15 March 2004

11/M Reading Material


Topic: Vic Jameson

"Frequently the personalised, subjective, unpolished viewpoint [ of a blog ] strikes me as far more engaging than the Soho House arse licking of your average journalists' take on life."

Therefore, in no particular order, and tending to no particular style, geography being the only defining component, the news from Spain:

Iberian Notes
Puerta del Sol Blog
Santificarnos
First Conditional
Think Back
A Fistful of Euros
Tim Blair hosted english versions of guest blogs from the authors of Hispa Libertas
Baldie (Catalan)
Jeroen Sangers
The Fruitman Chronicles
Living in Europe
Xikita
Buscaraons (Catalan)
Euro Pundits

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:14 AM GMT
Updated: Monday, 15 March 2004 3:31 AM GMT
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Sunday, 14 March 2004

sub text: a meta-morpho-blog


Topic: Shy Lux

I still have this seventeen hour project to get started finished by Tuesday, so procrastination is rampant, hereabouts. There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation. Hence, the past two weeks have involved mucho reading, film watching, and browsing of blogs. And the more blogs I read, somehow the less I want to keep one myself.
It's not that I don't find blogs interesting - frequently the personalised, subjective, unpolished viewpoint strikes me as far more engaging than the Soho House arse licking of your average journalists' take on life. What unnerves me is that feeling of knowing something that isn't deliberately told. It's when you've read a blog for a while, looked at patterns and repetitions, and somehow the blogger has unintentionally revealed too much.

I've got to circumvent the navelgazing, though to point out my context: that right now, I'm plagued by repeated nightmares. They work about at about a 60:40 ratio of 'I hate Tybalt with every fibre of my being' to 'I hate blogging'. The latter species have me waking up yelling in shock (although still prefereable to the quiet unerring antipathy of the former.) My morning coffee is regularly interrupted by a dizzying surprise at my strength of negative emotion about both.
Derby says that dreams and nightmares are a safe environment in which to work out and process unsafe emotions. She thinks they're about expelling ideas and feelings, in order to create a space, into which new experiences and people can move. A contained environment to co-ordinate your most feared responses to uncontained things.
Funny, that's what I would have thought the blog was. Apparently not.

My first (and best) degree subject was Literature, and I - like most people - enjoy reading the subtext of any written or spoken communication. I have to practise this anyway at work, and to exacerbate this, I'm not that good at going with my instincts in real life situations, so I guess I've over developed my tendency to do it with the written word.
It's difficult, when reading blogs, not to provide an imaginary face behind the html, or to pad things out with a few hidden truths that read against the dominant narrative.
The blogs that have put the willies up me lately (to whom I don't and am not going to link), are the ones where it's not so hard to read between the lines.
The ones where you find yourself trying not to see a human torn up in the struggle to avoid realising his behaviour is selfish and nasty to others. (I mean, really, can I blame them? Who ever blogs an argument and paints themselves honestly in the wrong?)
The ones where all the commenting and and cliquey patronage reveal a desire to be more important and worthy than the blogger fears they actually are.
I know these people do want feedback, because they invite comments. Somehow I also know they don't want brutal feedback, or honest-but-unfriendly comments. They've laid bare what they like to think of as their soul on the screen - if a more realistic, warts and all portrait of themselves at the same time flows into the margins, well; they don't want you 'trolling' by pointing out that the emperor has no clothes, and his liposuction scars are getting ropey.
Jesus, I wouldn't want it.
It's an obvious truism that everyone feels a social pressure to maintain a facade - the man slitting his own throat even as he calls for help - but can I maintain a convincing facade? Would I even want to? And that's what today's rather badly written, badly thought out, crappy post is about. If I can see these other blogs and be fairly sure that their owners are lying through their happy-go-lucky teeth about who they are - then what unpalatable truths can people read here about me?
And the scariest thing is that I'm pretty sure I know what they read. They read the interior narrative of someone absolutely unutterably neverendingly fascinated with herself.

That's the bit that I find shameful. And that's the bit I don't like about my blog.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:48 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 14 March 2004 9:28 PM GMT
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