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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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Wednesday, 18 February 2004

Brave New World

Topic: Shy Lux
A strange congruence between two opposite ends of the culcha spectrum yesterday.
I watched a lifestyle show that veered off wildly out of safe and rewarding and into very very Wrong. A poverty stricken Glaswegian family were given a month's paid relocation to Tuscany, to change their lives. They spoke no Italian, had no savings and no skills to sell.
The wife was a nurse, but Italian bureaucracy wouldn't allow her to practise. She was a chiropodist by trade, anyway and no-one in Tuscany particularly worried about whether their feet looked nice. They kept their children out of school a few months to 'avoid upheaval'. Then the husband had a stroke, became paralysed down one side. He moved into an Italian nursing home fifty miles away, where, not speaking the language, he was unable to communicate at all as he tried to learn how to walk and feed himself all over again. The wife, with no income, was forced to leave the fantasy isolated farmhouse that the TV show had rented for her, for the nearest city, and could no longer afford to leave her children to find work. Which would be unskilled anyway, as she had no contacts, no family and no Italian.
Being thrown on the mercy of the local city meant her children were made to attend the local school, where they began to speak Italian. Through her eldest son's football games, the wife began to learn the language, haphazardly, via contact with other boy's mothers.
Their 'lifestyle makeover' had plunged them into the worst situation they could have dreamed of, and there was no happy ending. In the saccharine fixed grins and orchestrated anomie of a daytime TV schedule the jarring effect of this slic, this intrusion of raw, cutting reality and hardship was unsettling. It was as if someone had come to the party and pissed on the birthday cake.
I thought about it later on, staying up late to watch an awkward TV adaptation of Brave New World. It's fairly obvious that culcha acts as our modern day soma to some degree. But the Controller's advice to the Savage, just as in the book, stood out, juxtaposed within a messy, flabby, adolescent plot, irritating and gnawing at your conscience like all big truths do. The insect in the amber.
And it's this: without pain and sadness, we have nothing of any worth in our lives.
Art, religion, love, philosophy, science - they originate in tragedy, they stem from dissatisfaction. If we lose the social instability from which tragedy springs, we lose the rest.
I had a really shit day yesterday, but that's what life is all about.
I want good, evil, pain, beauty, freedom, sin because they're part of being alive. To be awake is not to be alive.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:03 PM GMT
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Sub Conscious

I had this dream where she came back from Sao Paulo and I had to tell her that there's no point pretending. No matter what we do there's nothing going to be different. I can't explain her reaction, but it was exactly like in reality, when she offered to make up, and I was cold, and it cost me some.
I felt like I'd murdered someone.
I woke up, and I found every muscle was tensed, so I didn't move and wake her, so there'd be no sign, or contact.
It took me a few minutes to emerge from the dream and realise that she wasn't in the bed.

It was a very familiar feeling, trying not to touch someone, trying not to wake them. It was stressful in a way that being on your own has never been.

I've been avoiding putting my house on sale. Four months since I should have done it.
I had to do it yesterday. It wasn't my favourite thing to do ever. And I woke up feeling tense in every muscle, looking for someone who wasn't there, worrying she'd know that in my dream I'd killed her.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:48 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 18 February 2004 3:07 PM GMT
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Obvious NoseJobs

Topic: LondonLifer
It irritates me. When movie stars have perfect noses ... just fourinches too smallfor their faces. Otherwise physically perfect, these midget noses make their eyes and cheeks look like satellite dishes. In a worst case scenario I'm irredeemably reminded of a beautiful woman morphing slowly into a boxer dog. What's wrong with a normal sized nose, anyway?

The Worst Defamers of the Pert Nostril

5. Kate Hudson
4. Gwyneth Paltrow
3. Keira Knightley
2. Charlize Theron
1. Julianne Moore

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Monday, 16 February 2004

Films That Make Me Cry in a Ridiculously Overblown and Disproportional Fashion:

Topic: Empty Fridge Light
The Nutty Professor
Vanilla Sky
The Pianist
Love Actually
The Last Samurai
Oh, the shame of it all.

"I call people rich when they are able to meet the requirements of their imagination." Henry James.

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Attack of the Fifty Foot Mindflab

I just experienced a Vanessa Mindflab. Like a Vulcan Mindmeld, but crap.
I walked out of my flat, intending to walk across the drive to the car, and go to the Internet Palace at Crystal Cafe, when Derby rang up. She's visiting London later in the week, and we wanted to plan some shows - I'm despereate to see the Balanchine triple bill at the Royal Opera House on Thursday, but am more in the market for the #4 tickets than the #70 ones, so I figure that one matinee is my only chance.

I want to see Balanchine's work because I've been brooding on greatness lately. Not in a Caesar way, I mean other people's greatness.
There's that thing of when you describe an artist's work as 'great' and usually you mean for this decade, or if you're lucky, great in the context of the century.
There's very few people you'd call great in the classical sense of the word - great like Da Vinci, great like Newton, great like Michelangelo or Shakespeare - certainly in the last century.
(I was surprised to find that some people don't consider Picasso to be great on the Michelangelo scale, actually, but there you go, these things are subjective for a few hundred years at least, aren't they?)
So anyway, Balanchine died in the eighties and was fabled to be one of the greatest choreographers that lived ... so a triple bill of his work, at the ROH as an added plus, is irresistible - much in the same way as when you attend university, you're culturally obligated to go to at least one lecture by whomever that instition's world beatingly great mind of the moment is - whether you understand quantum physics or not. Culcha, innit? How could I have lived in the twentieth century and not see Balanchine's choreography?
I digress.

Given that the Thursday matinee is on at the same time I'd agreed to spend with Derby, some pussyfooting about was necessary to secure agreement. I mean, you never know if people actually like ballet, do you? I don't, so why should they?
Attack of the Vanessa Mindflab occurred at 6 pm, when the phone rang as I left the flat. I was midway through walking three feet to my car. At 6.20 I rang off, and the Mindflab ceased. I look around and find I'm on a British Rail train to Charing Cross.
How did that happen? Train tickets cost #4.70, my savings only pay the rent till April, and that's my Balanchine money gone. I'm not very good at living within reduced means, and if I'm going to start lapsing into fugue states where I wake up halfway to Wales, things can only get worse.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 1:58 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 16 February 2004 2:05 PM GMT
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I stayed in all Saturday morning unpacking, paying bills and cleaning while some bloke fixed the window he cracked last week. It would have been quite calming - you know, bath cleaning, feeling of pointless achievement, all that - if the presence of Window Bloke hadn't made Scaredy Cat hurl herself at the window until she escaped.

Cat logic. A strange man is tapping at the window at the front of the house. One must throw oneself bodily through another window, at the rear of the house, and run wildly into the great unknown in case he ever comes in.

It being Scaredy Cat, the disappearance caused no alarm. I noticed the window a little further ajar than I believed I'd left it, so I shut and locked the thing, and carried on cleaning, scrubbing, paying bills. It started to rain. A memory did flicker, then, of when ScaredyCat once ran out of the french windows at Duch's house to hide in a clump of bushes. She was too scared to move, even when I stood right over her; as a strictly indoor cat, she'd never experienced rain before, and thought it might Get Her.
Chuckling at the memory, I wondered where she'd hidden herself, and got on with scouring the bathroom walls with bleach. The frenzy of cleanliness was bound to occur only irregularly, and I had to reap the benefit quickly before the fit passed from me.
Two hours later, Window Bloke decided not to bother fixing the rest, and scarpered. No reappearance of Scaredy Cat. In fact, increasingly smug expression settling over the features of Other Cat. (they live in fervent hope of the other cat's sudden death.) It dawned on me what I'd done.
I opened all the windows and yelled. There was no way a creature with a brain the size of a jelly tot would remember the way back in. Dragging on a hoodie and trainers, I ran out into the communal garden to stand in the mud and the rain, shouting cat blandishments at the bemused neighbours. The garden backs onto the lawns and sheds of several large, grand looking houses - the sort that indulge in stained glass hall windows and subdued peeling porticos. I know this because I had to scramble in an ungainly fashion over the six foot tall fence to scream into each garden. After thirty minutes I found me an extremely sad and bedraggled Scaredy Cat, who sliced a deep gash in my hand before I scrambled back over the mud and now broken fences to throw her in through the back window.

At this Precise Minute Other Cat leapt back out. Made a beeline for the fence and scuttled under an improbably narrow crack.

Suffice to say, my pastel carpet is now trailed over with solid lumps of crusted mud, my cats have had a right old adventure, the likes of which they'll be wailing and grumbling about for at least four days, and I have a stinking cold.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 1:40 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 16 February 2004 1:45 PM GMT
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Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter, ITV1, 2am.
The temptation!
The knowing that it's so good (so bad it's good), you could stay up, but the stilted passion is so deliciously far under the surface of stiff upper lip, that it probably wouldn't keep you awake if you did.

Celia Johnson. This is what I always used to wish being a lezzer was really like.

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Saturday, 14 February 2004

We Fear Change

Mood:  hungry
I thought I could do flavour opposites - my favourite popcorn is sweet mixed with salt, I love sausages pancakes and maple syrup, I really get off on bacon with mash and sweet custard. The last week contradicted my assumption that I'm able to be adventurous with food. It proved that thirty something hardening of the taste arteries has already begun. You know, the process that has you unable to vary your tastes in food, music or pop culture by age thirty seven, and makes the onset of Meldrewism a mere matter of time.

First off, Dee brought some sweets to Belfast from her last jaunt to Japan. Dee tests X Box games for a living (too late, geekboys, she has a bloke) and goes to Japan to try out unreleased new games a lot. She brought some salted plums to Belfast.
Her rare, favourite, delicacy.
Dee was generous enough to offer us one each, despite them being her favourite foodstuffs, and only available at great effort and expense in the land of the rising sun. The pressure was high to respond ... if not well, then politely. Gratefully, anyway. They were like miniature purple nectarines - furry, a little larger than a fat man's thumb, and smelt faintly like urine.
Mistake number one was saying that out loud. A tentative lick of the bruised looking fur revealed a strangely yellowed salty taste - much like when you lick the shell of a pistachio. Mistake number two: "ugh, it stinks of piss."
Apparently, they taste better than they smell, so I reminded myself that this was a gift, a treasured sacrifice, and bit into the thing. Mistake three.
An acrid flood of pickled egg pungency had me running to a sink to spit the thing noisily and publicly. If you met me in person, I'm dead polite, you know. Manners are important to me. I'm ashamed to say (four) that I made gagging noises while Dee watched me spit her precious fruit prize into spit covered pieces into the bin. In fact I only stopped going on about it hysterically when Yidaho came in, so that I could smile, smack my lips, tell her they were just peachy delicious, why didn't she try a whole one?

But it could well have been an aberration (sorry, Dee), a one-off taste explosion nasty.
Rather than a paralysis of my ability to experience the new. However, last night's menu sampling at 'Garlic n Shots' set the seal upon my atrophied sense of experimentation. Set the seal, padlocked it, threw away the map. But good.

I began with a garlic beer - light Scandinavian lager, with chopped, raw garlic floating at the head. (One glass. Don't like so much the process of having to chew my beer.)
Next, rubbery game in a garlic goulash, with aioli, accompanied by mashed raw garlic mixed with a little potato. J@B had kalamari stuffed with chopped garlic. By this time, I was swimming with nausea, and had to check there was no garlic in the damn ginger ale as I dropped bunch after bunch of garlic, desperately.
Once the queasiness was quelled by parsley munching, I ordered the dessert - opting for garlic chocolate truffle with a garlic and raspberry coulis, while J@B had a skewer of whole roast garlic cloves dipped in chocolate sauce laid across garlic honey ice cream.
It was putrid. The flavours didn't so much blend as wash over you in separate consecutive waves. For bravery's sake I managed two teaspoons, then had to make a dash for the Haagen-Dazs shop and espresso with six sugars.

When did I lose my ability to appreciate the new? Although I do value the ability to wield the mighty power of the truly atomic garlic burp - certainly proving useful in securing seats on the train journey home - it's a sobering, frightening prospect. Nothing new. Ever again. Ulp.

Yeah, yeah, okay, so the irony's not lost that most people wouldn't dare feast on a garlic layered smorgasbord the evening before Valentine's Day, but I did get a Valentine, thankyouverymuch. From my mobile phone company. Innit.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:40 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 14 February 2004 6:00 PM GMT
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Tales of the Urban Burbs #6

Welcome to a new stage - no longer a commuter, now a Burb Dweller, I get to enjoy only the Social Commute.
One problem. Why can't I read a train timetable? Somehow the fact that my local train line runs from London Bridge through Penge, Croydon and then back up to Victoria throws my sense of direction off totally. That's a train from London to London, fact fans. Blew a few of my synapses.
Anyway, going back into the city centre really brings home to you the age barriers of the city. I mean the disparity between the twentysomethingness of Soho and the creakysomethingness of the Urban Burbs. Hell, I don't look even a little bit old out here ... and a fortnight away from the city gates and London is suddenly transformed into somewhere with that weird film set feel (much like NYC when you spot a steaming subway vent, and have to check round for possible sightings of Dick Tracy).

London Bridge station, though, emphatically is not a place for tourists. It's a local station, for Commuter People.
A map, ma'am? I couldn't possibly. Advice on what line is quickest, ma'am? I'm very much afraid that I couldn't tell you. Directions, ma'am? Oh dear, no. I'm sure I couldn't help you, ma'am. Allow me to ask my LUL colleagues. (These would be the LUL fuckwits who later advised me that Charing Cross is definitely on the Jubilee line...)

Waiting for a tube. Then the next tube. Then the next. The next. And the next.
It dawns on me that it's not actually going to get less crowded in here, and I'd better board one of the things. This actually isn't crowded by London standards. Just give in, and shove.
Still my new touristical status means I get to be far more brash and intrusive with my camera, and never have to worry about sporting the appropriate social class identifiers. And the people. Colourful. Pretty.
I can't stop staring.
Is my mouth hanging open?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:13 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 14 February 2004 4:27 PM GMT
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Manglement Bollocks

Mood:  caffeinated
Bastard sodding work kept me doing 14 hour days for the latter part of this week, so I couldn't get to the internet cafe before it closed at eleven. I had my first (crap Sarf East Lahndan equivalent of) 360 degree appraisal. (ie, loads of important interviews where I invite feedback within a 24 hour period, not an actual HBS type manglement bollocks appraisal. The place I work is still lagging in about 1982 in manglement terms...)

So anyway, my superiors think I don't do that much, I'm idle, and shiftless. They note my unkempt attire, my poor punctuality (one verbal warning) and my laughably high sick rate (one verbal, one written warning, on an annual basis, over the previous decade). They feel frustrated at my inability to prioritise bureacratic paperwork over getting the job done well. (They said this! Don't they see how foolish that makes them look?)
They suspect me of failing to do even the basics correctly, and think there may be some merit in investigating my records. However, in public, they prefer pretend that I'm faultless and a paragon of civic virtue from whom my colleagues could learn a thing or two. They find me deeply frustrating when I pass on promotions I don't want, and think I should believe in myself more. Sheesh. Cheers, madhippyboss.
My colleagues think I'm a workaholic who tries to do too much. And fails. They think I'm married to my job, but wish I were more empathetic. They think I interfere too much and realise that I never delegate because I don't trust them to walk and chew gum at the same time. However, that gives them less work, so they don't mind in the slightest. Because of this, they mostly forgive me for never fulfilling any request which might be difficult or cause me inconvenience (symbiotic relationship, see?) They're fully aware of my governing precept that if you don't want to do a job, do it supremely badly (you'll not be asked again), and find it ridiculous. Which I think is a fair cop.
My junior colleagues think my content and delivery is top hole, old bean. They frequently think when I train them up, my presentations can't be bettered, doncha know. However, when I set up projects, they frequently can't understand what I want them to do, because my verbal instructions are so painfully contorted, even (especially) when they ask for clarification. I'm disorganised, apparently, and in high pressure presentations they think I panic and give out way too much pointless paperwork. All true, I have to say, although I do regret saying 'damn, be brutal in your evaluations, I'm never doing this crap again' a little, now.
My suppliers think I'm without parallel, the only person at my company who gives them any hard data useful to work with, or positive feedback; however sometimes they're surprised to note that I can't recall who they are.
My customers prefer dealing with me to other colleagues, but think I'm disorganised, and I don't set out projects and expectations clearly enough. They think it's somewhat out of order that I can't be bothered to get to work on time in the mornings. Also, they don't like to tell me that they like dealing with me, because I might get smug, so in face to face dealings they enjoy pretending that I'm twenty times crapper than the previous faceless operative. Gee, thanks for that, guys.

Pffft. Like I give a shit.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:03 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 14 February 2004 3:14 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 11 February 2004

Blog Profitless


It's not a fair contest if you forget to vote for yourself!
Bah, I lost by one vote. That Teddy's gonna get a grumping for this.

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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 7:35 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 February 2004 7:56 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Drink! Feck! Gurls!

Well a mere ten hour delay enabled myself and yidaho to observe all forms of airport life - from the family man who sat nursing his black coffee and glass of red wine, while his wife and child tucked into a 7am full english breakfast, through poodle woman, who appeared to have secreted an untamed poodle into her topknot - heaven knows what security made of the contraband hairpiece; to an early morning amiable looking witch wandering through Gatwick Airport's Knickerbox. I know witches need frilly knickers, too - but cheap continental flights? Why? Broomstick out of order?
Belfast was snowing and colder than Switzerland - I was shattered after four hour's sleep and chilled all the way through despite the ski jacket. I was also the unluckiest twat alive - I worked out I'd missed my flight after putting the wrong postcode into the RAC online route planner. I shan't say whose I put in, by droopy brained mistake, but suffice to say I should not be daydreaming about stalking them while farting about at the internet cafe, anyway.
Urgent texts from cat sitting Tybalt proved the demonic felines fouled up her night by waking her through bloodied scratches at four o clock in the morning (logical; it's the time I fed them a day previously). Hah. One night's care in six months I think qualifies them to scratch slightly.
I must have looked well dodgy, because airport security searched all my bags for the first time in my entire well travelled life. This is an internal flight for fecks sake. They pulled out my smalls and swiped the inside of my bag for Semtex traces. Bastards. I was carrying that jewelled pink G string for a friend.
My bad luck run continued in Belfast as I got the serious giggles in a pikey Bingo hall near the Shankill Road, as we tried to understand what number 'sabannty sabann' might refer to, while I handily and time savingly had marked most of the bingo numbers some time earlier. Yidaho helped out by shoving bingo dabbers in my mouth whenever I lost concentration, and Dee made us even more popular with the locals by noisily interjecting outbursts of loudly voiced religious respect (note to self: comments such as 'Jesus!', 'Christ, no!' and 'So shoot me' don't go down Well in the Shankill Road area.)
I capitalised on this by making sure that my inappropriate attire got us banned from the Belfast night club and forcing all the perfectly trendily dressed folk to come back to Tess's house and take copious amounts of, erm, thing, while bribing Vic and Nik into shouting karaoke blandishments at the neighbours on a miniature PA system. For eight hours. My voice has gone now. I'm sure Tess's neighbours feel really bad for me, there.
Not only did I fuck up the morning and the evening, for my next trick, I lost my oversized expensive ski jacket in Belfast Airport on the journey back. Poor bored Yidaho had to stand around swathed in stinky bags while I argued, shivering in my shirt sleeves with all-weather jacketed Easyjet and Norn Irish customs staff, ending up with the too too helpful advice: "we won't tell you where the Lost Property Office is, they don't answer the phone, and you should go ask them yourself, or you can get the last plane home."
Ah, right, that would be the plane for which I have to queue on the tarmac runway in my shirtsleeves in the snow, would it? Taking me to the airport where I have to queue at one in the morning, alone, in a state of ... erm ... near undress at the courtesy bus stop to access a darkened, three miles away 'long term car park'? So I can wander around alone and underdressed in the small hours looking for my car without getting jumped or catching pneumonia? Damn, I'm going to make sure I never turn up for the cheaper, early flight for you bastards, you can always heft your arses finding seats for me at no extra cost on your most popular planes if that's your idea of how to treat customers.
So I have a stinking bloody cold, now, and I had to sniffle in bed reacquainting myself with my teddy bear last night instead of blogging. Hence the post Belfastian hiatus.
Whingeing done with though, I had a really good time, because the people I was with were such mad conversationalists. I'd do it again, anyway.

Bitch of the day (shamelessly stolen from Paul): today I paid bills and wheedled with Free UK broadband suppliers, a division of ClaraNet and now officially CUNTS and WANKERS of the highest order, because they won't cancel the account at my old address which neither I nor anybody else will use, then they politely rang me back to let me know I need to pay an entirely new #60 connection fee at my new address. When I asked them what was to stop me from deserting their stinking cunting stupid bollocking company and signing up with a company that would charge me in a less swingeing money grabbing fashion, they politely agreed ... nothing. Can a disconnected telephone voice sound like it's blushing?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:24 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 February 2004 7:36 PM GMT
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Saturday, 7 February 2004


Topic: Hurtling to Obscurity

Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck

I missed the FUCKING plane.

You know I thought I'd experienced road rage before.

Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:04 AM GMT
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Friday, 6 February 2004

Tick Tock

Topic: Lactose Incompetent
I don't have nah time to blog tomorrow, innit, so I'm blogging the next day today. Rah! I caught up with real-time. That's why people like me live at zero degrees longitude, and people like you live somewhere not as important as here. Near Penge, that is.
So where was I? Ah yes, Malice's soft tepid spurtings of joy juice. (ew)
Lost in a haze of relaxation in my two inches of lukewarm heaven. I diligently removed my watch and placed it in this week's customary pose on the bog cistern.
An hour later, it was gone. Gone! Where the fuck is my watch? You do not realise how much my bloody job is regulated by time and appointments. How far out of my normally adapted sleep routine I am in a too hot bedroom, with not enough air, cats who are ignoring me, a different route to the coffee pot and two hours extra sleep in the morning. That every electrical item in the house has reset itself till it's about sixteen hours out from GMT. That I have to be at Gatwick Airport at six in the morning tomorrow. How wrong I am liable to get the time when I just guess.

I caved. The next day I caved. I kept trying to use the dying mobile, but I couldn't cope with adding and subtracting from a twenty four hour clock. I tried carrying my laptop round, but everyone takes it and plays with it, and starts laughing at their stupid videos of themselves. I can't see the time icon over their shoulders. So I did a tour of Pikey Jewellers in Lewisham.
I'm not sure if I've blogged my problems with watches. I tried to come it with another blogger a while back that I had dyscalculia, but she said I was just showing off, and I had to admit I was trying ot over glamourise basic stupidity on my part. I can't tell the time.
Well, that is to say, I can tell the time. I can tell the digital time. And through constant hourly practise (I'm not joking) with a dial face watch I can screw my face up and tell you the time within under a minute, if the dial has all the five minute markings, and at least four numbers, and really long clear hands.
Okay, you can stop laughing now. Or I'll pull the violin out and tell you how many bloody years it took me to learn to tie shoelaces. I'm as good as Elaine Showalter or FR Leavis if you want a spot of classic literature interpreted, but put me in a room full of monkeys and I'll give you one guess who will be asking who how many more minutes till the big hand hits the twelve?
So, anyway, every time I get a watch I try to make it a little bit harder to read, to keep my wits sharp and keep it difficult so I have to practise. (Another mere detail - if I don't tell the time for a week or two, I forget how to do it. Aaargh.)
Today I was so so so proud of myself. No numbers on the dial. I rejected four watches for lack of minute dots, or hands that were too long, or square faces (don't change the bloody geometric shape or you'll have me fitting and foaming at the mouth, for god's sake). The dial is one and a half centimetres in diameter. (That's small, for you imperial measuring imperialist oldies, right.)
I was so proud of my fearlessness, I showed it to Tybalt when she came to pick up the keys for tomorrow. Big mistake. She noticed that the time I'd given her, just a few minutes before (okay, okay, I don't know how many bloody minutes) was not exactly correct.
Only out by two hours, I was. Bah.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:23 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 6 February 2004 10:28 PM GMT
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Tales of the Urban Burbs #5

Topic: Yidaho
Too knackered to blog.
Decided to go back up East and heft some furniture.
Realised I'd left a dripping wet duvet cover inside the washing machine.
Sat and watched it wash again.
Hefted two sideboards, two lamps, a mirror, and three rubbish bags full of clothes and shoes down three flights of stairs and into the car.
On the twelve mile way back, deeply wet, deeply difficult to see through overstuffed rear view mirrors I remembered there aren't really any big Tesco stores in Sarf East Lunnun (apart from Elmers End, which is the other side of Penge and Does Not Count).
So I stopped off at Charlton Asda (which is much the same thing, but with more nylon; think Walmart) and bought a cheapo #35 microwave.
I hurt my ankle moving stuff the night before, and my bedraggled, limping form cut such a pathetic dash that even hard done by Asda checkout operatives took pity, carried my stuff to my car, and spent twenty minutes trying to balance so it didn't fall from a height onto the gear stick when I cornered.

Got in real late, only to realise I had to now get it all, sideboards and all, into my flat without pissing off the neighbours.
With a limp.
I moved very very very slowly.
Stinking of sweat, my true love Malice ran me a mildly tepid bath.
I'm bloody knackered.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:11 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 6 February 2004 10:29 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Tales of the Urban Burbs #4

Topic: Yidaho
I left the mobile phone charger back East in 1.67 Kilometre End. I have just about enough saltpetre left in it to listen to one more message before Friday. Better be choosy about whose message I play, eh? Sleep deprivation and constantly forgetting what I went to the shop for takes up most of my time right now. It doesn't help that I've never seen what my street looks like in daylight - just a tad disorienting, that.
My friends all know I'm crap with phones of any description - why do they all get tetchy if I don't hear their messages instantly? Instant availability of communication doesn't instantly obligate you to reply. Jings, if it's that important, train a pigeon.

So intermittent bursts of telephonic power allowed me to arrange for Tybalt to come stay with the mad ritalin deprived cats this weekend.
I'm flying to Belfast at some ungodly hour in the morning on Saturday, to meet most of the people in the first category of my blogroll for a jar. (It's totally coincidental that we all have blogs, honest, we're just lazy copycats. So I can give you the inside dirt on Tess, Vic, Yidaho, Nikki, Edna and Dee, because I'll be the only one sober. Hah! Dee doesn't have one yet, because she's too cool and uber-geek for it, but I can't see it holding out for much longer - she's every bit as attention- seeking as the rest of us.)
It's going to be somewhat anomalous, the idea of Tybalt's presence in my new Temporary Tybaltless Abode, with or without me being there; I almost decided against it -- but I suppose it's a measure of how incredibly the right thing this move was for me that I can even consider it. It'll prove I didn't steal all the teaspoons, too, no doubt.

Creeped by the silence, I bought a #35 DVD player from Savacentre. You can imagine how good the picture is. I realised why it was so cheap soon enough - you have to buy all the leads separately, adding on at least another tenner. By the time I got it sorted and settled down to watch Swimming With Sharks, it was midnight, further adding to my lost sleep tally. The director's commentary is comedy gold, though - ignore all the best shots, ignore the storyline, the detail, the cliff hangers, the carefully framed shots - just focus on how all your actors hated you, called you a stupid witless bastard, and constantly walked off set telling you they'd had it with your shit. "Of course it was very, deeply wrong of me to suggest to Kevin Spacey that a suit on a hanger could have acted the part better than he, and I had to do much apologising to persuade him to come back to act the final scene."

I think I forgot to attend the lesbian book club. I've never been to a book club of any orientation - was put off by tales of Duch's book club, where they actually take minutes. Dashtarnit. I read Brave New World for nothing.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:05 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 5 February 2004 6:21 PM GMT
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Tales of the Urban Burbs #3

Topic: Yidaho
The quiet got to me. It really really got to me. Pastel, torpid silence. Bare rooms, bare walls.
No phone, and my mobile dying without its battery (charger left the other side of the Thames).
I'd gotten into a routine of two cold baths a day, interspersed with massaging and pummeling of Malice's knobs and pipes. Inbetween getting to Crystal Palace to blog, begging for friends to house-sit during repairs or deliveries, and trying to assemble a flat-pack bed, things were becoming desperate.

Krystal came over while I was at work to let the bed delivery men plate up their parcel of joy for me.
Assembling the bed was a construction job of the utmost importance - I assembled the bed, slowly, carefully, remembering the sudden nocturnal crashes of the last one. I'd spent four years plummeting earthwards whenever a particular plank slipped out of joist. It was one of those occasions when I regimented not only the parts, but the washers, the nuts, the damn screws too, in a crazy jigsaw parody of what the frame was meant to become. Promised to reward myself with chip shop suppers.
Knackered from bed meccano antics, I fizzed onwards to put together the hi-fi. The complete silence afforded by Temporary New Abode has me flicking on teevee, radio, anything to hear a sound. I attached all the wires to the hifi while on the phone to Toulouse, who was making international calls from work. (gasp!) The hi-fi was a piece of piss - the next downside was that I've only brought one CD, but it's better than the silence pressing in. (All charity donations accepted; Maxinquaye is becoming old.)

After all that, tiredness was beginning to flake my brain into slivers, and I ran the car into a bollard I hadn't expected, just beyond my driveway. Yes, yes, yes, I know they're lit up with flashing harzard lights. Don't distract me from my whinge.
My fingers stank of grease and iron bolts. I nearly plunged down the stairs backwards while blogging too excitedly, and the consolation of more chips on the way home wasn't much enlivened by the metallic tang of iron filings.

But then two things went right.
In the morning, a welcome shock: Malice lurves me.
Malice offered up steaming boiling bubbling hot water. As hot as I can take it, she'll pump it. Hotter.
But she'll only do it at seven in the morning. (there goes my new lie in)
My other gift from the gods - the first, last and only time - I bought a Teddy. Starved of cuddles from psychologically damaged wayward felines, I was desperate. I bought Theodore Bear amid much cruel hilarity at my expense from the natives.
I cuddled him curled up on Pink Nasty for an hour, while watching Rotten in the Jungle. I took him to bed, too.
He has 2004 embroidered on his footpaw, to remind me I can only have him one year, then emotional maturity must become de rigeur. I'm to pass him on when the year is up. Being female, I can get away with this as if it's in any way psychologically normalistical. (Unless you actually know me, I suppose.)
Believe me, Theodore Bear has done serious sofa cuddle time for me already. Those cats should be nervous, because I woke up today still snuggling Theodore, to find jets of lovely hot water from Malice.

Things look up.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:52 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 4 February 2004 9:41 PM GMT
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Blog Madness

Vote for me, or for that other person, whom I have to admit writes rather well, in Blog Madness ... please. 43 hours left to register your disappointment.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:12 AM GMT
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Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Tales of the Urban Burbs #2

Utterly wasted from hefting boxes, stinking like a navvy and unable to wash, all my carefully constructed stress-disguising routines disrupted, I didn't take the sleeping tablet.
Why? I was physically worn out, and had the complete joy of not having to leave my duvet nest on the floor until ninety minutes later than usual. For ten years my alarm had detonated at six o'clock. I'd planned the first morning in detail - a different luxury breakfast cereal each day for the first two weeks, two pots of coffee, leave the house five minutes beyond the latest time, just so HippyBoss doesn't become too comfortable with this irregular punctuality.
I reckoned without the wide-eyed sweaty pitch blankness that keeps you awake and counting all night long.
I reckoned without the unfamiliar dark windows, the different route to the doorway, the foreign distance to the bog, the different precautions you need to take when alone in a ground floor flat. Accustomed to whistling winds in a relaxing cold bedroom, now the only safe window is one cracked open *this* far, locked that way, an iron trellis padlocked across it. I need to burn it into my habitual memory to close curtains every day, not just once or twice a year, now.
And the murky shape at the window at the window at three in the morning is NervousCat, trying to balance on the ledge.
But most of all, I reckoned without disturbed, uprooted, stressed animals. SilentCat makes her disapproval known vocally. Very vocally. At three minute intervals. All night long.

I surrendered to the knowledge I wasn't going to sleep a good forty minutes before the morning alarm, to get stuck into the coffee and to try a new, sensitive technique with Malice, my wilful and capricious water tank. Suddenly, she purred responsively to my caress; reeking an animal stench, I began to entertain wistful, wild, ambitious hopes of bathing in her febrile, generous warmth. Malice responded with heightened sensitivity to my demands - began to rumble passionately, running her fevered, steamy gushes of love and piqued desire.
Confident in my mastery of her devotions, I brewed another pot. Ambled insouciantly back to Malice's moist embrace. Allowed myself a shiver while leaning to break the surface of the spite she'd seeped from her tenderest parts for me.

Granite coldness.
Like a grave.

What could I do?
I bathed in it. I'm sure it will be healthy for me. Malice only wants what's right for me, what I deserve. It's not her fault I annoy her, make her do these things. Provoke her.
Next week I'll buy her a new jacket, a fleece. Make it clear how I feel. Not think back to the flexible limbs of my combi boiler, or his pliable responsiveness.
Remain stoic. And cold. Very very very cold.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:47 PM GMT
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