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Sunday, 11 April 2004

Nanna Knuckles

Now Playing: Rachmaninov, which is perhaps making the chicken assume a greater sense of importance than it should . . .
Topic: LondonLifer

Shyah, right, I can do this.

Simplest Roast Chicken

1 5-6lb chicken,wing tips removed

I read Devil in a Blue Dress, I know that wing tips are a jazzy type of men's shoe.
S'okay, my chicken came with feet ready removed, thank christ (oooh, topical!), no need to worry about footwear.

1 lemon -- halved
4 whole garlic cloves

I may have some of those things. I may have forgotten to use any of them, but the at the time, breaking into the Easter Egg early seemed more tempting than looking up a recipe. So yeah, they're still in the bowl, glowering uselessly at me. Oopsy.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter -- (optional)
Kosher salt to taste

Kosher salt? Is that, like blessed, or something? I don't even have a salt mill, I just hurl lumps of rock salt at things and remember to check before I swallow.

Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup homemade or canned chicken broth -- water,
fruit juice or wine, for deglazing

I'm not really sure what that is, but I once did a paint effect in bright red on my bathroom wall, and it ran down the tiles something dreadful. I had to paint them white when I moved out. I'm sure this experience will prove useful.

1. Place oven rack on second level from bottom. Heat oven to 500 degrees.

I really hope that's the same as 200 degrees. For the simple reason that 200 degrees is the temperature I cook everything, apart from toast. Can't be that different from a pizza.

2. Remove the fat from the tail and crop end of the chicken.

Remove the what? You mean where the chopped off head goes? Fuck off, I'm not touching that. I'm pretending this chicken never had a head, and you can't make me do otherwise.

3. Discard the neck and giblets or freeze for making chicken stock later. Reserve chicken livers for another use.

No you didn't. Rip its flakey neck flaps out?
The fuck you ... the neck?
Ohhh, you think I bought a chicken with it's bits intact. Cool, my no neck chicken is not the norm. Okay.
Shit, I hope there was nothing in a plastic baggy inside it.
I did think of checking, but it seemed rude to stick my hand in and see. I looked, but it was dark up there.

4. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon, garlic and butter, if using. Season the cavity and skin with salt and pepper.

No bloody way am I putting anything up there. I picked the thing up and it felt like a dead woman's tit, I'm not putting my fingers inside it.
Oh shit, what if that ruins it? Maybe you need stuff inside to make it moist. Ack, it's only been in for an hour - that might make it less like raping a corpse to do it. Um. I'll try. Ready for a shafting, mister lemon?
What if my fingers get burnt? Stuff your hand up a half cooked hot chicken's arse, Vanessa. God, cooking is so prosaic.

Edit: I can't do it. I got it out, and I tried. Well, in the sense that I looked at its hole with dawning horror.
It will have to remain stuffed with a rapidly melting plastic bag full of sub edible offal, no lemon required. Firstly, it's hot, and I'm a wimp, secondly it's clammy, white, dead, and clammy, and I'm a wimp, thirdly, it's an arsehole. I ain't going to go there.

No chicken skin rubbing either - raw chicken skin always reminds me of my granny's fingers while she baked. Last time I saw her, she was in a coffin, and rubbing salt into this chicken's clammy flesh would just confuse the hell out of me. No. The answer is no. Hear me?

5. Place the chicken in a 12-by-8-by-1 1/2-inch roasting pan, breast-side up.

Like I said, I'm growing some cat grass in the roasting pan, inside a drawer in the living room. I'll have to use the grill pan. The rented flat grill pan. Ew. Some scrubbing required. Who knows whose sausages have been squirting onto that thing?

6. Put in the oven legs first and roast 50 to 60 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

The dead chicken wrapping said two hours. Shit. Which is true? Sarah said to baste it every ten minutes. For two hours? I'd never get any bathing done. And it's been a few days, I need a wash.
It's done one hour, so far, and it looks pretty raw to me. No bloody juices. I wonder if humans have juices? Well, apart from the obvious ones. Eww.

Does handling raw flesh always make you think about sex and corpses all at the same time? Butchers must be fucked in the head if that's true. Yeeuch.

7. After the first 10 minutes, move the chicken with a wooden spatula to keep it from sticking.

I tell you, it's an hour later and it's not even that warm, let alone sticking.

8. Remove the chicken to a platter by placing a large wooden spoon into the tail end -

Now I know you are kidding me...

- and balancing the chicken with a kitchen spoon pressed against the crop end.

You mean balance the entire chicken against two wooden spoons? Oh come on, you are having a bubble.

As you lift the chicken, tilt it over the roasting pan so that all the juices run out of the cavity and into the pan. Pour off excess fat from the pan and put the pan on top of the stove. Add the stock or other liquid and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom vigorously with a wooden spoon.

Okay, but I bought a pint of fresh chicken gravy in a microwaveable placcy jar.
I guess I'll just chuck it in if the 'vigorously boiled excess fat' looks too much like the plastic surgeons waste bin in Fight Club.

9. Let reduce by half. Serve the sauce over the chicken or, for crisp skin, in a sauce boat.

So where was the deglazing? What was the damn deglazing?

The Washington Post 12/20/95,from "Roasting: A Simple Art"

Says you.

Makes 4 servings

Or two day's meals if youre a total fucking glutton like me. I may need an emergency second Easter Egg, now.

Note from author Barbara Kafka: "If there is no lemon, garlic or butter on hand, Kafka says, roast the chicken without them. Or play.

I vote play. I have cats, I have string. Shall we play chase, or shall I just truss them now for boiling?

Use peeled shallots or a small onion, quartered. Add a couple of sage leaves or orange wedges.

Yah, yah, yah, I threw all sorts of weird vegetable shit in there with it.
One carrot looks like it's had a bad encounter with some anthrax, but otherwise the whole thing remains resolutely uncooked.

To avoid a smoky kitchen, be sure your oven is clean before you start and use the right-size pan."

Oh. I just opened windows. Can't I just open windows?

That was - why is my chicken still raw? Will it ever stop reminding me of my dead nanna's knuckles?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:42 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2004 6:09 PM BST
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Barely Restrained Greed

Topic: Eurotrash

It's four in the morning. Can I eat my Easter egg now, or do I have to sleep first?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:18 AM BST
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2004 4:21 AM BST
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Saturday, 10 April 2004


Topic: Casino Avenue

I believe that where you feel safe in the world is very much an instinctual thing, and rarely corresponds to actual risk.
I once sweet talked a bus driver, who'd finished his route, into going a little further and dropping me at my east end home, rather than cross the five lane junction. It was only idleness or at least weariness that prompted me to ask, and I was pretty surprised he'd agreed. It soon dawned on me that he thought I'd requested an extension to my journey because I was frightened.
'How can you stand to live somewhere so dangerous?' he asked, as he drove me home in a gigantic red juggernaut (police cars and ambulances aside, the most dangerous vehicle on the roads, if you ask me).
'Aren't you scared? I would never walk around safely in an area like this.'

Fact is, my presence in the area was one of the effects of yuppification. Too mediocre to own expensive things*, I was always going to be bobbing on the surface of any 'ghetto', and never going to be a target for violence like the never-mixing black, asian, and working class white congregations were.
[* I'd like to identify with the moneyed classes of St Katharine's Docks, Wapping, Canary Wharf, etc, but reality intrudes: the one time I was burgled, the police officer consoled me with the words 'with all due respect madam, there's nothing in your flat that anyone would want to steal']

A friend who'd grown up in the slightly more violent area of Whitechapel had been stabbed in the street there a few years back. Yet he regarded my area as too violent to hang out in. Having seen a daylight stabbing in Whitechapel myself, I thought the reverse to be true, but was disabused: 'Bow's more dangerous than Whitechapel, because the violence is under the surface there,' he assured me.
I deduced that personal safety must be something nebulous; I'd never felt unsafe in Bow; ergo it wasn't unsafe.
Compare and contrast to Bromley by Bow where I was once conned into getting into a strange van and had to plead to be let out, where I've glimpsed dancing figures around forty foot bonfires in the centre of what were meant to be tennis courts, where the local authority housing is infested with rats and children are covered in open cuts and scars, where the yuppies in the local private gated community actually run to the local station in the mornings, resolutely staring ahead, away from the cars with broken windows. I'd rather be boiled in oil than wander around there alone after dark, but the yuppie flats there are selling like, um, hot flats, whereas mine markets as more of a sort of stodgy, unwanted tapioca pudding. (dead metaphor alert)

Sydenham on a dark boozy Saturday night feels dangerous. There are gangs of loudly chatting youths in dark driveways and alleys, who deliberately exaggerate their gestures as you pass. Cars hurtle up and down the hill at improbable speeds, and traffic signs become more of a guideline than legally binding. People bundle out of kebab shops and offies running or shouting, and you try not to look too closely to find out why.
Most of the streets are deserted, but the Chariot cafe on the high street has a different middle aged couple (feasting on coke and roast chicken dinner) in the window seat every weekend. It's tempting to sneer, but hell, they're the ones eating a large meal, with someone, looking perfectly happy under neon strip lighting with a wipe clean menu to peruse, and you're beyond the glass walking slightly too fast as you pass, huddled under a hat that looks white when you nervously glance at the CCTV screen, so who's the idiot?
The lady who owns the beauticians is alone there every night, sat at the nail bar, over bleached hair looking vulnerable in the last bright circle of light. She looks nervously at an open doorway in the rear of the shop as you pass, where a bulky tattoed line of defence may or may not emerge.
You begin to notice the cars, slowing as they come level to you, that have passed three times now, and that out of the two middle aged women on the street, one's slack face holds dark pinpricks of wasted, unseeing eyes, and the other: is she leaving the late night grocer, or is she being thrown out? She has the smooth cheeks and the too attentive posture of the mad. That leaves you, and the kids at the crossing with the cans and the plastic bags. And the car that you might have seen before, turning in the street ahead.

Safety's a purely nebulous, instinctive thing. I feel safe here, but I have bars on the windows, a video entry phone, casement locks, and I draw all the curtains when I leave.
It seems unnecessary to me, right now, but it would take just one incident for those bars to feel more like they're penning me in than keeping others out.
So I'm holed up in my beige basement, and I'm not going out tomorrow. I have a roast to cook (never done that before), I have the entire series of Roots to watch (never done that before), and I'm not so sarcastic about jatb's apocaplyptic theories to actually go looking for trouble (she pointed out that after 9/11, 3/11, tomorrow's 4/11, it's a big religious festival, this is London; come off it, I've seen enough horror movies to know when not to push my luck).
It's me, a dead bird, and Alex Haley from hereonin.
"When you clench your fist, no one can put anything in your hand, nor is there anything you can pick up" Omora Kinte

Happy Easter.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:28 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2004 3:52 AM BST
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Friday, 9 April 2004

Silhouettes of Birdsong

How many plates of baked beans does it take to recover from a night on the tiles? They're probably scouring my insides, right now, stinking my gut up with rancid tomato flavouring.

I'm sat staring out of a nearly open window, looking at a pink Good Friday sunset, while birds twitter grumpily at little or no bread thrown out into the garden, and I have to squint to see whether the buds on the tallest tree are leaves uncurling, or blossom. It's the first Easter in five years that I haven't been looking out of a window in East London watching the white hawthorn blossoms emerge as the pink cherry tree blossoms begin to fall and create pink candy floss drifts in the street outside.

I finished the book I'm reading. Time for another volume to open.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:05 PM BST
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Thursday, 8 April 2004


Now Playing: Damien Rice - 'I Remember'.
Topic: Empty Fridge Light

I know, I'm really fucking saaaaaaaaad, but do you ever get blogcrushes?
You know, where you think a blog's fab, and you wish you could write so well, then it goes a bit further, and you wish you could be their friend, then you wish you could marry them, then wish you could somehow magically be them, then capture them and keep them in a cage, but you wouldn't be cruel, you'd build them a wheel, and you'd watch them run around and around and around on it, then just want their life, because goddammit, it might help you to write better about your own?
And then you check on their blog as regularly as you can, and worry that you're showing up too manically in their referrals list, and if they one day happen to post up a picture, you go 'ahh, I knew they'd look like that'?
I think the key factor is, have you ever wondered what it would be like to hang out with the person who wrote what you're reading?
No? Oh. Just me then.

Blogcrushes I have had, typically, anally, obsessively, in the order in which I had them:
Muscle 68.
Light From An Empty Fridge.
Emma's Words.
Colin Gregory Palmer.
No Boys.
Glitter For All.
There, that's scared a few off, hey?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:51 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:00 PM BST
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Wednesday, 7 April 2004

It's like a catalogue of hare brained idiocy

Topic: Lactose Incompetent

One of the things I did wrong lately, one of the things that was silly in the extreme, silly like going for a toddle around the outside of the Blackpool Tower viewing platform, was to ask Tybalt to cat-sit a few weekends for me.
Everyone said it was a bad idea - I mean absolutely everyone, even my mother, I mean, god, the minute I get a bed she hasn't slept in, a pan she hasn't burnt, a bathroom her wiry hair hasn't infected, I invite her over for more? It so clearly was a bad idea that I just stopped mentioning it to people, so they wouldn't tell me yet again what a bad idea it was.
I kind of had reasons for doing it. I think. My beigeious palace in Pengeitude has been such a blessed retreat from reality, so free from association or character or harm that to a degree, I thought nothing could kill that, I could never walk into this flat and worry that my sins were made flesh in the attic.
Tybalt has been residing rent free with a succession of friends since last July, and having benefitted in some ways from the near perma-isolation that wound licking in Penge implies, I felt it a charity to offer some of the benefits around.

Toulouse has grilled me over sparkling water and pasta about my motives. I did worry about my motives a little at the time, too. The first time it happened, I worried it might be me missing her. Of course I miss her, you can't spend nine years with someone then be alone all the time without at least missing company. Yeah, a little, sorta. But not really. I'm better without that relationship, even if it pains me to go through the things it was stopping me from seeing/being.
Although it panicked me that she might think it was a way of trying to get back together again. Nuh-uh. Not in the slightest. I'm very happy to have her here when I'm not - if I had to be present, here, with her, though, it would be a whole different story, and one I'd find very difficult indeed to cope with or endure.

In fact, since I moved here, I've experienced repeated nightmares about Tybalt. They started off being nightmares that she was here with me. That's it. Just present. That was enough to make me wake with every muscle clenched in horror, daring myself to turn my head and see if the pillow next to me was occupied.
It took me a while to remember where that nightmare came from; in fact it was a physical memory. The feeling of straining everything taut in an attempt to get out of bed without waking someone.

Explaining that to Toulouse, he knew what I meant, the avoidance of intimacy: but it was more than that. The absolute certainty that should you err, should you hit the wire and wake her, you were going to be made to regret it - that something you do, say, wear, look, be will be wrong, will be wicked, will be an affront, and you'll be told, told, told about it. Repeatedly.
Since I've split up with Tybalt, I haven't once had that feeling of being a bit player in a narrative that's no longer your own; where every action you choose is only further evidence of your innate wickedness. I'm free to be my own author, now, to have more motives than one. Returning to that state would be imprisonment in a nightmare.

Then the nightmares morphed into arguments. Not relived ones, because we didn't have arguments - she refused to. She would refuse to reply, then go to sleep.
Myself, I'm more of a drama queen that that - I get so wound up by arguments that I simply cannot, could not sleep; I have to sort it out then, there, deal with it, make a scene, make up - but Tybalt would lie down, feeling like shit, probably, then sleep until it seemed unimportant again.
That was the sort of argument I had in my sleep.

Those days, I'd wake up to the beige nothingness, the blank forgiveness of walls that have never had things hurled against them, by me, at least, and feel incredibly calm inside to be away from it.

I think that was the beginning of the rage.

Still, the house is unsold, and contact has to be made, to deal with agents, with solicitors, with financial negotiations, bills, and after all, can I not be civilised? Meeting to discuss the money arrangements, I was reassured - sure, I wouldn't have said no to a hug, but frankly I'd hug Genghis Khan at the moment, that's what reduced intimacy does to you - but I wasn't attracted. I didn't miss her physically. And, despite the obvious attempts to impress me, she was happy to play along in her part as one of the civilised few who could engineer a 'polite' break up.
Her attitude to the split had been to throw herself into her social life, to go out every night, to forget herself in other people. She usually smelled bad, had grey circles of hangover under her eyes, was tired, unable to summon energy, but stumbling out to another assignation all the same.

So, despite everything, I invited her to stay over, three weekends, while I was away. A chance to escape the mania of partying all the time?
I am a little worried it's partly revenge. I could see Toulouse was too. He bought tea and patisserie, and grilled me further about it.

Thinking honestly, there may have been an element of bragging that I'd landed on my feet. The emphasis being my. I may have been making myself ill in an apartment with no heating, losing my coat, losing my marbles, too, and unable to find enough cash to even feed myself at times, but I hadn't relied on anyone else. I know, also, that this will always be true. I will always, no matter what, source pride in being competent, no matter what it costs, in not asking others for help.
Which is somewhat unfortunate; one of the lightbulb moments I had this year was that people like to help. Duh.
Moreso, though, it was, I believe, an attempt to make her stop using people. She's taking too long to get her life going again. The 'victim' role is wearing thin.
I know full well that the wearisome plaint of 'Vanessa robbed me of my home, my money, my livelihood' is little more than mere drama - she has plenty of sources of money which she keeps fairly quiet to others about - the same amount I had. I wouldn't have been able to pay a deposit on a new flat without it.
She's no longer unemployed and wondering what to do with her life - she's earning a bloody decent wage in central London. Her continued reliance on other's charity shocks me, surprises me, and to a degree, if I'm honest with myself, I possibly wanted to offer use of my flat to her in order to shame her into acting with more honour.
There was an element also of that, in using the bloody animals to do it. She's very strident that I continue to pay for insurance for the cats she's dumped on me. I like having them (mostly because who else is delighted to see me when I get home?) but I've also stopped panicking if they go missing or escape. Could solve a lot of burdens, that...
But she demands that I pay #30 a month to insure them. One was very ill two years ago, and when we totted up the combined cost of her blood being rushed to California for testing, her kidney dialysis, etc (all the luxuries the NHS would probably never fork out for mere humans), it added up to around #1300.
There were huge coupley rows about it. I put my foot down and suggested we allow the cat to die. She put her more effective foot down and demanded it live.
It's probably the price of running a hospital for a month in some godforsaken shanty town. A figure so humiliating that I mostly don't tell it. The horror of having paid, even via insurance, a sum that large to save not a human, but a damn cat, was not lost on me. If they're my cats, then they're mine to die. They will not be insured, or taken to the vets. They will live their term, and if their time comes, they will expire face down in the food bowl, and be taken to the dump in a bin bag, while I go get a new one. Not to sound too callous, but they're not humans, they're replaceable.
This burden of responsibility disturbs Tybalt, and partly I may have wanted to throw guilt over it in her face by inviting her to stay here.

But, having your own front door allows you dangerous levels of control. Having an invisible enemy allows you dangerous levels of bile, too. I would return from a weekend to find at first, a shampoo bottle turned slightly to the side. Embarrassed that I was so anal about my surroundings I could even tell such a thing, I'd turn it back, irritated.
Then she ate my food. Left some other food in the cupboard - overly expensive, unhealthy stuff I'd never eat. Phoned Hamburg for an hour.
Drank everything I'd left in the fridge. Left hairs clogging up the drains. Used my T shirt for pyjamas. Left rubbish kicking about on the kitchen floor. Fed my cats things that make them vomit a day later. Annoyed me.
And I don't even want to think about the bed.

Last weekend, I made it clear to her that I didn't need her to cat sit, that it was an offer for her benefit, not mine. Hell, I have neighbours with cats, friends living nearby, colleagues nearby, and a clockwork cat feeding device.
Without any evidence whatsoever I *knew* she would have been stressing loudly how much of a trial it had become, and making it out to be a favour she was doing to me already. Hell, she's put it about to everybody that I forced her to dump me, so I'm brooking no doubts about whether she'd have painted it as a martyrish favour.
She still wanted to cat sit. I made it clear that I needed the keys back before the next weekend, as Martin needed somewhere to stay after the pub that Thursday, and without spare keys, he'd be locked into the flat, and have ended up travelling 120 miles back to London in order to look at a beige wall in Penge all day. She agreed that Thursday would be a convenient day to return the keys - especially since I was working in central London that day anyway - she could travel one tube stop and drop them off.

Or so you'd think.
Last week became the week that Tybalt wouldn't give me my keys back. The keys to my new flat, not the one we co-own, the keys to the flat that I go hungry trying to pay for because she's too fucking stingy to contribute.
It was too difficult for her to give me the keys back before 10am. It was too difficult to give me the keys back between 10.30 and twelve. What I really needed, she advised, was a spare set of keys.
After twelve? After six? Later? Come to the pub and meet us, with my keys, I suggested? Sigh.
To be honest, she counselled, I'd do better to go get some new keys cut.

I did ring jatb, and check; am I psychotic? Am I unreasonable to feel this fury? No.
Refusing to give me my keys = Wrong Move.

Eventually, by eight o clock in the evening, Tybalt rang, and offered to give me my keys back. If I left the pub now, and the friends I rarely see, travel a half hour to Waterloo and back, then she'd interrupt her busy social life long enough to reach into her bag and hand me some keys.

Fuck that.

So, like everyone ever always did tell me anyway, it was a bad idea.
Like the estimable Ian F says, she's not my friend, stop pretending that you can achieve that.
Like Toulouse says, I shouldn't have done it, I shouldn't have invited her into my house.

But you know what? The stupid ideas keep coming. Duch asked me if it was alright if she invited Tybalt to her party last Saturday. Said that she'd invite someone else if it was going to make me uncomfortable. And I said yes, invite her - why should my moods infect Duch's celebrations? Another stupid idea.
And then I stayed frozen, flanked by Duch and Toulouse, the other side of Tybalt all evening, accepted my damn keys without a word, didn't shout at her or create a scene, didn't drag her across the dinner table by her stupid hair, didn't make a fuss. Just kept my eyes and myself away from her pusillanimous self regard. Another stupid move.
Sat there in my jeans and shirt, hair akimbo, teetotal, rained upon, chatted loudly with anyone I could. Ignored her: her diamante outfit, her drinking, her smoking, her not making conversation with anyone but the people she's known for twenty years. I decided: she's never coming into this house again.

I tried to work out where this rage is coming from, and why it won't let me go. I stopped myself from crying on the way home, and I felt okay the next morning. Then Toulouse took me out to lunch and I cried all day.
Like an idiot. About nothing.
Another stupid move.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:05 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 2:49 AM BST
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I'll try a meme, then, to fit in. Am I A Bloke?

1. Have You Ever Had Sex in A Public Place?
Yes. (1)

2. Have You Ever Totalled A Car?
Yes.. (1)

3. Have You Ever Slept Rough?
Yes. (1)

4. Ever Stared Death In The Face?

Yes. (1)

5. Have You Ever Seen Pornography That Made You Feel Sick?
Yes. (1)

6. Have You Ever Fired A Gun?
No, but I held a loaded one to my English teacher's head in sixth form once. It felt wrong. (Does that count as 1/2?)

7. Have You Ever Slept With A Woman Heavier Than You?
Yes. (1)

8. Can You Draw A Horse?
Yes. (1)

A total of 7.5 - pretty much a bloke. That makes me equally as blokey as Mackenzie Crook and Tilesey, more blokey than Bastard Mark and exactly as blokey as Elsie.

Panic over, then. At ease.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 5:15 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 2:54 AM BST
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Mood:  accident prone
Topic: Casino Avenue

Um, sorry. I will blog today. Honest.

I know it's half two in the afternoon, but I've been busy, I've been crapper on every possible front than anyone will ever believe (involving the bright idea of blogging in the visitor's books of aristocratic houses, and culminating in me wandering, bedraggled, into museums in central London and asking the security chap to listen to my story and find me a sister), and I only just woke up, an all.

Although, after all my pontificating about blogs, community, netiquette, cliques and honesty, some things have made me laugh. The hordes of cliquey comments on here, for one (yay).
That fabulous blog I found that's been going for two weeks, and likes to blog which blogs have been getting shit lately and are evicted from his favourites, for two. I quote from Jessica Asche, Will You Marry Me:

Have you noticed that when a blogger gets a book deal, their blog instantly sucks?

Dropped from my bookmarks today: this and this and this and this.
Several others are in danger of being dropped soon.
(Me and tittybiscuit are both in decline, apparently, although unlike me, tittybiscuit actually made his links in the first place - but notice also that we both supercede Noam Chomsky in the list of doom; way to go, hon).
Now that's the sort of pisstaking honesty I like in a blog. Jessica Asche, marry me, not him.

What I particularly love about my new, hyper cool, hyper fun, hyper funky, site meter, though, is the musical live time alerts of who's reading the blog. And it turns out the Travelling Welshman is still with us after all. Coooee!

More later. We swearsssss.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:29 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:03 AM BST
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Monday, 5 April 2004

The Whimpering

Now Playing: Anything I can ever find anywhere by Sidsel Endreson
Topic: Hurtling to Obscurity

So much for sleeping early - I don't call 7am on the first day of my holiday any kind of a lie in.

I was going to blog about my feelings of unrequited rage, a post called 'The Loathing', which was largely about:

a. I don't like pretending to be nice all the time. I'm not fucking nice even some of the time. It gets wearing;
b. The spurious (and ultimately doomed) idea that blogs have to have manners about each other (as FM puts it, one of the killer apps of the web is libel);
c. The London Blogmeet. I mean, really. Capping the munbers unless you're 'Someone Important'? Pfft;
d. (mostly) Tybalt.

But jatb proofed it and inferred I'd gone over the top.

So I'll do some sort of diary post to cover the last week, and the events leading to the loathing instead. Later.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:51 AM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 2:57 AM BST
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Sunday, 4 April 2004

Three Pints of Coffee and a Packet of Chips

I'm going to bed early.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:14 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 8 April 2004 3:17 AM BST
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Saturday, 3 April 2004


Now Playing: Guys and Dolls

Topic: Vic Jameson
I'm addicted to cake at the moment. Cake and Easter eggs. Violent thanks to Martin for not telling me I had a chocolate cake goatee and tache all yesterday afternoon. Impressive. Particularly when I bumped into an ex colleague and asked for a job. I shall get you.
My local bakers is a Penge institution: Slatter's.

It used to be owned by a master baker who did all the cakes for The Generation Game - on the conveyor belt, in the icing-cakes-challenges.

The Beckenham branch was the HQ, and used to have signed photos of said competitive cakes alongside Bruce Forsyth. Little bit of Sarf East Lahndan history there.

This is my local Slatter's and it's just been refitted as 'The Cake Store'. It's all pink and bland, and stocked with cutesy pictures of children in a range of skin tones holding whisks with smudges on their noses.
Apparently, Mr Slatter's son, Kenny Slatter, has inherited the business, and wants to stamp his own image on the chain. Which apparently consists of making cakes that look like large tits for Peter Andre.

Still, the cakes are the same. Well, apart from their new 'saucy cake' range, I guess.

Actually, that looks right up Brucie's street.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:40 PM GMT
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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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