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Monday, 19 November 2012

I will

I will write.
I will post
I will think about things and share them
I will buy a new duvet cover
I will put the hoover round
I will attempt to make head or tail of my to-do list
I will be a good friend
I will see my family
I will go to the gym
I will be informed on the news of the day
I will do so many things
But right now. I am going to work for another hour and then watch Homeland.
Because Damian Lewis is hot despite his incredibly small mouth and although I should find him unattractive (on the infalliable law of nature that two gingers should repel) I find him devastatingly alluring.
But words will follow

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bonfire Night

I love autumn. If I had a proper job then I'd book  some leave and spend it taking nice walks and sitting in front of an open fire (I'd have to burn the recycling in a bucket, I don't have a fireplace) and generally just enjoying the cold. However I don't have a proper job. If I take a week off I don't get paid and that takes the shine off somewhat. So instead I am trying to cram the beauty in. Mainly by walking a lot, this also helps 'Operation fat thighs'. And fat calves. Why, no matter how thin I am, do knee high boots refuse to do up?

But the culmination of Autumn is Bonfire Night. What's not to love? Standing outside watching lights in the sky. It's like the Northern Lights on a budget. I couldn't go to my favourite display this year as I was at a party (which was very good) so instead I went to a display last night. Which was very good. I particularly enjoyed the glittery gold ones and the display was incredibly impressive. The best part however was a small child next to me who I am pretty sure was faking his enjoyment.

As the first firework went off he started going 'Oh wow'. In a voice that came straight from a school play. "Oh wow. Purple". I started off finding it amusing but it gradually became pretty irritating. "Wow" "Wow" "Wow". In a high pitched monotone. It was as though he had dragged his parents along and was now trying to ensure they thought it was worth it. However right at the end he won me over with a cry of "Blows my mind!"

Now they were good, but my mind wasn't blown. Actually it was slightly blown by a sign on one of the rides that said 'This ride may not be suitable for all body dimensions". Which is certainly better than 'stand down fatty'.

I have decided that if ever I am a millionaire and have time on my hands then I am going to learn how to make fireworks. How you get them to do different things, the planning, how a tube of stuff can make different patterns in the sky. Blows my mind

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fancy Dress

I think we can all agree that the Jimmy Savile revolations have left us all feeling slightly unsettled (I was going to put 'left a nasty taste in everyone's mouths'. I bet you're relieved I only put it in brackets). It's grim, it's unpleasant, it's worrying but I don't really feel the need to discuss it. Not least because, well, what's the point? Who on earth is going to come out and argue in favour of his actions? It's like starting a discussion with the radical standpoint 'Hitler wasn't very nice' or 'setting fire to dogs is wrong', the argument is going to last about twenty seconds and that's allowing for my killer argumentative point that 'he did always look a bit rapey'.

However the outpouring of confessions and revelations (300 official victims so far - how much power did this man have?) have had a knock on effect. Will we ever be able to watch the clip of the Scouts eating their lunch on a roller coaster again, or will it have to be played in slow mo with sad music over the top? Decades of Top of the Pops performancces will be lost in case a white haired weirdo bops in to shot. It will have definitely affected the fancy dress market. Asda has withdrawn their official costume so we are already relying on home made. Ten years ago my friend went as Jimmy Savile to a party. Quite funny, mainly because she was a woman (still is). Now it wouldn't be the wisest costume choice. There's probably a brief window, ending I would imagine Feb 2013, where it will be considered satire. After that you're just dressing up as a paedo really and no one goes to a party dressed in a mac with a puppy. Unless your Inspector Gadget costume has gone horribly wrong.

I like fancy dress. Although I do like quite a narrow theme. I find things like 'the 80s' or 'the letter L' give people too many options to just drop out. Or put a scrunchie in their hair and bang on all night about their 'costume' whilst you're stood there dressed as Vince from Erasure and beginning to really regret the swimming hat/bald head look. My go to fancy dress costume is Bridget Jones. Wear your pyjamas and carry a diary. If a Christmas Party I would recommend Noddy Holder (tartan pyjama trousers, blazer and top hat). Basically if you can wear your pyjamas then it's a good costume.

It is a shame that although I have such a love of fancy dress I couldn't care less about Hallowean. As far as I'm concerned it's not a festival and it shouldn't be encouraged. If you are American I'll let you get away with it, you've been fooled in to thinking it's important. But if you're British, give it up. It's just begging and upsetting old people. It also raises the rather unsavoury notion of the undead rising and walking the earth. Not really my cup of tea. And the choice of costumes is crap. Not really a range.

As a child we weren't allowed to celebrate Hallowean (we were however regulars at a local Saints and Sausages), instead our costume making glory came at the annual Methodist Market. A church event where there were tatt stalls galore (another favourite of mine), various games and then a wonderful fancy dress parade/competition. My brother won it one year as a Morris Dancer (the way he skipped in apparenty clinched it), another brother won it when my Mother - oh this is going to take some explaining, in brief: the Methodist Church newspaper is called The Methodist Recorder, there's a copy in every Methodist Church. My Mum dressed my brother as a recorder and hung a sign round his neck saying 'I'm a Methodist'. I never won. Possibly because I was allowed to pick my own costumes and my Mum managed to rustle them up. I think my ideas are summed up by the year I went as a fried egg. I can still remember thinking this was the best costume idea ever, I was deeply proud. I didn't win. And I spent the day in a sheet with a hole cut out of it with a yellow circle drawn on the front. I like to think I was ahead of my time, there is an argument to suggest I was stupid.

On the plus side though the poncho effect of it means that it would probably still fit now. Perhaps I could bring it back for the Christmas season.

Monday, 15 October 2012


I do do other things. I promise. I was actually away this weekend but what I feel drawn to write about is....X factor. Sorry.

I managed to watch this weeks in about 15 minutes. Then I had a nap to recover. I fast forwarded all the pre-song bits, I fast forwarded all the bit about what happened last week (I watched it, I manage to get through most of my life without recapping, I rarely feel the need to sit down on a Sunday and watch high lights of my own life). Then I watched as much of each contestant as I could bear. In some cases this was just under 3 seconds. Let's have a summary....

The Over 28s.

Now mysteriously over 28. Why 28 is the cut off we don't know but this is the age after which you will not be succesful on the X facor. This group actually had four members in it rather than three thanks to the addition of a wildcard. However the world, so revolted by it's choosing of Christopher, is punishing itself Dobby the Elf style by voting off members of this group every week. They'll then vote off Gary, just to make their point. Anyway. As it stands this is the group

She got voted off last night. This could be because all she could really do was stand in the middle of a stage (or sometime, thrillingly, on a box) and go 'HURGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH'. She was deemed to be a seventies style singer and so was dressed as a navaho Indian and not allowed to brush her hair. Her VTs consisted solely of us telling her how much she missed her kids who were in Scotland. Given the 'strength' of her voice I assume she could still roar them a lullaby each night without the use of a phone. To compensate to the children for the time she has to spend away from them she allowed them to do her make up this week. She then roared... a song. Sadly this was not enough and she was in the sing off where she roared another. Then she went. Presumably to save us Christmas week when she would roar silent night.


Used to be a chimney sweep, looks like a character from Fireman Sam. Is called Kye Sones and I can only assume he has removed a letter from each of his names to make him interesting. I am willing to bet the farm that his real name is Kyle Stones. In the words of my favourite x factor contestant, the strange ginger rapper (see here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1mQ_B3Q65c ) 'Kyle Stones, yeah, he's alright' . He is Gary's only hope. He will get to the final 3.

This years Sami/Mary/80s power ballader. He should be on a cruise ship (acting as the orange safety light on the front). Instead he's on the X factor. He seems like a perfectly nice man. I just don't need to see him sing a selection of middle of the road, naff movie themes. Just leave. He is liked by people who buy albums that are produced to co-inside with Mother's Days and have names like 'Best Housework hits' and 'Music to hoover by'. He will be in a suit holding a wrapped present on the cover of his very own Mother's Day album next year. Actually, given that all his VTs feature his Nan, he will be taken on by Clinton Cards to attempt to make 'Grandparent's day' a "thing".

The Girls
Led by Tulisa, who is thankfully brunette again. When she popped up in Magaluf or wherever her judges house was she was bottle yellow, with bright red skin and a selection of bizarre strap marks. She looked like a child had drawn her. Tulisa has actually picked some decent people. And someone who I have forgotten, not a great sign.

I like her. I shouldn't as her constant speil about how she wants a garden for a child (I don't object to the notion of wanting a garden for her child I object to her crying about it in every VT). She sang an Amy Winehouse song very nicely. I could sit through her whole performance without fast forwarding.

She's very good. And seems to have stopped drawing eyeliner on quite so strangely. She's 16 and is excellent. So far we've only seen ballads (not done in a Christopher style, thank goodness) but I reckon she could do what she wants. Needs to stop with the victory roll on top of her head...you've not won it yet love.

I can't remember the third person. Therefore I predict they will go soon.

Led by Nicole Scherzinger, who is bananas. We should have known that when she vaccuum packed herself in to pvc last year to perform that she wasn't quite the full shilling (or schzilling a ho ho ho) but this year she has out performed herself. She also has two faces. One when she is enjoying it - stand up, clap your hands, mouth agape and look to Garry Balow for reassurance. Two - when she is moved - she tries to divide 3456 by 64 in her head whilst simultaneously trying to hold a pretty wet fart in. She has the most controversial group in the competition as she has included an idiot and a girl.

Held back from a young age as the spelling of his name does not match how it should be pronounced. He should be called Ja - meeeeen. Instead he's called Jah main. He has drawn his hairline on with a protractor. He wails like a cat being swung around by it's tail. It's not nice. You spend the whole song on edge waiting for him to go bananas. Tunes hold no fear for him as he doesn't sing them. He is at an advantage in this competition as he doesn't have to learn the words to any songs as he doesn't sing them. He just goes 'Biaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh'. Which actually, given he can't spell his own name could be his way of spelling out the words in the song.

James Arthur
Oh he's edgy. He's seen some shit. He's had a hard life so he wears specs like Deirdre Barlow and sings a Kelly Clarkson song. But it's OK, he's not sold out because he flaps his hands around like he's in pain/trying to get a particularly persistent lump of snot off his hand. How anyone can be so emotionally moved by singing a  song by a former American Idol is beyond me. But I would be willing to guess he sings everything the same. Probably because he's so 'edgy' and 'misunderstood'. Time can be passed quite pleasantly deciding what he looks like. Answers so far (a) Brian MacFadden on the wonk (b) a potato (c) the love child of Professor Green and a potato.

This years comedy act. Louis is devastated he didn't get him. He's everything Louis loves. He has remarkably skinny legs and likes to wear PVC leggings - he possibly borrows them from Nicole. She may have been forced to take him on so they can save money on the costume budget by sharing clothes. He's... a diversion. He's not going to win, he seems nice enough.

The Groups
Louis! Louis is out of his depth. He has two boybands who are interchangable and an 'urban group'. It is be coming increasingly apparent that Louis doesn't know what urban is. Louis scared. Louis' on borrowed time. Louis is running scared and it's effecting his voting, despite being on the show for nine years he can't work out the difference between 'I want to send home' and 'I want to save'.

Union J/District 3
I group them together as they are the same. They are attempting to be One Direction. They are failing. The harmonies are horrible and they are bland.

I assume named after the Milton Keynes post code. They were forced to ditch their accountant/third member after the first audition. Louis put them in as (he was told) they are relevant. He now doesn't know what to do with them. So the obvious answer is to have them rap Jackson 5 songs. All performances are accompanied by the cast of Playbus bounding around in the background. They are what they are. There days are numbered.

Friday, 12 October 2012


I've had a revamp. Let me know what you think. I've decided to go mad actually try and attract readers to the blog. Please leave comments I like to interact with readers. Let's see how this goes....

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

They Never Learn

The new and fairly vigorous exercise routine I have started has inevitably taken it's toll. As previously reported I inflicted upon myself leg pain and smashed a bike pedal in to my ankle. Leg pain has improved. I can now do all my classes and walk normally afterwards. Either my tolerance has improved or I am not working as hard. I think it's the latter. The ankle injury is the problem. The bruising has gone down but it still hurts and this week a rather interesting lump has sprung up.

I was discussing this with my brother the other day and we rudimentally diagnosed it as a 'ganglion'. Neither of us were too sure what this was but had the basic knowledge that I should 'smash it with a bible'. The only Bible we had handy was a flimsy paperback New Testament and so we settled on a hardback copy of 'The Girl Who Kicked  the Hornet's Nest'. Then with a little encouragement I smashed it in to my ankle.

Reader the pain was indescribable. Although I shall have a bash: It was like, slipping in the bath and landing legs akimbo on the taps but for your ankle. It was like slamming a premenstrual breast in a door (for the ankle), it was like someone smashing a huge hardback book on to a collection of nerve endings on a bone near a joint.

And I still have a lump.

It occured to me that at the age of 37 and 32 our relationship hasn't really changed all that much from when we were 9 and 4. He encouraged me to do something and I did it. I'm sure if my other older brother were there as well I would have done what he told me. This is how I have ended up with a scar on my hip - they were jumping me on bikes and 'told' me to move further out. I did and got a pedal imbedded in my side (clearly bikes of all kinds hate me). It is how I ended up with a shaved head aged 2 - they 'told' me to sit down, and I did. Similarly it is how my little brother got the blame for writing his name in show polish on the brand new freezer. I 'told' my parents that he did it and he, strangely, went along with it. It was me, of course it was me, I was particularly proud of doing the 'E' backwards for authenticity. I still left it twenty years to confess just in case.

So I have a lumpy ankle, answers on a postcard please. I would imagine 'going to the Doctors' is fairly high up there but seriously? All that effort for a lump? I'll save it up till I've got dropsy or something and mention it then.

Friday, 28 September 2012

The body beautiful

Or not beautiful.  I've lost a bit of weight recently, well over the last two years. Turns on that if you eat your way up to a fat bastard it takes a long while to lose it. Who'd have thunk it. I've lost about four and a bit stone. I have moments where I would like to pose standing in one leg of an old pair of jeans whilst smuggley holding the waistband out but I don't think it would serve much purpose. Not least because I have thrown out all my old clothes, as well, they don't fit - why would I keep them, unless I needed to camp out somewhere and couldn't find a tent. But most of the time you get on with it really. Like I say it's not that exciting over time.

However, I did lose most of it without exercising. I suffered no ill effects but a holiday away meant I had time on my hands and ended up reading a lot of cack magazines. All of which were full of articles about people who had lost weight and then were left with acres of 'loose skin' and can now stretch their stomachs over their heads and wear their navels as hats. I do not want to do this. Hat's don't suit me.

So I have been going to the gym. A gym round the corner from work lured me in with a £30 for 30 day offer. Interestingly (not interesting) they only do classes so when I am there I have to move rather than half heartedly dicking around on a rowing machine and thinking I've earnt a bag of crisps. Now the 30 days are up and I have committed to another 3 months.

I started spinning. Once you get over the feeling that you are about to die and once the amazing feelings of nausea vanish after a couple of hours you feel OK. Until your legs seize up. I also do pilates which I always did but this one takes it to a new level. With equipment and a sadist running the class. When someone asks you to lay on your backs, ankles held apart by a ring and then instruct you to fling your ankles behind your head without using your arms to propel you, you start to wonder if (a) you bend that way and (b) if it's a pilates class or 50 shades of grey. But one look at the teacher physique and you become a bit encouraged.

I also power plate. This is enormous fun and it only takes 25 minutes so I can do it before work.
The problem is my legs. My thighs do not enjoy exercise and rebel. After every class my thighs kill. I can't walk downstairs and have to lower myself cautiously in to every chair. I wave aside seats on the tube as I can't get in to them.

I also have damaged my ankle. During a spin class my foot got loose and the pedal slammed in to the back of my ankle. I lifted the bike off the ground with the force. 6 weeks later and it still hurts. I think a bit of excess skin would have protected me

Friday, 21 September 2012

Thinking on your feet

One night on my holiday I stumbled across some 'entertainment' in one of the bars. This is not really my cup of tea but they were quite good and the one of the men in the singing group was dancing incredibly enthusiastically and really reminded me of someone (turns out it's the man who runs the Christmas shop in the department store in Elf). At one point he sung 'You Sexy Thing' and asked for a lady to come out of the audience to be sung to. 

It was half horror and half sheer delight that filled me when a six year old got out of the audience and went on stage. The singer admirably carried on albeit looking incredibly uncomfortable whilst repeatedly calling a six year old 'You Sexy Thing'. However there was no hiding the look of panic on his face when he began the verses 'How did you know I needed you so badly? How did you know I'd give my heart gladly? Yesterday, I was one of the lonely people, now you're lying next to me...."  We all knew the next words were 'Making love to me'. What was going to happen? Where would he go from here? 

He rose to the challenge admirably. In a hail Mary pass he changed the words. Therefore with his arm around a six year old we were treated to 'Now you're lying next to me, making food for me'. 


I don't like flying. This is not in itself unusual, many people don't. Yes, we've all heard the statistics (in fact a particularly unhelpful Scouse gentleman pointed them out mid flight yesterday), we know that you are more likely to be killed by a bear with an egg whisk than die in a plane crash but I feel that in the case of the bear at least you would feel that by barging through his homeland then you had done something to deserve it. What possible argument can a designed for purpose lump of metal have with you? 

When I was six or seven the plane I was on suffered engine failure so we glided in to Guernsey on one engine. A couple of years ago the plane I was on filled with smoke and we were forced to return to Stanstead and land. Last Thursday I suffered more air issues. 

I write this on the balcony of my hotel room in Majorca. We arrived last night. Very nice. The flight here? Not so nice. Whilst on Easy Jet flight 3215 we suffered an incident. I had done my usual routine of downing a bottle of rescue remedy, silently praying and hating every minute of take off. I was actively loathing the man/boy/hyperactive shit sitting behind us. He wasn't seated anywhere near his friend but that didn't stop him talking to him. He repeatedly bellowed "Oi Peanut. Peanut! Are you wet enough?" I have no idea what this means but I suspect it's filthy. He also had an animated argument with Peanut about who was going to pay for drinks. They were both insistent it would be them and eventually Hyperactive Shit won. He paid the flight attendant and said 'I'm paying, as usual'. Here's a hint: if you don't want to pay, let the person who is offering do it. He was also trying to chat up the girls sitting next to him. His killer chat up technique was to tell them all the night clubs they should go to and their proximity to McDonalds and trying to impress them by telling them he spent more on his holiday as prices are decided 'by postcode'. A lot of my worrying energy was channelled in to hating this dickhead and I believe that my lack of concentration caused what happened next. 

About an hour in to the flight my friend went to the loo. The boy sitting on my right (who rather sweetly had spent the whole flight doing his maths homework) went and got in the queue and whilst there was no one in the seats around me I thought I may as well go as well. So I went and stood behind Eugene (boy). I was just admiring the coffee pots and how they fitted in to the wall when the plane dropped about 100 foot. I leaped (was thrown) five feet in the air and landed on my knees James Brown style. Eugene was bouncing around behind me. The whole plane screamed and this comforting sound was accompanied by the sound of smashing as the drinks trolleys were out and were now laying on their sides or against seats. A stewardess was crying and bleeding from where she'd been thrown and hit her head on the ceiling. 

I crawled back to my seat as it was impossible to stand and even crawling was like trying to get off a bouncy castle whilst people leapt around on it. About 60% of the plane was in tears. And my chum was still in the toilet. Eugene followed me in crawling and we both strapped ourselves in. I immediately returned to my praying and worrying. 

Hyperactive shit behind me had never known such joy and was so excited and screaming "I loved it. Did you love it?" He then took his seatbelt off to really enjoy it. Eventually Peanut stepped up to the mark and pointed out that people were quite upset and he may not have picked the right audience. 

Just as I was wondering if my friend was going to emerge from the toilet we dropped again. Screams, crying, drinks flying. Hyperactive shit hit the ceiling so hard he broke a light and was delighted. The girl sitting next to him diverted my attention by grabbing a handful of my hair. 

Easyjet then thought to light the seatbelt signs. 

Eventually it calmed. My friend came back. She had escaped the toilet after the first drop and had been grabbed by a stewardess and strapped in to an emergency chair. When she emerged she thought there had been a slaughter. She later worked out that people were covered in red wine, not blood. The tears were real though. We eventually landed and people had to go to the front to have their injuries dealt with. I was just thrilled to be on the ground and was instantly dreading the flight back. 

The hair puller behind us put it in perspective. "You were in the loo? Oh my God. Were you pissing?"

On the return flight yesterday I was eavesdropping on some people who were on the original flight with us. Turns out we had flown through a hurricane and they hadn't enjoyed their whole holiday as they had been worrying about coming back. 

Why, you may ask, do I keep getting on planes when they are so determined to kill me? Well it's because all these incidents happen on the outward journey. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Taking a break.....

For my two readers out there you may have noticed that this has not been updated in quite a while. You have probably wept, ripped your clothing and had suicidal thoughts. I can only apologise and promise to be better. The reason for this break has been because I have written a book. I am laughing as I type this as I can't believe I have actually done it. That's a lie. I'm not laughing, I'm not sure people actually do that. I am in fact talking to a work colleague whilst I write this and she is discussing a severe work crisis. So I am not laughing. I feel that would  be inappropriate.

But it is done! The short version of how the book came to be is - I always wanted to write a book. So I did. The slightly longer version is this: I always wanted to write. I always had an inkling I was OK at writing. I had an English teacher who hated my guts and told me I was useless and so I didn't do English A'level as she predicted me a F at GCSE. I actually got a double A (turns out I did a lot better when she wasn't marking my work) but still didn't do A level as the thought of spending two more years in her company made me unhappy. She had also managed to ruin Jane Eyre for me and I wasn't prepared to have her ruin any more books by banging on about the 'sympathy of nature'. It never once crossed her mind that it was raining all the time because the book was based in England, instead it was always raining to sympathise with Jane. Much like the weather in Korea after Kim Jong Il died.

Anyway, left school, went to university, worked on the paper, ended up working in television but always had in mind that I wanted to write. Then when I went to work on EastEnders and in my first week I was asked to take part in a question and answer for the weekly newsletter 'the Walford Gazette'. This was traditional for every new comer and I emailed back my replies. The man that ran it, Laurence, emailed back and said he liked the way I wrote and offered me a weekly collumn. The majority of those articles are on this blog. After three very happy years on EastEnders I decided to leave and write a book. The Gazette and the response to it had made me think I could do it and I'd had an idea that I was eager to explore. I was going to go freelance to support myself so thought I'd have a lot of downtime to write.

Luckily/unluckily freelancing went really well and I've not had a day out of work for three years. Then last November whilst working on a comedy programme called Mongrels I got an email to my BBC account from Marie Claire magazine. This was strange not least because Marie Claire never email me and also because I don't use my BBC account for personal emails as, well, I don't work there. It was only chance I was there for 6 weeks and they coincided with this email coming through. The email told me I had got down to the final two in a competition I had no recollection of entering. It was the novel writing part of the Marie Claire 'Inspire and Mentor' awards. A great scheme where people who want to get ahead in certain industries are matched with a mentor who encourages and supports them. My interview was the first week of December.

I could find no evidence of entering the competition and had no idea what I had sent in to convince them I should be in the final two. I concluded to just go and see how it went. My mentor, if I won, would be the fabulous author Jane Fallon. I did the interview, convinced myself I'd cocked it up then two months later I found out I'd won.

Jane has been an amazing mentor. The advice and help she has given me has been incredible and the book I have now is completely different (but a hundred times better) than the book I started with. She has given me such support and knowing I have her help has forced me to be strict and dedicated to my writing. Obviously working full time and writing part time, plus trying to have a life and help out at things (trying to hold a jubilee party for 150 old people was probably not my best idea) is difficult but knowing that there is someone reading your stuff and wanting you to improve makes getting up at 6 to write so much easier.

So yes, it is done. I'm sure I've not seen the last of it but 90,000 words have been committed to paper. I'm not sure where it goes from here but it's been a hell of a year.
I suppose I shall now take a break from writing...by writing. Normal service should be resumed on here now.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Commercial life

I am thinking of living my life in accordance to adverts. I have ascertained the following rules 1. People only shave their legs if they are going on a date or want to leap on to a bus in a 1950s style skirt. You never see an advert where a woman says 'Good grief I look like a gorilla. I'm going to need a scythe to get through this'. Which would actually be a better selling point. 2. Laxatives works in a kind and gentle manner and allow you to lunch with your friends. Rather than cripple you with an explosive bowel and make you unwilling to laugh without laying towels down first. 3. When you clean your teeth you must immediately run your tongue over your teeth and smile at yourself. You must also always wear a white t-shirt when you clean your teeth 4. Mothers get very, very worried about getting stains out of clothes. This is accepted by her family as her 'caring' for them and greeted with laughter. Rather than worry she is turning in to Lady MacBeth and referring her to a therapist. 5. Only mothers clean, wash clothes, iron or hoover. If a man does it he will do it wrong and stare, puzzled at the bottle before putting bleach in his eye. Single women are slattenly whores who do not have time to clean houses. 6. Only women eat chocolate. Men are allowed to eat Yorkies but nothing else. Occasionally they may eat a twix, but only after exercise with other men. There he will rip back the paper and bite off half of it whilst smiling. 7. Animals need toilet paper 8. Children are universally amusing and wise. 9. If you own a massive, dirty dog then you must have white bed linen 10. Having your period makes you feel amazing. 11. If men have had a hard day at work they will loosen their tie 12. People only go to bars with people who drink exactly the same drinks as them. 13. It is acceptable for grown adults to drink WKD. 14. Ready meals make a satisfying and nutritionally balanced meal. 15. Old people only exist to eat Werther's Originals.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


I am in a slight mood. My wii called me fat the other day. Well actually first it bombarded me with mocking comments along the lines of 'Oh hello, not seen you for a while. It's important to take your fitness seriously." Then when it got over that it encouraged me to step on to the wii fit board. When I stepped on it let out an 'ouch'. Then it recognised me. Obviously everytime I get on the wii I want it to say 'You can't possibly be the same person, you weigh half as much!". It did recognise me, then it called me overweight, which yes is an improvement on obese (which I was) but I wanted the little wii mi to walking around in a pair of comedically large computer generated trousers not look no different to how I was before. So yes I've decided to start exercising. This is for many reasons. One being that I want to eat lots of Easter Eggs (yep I've still got some left, smuggy smug smug). Two being that it's spring/summer/monsoon season so I am more inclined to leave the house. Three being that I recently went to Iceland and spent time walking and swimming and remembered that I actually like it. Fourth being that one of my chums has become a pilates teacher and given that I work days and she works nights if I ever want to see her I need to attend her class. Oh look here's a link to her site here. Book in with her. She's very good For some reason I can not put a link in. Google claire toone pilates. That's her. Book. So my first class is tonight. Hopefully I won't break. I am also intending to go swimming again. I like swimming and am reasonably good at it. I used to be able to swim a mile in about half an hour or so (doubt I can now) so it's the one form of exercise I can be confident of not dying during. Apart from walking it's the only form of physical movement I can reasonably pull off. Running leads to falling over and not being able to breath within a few minutes. Tennis and general athletics I do not have the co-ordination or technique (this being hammered home to me during 5 long years of PE lessons), trampolining - fear of collapsing the trampoline, football, rugby, hockey, netball, squash - no idea of the rules despite being forced to play them at school. However, annoyingly the outdoor pool near me has closed down. Which distresses me. I do not like swimming indoors. It's too hot, too echoey, too chlorinated and you are unable to get properly dry. Outdoor is simply more fun. So I am going to attempt to go to Hampstead ponds. The lake holds no fear for me. Getting there does. I have no sense of direction and can't read a map. On my holiday I avoided all the sights of Rejykavik and instead wandered around a council estate. Which was lovely in it's own way. It's own way being not at all. So let's get energised. Let's Pilate.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tracks of my life

This Friday I am going on local radio. Like most people whenever I hear my voice played back to me I go in to shock and wonder how anyone ever manages to have a conversation with me as I sound like a droning, high pitched, sqwarky lunatic. A bit like Mr Punch but more annoying. I also hate public speaking of any kind so this should go really well. My last and only experience of radio was on a training course where we had to pretend to work in a radio station, I got to read the travel news. I instantly forgot the names of any roads so all accidents and hold ups happened on the M25. Played back it sounded like Mr Punch had had a stroke and could only communicate by squarking 'M25, bad' repeatedly.

However, I am also going to inflict upon the listeners sixteen of my favourite songs so they may loathe me for reasons other than my voice. I am recording 'Tracks of my life'. Where I chose 16 songs and talk about their role in my life. At first I thought this would be an easy task. Then I started going through i-tunes and trying to select tracks. Also trying to select tracks that actually have a role in my life rather than 'I like it'. Now there are songs that I adore but which are not the greatest songs in the world. I generally like them for one line. For example 'Wicheta Lineman'. I don't like the first couple of verses, all the rabid exposition 'I am a lineman for the county' etc. But I do love, deeply the line 'And I need you more than I want you, and I want you for all time.' The question is - can I inflict three minutes of rubbish on people for the beauty of that one line? The answer is, I may have to as a lot of the songs I really love have gratuitous swearing in them and I can't play that on the radio.
Certain songs are easy. Waltz no 2 by Elliot Smith. One of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and stands up to repeated listenings. Other songs - great memories - crap songs. Should I include 'I don't know much' by Linda Rondstat and Arran Neville simply because my brother and I found it funny to sing it like Kermit the Frog?
I have put a long short list together. Plan is to revue it nearer the time and whittle it down. See how long my nerve holds out and whether I can bring myself to put 'My Brother' by Terry Scott out there.

Friday, 30 March 2012

For F***s Sake


National cleavage day today apparently.

I look forward to national cocks out day soon.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Thank you for the days

My grasp on science is shaky at best. Never my strong point and when concepts get too hard for me I am quite happy to say ‘Ah well I don’t get it but I’m glad someone does’ and then stop thinking about it. I am fine with the fact that I don’t know about many, many things. I don’t understand how planes stay in the air, I don’t know why enormous boats float, I don’t know why people would want a bird as a pet but these things happen and they will not stop simply because I don’t understand why. So I may be very wrong when I make the claim that time is relative. Is that what E=MC2 is all about?

However it is whizzing by. Work is frantic. I had quite an in-depth conversation this morning with a colleague where we discussed the kids tv programme ‘Out of this world’ where she could pause time. Both of us were quite keen on this. Then we realised that we could have achieved something in the time we had spent talking about outdated sitcoms of the 80s. Time is speeding by. Not helped by the random weather generator that is the climate at the moment. It’s like a two year old with a remote control is picking the weather: Hot! Cold! Snow! Heatwave! Minus 6 at night but 23 degrees by lunch!

Now obviously, time is going at exactly the same speed as always. It’s merely my perception of it. Sitting through Avatar at the cinema took approximately nine and a half years. The time between my head hitting the pillow and waking up the next morning is about six and a half seconds. My nephew turns six at the weekend. I swear he was born a couple of weeks ago. However if I think of other things that happened six years ago it may as well be a lifetime ago. A very badly dressed life time ago.

I have no problem with ageing, I have nothing else to do and I wouldn’t be a teenager again if you paid me. However I do have quite a lot of things to do. (this appears to have something to do with the end of financial year – again something I have no concept of), therefore I intend to put Avatar on to slow down time to a crawl and then crack on with my to-do list

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Art of Sleep

I have never really mastered the art of power napping. I know the theory. Short, sharp sleeps make us work more efficently and power us through the afternoon. I get the sleeping aspect of it. I just don't get the short bit of it. If I go to bed knowing that I have got to get up in twenty minutes and carry on with my day then I don't relax and I don't sleep. If I tell myself that I have a four our window and if I am unconsious for all of it then it doesn't matter then I sleep well and deeply for about an hour. If however I don't set an alarm and have to be somewhere eight hours from the time of the nap then I will sleep deeply and soundly for 10 hours only to be awoken in the pitch black by a ringing phone.

Incidently there is nothing more disconcerting than lolling on your bed in broad day light, thinking about going for a walk or something, then closing your eyes as the light of the sun filters through the window and... then waking up ten hours later with no idea where you are, the house in darkness, completely unaware of what time it is, what day it is and what you are meant to be doing. The only thing you can work out is that something, possibly a small animal, sneaked in whilst you were asleep, had a lavish dump in your mouth then curled up and died in there for good measure. You also appeared to sleep face down as every crease your pillow had is now transferred to your face, these will drop out in a few hours. Also you appear to have been having some kind of wrestling competition with your clothes. Despite being able to sleep in pyjamas without spontaneously undressing yourself or wrapping your sleeves round your back, when you sleep in clothes you will wake up with them two sizes smaller than when they went on and discover you have had some kind of wrestling competition with them when you were unconsious.

You don't sleep like this at night. At night you drift off, during the day it's like you've been hit with a stun gun. You sleep or you die. At night, if you wake up unexpectedly you know exactly where you are and are content to wander to the bathroom or whatever with no need to put the lights on. Wake up suddenly from a nap and it's like you're in the middle of a horror film. You patrol the house for invaders and check for what may have gone on whilst you were asleep.

The biggest difference however is moisture. You can wake up after a nights sleep refreshed and raring to go. You wake up from a day time sleep sweaty, covered in drool and about to wet your pants.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

It's more than spectacular to use the venacular

It's wizard, it's dashing, it's keen.
This is what happens when you buy a 3cd musical compilation for a fiver. You end up with the most horrendous songs stuck in your head. Although I have to say not as horrendous as whatever the person next to me in the office is listening to, which is some kind of folk music. Without headphones. Someone has just called me and half way through a technical question was forced to stop and say "Are you listening to pan pipes?".

So I can now keep up with fast paced wording of Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang. Even the bits towards the end where every second word is 'Chitty'. The writer must have put it like that in the hopes that Dick van Dyke would slip up and call the magical flying car shitty at some point. I acknowledge that this isn't really achievement (Incidentally I am now at the shaking with laughter stage of folk music listening). But I believe in achieving little and often. I am not going to climb Everest but there is a chance I may take a walk in the park. Therefore I shall take that walk in the park and be proud, ignoring any little voices that say I should be mountain climbing.

Hang on, folk's gone electric. I also like to reward myself lavishly for tasks complete. This normally takes the form of coffee, a nap or a visit to the library. In many ways I am well prepared for life in an old folks home - got out of a chair? Have a nap. I find in this way that I am fairly satisfied with life. I don't feel I have failed in any way as all jobs are easily achievable. There is a chance that this approach means that I will never really achieve anything of note as I am too busy rewarding myself for having got out of bed.

Folk is now prompting myself and a runner to dance. We look like the Wombles. Incidentally another song which I know all the words to. All this remembering doesn't really do me any favours. I am simply good at quizzes and know the words to a lot of songs. Which no doubt I shall reward myself lavishly for

I have to go now. This is doing my folking head in

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Sing. Sing a song

For reasons unknown, quite regularly in the morning I wake up with the song ‘Think of a world without any flowers’ stuck in my head. I sing it to myself as I clean my teeth, finding myself hilarious as I sing it in a terrible mournful voice before leaping in to a lively falsetto for the chorus. I seriously need either a boyfriend or a flatmate. I am turning in to Su Pollard. Equally I find it amusing to sing to (selected) friends when I am cold or tired ‘I was cold I was naked, were you there? Were you there?’ There is only one thing to blame for this – the Come and Praise hymn book from Primary School Assemblies. Featuring a lurid blue, 70s tastic cover of a load of hippy kids with their mouths agape (presumably “praising”) it was full of some of the strangest, left over from the drug addled 1960s bunch of hymns imaginably. We sung them with gusto as we started our mornings in an act of communal worship.

Not one of us had a clue what we were singing.

Such gems as ‘Carpenter, Carpenter make me a tree – that’s the work of somebody far greater than me, Electrician won’t you light me a star, that’s the work of somebody who’s greater by far’. I don’t think any of us realised it was about God, I personally assumed they’d need to refer the job to their boss. My particular favourite was ‘The ink is black, the page is white, together we learn to read and write to read and write.’. I had no idea it was a blistering attack on racism (one of the strangest). We also sang a salutation to Autumn (Autumn Days) all year round.

As if the songs included in the book weren’t odd enough they were supplemented with photocopied bits of paper with some extras on them. We sang an ode to disarmament ‘Last night I had the strangest dream, I ever dreamed before, I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war’. For some reason we also had a bash at ‘There is a castle on a cloud’. Which must have been unspeakable. Our choice of hymns was recently usurped by a memory of another woman who could remember singing about ‘Ticky tacky boxes and dry martinis’.

Come secondary school and we had all got over our sheer enthusiasm for singing in public and so simply stood and mumbled through five verses of music before being told we could sit down. The one time we all decided on mass to hit the top note in our school song we were all screamed at for the unearthly racket we produced. The lack of effort and lack of singing didn’t put our school off. Not only were we required to mumble/sing pretty much every morning we were required to have a hymn practice before the arrival of our headmistress to ensure we knew the song before ruining it for her. Given that we only sang five songs on rotation in the seven years I was there this was utterly pointless. It also meant that we put no effort in twice rather than just the once. It did mean we were treated to a woman in her fifties skipping around and clapping her hands trying to get us to sing ‘Jubilate’ twice a week. Her attempts to get us to shout ‘OI’ at the end of ‘In the Presence of your people’ was woefully unsuccessful.

However even as an adult I can remember all the words. If called upon (which I never am) I could sing you most of ‘Light up the fire and let the flame burn’. I also rarely let a harvest festival go by without singing about ‘the broad beans sleeping in their blankety beds’ (yeahhhhhh). The only other song that I have remembered for so long is one that was featured on the BBC1 programme ‘The Lowdown’ and was about someone recording their own song. I know all the lyrics. It was called ‘Bye bye Baby Bye bye’. Looking back I must have only seen this programme once as it was pre-video. It makes me worry for my childhood self.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


I couldn't follow the plot of Upstairs Downstairs on Sunday. I find this quite worrying. It's not like I was wrestling with the intricacies of Chekov or following something in a different language (which lets face it isn't going to happen unless there is an indepth French drama about directions). I was watching a Sunday night costume drama and I did not have a clue what was going on. Someone channelled Unity Mitford, a monkey was gassed and then someone was pointing out areas of low pressure over Birmingham. There is a small chance I fell asleep half way through and woke up during a different programme.

I think I have been spoilt by Downton Abbey. I know we're not meant to compare the two. They are entirely different programmes about life in the recent past and the lives of those both above and below stairs and how world events impact their lives. I followed Downton. I mean it helped that a caption would come up telling you that three years had passed and yet the characters would still be having the same conversations (sometimes in the same costumes). Time whizzed past so quickly there was people with massive beehives doing the twist outside the windows and the youngest daughter and the driver were still discussing their love.

Upstairs Downstairs however expected me to have brain power which is not sky high at the best of times and certainly not at 9pm on a Sunday. I had to remember who people were from the first three episodes, be aware of it's place in history and try and work out why they were gassing a monkey (I think it's because Eilleen Atkins has left the series and the monkey belonged to her, they may have also realised that working with animals is expensive and time consuming and therefore the best thing to do was gas the monkey). Expect anyone with an expensive costume or habit ('oh but I love champagne) to be taking a short trip headfirst down the stairs soon.

I am going to watch it again. I love a good costume drama and I adored the first round of Upstairs Downstairs. I (blushes modestly) am too young to remember the first time it was broadcast but I got the first series on video for my 21st (attempt to pretend I am young fails) and now it seems to be on ITV3 all the time. It's fabulous and I shall dedicate proper time to watching the new series rather than lounging in bed.

Friday, 17 February 2012


I possibly didn't make it clear in the last post that domestic violence goes both ways. Any violence isn't to be tolerated and there is a case that violence against men is trivialised. My main issue is irritating teenagers... and Chris Brown

Thursday, 16 February 2012


I was at the station the other night. I was nearly home and wandering across the concorse, a group of teenage girls, I'd guess they were about 14, were walking the other way. It's half term so I assume they were off some where fun and as teenagers are want to do they were bellowing their joy. There were the usual characters that make up a group. The incredibly loud, confident, pretty leader. Two girls, also pretty and willing to agree with whatever she says (shouts) and the dumpy one who is allowed to hang around because she occasionally makes them laugh and makes the others look good by comparison. (This sounds so bitter, you can guess which one I was). Anyway. Teenagers are annoying, we all know this. They shout their opinions and think they are hilarious. Depending on my mood I either enjoy listening to their 'dilemmas', which are always easy to follow as they are transmitted at volume and include so much detail. Or I just wish they'd shut up and spend my journey silently plotting their downfall. However on this occassion I was simultaneously worried for them and despising of them. And this is for why;

They were talking about Chris Brown.

Not his music (he'd just won a grammy and performed at the ceremony), no - loud confident girl (who was wearing shorts, in February) was loudly proclaiming the view that 'He's so fit he could hit me anytime.' One of the two pretty friends laughed and said 'Yeah he could hit me in the face and I wouldn't mind'. They all laughed and carried on walking.

Now I'm sure they thought they were being mature and ironic and we were all congratulating them on their irreverant and post modern humour. We weren't think that they were pathetic children who were broadcasting ideas that they have no idea about and were transmitting at a volume when they had no idea of their audience. Now I am glad that they have never experienced it and so do imagine it to be not that bad, I am terrified however that they think domestic violence is OK if the man is fit, that domestic violence is something to be dismissed and that domestic violence is a topic that is up for jokes.

It's not.

Domestic violence should be a subject that is discussed freely and openly. There should be no judgement on the victims and help should be sought and freely given. However domestic violence should be a taboo subject when it comes to humour. Oh I know the majority of people are joking and would no more dream of hitting their partner or kids anymore than they would think about going postal with a gun in a shopping centre, but there's the 1% that thinks that they are justified in going home and beating seven shades of shit out of their wife because they've had a bad day and it's that 1% that hears the jokes and uses them as a defence of their actions. Somethings are so horrendous that they should not be joked about. Humour justifies actions and makes unacceptable things palatable. Most of us, thank God, are far enough removed from things like this that we feel safe joking about them. Our family isn't affected therefore we can joke. But it's always someone's family that is being affected.

It also leads to girls coming out with comments like the girls at the train station. It breaks my heart. Not only because it's girls turning on other women and justifying violence against them, but it's girls betraying the rights that we have fought for. It's in living history that it became illegal for men to hit their wives. We fought long and hard not to be seen as our husbands property. These girls take these rights for granted and so abuse them. They need to know how we got to this point. We need to respect our past and band together so we don't go backwards.

And Chris Brown should just fuck off.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Mah Nah Mah Nah

I love the Muppets. Deeply. I am mildly distrusting of anyone who isn’t a fan. My biggest regret in life is of not making a Muppet when I visited FAO Schwartz. Christmas kicks off in style when I allow myself to watch ‘A Muppet Christmas Carol’. I am reduced to tears of laughter every time
I listen to the Rowlf classic ‘You and I and George’. I am reduced to tears every time I hear ‘The Rainbow Connection’. For some years I worked in the studios where the Muppets TV show was recorded. There’s a photo on the wall of all the Muppets on bikes. Sadly I missed the recording of the show by about 25 years or so but strangely my aunt worked on the Muppet show in those very studios. When my brothers and I were little and we would visit our grandparents (my aunt’s parents) we were given old copies of Muppet scripts to draw on the back off. My aunt was given a
Rizzo the Rat when she left the show and let us play with it so we used to act out the scripts we had with Rizzo and various other toys standing in for the other characters. We’d push two armchairs together (this also made a very good slide) and lay on the floor and do puppet shows from there.
My favourite Muppet is Rowlf. By virtue of the fact that he’s hilarious, has a great voice and can play the piano. Fozzie is up there but oddly I never had a huge amount of time for Kermit. I appreciated that he had to hold the show together, attempt to get Peter Sellers on the stage whilst he was having an existential crisis, fend off Miss Piggy’s advances and play the
banjo but I never really found him as appealing as the others. Then I saw the new Muppet film yesterday and reconsidered my choice.. Kermit is the greatest leading man ever.

The film itself is amazing. Despite the fact the cinema was filled with some of the most loud bastard children I have ever heard (note to parents, if your child is still rustling a paper bag at the end of the film, you’ve bought it too many sweets. Oh and note to the girl who answered her
phone – there’s a special place in Hell for people like you), it was an hour and a half of pure joy and Kermit was at the centre of it. His relationship with new Muppet Walter and his commitment to his friends recaptured the heart of the Muppets and oh, I’ll stop trying to analyse it, it was amazing.

Being a musical helped. I’ve never really got over my own life not being constantly interrupted with song and dance numbers. As a Flight of the Concords fan I loved the music throughout the film and as a bonus I got to hear ‘Rainbow Connection’ again.
My only question now is when I can go and see it again. I’ve been told by many people that today is too soon. I disagree but will bow to external pressure.

Friday, 3 February 2012

If Wishes Were Horses

The floatation of Facebook on the stock market and the news that several people are set to be billionaires prompted an office discussion of 'what would you do if you had 18 billion pounds'. Inevitably most of us could easily give away 17 and a half billion. Is there anything in the world you need that you can't get with 500 million? And if there is do you really want to have to maintain that lifestyle? I think I may have wittered something about travelling and paying for friends to come with me (and give up their jobs). I don't need to plan it too exactly.

However there are also things in life I fundamentally need and are becoming more pressing by the day. I need to make some money and fast. If only so I can maintain the life I have.

1. I need a PA. Not because I have such a fast paced, international life but because I am flawed. At work I am fine. Plan things, sort things, deliver things. Personal life - hmmmm. A case in point; my birthday. Failed to organise anything (not the first time). Eventually decide to rally the troops and go for lunch followed by the Muppet movie. Sorted. Except the film isn't out yet. So lunch it is!

2. I need an electric blanket. I am freezing. I am sleeping in pyjamas, hooded top, socks and gloves. The heating is on. I know I could buy an electric blanket easily. I have just not sorted myself and bought it (see note 1)

3. Paint. I need to paint the front door. This is because I have to kick it to open it

4. I need to fix the front door. So I don't have to kick it to open it

5. I need a Muppet. One of the biggest regrets in my life is not making one in FAO Shwartz

6. I need Irish breakfast tea. The best tea in the world and oddly not available over here.

I think when you look at all these things I'm fairly sorted. Therefore I don't need 18 billion. Good job too really

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Power Up

I was given a tablet for Christmas. This was not simply a way of getting me to shut up and be quiet it was in fact an Android tablet. An ipad but not an ipad. We are now in a quite deeply committed relationship. Despite working in an industry where I know how to work a reasonable amount of fancy pants equipment (although my Dad still doesn’t trust me with their sky+) computers and I have never really got along. I bought my first lap top about seven years ago from PC world. I got the well known brand Lenovo– yep you heard me. I got it home, turned it on and nothing happened. It would not come to life. I charged it for a couple of years. Still it wouldn’t turn on. I returned to PC world and explained, half laughing, that the computer I had bought for them the previous day didn’t even turn on. They told me it was not their problem and I would have to take it up with the manufacturer and gave me a help line to call. I asked if I could use their phone. No.

I rung the help line, they told me to return it to the shop. I said I couldn’t. They said they’d call me back, they did, I explained it to 15 people. I cried. A Swedish man told me ‘ I think you need to have a cup of tea, I’ll call you back in ten minutes’. I did, he did. The upshot of it was they sent a man to my house to replace the entire motherboard and I developed a great hatred on PC world. The computer was…OK. I could type on it which was all I really wanted to do. I got used to turning it on a couple of days before I wanted to use it so it had times to come to terms with it. I never asked it to upload photos or anything complicated which would cause it to just shut down. Then one day I accidently upended a cup of tea in to the keyboard. The computer locked itself and the keys refused to work. I dried it out with a hairdryer and by sitting it next to the oven. Half the keys still refused to work. Sadly the half which made up the password to unlock the computer.

Over time I could get in. The delete still refused to work so I got used to highlighting and overwriting. The space bar only works if you slam it, so I stopped working in the library. I would type hundreds of words and look up to see that I had been typing on only three keys and I had written in some kind of experimental vowel only language. I borrowed a computer and finished the novel. I now have some weird superstition that until it’s sold I shouldn’t buy a new laptop. So I may be some time.

But now I have the tablet. And we have a deep bond going on. I was always fairly anti kindles – I didn’t think you could beat a real book. I still think that. But when you’re on the commute home and you finish your book isn’t it a lot easier to have a device where there are hundreds there waiting for you? When you’re lying in bed and you’re suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to read Mallory Towers isn’t it great that you don’t have to wait for the library to open or trawl second hand book shops. When you are reading a Lesley Pierce or an Emma Blair isn’t it great that no one can see the cover and assume you are illiterate but rather keen on the poverty and bizarre incestuous lifestyles of 1930s Britain?

I have also cut down on my paper recycling by downloading the papers on to my tablet. Haven’t quite worked out how to do the crossword yet but I’m sure I’ll crack it sooner or later.
And best of all – the flipping thing turns on

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Please don't leave me

Sleep. When your surname is Sleep you get used to the jokes. Every September when you’d get a new teacher you’d brace yourself for the read through the register and the inevitable ‘Sleep? Not in my lesson you don’t’. As a result of years of getting letters addressed to Sheep, Slep, Sleet and worse it’s become an instinct for all my family to give their name as ‘Sleep, S, L, double E, P, as in go to bed’. Which works quite well until you get a perv (I don’t wish to generalise but it’s normally estate agents) who says ‘is that an invitation?’ You learn to live with these things you remind yourself it could be worse, you could be called Bumgardener or something. Especially as there are people who never ever call me by my Christian name and only call me Sleep or Sleeps or Sleepymonster or (my favourite) Sleep Doggy Dog. Someone once questioned why I had signed a birthday card with my given name. Well it’s because it’s my name and people who refer to themselves as their nicknames are normally (I am desperately trying to think of an exception but I can’t) dicks.

I have also always been extremely good at sleeping. At my peak I could hit around 16 hours a day (I’d like to claim this was when I was a baby, I was probably about 20 at the time). My mum would always say that I was the last of her children to sleep through the night. I would feel bad until it was cleared up and established that I slept through the night at six weeks old. Since then I’ve never really stopped. I’ve powered on sleeping nine hours a night and then at weekends topping up with a nap. I could sleep through storms, riots, people shouting at me, in parks, outside museums and once memorably in a karaoke bar. Sleep serves me well. And then it stopped.

Without warning I suddenly dropped to three hours sleep a night. This was last August. I would go to sleep as usual around midnight, I would fall in to a lovely deep sleep. Then bang on 3am I would wake up. And that was it. Occasionally I would fall back asleep at around 7-30 only for the alarm to go off half an hour later. There would be a moment of disbelief and then you’d realise you had very little choice in the matter and you had to get up. Some nights I’d lay there, some nights I’d watch tv, some nights I’d go to Sainsburys. Every night I’d go to bed in the hope that this would be the night that I would sleep through. It never was. I began to put myself to bed like a baby, warm bath, milky drink, calm atmosphere. I stank like an old lady due to the vast amounts of lavender I chucked around. Still nothing. I began to hate my bed. I had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Funhouse episodes (it’s on at 4am on the Challenge channel).

You cope. You live with the constant nausea, the constantly being close to tears, the inability to make a cup of tea without screwing it up (milk in the cupboard, pouring the tea down the sink and stand there holding an empty cup, knowing that something’s not quite right but you’re not sure what). Every conversation you have normally involves you at some point rocking and saying ‘I’m so tired, I just need to sleep’. Then suddenly you’ll get five hours or something and it will revitalise you and you think it’s broken and then you sink back to three hours. It’s all you can think about. Occasionally I would hallucinate, that was actually fairly enjoyable and did take my mind off things. Every morning I would get the tube to work and fantasise about flinging myself in front on it. Just so I would be unconscious (and I know dead, but I was more concerned with sleeping). I refined my plans slightly to thinking about putting my arm in front of the tube, so I’d get a hospital stay, drugs and sleep. I told a woman at work my plan and she gave me a look of horror and informed me the tube would take my arm off. It’s possibly another symptom of insomnia – inappropriateness. There are certain conversation starters that just don’t work.

It’s also a desperately competitive business not sleeping. Everyone is having less than you. People with children, people who are stressed – if you were to listen to everybody you’d believe that we are a twenty four hour society. No one sleeps. Everyone has got it worse. But with the best will in the world, I didn’t care. I just wanted to sleep.

And then miraculously I did. Christmas night I slept for ten hours and I’ve not stopped since. Bed has once again become one of my favourite places. I look forward to getting in knowing that I’ll be unconscious and won’t be laying there staring at the clock crying because I’m so tired but can’t switch off. I can nap! I don’t know what changed. I don’t care what changed. My best friend is back and I never want him to go away again.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Coming Soon....

I have joined the modern age. Oldest television in the world has died and I have been forced to buy a new one. Oldest television in the world was probably twenty or so years old and had lived with a variety of families before coming to stay with me. He was unique in many ways. Firstly he was obese. I had him plonked on a chest full of all dvds etc the day I moved and he’s stayed there ever since as he was too heavy to move. Four years my Royal Family board game has been trapped in that chest. Four long years. He was also a little bit of a tyrant. If he didn’t like what you were watching he would simply change channels. He particularly liked to change himself on to the AV setting which wasn’t very enjoyable for anyone. But I loved him, even as he got deafer and deafer and would randomly turn the volume up to compensate for his lack of hearing. It was when he turned in to the widest, deepest, heaviest radio that I decided we really needed to part ways. Having no picture at all does somewhat limit your televisual enjoyment.

I chose a new television. A television that was HD, wasn’t a metre or so deep and had all the channels I required already in the television (just in time too as they turn the analogue off this year). I took advantage of having a party round at mine and asked strapping lads to carry oldest television to the bin area outside the flats where it could collected by the council. Even in death oldest television was only thinking of others. Rather than make me pay the twenty pounds the council wanted to collect him he arranged for himself to be stolen from the bin area the night before they arrived. The thieves have got themselves a good thing there. Or an ancient non working television that was left out in the snow for three days so is probably liable to electrocute them.

But most excitingly of all new television is connected to the internet. I can watch things on I-player, you tube and through the wonders of technology I can stream love film direct to the television. I have been a member of love film for years. I am on the lowest plan there is. Partly because I am rubbish at making time to watch films but mainly because I kept losing the flipping discs so really only got through two or three a year. But now the possibilities are endless. I have already watched one! But what to watch? Unlimited access to films gives me the same problem as I-tunes. The possibilities are endless – but I don’t know what I want! I am overwhelmed by choice. I think this is where trailers come in.

But the trailers seem to have been made by people who haven’t seen the film. ‘The Help’ a hard hitting film about the civil rights movement in 1960s America was made to look like a flimsy rom com in the trailer. I did actually go and see it and was astonished to find the film was really good and true to the spirit of the book. The trailer however was rubbish. Happily though when I went to see ‘The Help’ I was privileged enough to see the best trailer I have ever seen (for a film I have no intention of seeing). It was ‘War Horse’. Now thanks to stage play and various reviews I know that War Horse is a stirring and moving film about the role of horses in warfare. From the trailer it looked like the film was about the forbidden love of a boy and his horse. Their intense sexual love spans countries and time. Even when he is apart he carries a photo of the horse with him. He dreams of him.

Now thankfully the people who will pay to see the film are far more intelligent and know what the film is about and may have circumnavigated the trailer. If the cinema relied on selling tickets only to the people who had seen the trailer the theatre would be filled entirely of clammy individuals feverishly stroking their My Little Ponies and whispering ‘this is our story Toffeeapple. Our love will be recognised’.

I suppose it’s one way of dodging the usual trailer problem. Putting the entire plot and all the jokes in to the preview. This is normally because the film is a dud and the only way you could be convinced to part with money to see the full length thing is to be convinced that it looks half way decent. I have seen many, many appalling films this way. Films so awful I would rather watch horse love. I was about to say that at least with new telly I don’t have to go to the cinema to watch these things but that casts me in bad light and makes the whole thing rather unsavoury.