Monday, January 31, 2005

State of Undress

I have the day off today, so instead of doing useful things, like going to Tesco while I still have the car, or cleaning my teeth, I have been sitting in front of the TV, watching programmes about journalists on Channel 4. I tried to watch Trisha, but it made me want to throw myself out of the window. Obviously I don't have it in me to be a dedicated couch potato.

I have also been surfing the blogosphere with abandon, because as each day goes by, I get more and more addicted. Not to mention more depressed at the growing realisation that I will never be a) a literary genius, or b) hysterically funny.

Anyway, I was sitting here, slobbing in my dressing gown. This beloved garment is a white towelling monstrosity that's five sizes too big, and gapes at the neck. It also has some nasty looking coffee stains down the back - don't ask me how. It's a mystery.

As I have mentioned previously on these pages, Flatmate is selling this place. Over the last few weeks, I have been struggling, more than usual, to understand her definition of the word 'mess'. She came home in tears last week because the estate agents had brought someone round at short notice and she hadn't had time to tidy the flat. "Look at this place," she wailed in despair. "It's a fucking mess". I stood open mouthed in the doorway, my lips forming the word "Wh...?" as I surveyed the spotless living room. Her understanding of 'mess' is so far removed from mine as to be a different concept entirely. Neither do I understand why she assumes that if someone comes round, and the Guardian weekend magazine is on the arm of the sofa, this is in any way going to put them off making an offer. Still, it's her house, I have to respect her feelings. Also, I hate seeing her upset.

So this morning, when I got up and the flat actually was a mess, I assumed that the estate agents were not coming round. For this reason, when they opened the door, I was in a state of rumpled half-sleep, my left breast almost entirely exposed, and the washing up festering aromatically on every available kitchen surface.

After some shock and embarassment on everyone's part, they agreed to return after 10 minutes, so as to give me time to get dressed. Cue the fastest tidy up in the history of house-cleaning. They still haven't come back. Was it something I said?

Drive time

Yesterday afternoon, I got in my hire car and drove for five and a half hours from the middle of Wales to South London. I love driving. Seriously - I didn't want to stop. I did consider coming off the motorway and driving to London along the backroads, winding across England, alone in my bubble, just me and Radio 4 cruising into the night.

I think there is something so comforting about being alone in a car with a long drive ahead. You can plan your own stops, you can choose the soundtrack to your journey. Winding through villages, assessing country pubs, drinking crap coffee from a service station, spilling petrol on your shoes. It's up to me and I can control what happens in my own world for that short time when there's only me.

Time when I'm driving is quality thinking time. I can muse at my leisure on whatever I like; my imagination can drift, unchecked. Radio 4 is the best thing in the world for driving (apart from the Scissor Sisters). During the 10 hours that I spent driving over the last four days I've listened to a programme about people who see sounds as colours, I've heard how sound can cure your ills, I've heard a funny/sad/bitter short story by Anton Chekhov, and a poem in which bees are kisses, and sunshine is made from honey.

I don't know what all this says about me other than I'm an antisocial control freak (and I obviously think about myself far more than is healthy). In any case, I dont' want to give the car back. S'mine.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Forgotten

Sad and loose lipped, vacant with misery, they stare, unthinking, at the rain grey hills. The wind, the cold and damp, all take their toll; the neglected faces flake and peel, and reveal the rot that was there beneath. Decay blows through the empty windows, wet leaves covering the cracking, aching floors.

Outside, on the motel forecourt, the petrol pumps bow their heads, resigned and redundant. There is no hope left here, no redemption now for this old collection of buildings; they will not get a second flush of youth. But as if hoping for better days, like the ones that have been and gone, the faded sign presents a brave face to the world, to the fleeting, indifferent traffic. "Open, 24 hours a day. Families welcome. Good food, all comforts."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Those were the days, my friend

I'm sitting here, in my Mum's study, recovering from my virtual hangover by cranking her phone bill up to glorious heights. I'm also freezing, because the central heating is not very effective, and this is leading me to wonder whether anyone has to date invented a 'nose muff' (no smutty comments please - this is a wholesome site. ahem). Seriously - you could have a little fleece-lined nose warmer, to be held on to your head by bits of ribbon, or something. It would look cool. Honest. I wouldn't care right now, truth be told. My nose has gone numb.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be doing some work, but I drifted off and started thinking about the village that my Mum lives in, and that I grew up in. It's tiny. It probably has around 100 inhabitants. There's a church, and a pub. No shop though - you have to walk 3 miles to get to anywhere that sells milk or chocolate biscuits. It's very beautiful. We are surrounded by hills, the view uninhibited by human habitation. It's also the kind of place where you can go for a walk, and be enveloped in utter peacefulness. Unfortunately, this being Wales, it rains a great deal, so you'd want a good waterproof.
The pub is a funny old place. It's been through about 5 different owners since we got here, and I would say that if you're married, don't go anywhere near it. It seems to be a disaster as far as that's concerned. Within a year, wives or husbands have run off, and the old place dwindles again until you only have 3 customers left - the usual suspects, who roll up in their landrovers at about 3pm, and don't leave until the wee small hours.


We used to keep sheep here, but we sold them all eventually. Unfortunately not before I spent several traumatic teenage years trailing behind my Dad in a pair of wellies, black nail varnish and an attractive selection of Guns'n'Roses t-shirts, being forced to herd sheep. My father, you see, hated dogs, but he wasn't daunted. Children were obviously just as useful. We'd lumber across the hills, with shouts of "She's gone left, LEFT, into the HEDGE... NOOOOOO, not the hedge.... Run over the top and get up behind her, aaagh - don't let her get away again...." fading behind us into the mists. We'd have to untangle the pitiful, terrified animals from bits of barbed wire, eventually coming home covered in leaves and bits of tree branch, our hair smelling of lanolin, and sheep shit all over our trousers. I bet I'd be brilliant on One Man and His Dog though. Ah, memories.

My Dad decided to keep geese in the paddock one year. The aim was that they'd be ready in time for Christmas, when he'd nip up there, dispatch them with a mimimum of fuss, and bear them triumphantly to my mother, who would have to pluck them, and cook them and generally do all the hard stuff. After he'd spend an hour chasing them round and round the paddock with an axe, he had to give up because he was exhausted, and they were about to overpower him and peck him to death. So he called the local 'man-with-a-gun' and had them shot instead. They still tasted pretty good, but there was a certain aroma of revenge hovering over the dinner table that year, and we never kept geese again.

I love coming back here. I don't want to get in the car tomorrow, and drive back to the Big City. I'm all citied out, and I never thought that would happen.

The morning after

As always happens after very very drunken parties, my virtual self has woken ridiculously early, under a pile of coats, next to a total stranger, with a banging headache, selective memory, and eyeliner all over my face.

There seems to be a dead cat buried in the yucca plant and an unconcious, half naked policeman in the garden. My washing machine is full of sick, there's vodka jelly all over the place, and bits of kebab are hanging from the walls.

I think it was a roaring success. Thank you all for coming. Hope you enjoy the soggy party bags.

Ooops. Just tripped over the blow up doll....

Also, I just wanted to thank Claypot and Petite for directing people to the knees up!

Friday, January 28, 2005

There's a party goin' on right here....

Welcome! It's my party - the moment I've been sweating about for days now. Will anyone come? What will they wear? Will there be gatecrashers, and will the neighbours call the police at 4am to make us turn the music down? Oooh - I love parties. They're so exciting.

Anyway, come in, make yourselves at home. There are some lovely squishy sofas over there, or if you're a real party animal, there's an extra large kitchen just through this door here, where you can lean against the counters and flick ash into the sink, if that be your wont.

There is, of course, a free bar. This being a virtual party you can have anything you like to drink, be it nectar of the gods, that bottle of Lafite 1954 you've always wanted to try, or a vodka marmite cocktail. Have a think, and help yourselves. Same goes for nibbles. Personally I choose sushi, because if there was only one food that I could eat for the rest of my life, I would choose that. So there's plenty of it, along with absolutely anything else you might like. Oh, and there's a homemade raspberry pavlova going too. With clotted cream. Excuse me, I shall move away before I dribble on it.

There's a barbeque also, with fireworks. I've been trying to put some images of fireworks and balloons and other fun party things in here but I keep getting an error message. Suffice to say there are spangly stars and a massive disco ball. It's all very sparkly and partyish.

There's an extra reason for me to celebrate - yesterday I came home to find the postman had kindly left my VSO selection pack on the doorstep in the rain, so I can finally do those jigs, and quaff that champagne. Yahoo! The pages of the volunteer handbook are drying out over my mum's cooker as we speak. Hope I can unstick them.

At the moment, I'm here with only the haunting song of the sheep drifting across the frosty hills, but I'm going to put Har Mar Superstar on because he's super-funky, and makes me want to shake my stuff. I hope you brought some music with you, because I love it when everybody starts arguing over what to put on the stereo. Especially when it comes to blows.

Also, I hope you remembered that it's fancy dress. I've come as spring, because it's my favourite season. Not particularly imaginative, but those are real daffodils springing up around my feet wherever I step, you know. And my ridiculously crazy hair is just perfect for sticking primroses in.

So, I'd be most grateful, if anyone comes, if you could just leave a note saying what you've come as, what you're eating and drinking, what music you'd like to put on, and any other nonsense you might like to add. It's a party - dance till you drop, and try not to be sick behind the yucca plant. Oh sod it. Be sick wherever you want...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I'll cry if I want to...

I'm a bit worried that no-one is going to come to the party on Friday. I'm going to be sitting there, a glass of lambrusco in my hand, a piece of pineapple and cheese on a stick poised expectantly at my lips, as I watch the door for signs of a stampede of guests. My fabulous soundtrack will turn to muzak, and there will be wilting balloons and dusty streamers drifting around on the floor amidst the tumbleweed.

I realise that this is a standard fret for the would be party hostess, but nevertheless, I may send out some invites.

Don't suppose anyone knows whether there is such a thing as blog decorations? Some glitter stars, maybe, or a disco ball...


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Queen of Melodrama

Picture the scene. A young(ish) woman steps resolutely into the gathering dawn. It’s so cold that her breath gathers in clouds around her head, and small droplets of moisture accumulate on the end of her nose. However, she does not care; a set of tools in one hand, and a newly repaired inner tube over one shoulder, she is Rachie: Bike Mechanic.

Half an hour later, her fingers raw with cold, and black with oil and road muck, she struggles bravely to lever the last bit of tyre into the wheel thingy. Panting with effort, she forces it into place, and sits back, smug, triumphant and complacent. Grabbing her pump, she begins jauntily to pump up the inner tube. But lo! What is this hissing sound? Why is the inner tube not filling with air?

As the truth dawns, she is filled with a terrible rage. Casting her tools from her in fury, she falls to her knees, and rents her clothes. Railing at the gods, she raises her hands to heaven and asks “Why? Why?” There is much wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and our heroine falls to weeping piteously amidst the debris of her failed endeavour. She notices her discarded spoons, one of which has a series of right-angled kinks in it that are so exact that she briefly considers a career in metalwork, before returning to the task in hand, and beating the ground with her fists. Such a scene has seldom been witnessed in the back yard of this terraced Victorian house. Even the birds are silenced.

In short, I had the mother of all tantrums. Then I took the Beast to the bike shop down the road, and had it fitted out with a Kevlar tyre. I’m bulletproof. Nothing’s getting through this baby.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Outrage!

Would you credit it? I got yet another puncture on the way home. I'm not normally one for Americanisms, because I think they sound stupid in my very English accent, but this city sucks ass, bigtime.

Now I'm sat watching Newsnight. On it is a Conservative MP who thinks that instituting policies on immigration that contravene EU law is no big deal. He said that the laws governing immigration in the EU are ridiculous, and to break them would not give him a moment's worry. So, perhaps we could all say that? I think the fact that the bloke next door has a nicer bike than me is a travesty, and so I won't worry about stealing it, because obviously the legal goalposts can be moved as an when we decide. This is, of course, the reason that Dubya didn't worry about invading Iraq, even though it was against International law. What kind of world are we living in?

There's also a man on there called Rodney Hylton-Potts, who won a programme that was on TV here recently called Vote for Me. What contestants did was to say what their policies would be should they manage to persuade the deluded electorate to vote them into parliament. This man is insane. Among other things, he'd ban foreign nationals from entering the country, bar a few very rich people, and deport everyone who has ever come here. Jeremy Paxman just put the question of economic stagnation to him, and asked what would happen if the Polish dentist that he relied upon had been sent back to Poland. The answer? Of course! Train our own people! Never mind that there aren't enough people in this country as it is to cover basic health services. And he has the audacity to say that this is what the British people want. Jesus H Christ - I live in a country full of blinkered bigots and small minded fools. I won't even go into the other bilge that this moron was talking.

Sorry for this vitriolic rant. I'm absolutely incensed. Incensed! Oh, and now they're talking about global warming. Apparently we're fucked. What a surprise - didn't they hear about this at the Kyoto talks? Happy January.

On a slightly different topic, I've been considering my fancy dress costume for Friday. Where as earlier, my inspiration was directed towards fantastic things like sunshine, or spring, I'm now thinking of going as a melting ice floe, or perhaps as the depleted fishing grounds. There's nothing to stop me stapling a virtual endangered cod to my shirt and dragging a virtual net full of baby sardines around behind me all night, although perhaps it would stultify the conversation. I think I'll ban politics from the party. We are supposed to be being cheerful after all - hope you don't mind!

OK, I'll stop talking rubbish now. I have to get up early and do the whole rigmarole with the pair of spoons and the Mr Men plasters again tomorrow. Goodnight.

Dance away those winter blues...

Apparently, today is the most depressing day of the year. Some mathematical genius has come up with a magic formula that proves this. Gosh.

I’m pretty sure that I suffer from Seasonal Adjustment Disorder. I hate winter, I loathe being cold and I always feel really pissed off throughout January and February, which is why I went to Cambodia for a month on new year’s day last year. I’m not sure that today is worse than any other day though.

Actually, despite my grim cycle ride, during which I did battle with freezing winds and the mad Evening Standard van-man who always drives too close to the kerb, I feel quite upbeat today.

And as I was reading something about light therapy to ward off those vitamin D deficiency blues, I remembered something. My aunt got me some little decorative lights for my birthday – like Christmas lights, but with flowers on them instead of plain bulbs. They’re lovely. So I put them up all around my bookcase, and last night, as I drifted off to sleep they created a soft and pleasant glow in the corner of my room. When I woke up this morning, I felt wonderful. Can this have anything to do with it? I might pop them on again tonight, and see if it works.

Anyway, we don’t need people telling us to be more depressed. We need a reason to be cheerful. So I’m going to invite you all round to mine for a virtual party on Friday. It’s fancy dress, so come as whatever you like. There will, of course, be free champagne, and lots of little canapés. Bring some music, bring some friends, have a boogie. Venue – Living for Disco, time – Friday, whenever you feel like turning up. Hope you can make it!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Pick me! Pick me!

This year is an election year in our small yet obstreperous country.

It appears that it will be characterised by the usual sniping and back-biting between Labour and the Conservatives, while poor old Charles Kennedy pops his head up occasionally and says something bland. I will state my politics for the record - I'm unashamedly a Liberal Democrat. I hope Charles Kennedy tries a little harder this year to say things that are controversial so that people will at least notice that he's there, but then it's a bit difficult if you're leader of the only party that has sensible policies. In my opinion.

This year it will also be characterised by a smouldering resentment between our PM, the smiling and untrustworthy Tony Blair, and our Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. GB wants Tony's job, you see, and as far as he is concerned, he was promised it. I told you Tony was untrustworthy. He'll be making himself Lifetime Dictator next, and will invade Gaul against the wishes of his country. Oh, sorry. That was Julius Caesar.

I sometimes wonder about politics in this country. It seems to me that it resembles squabbles in a children's playground more than grown men and women discussing policies that will affect matters on a global level, as well as for this country. I have no faith in either of the main contenders, whose leanings seem to me to be alarmingly similar. I think that TB is just annoyed because the Conservatives have already bagged the best party name, and he's stuck with New Labour, which, frankly, smacks of pandering to the unions, and arguments over the minimum wage.

Now, I have to go and tend to the Beast. It's got another puncture, and this time I have to go out and fix it myself, armed with nothing but a pair of spoons and a first aid kit. Mr Men plaster anyone?





Stars in her eyes

I had a great night out last night. I went to the Tea rooms in Hoxton - a fearfully trendy club, run by the ex-boyfriend of the guy we went there with last night.

Now, if there is one thing I am not, and have never been, it's trendy. I've struggled long and hard to get to the point with my personal style where I people don't snicker behind their hands when I take my coat off in the pub. I think I look ok, but I'm most definitely not a style guru.

Yesterday was a bit of a nightmare. There is something alarming going on with the back of my hair that shrieks of old lady perm. If it gets longer I'll be entering mullet territory. Not a good look. So, my friend and I descended into the cavernous toilets. They were packed with people having sex and doing lines of coke (I expect). A very well dressed blond woman was having face cream combed into her hair by some guy who just happened to be in there. I said into an unexpected lull in conversation, "Jesus, look at these people. They've all got fabulous shoes. I look like someone's mum". The blonde woman turned round. Hmm, I thought. She's familiar.

Then I spent the rest of the evening getting make-up tips from the guy who does the slap for Faithless.

Gosh, I'm getting trendier by the minute.

Privacy inviolate

Flatmate has put this place on the market. Over-keen estate agents keep bringing doubtful looking people round to see it, mostly when we're out. This is not a surprise, as I am aware from past experience that this is how property wheeling and dealing works.
Everyone does the same thing. They scoot through the house like a dose of food-poisoning, and then ask three standard questions:
"How far is it to walk to the nearest station?"
"What are the neighbours like?" (This is the only question at which I am forced to lie and say "They're great. We hardly know they're there" while desperately hoping that this won't prompt a flurry of elephantine thudding from upstairs.)
"How old is the boiler?" This is a perpetual problem with houses in London, in my experience. You move somewhere and instantly the boiler packs up, costing you lost days of bitter cold, while you try and find a boiler expert who is available to come out any time this year and won't charge you more than your mortgage to sort it out. Ditto washing machines.

Anyway, Flatmate is a complete neat-freak. The house is immaculate. Even the cushions have their place on the sofa. I like it - it's soothing to come back to somewhere that is uncluttered and neat. My room, however, is mine. I'm not the tidiest person, but I have been making a concerted effort over the last weeks to keep it looking respectable. Yesterday I got up early to sort it all out and hoover it before the first lot of prospective buyers turned up for their lightning visit. Then I went out.

When I came back after a night of carousing and hobnobbing with celebrities (of which more later), I came home to find that she'd been in and made it tidier. As far as I can tell, this entailed taking the water glass from beside the bed, hiding my contraceptive pills so I couldn't find them, and squaring the duvet up. Now, I fail to see how rearranging my already neat bedclothes and making the edges of my pillows paralle, could possibly make this house more attractive to buyers. I don't mind if she asks me first. What really makes me mad is when I feel as if my privacy has been violated. It's my bed! My room! I'd like to feel that I can leave a pair of dirty knickers safely hidden under the covers without fear of them being exposed to prying eyes before I'm ready. Call me a slob - I care not a jot.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Cannibalism - the definition...

Does it count if you get so worked up that you end up eating your own fingers?

I've just rung and it seems that it's a yes. But I won't be doing any jigs or drinking champagne until I get the pack in the post (the very nice and helpful lady said that they haven't sent it out yet. It will probably go on Monday, so I'll get it by the end of next week).

I'm sorry - my brain is so addled that it's the consistency of a piece of cheap cheddar (soft, slightly damp and entirely useless). I will try to post something witty and erudite tomorrow.

Where's my coffee?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Update

For those of you, and I know there are many, who have been avidly following my interview angst as if it were an episode of Corrie, there's still no news. Gah.

Hands up who thinks this is exciting enough to compete with evil Tracy Barlow getting her hooks into Steve McDonald now that he's given Karen the old heave-ho?

I love to go a-rambling...

When I was one I was just begun,
When I was two I was nearly new
When I was three I was barely me,
When I was four I was not much more,
When I was five I was just alive,
But now I am thirty-one, and the age that my mother was when she had her third child. I’m still single, to all intents and purposes, I own no property, I’m footloose and fancy free and still behaving like I’m going to live forever. Which, of course, I am. But that’s beside the point.

Kee-rist. 31. How did that happen? It must have snuck up when I wasn’t looking. Now I have to take down the little star with 30 on it that’s been blu-tacked to my computer at work since last year. It feels as if I only put it there five minutes ago. Someone’s been mucking around with the space-time continuum – I’ve lost a few months, and now I want them back.

But, on the plus side, I got lots of lovely prezzies. And my sister is coming up from home today to spend the night before she flies off to New Zealand tomorrow for a year of gallivanting around the globe. About time. So that might mean that she will bring something from my mum. I’ll grab the loot and shove her in the cellar for the evening. Note to self: remember to let her out in time for her to get to the airport.

Also, my new year diet has been blown out of the water by a weekend of orgiastic feasting. It was quite disgusting. BF took me out for a delicious lunch, which involved having to stuff whole sushi maki rolls the size of side-plates into my mouth, after which I was unable to move for about ten hours. Then yesterday I was treated to a fry-up sandwich – a hitherto untried delicacy that I can highly recommend. Then we went out for dinner, and I ate half a suckling pig. After which I turned into one.

Forgive my turgid ramblings. I will try and construct a post with more structure tomorrow. Or maybe later. Or something.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Silence is not golden

Still nothing. Nothing tempting on the mat last night, no bright white envelope smiling up at me as I scrambled down the stairs on my way to buy coco pops this morning.
I hardly slept last night. This morning when I woke up (at 6.30am - crazy talk) I had to really push myself to do some yoga, but I'm glad that I did. It relaxed me a bit. I couldn't face my daily banana though. I had to have a chocolate fix.

The worst thing is that I won't know if something comes on Monday because I'm heading up to Cambridge to spend a few relaxing days with the BF. Flatmate said she'd call me if there was something, but that just means I'm going to get the collywobbles every time the phone rings. I'm in a state.

On a different note, I just emptied flatmate's washing out of the machine, and found my lovely black cashmere jumper in there. Now, I'm confused. I wore that jumper on Thursday, and thought I'd put it in the wardrobe. Not only is it not there, it seems that it found its way out of my room, and into a pile of washing in her washing basket. I'm going to have to establish some kind of curfew on my woollens, clearly. If they can't be trusted, action must be taken.

OK my little dears, I'm off. And I probably won't be back until Wednesday - BF hasn't paid his NTL bill, so no internet. Take care y'all!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Icing on the morning

You know it's a special day when you have to scrape the frost off your bicycle seat before you embark on your daily commute.

It's cold out there today, but beautifully brisk and clear. As I breezily cycled past Spitalfields market this morning, I sympathised with all the people outside ABN Amro who wait patiently for their daily caffeine intake from the mobile Mr Coffee (He's so frothy - apparently). They all looked as if they had their heads in their own personal clouds.

I'm still churning inside. Yesterday all the waiting put me in such a state that at one point I managed to accidentally dribble down my front with no provocation whatsoever - not even a cup of tea or glass of water on hand to blame.

Here's to a dribble free day, and an envelope for me sitting on my mat when I get home. Cross your fingers for me.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

My life as a see-saw

Now, I could be clinging grimly to my emotional pogo-stick for a number of reasons, only two of them having anything to do with hormones.

Personally, I’m inclined to believe that it’s the result of my interview yesterday. My misery is multi-dimensional. If I’m unsuccessful, I will be both relieved (the small part of me that is descended from ostriches won’t have to think about stressful things like moving to another country and speaking to my bank), and devastated (the larger part of me that desperately wants to move to another country, and away from my bank).

I’m bouncing off the walls – one minute I think about all the good answers I gave, and the great impression I must have made, and that they can’t possibly NOT want me, can they? I mean, I’d be brilliant. The next minute I’m in sunk so deep in gloom that I’m convinced that I not only impressed nobody yesterday, but that I actually made them think I was an inarticulate imbecile, incapable of putting one brain-cell in front of the other. My saving grace, I’m sure, was that I didn’t get dough-nut crumbs down my jumper.

The not knowing is killing me. I can’t sleep, my stomach is coiling and curling as if I have a bellyful of live snakes. Please, put me out of my misery.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Flaying - because you're worth it

I was watching TV last night, when I should have been doing some work. All the good things I was going to do last night never materialised. I blame the soul sucking TV. It removes my willpower and turns me into a slack-jawed fool*. In any case, I spent the evening guiltily switching between a fascinating programme about the Suri tribe of Ethiopia, and Celebrity Big Brother, which I can't watch in it's entirety without cringing with horror.

Anyway, I digress. One one of my forays on to Channel 4 to see how the group of F-listers intended to embarass themselves today, I stumbled across an advert for L'oreal ReFinish cream.

It features Natalie Imbruglia, who I swear looks more cadaverous every day - is someone making that girl swallow her food on a regular basis? She could kill with those cheekbones. Or perhaps she just spends alot of time sucking her cheeks in.

Whatever the problem, she's chatting with a skin care 'expert' about this cream, which 'resurfaces' your skin. The expert exclaims, wide eyed with amazement, that your skin will be "resurfaced, refinished, like new!" It's basically a tiny kit containing an exfoliant with a moisturiser, beging flogged for the bargain sum of £25 a pop. It's a bit scary though, firstly because if you use it, you might end up having to get a plastic face, like poor Natalie, and secondly because I'm not sure new resurfaced skin would be good for anyone. Personally, I quite like the skin I've got. It keeps everything in.

My eyes are open to these charlatans. I'm going to start cleaning my teeth with a twig and washing my face in the pond.

*A bit like the playstation. Is there a theme here?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Resolution... or dissolution?

It’s usually about this time of the year that I’ve managed to break every single one of my new year’s resolutions. Sadly, I know that this makes me the same as everyone else on the planet, bar a few exceptional people who will probably live to be rich and powerful, and will eventually die peacefully at the age of 150 surrounded by any surviving family members.

This year, I decided to get around the repetitive and pathetic cliché in which I spend the month of January. I didn’t make any. Not a single defined resolution passed my frontal lobes. This is possibly because I spent Christmas and New Year in a state not dissimilar to a chipolata sausage – immobile and wrapped in a duvet. (Well, the chipolata is actually wrapped in bacon, but you get my drift.)

So, it’s now the tenth of January and I have begun as I mean to go on. I am drinking bucketfuls of water every day. I got up at 7am this morning and did half an hour’s yoga in the living room (the woman over the road who leans out of the window for a fag every ten minutes has had some interesting views this morning, I can tell you). I cycled into work despite the fact that it’s blowing a force 9 gale outside, and the Beast and I were put in mortal peril while cycling through the park by flying newspapers and other airborne detritus, like trees, and dogs. I’ve bought my month’s shopping and have cooked up a load of stuff, which I’m now freezing for future use. I just had a carrot and some organic humus for lunch.

The question is, at what point will this health drive morph into a New Year’s Resolution without my knowledge? Because it’s starting to look suspiciously like one, and I know that once the transformation is complete I’ll be back eating chocolate like it’s going out of fashion, and throwing my yoga book to the wolves.

Friday, January 07, 2005

White Christmas, Blue Boxing Day

I forgot to mention. This year, for the first time in many years, we had a white Christmas at home. It actually snowed a blizzard on Christmas day. Plump feathers of snow whirled and flew outside while we sat by the fire going "Oooh!". Then it settled on our cars, and the hedges, and on the roof of the conservatory in which we keep our Christmas tree. There was snow on the hills in the distance. It was beautiful.

Then we woke up next morning to a crisp blue day, and the news of the earthquake in the Indian Ocean. I still can't get my head around the fact that we will never know how many people died, or how many children have been taken away for unthinkable purposes. I'm not even sure what to say about it all - I can't even begin to understand the devastation that has occurred to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

So, there you have it. What more to say?

Is it an age thing?

I'm in the middle of a mid-life crisis. I just don't know what to do with myself, in the immortal words of Burt Bacharach. I go through this occasionally - I wake up with a desperate urge to shake things up and go and do something different with my life. Last time this happened, I gave up my job and went to gallivant around the middle east, trailing a disparate group of tourists behind me like slightly bedraggled ducklings.

Travelling has always sorted this restlessness out for me until now, but for the first time in my life, I have the feeling that upping and leaving for new and varied climes might not be the answer that I need. I think that maybe I should stay here and explore my own country for a while.

I have an interview on Wednesday that could conceivably change my life. If I'm successful, in the space of 3 or 4 months I could find myself somewhere new, like Bangladesh, Kenya, Mongolia or Kazakhstan, working for a modest living allowance to help small local charities in what is known in the jargon of our field as 'capacity building'. I've always wanted to go off and do Voluntary Service Overseas. I've dreamed of it for a long time, but now I'm not sure that it is what I really want at this moment in time, and I think if I'm about to commit 2 years of my life to this then I should be sure that I am committed. If you see what I mean.

I've had weird random thoughts lately concerning my future. For some reason I'd like to go and be a chemsitry or physics teacher. I didn't even do physics or chemistry GCSE for God's sake. What has posessed me? It couldn't possibly be those very persuasive TV adverts could it? The ones that feature laughing, healthy looking kids, engrossed in interesting activities, clearly desperate to cram knowledge into their sponge-like brains... I know from experience, and the counsel of others that the reality is somewhat different, but even so. It's tempting.

I am also desperate to get out of London. Much as I love this place sometimes, it wears you down. It sucks your bank account dry and spews you, gasping onto it's concrete shores, while stressed commuters step over you looking neither to the left or right, intent only on getting to B in as short a time as possible.

I grew up in the country, on a small farm in Wales, with views of the Cambrian Mountains to greet me every morning when I woke up. Well, when I could see that far, which wasn't very often, because it rains ALL THE TIME in Wales. But anyway, rose-tinted specs and all that. Some part of me would love to head out of the city and live somewhere small and friendly.

Perhaps I could be a florist? I had a very pleasant dream the other night in which I was a florist. But then I had a dream last night in which I was an astronaut, and I'm not about to head off to NASA for a quick spot of training as a result, so perhaps I should calm down.

In any case, there is alot going on in my head. I'm confused and I don't know what to do.

Sigh.

Playstation Zombies

Blimey. It’s been a while. I’ve been out of reach of the internet for almost two whole weeks. My mum’s house doesn’t count because I was too stuffed with turkey, pudding, cheese and chocolate to even think of moving from the sofa, unless it was to point the remote control at the TV, or wave imperiously at my sister for another glass of ginger wine.

Actually, I spent the entire time squabbling with my mum over my sister’s playstation, and doing jigsaws.

Never get a playstation. They are evil, and will result in the destruction of mankind. I’ve never been so addicted to anything in my life. Hours can go by and you don’t notice anything but the urgent need to keep playing pointless games, while fending off challengers for the hot-seat. My mum’s turned into a complete playstation junkie - she can’t hear a single word when she’s on it. The conversation we had on the evening of my departure went thus:

Rachie: Mum, where’s the roadmap?
Mum: Er….
Sister: I think it’s in the car.
Rachie: Mum, where are your car keys? I need to get the road map out.
Mum: Er…
Some minutes pass.
Mum: Hang on. I’ll just…
…………
The stars wheel overhead; time passes gently.
Mum: Oh damn. Hang on. I’ve nearly…
Rachie: Don’t worry mum. I’ve got it all.
Mum: What? Got what? Oh, where did you find the road map? Aaaagh. How do you get the little thing to jump? The giant frog keeps eating me.

My sister’s off to Australia for a year in a couple of weeks, and is not only leaving my mother with the playstation, but also the entire seven season box set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. All hope of communication is lost.
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