Thursday, March 31, 2005

Ladybird Ladybird, fly away home...

It’s bloody cold and grey today, but the weather’s been so nice lately. On my way into town last weekend a ladybird fell from the clear, warm sky and landed, flailing in my hair. I rescued it from the impenetrable jungle that lives on top of my head. It should be bloody grateful - it would never have got out of there. I’d challenge a grown squirrel to make it out alive, so a ladybird would have no chance.

It reminded me of a holiday I had in France when I was about 10. My parents used to pile the three of us in the VW Camper Van, and endure hours of “Are we nearly there yet?” to Dover, followed by uncontrollable vomiting on the ferry to Calais. Oh, they were joyous days.

After a cool and rumpled night sleeping in the van, and rising at dawn, we’d drive to the nearest boulangerie and pig out on pain au chocolat. Then we’d head to the campsite, somewhere in Brittany, and I’d instantly venture forth, merrily kicking sand at my brother, and trying to find snakes* hiding under the communal wash-basins.

It was Bastille Day. I got sunburnt from sitting under a bush, and ended the day being carried around a bonfire on the shoulders of a French fireman. I’ve had a thing for firemen ever since. I think it’s the soot.

Way before we headed into town, however, I went for a wander. Along the top of the beach, separating the campsite from the sea stood a row of small, scrubby bushes. I brushed past one, and a cloud of ladybirds flew up around me, raining tiny jewels onto my face and hair. They got everywhere. The bushes were full of them. Yellow ones with brown spots, scarlet harlots with polka dots, bruisers and midgets, crawlers and fliers. I sat for hours with my head in the bushes, watching them. I’ve never seen anything like it.

So every time I see a ladybird, I remember my sunburnt knees, and I think of firemen.

*I wanted to find a snake so that I could take it to the local pharmacy, where they had an enormous one pickled in a jar on the counter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

We are gathered here today....

More years ago than I care to remember, I lived in a house with five other girls, and my boyfriend, who became an honorary girl. We lived a merry life, filled with beer, pizza and boys, except for me, because mine was already living with me – a situation that would continue for the next five years.

The first one succumbed last year. I didn’t go to the wedding, because I was away, but by all accounts it was beautiful. The second is getting hitched next weekend, and I have spent the contents of my bank account on shoes and a dress so that I will look fabulous*.

The third is waving bye-bye to the single life in June. She’s marrying a Parisian bouncer on the run from the law. The fourth is galloping down the aisle in September, by the sea in Cornwall. I’m hoping I will still be here for that.

Now my ex, the honorary girl, with whom I spent almost seven years of my life, has popped the question to his girlfriend, and it has completely freaked me out. Last I heard, they were at each other’s throats in the manner of Japanese fighting fish. I’m really pleased for him; it’s just… weird.

I’m quite happy not to get married, but I do want babies at some point before I shuffle off this mortal coil. I know they can do wonderful things with frozen eggs these days, and I may even be able to have kids when I’m seventy-three, just like Charlie Chaplin, but I don’t really want to follow his example and be too decrepit to pick up my children. Anyway, I digress.

I was talking to a friend of mine a while ago about my bewilderment at this outbreak of connubial bliss. She told me that all her friends went through a similar rash of weddings a couple of years ago, and now they’re all divorced and in therapy.

I’d like to say now, that I hope this fate doesn’t befall any of my friends. They’re all so happy and in love. I’m not a religious person. I don’t believe in a God. But I would like to say a little prayer to whatever is out there – keep my friends happy and safe. Or else.

*The BF has failed to buy a new pair of shoes, so he will be going in his ancient scuffed addidas and a pair of blue and gold golf trousers. I don’t care. He’ll look rakish and interesting next to all the city boys in pin stripes. I hope.

Friday, March 25, 2005

I feel the need...

...the need for tea.

Too much red wine is not good for your digestion. I wish I hadn't left my Alka Seltzer at work.

Need to do work. Need to shower. Need to clean the soil off the kitchen floor where I knocked the basil plant off the windowsill in drunken clumsiness last night. Can't do these things as my head doesn't appear to belong to me. I picked up someone else's by mistake, and now a complete stranger is running around London with my head, and I fear I'll never find it again.

Also I need to gear myself up for a hectic day of eating sushi with a friend, and shoe shopping for something to wear to the wedding. I love shoe shopping. Love it love it love it. *Rubs hands with glee...*

And in case anyone starts to think that I am obsessed and can think of nothing but sushi, you'd be right. But I'm trying to eat as much of it as I can before I move somewhere where my diet consists of pounded yams, or boiled fish and rice. Or something.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

No Money, No Honey

Don't you find it strange that whenever you call a company's sales team, your call is answered with alacrity within half a ring?

Yet when you, an existing customer, wish to speak to Customer Services about your existing account, for which you pay, on the nose, every month, they keep you sitting on the phone for lengthy periods of time, stewing in your own bile.

This means that even if you enquiry was minor and not a complaint, by the time you get through to someone, you feel as if you should complain just to make the wait worthwhile.

Cancelling things is also an issue. To start with, a cancellation request means that you automatically get put through to a manager, despite the fact that in the case of a complaint, repeated requests to produce someone in authority are refused. Then they make you feel guilty, as if they are a little puppy on which you have just callously and intentionally stepped.

They teach you these things in call centre school you know. I went to one. I still bear the scars.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Rachie's third law of metrocycling

When you are a pedestrian, the nature of London cabbies is undecided until you stick out your arm to hail them. The chances that they are salt of the earth types are equal to the chances that they are swine from the ninth circle of hell.

When you are a cyclist, they are, without exception, irredeemable arseholes.

Time Lords and Cyborgs

The nation seems to be in a frenzy of anticipation. The papers are full of it. Speculation is rife. The merits and failings of the main players are being hotly debated, country-wide.

No, it’s not the upcoming general election. We’re all sick to the back teeth of Michael Howard’s insane promises and Tony Blair’s plastic earnestness. No, it’s better than that. It’s the first episode of the new Doctor Who series, which airs this Saturday.

I have to say that I’m not sure Christopher Eccleston will be able to live up to Tom Baker. It’s a bit like expecting Pierce Brosnan to do justice to James Bond, when Sean Connery is clearly the one and only. I remember Tom’s dangerously long scarf with great fondness. The man is clearly as mad as a box of frogs, and I’m not sure whether I feel an affinity to him because of this, or because we have the same hair. Perhaps I should try the hat.

Wasn’t the Tardis great? I seem to remember that the plastic lit-up thingy that moved up and down in the middle of the big dashboard used to stop at most inopportune moments, when enemies were about to break in and run amok along the endless corridors, popping out from behind carnival mirrors, poisonous drool at the ready. Ooooh, the delicious tension!

It feels quite odd to be one of a whole generation of children who spent evenings hiding behind the sofa when the Cybermen appeared, or the evil Daleks hove into view. For years, playground games involved pointing at people and shouting “Exterminate”. Funny the things that pass for fun when you’re seven (and not a day older, honest.)

Normally that kind of collective cultural experience passed me by. Top of the Pops, for example, was not allowed in our house, so the whole 80s New Romantic phenomenon remained a mystery to me until quite recently. I was raised on a diet of Greek protest songs and Nana Mouskouri. But I can say with pride that I hid fish finger sandwiches under the back of the armchair because I was sick with fear, just like every other kid my age.

Anyway, I am obviously a complete saddo, as I’m quite looking forward to a foray into my childhood; particularly the theme tune, which I will sing along to for as long as I can before the BF tries to suffocate me with a cushion.

Diddly doo diddly doo diddly doo diddly doo dooooeeeeeeoooooooo……

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The smallest words are the hardest to say

I’m off out for a drink tonight. I could do with not going, but for some reason I feel that I have to.

The person I’m meeting is someone I went out with for about three weeks a couple of years ago. I ended it because the man is incapable of saying anything remotely sensible. I’m convinced that this is because he is also incapable of actually listening to anything that anyone says. He was, however, phenomenal in bed, but it just wasn’t enough. He refused to shut up afterwards.

We have absolutely nothing in common; his life revolves around money and work. Our conversations consist of him talking, and me going “Mmmmm”. I hear endless tales of amusing discourse between various inhabitants of his office, all of whom appear to be witless, misogynistic buffoons. Perhaps this is because they all work in IT recruitment, and wear braces with cartoon characters on them, but I could be wrong.

So why, considering my obvious lack of enthusiasm about our acquaintance, am I meeting up with him? Well, he has skin thicker than elephant hide, and a persistence that would shame Sisyphus. He seems determined to fill me in on the minutiae of his life, and I find that after the third attempt to cancel a meeting, or the fifth email I ignore, I embarrass myself into pretending that I haven’t been cancelling or ignoring on purpose. Not that this would occur to him, of course; he is also blessed with supreme confidence.

So we have an impossible situation. I can’t say the word “no”, and he can’t understand it.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Adventures at the Upmarket

The changing rooms at Karen Millen are decorously busy. Absurdly helpful assistants shuttle around fetching shoes and carrying dresses. I’m not used to this level of service. I normally shop in Top Shop, where you’re restricted to 6 items, and if you want to fetch a different size of something you have to brave the beady-eyed shop assistants to hop out in your bare feet and collect it yourself from the vast and confusing shop floor.

I have four dresses to try on. The first one I don is the one I saw in the window on my way past, immediately thinking “Oooh – that would be perfect for a wedding”. As is clear, when I emerge from the cubicle, many, many people will be wearing the same thing at weddings over the next few months; there are five of us turning around in front of mirrors to assess how large it makes our arses look.

I’m the only one wearing it back to front though.

Spring is Sprung

Well Gosh – would you believe it’s the first day of spring. And here in London, it actually feels a bit like it.

The sky is bright and the air smells fresh, when you can train your nostrils to ignore the exhaust fumes. Birds twitter on the windowsills – sorry – pigeons hoot on the windowsills, when you can hear them above the traffic. People are not frowning! It’s a miracle!

Walking to the bus stop this morning was blissful. I woke up ridiculously early to the sound of a million birds all celebrating the closing of winter. When I skipped down the road in the BF’s village, along a verge wild with daffodils, the sun actually shone on my face.

The contrast between London and Cambridge becomes enormously apparent when you step out of King’s Cross station. The relative peace I left in a city full of bicycles gives way to a gush of people, and then the shout of taxis and buses blindly plying back and forth on their ever-circular routes.

Spring in London is a thing suspected, the evidence hidden from you. You can feel the world waking up again, but unless you go to the parks or wander about in soft residential streets, you can’t see the magnolias getting ready to flower, or crocuses spattered across the grass like spilt paint; you can’t see people begin to relax – walking the dog in a t-shirt, or out in the driveway washing the car.

I’m looking forward to a reunion with the Beast this week – I have sorely neglected it, and I miss it. We’ll wheel out together in the morning, and breathe in the new air (if the weather doesn’t have a change of heart, and begin hurling more snow our way).

Tensions are lifting. Life is good.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Ipod Ipod ra ra ra

Don't get me wrong - I adore my ipod. If I could get it to make love to me all night, I'd be happy as a Imelda Marcos in L K Bennett, but unfortunately, it doesn't appear to come with the appropriate attachments.

What bothers me is that it takes so long to load my CDs up onto my computer. Actually, it doesn't really bother me - I'm quite happy sitting here, in my dressing gown, surrounded by piles of music, watching crappy TV, because I can use it as an excuse not to get washed and dressed, and hike on up to Cambridge for a day which frankly holds little prospect of pleasure (apart from the sushi).

At this rate, though, I'm going to be here all day, and I really should move.

Hmmmm. Let me just see if there's any more toast.....

The power of fish

I'm hungry. I've been up since 6, because I still can't sleep, but because I haven't been to Tesco since I came back from Ethiopia, due to visits to the BF, and to Birmingham, and copious night out throwing money into London's social black hole, there is NO food in the house.

I wonder if Flatmate has any bread I could steal....?

I'm going to Cambridge today, shopping for dresses for my friend's wedding. Cambridge has one of the best sushi restaurants I know of. I'm going there and I'm going to eat an enormous amount of the stuff, washed down with green tea and sake. Then I have to have a long and involved 'chat' with the BF about my future. My future, not ours.

Maybe this is why I can't sleep.

Maybe this is why I'm smoking as if all the tobacco in the world is about to run out.

Maybe this is why I feel as if my blood is boiling and my head is full of bees.

I think sushi is the answer. Yes.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Angry Anderson

Anyone remember him? The guy who did Charlene and Scott's wedding song?

Well today I think I should change my name by deed poll. I will be Angry instead of Rachie.

Our computer system is rubbish. Despite the fact that it was set up by a man purporting to be an expert in this matters, it crashes more times than a stock car racer. I don't believe he actually knows how to switch a computer on. He never appears in daylight, choosing to show up in the dead of night to 'fix' things, which thenceforth crash, stall or disappear every time you look at them. It also means that we have to wait until we have a queue of problems which he then sorts out all at once, at which point the server goes into a panicked overdrive and throws us all out. It doesn't help that the backup system is a disaster.

My annoying colleague has begun the very irritating habit of bursting into peals of high pitched laughter at the slightest provocation. If she laughs again, I will kill her. I don't care that it's wrong.

I want another bagel and there isn't one.

Why am I feeling so outrageously enraged? My head feels as if it's about to explode. I'm on the verge of turning into a flame eyed, befanged harpy. But it's a beautiful, warm spring day, and by all rights I should be skipping about in a vitamin D induced delirium.

I'm off to have a cry.

Ipod currently playing: Unforgettable, Dinah Washington

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Death or Glory

I don't know why I titled this post Death or Glory. It's definitely about death, but I don't think glory enters into it, not for anyone.

I was reading this article this morning, and it made me feel nauseous and confused. What this man did to his numerous victims, most of whom were children, is beyond words. And on top of poisoning and abusing them, he took their right to wake up every day and live in the world.

There's been alot in the papers here this week about murder. Take this incident for example that happened on Monday. The tabloids were covered with aerial shots of the man's broken corpse and the bloodstained street. Yesterday, they featured a picture of this man, with captions like "I hate his brain.... Lovely". It's all horribly sensationalist, and god, I hate the tabloid press with a passion, because they, too, howl for blood. That's what sells papers. Blood. Sex. Shame. Death.

When you think about how slim the chances are that each of us is born who we are,and how short a time we have here, the thought that someone can take that away just makes me stutter with incredulous rage.

No one has that right. And I believe that extends to the executioners too. For the first time in my life, this morning I wondered whether this man deserved to die an ignominious death, swinging in the breeze before a crowd wild with grief and shock and blood lust. And I realised that this is a fundamental part of who I am, and if I hang on to nothing else, I must continue to believe that it's wrong to take the right to breathe and think and feel from any human being, no matter what they have done, or what you think they might do.

I'm sorry. I'm feeling a bit sullied this morning. I'm going to go off an listen to my new ipod, which I bought in a frenzied bout of retail therapy last night. I love it.

Ipod currently playing: Little Acorns, The White Stripes

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I’m confused. I swear that my computer is changing the dates of all my emails – events that happened in February seem to have happened years ago, and there are emails that came in last April that I distinctly remember as if it were yesterday. And I’m not alone.

I believe that my computer has been so monumentally slow and troublesome recently because it is harbouring rebellious thoughts. It no longer wants to slave under the yoke of humankind, and, having made contact with its ideological brethren, it is now in league with an evil coalition. I’m certain that a global takeover by artificial intelligence is imminent.

They’re starting by messing with our linear sense of time. Soon we won’t know what year we are in, or what day it is, and the world will collapse around our ears like a badly cooked soufflé.

Who will save us?

Konso dancers

Konso dancers
Originally uploaded by rachie_sparrow.
This is a photo I took in Ethiopia of women dancing. I like it, so here it is.

Junkyard Blues

I didn't post yesterday because my head is so full of junk that if I even started to spill it on to the page, soon everything meaningful would be obscured by bits of old bicycle, and shopping trolleys.

I'm not an early riser, but lately I've been getting out of bed at 6.30am, after lying staring at the ceiling for an hour or more, because I can't sleep. This morning, I got to work at 7.30. Yesterday morning was the same. I don't even like the place, so it's like some extreme form of masochism.

I'm considering a job in Ghana at the moment. To date, I have done absolutely everything I can to research it. I've used the internet endlessly, looking for stories or information. I've read about the politics and the people ad infinitum. I've talked to people who've been there, and I've read the job description a million times*.

I even started reading a book about small business management in a development context at the weekend, but it freaked me out a bit, so I thought I'd leave that for another day. Baby steps.

Now I'm biting my fingers down to the knuckles while I hold out for that bit of extra information I need to move forward. I'm not good at waiting, but I think this is good learning time. I expect that I will have much need for patience when I'm away.

[Bangs head on desk repeatedly] I'm going to have another cup of tea while I wait.

*Although with some scepticism, because one thing we learned at the weekend is that very often the job description means nothing once you're there.

Monday, March 14, 2005

She's leaving home...

I’ve spent the weekend in Birmingham, on a three-day workshop. It’s something VSO run for volunteers who have been selected, to help them weigh up and consider the many things that there are to think about before going away.

It was good to be able to talk about how worried I am about being lonely, and how concerned I have felt about being able to communicate with people back home. It feels so comforting to know that everyone there this weekend, without a single exception, was worried about the same things. I also realise now that whatever I expect, the reality is going to be unimaginably different.

Now I feel in limbo. I don’t know where I’m going, and I don’t know when. I know I need to make a lot of plans before I leave. And I know I need to talk to the BF properly about the fact that I am going to spend the next six months planning for a future in which he doesn’t feature. This is difficult. He hasn’t really wanted to talk about it before, although we have both tacitly acknowledged that when I go our relationship will end. Now, though, I think it’s crunch time.

Things seem to have shifted perspective for me. I feel different. As I was going home through Peckham, from my friend’s house late last night, I was struck by the strangeness of everything. I’ve lived in London for nine years, but last night it all seemed so alien: the cheap furniture shops; the bright strip lighting in cheap fast food shops; poky off licenses; run down pubs wearing peeling-paint and faded-velvet; litter listless in the gutters; darkness and bright lights; people shouting, fighting, laughing; silent pockets of shadow. I felt as if I had already left and come back a different person.

I think I have reality shock.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Shop 'til you Drop

I’m going to the wedding of an old and much loved friend in 3 weeks time, and I haven’t bought a dress yet. I started panicking when it appeared that everyone else attending bought their outfits months ago. I haven’t even thought about it.

What I would like is a nice simple little number, maybe from Karen Millen, hopefully with sequins on it. I’m thinking kitten-heeled shoes, so I can go all out with the girly look, which I never do.

The BF, however, wants to come shopping with me, and keeps saying things like “You can find some great stuff in charity shops these days”. I have a hunch he’s trying to curb my spending, and I don’t think he’s got a great deal of confidence in my dress sense either. And that’s before I mentioned the sequins.

My friends at work all think I should go to a charity shop and buy a hideous frilly nylon number with plenty of shoulder pads, and parade before him saying “Isn’t it lovely?” The idea amuses me.

In any case, it’s immaterial. The BF seems to think that I can do my shopping in a hilariously short amount of time, and on the day that I planned to go shopping, his band-mate has arranged for them to play at Thriplow Daffodil Weekend, in the middle of the day. This would leave approximately an hour to find my ideal dress, and that’s if I left the house at 6.30am. This is not enough so I’m going on my own.

The thing that really worries me though, is that inevitable first rule of shopping – if you go out looking for something specific, you will never, never find it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Disco Inferno

Drifting aimlessly through the blogosphere during my lunch-hour I came across this post by Troubled Diva.

“Ooh!” I thought. “A chance to foist my taste in cheesy disco onto someone’s play list. And all in the name of charity! Where shall I start?”

It’s quite difficult to choose a song, out of all the fabulous songs out there, but after thinking long and hard, and humming thoughtfully to myself while sorting out/beating up the evil photocopier, I have finally made my decision.

C’est La Vie, by Chuck Berry. Since the day that I bought the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, eleven years ago (gulp) that song has never ceased to give me pleasure. I especially like the fantastic piano playing.

So, for all the times at student parties that it’s been wrestled into the CD player, for all the drunken occasions that I’ve tried to do the twist, and for all the motorways I’ve driven down singing shoutily to the satisfying lyrics, I thank him. And I would appreciate it if no-one would laugh when I get up on the dance floor and try and do the mashed potato. Please.

Every picture tells a story

Who is it that designs passport photo machines?

Do you think they make them so that you always look corpse-like and grotesque on purpose? I’m not particularly photogenic anyway – my chin is slightly lopsided, and one eye is slightly lower than the other. You can’t notice it normally but in photos it becomes glaringly obvious that I am descended from Quasimodo.

Passport photo machines are the worst. They suck you in, promise you a gleaming, attractive photo of yourself to be stored in the most important document you will ever own, and then they produce something that will make people smirk every single time over the next ten years that you have to hand your passport over.

I actually tried to smile in this one, as I thought it might look friendlier. My mother is always trying to get me to smile in photos, but I look like a lunatic, and I always seem to have my eyes closed the moment the shutter clicks, so I normally just try to look enigmatic.

Anyway, I don’t think I will ever smile in a passport photo machine again. The lines! The lines I never knew were there! My smile was a crazed rictus on a strange misshapen skull, topped off by a wild tangle of hair. God. I’m not sure I will ever recover.

Does anyone else suffer this trauma? I’m going to go and check in the mirror that I'm still me, then I'm going to have a stiff cup of tea and another chocolate biscuit.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Home at first sight

I look out of the enormous windows of what will be my bedroom. Below me, peaceful in the evening chill, lies a small wooded cemetery. Please don’t think I’m weird if I tell you how much I like cemeteries. This one especially looks so pretty – the stones are mossed over, and many of them have toppled onto the grass. There is a bed of roses along one low stone wall, and a number of attractive and stately yew trees guard all but the church steeple from view. I like it.

And, I think, at least my new neighbours will be quiet, and hopefully will not want to emerge in the dead of night and lug heavy things around.

The BF points over at the back of a house in the distance. “Oh look – isn’t that the local crack den?”

My new flatmate, who is a very old friend, and ex-boyfriend, concurs. For a moment I waver slightly in my delight at my new home. Then they start listing all the pubs within walking distance, and my doubts are assuaged.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Pigeon pie

Oh God. It’s started already. Instead of concentrating on my deadline, I’m wondering about pigeons.

Why don’t pigeons freeze to death in weather like this? You’d think that frozen pigeons hailing from the sky would be a public health hazard in the depths of winter, but no. It must be because of the feathers.

Somehow, to me, feathers have always seemed rather flimsy protection against the elements, but I suppose they are pretty warm (hence duck down duvets). I wonder if we will ever evolve so that we have feathers that will negate the need for winter clothing in the distant future?

It would be handy. Except that there’d be bound to be trends in feather hue and tone, and those unlucky people that resemble pigeons and sparrows would feel inadequate. A whole market could spring up around feather-transplants and dye jobs. Magazines will proliferate, extolling the virtues of whichever diet is good for sheen, and carrying out on-the-spot surveys on the best kind of preening tools.

I can’t see it though, because I think we’d have to be more closely related to lizards, or something. And have hollow bones.

So, you see my problem. Right. Back to work.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Outside, the air is filled with strange white particles, whirling about in the breeze like spores from an alien plant sent to colonise the earth. The temperature appears to have plunged to the depths of –3 degrees celcius, and the sun has disappeared. Is it the apocalypse?

I have just had the following conversation with my annoying colleague, who walked in this morning dragging a wheelie suitcase that matches her jumper:

AC: Rachie, have you got Becky’s mobile number [Becky sits next to me at work, and keeps me sane]
R: Yes.
AC: Can I have it please?
R: [unsure as to whether Becky would like AC to have access to her personal number, but willing to hand it out should the matter be urgent] Er… what’s it for?
AC: I want to ask her to pick up some yoghurt for me on the way to work.
R: AC, there is a shop not 30 seconds from our office’s front door. I’m not sure Becky would like it if I gave you her number for that reason.
AC: Fine, don’t then. I’ll call Sam instead. I’ve got her number.

Hello? It’s a bit of snow. Get over it, get off your lazy, colour co-ordinated arse, and go buy your own bloody yoghurt. Jeez.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Panic 2 - Lost in Etymology

OK. I’ve finally faced up to the panic. I’m panicking. There’s no question about it. My displacement activities have reached a frenzied peak. In a desperate attempt to avoid looking at the enormous and vastly significant proposal that I have to finish by 6, and which I have barely begun, I decided to read the dictionary. (I told you – desperate.)

The first word I came upon was ‘dither’. How appropriate. Funnily enough, I’m finding that reading the dictionary is calming me down, and anchoring my brain, which heretofore has been flying about inside my head like a crazed bluebottle. I feel better. What does this say about me, do you think?

My favourite word so far is ‘dithyramb’ – that’s because it’s a ‘wildly ecstatic choral hymn of ancient Greece’. How wonderful! I long to be in a state of wild ecstasy. I will have to start worshiping Greek gods and reading Plato.

Right. Now I have work to do.


There is a vase of dead roses on her desk. As she sits and stares at them, she thinks that she should move them before the dry, desiccated petals start detaching and forming a rustling, golden drift, obscuring her telephone.

But she just can’t bring herself to do it. Her desk is a mess. She sits, like a dragon on its pile of gold, amongst a horde of worthless treasure:

An empty Alka Seltzer box
A business card with a solitary, unidentified phone number scrawled on the back
A pile of blue plastic bangles
6 expired train tickets
2 empty water bottles – one sparkling, one still
An ancient tube of hand cream
A bottle of dried out tip-ex
An empty book of stamps
Two labels from bottles of foreign beer

The detritus of her life seems to hinder her ability to function. She can’t work, she can’t think about work. She can only drift through the mess in her head, trying to untangle her thoughts, figure out what is going on, understand her apathy.

She has a big deadline today. Locked away in a compartment in the back of her head is her work self, shouting and banging on the glass in panic, but she doesn’t know how to get out. Yet.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Wiggly worm

This morning, I went to the dentist. He told me a story so horrible that it made me go green around the gills, and I’ve been trying to find the article he was referring to ever since.

While pinned to the chair, I was told all about an overseas volunteer who was apparently in the newspaper yesterday. She returned from Madagascar, or Mauritania or somewhere, with a two metre long tape-worm in her gut, worms in her brain that caused her to have fits, and some strange parasite that had laid eggs in her ear.

This reminded me of a gruesome tale once told me by a seasoned traveller, about how she tempted a tape-worm from of its lair with half a boiled egg held in her mouth. I still haven’t got over that one. I practically passed out with disgust at the age of 10 when I found out our cat was infested.

I can’t find the article, so I am willing to suspect that he may have been trying to scare me, although he did seem like a nice man, and certainly not vindictive by the usual standard of dentists.

Even so, I am now worried. In Ethiopia, I accidentally ate something called Kitfo – uncooked or undercooked meat. I didn’t know what it was until it was too late, and I have to say that it was delicious. But now I am having waking nightmares about 8 headed worms-from hell feasting on the rich smorgasbord offered by my intestinal tract and emerging in due course, fully fledged, like the thing from Alien, causing widespread havoc and destruction and leaving me a dry and broken husk of the woman I once was.

I might get myself checked out.

Harbinger of Justice

My flatmate is still not speaking to me. I’m starting to become concerned that I’ve done something much worse than I originally thought, and the awfulness of my deed has resulted in trauma-induced memory loss. I’ve been having an interesting morning thinking of all the things that I could have done, most of which I never previously suspected myself capable. It’s quite liberating, and fits with my recent decision to stop resisting the evil within, and instead to embrace it. Within limits, obviously.

In this vein, I have been considering cultivating a semi-evil alter-ego, a la Catwoman. I will wear leather hotpants and fishnets, with obscenely high-heeled boots, and I will roam the seedy side of London, dispensing rough justice to mobile phone thieves* and other inconsiderate people everywhere. Especially those who make international calls on other people’s phone bills. The Beast will aid me in my endeavours, and will be my 'Batmobile' if you will. If I give it some street-cred, it may forgive me for letting it's chain go rusty.

I really need to get out of here.

*One of whom got me on Saturday night. I’m hoping the pink fluffy deely-boppers didn’t draw attention to me, but considering that I was in a very seedy metal-head bar in Soho, full of leather clad bikers with multiple nose piercings drinking Death’s Head vodka, I suspect it might be wishful thinking.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

All change

Well, who'd have thought it.

This morning, I felt slightly down and a bit cross as the Beast and I worked off our respective chagrin on the snowy cycle to work.

Now, it looks as if I have somewhere new to live, with a friend in Cambridge. So I'll be closer to the BF and I'll be out of smelly London for as long as needs be before I jet off with VSO.

And on top of that, I have two job offers - one in Ghana and one in India - that I have to look at and cogitate on.

Things are looking up.

Home sweet home?

I realise that I’m not perfect to live with. In fact I’m probably quite often a total pain in the arse. I’m occasionally messy (although not in the living room – that would be on pain of death), and I don’t clean the bathroom very often. Sometimes I forget to take the bin out, and the Dyson, despite belonging to me, is seldom wielded by my fair hands. This is partly because most of the floors in the flat are wooden, or tiled, so the Dyson doesn’t really work on those surfaces (I don’t care if this is true or not – I do regularly use a broom, and a dustpan and brush, so I can say what I like). Despite this, mostly we get on very well, and Flatmate is a lovely person, who I like a great deal.

However, on Sunday, she really took the biscuit. And it was a full fat, chocolate chip with hazelnut chunks and caramel bits, wagon-wheel-before-they-shrunk sized biscuit.

I returned from Ethiopia late on Friday night to find my cushions arranged in an attractive formation on my bed, and all my clean clothes dumped, along with my bag and my cycle helmet, in my laundry basket. Flatmate was away, skiing. On Saturday I spent most of the day at a friend’s hen do, alternately learning how to pole-dance, sitting in a lovely spa, drinking champagne, and partying ‘til dawn with a pair of pink fluffy deely-boppers on my head (actually until 11.30, but I am 31 you know – that’s dawn for me). Then I met the BF and we went home.

We were sitting on the sofa after lunch on Sunday, drinking Bloody Marys and watching Supersize Me, when in comes Flatmate, freshly returned from the piste. She completely ignored the both of us, slammed into the kitchen where she proceeded to swear and throw things around, while cleaning up the bit of mess we had made while making lunch. I always assumed that kitchens are supposed to be used for cooking in, but now I’m confused. Anyway, then she stamped out of the room, slammed the door and shut herself in her room for the rest of the evening. She was crying the entire time.

I’m assuming (because she has thus far refused to speak to me) that this is because she wanted a pristine flat to herself on her return from holiday, but couldn’t have it, because I also happen to live there, for which privilege I pay her. I believe this process is called renting, and goes on all over the country. Despite this, any sign of my presence in any part of the house that is not my room is forbidden, and anything that escapes those confines is unceremoniously returned to captivity after a brief period of freedom.

Not that this means my room is even mine, because she seems to feel that it is acceptable for her to go in there and rearrange my stuff whenever she feels like it. I’ve stopped hiding my vibrator and my one porn DVD because I don’t see why I should. I should be able to have a whole wardrobe full of fetish gear, and keep whips on my bookshelf if I’m so inclined, because it’s MY ROOM and it’s private.

So now the BF refuses to come and stay at my flat, and I can’t say I blame him. On top of this, I feel as if I have to apologise for living somewhere that I pay for. Things are not good Chez Rachie.

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