Thursday, April 28, 2005

Toad in the hole

Isn’t it always the way? I resolved to have a break from blogging because I just found myself writing ‘blah blah blaaaagh’ repeatedly on word documents and then deleting them. This was both pointless and frustrating, and made my head feel as if it was full of iron filings.

Today things are looking up. But I did wonder, if you say you’re taking a break, is it bad form to sneak a post in under the fence? Admittedly the only two things that I want to write about are agonisingly trivial, but that’s not the point.

Firstly, has anyone else seen this article? At first I thought it was a joke that had been cruelly delayed from April Fool’s day, but no, apparently the toads really are exploding and spreading their entrails across vast tracts of Germany.

Can you imagine? You’re taking a romantic walk through the park. The spring flowers are gently fragrant, and the air is full of blossom. As you stare into your lover’s eyes, the world seems bursting with promise. Then you hear a panicky ‘ribbit’ off in the bushes, and BAM. Toad entrails festoon the surroundings. It would rather spoil the mood. And it would be even worse if you were having a picnic. Please excuse my imagination.

Secondly, in the spirit of my impending adventure into southern Africa, I bought a box of Cape Rooibos tea. It is vile.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Having a KitKat

Things are weird and wonderful at the moment… The Namibia posting’s been confirmed, and I’m off on 10th September.

Went out for dinner with the BF last night to celebrate, but it was all a bit weird. Now we know when we’ll be splitting up – that can’t be normal.

My head is all over the place and I’m happy and shit-scared at the same time. I can’t think about anything else for more than 30 seconds, so I’m taking a break from the blog until I’ve calmed down a bit.

So, I’ll be back on Wednesday 4th May.

And welcome to everyone new who’s left comments – I like comments!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Jason and the Golden Sovereign Ring

I’m a bit uninspired at the moment, as I seem to spend my entire life either on a train, or at my desk, and it’s driving me crazy.

Tomorrow, I am going to the shop-of-the-living-dead, Argos, where the denizens of the British underworld lurch about, buying cheap crap with which to enhance their lives. I need to pick up a piece of furniture, namely a chest of drawers, and drag it home 1.5 miles, before attempting to put it together, and realising that the allen key does not work, and that there aren’t enough handles for the drawers. It will last 3 days, and then fall apart slowly, like a dignified Victorian lady swooning at the sight of a saucy postcard.

So if you’ll excuse me, I must get in the right frame of mind. Where’s my Burberry cap?...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Weather with you

I keep misjudging the weather. I’d forgotten how deceptive April can be. It is a month of chill winds, puddles and misery. It throws in the odd balmy soft day to lull you into a false sense of summer, then batters you round the head with sleet for being so stupid.

This morning, I woke up at 6.40 to the sound of Flatmate Mk II slipping into the bathroom (curses! I’m going to have to start getting up at 6.30am). The sun was shining brightly through my window, because I don’t yet have any curtains*.

So in a wildly optimistic wardrobe encounter, I picked out my jeans, my short sleeved summer top and my nice summery shoes. By the time I got to London, it had turned into a bleak arctic landscape. Rain is being hurled from the sky at gale force speeds. It’s like being pelted by tiny icy needles. Grey clouds chase black clouds chase witchy crows like scraps of black bin liner across the London skyline. The sun shows its face briefly before being beaten back to the starting line.

Namibia has, on average, 300 days of sunshine. Bring. It. On.

*Fortunately for me, the only potential peeping toms that I’m aware off are six feet under and have been for decades. Ah, the joys of living opposite a graveyard**.

**Anyway, it’s just another opportunity to shed my clothes in public, although it’s getting passé now, darling.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bus Stop Life II

I was standing by the bus stop, minding my own business for a change, wishing vaguely that my hair didn’t look so fluffy.

He was drunk, and smelt it. As he lurched up to me, I cursed my natural magnetism for mad people. But, he seemed friendly enough, as he thrust his hand at one of the multiple me’s he must have been seeing, and missed.

Apropos of nothing, he lurched and said “I’m gonna guess your age. I can. I can do it. Fuckin’ genius, me, at guessin’ ages”.

People tend to think I’m younger than I am, so having him guess my age at 41 was a bit of a shock. Worse, when I told him that no, I was in fact 31, he looked at me in naked incredulity, raked his eyes up and down my body, and softly said “Fuck. Ing. Hell.”

I started to feel like one of those poor women on “Ten Years Younger”, who they dress up in really frumpy clothes, their hair resembling the nest of an enthusiastic weaver bird, and make them stand in the street looking miserable while people guess their ages at 50 or 60, when they’re only 28.

Fortunately, I remembered that he was a pissed up cretin, and that I am gorgeous and fabulous. So it was all ok.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Hurry up, Hurry up and wait

I’ve applied for a placement. In Namibia. I sent my assessment form off yesterday, and now all I have to do is wait and see whether or not they want me. They have to want me or I will crumple, like a plastic cup full of hot tea. Crump, I will go, softly, while the world remains oblivious to my quiet mental collapse.

This is ridiculous – during the house move VSO was driven out of my head. I only really remembered it when I came back to work on Thursday and my life and I became too quickly reacquainted.

I hate waiting. I can’t stand the uncertainty of it, the not knowing. I am teetering on the edge of the deep chasm of possibilities into which my hopes continuously fall. I keep looking at my watch, thinking “Oooh – another hour has passed!”, when realistically I know that it will be weeks before I get an answer.

Tap. Tap tap. Hmmmm. There are a lot of pigeons about today. Tap tap tap. It’s a bit cloudy too. Perhaps I should have a biscuit?

Yes. I think I’ll do that.

Time and the tides...

This commuting business is interesting. I rose this morning, bright and early only to be pipped to the shower by Flatmate Mk II. This is a problem I had not foreseen. Crazed ex-Flatmate never saw the light of day before 8.30am, by which time I was long gone, my presence a mere hint of Sure deodorant on the breeze. I may have to begin getting up at 6.45. Damn.

Still, I had a bit of time for breakfast, and a bit of time to watch the news, and a bit of time to sort my clothes out, and a bit of time to give the BF a cuddle and…. I made the train by about half a second. By the time I fell, twitching, at the feet of the ticket inspector, ankle brutally caught in the closing doors, I sounded like I was in the advanced stages of emphysema, and I can reconfirm for you – women DO sweat. Oh yeah.

Note to self – a little bit more time is needed for the cycle to the station.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Leaving Las Vegas

Well, I am officially no longer a resident of London. All my stuff is out of the old flat, except my wok, which is a bit gutting, but I would rather buy a new one than go back there.

Unfortunately, things are not yet sorted in my new flat. My room looks like a bag lady has shacked up in it. This will not be the case tomorrow morning, or I will go insane. Trying to ascertain which of the three bulging black plastic bin bags contained my fishnets this morning was a challenge I’m not prepared to face again.

Things I like about Cambridge:

It smells nice, especially now, as the honeysuckle is coming out.
It has a fantastic live music scene.
There are about a gazillion fantastic pubs within spitting distance of my house.
Town is never more than a ten-minute cycle ride away.
It’s pretty, and has fantastic and ancient architecture, including the largest stained glass window in the world.
There are green spaces everywhere, and in the summer, cows graze on them! In town!
You can sit and have a beer by the river almost anywhere.
I live a four-minute cycle ride from the best sushi restaurant I know.
Punting. With or without Pimms.
The BF lives there.
It’s not London.

Things I don’t like about Cambridge:

Friday, April 08, 2005

Bodice ripping

I have a friend whose mother likes to buy extremely expensive clothes, wear them once, and then give them to her daughter. Sometimes my friend these clothes don’t go with her hair, or something, and so she gives them to me – a situation with which I am delighted.

So yesterday, I was wearing an almost new DKNY shirt, which I love. Unfortunately, this shirt doesn’t seem to be able to retain buttons with any degree of dependability. I shed them with gay abandon, like blossoms falling from a tree. I’d look down, and oops! There’d be another one, lying innocently on the floor, waiting for its chance to break for freedom.

I don’t know what possessed me, but I asked the security guys if there was a sewing kit handy anywhere in the venue. Cue much patting of pockets, and humorous quips along the lines of “Oh, Dave, I think I left the team sewing kit in the car… Have you got yours on you?”

I think my clothes are conspiring against me.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I had to do the shmoozing thing yesterday evening and for most of today. I always find this difficult. So, I figured the best way to go about it was to plaster an enthusiastic smile onto my face, and throw myself into the fray.

My first victims were a group of Japanese researchers over for a conference on blindness. It took me less than 30 seconds after I sat down to realise that they didn’t really speak a whole lot of English, but by then I couldn’t really say “Oh, excuse me, I must just….” and wander off again. We were all trapped in a mesh of terrified smiles, nodding and grinning like goons.

We began to talk about whisky. I know nothing about whisky. Nothing. “Macallan? You like Macallan? It is very famous in Japan”. So crestfallen were they when I professed my loathing of scotch that I pretended to only dislike Glenfiddich “because it is too rough”. I reeled out my knowledge of Japanese art – Kurosawa, Beat Takeshi, Hayao Miyazaki, Haruki Murakami – but I think it just made them a bit bemused, as I obviously could manage no Japanese other than “Domo” and “Konichiwa”, and they even had to remind me what THAT meant.

I managed to work out that they were experimental psychologists. Don’t ask me how – just thinking about it makes me sweat. That was the point I wished out loud that we had a dictionary. Wrong. It plunged the speaker into a fever of embarrassed apologies. He went purple with humiliation, and once I’d realised my unintentional trashing of his ability to communicate, so did I.

After a short, desperate and unfulfilling conversation about Sting (they love him, I don’t), I threw back half a glass of wine, bowed, and stumbled off in search of some lunatics to chat to instead. I turned to wave goodbye only to see them slump in their seats with relief. I’ve apparently lost the knack of inter-cultural intercourse. Perhaps I should stay in this country and plant turnips until I die.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


My muse is absent for today,
My thoughts are shackled, bound in chains
A lone and lame idea blooms
But quickly fades and darkness glooms
Just emptiness remains.

A not very good poem to say that I’m really not inspired today.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Tethers fraying

Flatmate had another epic tantrum last night. I lay in bed listening to the tornado whirling through the house, screams of "FUCK" effortlessly penetrating the thin walls. I discovered this morning, from the note that she left me, that she was fed up because I'd decided to leave my meagre washing up until this morning - something that she does regularly, I might add. I haven't cooked in that kitchen more than twice in the last three weeks. I feel so bloody unwelcome in my own home that I don't spend more time there than I have to.

I can't get out of that place soon enough. At least I know my new flatmate doesn't need chill pills just to take a breath in the morning.

Six days and counting.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Limber up for the limbo

My friend got married yesterday. It was beautiful - the weather was warm, and so the ceremony was outside in a rambling little courtyard, with roses growing up the walls. There was champagne and a chocolate fountain.

And there was limbo dancing. I never thought I was very good at limbo dancing, but obviously with a couple of white russians in me I thought I was the champion. Until the strap on my expensive dress broke on the third go round, and exposed my right breast to the camera man and all the assembled guests. That's going to be quite a feature of the wedding video. My friend says she's going to specifically request that they leave it in.

I shall be having words with the dress shop.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Poor Charlie

Poor Prince Charles. As if he doesn’t have enough to worry about. I think he should be given a nice little cottage somewhere quiet by a lake, and left in peace with a paint set.

I don’t really give a toss about the Royal Family, to be honest. They don’t seem to have any discernible use, other than that they lend their names to worthy causes, and keep the ski resort of Klosters in business during the winter months.

But it does piss me off that people think it’s acceptable to say unnecessary cruel and hurtful things about harmless and good-hearted people, in the full knowledge that they’ll have to read it all while tucking into their boiled egg and soldiers. Finally, PC is being allowed to marry the woman he loves, and everybody’s jumping on the bandwagon, making fun of her slightly horsey looks and ranting about whether she’ll be called Queen or Princess Consort. Why does anybody care? I bet she’s not even that bloody bothered.

Now the poor bastard is splashed all over the papers because of his perfectly understandable frustration with the press, though I confess the article made me laugh.

We’re all guilty of crap behaviour, and of regret. Sometimes I think the British like to vilify Charles because in criticising his behaviour towards Diana, or his amiable crassness, we can turn our eyes away from the fact that we behave the same. If it wasn’t for our ravenous hunger for sordid details, Diana would probably still be alive, living somewhere nice with the Al Fayeds, her family wouldn’t have had to deal with the three ring circus that made her death into an ecstatic carnival of grief, and Charles wouldn’t have had to take the blame for the whole sorry debacle.

I just feel a bit sorry for him. He’s not doing anyone any harm. Leave him alone with his Q-tips and the love of his life and let him be happy.
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