31 August 2005

A Terre (being the philosophy of many soldiers)

Someone asked me today if I had ever read this poem, by Wilfred Owen.

I hadn't, but I have now, and if you get to the end of this post, then you will have, too.

Steve, blame me all you like for taking your mind off work and back into these words, but I blame you too because I had never seen them before and consuming them (or vice versa) will cost me more than a day, I'm certain.

A Terre (being the philosophy of many soldiers)

Sit on the bed. I'm blind, and three parts shell.
Be careful; can't shake hands now; never shall.
Both arms have mutinied against me,-brutes.
My fingers fidget like ten idle brats.

I tried to peg out soldierly,-no use!
One dies of war like any old disease.
This bandage feels like pennies on my eyes.
I have my medals?-Discs to make eyes close.
My glorious ribbons?-Ripped from my own back
In scarlet shreds. (That's for your poetry book.)

A short life and a merry one, my buck!
We used to say we'd hate to live dead-old,-
Yet now...I'd willingly be puffy, bald,
And patriotic. Buffers catch from boys
At least the jokes hurled at them. I suppose
Little I'd ever teach a son, but hitting,
Shooting, war, hunting, all the arts of hurting.
Well, that's what I learnt,-that, and making money.

Your fifty years ahead seem none too many?
Tell me how long I've got? God! For one year
To help myself to nothing more than air!
One Spring! Is one too good to spare, too long?
Spring wind would work its own way to my lung,
And grow me legs as quick as lilac-shoots.

My servant's lamed, but listen how he shouts!
When I'm lugged out, he'll still be good for that.
Here in this mummy-case, you know, I've thought
How well I might have swept his floors for ever.
I'd ask no nights off when the bustle's over,
Enjoying so the dirt. Who's prejudiced
Against a grimed hand when his own's quite dust,
Less live than specks that in the sun-shafts turn,
Less warm than dust that mixes with arms' tan?
I'd love to be a sweep, now, black as Town,
Yes, or a muckman. Must I be his load?

O Life, Life, let me breathe,-a dug-out rat!
Not worse than ours the lives rats lead-
Nosing along at night down some safe rut,
They find a shell-proof home before they rot.
Dead men may envy living mites in cheese,
Or good germs even. Microbes have their joys,
And subdivide, and never come to death.
Certainly flowers have the easiest time on earth.
'I shall be one with nature, herb, and stone'
Shelley would tell me. Shelley would be stunned:
The dullest Tommy hugs that fancy now.
'Pushing up daisies' is their creed, you know.

To grain, then, go my fat, to buds my sap,
For all the usefulness there is in soap.
D'you think the Boche will ever stew man-soup?
Some day, no doubt, if...Friend, be very sure
I shall be better off with plants that share
More peaceably the meadow and the shower.
Soft rains will touch me,-as they could touch once,
And nothing but the sun shall make me ware.
Your guns may crash around me. I'll not hear;
Or, if I wince, I shall not know I wince.

Don't take my soul's poor comfort for your jest.
Soldiers may grow a soul when turned to fronds,
But here's the thing's best left at home with friends.

My soul's a little grief, grappling your chest,
To climb your throat on sobs; easily chased
On other sighs and wiped by fresher winds.

Carry my crying spirit till it's weaned
To do without what blood remained these wounds.

Help, Somebody Kick Me

No, not now!

I have an annoying habit. Actually I have several annoying habits, such as starting sentences with 'actually' and using too many inverted commas.

The one I choose to focus on today is a propensity to constantly call things brilliant. I do choose my words, or at least my meanings so when I call something brilliant it is, in my opinion perfect/spot on/wonderful/insightful/genius, and/or any number of conditions, any and all of which may be encapsulated in the one word. Now, sadly, as with all the /// it has become a habit to the point that it is aggravating even me, and they do say that the instigator is the last to feel the cringe.

Am I turning into a Mancunian teenage boy? heaven forbid.


Enthusiastic Manchester teenager who thinks everything is 'Brilliant!'. He marches around many diverse locations bigging things up with boundless energy.

Amongst the things Brilliant thinks are brilliant are: Brilliant!
shelves, gravity, the Mafia, holes, yesterday, Ronnie Corbett, sequels, holidays, echoes, several different types of natural disaster, paint, kids, pavements, the sky, mams, microwaves, old people, sex, the Romans, shepherds, Jesus and golf.


Mind you, be honest, he is, um............. pretty amazing.

So Flattered!

Fineartist - a new friend - took the camera and ran with it, taking her own 'in the mirror' shots and has posted a few on her site Horror Vacui; fear of emptiness. They are brilliant!

She looks annoyingly well groomed and classy (huh!) in all of them, but my favourite is this one, because its so obvious she is laughing herself silly. Good stuff!

Free Association 134

From LunaNina. Steve's own list at Wittering Heights is what reminded me to do this, and his is GOOD. I read it all yesterday, so if it has coloured my own choices, sorry. It also means that I may have spent nearly 24 hours subconsciously considering my answers, which kind of spoils the whole reason for this.

LunaNina says: I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Girlfriends:: Iew! Makes me think of those insipid, nervous types that need to wear identical T-shirts and pick/drop boyfriends according to the other one's opinion. Aliens.
  2. Here to stay:: No idea. Death and taxes? Global weather changes, hurricanes etc, sadly, and its all down to consumerism. We have changed the chemical balance. Scary bad.
  3. Call me:: Come on, call me! - Blondie. Brilliant track.
  4. Frustrated:: My 21 year old son - he's frustrated. Its a good sign, he is looking back at time wasted and I think it means he's growing up.
  5. Public school: Good teachers, well paid, top facilities and balanced kids. Opportunity. Jealous.
  6. Glitch:: Hiccup, ruck in the carpet, all terms for a fun, messy and unexpected little challenge that needs sorting before we continue towards goal X (whatever that is)
  7. Cheese:: Grommitt? A nice bit of Wensleydale?
  8. Director:: Movies.
  9. Pivotal:: The crux, the balancing point, a pivotal statement or fact is the one which supports all the others. Find that and rotate it and you are really in the driving seat. Never mind the rest.
  10. Exclusive:: Snobby. A way to make vacuous or insecure people pretend they are better than others, not just lost in a sea of faces, whilst doing nothing for their self esteem and taking their money. A con that always affects those that get in at least as much as those that don't.

30 August 2005

Ode to A Counsellor

This isn't me, I haven't been in this place. Its just an experiment (probably a crass one) in exploring the flip side of a post I saw on someone's blog today.

Be kind - be brutal. Just use a sharp knife!

Dear Counsellor.

My heart spilled out upon the floor.
Though shattered years before we met,
I’d packed it hard with mud and straw,
obsessively defended it.

But week on week, you came to be
a gentle mirror to my fire,
until these eyes could truly see
my pain, my panic, my desire.

My heart is spilled upon the floor,
my darkest secrets broken, torn.
Yet thanks to you, dear silent friend,
today, at last, I start to mourn.

Aaah what am I on about, the technique stinks. I don't even know if this is 'ode' format. The words don't flow at all, but I wanted to get the concept down. I'm much better at hindsight than original creativity, so if it lives, I'll keep picking at it. Any thoughts?

Spiritual Webring

This is the banner from my friend Annie's site, HostOfSpirits.com. Well, one of her sites anyway. Actually the real one is a gif and the words change, but I am too dumb to work out how to either upload that version or link to her site behind it, so HERES THE LINK.

Annie just happens to be a psychic-medium web genius who discovered the need to work from home and from that, to run her own company. Well, companies.

This one is relatively new - its a HOSTING site (no, really?) available to anybody, but created with Spiritual sorts in mind. Annie and her people have years of experience on the live circuit and running spiritual chatrooms and classes, so are well aware of all the issues and requirements involved in providing a spiritual website as a service, either voluntarily, or for profit.

Anyway, I just bought two new URLs from there, dirt cheap, for my Telecom Plus sites (the pig in the sidebar) and theres nothing remotely spiritual about that.

Another bit of good news: they have started a webring. If you provide any sort of spiritual web prescence, be it counselling, advice, a directory or info site, you are now welcome to join, by signing up HERE.

This might not look like the sort of thing normally on my blog (if it has a single 'normal thing' about it), but like I said, I'm lovely (!), and thats what friends are for; plus, if I ran the right sort of site, it would be something I would definitely want to know.

As Bad As It Gets

Okay? Just so you know.

Yes I gave the gnashers a full outing, yes I put a spot of mascara on.
No I didnt scrub, whiten, buff or brush. This is pretty much it, off the shelf, untarted, as it comes, but hey, lets face it, if a genius brain, divine wit and general great personality like mine were all also in perfect packaging, heck, I might go and get a big head, or something.
Oh and okay, yes, I re-read the previous post and thought perhaps people were letting their imagination run riot, and yes I locked myself in the bathroom and took these in the mirror over the sink, just for this post. So, this IS me, only the other way around.
And you so couldnt give a hoot, am I right?
And that's more than enough on the subject of me.

Forget the pegs, we hit the bottom of the barrel

Further to Lewis' latest jabs at my personal appearance, it would appear that he noticed they had an effect, because he has now reached new heights/scraped new lows in this little battle of wits. I do wish he didn't have such an excellent poker face.

Have you seen the Thunderbirds movie? Remember Rose Keegan playing Transom? That otherwise thoroughly beautiful woman whose 'I'm a baddy' prop was a really dodgy set of teeth?

Well if anyone can find me a shot of her, in that role, displaying those gnashers, I would be grateful. It just seems that, barring a short film clip, there are no fixed shots of that to be had - anywhere. Her promo shot is tight lipped, as is her photo on her artist profile (which is sad really, she could probably do with showing her real features) and where she has not been mysteriously dropped from the cast list altogether, she appears at best, with back-of-the-head shots. Its wrong.

Anyhoo, her character's teeth are something like a cross between these and these (sorry, blogger picture upload is on the fritz, will edit when it works again) - framed startlingly by proper, full, bee-sting lips of the starlet variety. The lips, I know, are her own. The movie was on TV last night.

Lewis: Ooh look mum, she's got teeth like yours!
Me, scowling: Do WHAT?
Lewis: Oh no, well, don't mind, I mean they are just as big as yours, but she cant get round them; your face fits yours.
Me: Pardon? As Big?
Lewis: Well maybe as big as yours, but she's smaller, so she doesn't fit.

I have an overbite, and have developed a slim version of the gap you can see on, ooh, Jilly Cooper or Madonna. Yup, thats it, I pretty much have Madonna teeth. Nonetheless, when my first husband bitched about everything, I did once, young and insecure, admit I could put them in a brace. I was about to shut him up with a few observations of my own, when his reply, out loud in a pub (and to the raucous laughter of his equally charming brother) was "Put 'em in a brace? You could put 'em in the back of a lorry!" What a wanker.

So you'll pardon me and understand if my youngest son's latest jibe has left me grumpy, bad tempered and with a desire to learn ventriloquism/chew on a brick.

No, forget the brick thing. The NHS the way it is these days, I'd end up with more gaps or metal caps.

That boy is gonna pay, this one is going down on the maternal list of insults that come out as 'funny stories' along with the nude baby photos, the very second he is old enough to bring a girlfriend home. Just you wait, kiddo.

29 August 2005

Pulp Fiction Quiz

Thanks Jane! I found the Pulp Fiction character game over at Jane Loves Tarzan.

I have no idea who this woman is and will have to go watch the movie again - if she wasnt adored, was boring or got herself killed then I shall have second thought, but for now I admit the analysis panders to my ego.

What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

You're a hardworking individual enshrouded by an overwhelming sense of mystery, beauty, and intrigue. Though always on the go, you keep focused, helping -- often rapturing -- those you meet.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.

28 August 2005

Down A Peg Or Two

Apologies to those rare few who recall my novice posts and have already heard me compare myself to a fisherman's friend - not the cough sweets, the craggy old man sketched on the packet.

It is sadly true that, although of almost pure Welsh descent, I have London skin and hair - it looks best with a layer of pollution. Since we moved to the coast just under a decade ago, my hair has resolutely determined to look like the stuffing from a horsehair sofa, barring copious amounts of gloop which will settle it for half a day at best.

Add to this that my silver hairs (not grey, I bypassed grey and went straight to the colour of angels wings) start out as curly as pubes. The fringe, which, for fifteen years was my one patch of silver, is now sleek and glossy. Everywhere else, however, my dry but wavy hair is bolstered into bizarre shapes by an erratic, underlying corset of pube-like coilsprings. Some arrange themselves on the top and I look like one of those Barbie dolls that got lost at the bottom of the toy box. Dry and whispy bits are not supposed to stick out at funny angles even when you've just combed them, but tough luck on me.

So I am growing it. I refuse to resort to old lady bouffant a la Thatcher, and anyway, long hair usually weighs itself into submission, which is just what I am hoping for.

Lewis often tells me I embarrass him. Thats his prerogative, just as its mine to do the best 'embarrassing mother' routine that I can possibly muster. Today, however, he reached new heights in this war of wide eyed sarcasm.

We were discussing having his friend Haydn back round to play one more time before school restarts. (In England, Autumn term doesnt begin until the first week of September; probably because we don't do Thanksgiving.) It went on, as follows:


Lewis: Well, okay, he can come round here, but, just don't be so friendly, you scare him.

Me: Lewis, be serious, did Haydn say I scare him? How?

Lewis: Well no, you just creeped him out a bit.

Me: ???

Lewis: He just thought you smiled too much and kept offering him things and talking to us and werent being like a proper mum.

Me: Oh, oh well okay, I'll leave you two more to it, next time. That ok?

Lewis: Well, its okay, its just that hair, and when you look all bushy and you keep smiling, it IS a bit creepy.

Me: Go on..................

Lewis: Yes and the way you're so friendly to everybody and keep saying hello to people and you look a bit mad with that hair and then you smile and say 'Hello Stranger!' ALL THE TIME, and you're just really embarrassing and why cant you be like normal mums and not smile and not talk first?


I tidied my hair, pumped it full of conditioner, got it almost glossy and tucked it behind one ear, but no. I am, he says, too old for young woman hairdos. He looked horrified.

Poor Lewis, it seems a'proper mum' to him is one who doesn't know all the kids in his class, can't talk at their level and wouldnt want to, wears tidy, boring hair, and never smiles. He's got six more years at the very minimum under my roof, I hope he has a longsuffering nature!

(And no, I am not going to tell him the 'mad woman hair' comment got to me, but I am wondering how I would look bald, with maybe a few scalp tattoos.)

Two Milestones And A Memory.

Two milestones slipped past this week, and I have only just realised.

Milestone 1

Lewis, aged ten, having finally allowed desire for sweets to overrule his fear of crossing roads alone, has made it to the local sweetshop not once, but four times in the past two or three days. The Aspergers kid who would sooner sit in front of his computer, the one who had no interest in anything at all unless it either:

A) involved soldiers, or
B) could be downloaded to his personal memory stick

has now got a feeling for independance that involves being outdoors. This is HUGE news. Right now I am sitting here on a lovely sunny day, with the front door wide open, because Lewis has taken Imogen down to the sweet shop. They've gone on their scooters, and for the first time in ten years I am a hands-free parent.

My first reaction, after breathing out and feeling strangely refreshed, was to try and count back - ten years since Lewis was born, but also as he is around a decade younger than his brother, I had a new baby to worry about last time we got to this point. In fact the last time I had no-one else to be alert for was twenty two years ago before my eldest, Alex, was born.

Admit it, thats one hell of a milestone, for me too; off the hook for ten minutes after 22 years.

Milestone 2

The second one was Imogen, a week after turning nine years old, went out with her big sister yesterday to go shopping for her late presents. Alex knew Imi wanted the Bratz foldaway scooter (I hate Bratz, but the scooter is cool - no sign of over made up pouty tart faces on it or anything like that), so instead of buying it for her, gave her £50. The deal was that she had to spend it all on proper stuff, that day, so it wouldnt go home and disappear in drips and drabs.

My child came back with scooter, 'real jewellery' (a watch, purse and pendant set from Argos), fluffy topped pens and a lilac desk organiser, and a battery operated potter's wheel; all her own choice. Just like Lewis she has visibly been through a transition. She knows she is older, her confidence has rocketed and its a strange thing to look upon.


Lewis has only Aspergers - boring genius professor syndrome. His older brother, Andrew, also has ADHD and the big memory was how, even when Andrew was fourteen, I would have my heart in my mouth allowing him out of the front door. He would keep talking to you, peel a satsuma and cross a main road backwards, all at once. I remember getting him a youth social worker after he was excluded from seniors. One day the guy stood on my doorstep telling me Andrew really only needed more choices, that I should allow him options and practice at being responsible. Meanwhile, Andrew, bored of waiting for their day out, had nipped into the garage. All six foot of him was right behind the social worker, balancing a solid metal rake (heavy end up) on his nose, like some circus act, with both him and it swirling round at balletic but dangerously acute angles as he tried to keep the act going whilst the rake tried to succumb to gravity.

To begin, this guy was insulted and disconcerted by the way I kept glancing behind him, fear written across my face, but deciding it was simply proof of my psychotically overprotective tendencies, he ignored me and kept talking, stressing his point harder. Once he did finally look round (after I nearly grabbed him to get him out of the way) he never suggested it was my fault again.

Isn't it lovely when you wake up to realise that humiliations which were a normal part of your life have not continued, but are now safe, sanitised and repackaged as 'the past'.

27 August 2005

Masochistic Tendencies

Okay I admit it, I'm a complete masochist; I love watching the X Factor auditions.

How do the tone deaf get such faith in their abilities? The conceited ones make me giggle, but then there are always a few; wide eyed and bushy tailed, full of hope and a real (but completely inflated) idea that if they just sing their little hearts out, wonderful things will happen.

Its like watching Cinderella turn up at the ball with cabbage on her teeth and a huge premenstrual zit on her nose.

Every nervous warble makes by heart bleed for their panic. Every bum note actually pierces me, making my stomach tie further and further into knots with each one. One leg sometimes starts to twitch with the urge to physically wince and curl up into a ball, in empathy. I have been known to finish the programme and find I am huddled at the top of the armchair out of some involuntary need to crawl backward away from it all.

Love it.

Somewhere in the middle you get one, maybe two voices that are so tonally perfect that they slice the air, reverberate in your very being and leave you in freefall. Until next week. Its a funny thing, hope; it can polish a voice or smash it and I know that as the groups dwindle, many of those that sang like angels will never manage it again.

Roll on next week!


Don't know what to post today. I have this quirk about posting something, so today you get my surfing finds.

1. Making your tumour pay?
2. Fairytale ending?
3. A lot of reading to catch up on - I hope they publish.
4. Has he lost his finger, or has his finger lost him?
5. Hmm, boss or husband, husband or boss, I wonder how long I could listen to these guys before the urge to strangle them switched to a desire to jump on their heads wearing my trusty Doc Martens? Play the sample videos, you'll see what I mean - grating.
6. Poor Pope Joan, must have thought the other Joan (D'Arc) got off easy. And the less I say about Catholic men at this point, the better.

Have fun.

26 August 2005

Things I have noticed

1. That's a really impressive title because I havent noticed much recently. I actually feel like if you tipped me upside down I'd make a 'Mooh' noise, vacant aint the word.
2. My brain is still off on a round the world trip, it seems. Still I have my purse attached to my keys and to a bleeper that goes off when you whistle, so although I am constantly going round the house making piercing squeaky noises, there has been no dire emergency.
3. I woke at 3am to our cat having one of those wailing disagreements with another local tom, right under the bedroom window.
4. By the time I found my dressing gown and opened the back door to go break it up, he had already won. Basically all I did was hold the door open for him like a butler and save him the bother of using the cat flap. Lord muck strolled in like it was natural.
5. I woke again at 3.30 because I left the bedroom door open and cat decided this was a good excuse to come join us - by taking a flying leap from the window ledge onto my head.
6. 4am he had moved to my stomach, or more precisely my bladder and woke me by purring loudly. I spent the rest of the night vaguely aware of a desperate urge to use the loo, but too tired to get up and do anything about it.
7. My husband has had two weeks off work with nowhere to go and instead of going stir crazy he has become progressively more charming and enthusiastic as the time has gone on. I remember that side to him, but seeing it reappear out of nowhere is strangely creepy, and trying to calculate how many microseconds he will have to be back at work before the more usual 'mildly annoyed armchair sergeant' reasserts himself is, um, frustrating.
8. Its not just me thats messing up - the material world is at it too. Things just arent performing to spec.
9. The bathroom light fixing decided to perish and a bit snapped off. The light bulb flew to the hard tiled floor. It never broke and parked itself neatly in a corner beside the bath.
10. Blogger 'create post' is looking very weird all day today and I have had to use a 'blog this' box and delete the thing I linked to, just to do this post.
11. Hotmail is becoming annoyingly good at page errors
12. Yesterday I was the only moderator on the Homeworking Forum all afternoon/evening and in that time it felt like there were a weeks worth of rule infractions.
13. My 22 year old daughter has been over here every other day, either picking up her little brother or sister, or bringing one home and voluntarily taking the other one instead. I have had an entire week with only 1 child in the house at a time.
14. This one is yikky but bloody brilliant - I have found that Jojoba oil (you know, the stuff they go on about having in hair products in microscopic amounts) - the pure product, which is a base oil and has no properties beyond moisturisation, is actually a liquid wax, and it never goes off so you can keep it for donkeys ages (unlike essential oils which last about 12 months once you've let air in). It can be rubbed into a scalp and yet wash out easy enough, leaving hair soft, shiny and conditioned. If your youngest daughter also happens to have played with a couple of nitty Noras whilst out and about, the oil will not only condition the hair, but unglue everything - unstick the eggs and let you get them out with a scurf comb quite easily, so no nasty chemicals which turn the hair to straw and can produce excema, no contributing to the evolutionary development of the supernit (well super head louse) every time one survives to breed and no need to go back and do it again every two days until you have spoiled the lifecycle. I know. I checked. Bliss!
15. Cats are allergic to tea tree oil (melaleuca)
16. Guinea pigs are allergic to buttercups
17. My ten year old son is allergic both to making his own cup of tea, and to money. Oh he loves money, but if he has any, it irritates the hell out of him until its spent. He even made his first ever solo trip to the local sweetshop today, down a hill, round a corner and across a road, just to scratch his itch after his sister gave him a pound. Scary.
18. Bloggers can be lovely - see the three posts below and the comments they got. Wow.
19. My mother is possibly the most wonderful woman and mum in the world. Lets just say that as soon as BT get off their butts and realise I have (miraculously) paid their huge bill, we will have a phone line again, then I can change to Telecom Plus so the next one doesnt hurt so much.
20. I am the only one responsible for my financial and spiritual health. Nonetheless it does seem like as soon as you accept that responsibility, the universe steps in with unexpected gifts like nice people, and help, and luck. I can understand that. I mean, I'd give treats to a kid that didn't expect it a lot more readily than I would to one with his/her hands out all the time. It sort of makes sense whilst still being really very lovely.

And thats pretty much it. Just about everything that has got through to my vacant head, or travelled via my brain on its way back out and actually stuck for a moment or two this past week, has had a 'wow' or an 'uhoh' attached. There were many more, but I have forgotten them, some even from this morning. See point 2. I remember thinking uhoh, but not what about.

I quite like this. There is a certain peace and unnatural optimism to having selective retention. I may not want to live like it permanently, but still.....

Correction. Earlier I made a rambling but hopefully encouraging comment on a really brilliant blog. It had microphones in it. That being all I know now, I went back to check whether I had made any sense at all - wouldnt you? I can't find it. Even the blogger I was determined had written the post (one of my newer interests) is apparently not that blogger. All is lost in the mists, with nothing to satisfy my fully functional pride that my less functional IQ actually even attached the right comment to the right post, or else wrote it out of the blue against something completely unrelated. Cooper King tried to reassure me that I was mentally off preparing for a Eureka moment, but sadly a you loony moment seems much more likely. Oh dear. I want my brain back. Now, please.

25 August 2005

Gentlemen, Heroes and Uncommon Courtesy

They still exist! No, honestly.

So far today my site has, according to StatCounter, had 124 pageloads and 99 unique visitors. I belong to blogexplosion and imagine most were just surfing through, but there amongst those accidental visitors, were Cube with a joke (always helpful), Bryan and Yellojkt with genuine technical help and Gary Sieling enquiring whether I had managed, and giving feedback.

Thanks guys - pleased to meet you.

Oh Now Thats A Pig

I have gone back even to last month's archive. ALL my posts are mucking up in internet explorer, even though I havent changed so much as the sidebar, for ages.

Anyone got any ideas?


I see IE has gone off my site and is viewing it all wonky.

Internet Explorer does that too easily - something to do with links, usually and its a pain in the butt.

I much prefer Mozilla Firefox. In fact its what I use all the time, except when following links from hotmail emails. Hotmail, being Microsoft, will seemingly only open a browser in IE because its another Microsoft product, otherwise I would have remained clueless.

Sorry If you are looking at a mess, in your browser! It means I either have to:

a) look at each post individually to see which one has the problem and then remove the links one by one (botheration) or delete it, or

b) write four new posts about something or other to knock the offending piece off the front page.

I am feeling neither industrious not creative, so its a toss-up. This calls for coffee.


23 August 2005

Free Association 133

Thanks, LunaNina!

  1. Fan:: ceiling fan. Noisy things like the ones that used to be at Burger King?
  2. Scum:: bathing with a bar of soap, that always makes scum - yuk
  3. Lily:: The Pink! (And Jennifer Eccles)
  4. Humid:: industrial kitchen
  5. Ghetto: Blaster, or as Bjork called it in one track, a jatto blaster
  6. Remember me?:: I'm the oooooone who loves ya baby - who sang that?
  7. Polished:: table
  8. Compose:: yourself
  9. Squish:: boots in mud, or mud in boots
  10. Future:: perfect. Its a tense, not a prophecy.

Rubbing Shoulders With The Big Knobs.

I've been rubbing shoulders with the big knobs!

Milt, LBB, Bulb, Steve; stop it, right now. I am way too decorous (and tall) to mean that, even if it involved equipment such as a chair, or hoists. No, not even with feathers. No, nor beer. Oh okay, maybe with beer.

Mine's a Speckled Hen or anything by Dark Star or, erm, a Bishop's Finger. Shut up.

Anyway, what I mean is this:

A few posts back I started a Meme ' What Dog Are You?'. It was surprisingly popular, given that it involved playing the game and then copying the answers out by hand, because the brilliant site it came from wasn't geared up for the game to spread.

Still, I'd had my hands on the beeswax that day (Bulb! No!) and had polished up my brass neck a treat, so emailed the web-geniuses behind the originating site. Today I got an answer!

Dear Cheryl

Thank you for you kind comments about our website www.gone2thedogs.com - you'll be pleased to know that we are about to launch a new feature on the game, which allows you to post your results on your blogg/website. It is simply a piece of code that creates a little player that plays the movie associated with your dog.

We'll let you know when it's online.

The film has been completed and will be out in October 2005.

Woo-hoo! A reason to look forward to October!

I will also watch for the next email and then start the game over.

Actually I think I owe Milt for originally pointing out the site - the man is a walking encyclopaedia on good websites and this one is a lovely one. I love low key movies - proper British art without too much interference from media types, so the script will likely be pure, and as dry and witty, and as heart-rending as the writer/director Philip Barnard intended.

In fact, this could quietly become a classic or a blockbuster, without ever going down the £multi-million billboard hype route. Its not another Star Wars, but it could be another Four Weddings And A Funeral, and, well, you get my drift.

There is something endearing about lazy old gits, something heartwarming about their strong, patient wives, and something magical and wonderful and 'right' about the guy spending time as a mutt; a divine gift of a last chance to shed his stupidity and wake up, before being turned away at the pearly gates.

Alf Garnet meets All Dogs Go To Heaven?

I really don't know; but I can't wait to find out.

By the way - check out the front page of the site - scroll your mouse over different faces or objects - its fun.

Havin' an Awayday

I think my brain has gone off somewhere, on a jolly holiday.

I know I'm not in the here and now because so far I have :
  • Put my coffee down and completely forgotten where and been unable to find it
  • Did a fried egg for brunch and broke the yoke, dropping it in the pan
  • turned round and put the eggshell halves into the bowl of washing up suds instead of the bin.
Its a step in the right direction. Yesterday I took washing up out to the kitchen, including a plate containing crusts and half a cold cup of coffee (that happens when you forget you had a drink on the go). I tipped the crusts in the bin on my way past, got to the sink drainer, put it all down, picked up the half full mug and..... turned round and emptied that into the bin too, instead of the sink.

So the question is, where am I? Did I plan to go, will I learn something, and did I remember to pack a toothbrush?

I wonder if we'll get a postcard....

A Day Of Rain

Seaside rains and inland rains are generally very different. After a decade on the coast my skin has acclimatised, somewhat, and I no longer get the terrible dry cracks in my hands, akin to excema, from shielding my face at the bus stop.

The normal sort of rain here, like the wind, seems to defy gravity and come at you in a sort of horizontal fashion, full of the bracing smells of seaweed and salt. Often also full of seaweed and salt. The drops hit as if shot from an air pistol, stinging, almost slapping as if each and every one is joyously delivering a grain of sand. Seaside raindrops hit like they have a payload. The weather has no half measures here, generally speaking. Its all or nothing; glorious or hellish.

Today, however; today we had inland rain, a rare treat. Soft and salt free, smelling at first of meadows and then of nothing but clean, washed air. The kind of misty and persistent rain that soaks you to the bone with a kiss, almost bypassing the skin altogether.

We live on a hill and can usually see the rooftops a good four or five roads away, before rows of horse chestnut trees block the view of the rolling hills preceding the cliffs. If I stand on my back windowledge, I can sometimes see the tall black tornados out at sea; beautiful, tall, swirling grey dancers always in twos or threes.

Nonetheless, today we could see two roads away, at best. It was too wet to call a mist, but the whole town has spent 24 hours looking like a very soggy Brigadoon.

And thats where I live, a mongrel cross between Brigadoon, Toy Town and Walmington on Sea (which, as I've asserted before, was based on this town in the first place).

Some days, if I nipped out to the paper shop and came across Fiona Campbell making smalltalk with Big Ears and Jonesy, I don't think I'd even raise an eyebrow, except perhaps to enquire after Victor Meldrew; after all, if anyone were to really fit in down here...........

22 August 2005

Do They Mean Us?

There are a growing number of people citing internet usage as grounds for divorce.

Although the article here stresses cybersex, or what it calls virtual adultery, a significant number of divorces are occurring simply because of excessive internet usage.

I quote:
In 2002, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said 62 per cent of members surveyed said the internet had been a significant factor in cases the year before. Of those, 68 per cent had dealt with people who had met a new love online.
Always assuming the final sentence means 'of those cases' then that equates to 42% of the total number of divorce applications in the US being related to online affairs, yet still a hefty 20% (19.84) being to do simply with internet addiction.

If, however, as I am inclined to suspect, the wording has been carefully chosen to give that impression, but really means '68 percent of those Lawyers surveyed' , then the number of addiction related divorces way outstrips the number to do with virtual infidelity.

I completely agree that having an online 'fantasy' relationship is as bad as having a real one. I don't want my partner sexually enthralled by someone else, let alone swapping sweet nothings or even down and dirty suggestions, with that person. The trouble is, apparently, if you get hooked then it all too easily steps off the page, with exchange of genuine personal information, photos and even sometimes a meeting in the real world. If the thrill is there, anything can happen. Like the man says.

Signs that your partner may be having a virtual affair: (according to the Centre for Online and Internet Addiction)
  • sitting at the computer into the early hours,
  • moving it into an office and locking the door,
  • becoming obsessive about passwords,
  • ignoring chores and
  • spending less time engaged with the household.
Umm. I don't lock my computer away. I have kids, so I probably would if there was a room spare, but I don't. The rest, though..........................

If you DO think your partner might be turning his/her back on you to present themsleves as an online lothario/lolita then there are several places to go, and Cyberwidows.com, infidelitycheck.org and virtual-addiction.com are mentioned in Jordan Baker's article for Theage.com.

I can't help it, looking at that list of unreasonable/suspicious behaviours, above, I just can't help wondering when someone is going to set up a self-help site called bloggers-anonymous. Still, it would be kind of self-defeating to have the resource online, don't you think?

19 August 2005

I've worked out what my problem is.....

...well, the latest one, anyway.

I have a long list of things going on that the back of my head is telling me ought to make me really, really worried or angry or guilty - you know, things that really should give me that sick sensation like walking to school for a public dressing down because I got an extension on my homework project and still didn't do it.

I OUGHT to be wailing, whimpering, gnashing my teeth and possibly resorting to eyelash fluttering or fainting spells. Puke.
I just can't be bothered.

Do you get that? Its like watching life happen on a big TV screen.

The question now is whether I am either dangerously disassociated, or floating in a little calm puddle of faith and trust in God. Interesting conflict of opinion, that, and its all going on in my head, like two Einsteins across a table. I tell ya, theres chalk everywhere.

No its not schizophrenia - possibly split personalities, because it seems that my two lines of thought are battling it out between themselves and my own front brain is disassociated even from that, the conscious me just getting on with getting on. Oh, and they don't get let out to play in the real world, so I guess that means they are safely metaphorical.

Can you imagine having split personalities, all of them called Einstein, all of them identical barring driving principles? That would be the final condemnation of an uncreative mind. No, if I ever lose it, there'll be a Lola, a Candy-Mae, a Cruella, a mousey librarian and all the facets of my character that never get a day out. At least.

Hopefully Bulb won't stop by in his role of Psychiatric Nurse, because, to quote him, "psycho nursing involves telling psycho's they are weird and forcing medication down their throats." Nice.

What is weird, anyhow? Surely the most unstable and scary person imagineable must be one totally convinced that they are NOT weird - that they have all the answers, convinced they are the solitary professor in a worldwide loony bin.

We're all damaged and different - give me the people that know it.

The whole point of this post is/was to explain the last one. I am surprisingly, perhaps scarily okay. I really want to get stressed about finances and bad debt and potential for court cases and all that, I WANT to open a red and rude letter from company X and get aeriated and panicked, I just can't. The only thing that makes my shoulders sag under the weight is having to choose my words and play nursey to the men in this house.

Gary is the son of a policeman. His dad is a good man, not a dyed in the wool wife beater (although, surprise, the police force apparently has the highest proportion of them), but like the entire force, he spent his days taking flak from oiks and replying politely, taking any residual resentment and potential for ulcers home to the family. He was also threatened (again, as were they all) with demotion or, more subtly, lack of promotion, if his kids didn't lead exemplary lives. It doesn't look good trying to wear a uniform that says 'pillar of society' when the whole block know what your teenage son did last Wednesday.

Gary as eldest child had more than his fair share of dire warnings and strict admonishments, amounting to a very Victorian upbringing which, to be frank, is tiresome. 'We' don't have problems. In his little world, only 'he' has them. Its all about him and we are never ever a team where money is concerned, because he has this silly thing going on that the man should be able to provide for his family, that the entire burden is his preserve. He is the one that suffers from this lack of sharing - I could do with a hug, someone to share plans and methods to change things, for sure, but Gary could do with someone to share the guilt. It doesn't matter what I say, he wont see that in me, and goes off in a corner to mentally beat himself up.

I gave up feeling sympathetic years ago.

Then theres Lewis, the ten year old poster boy for Aspergers syndrome.

The last real clash Gary and I had was a couple of years ago when Gary would get up for work without me, and watch the world news while he ate breakfast, whether or not Lewis had followed him to the living room.

He would then wake me just before he left the house and I would fumble to the kitchen to be confronted by Lewis, fully awake and running on overdrive, with plans (that I simply HAD to hear in detail) to get the SAS to hide behind the fence at Saddam Hussein's house.

By the time we were nearly at school, and his little sister was dragging her heels behind us, unable to get a word in, the plan would have moved on to include giant lasers, or ways to establish British world domination without bloodshed, using equipment which Lewis would have to design and create because it didn't exist yet.

I have a picture on my wall that Lewis did at school during that time, entitled 'my dream house.' His dream house has:
  • guinea pigs
  • lizards
  • soft toy lizards
  • a cat
  • a swimming pool
  • a bouncy castle
  • perimeter laser guns with sensors.

And that, dear readers, is why I don't, perceptibly at least, indulge in worrying. Too many people do it too well already, it would be overkill.

What I do is simpler, I change things. Yes it means I'm like a puppet on a string, waiting for the worry to erupt into verbal acknowledgement, or for other people's attempts to change things to go belly up and make it worse, but like a Stepford Wife on valium, I step in smilingly and sort it all out, or if the damage is done, lead by inspirational example as we all learn to be cheerful with less.

Just know this, take away my cigarrettes and I'll probably kill you.




Note: Humungous thanks to Allposters for turning a blind eye to me using the piccies from their brilliant fridge magnets, again, and not slapping my wrist :-)

Pissed off

The phone's been cut off. Its still taking incoming calls but today any attempt to dial out gets a call diverted message. I am avoiding hanging on for it to connect until Gary and I can discuss whether to blow off the phone bill, or the council tax.

I hate British Telecom. We would have switched the line rental and broadband to Telecom Plus by now, but theres a catch - they will only accept transference of a bill under a certain value.

BT keep promising to stop charging us for rental of a handset they had back almost immediately, to cancel all the added extras we dont want or need any more like call barring, have twice sent out bills that never got here, then charged us money for the privelige of a duplicate. Worst of all they have decided to change their terms and conditions - instead of red reminders or ability to pay in installments or within a few weeks, they now apparently slap late payment charges straight onto the account, without having told us a blind bloody thing about it, so you think you have freedom to juggle, then Bam, things snowball.

Oh, there is a booklet of info that comes out with every bill - if you use BT, please always scan it for small print. The lady (in INDIA!) at one of their callcentres said it would have been explained in one of them. Probably in with one of the two bills I never got. Thats what you get when departments arent even in the same bloody country. At least T+ is all UK, all in one place. Did you know, apparently even British Gas is French these days?

Money is tight at the moment, I admit - the other half earns a pittance in any case. I wouldn't change him for the world, just the system. Humiliatingly, for starters, he earns something like £6,000 less than the guy he works beside in the same job, because of the difference between being an Officer Instructor and an Instructor Officer. As it's vocational work both of them are in any case paid like manual labourers - tutors and workshop supervisors are on the same payscale, it doesnt make any financial difference whether you are teaching CCNA or supervising the gluing of rubber grommets. It sucks. I want him to get his teaching degree and get out of there - he has enough credits to get through it in double quick time, but he just loves helping the bottom rungs of society - he prefers people who value their opportunities to, say, gum chewing teenagers who want to nick all the metal mouse balls and drop paperclips and chains into the computer housings. He's done the school thing. He lives to teach, to enthuse.

There are a couple of creditors wanting our blood at the moment and I seriously have to go get paid employment out of the home - not easy in a hick backwater town for anyone, harder when one child has Aspergers. Its a hidden difficulty - what they call an educational need, so theres no DLA or extra cash, Lewis, our ten year old, just needs the world translated to him 24/7 or he freaks out. Even registered childminders are not prepared to cope straight off the bat (heck I have yet to meet a teacher who can relate to him inside the first three to six months) - not that I could earn enough to afford one. I need one of those gold-dust school-time jobs.

Lewis is the capper on all of this. Everyone has squeaky times, financially, if they have kids, and we'll get through, but cuts have to be made. So far he has completely failed to grasp this, and the 'can I have's have been flying thick and fast as usual. Until today.

Gary is on two weeks leave and has now taken to his bed. He's not just sulking, but actually asleep - coping with the kids is harder work (obviously) than with a room full of students. Thanks guy, nothing like teamwork.

I made the mistake of telling Lewis that, for a couple of months, we really might have to cancel the subscription to Sky TV. This has set him off on one and now his sister is in tears, on her birthday.

Why? Because he is going round the house almost hyperventilating and obsessing about saving his TV - calculating what every item is worth (from a ten year old's perspective) and trying to take charge, even interrogating me about whether we get child benefit and why its not £100 a week when his mate Hayden says it is, what I'm doing wrong to get less and what I think I could do about it. All he needs is a clipboard and a Hitler moustache.


He has just turned to Imogen and told her in a very authoritative voice to brace herself, but the first thing to go will have to be her guinea pigs and the cat.

Nice one, Lewis.

Excuse me, I am just going to find a corner, sit facing it, and rock, humming 'I'm a little teapot' until the fairies come and take me.

My Big Girl!

Happy Birthday Imogen - nine today :-)

17 August 2005

Giant Virus

HIV has 9 genes. I never knew that. The reason I know it now is because this article says so, to compare it to what they call a giant virus, which has 472 genes.

Its not some sci-fi imagining, but the stuff that makes algae go foamy at the sea's edge. Presumably more genetically complex than it's host (sounds a bit like the human race), it does all sorts of wonderful things like help cloud formation - munching away on the chalk covered marine algae Emiliana Huxleyi, it produces dimethyl sulphide.

Anyhow, brushing past amazement that a woman, presumably, had the sense to classify the scuzz on a chalky shore and name it after herself (lets face it - good for her - that's a 'man' thing, think of Braxton Hicks), the point of the article is this:

With all these genes the clever little, sorry, giant virus produces ceramides to extend the life of it's host. The algae it infects outlives uninfected stuff, kept artificially fresh and alive so that the virus can keep its home and food source for as long as possible.

What's the big hoo-ha about? Well there is a hope, that in the future, the genetic structure of this virus might be successfully manipulated to make an anti-ageing serum for humans. Oh and it might help cure cancer, but that seems to read like an afterthought. Good to know that money is being thrown at all the right research, huh.

16 August 2005

Dreaming when you're eight

Imogen had a vivid dream last night.

She started writing it up, but her brother and TV and general house noise got in the way, so I have offered, based on the little I've read, to type it up for her.

The first sentence alone speaks volumes about how her mind works and I am happy.

ONCE upon a time a little good girl and her brother and her mum and dad moved in to a new house but they did not know that they had to sing and say truthful things for everything to light up. Because soon it was Christmas day the little boy was very bad. The little girl was very happy, until she realised she had to sing and say truthful things for the lights to light up.

She sang a truthful song, and at night she danced with nice monsters that came out of the lights. To humans they looked like humans but to her they looked like monsters as well. There were really small ones and middle size ones and really huge ones that grew when they got outside in the moonlight. Next the mum and dad and brother woke up and suddenly everybody was in the front room. They thought the big monster person had loads of daughters and one son. The middle sized ones looked like mermaids that don't need water. The little monsters were not the big one's children, but mummy and daddy thought they were.

Then when the big monster went outside and grew even bigger, he had one of the little ones with him in his arms. He dropped the little one and the little grew wings and flew back up to the window.

The monsters when back into the lights and the family all had some sleep because they knew it was Christmas amd you have to go to sleep on Christmas Eve to make sure you can have a proper Christmas and not be late up.

Christmas day the happy monsters came out again. After the boy saw them, he was a good boy now because he saw what they could do to him unless he bes a good boy.

They all danced with the curtains closed because the happy monsters are not allowed to hit the sun. It was time for ther family to leave the new house and they took the lights with them so they could have the monsters come with them. Then I woke up.

The happy monsters were like angels but they didnt look like angels, they were more sort of animal. The big one looked like a furry man and had a hole in his stomach. The middle ones looked like mermaid animals with mermaid hair and a head like a bear and the little ones were like happy bat-teddy bears with two pairs of wings.

15 August 2005

Free Association 132

List courtesy of LunaNina, as per.

  1. Idiot:: Men*
  2. Rocket:: Science
  3. Liability:: Stupid person on the team
  4. Harmless:: inert
  5. Stringy:: cheese
  6. Gwyneth:: Paltrow
  7. Use it or lose it:: Get a life
  8. Theater:: Puppet
  9. Sonic:: Boom
  10. Pucker:: Suck a lemon
*Be honest, its an insult normally reserved for males. Us females get gender references thrown at us - stupid woman, etc.

Meme - What Dog Are you?

Today's post is courtesy of a memory generated by a comment made by Milt, on a post at Arc's page.

Phew. That's just the way it goes sometimes.

When my dad was in and out of a coma in a Central London Hospital, waking to dream talk, and mum was battling to and fro on her own, desperately lonely and rushed off her feet, a dog turned up. Well something more like an unwashed flying doormat turned up waiting patiently under her car. As soon as she opened the drivers door, one day, it sprang out, jumped in, and promptly adored her.

He is still attached to her heels some seven years later. Reggie, she named him, short for rejoice, which was a word she had obviously been contemplating. I don't suppose its very easy, in dark days, to toddle off to church week in and week out to sing half a dozen choruses all with the word rejoice in them. Reggie was her first reason to smile.

This is rather mirrored by an adorable looking film out now on limited release, but due to hit the net as a DVD very soon, Gone To The Dogs.

Starring Dora Bryan and Tony Booth (Cherie Blair's dad by the way, I never knew that!), its about a man who retires to the seaside, dies of a heart attack and is reincarnated as a stray dog, that his widowed wife adopts. The blurb says he then "finally learns what a good marriage is all about."

Okay, my mum only retired to Lowestoft, near where she spent her time as a land girl, after dad had passed, so the similarity ends (but Reggie went too.)

I so want to see the movie!

There is also a brilliant game on the site (the thing that Milt linked to in his comment) - What Dog Are you?

Sadly its not blogger oriented (yet) and you can't copy and paste your answer, so I am turning this into a Meme.

  1. Go to www.Gone2TheDogs.com and select game.
  2. Follow the instructions
  3. Answer the questions
  4. Find out what dog you are and
  5. Post the answer on your blog!
  6. Collar someone else
I am, it says, an English Cocker Spaniel

UK. Number one dog in popularity in britain during the 1930s through the 1950s. Origianlly from Spain, the name Spaniel derives from the word Espagnol. Cockers got their name for their expertise in flushing woodcock and other small game while hunting.

The English Cocker Spaniel is a hardy, energetic and affectionate dog. Excellent with kids; gentle and playful, but does not tolerate teasing well. It is sociable with strangers, a moderate barker, and obeys respectfully the orders it is given. Generally an outgoing breed but some individuals can be reserved. Cockers should be trained very gently but firnly as they are sensitive but also rather independent.

I collar: Bart, Steve, Doris and Annie (sorry Annie, the link to Retrotype isnt working, so I hope you get this), and anyone else who wants to play!

14 August 2005

Number One Son

Number one son turned up late yesterday. He works a fishing boat out of Eastbourne, but trained up in Grimsby - if that means anything to my Northern friends, well, he's had any vestiges of Southern Wuss beaten out of him and is now completely qualified to take the piss out of everybody else who goes slower than him, running round the deck doing press-ups and chin ups and pretending to fall asleep, waiting for another ton of crabs or lobster to be chucked his way. Adrenalin junky.

The picture is pre or early fishing days - he is much leaner now with outrageously disproportional arms and calves - a skinny, six-foot-something Popeye. It's becoming really rather hard to see skin from scar tissue on his forearms.

He seems to have grown up mentally, for his latest girlfriend, and is off to Tenerife this week with her family, having saved for something for the first time in his life. Every other time so far, the available cash has become more of a temptation than the original goal. Hurray, Andy can balance the books. Finally.

They leave at the crack of dawn on Tuesday morning so today they have already had a couple of panicked phone calls about shopping for sandals and shorts, and changing up the money, all of which he will have to do tomorrow, when she wanted to spend the day packing.

I guess its different for a girl, but all a bloke seems to need is one set of real clothes for lift off and touch down in England, half a dozen t shirts and pairs of swimming trunks or shorts, and a good pair of sandals, plus sunblock. A supermarket carrier bag, effectively.

Sunscreen and moisturiser are going to be the things he decides he won't need, I am sure of it. He never wears any of that on the boat, is as brown as a jar of coffee and toughened, but theres a difference between telling him the dry heat of Tenerife is not the wet heat of England (let alone the English sea spray) and getting him to appreciate it.

If he ends up shut in the villa with cracks and burns, I am certain she will kill him. I would.

Eeeh, its a scary and bittersweet thing watching your kids grow up, even from a distance.

13 August 2005


There is a nice news article on the Canadian news site, CTV.ca, about three residents in Manitoba who saw a low flying UFO.

What can I say? The description is right and I believe them, but am very interested in why the pilot would have been so near land. I wonder if he got his wrists slapped.

Time was, I'd have felt like a right loony admitting I'd seen a UFO, but then thats because most people automatically relate the fact that an object is unidentified, with the idea that it must be extra terrestrial. Most people, that is, except the ones that live round here, in Sussex, who see them all the time and will admit it if you can get enough beer inside them to break the usual British reserve. Nobody wants to be quizzed by men in suits, or listed, so we all just say 'Oh! Another one!' and then get on with it.

Still, I've seen at least one. If they get caught, come too low or fly in too straight a line, the airforce spots them and just as you see something like a wingless seagull glinting in the sun and going too fast and too straight toward Seaford Head, generally, you get a couple of jets tearing straight after it.

Seagull shape is exactly what they are. Long, ovoid and slightly more pointed at one end, if they fly high enough up, they appear from the ground to be the same size as a seagull. They even bob and weave as if they are affected by air currents, you just never get a shadow of a wing, somehow know theres something not quite right with what you are seeing. If you stare long enough, generally you are treated to the sight of them doing a bizarre turn on the spot, to shoot off at silly speeds and in a straight line at an acute angle to their original 'don't look at me, I'm a seagull really' direction.

How many people, really, spend any time looking up, on a sunny day?

I know someone who saw another one sitting stationary in the air, visible from Lewes train station, last month; about three weeks ago. Apparently it just sat there, glinting slightly, for two or three minutes before exercising the good old 90 degree turn and supersonic exit. That surprises me; unless they are being chased they seem to have a rule about camouflaging their flight path over land - normally they only cut and run as they hit the coast.

I really like that both of us only found out about the latest local crop circle, (which turned up the same day,) after they told me what they saw. Possibly unconnected, but I love a mystery.

No I'm not mad, no I'm not grandstanding - and I am not remotely fussed. Its interesting, granted, and fun to spot one, but if they do their thing and leave me/us to do mine/ours, its so normal now that its just no biggy.

What's the betting they turn out to be a US government ploy, to keep spending more on each single space mission than it would take to clear the entire third world debt?

OK even that sounds a little kooky, but you know, nothing would phase me, and its interesting that 'straight up' doesnt seem to be a directional choice, even with a following.

Note to spotters: There is no apparent flight schedule, you could wait weeks and hurt your eyes. Don't bother.

Touching Coat Tails

Thanks to Doris, who commented on my last post, I was going to crack a few jokes about seamen (you know, the girl whale who would blow, but not swallow seamen, Captain Pugwash, Seaman Staines and Roger the cabin boy, - old stuff.)

A full example - Bill and Ben in bed together - Bill says: flobadobadob. Ben says: If you loved me you'd swallow.

Yeah, right, sorry for dusting that old one off, especially if you still got a face full of cobwebs. Better that than woodworm.

Instead, facing the (probably pre-menopausal) dissatisfaction with my life choices that the last post highlighted, I went off on a kick self session, aka belly-button staring.

When it comes to claims to fame or brushes with opportunity, I'm pretty much a 'glass half empty' kind of girl and thinking back on some of the opportunities I not only refused, but sniggered at in girlish disdain, well, older and wiser I find my inner lioness starts banging her head on a brick wall, which is a tragic thing for a majestic creature to do. I am not in a position to say 'wow I did that', because there was always more I could have done, and didn't.

I can sing. I know I can sing, and mimic. You want someone else's singing voice, I've got it. Classically trained for a while, I am only now skimming the top off a full three octave range, due to the fags (ciggies to my US friends). Did I do anything about it when I was a UK size ten (that's US size 4) who could stick one leg behind her ear standing up? Did I heck, I went chasing bikers up Box Hill.

I know I can stand on stage in front of thousands. Its amazingly freeing, like performing a piece to the clock on the back wall - like talking to a stranger on the phone, or anonymous blogging, you can be who you damn well please, ride the atmosphere and run with it, like being in a nightclub you are NEVER going to go back to, with people who are never going to recognise you, you can let your inner daredevil out to play. Somehow performing to half a dozen people involves being yourself - being vulnerable - much harder to do.

We did a play at senior school (yes ok big cringe but theres a point) and I had one of the smallest parts, got all the laughs and had half a dozen teachers who normally ignored me, come up and suggest RADA. Did I even look the prospectus up, in the library? Don't make me laugh.

I did an audition for one of those 'star maker' blokes in Ealing, late seventies. He made a million constructive comments like 'we'll have to work on your sight reading', and then invited me back, started talking about finding my style and getting me work. Did I go? Hah.

Early eighties, boredom and lack of cash meant catching the bus to the BBC bar at White City - free entry to employees and subsidised drinks. Three times, some promoter sent his heavies over to say Mr 'somebody' would like a word, would I join him at his table. Nineteen years old and terrified of Mr somebodys - the kind that wore expensive heavy overcoats and kept them on in a bar - I refused to go, saying I had never heard of him, or that if he wanted to talk to me, he could come to me, same as the minders had managed. Bye bye whatever opportunity that was, although at the time I suspected it was the chance for a quick trip to the moors in the boot of someone's car. I was with a particularly narcissistic friend - I was meant to be her tag-along, not the other way round, and she refused to come with me so I'd be safe, so I bottled.

Dancing in the aisles at a Duran Duran concert I had the chance to go backstage after - I didn't do it.

Same again at Nine Below Zero.

Heres the capper - Status Quo, four of them, had the bench on the BBC bar balcony one night. We didn't know, and a friend and I wandered out there for some air. Heading for the edge of the balcony, we were interrupted by a cheeky comment - "Nice view!" and turned to see these beautiful, piercing, laughing eyes; two gorgeous, very famous faces tongue-in-cheek and looking for banter. I may have raised my eyebrows in respect for their nerve, but thats all I saw - nerve and brass neck, and my own panic. I think my smiling reply was something along the lines of 'dirty old buggers'.

Thats my claim to fame. I once stared down Status Quo and called them dirty old men. What a clever girl.

Okay so I didn't really want to be a groupie, ta very much. Not my cup of tea, but thats an awful big jump to a conclusion, and what I suppose I mean is that I erred on the side of cowardice, calling it rigid propriety, far too many times.

It doesnt matter now. Well it matters, I'm older and way more daring, but how shall we put this - not dressed in such saleable packaging any more. The time is past.

At 44 years old I am slowly letting go of the last wish not already deleted from my fantasy 'one day' list - to learn to play the alto sax. Someone found a way to take a lump of metal and pour pure sex into the sounds it makes - I adore the saxophone, its just beyond sleazy, but would you pay to watch an unknown granny strut the stage making hot sex pour from an instrument?

No, thought not!

The strangest, most condemning factor in all this is the freedom, that its too late to berate myself for all the chances I turn down from here on in. Its like this whole amazing, wonderful world with a siren call has been there through a wide open doorway, waiting for me to have the guts to step through and see if I sink or swim. Its almost like someone has closed the door now and locked it, and instead of mourning, I am relaxing that all that 'shall I - shan't I' business is over, and I can go and make the tea.

I wonder if the word 'chicken' is going to be on my gravestone one day................

12 August 2005

Catch 22

Doris has tagged me.

I usually like being tagged - firstly it says that someone wants to see you waffle on about yourself (and I love waffling on!) - secondly, if the questions are personal (and lets face it, most memes are all about me, me, and more me) then being tagged avoids the sensation of grandstanding - of actually volunteering to go on about oneself. Tagging eliminates the issue of ego, for me, anyhow.

Ok so I am a bit odd.

That's another thing - I get really fed up with people who feel they ought to contradict you if you say something less than wonderful about yourself, but there seem to be so many of them in the real (non blog) world. If I had a huge zit on my nose and said 'wow I have a huge zit on my nose' - what could you say? Oh dear? Never mind? Yes but you've got nice hair?

How come, then, if I state something like 'I can be really stupid in the mornings', do people feel the need to tell me off? Phrases like: 'you worry too much', or 'you shouldn't run yourself down'?

Where do they get off? I am not worried, just realistic, and happy with it. I find it more comfortable to know what cards I've been dealt, what I have in my hand, what I can change and what I can't. I hate being attacked for being honest but some people seem to think they have the right; that I should look in the mirror with my eyes shut and pretend that the metaphorical zits don't exist. If I'm weird, they're worse.

Anyway, having strung this out around the houses, I am forced to get to the point. Its a meme I saw at Arc's, and considered, but stayed quiet because the answers, in my case, are very personal as they require explanations. Now, as I say, Doris has tagged me, I am hoisted on my own petard and must answer,

but before I do......

To be hoisted on your own petard, is NOT, as one google search suggests, to experience a lesbian wedgie. Oddly I thought lesbians and straight girls were built the same, and may have to go back to that link to see what on earth they meant.

Petard is an old French word for a fart, pure and simple, so its amusing that it was also the name given to an early, bell shaped bomb, I guess in the same colloquial way that locals to me call a small, loud moped or motorbike a 'fart in a matchbox'.

The phrase was first put in print by Shakespeare (Hamlet, 1604) and means to be hoisted into the air, ie blown up, by one's own bomb.

An equivalent analogy is shooting yourself in the foot. And heres where I do. This is the point where any straggling or struggling readers could toddle off to another blog.

No, honestly, you could.

The dreaded meme:

Domestic Partnership
1. If we are single or in a monogamous relationship?
2. How long we have been with our partner/significant other/boy/girlfriend?
3. How we met?
4. What we like to do together?
5. If we are single, what life with our ideal spouse/partner would look like?
1. Married and very, very monogamous (okay you can't technically be 'very' any finite condition, but I know that opinions on what constitutes monogamy can vary tremendously.)

2. Met 1990, married 1991 although we spent seven years of that living apart. Grief this is the first time I've added that up properly. So, either thirteen years, or six.

To explain, (which I feel I must,) my first husband did a complete runner, left all the household bills in thousands of pounds of debt and more importantly in our joint names. It was down to me to find him and take him to court for a half or more of the money. I got told that even with a court order it could be like getting blood from a stone, but I never pinned an address to him anyway. The companies 'we' owed all saw me, the unemployed housewife with kids, as liable for the bills, and obviously had to accept reduced repayment terms.

As soon as I got married again, however, suddenly I was a second class citizen again - suddenly they wanted the balance ASAP, on the basis that I now had a 'provider'. Why they just didn't say sugar daddy, and be done with it, is beyond me. Gary had his own debts, a flat in negative equity and huge 'single man' credit card debts from holidays and all that stuff I hadn't had and wasnt missing!

His first summer without even a coach ride somewhere was ever so hard on him - especially with his circle of friends and workmates all taking on more debt to go abroad etc - I was so proud of him.

Even without luxuries we just couldnt balance the books, so I threw him back out.

We went back to dating and he went to stay at my parents house as lodger, coming back when his debts were all cleared and we could accept the hiked repayment terms on my first husband's debts. He would have been back sooner, but redundancy and then following me 100 miles South to the coast kind of held things up.

Nice huh? Poor Gary has spent a decade paying not just for him, me, my kids and our kids, but my ex as well. I can tell you how long we've been married, or faithful (which obviously began prior to marriage) but not how long we've 'been together'.

3. We met over the phone. One of my first and last acts of defiance at the end of my first marriage was to take the Mensa test, because the ex kept calling me a stupid effing this or that. I passed. Gary was the West London Secretary and the phone contact when I finally found the guts (and the cash), a year later, to go out.

My mother agreed to babysit, which was right out of character, but she thought a Mensa meeting would be a step in the right direction. Haha, it was a bar full of people on my level, jokes wise, which is a pretty wonky level, I assure you.

There Gary was, in a suit with his briefcase, having come straight from work; playing bar billiards. He was shorter, at 5'11", than he had sounded on the phone, but we had talked and laughed on that first call for over two hours and I was already hooked.

4. Absolutely nothing. Havent been to a hotel since our honeymoon, never go out to concerts. He's been declaring himself too old for fairground rides since the day we met. Actually made the effort and went out for my birthday two years ago, and I had to fight to make that a trip to Brighton ( a bus ride away) instead of down to the small grey line of shutters that is our own town centre after 6pm. We came home by 11. The joys of kids and babysitters I guess, and maybe I am just tired of being a cash-strapped mum of under 16s for over 22 years.

He goes to work, he comes back knackered, he cooks dinner then collapses on the sofa, he's happy. Grrrr.

Ok so I am not experiencing my personal idea of 'a life', but we do have a laugh, albeit indoors surrounded by kids (its amazing how easily you can feel 'surrounded' by even one child.) I guess I am becoming a couch potato against my will and its annoying the hell out of me, but hey, you can't have it all.

5. If:............... Strangely I am more in love with my husband now than I was when we married, although I had turned him down once for rushing me, when my kids from first time around asked him if they could call him dad, so I wind him up that I got hijacked into this. I love his mind, whether its being intellectual or considerate or dirty, and if he was another six inches taller I think I would need a lock on the bedroom door to stop him leaving in the mornings. Of course, I could be smaller, or lighter for that matter, so its a moot point. I guess that barring a couple of daydreams, the one I've got is already the ideal.

There. Not still here are you? See, I told you, you really didn't need to know all that, but somehow for me its less of an issue, just because I said it, whether it gets read or not. Say not.

11 August 2005

Voluntary Extinction?

Well, its better than calling a post 'Suicide'. Its hard to point out you found something funny, with a title like that.....

In the news today: The Council at a suicide hot spot in Hong Kong have voted to capitalise on their area's reputation by setting up a suicide theme park. Honestly. According to the report, there have been twenty five successful and attempted suicides in a single holiday home on Cheung Chau island. Now they propose to bill it as a haunted house type experience - a ghost town attraction.

However, perhaps somebody needs to have words with the advertising manager at the South African Mail & Guardian online - the article, above, has the title, in bold, "Suicide Theme Park Proposed For Hong Kong Island". Fair enough. Directly under it, however, is a picture of a school swimming team, with one kid outlined in red and the caption "What happened to your old friends?"
It turns out to be an advert for the SA version of Friends Reunited, but I don't think we were really meant to follow the link whilst wondering how many old classmates might have topped themselves.

Just as bizarre but resulting in a very naughty yet, very pleasing thought, is the Viral ad with the tagline Polo, Small, but Tough. Brilliant!

The link is to the google search, because its getting to be a bit of a game to find a working version, hence the precis, even though its much more fun to see it happening without knowing the plot.

A meditteranean looking fella walks down the step from his impressive house and enters his VW Polo. He pulls up outside a cafe on a sunny day, with lots of people at the kerbside tables. He switches off the engine. You see the explosives around his waist, you see him reach for the little push button. He pushes it.
The car rocks ever so slightly, goves off a mufled 'pop' sound and fills up with glowing smoke inside the windows, while the cafe customers take no notice at all.

Sadly its been around since January, before it was so pertinent.
Proudly, it was created by two guys in England
Sadly a couple of bloggers admitted they contacted VW immediately, to see if it was real
Sadly this led to VW starting court proceedings
Happily the end result, officially, was that the lads simply had to issue an apology (but I bet costs were involved)
Annoyingly it is becoming increasingly hard to find a working copy - either the soundtrack works with a blacked out screen, or you hit a total brick wall. There was perhaps more to the court deliberations than we are being told.

Never mind - its doing the rounds by email now, and I've got a copy, hehehehe! Want one?

To See Ourselves As Others See Us

It is a wonderful and rare gift to see ourselves as others see us, and a wonderful and rare friend who will speak freely and in kindness.

I guess that's why I like Doris so much. Pop over to this post, and you'll see what I mean.

Creative, considerate and tactful to the Nth degree when it matters, Doris is the sort of person you would want to come and tell you if the poop had hit the fan big time and I am a fan of her people skills, so for a moment such frankness took me by surprise. Its an honour, just a surprising one.

She is quite right, I can be outspoken and in fact thats her wonderful tact coming into play again, she could just as well have said confrontational and I would still agree. I know I can be downright evil when the spirit moves me; generally when I feel there is an injustice, and then I click into some kind of flag waving battleaxe mode.

Maybe its the training from my first marriage - all those times I was convinced I was going to end up dead, until I got used to it and thought "Sod you mate, you're coming with me."

Maybe its just that I am going to eventually become one of those dreadful pensioners that 'run things' and terrorise people.

I hope its not the second one, even though I am rather fond of Endora - she had no time for fools. Her standards may have been off the wall, but she knew who she was and at a time when the Singer Sewing machine company were still proclaiming their machines as responsible for women's liberation, and Shredded Wheat were targetting the female shoppers with a song about giving 'the best' to the men in your life (!), well, she was my first encounter with feminism beyond my mother, because mum never trained me to expect a role, I was allowed to be me.

Perhaps now is not the best time to mention that all my most favourite female role models turned out to be lesbians - Jean Marsh who played Rose in Upstairs Downstairs, Sandy Toksvig on the kids TV show 'Number 73'.

Because of the introspection those discoveries caused, I am certain I am straight, I simply gravitated toward women unfettered by propriety - who would call a spade a spade or a plonker a plonker.

I call that good company.

10 August 2005

Free Association 131

I am late playing, this week. The funny thing is that if you do this for three or four weeks, you start to notice not just your own moods and your own nutty subconscious associations, but also a little something about how the author, LunaNina's own mind works.

I have no idea whether this week's list was created in a good or bad mood, but its interesting that the chosen words should be listed together. You think?
  1. Complexion:: Porcelain Sorry, I just dont hear the word used, except in makeup adverts
  2. Teach:: If you can't do - Not so true these days but there are still plenty of 'traditional' teachers for whom the cap fits - guys that just want an easy life working from the same notes they used last year. I know, I've worked in a school.
  3. Back to school:: Hollow, horrible; butterflies - I loved Juniors and hated Senior (Grammar) school - disinterested, pompous teachers and no participation unless it was a spot test, all dictation. Except Art and English.
  4. Months:: plenty of time. Everything in this house works on what I should have done by yesterday - anything due to happen in months rather than minutes goes to the back of my head
  5. Nominate:: Expel - but only because Big Brother is on.
  6. Favorite curse word:: Bollocks. You can express so much more disdain and adrenalin gearing up to say B instead of a word beginning with F and its perfect said in a cold, quiet, perfectly pronounced fashion - makes people do a double take.
  7. Concerned:: Worried - especially when its not really your business. Otherwise used in letters as a polite term for panicked/outraged
  8. Better:: Nicer. Wow what a catch all word. Getting better feels nicer, thats it.
  9. Escalate:: Stir up trouble. The word only seems to be used in sentences like "The situation has escalated", meaning bad things. I guess if you personally escalate something, you make it worse.
  10. Unveil:: Plaque. Like they do when a dignitary can make it to 'open' a new building thats been functioning for a month already - stick a plaque on the wall indoors and have them pull a curtain open.

09 August 2005

Oh Dear

I've done it again.

You know those hot summer days when the house is acting like some noxious greenhouse? The washing up is covering the kitchen top, hardening away and giving off eau-de cold whatever it was you ate last night - curry, or fish, or chinese? The morning after a couple of lovely bottles of red, when you felt so relaxed about doing it all in the morning, but now realise you need a gas mask just to get in the kitchen?

The pet(s) are generally wandering around giving off pet hair and pet smell to the rest of the place, that hangs round them in the kind of musty way that makes you start to wonder if you can see auras, and the laundry basket is exhibiting endothermic properties. Yuck.

You look at it all, and inwardly, you sag. Still, its an empty day so you decide to say 'sod the lot of it', settle for opening a few windows, and go instead to have a super-long hot bath and a total preen before making a start.

Thats what I do, anyhow. I just can't find the energy to blitz, if I feel grubby myself.

To get to the point (which is something I confess I often have problems with), it is only ever on one of those rare and foul days, when I am padding round the house wrapped in an old bath towel, face plastered in some new face pack - for preference bright blue and starting to crack - that the doorbell rings.

The caller is never just anyone, like a salesman you can shoo away through the letterbox, but someone new and wonderful and likeable, that's just moved in. Someone you've spoken to a couple of times and now remember you told to 'drop by anytime' never really thinking they would find you that interesting.

I always always find myself having to open the door to prove why I cant ask them in, and then they go and say something cheerful like "Oh I don't mind!" and walk in anyhow!

So, The kids are on school holidays and my recent posts have been about other, more wonderful bloggers, or shock-horror snippets in the news with a couple of late light alcohol fuelled poetic attempts in the middle. And then............... and then Michelle, the most prolific, creative, lighthearted blogger with a readership to envy and a long list of funny friends, has gone and named my site, site of the day. I feel very proud and very unprepared.

So here I am, almost awake and slightly hung over, in my towel. I love old towels - they can be boil washed to make them wonderfully scratchy and invigorating. I like my blue face mask, it says it takes years off you, and like owning a lottery ticket, until the grand draw, I am having fun living in hope.

Just excuse me while I wash my face and get dressed - I'd offer you a cuppa, but not until I know for sure that little blue flakes won't drop into it. Nonetheless, whilst I scrabble off to get 'decent' - welcome!

You might want to sit near a window.