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Monday, December 31st, 2012
3:25 am - here he comes, with a hop, and a tweet
There are a lot of odd letters missing here, for some reason. And I am finding it absolutely impossible to post a link in any way - using Livejournal or Semagic's own links


What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

Swam in the sea, properly, without armbands like I had when I was 9.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
There have been so many babies this year! But  publicansdecoy n obsessive_katy's little one is the one that made me burst with happiness.

Did anyone close to you die?
My gran, at the end of February. She was 98 and a half. The funeral was a small affair, but it allowed a lot of us younger ones (under 65) to catch up and exchange Facebook addresses and so on, and we're still all in touch so a little good has come out of it. And Andrew's best friend Alison died in January, which devastated him. And there's no subtle way to put this, but she absolutely bloody hated me, which has made it more upsetting, because he was always convinced we'd manage to be friends one day.

Did you keep all of last year’s resolutions, and have you any resolutions for next year?
Nope. I'll make the same one again shall I? Get out more, see more people... From the life I had a few years ago, when I was out every single night and sometimes had to book myself a night in,  I now have an almost pathological refusal to go out. Which I must change.

What countries did you visit?
Wales, France, Belgium, Germany, Cornwall and Jersey (yes the last two count.)

What would you like to have in 2013 that you didn't have in 2012?
Pet cows. A garden. Cats. An enormous kitchen.

7. What date in 2012 will remain etched in your memory?
My birthday.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Swimming!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not actually keeping up going swimming, other than at the seaside.

10. Did you suffer any illness or injury?
Nothing at all no.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I have no idea. Possibly a charity shop £3.25 Le Creuset pan that retails at £70. Or my nice shawl/scarf. (I didn't want a round-the-neck-only scarf, this is a proper shawl job.)

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Liz Jones, Jan Moir, Leo McKinstry, Frederick Forsyth, Richard Kay, and that fucking lunatic Melanie Phillips.

Where did most of your money go?
I don't even see money any more. It comes in on one day, and goes out on bills the next.

What did you get really really really excited about?
Christmas, I think. Andrew and I had our present opening and Christmas dinner alone for the first time, and I did allow myself to get a little excited in the run up to that.

What songs will always remind you of 2012?
Sausage Miba. (I dreamt I was the author of a series of successful children's books about a little bird called Sausage Miba. There's a theme tune.)

Compared to this time last year are you:

A. Fatter or thinner? Much bigger. Every single skirt I own is now far too small - skirts I've owned for ten years. I've put on enough that nothing fits, anyway.
B. Happier or sadder? Happier!
C. Richer or poorer? Bit of both; my pay has gone up, but Andy's had less work on. It all evens out over time.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Socialising, going abroad, reading. Although I always blame the internet for reducing my reading, and yet I got an internetted phone for Christmas, and read a whole book in one go yesterday - something I haven't done for years.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Sleeping. Seriously. Get up and do something.

How did you spend Christmas?
With my lovely Andrew, at home, just us and a mountain of food.

Which LJ users did you meet for the first time?
(I'm keepin miss_newham's answer here)
None! I think this question may be a little out of date now...

Did you fall in love in 2012?
I am tremendously in love, still.

How many one night stands?
See 21.

What was your favourite TV show?
Erm... Sherlock? The Thick Of It? Horrible Histories? I'm not very good at telly - I've never seen Homeland or The Walking Dead or all this other stuff that people go on about. Or 24 or Lost or The Wire or Game of Thrones. I'm not pretentiously trying to avoid anything, I have just genuinely missed the boat, every time. Actually, my favourite TV 'show' is probably Doctors. Cracking stuff.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No.

What was/were the best books you read?
I recently decided that I wanted to re-read all the Ed McBain 87th Precinct novels I read as a kid, and tried to find them in chazza shops. I found, coincidentally, the first and the last of them, but Andy sneakily got me the 2nd, 3rd and 4th for Christmas, and they are bloody ace

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
It was an amazing surprise. Andrew told me we were doing 'something' and had to get up early. After four days of fear that I was being sent on an Outward Bound or Territorial Army assault course, we actually spent a hot day in Jersey. Oh me of little faith.

What one thing would have made your year more satisfying?
A much bigger kitchen. Or longer legs. (Those two aren't connected. Longer arms would actually help in a small kitchen.)

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Going down, down and down. Those who knew me 10,15 or 20 years ago would probably be baffled about the lack of high heels, heavy make-up and jewellery

What kept you sane?
Andy Barding, and regular visits to cows.



current mood: jolly, merry

(2 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Monday, December 24th, 2012
2:39 pm - salvation army
As a press cutting editor, with some clients whose interests are 'food' and 'health,' I have spent the last few weeks reading a ridiculously large number of articles about how to cook the Christmas dinner, and the stress and horror it can entail. Now, while I am a good cook, and spent my first six years post-school working as a professional cook, I have found these articles quite daunting. It must be a very hard thing indeed! Because I've never actually cooked a Christmas dinner for more than one person - I've either had it cooked for me, or cooked a solo feast while living in London. And then I noticed an article in which some chef, may have been Jamie Oliver, said something along the lines of 'Christmas dinner may be the only time all year that some people cook from fresh,' and I realised that all these horrendously scaremongering articles in which Christmas dinner is some Big Ordeal are not aimed at me, they're aimed at non-cooks. Christmas dinner is just a big Sunday roast, isn't it? And I do us a proper Sunday roast a couple of times a month anyway - this time we're just going to make the effort of sitting at a table. And making sure that we're so full we can't bloody move afterwards and just sit there groaning. Nevertheless, as a former professional cook, I have taken some shortcut liberties. For example, I have bought some 'Tesco finest turkey gravy,' because gravy's a bit of a pain in the arse to make when I do Sunday dinners, so why not save myself the bother? Also I have bought a turkey crown, rather than a full turkey with giblets, and my guess is that the turkey gravy is almost certainly made from the bits that are cut off a turkey to present a crown for sale anyway, thus saving everyone a lot of bother all round. I have already topped and tailed sprouts and baby carrots and put them in boxes to be microwaved, because after the initial foodie disgust of microwaved food in the 1990s, it's become fairly common knowledge that cooking veg this way utitilises the minimum of water, maintaining all the taste and nutritional value of it. I am well prepared for mid-winter feasting now, particularly as I have also 'barded and larded' the turkey. Larding is spreading with fat, and 'barding' is the process of putting bacon strips across the meat, to help it baste. Barding is also the name of my fiancé, and my name-to-be, so cutely appropriate.
Merry Christmas everybody.

current mood: thankful

(3 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Friday, December 14th, 2012
8:54 am - Death, though going on world-wide still takes us by surprise*
The suicide of Jacintha Saldanha has shaken many people. The DJs who made the call will feel responsible, and guilty, for the rest of their lives. The BBC, and any other stations who chose to broadcast the 'prank' should be aware of how they helped to turn one woman's silly mistake at work into a global mockery, that led to a death. But how did this become an international story? It shouldn't have done. 2Day FM are a Sydney station, and by all accounts a little hoax like that should have stayed local. Jeez mates, we phoned yer bladdy Brit Queen and she fell for it (sorry for my accent there tabouli.) How did this story go global? There is a lot of blame flying around in this story - should Scotland Yard have had a better procedure in place? Should King Edward VII Hospital? Should 2Day FM? Should Jacintha Saldanha be able to get a joke? But the one, silent, destined to be unheard forever person to blame is the 2Day FM listener in Sydney who decided he should spread the word. It should have, and would have, been okay as a local DJ prank, where by 'local' I mean Sydney is miles away from London. Broadcast in and of itself, it's funny - the most terrible impersonations of Her Majesty The Queen, and His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, being put straight through to the poorly Duchess of Cambridge. As prank calls go, it was successful, but who wouldn't fall for it? Jacintha Saldanha wasn't a natural English speaker so there may (or of course, may not) have been nuances that would tip you off to the fact you were speaking, or were not speaking, to The Queen, but she was looking after the Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William had been a-visiting. It wasn't that far-fetched that William's nan might phone up.
This whole thing did set me thinking about suicides though. I doubt there are statistics, or if it's even possible to compile them, for suicides who have no history of depression or suicidal tendencies but just go home one day and suddenly decide that's what they'll do, but there must be so many. Those who just instantly decide that to kill themselves is the quickest solution to a current problem, and do it. I think this is what Jacintha has done - an instant solution, that there were other solutions to.
Like all the bloody suicides I have known.
The Duchess of Cambridge is going to be shaken by this for all of her life. Those of you who really hate the Royal Family must feel so pleased.

current mood: up

(1 clawmark | scratch my back)

Saturday, October 20th, 2012
7:11 pm - Local Gay Kid
I've just been watching one of the local betracksuited kids dragging another kid along on roller blades by a piece of rope, or string, or chain. This looked, and sounds, a bit weird, until I clocked who he was. We have names for a lot of the neighbours, having not actually made their proper acquaintance - The Fat Woman, who takes an hour to get in and out of her car and has a slave boy (her son) to carry the shopping in (known as Fatty's Boy), Gilbert & George (two smart old gents), the Chav Family Robinson (speaks for itself), Lee Nelson (in real life), and that weird vintage obsessive opposite us (oh sorry, that's Luigia, she's actually our good friend! We really call her Neighbs, and vice versa.) There's also Flat Bed Truck Man, who Andrew probably hasn't seen, but we greet each other every morning as I return from a night shift and he sets off for a day's work. I have no idea what he does, being as he sets off and returns every day with an empty flat bed on his truck, and also has a noticeable hunched back, or scoliosis, or something, but he's at least a neighbour I know to say hi to. Oh, and there's Karen Matthews, who used to live opposite and was probably a lovely mum to her kids; she just looked to me like Karen Matthews.
But Local Gay Kid is a new phenomenon. He was whizzing around on his roller blades the other night with all the other kids (roller blades are so back in this year, have you noticed?) but he was doing so much more. He was speed-skating with all the left/right/left sweeping arm movements that a pro would do, and his stopping had a flourish to it, rather than the skid-stop of the other kids. I named him Local Gay Kid, and wished him luck. Today he was on his blades and dragging a girl round (also on blades, not just actually carting her along) and at first sight he looked to be just 'dragging her along', on a string. But they were doing moves. When you watched for a while, he was dragging her and then moving the rope to do an actual dance-like swirl, an acrobatic swirling around. What had looked like a kid in a grey tracksuit dragging a mate around on roller skates with a bit of rope was clearly nothing of the sort. Good luck, Local Gay Kid. Good on you.
But while I have been writing this I went to the shop and managed to get ripped off. Small child in front of me at the till, maybe 10 or 12 at most. He had two confectionery items. "£1.10" says the guy. "Oh, I thought it was £1" says the kid sadly, and looks around, even more sadly. So of course I offer the 10p, the kid runs off happily, and the shop bloke sighs and says "he does that every time you know?"
So now I'm obviously torn between admiring the entrepreneurship of the little twat, or just thinking 'you little twat.'

(1 clawmark | scratch my back)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
1:23 am - I'm sure the sergeant major will tell you
Last weekend it was my birthday, on the Sunday. On the Thursday before that, Andy told me that he had 'arranged something', and that we would have to leave the house at 5.30am. I immediately became quite suspicious and concerned about the 'something.' And while I'd be well up for a parachute jump (but not the landing, that's the bit that would hurt) I was genuinely convinced he'd set me up for some sort of 'activity' that would not actually be fun. He revelled in my fear, saying 'you think I've read you all wrong don't you? That it's going to be a disaster?' Well, yes.
Andy once took a girlfriend to a Flaming Lips gig, telling her she would love it. Well what's not to love? Fun, happy stuff; balloons, streamers, funny animal people... he turned to look at her during the gig and she was purple in the face, apopleptic with rage. She hated the Flaming Lips with the sort of passion you reserve for someone who had tortured and killed your favourite childhood pet. The relationship didn't last much longer. Was my birthday treat going to be along those lines?
I don't like to guess surprises so I didn't try to sneak clues out of him, other than saying 'what if I wear the wrong clothes?' Because the skirt I had on when I asked might not have been right for abseiling or white water rafting. I was informed that what I was wearing was fine, but I might want something warmer for later, and that I might want to take my swimming costume. Canoeing then. Should we take the camera? 'Oh, I'm not sure if you can film in abbatoirs.'
So we set off at 5.30am, and I did a bit of dozing in the car. We'd taken the passports 'for ID' but headed away from Dover, and Gatwick, and then past Heathrow. I saw a sign for Birdworld, where we've often talked about going, but why the early start? We passed that, and Marwell, and Southampton, and eventually got to Poole. I had vaguely thought my surprise might be a helicopter flight. Not one to anywhere, just a trip up, but we landed at a port, parked up, and walked into the offices. I'd also thought Isle of Wight as an idea, and this was still in my head when the woman said 'Mr Barding, yes, day return to Jersey.' Woohoo! It was a bloody long journey - getting on for four hours - and the only ferry I've ever been on with allocated seats, but I absolutely love being on the water and it was a glorious trip. We arrived in Jersey, picked up some tourist maps, and just wandered for a bit, heading for St Helier's swimming pool area of the sea. You know, one of those bits where they've built a wall in the sea so you can safely bathe without being carried off by a shark. It even had changing rooms for modest English ladies who don't do that whole stripping off in public thing. And I can actually swim now. Three days before we had been to Whitstable, in Kent, and I had swum in the sea, being a little nervous, having only properly learned to swim last year. In St Helier it was even better, having the confidence to go out of foot-on-the-floor depth, and doing a bit of backstroke. And in an even more shocking event, I changed back into my clothes in the communal changing area. I felt like a pervert. Andrew and I are not very good at eating out. We spend hours peering into places and deciding whether they're for us or not having 'you go first', 'no you go first' conversations, so it took us at least an hour to sit down somewhere and eat, but the eating was good. Salmon, mussels, squid, prawns, abalone, and Andrew had something too. The boat back was full of people from Guernsey who had been to Jersey for the day. Kind of like people from Romford having a day in the West End, and actually just like people from Romford . I'd seen a bloke on the ferry out who was the absolute double of Gregg Wallace, and there he was on the boat back too. When we were getting off the boat I was desperate to tell him he looked like Gregg Wallace, because that would have been very original to him, and on the basis I could make that joke without ever seeing him again, but I managed to stop myself, which was a good job because he was parked directly opposite us in the car park.

current mood: cheerful

(4 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Monday, June 11th, 2012
10:16 pm - i've made some beans chief
I have mentioned this on Livejournal before, but many years ago, and there appears to be no way to search for it, so I shall repeat myself, hopefully to a mostly new audience. I have been reminded of this by Dan Cruickshank's London progrum on the telly, and it is genuinely the only time I have ever, and I say this as a petite make-up wearing blonde, ever experienced sexism. I was at university (I don't have a degree, but I studied for a bit) and was doing a module on socio-economic history. In particular, we were studying the industrial revolution, and you all know what that is - we discovered mass production, because we had discovered new ways with steam and iron, canals, silk, cottons... so in a tutorial with someone who when I look back on it must have been 21, at most, I brought up something interesting that I'd read about. The industrial revolution had brought with it the first printing presses, so therefore the first periodicals and magazines. And those magazines contained pictures of houses, and ladies in other cities, so suddenly the women in Manchester could read about what the women in London were wearing, and how they were decorating their houses. And the women in London could read about what the women in Paris were wearing, and how they were decorating their houses - the curtains and cushions and so on. This provided a tremendous boost to the cotton and silk industries, obviously, as the newly-rich wives and daughters of the industrialists went out and bought stuff, for the sake of it. Because they had money. So in this tutorial I mentioned this development, this boost to the economy, and in summary, I suggested that the industrial revolution had brought with it the start of the fashion industry. I had thought this was a historically valid and interesting point. My youthful tutor said 'oh well, you would be interested in fashion I suppose... because you're a woman.'
That is, quite genuinely, the only time I have ever had anything like that said to me. My jaw dropped so much at the time that I couldn't answer, and my eyebrows still raise at the memory.

current mood: ecstatic

(7 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Sunday, January 1st, 2012
10:08 am - the year of swimming
What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
Swam a length! In fact, more than one, and quite literally jumped in at the deep end.

Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No. I think I resolved to see friends more, and go out more, but probably went out less.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Loads of people! Not super close mates, but I seem to hear about a birth every month, and there are at least two pending, that I know of 

Did anyone close to you die?
No. 

What countries did you visit?
France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy (the last three for the first time, and we may have passed through Austria, not sure.) Oh,and Scotland, where it rained constantly, as usual.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
A cat. An enormous living room and kitchen. (Not going to happen though.)

What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
24th April - I got engaged to a lovely man. He went down on one knee, and presented me with a ring in front of the cows! At the farm!Brilliant. He'd looked bloody shifty beforehand - obviously nerves, but the way he kept looking around, I thought he was preparing to rob the place, or at least have a big swear. Etched on my memory for other reasons 8th August, watching the riots, having to get up for the Eurostar early the next morning, and wondering what would be left when I got back.And the 13th August, the day after my birthday.(of which more later, as writers say.)

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Learning to swim! A slightly belated birthday present from Andy - ten lessons, and by the sixth we were actually diving in. All hail to Tamara, who is clearly a bloody amazing teacher. We were initially split into two groups, with us supposed to be a bit better, although still all non-swimmers. The other lot were still bobbing around with floats in the shallow end, while we were jumping in and backstroking a length.

What was your biggest failure?
Erm dunno. I've had a pretty good year really, although I haven't seen my family much. I saw my mum for the first time this year at Christmas, and didn't get to Manchester at all.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just the usual drunken bumps and scrapes. Had a migraine that kept me off work in April, and a stomach bug that meant two days off in November (at which point I texted one of my managers to ask him to get ice cream, meaning to text Andy.)

What was the best thing you bought?
Bought for me -my potato ricer! Bloody marvellous. Bought for someone else - Andy's telescope, for his birthday. We bought it jointly (well he put some extra money towards buying a decent one) and I have honestly never bought anyone any present that's so well loved, and constantly used six months later.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Well clearly I am going to say Mr Barding. He's so lovely, and will do anything to make me happy. I enjoyed the fact that he went on tour with MY friends (shewho and charleston) who he'd not met before and got on with so well. 

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
The rioters. Watching that made me genuinely sick. I did cry watching Hackney and Tottenham get smashed up, and Croydon burning.

Where did most of your money go?
Bills, petrol, oh ok, and shopping. And booze, but probably not as much as in other years. I only went after-work drinking once, all year, where I used to first in the pub, and last out.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My birthday week! Andy had already been away with the band for a few days, so I was looking forward to seeing him. See also, the Keith TotP tour, where he'd been away for even longer, with my friends!

What song will always remind you of 2011?
Anything by Crystal Stilts, I imagine. I saw them lots on their tour, and played the CD while driving to work a lot, but can't remember any titles. Also, Fuck You, I'm Keith Top Of The Pops, by, er, Keith. And probably Angela by the Blood Arm.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. Happier or sadder? Happier. Life's pretty fine (don't jinx it Rhoda.)
ii. Thinner or fatter? About the same, I suppose. Well my clothes still fit.
iii. Richer or poorer? Poorer. Well I'm not, but we as a couple probably are.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Writing on Livejournal (I didn't even celebrate its tenth birthday!) Seeing people. Cleaning the floors. Reading! (I have become so lax at reading - see next answer)

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Spider Solitaire. I have become bloody hooked, and I'm still losing much more than I win. All that time, wasted, when I have good books to read.

Did you fall in love in 2011?
Much more in love. Very much more. 

How many one-night stands?
None, duh.

What was your favorite TV programme?
Misfits, This Is England (although it's grim stuff - no one can say they 'enjoyed' it,) Erm...Doctor Who? (Good heavens, I just Googled to see if Sherlock was this year (no) and a trailer came on the TV saying it returns tonight!)

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No, Although I have recently admitted to myself that I dislike someone (not on LJ, no.)

What was the best book you read?
Like I said, I have been rubbish with books lately. This has probably been my worst year for books ever. I did enjoy both Jay Rayner's and Anthony Bourdain's (quite similar) eating adventures though.  

What did you want and get?
A potato ricer! Gravy. A fishslice with no holes in it. Single serving casserole dishes. (Notice a theme?)

What did you want & not get?
To the end of this bloody questionnaire within a reasonable time.

What was your favorite film of this year?
I don't know, erm, The Kings Speech was bloody good. The film about Facebook was bloody awful though. I dozed off towards the end and woke up during the credits with a feeling of 'oh thank god it's over.' Of older films I liked Eden Lake and The Butterfly Effect.

What did you do on your birthday,?
I woke up in a dorm hotel room in Munich, with Andy and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Stilts">Crystal Stilts</a>*. It was a night off for the tour, so we drove to Switzerland, stopping in some little scenic town, because all the Americans wanted to see the castle. I can't remember the name of the town to save my life, and we didn't get to the castle, but the band treated me to a pig roast lunch. Then on to Switzerland, where it was drizzling, and we couldn't find anywhere to park, or get Swiss Francs to pay for the parking, etc etc. My god, I feel like I have been filling in this questionnaire for all of 2011. So I wrote about the whole tour <a href="http://missfrost.livejournal.com/869428.html"> here</a>. See Saturday for one of the most amazing days of my life - five star hotel, speedboat on the lake, ample food and drink, shooting stars...
(*I seem to have totally lost the ability to do html links, so I'm leaving them in that messy state in the hope that someone will tell me what I've done wrong, because I can't see it.)

1 thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying
More cash, is surely everyone's answer? More trips abroad? Yes I know I did plenty, but we couldn't go the St Omer Christmas market, as we'd wanted to. Erm, naturally straight hair, longer legs..? Oh and learning to swim before we went to Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) would have been fun - I just got to watch everyone else dive in while I sat on the boat.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
None. Jeans, shirt over a camisole top, T shirts? I just don't bother any more, I rarely wear skirts, or jewellery.

What kept you sane?
Andy Barding! He's always there to call me Grumpybollocks, or similar, if I'm having a bit of a mood. He can always make me feel good. (He also, of course, drives me mental with his non-stop talking, and his Stuff. Heaps of Stuff. Everywhere.)

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I never fancy anyone, other than the person I'm with. I know it sounds weird, and I have occasionally been worried about that. But I just don't.

Who did you miss?
My friends and family. I haven't even made the effort to see friends that now live in South London. I bought angel some presents in August and haven't given them to her, even though she lives near, and we have a bloody car!

Who was the best new person you met?
I would have to say the Crystal Stilts boys, and the Blood Arm (and Joel, who's not actually a Blood Arm, but gets categorised with them in my head.) And davidsmum.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Never, ever, fill in those end of year questionnaires on New Year's Day

quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Ooh la la la la, he's Keith Top of the Pops.


current mood: merry

(8 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Sunday, September 11th, 2011
3:35 am - those were the actual days etk

'I've just bought a calendar and it seems to feature an 11th of September. And they said it would never happen again!' So said a Viz letter, soon after what we now universally call 9/11, even though to the British that clearly means the 9th of November. 

But of course the event, whatever its name, is a truly shocking memory. I was working in an office where the internet was a new innovation, and already they'd firewalled anything useful. Except the BBC. My first and main overriding memory of the Twin Towers attacks is Wendy, from the call centre, walking into our office (accounts) and saying in a really quite urgent voice, 'a plane's crashed into the Twin Towers.'  This was about 2pm, and all we could do was refresh bbc.co.uk to find out more. I read that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and I'd recently been there, and also to New York that year - seven months ago. I'd been on the Staten Island Ferry and taken my tourist photos of that view of New York, dominated by the Twin Towers.  After a few hours of refreshing the BBC website at work I went home to my flatmate, who'd been at home off sick. She'd been with me on that New York/Washington holiday, and was now absolutely white with horror. Watching the rolling news with her I felt the same. The other day the BBC's London Tonight reported that 9/11 is now being taught in schools' history lessons. Of course it is, it's 'old' to today's 13 year olds. But we'd just been there. Carine and I watched it all that night in tears and shock. Our recent lovely holiday had had this happen. A friend of ours worked in one of the big banks, in Canary Wharf, and had a live video link to their New York branch. Yes, you can guess where that live link was. Darren posted up some transcripts of conversations from that day, and they were heartbreaking... too much.

Apparently it was 'the day that changed the world.' Maybe it did. Maybe we can't fly to another country with ease any more. Maybe we wouldn't even want to visit another country after this. Maybe we can no longer trust anyone. Maybe we should stick to our own. Well if this is what God and Allah want, they're not welcome in my world.



I look forward to receiving the spam mail six months hence - gosh LJ really has died eh?

current mood: jolly

(8 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Thursday, August 25th, 2011
12:43 am - see this through and leave
I was earlier telling Andrew about how much I used to like the Cooper Temple Clause, and I realised that I'd got too tired to bring my 'what I did on my holidays' post to any sort of proper end, so the CTC have nicely provided the title to my rounding off (although I'm not leaving as such.)
On the Sunday night JB's parents were putting us up in La Rochelle, but didn't have room for seven guests so their opposite neighbour Kevin put up four of us. It was a lovely place, and obviously just their summer home - Mrs Kevin (I didn't catch her name) was a teacher in Winchester, and Kevin was something indefinable in the music industry. We spent quite a long time the next day wondering how someone could afford to have a second home a few yards from a glorious Atlantic beach. Clearly it was rented out to people the rest of the year as Kevin & Mrs Kevin and their two daughters' rooms were in the basement, separate from the rooms we had, but still, lots of money was involved there. We went across to JB's for breakfast and again his dad was overwhelmingly hospitable - as fast as we could eat the toast, croissants, pain au chocolat, four types of jam, fresh fruit, cereal, coffee and juice, they were replaced. JB's mom Nicole asked if we wanted coffee or tea. Andrew asked for coffee but I asked for tea and she was thrilled. 'I knew it!' she said, pleased with my being stereotypically English. The JB family are absolutely wonderful and we've exchanged details for when Nicole comes over here next year with a bunch of students, and if you ever happen to find yourself in La Rochelle I am sure they'd give anyone just as amazing a welcome.
We then set off back on the long drive back to Calais - just me and Andrew as the band were going on to Portugal a couple of days later, and then back to the US. Luckily Nicole had told us that the Monday was a serious Catholic bank holiday and everywhere would be shut, and she was right. (Kyle: What's the holiday for? Nicole: Mary ascends to heaven. Kyle: Oh! Good for her!) The only things open were service stations and a Carrefour where I stocked up on Dijon mustard. Dijon mustard isn't better when you buy it in France because it doesn't actually have a protected status - it doesn't have to be made in Dijon - but it's massively more cheap. €1 for a jar that would have been at least £3 in England, in a jar re-usable as a tumbler, and €2 for one in a wine glass shape. Why on earth doesn't the UK do more of that? It's the most basic and obvious idea of recyclability; jars with a peel-off lid that you can wash out and reuse as a glass.
But back to the service station route, and here's where we get deep into the (quite literal) bowels of my digestive system. It's not very nice. At home I tend to drink at least six cups of tea a day, and two pints of water, and usually some fruit juice, and I have a good diet with plenty of veg. After a week of mostly meat and cheese, with the occasional tiny service station coffee, my innards were in a bad way and sitting in the van for hours at a time was becoming very painful. After dropping off Kyle in Nantes where he was picking up a hire car I was finally free to say to Andrew, through gritted teeth, 'I am going to the toilet. I will be a very long time.' Ouch. But what a relief in the end. The van seat felt much more comfortable after that was out. Sorry there.
I'd booked the Monday night off work which was a bloody good idea as we were only just in time for our ferry, and then we got stopped by both sets of customs in France, and again in England. I'm not entirely sure what the point of the Calais ones was - French customs stopped us and searched the van, and UKBA customs stopped us three yards later. The UKBA guys had clearly watched the van get checked over by French customs, but still wanted their own go. And then on arrival in Dover we got the full lot. 'Driving a band sir? What band? So where are they now?' while they climb round the back of the van and bang all the panels. They didn't ask me to get out of the front passenger seat, which was full of stuff, so the main impetus is looking for immigrants rather than drugs, I think. And having been through this before with Andrew driving a band van with no actual band in I've realised that they send a guy up front who asks chummy questions like 'oh what band? Will I have heard of them?' not out of interest, but because they have mikes picking everything up, and someone listening in is checking whether that band is currently doing a European tour.
Andrew and I once went to Belgium for the day, just for the hell of it, and that was fun. 'So you went to Europe for no reason?' No. 'You didn't visit friends?' No. 'Didn't do any shopping?' No.' Buy any duty free?' No. 'You normally drive bands in a van, don't you sir?' Er yes (and how the hell do you know that?') But as we weren't actually carrying any illegal immigrants or drugs, and Crystal Stilts had checked out as having toured Europe recently, we were allowed home, via Brixton to drop the band's gear off.
On arrival home, the place hadn't burned down. I have no idea why, but for all my life, whenever I've been on a holiday longer than a weekend, I always arrive home convinced that my house will have burned down in my absence. I always round the corner and let out a deep sigh to see it still there. I have the same feeling about returning to my workplace after a long holiday, but that's more of an 'oh bugger it's still there. Oh well, back to work it is then' feeling.

current mood: merveilleux

(1 clawmark | scratch my back)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
3:03 am - you asked for it
For those of you who don't know/have forgotten/don't care/never thought to ask, my fiance (I don't think I've ever used that word) Andrew spends a lot of time tour managing or driving for bands. And so it came to pass that a couple of months ago Crystal Stilts, who he'd done a UK tour with earlier this year, asked him to do two weeks in August. Which is my birthday. Oh, said Andrew, that's right across my girlfriend's birthday, she might not like that. Maybe I could just do the UK leg? Bring her along man! said the band. Really? Yeah, no problem man, we'll just add a seventh person as far as the promoters are concerned. So that was sorted. I was working for the first week of the tour, half of which was in England anyway, and for the second week I was to make my way out there and tag along.
I finished my week of night shifts on the morning of Monday the 8th of August, had a couple of hours sleep, and then had a dentist appointment in the afternoon. And London erupted during that dentist appointment. Facebook had been abuzz with the word that it was going to kick off on Mare Street, and in the time I went and had a crown replaced and my teeth polished, it did. And then Croydon, Lewisham, Catford, Peckham, Walworth Road... getting nearer to me. It's always been quite irritating that my hood is purely residential - it's ten minutes walk to any sort of supermarket or row of shops, and all that's near me is a little offie that shuts at 9.30 - but on that day I was quite thankful. (And even the offie closed at 8 that night, it was all getting so bad.) So I combined my night of doing my final bits of packing with watching the quite terrifying news.
And then of course I started to overpack. As Andrew had gone off to Europe five days earlier, I had already packed clothes and sent them off with him, so all I needed was toiletries and maybe a book. But that quite quickly turned into the ridiculous I'm so terrifyingly well prepared that I must have missed something point where you start thinking 'should I take a pen?' I did not take a pen.
Tuesday So I got up bright and early and made my way to St Pancras to get the Eurostar, and the train to Amsterdam for a bargin £60. I missed the change for the Amsterdam train at Brussels Midi by mere seconds, so did have to spend an hour waiting for the next one, but that was no big deal - plenty of coffee/smoking/toilet time. (I had been to that station once before and seen that the train track was full of cigarette ends, but I wasn't quite sure if smoking was actually 'allowed' or simply 'turned a blind eye to.' On seeing three station staff smoking, I gave in.)
And so I finally arrived in Amsterdam, around the same time as Andrew had arrived there from Berlin with the band, but the parking was apparently pretty bad, so he said I should try and make my way to them, if possible. Absolutely not a problem. I had spent ages on the internet checking what tram to get, where to get off, how much it cost... I was sorted for making my own way there. Unfortunately the half-mile long tram station was currently under a massive redevelopment. Half of it was boarded off or behind scaffolding. I found the stop for the right tram, but there were no ticket machines around anywhere. I spent fifteen minutes queueing for a ticket machine that I finally realised was purely meant for topping up an existing ticket. After about forty-five minutes I finally managed to buy a ticket from a machine that only took cards, despite having about €20 in change. I got on a tram, and burst into tears at the sheer frustration of it all. Obviously I needed to Calm Down at this point. I was about to see my lovely, adorable Andrew for the first time in ages. It was meant to be a running into each other's arms romantic reunion, and here I was sobbing in frustration at the goddamn Amsterdam tram system, I decided I would have a calming fag on detraining. However I had chosen to ignore my phone, and Andrew had replied to my series of 'Waaaah! I hate Amsterdam!' messages by saying he would meet me at the tram stop. So the first thing I saw was him scanning the crowd for me, and my God he was a wonderful sight, and it was wonderful to hug and kiss him, but my sulking grumpiness took the shine off the whole thing. Sorry Andrew.
So he took me into the venue to meet the band and let me help myself to food and drink, and then by some bizarre coincidence thedavidx and davidsmum had also just arrived in Amsterdam for a holiday so we met them for drinks and a good chat, and we dragged them along to the gig, and the after-drinks... Fun was had. Susan fell in love with Keegan the drummer. We randomly met someone Andrew knew who took us on for drinks. The usual. Our hotel was clearly aimed at bands, having bedside tables made out of amps, lampshades made out of drums, and was also up an outrageous number of stairs. Nice hotel, although we had twin beds and Andrew kept falling into the gap.
[This is taking some bloody time, right? Either I'll resort to quickie bullet points soon, or I'll do a 'to be continued' and never bother, or I'll carry on and everyone will have skimmed down to something more Facebook bite-sized by now. We shall see. I'll try and curtail things. So...
Wednesday. Driving to Munich. Andrew and the band partook of the generous hotel breakfast, but I got up later and only had an apple juice, an orange juice, and a large glass of water, and then we set off and were driving all day with just the occasional service station coffee and bag of crisps until we arrived ten hours later in Munich. This is the reality of band touring - hours and hours of sitting in a van, with every venue offering you just meat and cheese to eat. Not much to say about that night really - I started to develop a massive sinus headache, and I was so overwhelmed with tiredness that I could easily have slept next to an amp. Hotel was okay - twin beds again, and right opposite an Apotheke.
Thursday. Sinus headache getting very bad. Andrew said he'd get me something if he could. I pointed out that we were right opposite an Apotheke, so he got me the marvellously named Rhino Pront, which did help. No gig that night but we were staying in Munich, at a hotel, actually hostel, that was the lowest of the low and in the middle of a refurb. All seven of us were in the same room in bunk beds, and Kyle (keyboard player) was on a mattress on the floor. The bathroom had a leak from the ceiling, the landing carpets were bare foam, the next-door cafe had the rudest waitress when she brought us the menu but we only wanted a coffee. But we all made the best of it, and me and Andrew made an excursion out to a lovely lake where we were attacked by a quite intense colony of ants. I was quite tempted to just drop a food item there and watch them go for it - I have never seen such a thorough ant invasion.
Friday. My birthday dawned. I opened my presents from Andrew in the van as most of the band had a long lie-in, and I'd really rather not do that sort of thing in public anyway. Andrew had (obviously) got me some wonderful and thoughtful presents - some books, some cows, some smoking stuff (which was quite surprising, from an ex-smoker, but much appreciated,) a much-wanted potato ricer and some cow oven gloves, and, er, a copy of Princess Diana's death certificate wrapped around a Charles & Di official wedding programme. And the guys from the band had all signed a card for me. Late afternoon we set off for our eventual Swiss destination, and stopped off at Fussen, in deepest Bavaria. Kyle was in search of some castle or other, but we never found it, and also fell victim to the European thing of eating meals at separate times of day. Being a British/American group we were vaguely expecting to be able to get a meal at 3pm, and spent hours trying to find such a thing. However we did find a place - speciality, pork - and tucked in, and the boys calculated that this could be covered by the tour costs, in honour of my birthday, and so I ate an outrageous amount of pork, potatoes, and fried egg. Andrew did point out that although we'd seen cows by the thousand, most South German food involved the pig, and yet we saw no pigs in all our journeys.
That night, after a brief pass through Austria, adding another country to be ticked off, we arrived in Bern, Switzerland. It was raining and it was grim and we took ages parking the van (we were cut up by some annoying Italians in the car park, unsurprisingly, but I didn't have to speak fluent Italian to realise how pissed off they were in the hotel to find out the menu consisted of pizza or spaghetti,) and then it took me an age to find a cash machine to get Swiss francs, by which time the bar was closed so I had to get machine coffees. And Andrew saw a shooting star and I didn't. So not the best birthday evening ever, but at least we actually had a double bed for the first time. And then...
Saturday. We'd stayed in Bern on the band's night off because it seemed to be not far away from Vevey, where the band were playing a small festival. We arrived at 12pm for soundcheck, and had the nice meat, cheese and drinks, but the band weren't playing until 11.30pm, so what were we to do all day? Word went round that we had a boat at our disposal, which we assumed would be a rowing boat, and assumed might not have room for all of us, so who was going to back out of a boat trip? It turned out that we had two speed boats ready for us, waiting to take us around Lake Geneva (which is really called Lac Leman, although the UK/US haven't really bothered acknowledging this.) And that was bloody amazing. All the guys took swimming gear and jumped off into the lake for a swim, and even though Brad hadn't brought trunks our driver (er, what is a boat driver called?) had spares to lend so he joined in, as did the driver - [French accent] 'They have showed the cour-age, so I must too.'] I haven't tried to swim, or owned swimming stuff, since I left school, and I genuinely do not know what my ability in swimming is because I could not swim as a schoolgirl, but I was a weedy kid, but am quite a muscly, strong older woman, so I didn't chance the swimming, but contented myself with dangling my feet into Lake Geneva, which was glorious enough. Having quite a few hours still to go before the gig, we checked into our five star hotel. And it was very much five star - free dressing gowns and slippers (those slippers may now live in SE16, you get me?) delicious complimentary chocolates, phone calls to check everything was ok, a range of smart bathroom products, a welcome letter with a postcard featuring the weather forecast, astonishingly fast broadband, and the view to end all views. The other guys in the band were facing the town, but me and Andrew had an enormous balcony overlooking the lake, where I watched the sun go down while listening to a tinkling piano with an entertainer doing easy listening classics which in the wrong place could have been tacky and risible, but at that point, on that day, it contributed to the feeling of everything being overwhelmingly wonderful. One of those stunningly amazing days that you will remember for the rest of your life as being so amazingly blissful and perfect. It was all absolutely stunning. I didn't have a deprived childhood, but I had a fairly ordinary working class upbringing, and it was odd that now I'd spent the afternoon on a leather-seated speedboat on Lake Geneva and was now sunning myself on a five star hotel balcony with an unbeatable view, surrounded by the Very Rich. And these people must have been rich. I was surprised that the hotel room didn't have tea making facilities, but looking at the room service menu with its CHF600 bottles of wine and the four pages of types of tea available I realised the type of people who stayed in hotels like that wouldn't even dream of making their own tea.
'You can pretend this is our honeymoon,' said Andrew, 'because we can't afford anything anywhere near this good.' So we went back to the festival to watch the other bands. We sat on the deckchairs as I'd suggested they might be good for shooting star viewing, with the Perseid meteor shower being due around my birthday. I had never seen a shooting star. Last year we were in France and it rained and rained so that ruined my chances, and as a child I spent time in the South of France where my mum and dad continually said 'There's one! There's one! Wow, did you see that one?!' and I never saw a bloody thing. Andrew had said 'what do you think they look like?' so I had suggested satellites, which I am familiar with, or maybe aeroplane contrails, and he had sort of said 'hmm' in the way that meant 'no they don't really look like that.' So I settled down in a deckchair and he went off to do work stuff, and there it was, a thing going across the sky. I can only describe it as movement similar to that when you watch a runner in the 100m on TV. It did not look the way I expected a shooting star to look, but I saw one, finally, and then I saw another two! Earlier in the day I'd thought I'd seen a friend of mine arrive with the other bands but I'd completely dismissed the idea after finding out the band (or singer of the band at least) was from New Zealand. Sitting on my deckchair while the band was on I heard the singer say something about Jules, who has just learned the songs. I said to Andrew, 'erm, that band that's on, have they got a black guy on the drums?' Andrew came back and said yes, so I wandered up to see them, and there was my friend Jules! So we had a big 'Jules?' 'Rhoda!!' reunion, having not seen each other for a few years, and it turned out we were in the same hotel, but I didn't actually see him after that. How odd though.
Sunday. A long assed drive. Again Andrew and the band partook of the hotel breakfast (apparently fantastic, mushroom omelette and three types of smoothie for Andrew) while I lay in, and then another punishing butt-achingly long drive. We arrived at La Rochelle, where JB's parents have a home, around 11.30pm. JB's mom and dad (American and French respectively) had catered for hundreds and wanted us to eat it all. We got massive servings of chicken and rice, followed by a cheeseboard, accompanied by wine, and then JB's dad took us on a walk to the sea, and round to the funfair. Andrew took a phone camera photo of us at this point, and despite us being overwhelmingly full of JB's mom and dad's food, and very tired, and it being drizzly and us not really wanting to walk round a funfair at midnight... we look happy.

current mood: in love

(7 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Friday, March 4th, 2011
3:25 pm - the clapping song
Brief Friday afternoon question. After hearing yesterday about the break up of a 15+ year long relationship, I had a large outburst of cynicism, and a debate at work concluded that the only lifelong relationships most of us have known are those of older people - grandparents mainly. But it was pointed out that that 'was a different generation.'
So who's got the better way - the older generation with their 'stick it out' mentality, which on the whole seems to even out over the years; or us with our 'hey, it's not working for me, I'm out' tendency? Is the second way more enlightened, or just selfish?

current mood: cynical

(13 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Thursday, February 24th, 2011
12:12 am - have you organised your street party yet?
There's a Royal wedding coming up, you might have heard, and this is going to impact on my life quite massively. For part of my job, seven days out of fourteen, i.e. week on/week off, is to read every single newspaper story about the Royal Family, and summarise the gist of the article, in three-four lines of my own words. Also I (and my opposite week equivalent) have to take note of every cartoon printed, and every randomly used picture of a member of the Family - for example, last week an article about unseasonal weather was illustrated for no reason at all with a photo of 'The Queen in April 1981's unexpected snow.'
Therefore, when it comes to the actual wedding of Prince William and Kate 'Catherine' Middleton, I am going to be somewhat busy, especially with all the inevitable souvenir pullouts. That's me, writing three to four lines, about every single article in every paper, except the Daily Star  (the company I work for considers the Daily Star to be a valid national daily newspaper, but The Queen clearly has no interest in what it has to say.) The engagement was announced on my week off, which was nice, but the date of the wedding wasn't, and the wedding itself is during my watch. I could very, very, easily have gone into work then and nonchalantly booked that week, or weekend, as a holiday. No one would have noticed at that point, however some part of me that's either suicidal or seeking martyrdom decided that really wasn't fair on anyone who'd have to cover for me, and besides, I've been doing Buck Pal for nearly three and a half years, so without hammering even harder on the self-martyrdom, I am actually the best person for the job. I am paying for this already, of course. Every single travel article slaps a picture of Wills'n'Kate alongside, and headlines it 'possible honeymoon destination?' House price articles focus on Anglesey (where they live), St Andrews (where they met), and Berkshire (Kate's parents' manor). Business articles hint of increased profits for Sky, Eurostar, and tea towel makers across the land. London and New York Fashion Weeks are full of the 'Kate Middleton' influence. Irish dissidents are joyously reforming to bomb the fuck out of the wedding, and global anarchists are planning to disrupt it. Yes, anarchists, planning. Check your dictionaries, anarchists. Vivienne Westwood even made front-page news by saying she's not designing Kate's dress. Well so what Vivienne? Adrian Chiles probably isn't designing it either, but he's not felt the need to make a public statement about it.
It's a lot of work, for me, but it's also very interesting to see other people's attitudes to this. (For the record, John Lydon is very pleased for them. Good old Johnny - he will never be a traditional rent-a-quote, my guess is that the journalist there was after some bile and hatred, so he 'rebelled' and gave them what they least expected.) You, or at least I, have to look at newspaper letters pages to see anyone who's actually happy about this wedding, but the general consensus is either that of ennui or actual hatred. The worst thing I have heard said was 'hey, maybe Prince Philip will die on the morning of the wedding!' So what you're saying here is that you want the grandfather of a complete stranger to die the day he gets married? Nice. This is no 'our heir must marry a virgin, get one, stat!' - they've been together for eight years, pretty much avoiding being seen together in public even so much as holding hands, and they want to get married now. Eight years is more than a lot of relationships I've seen recently, so fair play to them, let them enjoy their day. Yes, William is Very Rich, he's Royalty, he will be King one day, 'living off our taxpayers' money' etc etc, but funnily enough, that's not his fault. That's just the way it goes. (And most 'rich' people are that way because of your money anyway, money you've spent, on their products and/or services.) So what can he, or any other members of the Royal Family, do about that, that would please all those of us not born Royal, or who are actively anti-Royal? If any one of them said, oh, you're right, it's not fair that I'm Royal, I'm going to get a Proper Job and live in a nice little semi - or even if the Monarchy collapsed entirely - do you really think that the paparazzi and the red-tops would just say, oh, ok then, and leave them alone? And if you were bloody rich and privileged, would you give it all up because it's 'not fair' on poor(er) people? I'm certainly not that noble. Give me tons of cash and family homes anyday, thanks.
So on April the 29th, a fairly ordinary (in terms of being a 'couple') couple are to get married. You will get a day off. You can have a lie in, you can ignore it, you can go to a street party, you can 'rise up' and storm the Palace if you feel like it (good luck with that), or you could go to some anti Royal Wedding event. I, personally, will probably watch the wedding (because I have to) having just got in from a night shift, and then go straight back to a night shift and summarise every single detail of the day. I just hope the police don't kill any of the anarchists/Irish dissidents, because the Home Office is my other main client, so I'd have to write about all that too.

current mood: loved

(7 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
11:08 am - there it was gone
 What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
Went to Belgium, er, four times actually. I rather like Belgium.
Had a miscarriage. I'm quite surprised nobody noticed, because I was bloody enormous.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not 'close' but there was Stef and Hallie, and Lea and Gemma, and two of Andy's nieces.

Did anyone close to you die?
I lost a chum to a suicide. Again. 

Did you keep all of last years resolutions, and have you any resolutions for next year?
I don't think I made any. This year I would like to see my friends more often.  

What countries did you visit?
Belgium, France, Wales, Cornwall (yes it's a country.)

What would you like to have in 2011 that you didn't have in 2010?
£250 million. A cat. A cow.

What date in 2010 will remain etched in your memory?
May 17th. July 10th.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Staying awake, sometimes.

What was your biggest failure?
Not staying awake, sometimes.

Did you suffer any illness or injury?
The odd banged head and grazed knee, but not much to write home about.

What was the best thing you bought?
My new little laptop. A bit of an impulse buy, but Andy was away for ten days so it was needed to be able to keep in touch.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Andrew, for organising a massive gig in memory of a friend.  I have no idea why my html won't work, but it won't. http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/8266869.Tribute_to_TJ_s_legend_John_Sicolo_rocks_Newport/"

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
The Lib Dems. I've voted Lib Dem since the days of the Liberal SDP alliance. I am never going to vote again. Never. I really mean that. Don't tell me my vote counts, because clearly it doesn't.

Where did most of your money go?
.Rent. Food.

What did you get really really really excited about?
Andrew coming home from tediously long tours, I suppose.

What songs will always remind you of 2010?
Hoots Mon. Sleepless in the New Seattle.

Compared to this time last year are you:

A. Fatter or thinner? Same.
B. Happier or sadder? Happier, but with added annoyance.
C. Richer or poorer? Richer. I paid off my bank loan, and had quite a surprise healthy payrise.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Making an effort to go out.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Going for a 'little nap' that lasted four hours.

How did you spend Christmas?
With Andy's family in Exeter. It was lovely.

Which LJ users did you meet for the first time?
Erm, none? LJ is like, so 2003 right?

Did you fall in love in 2010?
Yes. We were together for the last couple of months of 2009, but it very much became A Big Thing in 2010.

How many one night stands?
None.

What was your favourite TV show?
Misfits, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Corrie.

What was/were the best books you read?
This has probably been my worst ever reading year. Although I was happy to get Catching Fire for my birthday, and I have a few Christmas books to get through.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Drains. I was pleasantly surprised/not embarrassed.

What was your favourite film this year?
Moon (was that this year?)

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Gosh yes. Two women that I've never even met, but their names appearing on Facebook actually make me want to kill.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I was 43. We started the day in Brussels, then travelled to Lille. There was supposed to be a spectacular show of comets, but it rained all night.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
I wouldn't.

What kept you sane?
The internet, probably.

Who did you miss?
Holmes. I don't think I saw him all year. 

Who was the best new person you met?
That's not an easy question to answer is it? Because anyone you don't name will be all 'what about me?' Although Carl Bevan and Anushka deserve a mention.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year?
Unfortunately just a reinforcement of the old rules to trust no one, and don't believe a word anyone says. Oh well eh?

current mood: blank

(11 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Monday, November 22nd, 2010
6:30 pm - in which rhoda fails to remember how to do an lj-cut
While I wait for a lamb casserole to cook, yet another in a series of 'oh I don't post much anymore do I?' space-fillers
Yes it's a bloody meme.Collapse )

current mood: hungry

(scratch my back)

Sunday, September 19th, 2010
5:46 pm - we thought of wanitou
When I was lumbered with the name Rhoda, it was obviously very unusual, and still is. That was the problem - it made me stick out at school for being the only one with an odd name. Absolutely every other girl was called Joanne. Well okay, there were quite a few Elaines and Karens as well, but there wasn't much variation, and Rhoda was just 'weird.'
These days the balance has tipped, and the odd kid in school is probably going to be the one whose parents haven't gone completely out of their way to come up with something 'original.' And so with a horrified fascination I present you with just some of the examples of today's children, whose proud parents have put them up for the South London Press Child of the Year Award.
(In no particular order, and surnames have only been included, in brackets, where they add something to the general sense of horror.)

Te-rene
Yoriance
Montana-Star
Harmony (Rhooms) Massage parlour?
Kevelle
Kenzi-Blue
Kevaughn
Aronas
Jordaine
India-Lee
Paris (Smith) Yeah, we wanted something unusual with such an ordinary surname...
T'nee
Kyllah Named after Ghostface?
Dontay
Jake-Kaci Is that meant to be transgender?
Poppie-Mac Ditto
Madyson
Kaysie
Maksyhiliah Good luck to all your future teachers taking the register.
Cheriane
Aarian He's not.
Blake (Sexton) Are you SURE?
Tenzin
Asharnae-Gloria
Uriah Not read any Dickens then?
Blu
La'Shea
Teddy
Sahai-Joanne Some sort of compromise going on there?
D'Andra-May
Shy-Lah
Indiyana
Sharamarah
Shamaree
Carloz
Iyshitaa Oh, come on, what chance has she got with a name containing shit?
Rio
Mia-Capri
Issa (Virtue) What is?
Leteia (Legister)
Nasharn and Gyron [Twins]
Kearah and Kameira
Roman and Raine
Angel and Destiny
Also a vast assortment of Jayden/Jaydon/Jaidens, and a couple of Mahlias, presumably after the Obama one. Seriously, this is just a dip into this eight-page bonanza of wrong. These could be our doctors, lawyers and politicians of the future. How could any of them be taken seriously as a bereavement counsellor or something?

current mood: distressed

(18 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Thursday, September 16th, 2010
5:24 pm - lively journal?
Part XVII in a series on the theme Why I Don't Really Post To Livejournal Anymore is it then? Which is a shame because I think I need to use it more. I've recently noticed a tendency in myself to 'spill', that is, to be unable to keep things to myself and instantly blab about my personal feelings and emotions whether its appropriate or not. To have to talk about things in a new-age Californian style. I wasn't sure where this had come from, but I have now traced it back.
In 2000 I had a pretty weird time of it - I would have scored about 800 on this for a start - and took to keeping a handwritten spillage diary. Which was great. Then in September 2001 I took up Livejournal, which was greater! Not least because I can type a hell of a lot faster than I can write by hand. It was a massive gang of friends talking about whatever the hell we liked (remember when people used to grumble about Livejournal killing messageboards the way we now talk about Facebook killing LJ?) but had the added advantage that you could lock the entries so only a few friends could read it, or just yourself. I rarely subscribed to the locked entries thing, and I've always been proud of that. 95% of what's gone on here has been for general public consumption, there for anyone to read, as was proved when a complete stranger emailed me after Googling his own name and finding me taking the piss out of it. (Hi Avian! Oh, he's on Facebook now, should I add him?)
But I've recently been mildly irritated by someone saying things to Andy in Gmail Chat that I said about him here six months ago. Of course he's free to read it himself, but the fact that someone I've never met can instantly track down and quote something I said in March smacks of stalker, doesn't it? I'd completely forgotten about it myself, for a start. Creepy. And sad. I've also taken pride in my ability never to publicly insult anyone on Livejournal (except Avian, bless him. But he got the joke and took it all in good humour.) However, considering this person has no 'right' to be following my movements, let's speak directly to them.
He's just humouring you with your tacky photos and your conversations, and I do know the whole story. Leave it eh? Message ends.
Good grief it's 5.15. No respectable Livejournaller would have posted at 5.15 back in the day. They hadn't invented mobile internet then, and this is peak travelling home from work time.
This is a bit serious for me. Perhaps you can have a fun game of guessing which things on the stress test I was going through. And perhaps I'll come back tomorrow and write about why I find religion TERRIFYING.

current mood: predatory

(1 clawmark | scratch my back)

Sunday, September 12th, 2010
11:37 am - why the long face?
That there meme there - photo of self, now, no dressing up.

Look at that Grand Canyon frown! I'm quite happy and content really. Honest! You can see the huge amount of freckles I've amassed from a sunny 2010 - I don't think I've been this tanned since I was a kid. Which I will forget by November, and like everyone else I will be giving it 'huh, summer, what summer, we had one nice day...'

current mood: great!

(1 clawmark | scratch my back)

Saturday, August 28th, 2010
6:05 pm - purple shoes again rhoda?
So I was watching the film of The 39 Steps (Kenneth More version) and remembering when we read it at school. I really can't remember which English teacher I had at the time - either Miss Huddart, or Mrs Chayter, but I have lots of memories of both, mainly Huddart, who was also my form tutor for a few years and would regularly tell me off for the non-uniform subject header. (I loved those shoes.)
Mrs Chayter was, like, cool, yar, like, down with the kids? She once introduced a conversation about 'the F word' and in particular, the Who ('why don't you just, f-f-f-fade away?' ooh, they're nearly swearing!) and I precociously pointed out that I'd recently watched Quadrophenia with my mother, who had said 'the big problem with this film is the swearing - we swore in the 60s, but we didn't say fuck.'
My actual overriding memory of Mrs Chayter is a thunderstorm that happened one day, but that's by the by. Oh, and the fact that she once got out our current read of Elidor and everyone groaned, and she had the grace/sense to say 'ok, you all hate this book. Let's ditch it then.' I actually was enjoying it, because it was set in Manchester, but I've never finished it since.
Miss Huddart was young and trendy - thinking back, she must have been about 15 years younger than I am now - and my dad fancied her to bits, as he used to tell me when parents' evenings were coming up; she looked like Olivia Newton John in Grease, post makeover, and this was very much of that year/era. She then became 'Mrs Watson' and we saw photos of her wedding. We were all quite amused at Mr Watson's beard...
So one day (back to the point, Rhoda) I was in an English lesson with Miss Huddart, and I became the hot topic of conversation. We had a big school building, split into lower school, middle school (I have no idea what point this served) and upper school, and we were expected to run between them. I tripped and banged my knee behind middle school (aka the swimming pool) between lessons, and got a piece of stone lodged in there (it still is) and I went to the lesson. Half way through I realised my leg was still bleeding, so I rooted around in my bag for something to clean it up. I was making my cousin Mina a dress at the time, so I got a bit of that material out to clean it. Miss Huddart had spotted me. 'Rhoda, if you have a problem, can you come to the front?' With absolutely no idea how this could be interpreted I said 'sorry miss, I've got blood pouring down my leg.'
All the boys stared with the excitement of observing a womanly period taking place. All the girls stared in horrified fascination. But I had just cut my knee, and the scar is still there.
Mentally, I guess.

current mood: enthralled

(1 clawmark | scratch my back)

Monday, May 17th, 2010
12:22 pm - it costs more to divorce than to marry...
Are you happy? Think about it. What if someone asked you that question right now and you absolutely had to answer. I watched a documentary on the very subject about 25 years ago and the main conclusion was that we put off being happy for no reason - 'I'll be happy when I earn X amount/have a lovely partner/lose this much weight...' and the consensus was, why wait? Just be happy NOW?!
I've learned a few things from people I've known. Mainly from Monica, a former workmate. Monica moaned about everything: the job, the people in the job, the weather, the price of cigarettes, the clients, the pay, the desks, her daughter's expensive wedding, babysitting the grandkids...If five of you were talking and one left, Monica would slate the one who had walked away, immediately. I found myself thinking that I do NOT want to be Monica. I do NOT want to be the person that drags everything down, and I think and hope I have succeeded in that.
And helping that is Julius, an absolutely ace Nigerian I worked with who was Monica's antithesis. He was enthusiastically happy about Britain and any problem that arose he would say 'aaah, never mind!' with a smile. Every problem could be overcome with Julius' ' God save thi qwin!' happiness, which he would chant quite a lot. I thought one day, would I rather be Monica who drags everyone down to her depressive level, or Julius, who brings you UP with his happiness? Who would I rather be around, for the rest of my life? The kids call it a no-brainer.I chose to be a cheery person. If you ask me at work how I am I will ALWAYS so OK! thanks to Monica.
So I always try to be a cheery person, thanks to you, you miserable bitch.

current mood: exhausted

(17 clawmarks | scratch my back)

Friday, March 26th, 2010
2:19 pm - nice day at the office
I nipped out to the shop earlier taking just my keys and purse, and suddenly had this blinding premonition of myself being knocked down and killed while carrying no identification. What would happen? How would they know who to contact? How long would it take for my friends and family to find out? The guys in the shop would be aware I live opposite, but that's about 40 flats, would the police try my keys in all of them? Anyway, I've just realised my donor card is in my purse, so at least I wouldn't go to waste.
Morbid stuff huh? And possibly not the best thing to discuss with my other half as he's been at the funeral of a good friend (I am told Goldie Lookin' Chain turned up in suits) so maybe I'll keep the conversation away from WHAT IF I DIED? tonight.
Funny though, now I can't get my mind off WHAT IF I DIED? at all, like the worst earworm ever. I presume everyone else gets odd flashes of a possible future like that though. Not really premonitions, just times where your brain rushes through possible scenarios at top speed. When I was younger I used to think it was only me that was afflicted with it, and then we found a football in the street and my friend Paula said 'I just had this image of myself kicking it and falling on my arse...' so I realised I wasn't special at all.

Other than my friend from school Elaine (who is about to become a granny) I don't have any experience with sleep talkers (when I was staying over at Elaine's when we were about 14 she once sat bolt upright in bed and said 'WHAT? I NEVER said THAT!' and went straight back to sleep.) What are you supposed to do with sleep talkers, can you keep them going for hours? I woke up Andy the other day and he said 'I spent a shilling on those two photos!' Oh really, I said. 'Yeah, but everyone danced so it's ok!' Right. The laughing in his sleep was just bloody weird though, especially when he then woke up and asked me why I was staring at him. 'Er well, you've been laughing out loud for a good five minutes.'
I suppose nothing beats Carl, who once was clearly dreaming about being Batman or something, and reached over with his fist, hit me square in the mouth, and said 'THWACK!' out loud.

current mood: nostalgic, as ever in March

(2 clawmarks | scratch my back)

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