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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

31 January 2005
There is nothing more depressing than the last day of a holiday. Nothing. Nothing at all. Not famine, war, death, illness, depression itself - all of these things pale in to non-existence when compared to the last day of a holiday. A shadow is cast over all things, and the toil of travelling, whether by bus or plane or boat or camel or barge will only add to the knowledge that you're leaving behind what was once, for a brief shining moment, somewhere you could call the place that you were staying. Every jostle, every lugging of suitcase up and down stairs, every belligerent stranger deliberately tripping over your bags and giving you dirty looks is a metaphor for the pain of leaving behind the place that you'd been staying that wasn't where you lived but merely somewhere you were visiting for a bit. The tragedy is writ across your face in large capital letters - I WAS ONCE ON HOLIDAY, AND NOW I MUST RETURN HOME, TO WORK, TO FAMILY, TO REAL LIFE ONCE MORE.

I think this writing, writ largely across my face, must have been the reason why a man stood on the 149 bus from Islington all the way into Liverpool Street where I eventually got off the bus, and stared right at me. Without embarrassment, without turning his gaze away when I dared to meet it, and most importantly without blinking. He never stopped staring. Weirdly, he also never stopped staring at my face.

Now, I don't know if you realise, but it's winter time here on this side of the internet. In London particularly, it's winter. There's cold about, and it's cold. I was wearing many layers of clothing, mainly so that I was able to fit all of my new purchases in to my suitcase, but also because if you wear a lot of clothes, you don't feel the cold so much. With these clothes on, it's not easy but it's still possible to see that I am a lady, with a lady's boobs. I've had boobs now for over 14 years, and I'm more than used to gentlemen of a certain temperament staring at them, particularly in the summer months when they're more obvious, due to there being less clothing surrounding them, due to there being less cold surrounding them. This does not often bother me, unless the staring is rapidly followed by the groping, which must then only be answered with the slapping of the face and moving onward.

But this staring man, the 149 bus staring man, stared for what I think was at least 20 minutes without once diverting his gaze. Right at my face. All the journey. At first it was disturbing, and then for a mere second intriguing, and then it went right back round to disturbing again, having picked up a friend in unnerving and combined forces to become terrifying. The man, I was sure, was trying to work out if my head would fit on top of his Frankingstein-style collection of other body parts he'd already collected from other girls on the 149 bus.

Thankfully, he must have come to the conclusion that my quite small head wouldn't fit, because I got off the bus and he didn't, and all was safe and well and I got to go home with my own head.

30 January 2005
I was walking up the road, back towards the shops I'd spent the day aimlessly wandering around, because He Who Only... had made the bad decision to leave me unattended for more than 10 minutes and so I felt that amassing some more credit card debt would be a good idea. I did buy those black converse runners I've wanted ever since, now that I think about it, seeing I Robot. The film is rubbish, but the product placement is highly effective. I also bought a copy of a book that I've already got two copies of - it's an earlier edition, and in hardback, and shut up and stop looking at me like that and mind your own business. I also also bought a lot of organic food in the mistaken belief that it's better for me and it's less calories, and also also also some DVDs, don't judge me.

So there I was, walking back up the road and listening to my discman on the off chance that one of the Londoners tried to talk to me, or started singing about sweeping chimneys, and I wouldn't know what to say. And I was walking towards a pub, in which He Who Only... was already sitting snugly by a big fire with some beers already to hand. And it was cold outside and warm indoors by the fire, and the cold was freezing my fashionably shod feet through, and I still took longer to walk there than was strictly necessary because I was dawdling about having a smoke.

Smoking indoors is a habit I have quickly put behind me, much in the same way that I no longer kick puppies or drop babies on their heads. It's just not done anymore, and doesn't occur to me to do until I see someone else do it. I hadn't realised this new habit of mine, it honestly hadn't registered, that every time I step outside to walk somewhere I now check to see if I have four rather than two things: Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Fags? Check. Lighter? Check. And then off I pop, and rapidly light a fag as I'm going.

And I don't know I'm doing it. That's the terrifying thing. I don't realise it any more. It honestly doesn't register. And the thoughts of smoking anywhere other than outside, anywhere other than the kitchen in Dee's house where we spent hours on end chain smoking and talking about boys, anywhere other than in the freezing cold and often quite rain filled, is just wrong.

Although the moment I remembered I could, I smoked all over the smug Stoke Newington people with their tiny designer labelled children and I laughed and laughed at their coughing, crying, child faces.


29 January 2005
It's genuinely difficult to remember quite how freaked out I used to be about flying. Well, it would be difficult, but I've charted my hysteria quite comprehensively here over the last few years, so a quick glimpse through the archives can refresh the memory. It's good to tell the internet all about your phobias, fears, hysterics, irrational and occasional murderous thoughts. The internet doesn't judge. The internet doesn't case aspersions. That's because the internet neither listens nor cares.

But flying, like anything you end up doing on a regular basis, becomes quite mundane and unremarkable, if done properly. I've got checking in down to a tee - I now echo the check-in girls' bored tone of voice as they ask me with their carefully prepared questions whether I'm an international terrorist or drug smuggler, or rich enough to have someone else pack my bags for me. The beeper machine always beeps when I go through, due to the cheap metal featured in the range of belts I wear these days, and I look forward to being frisked by the angry looking short haired ladies at security. It's more bracing than a large cup of coffee.

I've got the hanging about the airport looking bored thing down pat too - I wander through the shops with the thought of "if the plane does actually crash this time I won't have to pay for my credit card, so I might as well put this wildly expensive face cream, obviously made from the crushed bones of saints and the tear drops of unicorns, on to the plastic". Then I have that massive cup of coffee I've been promising myself since the short haired lady finished the frisking, and then it's time to walk the 10 miles to the gate in every airport that all Irish flights must go from.

I can even now board a plane looking quite casual and off-hand. I know which flight attendants will want to see my passport, and who won't frankly care. I can also see which passengers are going to make a big hairy mess out of picking seats and producing boarding cards, and try to avoid being stuck behind them. I've yet to master the avoidance of the screaming child - they seem to be magnetically attracted to my choice of seating - but that's the final hurdle for me, I think.

Although, actually, not quite. Last flight, you'll remember, I promised myself that I'd try it without the valium, due to the feeling that if I chanced a sedative on Thursday I'd probably only be waking up around Tuesday feeling groggy and wondering where the weekend went. Weekend visits go by so horrendously quickly anyway, it's an advantage to do anything I can to try to stretch them out a bit (and other than listening to He Who Only...'s stories about when he was a secret agent veterinary surgeon in Russia during the Cold War, nothing can put me to sleep quicker). But, dear reader, I'm sure you'll share my disappointment but also my sense of inevitable failure when I admit that I've yet to fly sober.

Thing is, you see. If you had some lovely shiny yellow tablets, little balls of sunshine that glimmer out of a pill bottle and bring all sorts of fancy day dreams and relaxed breathing and a general wonder at colours and sounds and music, you'd take them lots and lots too. And if you're like me, and feel you need a reason to enjoy this kind of thing, you'd take them every given opportunity you had, rather than squandering them only when you're in immense pain and the side effects just don't happen. Thursday's flight was truly brill, because for the first time I chose to sit by a window, and I discovered that when we were above the clouds at night, you could still see the clouds, this time from the other side. Because the moon. Was huge. And glimmering. And casting pretty shadows across the top side of the clouds, the side that looks like you could lie down and wrap yourself in them and be as warm and snuggly as a duvet. I stared out that window, ladies and gents. I drooled on that window. I carried on looking for a good 25 minutes because, you see, I was STONED OFF MY FACE.

Flying is fun. Being stoned, legally or illegally is fun (Kids - Just Say No). Being stoned and flying in the bright, bright moonlight while staring uninterrupted at clouds for almost half an hour is brilliant fun.

28 January 2005
Things I've learned in the last couple of days:

1. Flying is easy, and the plane won't crash just because I'm sitting by the window.
2. It's not safe to just walk up the counter at the Clinique place in the airport and hand over credit card without checking the price of their night cream. It's OVER FIFTY FIVE EURO, people. Just say no. (I bought it anyway)
3. It's impossible to choose a pair of converse runners without leaving the shop and immediately thinking "I should have bought the green/red/black ones instead".
4. My runners leak in the rain.
5. My blog looks RUBBISH on easyeverything computers.
6. The bus prices have gone up in London.
7. Some people are never happy.
8. I've found someone who can swear more powerfully than me
9. I can't go into Virgin without buying at least three DVDs.
10. Smoking indoors in public places is a unique pleasure that never gets old.

26 January 2005
London time again tomorrow. I'm going to attempt what I thought was impossible less than six months ago, and take the flight without any help whatsoever. The valium will be packed in my bag (actually, is already packed in my bag) as some kind of security blanket, but will remain unpopped - I'm going to try and do this thing sober. Cue the screaming and the running up and down the aisle and the hysteria and hair pulling, probably. We'll see.

I'm just too tired to risk taking a sedative tomorrow, I'd end up less than useless once landing in London. There are many places where I don't want to end up lying drooling on the floor, and Stansted is almost on the top of my list. So wide-eyed and terrified, I will be fully conscious come 18.35 when we take off. Wish me luck, and if you're lucky enough to be on the flight with me, try not to stare at the boggle eyed girl who is simultaneously laughing and crying.

From Dublin(DUB) to London Stansted(STN)
Thu, 27Jan05 Flight FR294 Depart DUB at 18:35 and arrive STN at 19:45

25 January 2005
Oh, holy God, today's Tuesday. That's why nothing is working out properly - all day today so far I've been thinking that today's Monday. And it's not. It's Tuesday. It's obvious to me now.

Today's horoscope, from Ignio which I previously pointed out but then deleted, so for any late comers, you can join in now -
"Today most improbable things will seem to you quite real. The sandcastles, constructed by you now, will stand rather long."

And in my confused state, that makes something along the lines of perfect sense. Not sure if that's a comfort or a further indication that I'm going slowly mental through over indulgence in alcohol and under indulgence in sleep.

I got paid yesterday (which, thinking about it, should have made it obvious that it was a Monday). I also got tons of Open University books through the post, a cheque that I'd been expecting, a present even though it's not my birthday or Christmas or anything, a reminder of how brilliant my friends are, two hours at work in which I was paid to sit on the floor and read my book and (look away now if you're easily nauseated) the best bloody boyfriend in the world. So whoever said that January 24th is the worst day of the year is strikingly wrong. Good day to you.

23 January 2005
I do welcome feedback in relation to this site from friends and family, but more importantly from the good reading public - it is you good people that put me where I am today (sitting, very tired, on a Tuesday night writing back dated entries for my own amusement) and it is you people that will ensure I continue to traverse the fine line between mediocrity and complete anonymity. And I thank you for it.

Regular reader Moo has been persistently telling me recently that there is but one thing missing from my site, and that one thing is that "there's not enough about Charlie Bear". And she's absolutely right. There isn't enough about Charlie Bear, Moo's beautiful rescue dog, on my site, so on Sunday we decided to try and amend that mistake by bringing Charlie Bear for a walk up some mountains, and by taking photographs of whatever adventure happened while we were up there. When you're with Charlie Bear, everything is an adventure.

Unfortunately, due to the amount of alcohol (lots) and the amount of sleep (none) I'd had over the previous two days, taking photographs was almost entirely beyond me. It was as much as I could do not to fall over every three seconds, so thankfully I did have He Who Only... to cling on to for dear life and warmth. Instead, I passed the Taking Photographs Of Charlie Bear responsibility to Little Sister Louise, who holds a degree - A DEGREE - in photography.

These are the only two photos that feature Charlie Bear:

This action shot features massive Charlie Bear in heavy pursuit of tiny Bobby. You can't quite tell from this photo, but when Charlie Bear is standing beside a normal person, Charlie is slightly bigger than that person. Charlie Bear (or Charles T Bear, to give him his full and frankly correct title) is larger than a normal Labrador. He's roughly the size of a bear, and has all the stealth and dignity of a bear who has been handed several shots of tequila and has been too polite to refuse. Charlie is brilliant. Just after this photograph was taken, he drooled all over Little Sister Louise's coat sleeve and hand, and it was all she could do not to screach in disgust while Moo wiped it off with a caring tissue. I stood and laughed, and then nearly fell over again due to not watching where I was going.

This shot is Where's Wally, but with dogs. Left to Right features: Charlie, just in shot, creeping out of some buses just in time to attack Mr Moo. Next is Bobby, learning from Charlie's example, and attempting to attack Mr Moo. (Mr Moo probably wouldn't notice though - Bobby isn't quite the attack dog he thinks he is. It's more of a tickle than an attack at the best of times.) Next is Mr Moo himself, looking slightly like he's about to kick Kesh clean up the road. He's not about to do that though. What happens after this is Charlie comes rushing out of the bushes and generally dances about looking happy. Because that is Charlie Bear.

[This entry has been sponsored by the Charlie Bear Fan Club. I promise, Moo, next time I'm round your's I'll make more of an effort with the camera. Mmkay?]

21 January 2005
I never travel anywhere without my discman. It's almost surgically attached to my ears. I feel empty, lost, despondent, disorientated without it. Worse than that, I have to listen to what people are saying on the bus, and I don't like that one little bit. I can't help but get engaged in people's ridiculous conversations, and they enrage me to the point where I can no longer get anything done, and I'm lost in a daze for the rest of the day, unable to believe that people can hold opinions that don't agree with mine, and what's more, discuss them openly in a public environment.

So I never travel anywhere without my discman. My current problem is the fact that, since I've not been paid since the beginning of December, and will not be paid by RNJ until the end of February (long boring story that involves the tax office and the issuing of certificates - I would never dream of putting you through the telling of that story), I have no new music. I have borrowed some from Little Sister Edel, an older album by Modest Mouse, in fact, but it proved to be slightly unlistenable to, and I haven't been round there to find something a touch more palatable.

So I've been forced to resort to re-listening or re-discovering some old CDs that I bought and forgot about, or bought and never listened to. Today's selection - this week's selection, in fact - is Paddy Casey's Amen (So Be It). I bought this about a year and a half ago, and never listened to it. So it's almost like getting something new.

I like it. For some reason, it really suits the tone of Donna Tartt's The Little Friend, a book that I borrowed off Moo about a year and a half ago and never read before now. So that's all going well and dandy, but today I had a new problem. Walking to the bus stop this afternoon, I could hear no music.

I pulled the discman out of my pocket and checked. Batteries were okay, I've just charged them. It's not on hold, it says it's playing, the volume is turned right up, the headphones are plugged in, what the hell is wrong with it then? Eh? Eh? I was furious.

Until I realised. I didn't have the headphones in my ears.

I think I need to get more sleep.

20 January 2005
Waiting for the bus home tonight, I popped in to the Centra store for some cigarettes - giving-up-smoking has been postponed until some time in the distant future, when I actually give a damn - and had to step over two shop employees who were scooping up a mess of postcards on the floor. I assumed the metal postcard stand had been blown over by the wind, and gave it no thought, other than to apologise to the people groveling on the ground for the undignified but unavoidable fact that they must be stepped over, because I needed fags as a matter of urgency. The man behind the counter, however, seemed distracted and was grinning from ear to ear as he served me. I walked back towards the door, stepped back over the two still on the ground (muttering things to each other in what I think was Italian), and stood just inside the door to light a cigarette.

Outside, a group of people gathered together against the wind, waiting for the bus. Another man was slight separated from the group, and was furiously stuffing his mouth full of what looked like jelly sweets, and clutching a bag full of something to his chest. He seemed to be annoyed, and was muttering something over and over to himself. Aha, I thought to myself, we've got a nut job. I employed all the lessons I'd learned in London, and studiously ignored the freak, as is the correct response to anything out of the ordinary. The man began pacing back and forth in longer strides and as he went past, I clearly heard that what he was repeating over and over was "I'm not a bad man, I'm not a bad man". Oh, excellent, I thought, we've got a murderous nut job.

So there we all stood, sheltering from the wind, waiting for the bus and studiously ignoring the crazed loon eating penny sweets and clutching - what was he clutching? I had to see now - clutching to his chest three copies of tonight's Evening Herald. Oh yes, I thought, all the better to cut up and glue to his walls, the serial killing mentalist.

And then suddenly he made a lunge at the shop doorway and bumbled - not quite running, not quite walking - down the street, grinning from ear to ear with a new handful of postcards and another copy of the Evening Herald. One of the Italian shop assistants, looking half like he was about to burst in to tears, half like he was about to burst the nut job's head, gave chase, catching him easily and getting the postcards back. The shop assistant walked despondently back down the street, sorting the postcards as he went. The nut job stood laughing triumphantly to himself, as he now had four copies of the Evening Herald, and victory was obviously his.

Then the bus came.

19 January 2005
Dad has been threatening for about the last week to get rid of Bobby. Bobby can't stay in the house, he fumes. That dog is untrainable. He's badly behaved. He's destroying everything around him, and he's not house broken, and all he does is bark, and he's impossible, and he's got to go.

This is all because my Mum had to go away last weekend, leaving just myself and Dad in the house. I got caught up in something else altogether, and wasn't at home for most of the weekend, which meant that Dad became sole carer of all animals in the house, and finally saw first hand the kind of destruction that Bobby has been wreaking all around the house for the last month, but that me and Mum had been hiding from him.

The destroyed duvets. The eaten shoes. The copious amount of poo evenly distributed around every room in the house, given half a chance. The clothing (mainly socks), the fetish he has for hiding bits of food under the kitchen cupboards, his inability to eat from his own dish and insisting on eating from everyone else's, the constant torturing of the cats, the barking, the howling, the eating of the labradors - Dad finally witnessed it all first hand, and he wasn't impressed.

Ah, but we got away with it. The little imp, while carrying out all of the above, does it with a gleam in his eye that is almost human - if you catch him in the act of any of the above, he virtually gives you a Colin Farrell type wink, as if to say "Ah, I'm a rascal, but you love me for it, dontcha?" And lord above, but you do. And if the Colin-wink doesn't work, he'll roll over on his back and show you his lovely pink tummy, and I don't care if you're man, woman or child, your little heart will melt and you'll chuckle and rub his tummy, and then clean up the mess and hope no one else saw it so that the little devil won't be in trouble.

Today, though, he managed to eat a postal order worth E40 that he climbed up on to the table especially for. So Dad's started singing the old song again: That dog has to go.

18 January 2005
Day One of proper working hours of RNJ.

And that's all you're gonna hear about it. Briefly browsing the world that is the internet last night, I found another story about another blogger having been sacked for writing about their work on their blog. And though it does take me a long while to learn lessons from my own mistakes, I've decided to try to learn lessons from others, and so from here on in I'll not be writing about my job. I'm skilled enough at getting sacked in my own right, so to give myself a sporting chance of staying there longer than a moment, because I really do quite like it there, I'm going to put an embargo on mentions of work from here on in.

Instead, to fill in the gap of today's entry, here's one of these things instead (oh, shut up, it's ages since I've answered one of these stupid things, indulge me):

The last person who told you a secret:
Dee, at her house, last night. I share all secrets with her, she shares all secrets with me. Neither of us can therefore ever betray the other's confidence, due to the sheer amount of dirt we have on each other.

The last blog or site you came from:
The place I got this stupid questionnaire thingy from. Not allowed to say where, the webmistress would get very cross with me if I linked.

The last time you had a decadent dessert:
Probably at Moo's wedding. Desserts, particularly the decadent ones (although decadent literally means 'ten teeth', and being vegetarian I steer well clear of all food involving teeth), tend to involve all sorts of cream and dairy produce. It doesn't agree with me, so decadent desserts (with or without teeth) aren't so much an indulgence for me so much as a stupid decision. That answer has bored me more writing it than you reading it. Honest.

The last time you said "I love you":
About an hour ago. To my lovely great lump of a labrador, fact fans.

The last time you truly laughed out loud:
About an hour ago. When she looked up to lick me, and instead sneezed directly in my face.

17 January 2005
Walking to the bus stop from Dee's house is always something of an exciting adventure, because you've got two choices of journey: 1. Walk around the estate along the brightly lit path, past the fountain, out to the main road, and pretty much double back on yourself all the way up to the dual carriageway where the bus awaits; or 2. Walk through the estate in the other direction, until you get to the scary back alley bit through which are dotted large bushes behind which could be lurking all sorts of anything, but usually it's madmen intent on rape or robbery or murder or all three. I, of course, usually go for the second option, because it's quicker and the nights are cold.

Tonight I chose to undertake that second walk while talking on the phone with He Who Only... because being on the phone to someone in London while you're being raped, robbed and murdered is useful. He could at least report to my parents what my final words were before the madman pounced, I suppose. Although it would probably be something as worthless as "My feet are cold..." because that's usually the kind of thing I'm thinking about when walking back from Dee's house.

I noticed, because I'm quite perceptive about these things, that it was snowing. It was snowing in a gloriously story book manner, with the flakes swirling about in the air and not quite appearing to land. Having survived the mystery walk of death (it was too cold out for the madmen tonight, apparently) we decided I'd probably instead die of exposure, having waited for a bus for almost 5 minutes with none appearing on the horizon. Again, I tried to come up with some pithy last words so that He Who Only... would have something to report back to the friends and family, but the best I could come up with was "ooooh... pretty" in relation to the snow.

15 January 2005
I wonder how many cups of coffee I've had today, and if I remembered to put my book in to my bag or if I left it on the table by my bed. And I have to pick up my medical certs soon, I wonder what date it is. Is my phone on silent? My phone should be on silent. Otherwise the ringtone will be too loud, and remember when Rosie changed the tone on my phone and it was ringing in my pocket for ages before I realised it was mine, and when we used to bring her swimming she'd always make us buy her chocolate afterwards from the machine. I wonder if I've got any money, and when the buses stop running. Or I might just walk back home if it's not raining, if they don't want me to stay. Have I got my hat? How many cigarettes have I smoked today? Is my phone on silent? My phone should be on silent...

These are the kind of stupid things that run around your head when you're sitting in a smoke filled kitchen, surrounded by people all braced to hear the worst possible kind of news you can receive in your lifetime.

We're sitting around the round table, balanced on all the chairs available in the house. In front of everyone sits half drunk cups of now cold coffee; each of us has a different brand of cigarettes or rolling tobacco in front of us, and each of us chain-smokes, lighting up a new one almost as soon as the old one is put out. The ashtrays are emptied frequently, but continue to fill at an alarming rate. The tissue box, placed strategically in the centre of the table, is slowly emptied of its contents. Each of us has a mobile phone in front or beside us, and we all futilely check our phones every 10 seconds, even though all eyes and ears are trained on one phone in particular: the phone through which the worst imaginable news from the hospital will eventually be communicated.

What do you talk about when you're waiting for the horrificly inevitable? Anything. Stupid things. Childhood games. Each other's clothes. Embarrassing stories. Stories of when you were flashed at by dirty old men when you were a kid. Complaints about mobile networks and promises of giving up smoking. Occasionally what we're all thinking about comes up in conversation, and that is briefly mentioned, before we all dry up and return to staring silently at the table, smoking, and someone offers to make another round of coffee.

I'm not directly involved in this situation, I am there to offer silent and useless support, and the horror that I feel when that mobile, the mobile, rings, fills me with a dread that can only be a faint echo of the dread felt by everyone else around the room.

14 January 2005
Day Three of RNJ. 5pm. Half an hour to go.

Ladies, gents, Moo, you find me sitting here in my new office. I've done all I can, I've resisted thus far all afternoon, but it's finally come to this - I'm blogging at work. It's disgusting, I know. You'd think I'd have the moral fibre to resist, you'd think I'd been blessed with a backbone, although damaged, still strong enough to fight this kind of ridiculous urge, but no. I'm blogging at work, and I'm secretly delighted. It's a dirty, cheap, thrilling thrill and I don't care what any of you think.

Working in the afternoons sends an odd spiral in to your day. The mornings I'm still treating as if I've got all day to do the things I spend all doing, and then from 12 o'clock onwards it's a crazy hour where I try to get dressed in to clean(ish) work clothes, find my shoes, eat breakfast/lunch, drink a vast amount of coffee, get the dogs outside and then back inside again, collect the post, lock the house up and leave. Leaving at 3pm, when I finally start doing my regular shift here, will be even odder, I assume, although by 3pm I was usually getting so bored I wanted to do anything but be at home anymore, so this should be quite easy to get used to.

The only problem I have re working at the moment right now is that (a) I aint got two cents to rub together, which means that I have to borrow money off my parents to come in to town to work and (b) I aint got any work clothes whatsoever. It's been over a year since I worked, and none of my work clothes fit me any more. They're all far too big, and even strategic use of belts won't make them look like anything other than the trousers Charlie Chaplin wears in his films, so I'm restricted at the moment to a pair of trousers that Moo lent me and a black jumper. It's not good. Dee made the wise suggestion of investing in a good pair of sensible thick tights, and then I'd be able to branch out in to skirts, and I might just follow that advice. I'm sure otherwise after about two weeks they'll start wondering why I'm constantly dressed like a weirdly smart looking goth.

My first pay cheque will be spent on:
1. Giving back money to parents.
2. Paying some of credit card third world style debt.
3. Paying phone bill.
4. Buying new clothes.
5. Special treat of black converse runners for me.

I hope I get paid more than EUR800 then, because adding up that short list above just made me want to run away and cry. Except for the runners bit. That's definitely going to happen.

13 January 2005
Quick blog admin thingy:

I've started up a new box on the side (cos there's not enough already) for peeps who have linked to me, cos I'd like to return the favour and link right back atcha. So if you're not already listed, do please email me at dreadful.nonsense@gmail.com or leave a comment with your web address below and I will rectify the situation almost immediately.

Oh, and as a bonus, here's a picture of my cat:

Day Two of RNJ, although technically I still haven't started doing the job I was hired to do. That presumably starts next week, although no one seems to be steering the metaphorical ship this firm is sailing in. Sure, there's someone burly and manly-looking up at the wheel, parrot on shoulder and very large hat accounted for, but I think he's passed out or something. Because today, the Second Day that I've been officially called in to help out with the vastness and the swamping and the ohlordgodalmighty they've got so much work to do, and I had nothing to do for two of the three and a half hours I was there. NOTHING.

One of the secretaries even rang round all of her secretary friends on the other floors in other departments to see if they could find out where all this urgent work that needs someone new employed just to tackle through so that they could perhaps start seeing the light of day, and the best they could come up with was for me to correct some typos on a memo. I did that. Then more NOTHING for me to do.

So I cleaned out the drawers of my desk, like the good OCD that I am. I lined up folders and threw out some paper clips and worked through phone lists, and then neatened my desk, and even considered cleaning the keyboard because the space bar keeps getting stuck when I'm in full flow because there's all sorts of ick from the last woman who sat at my desk.

This is all because, even though my job is almost completely perfect, I've got no internet. He Who Only... and Mrs Bishop both did sterling jobs at keeping me entertained for the duration of the two hours of NOTHING, but even then two hours of NOTHING is rubbish compared to two hours of typing constantly interrupted by stupid conversations with your friends. Damn this firm for ruining my fun.

My other weird thought for the day regarding my RNJ is the fact that I've got no boss. I'm not working for anyone in particular, which means I've got no one towards whichto direct all my hatred and anger. I'll have to find a boss substitute in the meantime.

12 January 2005
First day at Ridiculous New Job. Let me tell you a little something about my RNJ, without giving away too many details or tipping off the firm that they've hired a nut case. Let me also remember the constant lesson to be learned from Dooce and try not to get fired almost as soon as I've been hired.

I'm working this week in the litigation department, because they're apparently swamped off their feet with work and need an extra set of typing digits (that's not what the call the secretaries, by the way. Although I think I'd quite like it if they did). Next week, though, I'll be starting my RNJ for real. And even though I've not been told much about it, let me sum it up for you as I see it.

My working hours are 4pm to 8pm. The nightshift, secretarially speaking. I've been looking for part time work the entire time I've been job hunting, and have been constantly told that it's almost impossible to find. I have to work part time because, although I'm fitter and healthier (although no more productive) than ever before, I still can't do the sitting down thing for longer than a 4 hour period, thus making almost every 9-5 style job out of the question. This is why, when I was interviewed for this job, I was sorely disappointed by the glazing over of eyes that followed my declaration of slight disability. But the thing that worked to my advantage, and the main appeal of the job, is the crazy crazy working hours. Who wants to start work at 4pm?! Me! I do! I can continue staying up until all hours of the morning doing absolutely nothing and still arrive red eyed and hunchbacked in to work and not have to talk to anyone for more than an hour because everyone else leaves at 5pm.

I've never really put any real thought in to this kind of thing, but if I had to describe my ideal rubbish menial job, this would be it. Left to work at my own pace, without any supervision, without a boss to call my own, not having to make small talk about boyfriends/husbands, babies or soap operas (the only things secretaries talk about, and I'm not even being snarky here), and still able to get tons and tons of sleep. Bring. It. On.

11 January 2005
Last Friday, I went for a job interview. I felt that, although the job would really suit me down to the ground, there was no way I'd get it, because I'd made the stupid mistake of being quite open and honest with the man that was interviewing me.

I'd been warned by the recruitment agency - the one recruitment agency out of all of the agencies I joined that actually paid any attention to what I said, and therefore I praise and highly recommend the Caldwell Meghen recruitment agency - that this man would be asking a LOT of questions based on my CV, and to be ready and willing with positive reasons for bailing out of each and every job I've had during my sorry (and short, don't forget I'm still terribly young) life thus far. Although I've previously noted this problem right here in the past week, since I had warning for it I managed to cobble together some pretty convincing half-truths about ambition and time for a change, and even told one downright lie, but only on the spur of the moment and it didn't hurt anyone, so it's not really a sin and no harm done. The only stumbling block I found was when he asked me why the fuck (not his words, mine) I hadn't worked for the last year.

I explained that falling down flights of stairs, although not something I do on a regular basis, was a feature of my recent past, and as a result of this I hadn't been doing a lot of working, or walking, or sitting down or standing up, or socialising or anything for 6 of the last 12 months. I didn't mention the fact that since my second epidural in July, I've been more active and sociable (and pretty much happier) than at any time in my life before now, but just too lazy to get work.

Although they wouldn't be able to say that they didn't give me the job due to my "disability", his eyes seemed to glaze over, and he said that he'd wait to see my references before making a final decision, and then gave the old line about having to interview other people for the position. I nodded, and chalked it up to another interview that didn't result in me getting the goods. I was miffed, truth be told, cos this ridiculous job with ridiculous working hours would have really suited me, but fine and dandy. There must be something out there for me.

But today. Today, ladies, gents - I got the job. I start tomorrow. Tomorrow! Allah be praised.

This is me today:

That is all.

10 January 2005
I almost nearly lost my temper just now. This date should go down in history as the date where Shazzle almost actually spoke her mind for once. That truly never happens.

This job interviewing malarky is really starting to grind me down. It's bad enough having to talk to recruitment agents, or The Handmaids Of The Devil as they are also known, but to also have to talk to HR people in offices while wearing office clothes and proper shoes, and smiling like you're a normal person who wants to work in an office is quite another. I'm a remarkably bad liar, and telling people why I left previous jobs takes a certain amount of fabrication, because answering the question "And why did you leave that firm?" with the reply "My boss was a big, bitter bitch and I hated her guts" isn't going to get you anywhere. Same goes for "I was bored", "The other secretaries annoyed me", "I had too much work to do" and "I'd started hiding filing so that I didn't have to do it, and was afraid I'd get caught" (all true stories).

Today I had an interview scheduled for 2.30pm. At 3.05pm they still hadn't moved me from reception where I'd already read The Irish Times and The Irish Independent cover to cover (missing children, murdered girls, tsunamis are bad mmmkay?) and I was considering walking out and not even bothering to go through the motions of the interview. When they finally deigned to see me, and I found out what the job was, I really wanted to scream - it ticked the boxes of every single thing I hate in a job: working exclusively for one woman, working for the most senior partner, doing company admin, working in conveyancing, doing unpaid overtime, "mucking in as a team player", sitting in an open planned room with all the other secretaries... No to all of the above.

The worst thing was, when I'd talked to the recruitment agent last week who put me forward for this job, I'd been brutally honest with him about what I will and won't do in a job. Thanks to my back, the first thing I won't do is be a secretary, because that involves being tied to a desk, and I can't do that no more. I would consider a receptionist role, because as a receptionist you can do your work just as well standing up as you can sitting down. You can't type dictation off a tape standing up. Believe me, I've tried.

So I almost had a temper tantrum down the phone when the smug idiot rang me for feedback. But I didn't. I politely swallowed it down and told him that the job just wasn't for me. Doing his best Jerry Springer impression he told me he was "confused" about what he should be putting me forward for. I understand his dilemma. I laid it all out in black and white in front of him last week, but of course I'm a lady, and ladies don't know what is best for them. They should be leaving it to the men-folk to decide what is best for them, and here I was, a lady, expressing a vested interest in her own life and daring to question what he, the man, was suggesting.

If he'd been able to pat me on the ass as I left the room, it really would have completed the moment.

To cheer us all up on this bleak afternoon, please find below a photograph of Little Sister Edel being attacked by two jack russels. Sorry about the slightly blurred quality, I was laughing so hard I nearly peed myself.

06 January 2005
If you were fortunate enough to be walking past my house at around 9.45 this morning, you'd have been right in thinking that it was my voice screaming out "YOU CUNT! YOU FUCKING CUNT! GET OFF MY BAG!" If you'd been standing in the doorway of my bedroom - and I'm fairly sure you weren't but am willing to be corrected - you'd have seen the hand flapping and foot to foot skipping and entire body shuddering that accompanied the screaming. There's a very simple explanation for this. There was a spider on my bag.

Holy crap. That's not the way to start your morning. It's not the way to do anything. When I'm in charge, all spiders will be banned, and I'll have a large, hunky man servant who would be on hand night and day to make sure there are no further spiders lurking anywhere nearby, even though they've all already been banned (spiders cannot be trusted to stick to the laws of the land, because they are made of pure fanged evil).

I mean. Christ. It's about 14 hours since that happened and every tiny movement around me is being translated by my brain as SPIDERQUICKRUNOHMYGOD. I can feel all the little buggers crawling along the back of my neck. I have to keep readjusting my scarf. If I actually do set eyes on one in the next few hours I would probably die right there on the spot. That's how fraught I am.

Dee and I were once trapped in her kitchen for a good 30 minutes. We had spotted a spider, a freaking huge one, about the size of a small car, running across the floor. Dee shrieked, I shrieked, we both started doing the patented 'I'm a lady, there's a spider' dance, and Dee threw a massive cookery book right on top of it. But then. We realised. That book now lay between us and freedom. It was in front of the door, which couldn't be opened without disturbing the book, and all ladies harbour a fear of that rare strain of spiders that can press themselves flat to the floor and survive heavy book drops and even foot stomping. You may snigger, but it's happened to all of us at one point. You think the blighter is dead and then it suddenly makes a lunge for your face.

But back to this morning's monstrosity. After the initial bout of screaming had been covered, I sprang in to action, darting around the bed - but never taking my eyes off the demon - to grab a tissue. I returned to the original position - still hand flapping like an autistic - and dived in.

This is a skill only recently acquired by me. In the last six months in Edinburgh I was forced to dispose of spiders myself, due to my flatmate having odd working hours, and none of my friends being willing to come round to help me out at all hours of the day and night. It was either get rid of the spiders myself, or abandon the room altogether, and since we lived on a ground floor flat most rooms would eventually have spiders in them, and I'd be living in the corridor with no belongings.

I'm vegetarian, we all know that. I don't kill things, either for food or sport or the sheer pleasure found in killing. But I will kill a spider. It's an involuntary reaction. I want to pick them up in the tissue like my mother does and then flap it out the window until the spider safely descends on to the sill and down the wall. But the moment my tissue comes in contact with spider, my hand goes in to a crushing spasm from which there is no return.

I popped it.

I made the spider pop.

I feel sick at the thought of it.

But secretly delighted.

Don't judge me.

05 January 2005
I've recently been receiving a lot of unsolicited and unwelcomed phone calls. Sure, they all started off friendly enough, and they all seemed to know a lot about me, but weren't willing to share that much information about themselves. Then it all started to get a bit weird and aggressive, and now I'm afraid to answer my phone if I don't recognise the number, because I know it will be another one of them, and they frighten me. They frighten me a lot. I've been hiding under my duvet most of the day sobbing. Somebody help me.

I've started job hunting again, and the employment agencies have heard. I made the mistake of going on to the admittedly excellent Nixers site and saw some jobs that caught my eye. The site is really easy to use, and once you've written your initial cover letter you don't really have to add anything else to the throw. Which means you end up hurling your CV out to anyone and everyone that catches your eye.

What I didn't realise, or at least didn't think through, was the fact that most of the people receiving my CV, which includes my mobile number and email address (I am that stupid), would be recruitment agencies. Persistent recruitment agencies. Agencies now desperate for clients, because it's January and nobody looks for a new job in January because nobody quits their job in the run up to Christmas.

They quite literally haven't stopped calling. They call, I ignore them, they call again, I ignore them, they change their number or hide their number or make their number look like it could possibly be a UK number, and then I have to answer on the off chance that it's HWORTBTSIHM (see, you've been mentioned again) ringing. And then they trick me.

They talk to me really nicely, and say that they have jobs for me, great jobs, jobs that involve no working and tons of pay, and free chocolate and sweets and crisps and puppies and toys and new clothes and shoes, and they make me go in for interviews with them and then they make me type and say what a clever girl I am and then offer me jobs doing filing for Microsoft or working in banks for no money at all, and it makes me sad and want to crawl back under my duvet again.

I hate job hunting. I hate interviewing for jobs. I hate wearing interview clothes for job hunting, I hate traveling all the way in to town to say things to people I could have said over the phone but most of all I HATE RECRUITMENT AGENCIES. THEY ARE THE WORK OF SATAN.

I feel better now. Thanks.

04 January 2005
This morning when I got up I discovered that young Hell Raiser Bobby had struck again. The boy has a chewing festish - what can I say? We've all been there. We've all been through it in the past. It's a hard habit to kick, but by God we're determined to help him through to the other side. So far he's been through duvets, sofas, table tops, numerous plant pots, plastic bottles, shoes, one pair of flip flops and even the back of one of my Dad's fleece tops (don't tell my Dad, he doesn't know yet). But this morning, I discovered quite the tour de force, chewing wise.

Bobby's managed to eat through Butler's collar. While Butler is still wearing it. Proof, if proof were needed:

The puppy has no shame.

03 January 2005
I've asked about, and it's official. No one I know has made a New Year's Resolution this year. Or indeed any other new year. My friends are all lazy, fickle, easily distracted bastards who realise that they will never stick to any one thing, because they will only get side tracked by something else.

But not me. Well, yes, me too. But I made resolutions last August, because I'm contrary and refuse to be pinned down to dates, times, traditions or common sense. I've kept to every last one of them, more or less, other than the smoking thing. The smoking thing continues, but will be STOPPING TOMORROW, BY GOD I SWEAR IT WILL. Probably. If I don't buy any more fags in the pub tonight.

Joss Whedon has made resolutions, because he is a great, great, great man and we should all bow down before him.

"Resolutions: Too many to tell, and some are federally incriminating. I'm not perfect (I'm prefectly PROPORTIONED, which is where that confusion comes in) and I've taken a cold hard look at my self in the wane of aught four. There's changes. Work to be done. I plan to be a better, more focused person next year, and if at all possible, have a bionic arm. I also resolve to write more. Not like, BENDIS more, but a lot. And maybe have some protein shakes, so my body stays in good enough shape to hold up my bionic arm, which will probably be heavy."

[If you're a massive geek, you can read the rest of his New Year message here. But then again, if you're a geek, you've probably already read this like 1,000 times already.]

Happily, if you've yet to decide what resolution to make, Mr Internet has provided an easy way to do it for you. My resolution is can now be found in the handy box below:

In the year 2005 I resolve to:
Stop smoking pot by taking up crack instead.
Get your resolution here

02 January 2005
New Year's Day was a game of about four halves. Waking up in the middle of a forest is not really a new experience for me. Waking up in the middle of a forest reeking of beer is also mildly familiar. Waking up to the sound of the log cabin collapsing around me is a whole other experience that I'd never, until yesterday, experienced.

We arrived at Killykeen in the hours of darkness, and eventually crawled into bed at about 4am, to the sounds of the final party revellers creeping out the door, and the music still quite actually ringing in our ears (did I mention how powerful our sound system was?). Turning off the lights in the bedroom proved how out of the way we were - pitch dark blackness. I like very dark darkness. It's impossible to find in Edinburgh, Dublin or London, my three spiritual homes. Cavan has it in spades.

So it was with a certain amount of horror that we awoke to the sound of the very earth crashing in on itself. My vague recollection of events goes something like this - He Who Only Reads This Blog To See If He's Mentioned ("HWORTBTSIHM") muttered something about what the fuck was that, and I think I may have suggested that someone had just blown up the adjoining chalet, and not to worry. Strangely not having gathered that exploding buildings is not sufficient to rouse me first thing in the morning, HWORTBTSIHM pursued this line of questioning as a second earsplitting roar rattled the forest, and I was forced to sit up (not literally, though) and take note. I risked a peek over the duvet. The room, which a moment before was shrouded in a kind of twilight darkness, lit up like the front of our house on Christmas Day, and then collapsed back to darkness again.

There were only two explanations: someone was systematically blowing up every chalet in the forest, or this was one serious thunder storm.

Thankfully it was just the thunder, because frankly I couldn't have been forced out of bed at that point even if the bomber himself had walked in to the room and shown me precisely how much semtex he was planning to use in and around the bed.

So after lying in bed and marveling at the awesome power of nature for a bit, we risked getting upright and discovered that the hangovers we so rightly deserved had not yet turned up. I sat in the front room for a bit, eating Pringles with Dee and surveying the damage we had caused to the chalet the night before, only occasionally experiencing flashbacks of some of the more disastrous things I'd managed to say or do to the people that I loved. The only way to tackle the rest of the day was, we rightly decided, to go down the pub.

We found a superb pub in Killashandra. As we walked in through the front the four men propping up the bar turned as one and stared at us. We mumbled something about looking to watch the football and were shown through a back door, to a room that had a massive screen, a massive snooker table, and little or no furniture. The barman explained that when we wanted service, we were to ring a little bell located on the bar. It was absolutely perfect.

The rest of the day was spent in the bar. Some of us watched some football, some of us read some papers, some of us did both and some of us did neither. We all drank more alcohol, although it did take me a while to get enthusiastic about that particular idea. I managed a decent powernap on the arm of HWORTBTSIHM while some football team played another football team, and managed to be the perfect girlfriend by not dribbling even a little.

After about five hours of this, though, we all thought the chalets would be a better place to be, and tried to rustle up some taxis to bring us home. The barman provided us with a mobile number, which went straight through to answering machine. "Oh yes, of course", the barman said, by way of explanation, "he'll be at mass now. Ring him back in 20 minutes."

I was fascinated at the idea of living in a town so small that every single person would know every other person's business, in love with the idea that this kind of Rural Ireland could still exist, and so anxious to get back to civilization that I almost walked back to Dublin there and then.

01 January 2005
Last night, you will have noted, was New Years Eve. Did you note that? Excellent. I, like many of the other people I traveled to Cavan with, spent last night (which was New Years Eve) in Killykeen Forest Park. I did this for a number of reasons, but the main one was because Mrs Bishop a while back caught me by surprise by mumbling something incoherent into my ear a number of times, while flapping something shiny in front of me, but just out of my reach. In my haste to reach the shiny thing, I agreed to do whatever it was she was asking me to do. I therefore found myself yesterday speeding along a road that took us out of Dublin, and in to Cavan.

Ah, Cavan. What is there to say about Cavan?

Nothing. Let's move on.

I've just done a search for Killykeen, so that I could link to pretty pictures of the log cabins we were staying in. I wasn't allowed to take my Dad's digital camera with me to Cavan, due to there being a very strong chance that the locals would burn me as a witch if they laid eyes on such technology. Instead of pictures, though, I found this brilliant factoid: "When the site was excavated in 1987 human remains were found from the last Cromwellian siege of 1653." Dude! I should have done some research! Had the rest of our party realised there were remains of dead British people to be found out and about in the woodlands, I'm sure we wouldn't have wasted so much time drinking, smoking and raising a wild racket in Chalet Number Five, aka The Party Hut.

New Year's Eve for me, as for everyone in the world, is always a disaster and a disappointment, and I was braced for both, especially considering the pattern the last few months have had of being either spectacularly brilliant or bitterly horrible, quite often on the same day. As it turned out, all was well.

The cabin was quite frankly freezing, but we somehow found a way to warm ourselves. The party was initially quite slow to start up as some of the female members of the group - those staying in Chalet Number Four at least - felt it necessary to use such things as hair straighteners and make up, and also change clothes and watch Coronation Street. I tried standing with some gentlemen while they talked about football, but soon slipped into a mild coma and had to go find some ladies to wake me up again. Thankfully once the music was turned on and turned up - way, way, way up - the party got, as Pink so often demands that it does, started.

After midnight - which we managed to celebrate 10 minutes late - people from the other cabins came wandering by, clutching drinks or party hats, covered in mud and alcohol and with big sloppy grins on their faces. Some brought more alcohol with them, some helped themselves to ours, all were merry and jolly, and one particularly brilliant group had ice cubes in their glasses that lit up and glowed in the dark, all the better to go wandering around a pitch black forest with. Chalet Number Five was definitely the loudest Chalet in all of Killykeen. This was later confirmed by people in Killashandra, which is 14km away, who heard the faint strains of The Beastie Boys coming over Lough Oughter at 3 in the morning.