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Dreadful Nonsense

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

30 September 2005
Number 17 in the continuing series entitled “The Reason I Will One Day Be Arrested For Beating a Complete Stranger Around The Face and Head With My Bag”; or “Why? Why Would You Do This In Public? Why?”

We are all on the central line at around 5.45pm. We are all squeezed in very close together. We are all trying to pretend this is not happening. We are all studiously avoiding each other’s gaze. But you? You are leaning against the door, and you are reading a book, and you are picking food from your teeth. From your back teeth. You are picking the food from the back of your teeth, and taking that food out of your mouth on your fingers, and inspecting the food particles and then sucking your finger, and the continuing your exploration.

I am trying not to be sick.

Another day. We are all on the central line at around 9.10am. We are all squeezed in very close together. We are all trying to pretend this is not happening. We are all studiously reading our free racist newspapers. But you? You are sitting in a seat and you are chewing your fingernails. You have no fingernails to chew. I don’t mean that they are bitten down quite short. Your fingernails are bitten right down to the quick, so that you actually, literally, have no fingernails to bite. You are essentially chewing on your fingers as if desperate to get to the bone underneath. You chew on the finger, you remove the finger from your mouth and inspect the not-nail, you chew on the finger, you remove the finger from your mouth and inspect the not-nail, you keep doing this over and over again.

I am trying not to be sick.

Another day. We are all on the central line at about 5.35pm. We are all squeezed in very close together. We are all trying to pretend this is not happening. We are all considering killing you. You are standing, happy as you like, in the aisle between the seats and you are picking at your nose, rolling what you find between your fingers, sometimes wiping the debris on your trousers, but more often than not putting what you find in your mouth and making a satisfied sucking sound. You then return once more to your explorations.

We are all trying not to be sick.

27 September 2005
We all sit in this open plan office, in my glorious work place that I wouldn’t ever dare to criticise, and particularly make pains not to identify, and this open plan office is alternatively hot and cold thanks to disruption with the air conditioning. The air conditioning was such a major bonus during the summer heatwaves that I was quite committed to stay here forever, even though I find this job, like every job I’ve ever had before it, stiflingly boring to the point of suicide. However, it’s all gone a bit awkward now.

Thanks to the hot/cold/hot nature of the air conditioning in this, the lovely open plan office where we’re all sitting very closely together, over 100 of us on the same floor, we’ve all got a cold. ALL. OF. US. Variations on a theme – we sat today comparing symptoms. Some started with a vague feeling of unwellness. Some started with headaches, swiftly followed by runny noses. I’ve apparently taken the light-headed-followed-by-sore-throat route, which is a slow burner, but I’m promised leads to aching limbs and a wave of ick followed by the blocked sinuses and traditional accessories of your average and deeply common cold.

This all comes less than two weeks after I’d started a brand new vitamin taking regime, thanks to a 3for2 at Boots that I couldn’t resist, cos the little pill bottles are such lovely bright colours, and they all promise such miraculous cures. I’m taking the yellow box for hormones and hair, the red box for general well being, the green box for skin and the orange box for hair and nails. The red box is obviously at fault. Today, when I announced that my sore throat had escalated from “nagging” to “painful”, I was immediately handed some vitamin c to chew, followed by extract of Echinacea. I think the only thing for it is to crawl into bed in pygamas tonight upon arrival home, and spend the evening eating porridge.

Not that those were my plans already. Oh no.

22 September 2005
It’s that time of the week again! It’s the time where I get impatient and start making “decisions”, “final” “decisions” that must be followed through to the end, and then once I feel sure that this “decision” has been made, then I’m able to throw it out the window, because at least decisive, if not actual, action has been taken. This week, my big “decision” is that I’m going to have my second tattoo by the end of October.

Why the end of October? I have no idea. I could claim it’s to do it before I’m 29, because 29 is almost too old to be deliberately scarring your body, drawing pictures on yourself like a three year old child would do. I could claim it’s because the winter months are drawing in, and it would be best to get it done while I can still wear loose clothing and not be all wrapped up tight, when a tattoo could get damaged in the first couple of days. I could even claim that, since I’m getting another angel tattoo, October is the best month for angels. It is, you know. The folklore, both Christian and older, dictates that October is the time to communicate with your guardian angel (2nd October in particular, now that you ask).

It’s none of those, though. It’s because I’m getting bored of waiting and want to get it done NOW, NOW I TELL YOU.

The tiny, bothersome details are that I’m not sure where to go or what to get done. I throw open the where to go question to you, the internet – are any of the lovely people of London able to recommend to me some good tattoo people to attend?
The question of what I’m getting done is slightly more difficult, and a touch pressing – as I say, the intention is “angel”. After that, I’ve no idea. I want it black, and in outline, without too much detail or shading, although some detail and shading could be considered. I’ve googled, I’ve asked Jeeves, I’ve considered texting that number where they answer your questions for a £1, I’m constantly buying books on angels, and in my lunchbreak today I’ll be going out to buy a book in the Christian bookshop just for the illustrations, but people, I’d also like your help here. Please post links to any pretty pictures you can find that have angels in them. Pictures of David Boreanaz are also, as always, welcome.

21 September 2005
The end is almost nigh, and I can virtually taste the freedom: another term of the OU is finishing up and not before time. This year I made the astonishingly stupid decision to take not one, not two, not three, but two and a half courses, in the same year that I started working again after a year’s absence, moved house, moved countries, got a new job and generally had a lot of upheaval and financial difficulties. The main problem in the last three months has been finding the time to do the required study and work on essays, because it turns out that, when you live in London, you get tired very quickly, due to the travelling and the variety of public houses, and the late nights staying up talking about how brilliant London is, and all that gazing in adoration that I have to fit in now that I have a boyfriend who is nearby all the time.

I’ve never been particularly sorry to say goodbye – even if it’s only for a little while – to the courses I’ve been doing, but this year as each course reaches the end I feel the strangle hold grip letting go ever so slightly more, and the relief is extreme. I still have an exam to do at the end of October, which isn’t going to go well (and this is not just the usual bravado when discussion exams. I’ve already tried to find out how you go about repeating exams following failure, but the OU have a policy of not discussing this until it actually happens, which shows a lovely blinding faith in their students), and one more assignment to finish by the end of this week (fingers crossed) but after that… oh, the possibilities.

I’ve started loading up on books that I want to read, and they are sitting so temptingly on my bookshelf that I’ve accidentally already read three of them instead of doing the last bits of study that I should be (you see now why the exam’s not looking so rosy).

My reward to myself at the end of this course will be the purchase of a small television and a DVD player. I do already have a DVD player, but that is in Ireland and I am in England and so it makes watching DVDs on it a little more difficult than it used to be when we were both on the same land mass. I considered bringing it here with me, but decided that life would be easier if I just bought a new one, and so a new one will be bought at the end of October, and on that I will be watching all of my Joss Whedon DVDs that have been so sorely neglected in the last few months thanks to the pressures of study and sleeping and gazing adoringly.

20 September 2005
Why do boys always feel the need to explain things to me? I was standing in the kitchen last night whipping up a culinary delight that included not just one but two types of fresh vegetable, along with my dietary staple of quorn and also some rice for extra excitement, and I while I was doing all of this whipping, I was making polite conversation with one of my housemates, who was standing in the kitchen for no particular reason talking to me. Now, I enjoy small talk just as much as the next person when you’re trapped in a lift or underground, but in the comfort of my own home, I want idle gossip, bitching or information exchange – small talk does not float my boat when I’m standing where I rent. But he was insisting upon this, and so I played along if only for an easier life.

I commented to him that, that morning, for the first time since I’d moved to London, I had been on a tube that got stuck in a tunnel (not actually stuck, they’re built so that they can fit neatly through the tunnels you understand, but another train in front of us had broken down, and so we had nowhere to go for the 10 minutes it took to shunt the train forward and let us in to the next platform so that we could breathe the sweet, sweet oxygen once more). My flatmate, instead of tutting in the manner almost obligatory when discussing the underground system here, and saying things about how inefficient it is, when in fact we all know it’s an astonishing system that works incredibly well, and what’s 10 minutes in a tunnel anyway… instead of launching in to the traditional response, my flatmate started telling me about the history of the tube.

Now, it might not be common knowledge, but I certainly know a thing or two about the tube already, having been in relations with a certain someone who used to work for London Underground and who has an unhealthy fascination with machinery (specifically space machinery, but also trains and trams and things on tracks). I already know about when the tubes were made, and the budget restrictions, and how they work, and why it gets so hot, and which ones are further underground. I know which station has the longest escalator, which is the deepest underground, which was first built, which is most recent… And although I tried to communicate that to my flatmate, he had taken that expression that all boys get when they’ve started explaining something to me. It’s like My Fair Lady, and they’re teaching me to say “Spain”.
So I stirred my vegetables and prepared a side salad while he regaled me with information I already knew, and then nodded and said something like “that explains that, then”, which is what you should always say to boys when they’re explaining things to them, because it makes it feel like a job well done.

16 September 2005
Hormones: them's got a whole heap of shit to answer for.

This week has truly been one of the longest weeks on record. There's been tears, there's been tantrums, there's been songs and dancing and laughing and redecorating and some more crying and some swearing, and threats of quitting and suicide and GBH and that was all just on Wednesday.

It's difficult being a lady. I never appreciated it when I was younger, when people would complain about how PMT was ruinging their lives. So you get a little weepy, I'd think to myself, so what? Have a bath, eat some chocolate, everything will be better. I've heard it said before, but never thought that it was true, that your hormonal level rises and becomes more complicated and ruinous as you get closer to a certain age category - the one that evil fucking doctors this week are calling "mature", in terms of baby-making capabilities - but it seems that's happening to me, whether I choose to accept it or not.

I came thisclose this week to telling my boss to go fuck himself, because I decided he was looking at me a bit funny. I came thisclose to punching someone on the tube because I decided that she'd walked into me on purpose. I came thisclose to buying flights home and sodding everything else, because I couldn't bear the thought of being in this hot, smelly, unfriendly city one more moment. I came thisclose to hugging a complete stranger because she stepped to one side to let me on to a very crowded tube carriage. I came thisclose to proposing marriage to my flatmate because she offered to give me a hug cos I looked like I needed one. I came thisclose to singing all the way to work this morning because my mood was so greatly improved. And. It's. All. Hormonal.

Fucking hell, if the mood swings keep up this kind of pace, I'll be locked in an institution before the end of the year. I was in a shop buying lunch yesterday, and a song came on, and I had to leave the shop without buying anything because I was about to fall into a corner then and there and sit and cry for the rest of the day. Same song heard today in my lunchbreak had me smiling all the way down the road. Exactly the same song.

Me needs me some help. Evening primose oil can sod off, I feel. Time for the big guns now. It's not a good sign when the temperature of the water coming out of the shower head in your bathroom has the ability to reduce you to tears or have you singing Scissor Sisters all day. He Who Only... has been astonishing in his generosity of ignoring the rantings of what are obviously a completely unhinged girlfriend, and I publicly thank him very much for his continuing patience in this, our difficult time. I can only promise that Boots finest will be put into action tomorrow, if not sooner, in an effort to find some solution to this atrocity. In the meantime, ladies of the audience, I ask a very serious question indeed - what can be done to stop me harming myself and all others around me once a month for the next 15 odd years I'm still fertile?

Very many thanks indeed.

11 September 2005
My flatmate’s voice sounded slightly frightened when she softly called me away from my computer and towards the bathroom. “Shazzle…” she almost whispered, “… don’t be scared, but I think I might have made a tiny mistake.” I immediately leapt from the floor on which I was sitting (lap top balanced on a pile of OU books in front of me so as to keep in line with health and safety ergnomics and all that), because I will accept any excuse not to stay writing my essay for any longer than is painfully necessary.

I crept towards the bathroom, afraid of what I might find inside, and pushing the door slowly open was met initially with her frightened face. “Um…” she started, and then just gestured towards the back wall, holding still in her hand the scraper she’d been using the strip the wallpaper from the walls. At the back wall, I could see the remnants of five layers of wallpaper (some of which we calculate has been up since the 1950s). I could see plaster. But most of all, I could see brick work. Lots and lots of brickwork.

The problem, you see, is the two-day job that my flatmate had envisaged undertaking to redecorate our bathroom had suddenly turned into a nightmare. We had thought along the lines of: (1) buy tin of paint, (2) paint bathroom. Helen had decided on adding a third step in between one and two, which was (1b) strip old wallpaper from bathroom wall. What Helen had now done was (1c) expose old brickwork which will need to be replastered before painting can take place.

I think our bathroom, never the most pleasant place to spend a lot of time, is now going through its most difficult stage yet. To the extent that, tomorrow night, I must go round to He Who Only…’s house in order to dye my hair. Oh, the girly humiliation of it all.

09 September 2005
Gin is evil. Wicked. Bad. Bad, bold, evil wicked, bad.

I’ve always had a suspicion about the type of people who drink gin. Ladies who drink gin and tonics are always, in my experience, and my experience is limitless, permed of hair, bleached in colour, super-tanned and wrinkled, wishing it was still the 1980s when you could wear those big shirts with belts around the middle and surprised to find that they are in their late 40s with nothing to show for it but an increasingly south facing bosom. And if they’re not, they aspire to be. Gin is, to coin the Dylan Moran phrase, a mascara thinner. It drives you to melancholy and tears, and makes you think about the kittens you had when you were a little girl, and all the hopes and dreams that have been dashed.

What’s more, dress it up all you like, but it tastes suspiciously like nail polish remover.

Me and the gin, we didn’t get on. I tried it with tonic, I tried it with lemonade, and I slowly lost the power of speech and gained the unwelcome power of self reflection, as I gazed out the window and realised how close, howveryclose I am to being thirty and where did my twenties go, and I know that, in the grand scheme of things, my life’s never been better than it is right now, but really, is that enough? Is it enough? Will it ever be enough?

Tomorrow, and for the duration of the weekend, I will be eschewing alcohol altogether. Apparently, I don’t make a good spirits drinker (although there is a range still left to be tried – any suggestions gladly accepted, and willingly experimented with) but perhaps I’ll make a better wagon-chaser.

08 September 2005
Yes, okay, so Ireland lost, it was Keane vs France, why was Given asleep when we needed him the most, blah blah blah – the important thing to focus on about last night was the fact that I DRANK WHISKY. Whisky, as you’ll well know, is saved only for special, specific occasions. These occasions are: Christmas. And: funerals. Drinking whisky outside either of these occasions is confusing to the mind, body and taste buds. Every drop I drank, my brain immediately responded with WHERE’S SANTA? And WHERE’S THE DEAD GUY?

Last night, then, was fun. What I discovered, or rather what came flooding back to me as I downed my third whisky-and-diet-coke was the fact that I can’t get drunk on whisky. Never have been able to. Regardless of the amount chugged down, under whatever circumstances, with or without a mixer, whisky has almost no effect on my sobriety. Which, as you’ll all appreciate, makes it a totally worthless alcoholic drink.

And so my experiment must continue. Taking the advice of Little Sister Edel and Mrs Bishop to heart, tomorrow night I shall be drinking naught but gin and some tonic.

07 September 2005
I'm just about to head off down the pub to watch the Ireland v France match (my prediction for the match is that we will lose, but hopefully defiantly and with some feeling). I'm also just about to head into a new challenge for myself: drinking spirits.

The challenge I set for myself at the beginning of this week was to not have any beer at all for the rest of the week, because I don't need it and I can give it up any time I want to. This challenge I failed miserably less than 10 hours after I had set it for myself, when I had not one but two pints of the beer, with the pathetic excuse that (see below) my dreamy boyfriend was talking to two bitchy ladies and I wasn't allowed to punch them to death.

Tonight, therefore, I'm not giving up alcohol. I'm giving up the beer. I'm going to see what happens when I drink spirits. This experiment is important because (1) the amount of beer I'm drinking is making me very fat; (2) the amount of beer I'm drinking is stripping away the lining of my stomach; (3) the amount of beer I'm drinking is costing me too much money and (4) I'm nearly thirty. I need to be able to throw back vodka neat and laugh with abandon when my children/neighbours/therapists are at an impressionable age, so that I can be referred to as Scary Mommy/Cat Lady/Patient number 429.

Wish me luck.

06 September 2005
There are so many things I want to blog about at the moment.

I was sitting in a beer garden last night, and discussing the idea of blogging, and how I've restricted myself to a finite amount of subjects about which to blog, how I've pretty much blogged myself in to a corner by making myself easily identifiable, and by not restricting the blog to fictional characters, fictional situations, or even heavily disguised true stories.

I'd really like to blog about the pure white rage that descended over me last night, when I was stuck at one table in the beer garden while He Who Only... sat talking to two other girls. I'd really like to ask if the kind of anger that leads you to actually considering driving an umbrella through the eye of the prettier of the two girls is normal at my age. I'd really like some feedback as to whether it's normal to wish pure, epic plights of biblical proportions on two girls who are making eyes at your boyfriend, whether it's right and proper to consider, to actually consider, going over there and ripping their goddamned grinning hair right out of their heads. But obviously, I can't talk about that here, because then He Who Only... would sense what a crazed moronic ladykiller I am, and will creep away into the night.

I'd also like to talk about the weirdness of realising that your thoughts have pretty much been following exactly the same patterns for a full complete year now; I can confirm that for a fact, because I've just had a brief browse through my archives - HELLO WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS IN MY BEDROOM! - and all the signs are there from this time last year.

I'd like to discuss how weird my working life is at the moment, how from one day to the next I love and hate my job, how from one moment to the next I like and hate my boss, but very very obviously I can't do that here, because I would be rendering myself not only unemployed but also unhireable.

I'd like some input on whether or not anyone else thinks my boobs have suddenly gotten a lot bigger. Because, I have to admit, from my standpoint it does seem like they have.

So many many many things not to talk about.

04 September 2005
[I started writing this on Sunday. That's how long these questions have taken me to answer. Isn't that terrible?]

I have three words for you people: Wireless. Internet. Access.

I turned on my laptop today just after He Who Only... left, because I've got one heck of a work load for the day and after drinking for TEN HOURS IN A ROW yesterday, I need to get my head down and do some serious essay writing before my entire degree collapses around my ears.

Three hours later, and I've not finished being on the internet yet. Sure, I could justify some of it as being study related, cos I looked at the OU site for about 10 minutes reading about how much trouble other students are having answering these seriously difficult questions about the development of language in the brain, but fuck it, people, I've got blogs to catch up on.

I am particularly sensationally grateful to Caoimhe for tagging me for the quiz below. It's so odd to find myself listed alongside an ex-boyfriend by a stranger as one of the seven people who should answer questions. The world of the internet gets smaller every time I log on.

The answers to this question will not be interesting. They are, after all, merely a diversionary tactic which means that it will yet be another two hours before essay writing really begins.

Seven Things I Plan To Do Before I Die:
1. Get arrested.
2. Learn to drive.
3. Travel on at least one long-haul flight.
4. Buy a house/flat/shed.
5. Own at least three dogs at one time.
6. Finish my stupid psychology degree.
7. Finish writing this post.

Seven things I can do:
1. I can type 95 words a minute.
2. I can text at approximately the same rate.
3. I can waste time a spectacularly efficient manner that leaves bystanders breathless with awe.

Seven things I can not do:
1. I can't answer the question "What are you thinking?" with any kind of satisfactory answer. This morning, when I was asked that question, I was thinking about what it would be like if the television series Angel was actually real, and then immediately what I'd do if Wesley hadn't died and asked me to marry him, because it would be difficult to be married to someone who is a demon hunter, because of all the worry that would involve. And what I'd call our puppy, because I want to call my puppy Wesley, but I can't do that if I'm married to Wesley, because that would be confusing. So when He Who Only... asked me that question, I had no satisfactory answer. My thoughts are usually about puppies.
2. I can't stand up for myself in a fight.
3. I can't leave my bedroom slightly messy. It will either look like a bin and a wardrobe exploded in some unlikely scientific experiment gone wrong, or that the person living there obviously has trouble walking on cracks in pavements, such is the nature of the way everything is lined up against the wall at ONE STRAIGHT LINE.
4. I can’t help having imaginary conversations with people I feel have wronged me throughout my life.
5. I can’t compile lists with seven things in them.

Seven things that I find really attractive about the opposite sex:
1. The ability to make me laugh.
2. The ability to laugh at my jokes.
3. A relaxed attitude towards hair and general appearance: me like the scruff look.
4. Really rather large genitals.

Seven things I say the most:
"Fuck it."
"Many thanks."
"Fuck you."

Seven books I love:
This quiz is too hard. I love lots of books, for various reasons. Actually, come to think of it, I think I’ve already taken this particular quiz – I remember having actual physical pain trying to narrow my choices down to seven. The first seven books I can think of, then:
1. You Shall Know Our Velocity – Dave Eggers
2. The Vesuvius Club – Mark Gatiss
3. Paperweight – Stephen Fry
4. The Number One Ladies Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
5. Vernon God Little – DBC Pierre
6. Brideshead Revisited
7. The World According to Garp

Seven people I would like to see take this quiz:
I would like H to take it, because she always posts everything with an almost unbearable truthfulness that I admire and wish I could emulate; I would like Mrs Bishop to take it, because she's a lazy arse who hasn't updated her blog in about seven years; I would like Jon Ronson to answer it because I'm still ridiculously interested in the character he's building to represent himself; I would like Deej to fill it in too, because her answers are always either insightful or entertaining, and usually both; I would like He Who Only… to fill it in, because it’s good to keep him busy and he’ll go mental trying to think of amusing responses; I would like two other people to nominate themselves.

01 September 2005
Thank the good lord above and below for that. August, it is done and dusted. I have never been more relieved to see September, which is usually the most crap of months, thanks to Festival hangovers and debts. But this year, holy moly, am I glad to see the ninth month.

I think we have been being terribly brave about the whole thing, and ending the month with a visit to Dublin certainly softened the blow of it all, but I think He Who Only… and I missed being at the festival a lot more than we were admitting to each other, and even to ourselves. It’s meant so much, both positively and negatively, to me over the years, and it has quite often been the location for many a defining moment in my life. For example, it was at the Festival this time last year that I plucked up the courage to touch a certainly someone (who only reads this blog to see if he’s mentioned) in a highly inappropriate and intimate manner, and since he’s not objected too strenuously, have continued to do so throughout the past twelve months. An indirect consequence of which I now find myself sitting in the most highly air conditioned room in London, a city in which I’ve intended to live since I was 15 but never quite got around to it before now.

The festival was the first place, if you don’t mind me being so crude, that I first had a nipple playfully bitten by a celebrity. The festival was the first place I ever saw (but did not partake in) the consumption of cocaine. It’s the first (and so far only) place I’ve been tattooed. It’s the first place I’ve chased a television presenter around a building trying to find the last packet of cigarettes in the last working fag machine. It’s the first place I’ve ever had a screaming argument with a friend, after which we didn’t speak for two days. It’s the first place I got a job on a newspaper, a real life actual newspaper. It’s the first place I’ve been given a press pass. It’s the first place I got death threats. It’s the first place I got letters of complaint about me published in a newspaper, and the first place I also got wild congratulations. I’ve met a lot of good people there, I’ve faced a lot of demons there, I’ve drunk an awful lot of alcohol there, and I could buy a small flat in Wales for the money I’ve spent there over the last seven years.

So. Yay. It’s gone, and, as He Who Only… said today, finally now if someone asks us are we going to Edinburgh, we can say “Yes” again. Roll on Fringe Fest 2006.