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Dreadful Nonsense

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

28 February 2006
The one single thing that would complete the current high pitch of contentment and smug satisfaction that is my present daily life (apart from a win in the Euro lotto and an end to "rush hour" as a travel phenomenon) would be the acquisition of a puppy. Or even a slightly older dog. Or a mangy, stinking, flea-infested wreck at death’s door. Anything. A dog. I want a dog.

Of course, we live on the third floor of a building that doesn’t have a garden or any grassy space to speak off, and the nearest area of anything remotely resembling grass within 10 minutes of the building are the banks either side of the train tracks, and it just wouldn’t be ideal to throw the puppy over the fence every morning and night (on some kind of bungee rope) so that they could perform their morning or evening ablutions the way that god intended them to.

So, yes, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that a dog won’t be turning up in our flat any time soon, and that I won’t actually be a proud, fanatical, over-indulging dog owner until we live somewhere with a garden, or until I go crazy and steal one of the tiny ones we see walking around everywhere we go and hide it up my jumper, and then pretend like we always had a dog, and what are you staring at?

Instead, I decided to channel my urge for nurturing into a different avenue, now I’m a housewife and one of two bosses of the abode. I resolved instead to cultivate green fingers and grow some plants. My main ambition is to have a row of tomato plants growing in the front room by the window, all lovely and tall, with tiny baby tomatoes ready for the picking every morning. My Dad always grew tomato plants in our dining room, and as a child I used to walk past them and pick them off all the time, walking around the house munching them down like a normal human would eat apples.

But I decided to start small, and flex my green fingers around one of the easiest plants to care for - the miniature daffodil. M&S had even done the dirty work for me, planting bulbs and growing them to a suspiciously uniform height before lining them up along the tills in the store in Liverpool Street and selling them off for 50p a pop. Who could resist? Not me.

This, ladies and gentleman, is what happened to the plant when left in my care:

You’ll note that there is one solitary shoot still left alive, desperately trying to claw its way towards the window and salvation. Last night, I snapped that single living shoot in two, and threw the entire thing into the bin.

All I can say is, thank god puppies don’t need watering.

23 February 2006
In every Open University class I have ever attended, there has always been this one particular type of person. No mater what size of class, time of day, day of the week, location of the class, whether England, Ireland or Scotland, course level or point in the course, there is always one person who can’t sit in the classroom in silence. While the rest of us are quite content to sit and stare at our notes, play with our mobiles, doodle on our noteboosk or just gently dribble, one person always feels the urge to fill the room with meaningless burble while we wait for the (inevitably late) arrival of our tutor.

In the same way that gossipers in doctors waiting rooms list off every ailment that they are their immediate relatives and neighbours have suffered from in the past six years, the OU bore has to tell everyone in great detail each and every course undertaken, what grades they got, their individual study worries, the essay nightmares, previous tutors, previous classes, and so on until I want to hit them across the throat with their text books so hard their power of speech is destroyed forever.

I hate these people. These people make me lose my reason. These people make me literally begin to chew off my own hands. Last night I lost two perfectly good fingernails thanks to one lady who, with impending middle age, grew roots sticking out from badly dyed blonde hair and crows feet so deep they looked engraved, would not stop talking, not even for a moment. During the quiet times in the two hour class when we were, for example, reading some papers in preparation for discussion, or considering the implications of this theory or that experiment, she wouldn’t stop talking. She muttered under her breath, she jiggled her legs, she rooted through her bag, she giggled to herself, she constantly interrupted the tutor to ask stupid questions, to request rephrasings or, at one point, to tell us the story of WHEN SHE MET THE QUEEN which had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING WE WERE TALKING ABOUT AT ALL.

Lady. You owe me two fingernails.

22 February 2006
One of the joys of living with only one other person is that you become exposed to many things that would probably have not entered your cultural arena in any other circumstances. In the last eight months, I have developed a taste for Thai food, particularly the curries, that I would never previously have thought possible. I have an actual physical yearning on occasions for bean curd. I understand the rules of cricket. I can identify by sight at least thirty different players and managers from the football premiership. I have watched the entire series of Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy and am halfway through Smiley’s People. I know all the jingles from Radio 5 Live. I can now poach an egg.

He Who Only… is also growing as a person. In the last eight months, he has eaten more quorn than should be physically possible. He knows all the characters from Firefly, and can identify Joss Whedon, Wesley Wyndham-Price and David Boreanaz on sight. He knows exactly the right amount of marmite needed for toast. He has developed cravings for cheese and onion Taytos. He can sing along to Bell X1 and Tom McRae. Importantly, he knows when I require a short, concise answer, or when I need everything explained to me in intricate detail.

This final matter is deeply important. It’s a well known fact that a gentleman likes nothing more of an evening than to sit and explain things to a lady. They love it. They can’t get enough of it. The range and depth of the pool of knowledge He Who Only… carries around with him in his head still astonishes me every day. I love to ask questions and to watch him launch into detailed explanations, complete with background information and the latest political opinion. My life is centered around coming up with the most inane and the most complicated enquiries, and watching him tackle each question with the same enthusiasm, patience and a love of unnecessary detail.

Last week we were sitting in the Nest'O'Lurve watching one of our endless stream of DVDs, and He Who Only... went for a bathroom break. I sat listening to the lovely traffic noise that is the never ending soundtrack to my life now, when all of a sudden, above the car horns, sirens, revving engines and screeching brakes, there came a new sound - hooves.

I swear I heard the sound of a horse passing by our flat. This might not seem that surprising to you where you live, but taking into account where I live, the heavy stream of traffic and the proximity to Dalston, I would found it delightfully unexpected. How brilliant, I thought, the wonder of it all, I can't wait to share this. When He Who Only... returned, I immediately told him what I had heard, and asked if he would ever have thought it possible?

He then launched into what seemed like a 20 minute lecture the use of horses as a means of transport through the ages, the current vogue for keeping horses in suburban areas, the likelihood that a horse would ever be found through choice that close to Dalston, and then he seemed to slip into treatise that seemed to question the actual existence of horses.

21 February 2006
I know, I know, I know. I say the word "tomorrow" in a post, promising something will arrive within 24 hours of the last one, and that is what dooms me to being too busy for a full week to even begin to think about blogging. I do apologise, particularly to the SPECTACULARLY DERANGED LADY who keeps texting me for updates. I am therefore writing an entire post about how splendid my boyfriend is, just to annoy her and the rest of the world. Mrs Bishop? THIS IS ALL YOUR DOING.

I have problems with morning time. I always have, because my brain has a very slow reacting starter motor, and it refuses to begin to consider interpreting anything that might be happening around me for at least 10 minutes after I've regained conciousness. This leaves me at a great disadvantage, should someone happen to try and tell me something without accompanying it with the world's largest cup of coffee and some soothing noises that tell me that everything is going to be okay. The danger is, if the soothing isn't immediately provided, anyone standing nearby would become a victim to my primordial wrath, and would probably lose an appendange.

Astonishingly, He Who Only... cracked this code early on in the staying-over part of our courtship, and this is the reason that he is still alive today. He is now able to lie about all day in his pants if he so wishes, having given up his day job to concentrate full time on gadding about and playing with his friends. This means that he is NEVER in a bad mood on waking in the morning, because he knows in his heart that once I've left the house, he can continue to lie down with eyes closed for as long as he likes.

He now has to combat his guilt at watching me flail about every morning, looking like a tiny baby seal who has just watched all of her friends being clubbed to death and knows that her turn is next, while he gets to stay wrapped in a duvet watching day time television. For some reason, his response to this is to try to share the happy vibes. His latest attempt to making me normal in the mornings is by trying to force me to smile while I'm still defenseless. For the record, just yesterday morning this astonishing feat was achieved by doing an impersonation of journalist Jon Ronson being hit by a car first at 30mph, and then again at 40mph.

Myself and He Who Only..., probably imagining the accidental death of another minor celebrity, and laughing.

20 February 2006
An illustrated guide to the last-weekend-but-one-just-passed:-

I constantly get given out to because I manage to almost never blog when people come to visit. I'm particularly guilty of that in terms of the amount of time I spend with littlesisterlouise compared with the amount of things I post about littlesisterlouise. This is my attempt at making up for that a bit.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the magnificent pleasure of being jointed in our Nest'O'Lurve by some special guest visitors, who came to interrupt our suburban almost-peace and never-truly-quiet. My mother and my two sisters - littlesisteredel and littlesisterlouise - came to bother us, and my what a joyous occasion we all had.

I began the preparations for their visit by cleaning the house until my hands bled, and I forced He Who Only... to join me in my mental illness and spraying-of-bleach over every surface. He manfully pursuaded me that repainting wasn't a viable option, and helped in the most spectacular manner (above and beyond the call of duty, he even cleaned the toilet. I could never clean a toilet, even if my life depended on it), and then helped to decorate.

This is the welcoming picture that He Who Only... drew of littlesisteredel.

Isn't it beautiful? The two things to note are (1) the caption, which reads "EDEL SUCKS", which is accompanied by a picture of littlesisteredel sucking up everything in the world (which is why she's so big and round) and (2) littlesisteredel's dog Kesh standing beside her saying "woof".

That aside, the visit seemed to go well, in my hazy opinion. We walked around many shops and galleries:

We had some lunch in a small restaurant in central London that charged the price of the third world debt for a gin and tonic; we went to China Town:

We got a bit tired and emotional and then went for a Thai meal; we went to the Tate Modern because that's essential when spending even th shortest amount of time with me; we went on the London Eye (where I got dizzy and frightened and didn't enjoy really any of it, because I'm both stupid and mental); then they went home and I felt sad.

13 February 2006
Tomorrow - as if you care - there will be updates ahoy, some posts, some photos, some talking about marriage and lesbians (in the same sentence), a mention of my payrise (hoorah!), some more bragging on about how fantastic my boyfriend is, probably, but today I have two things to say:

1. Soya mocha from Starbucks - my new favourite brilliant thing in the world ever.
2. This made me laugh until soya mocha came out of my nose.


06 February 2006
I’m so aware that the site needs a general update and overhaul, but the problem is that we still don’t have any kind of internet access (or telephone landline, or anything television related other than the bland terrestrial output) in our Flat’O’Love, so for the moment I can only blog while sitting at my desk at lunchtimes at work. This is dispiriting for two reasons:

(1) because just as I’m getting into what I’m doing, it’s 2pm and I have to get back to work and
(2) if I do this, I don’t get to leave the office all day, or see daylight.

Therefore, the blogging is falling on the wayside a little bit due to me finding more important things to do, like shopping, enjoying some personal freedom, and or simply leaving the building before I kill someone - possibly myself - with my bare, shaking hands.

For this, I apologise. I can only hope that some day soon, and hopefully some day within the next couple of weeks soon, we will get some internet and I can get back to blogging in the comfort of my own Flat’O’Love and catch up on all the porn I’ve been missing out on for the last two months.

In the meantime, let me introduce a photograph that will soon be appearing on my updated Pets Page.

This is Dudley. Dudley belongs to my Big Brother, Derek. Bigbrotherderek, I have been assured by littlesisteredel, is a regular reader of this blog, but I think littlesisteredel is lying because she wants some attention from me, but is too afraid to ask directly for it.

[On a sidenote, I’d like it marked in the diary that, when leaving London at the weekend, littlesisteredel allowed me to give her a hug. That’s me, hugging littlesisteredel without being battered and bruised as a result, on 5 February 2006. Mark that in your diaries, please. It’s an important occasion.]

Dudley is a jack russell dog disguised as a wolf. He has the ears of a wolf, the tail of a wolf, most of the body of a wolf and some (but by no means all) of the legs of a wolf. Dudley knows how to open the backdoor in Bigbrotherderek’s house, but can’t quite get the leverage yet, because he’s still growing. Dudley holds the title for Simply The Most Adorable Puppy What Ever Lived because the first time I saw him I couldn’t help but pick him up and shower him with baby kisses every time he was within grabbing distance, which probably scarred him for life. Dudley has already been run over by a car once, not through poor pet-keeping, as Bigbrotherderek cannot and should not be faulted as a dog owner, but because Dudley is a fearless idiot who doesn’t realise that anything bigger than him will hurt him, and refuses to take heed of any lessons dealt to him by the cruel hand of fate. Dudley is named after Dudley Moore.

That is Dudley. Thank you very much for your kind attentions.

03 February 2006
I was reading Norma Farnes’ excellent biography of Spike Milligan last week and, lying in bed one night, I expressed an interest in visiting the Elfin Oak in Kensington Gardens, which he helped to restore in the 1970s, and which is mentioned quite often in the book with great affection.
This, then, is one of the things that I still find so exciting about living in London. The sheer novelty of thinking "I’d love to see that" and realising that, quite often, it is only short journey away. I’m not going to start harping on as if London is the centre of the world - it quite obviously is, but publicly agreeing with that fact tends to send the lesser minded into fits of jealous rage and venomous denial - but I do love the endless possibility of it all.

Anyway, here is a picture of a tiny detail of the Elfin Oak. It is created so beautifully, and preserved remarkably well, although it is a terrible shame that it needs to be hidden and protected behind a very heavy wire frame, rather than standing out in the open. I loved the intricate detail of it - I’d circled it twice already before I started to take some photos, and then realised that I’d missed an entire elfin tea party in the middle of the trunk, complete with table, chairs and cups being raised in a toast. It stands beside the Princess Diana memorial playground in Kensington, which we desperately wanted to have a jaunt around - it has a massive pirate boat in the middle of it, and all sorts of twists, turns and hidden delights - but you have to have a child with you to be able to enter it. We toyed with the idea of kidnapping borrowing a child for a moment or two, but decided against it.

We also strode manfully through Hyde Park in the biting wind as this was one of our twice-a-month-in-London trips, where we have to do something that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do anywhere else in the world, and obviously you can’t go and look at the Peter Pan statue anywhere else but in Hyde Park. What peaked my interest more, though, was the other memorial to Princess Diana there, the much derided fountain.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, having read a tremendous amount of negative press about it, how it was polluted and dirty, full of broken glass and falling children. Actually, it is a very beautiful, very peaceful place, very well maintained and, now that they’ve sorted out all of the teething problems, a lovely place to meander.

It’s designed so that, at each point, the water makes a different sound, sometimes babbling past, sometimes rushing, always moving, making different shapes and waves, moving at different speeds. I loved the way that, even though it wasn’t the sunniest of days, the light was caught and reflected in a stunning way at each part of the fountain, and I’m sure it changes with the light throughout the day, constantly giving you something new to look at.

In summary: I liked it.