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Dreadful Nonsense

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

30 November 2006
This week I have:

1. Joined a gym. Women only, you know. Full of lesbians.
2. Volunteered to work in what is called a "suicide sanctuary".
3. Volunteered with the Samaritans.
4. Submitted my CV to a range of recruitment agents.
5. Applied for a job at UNICEF.
6. Thrown out some of my shoes.
7. Cleaned everything in the house.
8. Had a mini mid-life crisis.

Who says that turning 30 means nothing?

28 November 2006

Welcome to my feet. I am trying to find an outfit for my brother's wedding, which is taking place in a month's time. So far I've drawn a great big fat blank on outfits from every shop I've looked in because everything is either (a) slinky and long and silken, which looks terrible on me, becuase I'm neither slinky nor long and silken does not suit, or (b) shaped like a wedding dress, which would be totally appropriate if I was getting married, but I'm not.

So these are the shoes that I have. I have nothing else. Does anyone have any helpful suggestions? Helpful ones only, please.

20 November 2006


19 November 2006
We did another one of our famous "We live in London - WE MUST DO SOMETHING LONDON TODAY!" days today, with a jaunt around the City. It started well, as the bus tured the corner very suddenly on a diversion and the driver tried to decapitate He Who Only... with a set of strategically placed traffic lights. However, the weather held nicely, and while we wandered up the South Bank I kept stopping to take photographs, some of which were actually in focus.

But the main reason we were out and about was because we had decided, finally, to take in the slides at the Tate Modern.

I don't know about you, but I like my art FUN! And also more likely to bring on vertigo!

The slides, as you can imagine, are quite popular indeed. There are, I think, six of them (and although I could just check the website to make sure of that fact, I'M NOT GONNA) and they're all one different levels. The one from the top floor? Is freakishly terrifying to look at from the ground floor. But from the top floor? Yeah, it's still freakishly terrifying. I may never do that one. Ever.

We didn't actually go on them this time round, because they queues were very long (it being a Sunday) and also because I'm a piece of chicken shit who isn't brave in the slightest. But Little Sister Edel is coming to visit soon, and I expect she'll beat me down, both physically and emotionally, until I'm willing to do anything, anything at all, to get away from her for three to five seconds, and then that slide will look a little bit more inviting.

But probably only a little bit.

17 November 2006
Last night, I went along to one of He Who Only...'s gigs, because I am a very supportive girlfriend who likes to encourage him in all of his endeavours, and also because I love watching him perform on stage because he is deeply attractive and also finally because quite often ladies of dubious moral values hang around comedy clubs with a view to luring innocent comedians off to do wicked things to them, and He Who Only... is no longer allowed that luxury.

The gig was taking place in a venue I've been to three or four times since moving to London, and because I didn't have to be there before about 7.30pm, I spent a lovely hour after work cruising up to Oxford Street and then meandering around Waterstones picking up armfuls of books before narrowing my choice down to three and then putting the rest of them back in totally inappropriate places. The lady at the counter congratulated me on my choice, which I think proves how brilliant I am once again.

Having purchased my books, I decided it was probably high time to head for the gig, so I hopped onto the next passing bus and congratulated myself at being so great at being a Londoner, able to move through Thursday night shopping crowds and navigate tourists, and basically being at the top of my game. It was only when I got to Bond Street station that I realised I was lost.

Never mind that, I thought to myself, as I got off the bus, I know it's around here somewhere. I'll just head back where I came from and all will reveal itself. I tried to ignore the ticking of the clock as time came ever closer to the start of the gig, the fact that my shoes were quite uncomfortable and my socks were falling off, the fact that the books I had bought were actually quite heavy now that I thought about it, the fact that the tourists wouldn't get out of my way and the fact that, despite knowing exactly where I was, I didn't have fucking clue what I should be looking for.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, worse than trying to find somewhere you know you should know, and still not being able to find it. Standing on a street were everything surrounding you is achingly familiar, and yet still not having a notion which of the four turnings you should be heading down. The longer you stare, the less it becomes evident. Admitting defeat, I called He Who Only..., admitted I was lost and promptly burst into tears.

After finding out a few important details, he let me know I was in fact standing exactly where I should be, and the venue was but mere moments away.

I'm 30, for fuck's sake.

15 November 2006

I had one more photograph from my birthday holiday that I wanted to share, but I don't really have a story to go with it, other than to say that I cannot watch a fireworks display without actually crying with utter joy and delight. Fireworks reduce me to blubbering tears of overwhelmed awe, and I'm not afraid to admit it. This one took place over a lake, which added to the excitement because (a) there was a very clear view in front of us of everything was going on and (b) it terrified the living shit out of the swans and ducks, which spent the first two minutes of the display taking off and landing over and over again before hiding underneath the trees and possibly dying of fright.

Which is exactly what you want of a fireworks disply, I think you'll agree.

13 November 2006
Enough already on the birthday front. Let’s all just put a line right here, and step… over it? Away from it? Through it? What do you do when you draw a line under something? Do you leave it there? Where do you go afterwards? Now that I’m 30, I’m not sure what to do with this line anymore. Lines are no longer my friends.

Moving away, then, from both birthdays and lines. Let’s get down to shooting.

Before we arrived at Centre Parcs, we had been sent through a number of different brochures detailing all of the activities we could do during the time we were there. A lot of them had little telephone symbols beside them, which meant that they were available for pre-booking, and it was stressed throughout the brochure that it really was best to pre-book things. I’m a stickler for a schedule, and pre-booking does appeal to the organiser side of me who likes to have EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE and to have a good solid idea of EXACTLY WHEN EVERYTHING WILL BE HAPPENING.

We decided the best thing for us would be to book up three or four core activities, things that sounded a bit too good to miss, and then work out when we got there what else we’d like to do. One of the things that immediately grabbed my attention was the clay pigeon shooting, because I did that years ago and got such a buzz off it. Firing guns is cool. Guns are cool. They’re even cooler than cigarettes, booze and gang-banging (and don’t you forget it). But I remembered the massive bruise I got from the clay pigeon shooting due to the kick back of the gun and the fact that I’m a tiny lady who bruises like a peach suffering severe domestic violence.

One of the alternative options was “Laser Clay Shoot Out” (“Enjoy the thrill of Laser Clay Pigeon Shooting using state of the art laser adapted rifles. You will shoot clays travelling at up to 65mph through the air in our woodland area”), so we went for that instead. Just the same amount of pointing and pulling triggers, possibly less bruising involved. Excellent. Let’s go to it.

The first thing we noticed were the hats:

Why were there little receptors on our hats? Why were they trying to make us look like Daleks?

We realised, within about 10 seconds of the explanation of the activity starting, we realised we had obviously been booked on the wrong course. Rather than shooting up in the sky at small, round, orange things, we would be shooting at each other and other people, using guns that give you 10 lives, shout OUCH! when you've been shot and scream the most horrifying noise when you lose your last life.

It's not something I would ever have opted to do. As we walked away after the hour was up, He Who Only... commented to me that one thing he never imagined for a moment he would be doing with me was running through a forest, hiding behind trees and shooting at people.

It was fucking fantastic.

I wasn't too bad at it, as it happens. But taking photographs, like the above, instead of concentrating on keeping my head down, meant that I was usually one of the first ones dead. Embarrassingly, the only time I fell flat on my face and actually hurt myself quite badly was running towards one of the instructors to get my gun reactivated at the start of a new game. I fell over a tree root and had to bravely pretend I was absolutely fine. Limping back to the chalet after the war and debriefing with He Who Only..., we both agreed we would never have done that, and we both also agreed we'd totally do it again in a heart beat.

11 November 2006
The really strange thing about birthdays too, particularly the ones where your age ends with a “0”, is that people congratulate you a lot. CONGRATULATIONS! they beam at you while handing you a card that has your age written all over it. A guy in the pub last night tried to stop me on my way out to have a chat about my birthday, but when I smiled at him and told him I was leaving he just yelled WELL DONE! at my back, as if I’d achieved something.

The other thing is being asked how it feels. HOW DOES IT FEEL? people scream while handing you chocolates. It feels embarrassing, is what it feels. It seems a bit stupid being congratulated for something you have absolutely no control over. YOU’VE GOT FIVE FINGERS ON EACH HAND! they might as well be shouting, VERY WELL DONE TO YOU INDEED!

Up until today, I was still basking in the outpouring of disbelief at my age, but the shine is very quickly coming off that because the problem is that everyone now knows precisely how old I am. Much and all as they might keep telling me I look at least five, six, even seven years younger than I am, they will never now forget my age, because the shock of it all has imprinted itself deeply into the brief biography of information they hold about me. I’d rather that they thought I was actually that age, as opposed to simply looking that age. Truth be told, I’d rather now be an incredibly haggard looking 19 year old than a very young looking what I am.

And that’s another stupid thing I keep being congratulated for. YOU LOOK SO YOUNG! they bellow at me across rooms. I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT! I don’t really give it a second thought, myself. HOW DO YOU DO IT? I really don’t “do” anything. I have no idea how it’s “done”.

When you’re younger, there are lots of theories on how you can look older. Do something different with your hair, wear a certain amount of make up a certain way, dress in a different manner, try exuding an air of confidence, talk languidly about the politics of the day or the price of the FTSE or just walk around holding a doctored ID card that says you were born in 1973 (which is what my fake ID said when I was 15). When you’re older, there isn’t really much you can do to look younger. Sure, you could try dressing like Lily Allen, but that’s just depressing for everyone around you. I’m not preaching that one should grow old gracefully, and I’m not suggesting for a moment one should grow old disgracefully.

The thing is, having heard it for about a week, and particularly strongly over this last weekend, having that shocked response of I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! blasted into my face over and over is starting to grate. What fucking difference does it make how old or young you thought I was? Does it change your opinion of me? Does it effect the dynamics of our relationship? Do you like me a little bit more or a little bit less?

It’s like being constantly told that you’ve lost weight. YOU’VE LOST WEIGHT! OH MY GOD! So fucking what? What do you care? Did you care before, when I was slightly heavier? Will you keep telling me every time a pound drops? Will you continue to verbally record my weight if it all comes back on? Fucking what?

I think I’m a bit touchy about my appearance, peeps. I’m sitting here working myself into a lather about absolutely nothing. Yes, I’m older. Yes, I don’t look it. Please, there’s nothing to congratulate me for. I didn’t do this. My parents did this. They made me, my mother birthed me on the date that she did, time has passed since. Please stop telling me things about me and dear fucking god, please wait until I’ve actually achieved something before wasting your empty congratulations on me.

I look forward to your comments.

10 November 2006
I don’t really enjoy birthdays, much and all as I’ve talked about my last one for about a full week and a half now. Honestly, though, I’m not one of those people who regularly, in the run up to their special day, protest loudly about the forthcoming event in an incredibly unsubtle attempt to get the date recorded in everyone’s diary. I don’t like birthdays for three reasons:

1. The embarrassment of everyone’s attention being directed at you.
2. The embarrassment of having to accept half-hearted presents from people who buy them only because they feel obliged to, because three or four months before you had done exactly the same thing for them.
3. The constant reminder of your age.

The only time in my entire life I remember wanting to be a bit older was when I was seven, and one of the girls in my class (her name was Ruth and she always wore sparkly dungarees and had a huge collection of My Little Ponies) told everyone she was seven-and-three-quarters. I thought that sounded like the best age to be, and I worked out when I’d get to be that age and then basically urged the months forward. When you’re seven, it takes an awfully long time for months to pass. By the time we’d got to me being seven-and-three-quarters, I’d forgotten how much I wanted to be that age, and didn’t make a point of telling everyone.

And that was the last time I wanted to be older. When I was 15, I started hanging out with people who looked a lot older than they were. They could all get into pubs without being id-ed and wore loads of make up (yes, some of the boys as well) and we worked out three systems for getting me into pubs with them: (1) we’d either go in to the pub so early that our presence at that time wouldn’t really be an issue, and then stay there all night (this often meant we’d be in the same place for up to 9 hours, and also meant that we’d avoid the entrance fee charged from 7pm onwards) or (2) I’d go in on the arm of the oldest looking boy in the group or (3) I’d go in on the arm of the best looking, blondest, big chested girl in the group and the bouncer would be so busy perving on her that he wouldn’t give me a second thought. We found that (3) worked best of all.

Today at work, just as I thought I’d gotten away with it, two of my friends decorated my desk before I got in so that everyone in the department then knew it was my birthday. They also kindly put a helium balloon or six up behind the desk, one of them displaying in huge purple numbers the exact nature of my age. One of the few things I enjoy about other people knowing it’s my birthday is making them guess what age I’ve just turned, because on average people guess about 4 years less than I am. Having the number right there on the balloon took that piece of fun away, but it was replaced instead by expressions of total disbelief. One girl told me, three times in a row, that she didn’t believe I was as old as I am. As usual, I took that as a compliment.

I was trying to work out what age I can reasonably expect to get away with. I’ve decided to stick to 26 for the moment. However, last night, He Who Only… said, after due consideration, that I could probably get away with claiming to be a 15 year old boy. What that says about the nature of our relationship, I’m not entirely sure.

08 November 2006
The biggest sellling point for me, the reason I went from "...I dunno..." to "LET'S BOOK IT RIGHT NOW!" when we were talking about what we might do for my birthday weekend was the mere mention of falconry.

Birds are not my friends, you see. In my lifetime, we have had one pet budgie (the cat ate it), one canary (died of starvation when we forgot to feed it) and two finches (one died of shock, the other died of heart break). None of these were my own pet, but I did feel kind of responsible for each of their deaths ALTHOUGH NONE OF THEM WERE MY FAULT but still, I carry guilt around with me like Paris Hilton carries tiny dogs.

So I thought that maybe meeting some new birds up close and personal, possibly holding them on my hand, perhaps having a quick chat about whether or not the bird population as a whole holds a grudge against me and if there was anything I could do to make up for it would be good.

The falconry went like this:

1. The man lined us all up in a row.
2. We put on the leather gauntlet.
3. He told us to step forward one by one with our arm out.
4. He passed us a piece of slaughtered day-old male chicken.
5. A bird of prey swooped down and sat on our arm.

6. We posed for photographs while the man told us interesting things about the birds.
7. This continued for an hour.
8. It was one of the best hours of my life.

Falconry ROCKS. In particular, I discovered that owls ROCK. They ROCK like nothing else ROCKS. Owls FREAKING RULE. I love me some owls. This is me with an owl:

Look! He loves me! I'm petting an OWL.

The man told us sadly about how it's still not necessary for people to hold licences to have certain birds as pets, including owls, and how the Harry Potter films have made having pet owls incredibly popular. We were asked to guess how much it would cost to have this bird:

as a pet. Having heard how much it costs to get a buzzard, or a falcon, or a hawk, we all guessed in the £1,000s. No, said the man, with an even sadder face. To get a chick that will one day grow into this fluffy wonderfulness, can cost you as little as £70.

I immediately turned to He Who Only... and asked if I could have an owl.

07 November 2006
On the morning of my birthday, He Who Only… got up and went out to the car, which was parked about a 10 minute walk away from our chalet. I decided, now that I was entering a new decade in my life, was ever so grown up and mature, was staying in the middle of a forest with no one in the immediate vicinity of our windows or garden area, and since I was on my holidays, I decided to waltz about in my pyjamas taking photographs in the early morning light of the views from our chalet.

They’re mainly of trees:

It’s a forest, you understand. That was the view from our bedroom window. It was also the view from our sitting room window, and from both the kitchen and hall window. And also the dining room. The chalet wasn't exactly huge, but by God it was perfectly formed - I could have lived there forever.

So, I was wandering about being at one with nature and at peace with the world, despite my naturally appalled reaction to the fact that I was suddenly so old, so very very old. Just off to my left, I spied a squirrel sitting quietly watching me and nibbling on a nut or something. I decided, while I was on a nature-loving roll, I would try to get some kind of artistically silhouetted shot of said squirrel, and then blog about it a few days later, saying something pithy about how wonderful life can be when you're not in the city, because in the countryside the rats have big busy tails and a way of lolloping that makes them infinitely more attractive and even bordering on the cute. Musing on just how clever I am, I squatted down for a better angle.

The squirrel suddenly sprinted towards me.

I backed off just as suddenly and stepped back in through the sliding glass door.

The squirrel kept running at me.

I shut the door in front of me.

The squirrel kept running at me.

I stood in shock behind the safety of the glass.

The squirrel ran right up to the door and started pawing at the side, as if trying to get it open.

I continued to stand in shock as the squirrel turned his head up to me, looked at me accusingly, and turned his attention to the outside table to see if I'd left anything valuable behind that he could pawn.

I remembered I was holding a camera, and documented my squirrel mugger thus -

Centre Parcs Sherwood Forest is a wonderful haven, a luxurious place to stay, somewhere I would highly recommend to anyone who thinks they might have fun going down waterslides for up to 20 hours a day (AND WHO IN THE WORLD WOULDN'T?!) but I have one sentence of warning:

Watch out for the mother fucking squirrels.

06 November 2006


It was my birthday last weekend. I am now very old, and because of this I am posting up some photographs from last weekend, some of which show my face, as I' m now too old to be concerned about stalkers. At my age, I need all of the inappropriate attention I can get.

I have got a lot of photos which I will be uploading over the next week, each of which could paint, all on their own, a thousand words. However, I will probably be writing decidedly less about each of them. I hope you're all looking forward to it.

Happy birthday to me.

02 November 2006
Regular commenter on this blog and all round lovely lady Mrs Moo made a baby in her tummy a while ago, and yesterday the baby came out of her - in a way that doesn’t quite bear thinking about for all other ladies who are of a baby making age - and said hello to the world. This new baby is a boy baby, which means, as me and He Who Only… kept sniggering to each other last night, that Mrs Moo had a penis inside her for almost nine months. How spectacularly rude.

We’re all very pleased that there is a new person in our world, and although I think it’s quite remiss of her not to hold on until next Sunday so that me and Cillian could have had the same birthday for always and therefore have that special bond, he’s still a November baby and us November babies are some of the best people to exist.

So hoorah from me to Mrs Moo and her son. I can’t wait to meet him.