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Dreadful Nonsense

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

31 January 2007
Oh, yeah, I’m pretty good with public transport. I mean, I don’t want to boast or anything, but I can get on and off tube trains just like an expert can. If it were an Olympic sport, I’d be a very enthusiastic bronze medal winner, with the style and the routine of a pro, only not actually professional. I can leap through closing doors, I mind the gap with the best of them, I can find space on a crowded train where previously there was no space, and I’m very good at ignoring the fact that there are tens of hundreds of millions of people standing right beside me at any given time. I can even read during rush hour. That’s right. Look impressed.

However, yesterday I got my head stuck between two closing doors.

It happened like this: I got on the train. The driver told me to mind the closing doors. The station attendant said to mind the closing doors. The neon sign flashed up the fact that the doors were closing, and that I was to mind them. I ignored all of their heart felt instructions, and got my head stuck between the two doors.

I say “stuck”. I of course mean that my head was struck sharply on the left (just above the ear) by one of the doors closing, and then I immediately turned away from the blow, in order to save myself further damage.

By turning away from the blow, I managed to get my right hand stuck between the two doors, thereby causing myself further damage.

I did what any self respecting London commuter does when this happens. I pretended that it hadn’t, and then three minutes later surreptitiously checked for blood.

30 January 2007
We’ve started doing that thing again, me and He Who Only…, when we’re taking quiet moments, those moments of reflection that we take from time to time, turning off the television and the computer and the radio and just sitting in the peace to take stock of our lives, those moments where all you can hear are:

On the left, the coughing of the child next door that continues throughout the night
On the right, the fighting of the neighbours
Above us, the thumping of the lesbians upstairs as they bound about their house apparently picking up heavy furniture and throwing it back down again
Out the window, the heavy roar of traffic, occasionally splintered by the scream of sirens

In those moments, we’ve taken to turning to each other and, as one, yelling that we really need to get out of London.

Last night, we narrowed down our choices to either Brighton or York.

The thinking went along these lines:

“Let’s move to Brighton!”
“Yeah!… Or York!”
“Brilliant!”

What we want in Brighton or York is a house which is on a quiet residential street, with no through traffic. We would like access to a garden so that we can have a small dog called Clive. We would like there to be some open spaces somewhere near us where we can teach Clive to run after things that we throw and then refuse to bring them back. If we are in Brighton (this is less important in York) we would like to be able to see the sea from our front room (even if that means having to lean out of the window so far the other one has to hold on to their ankles in order to achieve this view).

This move will be happening either

(a) when He Who Only…’s current radio show is finished recording (March)
(b) After my summer school (July)
(c) when I finish my studies this year (October/November)
(d) In 2008 (2008)

We’re very good at making plans, me and He Who Only… And the fact that we’ve already named the dog shows that we’re good at some decisions.

29 January 2007
This blogging every day thing is very difficult. For example, over this weekend, we went to a pub, had a brief argument in which I proved once and for all that I was completely insane, attended a birthday party (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR SWIFT!), went for a long walk and decided to name our dog (the dog we’ll get when we have a garden) Clive, regardless of gender or species, and even regardless of the fact that the dog might already have its own name.

But none of them seem like good things to blog about at the moment, and I’m stuck.

In an attempt to get past this brief block, I emailed Little Sister Louise, asking her for advice. I asked her for two topics on which I could comfortably blog. She replied:

“your tiny head. and global warming.”

Which I think you’ll agree is not very helpful at all.

28 January 2007
That’s it, people. You asked for it.

It’s… the boring round up of things that people have searched for and instead come upon my website and been very disappointed!!

There have been a LOT of searches for Derren Brown. A really surprising lot of searches. I had no idea other people lurved him and wanted to touch him inappropriately as much as I do. Searches for Derren Brown in just the last week included:

derren brown “first crush”
derren brown “tear around”
Derren Brown nail noise
Derren brown daily mail

I really like “derren brown tear around”. That might be the name of my next band.

Other than that… it’s been really disappointing this month. Loads of people searching for “dreadful”, “terrible”, “blogger”, “spencer brown”, “charlie brooker”, “teenage kicks” and someone called “Alexis Constantinou”. Appallingly, a lot of searches for my full, real life name. I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve that.

But the most intriguing is the search for “shazzle cheese”. I’ve made my own investigations. And they have not helped in the slightest. The only thing I’ve uncovered is that I’ve blogged about cheese in the past a lot more than I was previously aware.

27 January 2007
I've now been referred to a podiatrist. I'm quite excited about that, since I've never seen one of those in real life, and I think it might be interesting. I mean, what kind of crazy person goes through all of that medical training, only to then decide that all they want to look at FOR THE REST OF THEIR WORKING LIFE is other people's feet.

For the record, I find feet utterly disgusting. That's why I got a tattoo on one of mine: an attempt to fancy it up. I didn't work.

But I digress. The only draw back that I can think of is that I've now become utterly convinced that the podiatrist is going to give me some special shoes that I'll have to wear for the rest of my life. I'm already not allowed to wear heels or wedges. I should only wear shoes that are well laced up and fit properly. It's all for my own good, obviously, but I'm still worried. Because any time I try to imagine what the shoes will look like, all I can think of is these:



Sexy.

26 January 2007
It's a tribute to the severity of my resolution that I'm going to blog every day for 2007 (which is already going badly wrong, since I'm now just blogging in bursts and spazzing a full week's worth of entries out in a single day, rather than the slow and steady approach I had originally envisaged) that, while the specialist was patiently explaining to me what the results of my x-rays meant, all I wanted to do was take a photograph of the "skellington pictures" (as He Who Only... calls them) so that I could post up some cool photos on the blog.

I'm not sure if I would have been allowed, since I never worked up the courage to ask, but wouldn't that have been cool? That would have been cool. As it was, I was barely concentrating on what the lovely lady was saying to me, and instead I was just staring at my bones, thinking how great that would look hung up as decorations in the Nest'O'Love.

The long and short of the information I did manage to pick up (while not going all Colin And Justin in terms of home decor) is that I've got evidence of the start of osteoarthritis in the bones of my toes. Which isn't a huge surprise, explains the new pain I've been getting recently, and terrified the shit out of me for about the 15 seconds I gave it any thought to. It's the same condition that's meant my Mum and my aunty had both hips replaced. But, since it's in my toes, it's not such a big issue.

The best advice the consultant had to give me was that I shouldn't go jogging. That's two health professionals in three years that have told me, for completely different reasons, to lay off all of my marathon running. But who am I to argue?

For the sake of my health, I'm going to spend the weekend in bed.

25 January 2007
"No Smoking!" he grins at me.

I'm sitting in the front of a taxi, heading towards Hommerton Hospital at an ungodly hour in the morning. The taxi driver, having not said anything for the first three minutes, has suddenly turned around to me and shouted. He does it again, this time pointing proudly at his chest.

"No smoking!"

"You don't smoke?" I ask, trying to work out what's going on.

"No, no smoking. You smoke?"

"No," I reply, wondering where this is going. "I used to smoke. But I stopped."

"Me?" he said, pointing around him as if pointing out all of the windows available in the car. "I never."

"Good for you", I murmur, looking straight ahead.

There's a slight pause.

"My Wife!" he suddenly bellows again. He points this time at the air freshener and then down at his feet in delight. "She never!"

"Excellent!" I agree.

"My three children?"

He looks at me, as if waiting for an answer to his question.

I decide to wait to see what he says next.

"No smoking!"

I want to give him a round of applause.

24 January 2007
Over the last few days, I have been writing letters to everyone who is important in my life at the moment. Please look back over the last six days and feel free to make comments. Particularly if the letter is address to you. Huge thanks.

23 January 2007
Dear Fellow Commuters,

I understand that the weather has been a little bit out of the ordinary this week, and that means that the trains haven’t been running very well at all. Yesterday, a tree fell on the train that was just ahead of us on the line, and so we were held at a station for ages, and eventually told that we might as well go get buses. For the most part, most of us managed to walk steadily out of the station and find our way to the bus stop, where we continued our journey.

However, there are always one or two of us - and I’m not going to point fingers, you know who you are, Mr and Mrs Grumpy - that feel the need to complain. But this complaining isn’t the constructive type, where you might even come up with some suggestions on what you would do if you were running the service, or even suggestions to those that run the service of what they can do (and sometimes where they can stick things). No, this is the kind of complaining also employed by the woman who sits opposite me at work - the loud tut and the eye-roll, often combined with a long expletive and then a massive, theatrical sigh.

Mr and Mrs Grumpy, you’re not impressing anyone. None of us believe that your journey was more important than ours. Most of us don’t believe our journey was important at all, and we would really have preferred to have been tucked up nicely in bed with a good book and our dreamy boyfriends, but we are all commuters, and we know what must be done.

So please, when a train is delayed or outright cancelled, when the tubes aren’t running well because some poor soul has decided that jumping is easier than not jumping, when the buses are packed to the brim and the driver won’t stop to let us squeeze ourselves on, please try and refrain from tutting and rolling your eyes out of the sockets and most of all, please stop swearing and blaspheming and sighing. Especially the sighing. The sighing drives me mental. It’s not going to un-cancel the train, it’s not going to un-suicide the suicidal and it’s not going to un-clog the bus. What it’s going to do, one day soon, is earn a large, hard slap across the face from me, thereby giving you something to actually fucking sigh about.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely,

Shazzle

22 January 2007
Dear Myself

I feel that, finally, we seem to be getting along. Sure, I’m older than I’d like to be, and there are certainly one or two areas in which we both know we could do with some improvement in (motivation, curbing spending habits, not being so damned attractive all the time) but overall, it seems to be working out well, and I’ve been quite happy with my performance over the last three years or so.

Why then, Myself, do I recently keep feeling the need to whack parts of myself off furniture and doors? Why, the other day, did I open the gate leaving the courtyard of our building, a building I have lived in for over a year now, and bash the gate right against my knee? I’ve opened that gate every day, as I say, for over a year already - why did I suddenly find my knee in the way, and give it quite such a solid wallop? I makes no sense at all, Myself. Am I angry at me?

I’ve also started catching things on door handles - scarves, headphones, sleeves, occasionally my hip bone - which leads to muddles and accidents. Yesterday, turning around in the kitchen, I whacked my head off a cupboard door I myself had just opened moments before. Why am I doing this? Is it a cry for help?

There’s a plastic mat by my desk at work which is supposed to stop us from tripping over the computer cables to snake across the floor. However, I’ve started, only within the last month, to trip over this on a semi-regular basis. Once I did it with such force I almost skidded across the entire length of the office on my belly. That wouldn’t have been dignified.

In short, Myself, I’d appreciate it if I could do something about my sense of balance and poor coordination. Really, I’m starting to let myself down, and I’m sorry to have to say this, but I’m very disappointed in myself. I’d better start bucking up my ideas and improve on these troubling areas, or else I’m going to have to start thinking about letting myself go.

There. I said it.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely,

Shazzle

21 January 2007
Dear Our Neighbours,

I hope you're settling into your new house well. When we first met you, that night a few months ago when your electricity had gone off and you were all standing in your back yard, drinking beer and waiting for the landlord to arrive, you seemed like a jolly bunch. Three boys living together, I commented to He Who Only... at the time, I might need to pop around occasionally to borrow some sugar or just hang about with boys, all giggling and twirling my hair around my fingers. He Who Only… said I wasn’t allowed.

That aside, Our Neighbours, you still look like a jolly bunch. You left washing out in the back yard to dry for months. Some times it seemed like one of you would suddenly remember having put your clothes out there to dry over five days before, and would come out to collect the sodden remains, as they had sat there through all weathers and traffic fumes. But for some reason, none of you ever brought in that one blue shirt, which stayed outside for a solid three months before the clothes horse, everything, was brought inside for winter.

I have only one request, Our Neighbours, and that is the next time you have a party so loud that, even with all the doors and windows in your house closed, we can not only hear the bass line to the songs you are playing, but also the treble, the clear lyrics and I swear it, even the iPod suffling as it went to pick the next song with which to keep us awake, that you invite us along. It’s only polite, Our Neighbours, and would have prevented the many, many wishes I wasted hoping that you would all suddenly and spontaneously start bleeding from the ears and have to head to the Hommerton, leaving us in sweet, sweet peace and quiet.

You’re not party animals, Our Neighbours. I’m not implying that for a moment. You do contribute a very healthy amount of tin and glass to the recycling every week, but that is to be admired and copied. I’m just asking that you don’t rub your giant youth in my face at the weekend, when all I want to do is have a lovely snuggle and an early night.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely,

Shazzle

20 January 2007
Dear The Ladies Who Hang Around The Pool At My Gym,

It’s been really lovely getting to know all of you ladies over the last couple of months. I like that you’re all already so comfortable around me that you feel that you can totally just, like, be yourselves and not let common decency get in the way of your complete relaxation. I mean, I assumed that it would take some time for us all to feel like we could just, you know, like, let go and wind down, to feel like we could just hang out, but really, you guys have shown me the way forward.

I mean, I go to the gym to exercise. I go there, use the treadmill, use the cross trainer, and twice I’ve even used the resistance machines that the lady told me I should use every time I came to the gym. Funny, I’ve never seen any of you ladies in the gym area itself, come to think of it. But anyway, I, like you good ladies, enjoy the pool area the most.

I go to the pool to do laps, to swim up and down and back up again, over and over, sometimes for a full half an hour at a time. This helps me to release tension, to think through the events of my day, to organise my thoughts for the week ahead, and also it’s good for my back. But you ladies! You ladies have whole other ideas of what to do around the pool area in my gym.

You ladies quite literally let it all hang out. I’ve never seen so many large, pendulous breasts all collected together, swinging freely, in one small area. I had no idea there were so many stretch marked baps in North London, but now I know better. There are a lot of loose boobs around, and they all congregate around the pool area in my gym.

And the frequency with which you all go into, and then come out of, and then go back into, and then come back out of the sauna! That means that a real heat can’t build up at all, with the frequency of the door opening and closing and opening again, but that’s not really a problem for you ladies, the ladies with the massive, free range breasts. If there was a lot of heat, I understand, you wouldn’t be able to as liberally apply the various lotions and oils and scents that you do, rubbing these concoctions all over yourselves (and your breasts) with such wild abandon, despite the fact that all lotions, potions and particularly concoctions are not allowed around the pool area and sauna in my gym.

But my biggest joy, thanks to all of you ladies who wander, seemingly aimlessly, around the pool area in my gym is the sheer amount that y’all can talk. Y’all are talkers! I thought at first that maybe I was crashing some kind of special social gathering, where pendulous ladies with swinging breasts come together to rub in lotions and complain loudly about trains and their children, but now I understand that you are all also strangers to each other, as well as to me. But the chatter! The chatter around the pool area in my gym means that, for the most part, I have to get up and leave the pool area in my gym and go back home to get some peace and quiet.

And perhaps that’s the way it should be. Pendulous breasts aside, it’s probably not healthy to spend as much time as I’d like to in the pool area of my gym. I really stink of chlorine this days.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely,

Shazzle

19 January 2007
Dear eBay,

Thank you so much for coming back into my life. It was with shock and surprise that I realised, upon opening up my account again, that it’s been over two years since I purchased anything from you! I’m sorry to have neglected you so badly. Please accept my heartfelt apologies. It will never happen again.

eBay, I can’t stress to you what a joy it is to be back aboard your fun train to financial ruin! I’ve found myself flipping through emotions in the same rate I flip through the pages of the Saturday newspapers (which I read with great speed and only occasional interest. I really only touch the paper so that I don’t look like a total imbecile and to impress He Who Only… on how seemingly interested I am in current affairs. Really, I’m desperate to get to the good bits in the magazine which involve Charlie Brooker and Jon Ronson).

Just yesterday I found myself in a furious bidding war with another eBayer, fighting over a costume jewellery bracelet which would be shipped from Hong Kong. My original bid was about £0.95, but I was willing to go all the way up to £3.52 just to piss off the other girl - and I won. I was elated. This piece of tat which I wouldn’t buy from Camden Market in a fit I am now having sent from Hong Kong to our Nest’O’Love, where it will gather dust and be a constant reminder of how actually mean I am that I won’t let anyone else win.

Thank you so much, eBay, for opening up the possibility that myself and He Who Only… can, one day soon, sleep underneath bed sheets that have been used previously by some strangers (who live, I am assured, in a pet and smoke free home).

We’ve even got a coat stand, on which to hang our coats, and some plastic starfish to hang up in our bathroom. eBay, without you, our Nest’O’Love wouldn’t be the shabby chic nest of comfort it now, one day soon, may be. Thank you, eBay.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely,

Shazzle

18 January 2007
Walking out today at lunchtime to find some lunch in the City that costs less than £10, isn’t smothered in cheese but is vegetarian (NB - this cannot be done), it was like walking into a scene from Children of Men. A scene from which was filmed on the street I was walking down during my lunchtime yesterday, but thankfully nothing blew up.

But there were branches flying all over the place, which was weird because I’d never noticed there were so many trees before. Buses were on a go-slow, traffic was backed up, the streets were filled three-people thick with designer suits and teetering high heels being blown into the path of the very slow moving traffic. In the background, many, many sirens were going off, car alarms and house alarms joining in the echo, and generally it was all a bit Dr Who post-alien-landing.

I did the only thing a sane person could do. I bought a milkyway, and went back to my desk to browse eBay.

17 January 2007
Little Sister Edel had the genius idea of using the death of Butler as an excuse to “act out” and buy an inappropriate dress, as an expression of her grief. I’ve appropriated this excuse and started to over-eat dramatically, hoofing down booze and crisps as if it’s Christmas all over again. I’ve also started to wildly buy nonsense from eBay - for a solid example of this, please refer to my purchase today of a mahogany-effect coat stand, one “shabby chic” table cloth, some flip-flops, a Dr Who CD, some costume jewellery from Hong Kong and an entire day’s hunt for unsuitable cushion covers.

16 January 2007



Butler died last night.

We’ve known it’s been coming - the dog’s 16, for Xenu’s sake - but even so it’s incredibly upsetting.

Thinking about it, he’s been around for over half of my lifetime. That’s a really long time to have something present in your life and then to have it go away.

Every time a pet dies, we start to wonder why the hell we put ourselves through this. There is absolutely no rational explanation for becoming emotionally attached to something that has much shorter life span than you do.

Anyway. Me and Little Sister Edel and Little Sister Louise have been emailing each other at work all morning making each other cry at the little things that we’re remembering.

To that end, here’s my stupid memory.

He used to pick up balloons at Christmas and walk around the house holding them. He’d take them between his front teeth, holding on by the knot tied at the top, and his mouth would wobble when taking it because he was trying so hard to be gentle, and not to burst it. Once he had it in his mouth, he wouldn’t let go, but would instead visit everyone he could find in the house, going methodically from room to room, to show them that he had the balloon. Once the person had told him how brilliant he was, he’d go find the next person. As far as I know he never burst a single balloon.

12 January 2007
In order to, as I keep putting it to He Who Only, “give me something to live for”, I’ve started to plan all of the holidays I’ll be taking this year.

And by “all” of them, I do mean “all” of them. I’ve calculated how many days holidays I’ve got this year, added in bank holidays, worked out the days I need off for the Open University (including summer schools and exams), included Christmas and travel time, as well as cricket matches and weddings, and then got to work.

The result of this is that (1) He Who Only… is absolutely terrified at my level of planning and (2) I’ve decided we’re spending Easter in Germany.

I settled on Germany after briefly considering France or Brussels on the Eurostar and flirting with the idea of Italy or Portugal. The main decision was made after a girl from work pointed out how short a hop Germany is, plane-wise, and I was convinced. I’ve never been to Germany, and neither has He Who Only…, and I thought that, of all the countries in Europe I could drag him to, Germany would take the least convincing. After all, Germany contains his two greatest interests: Beer and History of War.

So we’re going to Berlin. I’ve already started dividing the city into quarters and have a long list of pros and cons connected to each quarter. I have lists of hotels, hotel chains, hostels and various website recommendations. I’ve cruised combination offers from airlines, worked out the cheapest packages, worked out distances from airports and converted everything from Euro to Sterling.

I’m having a freaking ball. I’m also very confused and no closer to booking anything at all.

So, if anyone has ever been to Berlin, please throw all the information you have at me. I need all the help I can get.

11 January 2007
I never did get around to listing all the great Christmas presents that I got this year, in order to (1) make you all jealous and (2) emphasise what a great set of friends and family I have (in order to make you all jealous) and (3) show just how great I am as a reflection of the great things that I now own. Because we are, as I’m sure we all know, a sum of our belongings.

However, I will mention at this point one of the presents that I got from Little Sister Edel. She said that, while shopping, she had drawn a blank on what to buy me - I was strict with my instructions (yes, that’s right, I issue instructions to those attempting to buy me gifts) that the present(s) I received this year must not be too heavy, as last year on my way back to London I had had to pay Aer Lingus to take my extra heavy case on board, such was the manner in which I was heavily laden down with gifts. She had, she admitted, decided to “throw money” at the problem, and as a result her Christmas present this year was a little… shall we say “excentric”? Yes, let’s say that. Just as soon as I work out to spell it.

… Eccentric.

Two ‘c’s. Good.

As I say, one of the presents I got from Little Sister Edel this year was in some ways quite an eccentric one, but very pretty. Very pretty indeed. She was keen to point out to me, in case I missed it, how pretty the present is. It is very pretty.

She got me a sewing kit (including a thimble). It is very pretty. I just wasn’t entirely sure what I had done to deserve such a thing.

However, it very quickly came clear yesterday morning that Little Sister Edel has some magical powers for seeing into the near future - yesterday morning, a popper button came off my extravagantly sparkling coat, that I bought from a certain Spain-based ladies clothing store notorious for the way in which their buttons and fixtures regularly leap away to their doom.

Steady as a rock, I didn’t gasp and weep, collapsing to the floor at the thought of not being able to wear my lovely new sparkling coat to work. I sat down at the side of the bed, whipped open the pretty little sewing kit and got to work.

It was difficult at first, but in the end I felt I had done a sturdy job - the popper was well and truly back in place, seemed to be holding pretty sternly and so I was ready to rumble once again - and not even late for my train.

I stood up. I pulled my lovely new sparkling coat on. I went to pop together the popper and realised -

I had sewed it on upside down.

I feel it is to my credit that it took me ages to unhinge the stupid thing from the coat and re-do the stitching, such was the force with which I had originally sewed the little bugger on.

I’m very bright.

10 January 2007
Little Sister Louise sent us all round copies of the photos of my brother's wedding. They're all just brilliant. I'm sharing only this one.

09 January 2007
OH. MY. GOD.



Mail to: customersupport@iwantoneofthose.com

Dear Sirs,

Customer No.: XXXXXX


Thank you for sending me this voucher, which I received as a result of my previous order (order number XXXXX) being lost, and having to contact your customer services team over five times in order to get the order sorted and delivered correctly. Even when I received the order, some items were missing (although I was not charged for these), and one of the items was faulty (the small bag which contained the seeds for growing strawberries - item code GARSTR - had burst, and left soil and dust all over the other items), but I have not chosen to complain about that until now, due to the fact that I was in constant contact with you for over a week, and did not want to increase my phone bill any further.

However, when I attempted to spend this voucher, I stumbled across another problem.

I would like to purchase the travel speakers, code MINTRA. The price of these speakers (£14.95), plus normal postage and packaging (£3.95), comes to £18.90.

I have been told by your telephone advisor that I need to spend over £20 in order for this voucher to be redeemed. I am dumbfounded by this. The information below does not imply that I need to spend more than the voucher in order to redeem it - in fact it implies just the opposite of that, with the sentence "We regret that we cannot give cash or credit for a partially redeemed Gift Voucher. So if you've got it, spend it." To clarify, I only want to partially redeem this voucher.

I do not want to spend any more money with your service. I merely want to spend the voucher that you have provided as an apology for the poor service I have already received.

Could you please therefore contact me as soon as possible to let me know how I can spend the voucher detailed below without having to part with any more money.

Thanks.


I think I'm going to cry.

08 January 2007
One of my not-really-resolutions-for-the-New-Year is that I will not tie myself in knots getting frustrated by things that I can't change, or that are no longer within my control. There is absolutely no point in sitting at my desk at work and stewing with unfocused rage about the fact that I seem to have more work to do than everyone else. There is absolutely no point in getting all het up about the fact that the trains are THREE MINUTES LATE! and I could have been spending that time in bed. There is absolutely no point in almost attacking tourists because they're making me a further THREE SECONDS late for work with their suitcases and maps and fanny packs and wandering about. And there really is absolutely no point, today, in getting all angered by the fact that someone cloned by debit card and starting topping up their stupid phones with it, probably so that they can download some happy slapping snuff videos off the porn-net and shove it right up their hoodies.

I had decided to be grown up this afternoon and had a brief look at my bank statement on-line, glancing at it through shaking fingers as I braced myself for the horrendous truth of what, exactly, Christmas and the New Year have cost me in monetary terms (having already paid for it all emotionally and physically). It wasn't, if I'm honest, as bad as I expected it to be, but bearing in mind that we're still a solid two weeks away from pay day, it's not ideal to already be in the overdraft I don't usually touch. However, a couple of the entries at the bottom of the statement caught my attention, as I had absolutely no idea what they might have been connected to.

Thanks to being in Dublin for eight days, most of the entries at the bottom of the page are at least two lines long, since I'm told where the card was used, how much it cost in euro, how much the exchange rate was at that second, and how much I'd been charged for the privilege. However, one or two at the bottom were very neat, one line entries, talking about a particular phone company and something about "TopUp".

Aha, I thought to myself, that's not right at all.

I rang the bank, they put me through to the fraud people, the fraud people asked me lots of questions, advised me that I didn't need to contact the police since it was a relatively small amount, and then advised me that they'd send me out a new card in the next few days and that I should cut up my old card.

"Oh."

"..."

"You've cancelled my card, then? I can't use it now?"

"That's right."

Which is all well and good, and obvious to anyone reading this now, but it never occurred to me that they'd immediately cancel my card on learning that it had been cloned. D'oh.

So now I've got no credit card (having lost the last one and not unlocked the new one), no debit card and no cash. For the next three days.

At least that's helping with the other resolution, the one about not spending so much money.

07 January 2007

While we were in Ireland, we did an awful lot of walking. Every day, we left the house for at least three hours, and went tramping all over the county, dragging out my brother and his new wife, my mother, any dogs we could get our hands on - and when we couldn't persuade anyone else to come with us (when they all selfishly went back to work), we ended up walking up and down the two piers in Dun Laoghaire. We decided the old pier was the best one (where this photo was taken), and we're going to buy the old lighthouse keepers house at the end of it, do it up and live in that, watching all of the boats coming in and out of the harbour and waving at the seals.

All of my photographs, by the by, are taken by my camera phone. It really is excellent.

We're home now, all the decorations have been taken down, and I've spent the afternoon trying to find different places to hang all of the calenders we've gathered together (there are now three in the bedroom, one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom) and tackling the secondary problem of how to hang things on the walls in this flat, since it is beyond the capabilities of both of us to get nails into the walls without chipping off vast swathes of plaster. He Who Only... has spent the day asking me what the date is, trying to make the point that five calenders in a flat the size of a shoe box might be a little extravagant. I am valiantly ignoring him.

I have unpacked everything, tidied up, thrown out half of the things previously stored in my wardrobe, put up some new photos, rearranged the bathroom to accommodate all the pretty new toiletries we got for Christmas and generally started re-nesting, and settling back to life in London, stopping only occasionally to attempt to cough my lungs straight out through my mouth. For the record, I haven't managed to yet, but I am starting to regularly taste blood.

Back to work and back to real life tomorrow, and I'm not particularly pleased.

06 January 2007
We were sitting in the local pub, enjoying the lovely lovely lovely Guinness(R) available and considering dying of our colds, when two of my sisters' friends came in. That's the joy and curse of continually returning to the place where you grew up for visits - you'll never go too far without bumping into someone you know, but you'll never be entirely sure where you know them from, and if enough time has passed, you won't be sure if you're supposed to like or despise them.

However, these two lovely boys I know of old, and I was sure that I should greet them with the joy and celebration that their standing as wonderful gay men deserve - at two separate times, I was engaged to be married to one or other of them, if we should have found ourselves abandoned and alone on our 40th birthdays. They have since then broken off our long standing engagement on the grounds that they prefer to play with other gentlemen of similar outlooks, and I don't have a working winky.

Anyhoo, the entire point of this story is that I had last seen one of them over three years earlier. long before I had moved to London, and long before my current run of good health. In the time since I have lost weight, I've had many reactions from people who hadn't seen me for a while, but this person's was absolutely the best response I've had for a long time.

He came into the pub, looked directly at me, looked away, turned to his friend for confirmation that he was indeed looking at his friend's older sister, turned around again, came over to me with arms held wide out, gave me a huge hug, then pushed me back to arm's length, both of his hands on my shoulders, gave me another once over and yelled in the loudest, campest voice available to him, "Fuck me, have you had dysentery?"

Lovely boys.

And to end, another picture of me and baby, just because. (I took this one, holding the camera out in front of us. It was a marginal success, at best.)

05 January 2007
An incredibly important ritual that is observed every time I go back home to Dublin now is our trip to Whelans.

This time round, we only managed to do it the once, due to the fact that on New Year's Day (the morning after the wedding) I woke up convinced that I was dying, and not just of the hangover I quite rightly deserved.

I had been doing so well all through the wedding, pacing my drinks and making sure I was drinking water between every alcholic intake. I started with beer, moved on to wine, had some champagne, moved back to the beer, but even then we were doing so much dancing and talking and running about, along with having a huge wedding dinner, meant that I really didn't feel drunk at all at any stage during the night. Sure, I was dancing to songs I would never dance to, I had abandoned both my shoes and my pashmina quite early on into the night, and I was moshing in a dress that had no straps, therefore taking the terrible risk of possibly flashing my boobs at most of my relations (thankfully that didn't happen). However, all of this good work was very undone at 3am when the music finished and the lights came back up and me, He Who Only... and my cousin David sat down at a table and knocked back three pints of beer that didn't belong to us in under 30 seconds.

But as I was saying, I woke up on New Year's Day feeling like death had come to visit, and refused to accept that it was merely a hangover. And it wasn't - I had caught the cold that everyone in Ireland has been suffering from for the previous two weeks, and which is still rattling around me today.

Which is all leading to the fact that I am incredibly pleased that we managed to get to Whelans the very first evening we landed in Dublin, on the 30th, because when we were supposed to go this evening, I couldn't even begin to consider doing it. Which is a measure to how rough I'm feeling, because usually I'd give someone's right arm (not necessarily mine) to go there.

I love this bit of graffiti, found in the ladies loos at Whelans, which sums up a lot of my feelings for the city in which I was born. I particularly enjoy the jaunty use of the exclamation mark.


04 January 2007
I met a new man today, and I think I'd like him to come and live with me and be my new boyfriend.

His name is Cillian.

He is nine weeks old.

I finally got to meet Mrs Moo's baby, and he is lovely and I love him.



He Who Only... became suspiciously quiet the whole time we were sitting with them, and a glazed look came over his eyes as he watched me feed and burp and feed again and burp again the baby over about an hour and a half. I love that there are no boys on this earth that want to hold another person's baby, and no women on this earth who would turn down the chance to hold a nine week old.

Cillian is officially the cutest, sweetest, chattiest, nicest smelling baby boy that has ever existed.

03 January 2007


Yesterday, we went to the Guinness(R) Storehouse to see where Guinness(R) is laid and hatched, and then we drank down our body weight in Guinness (R) while looking all around Dublin and thinking about Guinness(R) and Guinness(R) Guinness(R) Guinness(R).

The Storehouse is a tremendously entertaining place to be, particularly if you like Guinness(R) as much as we do, but even if you don't, by the time you've walked around the first two floors, you're so desperate for a pint you're willing to kill the person you arrived with in order to get near to a pint. The reason we're grinning right here is because we'd almost finished the tour at this stage (we're now Master Brewer's Honourary Apprentices - we're going to get the certificate to prove it and everything) and just behind us is the escalator that's about to bring us to the top floor where there are two pints - full pints, mark you, none of this half-assed half-pint nonsense - with our names on. Literally.

Not literally.

I did notice to my horror when we got there that a big fat American lady (and there isn't any other kind of American lady in Dublin over the holiday period) was drinking her Guinness(R) THROUGH A STRAW. I nearly punched her in the throat for having the bare-arsed nerve to do such a terrible thing in what is essentially the Mecca for all Irish alcoholics, but I was too busy getting myself wrapped around my pint that I didn't have time to down it all in one go AND beat her to death at the same time.

02 January 2007
But seriously folks, I do honestly mean it when I swear that I will try to blog more this year. The past six months have been tremendous, and I've barely had time to record them here. It's ridiculous, setting up another rod with which to beat myself, but I love being able to look back to dates over the past six years - six years of blogging, that's ridiculous - and see what I was up to and when.

For example, on this date in 2002, I was proudly recording the fact that, thanks to my immense pain, I had just achieved a life long ambition and received my first prescription for valium.

In 2003, I was also lying flat on my back staring at the cieling and cursing my fate, thanks to my back problem.

In 2004, my surgeon told me, and I'm quoting from my original post - "Don't lie down! Stand up! Walk! Swim! - but don't jump. No jumping or running, because your back might fall off. Have a large needle right in the spine!"

You see? The wonderful nature of blogging means that I can now draw a direct corrolation between celebrating a new year and being in immense agony.

Weirdly, I can now also look back and see that, from the time I started dating (or, as we like to put it, "fucking") He Who Only..., my back problem suddenly didn't seem to be so important or time consuming. I can only assume that there is some kind of direct connection between these two facts. Hoorah for blogger. He Who Only... should obviously be available to everyone with prolapsed disc on direct prescription from the NHS. Apparently, that's what cured me. His healing "hands".

I've now decided to amend my New Years Resolution, and have come up with this one instead:



In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Learn the alphabet.



He Who Only...'s resolution is:



In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Cause more road rage.

01 January 2007
New Years Resolutions:

1. Stop complaining about everything.
2. Blog more often.

These two resolutions are contradictory, and therefore self defeating.

It is 2007. A brief summary of the last two weeks:

I am in Ireland.
My brother is married.
I have spent the last two weeks eating, drinking and being merry.
I had my first Christmas away from home EVER, and I cried at the sound of Joe Dolan.
I voluntarily went to Mass, and made He Who Only... (who is a defiant and card carrying aethiest) come with me.
I got a remote control K9 for Christmas (I am 30).
I survived another plane journey by weeping constantly into He Who Only...'s lap, while he patiently read the in-flight magazine.
I've been drinking Guinness almost constantly this year.