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Dreadful Nonsense

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

25 February 2007

I've taken to almost pathologically taking photographs of everything that happens around me. Unfortunately, my not-really-very-expensive camera died a while ago - it refuses to recognise batteries as anything but it's worst enemy, and so won't switch on (or if it's on, won't switch off) even with the freshest of batteries inserted. It breaks my heart, because that was quite a good camera, if not-really-very-expensive. I'm faced with the thought of having to buy another not-really-very-expensive camera in time for our trip to Germany, all the better for taking photographs of He Who Only... staring at various things with great Nazi significance, while I wonder what next to buy with my credit card.

This is a photograph of my view of the large screen in the Irish pub down the road from us while watching Ireland play England. Not in view: He Who Only, desperately trying to remember that, while in this pub, he is supposed to be an Ireland supporter. He did quite well, flinching only once when a decision went Ireland's way when it should have been awarded to England, and managing not to cheer at all when England made some ground. Thankfully for him, Ireland rang absolute rings around England, and so he didn't have to suppress cheering very often. Also not pictured: the hideous cloud of smoke that descended about 10 minutes into the game and wouldn't leave. As an ex-smoker, I used to get my thrills and nicotine-enrichment from standing near (or sometimes right on top of) smokers and dragging down lung fulls of second half smoke, because that in my mind was not cheating. These days, I can't bear it if someone lights up half a mile away from me. The pub got so hot, crowded, emotional and smoke-filled that we actually left at my request at half time and came home to watch the second half in the Nest'O'Love.

24 February 2007
Last night, I was getting the train home from work slightly later than usual, and it being a Friday, and slightly later than usual, the overland train was filled with many people eating fast food very quickly.

As someone who hasn’t eaten generic, American-originated fast food for a very long time, I always find the smell of it both appalling and appealing in confusingly equal measures. I’m also fascinated by how quickly people will eat it when they’re drunk. The literal speed at which they stuff it into their mouths, barely chew, swallow and repeat the process over and over with no reference to the amount of the sauce that’s spilling down their chins, all over their cheeks and on to their laps, no concern for the condiments currently scattering themselves liberally across their clothing and little regard for the more sober of us around them who have seen 2 year old children eat with better manners in public.

I love it, actually, watching drunk people eat fast food. I think that it might actually be the way that everyone is transported back to the eating standards of a two year old, eating as thought you should probably be strapped to a high chair with a plastic bib, thick, chunk and rounded plastic cutlery clasped in hand but utterly ignored in favour of the fingers, hurling food in the general direction of face and hoping that some of it will go into mouth - but the important thing is to move it all at speed.

Sitting in front of me on the train was a woman in a very expensive fur (or faux-fur, I can never tell which), eating a Big Mac (no fries, no drink) and having an absolutely whale of a time. You could tell immediately she was drunk and, by the way she was crouched over, stuffing that monster into her mouth, that she either hadn’t eaten for about 2 weeks, or she’d skipped the “lunch” in “liquid lunch”.

Eventually she finished, cleaned herself up as best she could, and sat staring contentedly into the middle distance, in that brilliant way that drunk people do when they’re drunk, full up and on their way home to some more comfy drinks before retiring to bed for the entire weekend. She was possible even considering going another burger at the other end of her journey. I couldn’t tell you. I turned my attention to my book and got to reading.

The weirdest thing happened when we got to the stop before my home stop. As people were getting off the train, a young black guy aged about 20 stopped beside us, hesitated for a brief moment (from his posture, I thought he was going to ask me a question), yelled at the lady in front of me who was still staring all middle distance to “MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS” and threw a fast food cup full of ice and lemonade over her head. He then got off the train.

I was, I don’t mind telling you, completely freaked out. Quite a lot of it splashed back on me, but that was the least of my concerns. That day, the London press had been full of photographs of the guy that had gone on a shooting spree in Finsbury Park tube station, and I suddenly felt really vulnerable to attack. I realise it was only lemonade, and that’s an over reaction to lemonade, but in that moment (and for about 20 minutes after that) I was literally shaking.

The poor Big Mac lady, who had probably done nothing more than been accidentally looking towards him while staring into the middle distance, and made the simple mistake of looking in his direction and being middle class, took it a lot better than me. Although she was now covered not only in lemonade but also ice cubes, she was still laughing it off when I got off the train a minute later.

23 February 2007
There have been Great Plans a-foot in Chez Love these past few weeks, Great Plans that have taken a temporary set back, due to real life not being the same as everything we hold in our collective imagination. One of the main Great Plans we were working on, complete with sketches, plots, sub-plots and miscellaneous addendums, was that we were going to be moving out of The Great Smoking Hell of London Town, and going to the beautiful city of York. As I mentioned previously, our choice of destination came out of a conversation that I believe was carried out while both of us were under the influence of alcohol. We decided on moving to either (a) Brighton or (b) York because that seemed like a good idea, and nowhere else in England would do. And that was that.

However, last night, having sobered up for what may be the first time this year, I took to thinking while doing laps and laps and laps of the pool (swimming so ferociously that I'm proud to say I drove everyone else away) that maybe moving away just at this moment isn't the best idea. I came home laden with this bad news, this slice of reality, and tried to break it as gently to He Who Only... as I could. Since he was also sober at the time, we realised after much discussion that, actually, yes, running away and hiding somewhere pretty is a brilliant idea, but it won't really lend to development of careers.

So the nub and the crux of the thing is that we're trapped in London for at least another 12 months. And yes, I know that London is not the Centre of the Universe, and that other things happen in other cities, and that there is such a thing as commuting, but honestly, we've tossed over every single possibility and even checked out Google Maps to see if there's anywhere else to live in England other than (a) Brighton or (b) York and it turns out that there isn't.

I went to work this morning utterly despondent, because for some reason it seemed to me that I'd have to carry on working in a place I don't really like, with people who don't really like me, for at least the next 12 months, without the shining beacon of York lighting up the next few weeks and months. Until I suddenly realised that - like all the best alcohol and drug addicts - I can quit any time I want!

And that's an important note to hold on to on a Friday. Happy Friday, everybody.

22 February 2007
This one, also from Little Sister Edel, is simply entitled "Ha HAAA!"

A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The driver says, "That's the ugliest baby I've ever see." The woman, fuming, goes to the back of the bus, sits down and says to a man next to her: "The driver just insulted me!" The man says: "You go right up there and tell him off. I'll hold your monkey."

From Little Sister Edel:

An alsatian went to a telegram office and wrote:

"Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof."

The clerk examined the paper and told the dog: "There are only nine words here. You could send another 'Woof' for the same price."

"But," the dog replied, "that would make no sense at all."

21 February 2007

I very, very nearly got this tattooed on to myself yesterday.

I think I might have something wrong with my brain.

As I very wittily emailed to Little Sister Edel, I'm like Britney Spears, but with hair.

The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I couldn't quite decide where to place it. I might still burst forward and get it done at some point anyway.

Any thoughts? Anyone?

20 February 2007
A tiny snap shot from the fairy tale that is our life:

When we moved in to the Nest 'O' Love, one of the first of many, many different faults that we noticed was the massive problem in the bedroom department: (a) there was a vast amount of traffic noise; and (b) there was a vast amount of street lighting coming flooding through the window.

The Nest 'O' Love came without any form of curtain. It came instead with lovely white shutters, which look very pretty when all folded up by the wall on a summers day, but are completely useless when asked to hold in any kind of warmth, or hold out any street/traffic/stabbing/shooting noises that take place down on the street below. They're also massive ineffective in terms of keeping out light. I can't sleep when it's noisy. He Who Only... can't sleep when there's even the smallest hint of light. This wasn't going to work.

We came up with a temporary solution, which was to drape a duvet over the shutters. This worked as it more or less blocked out the light and at least dampened down the noise of rioting and drug running from the street below.

This, you'll note, is He Who Only... hanging the duvet up for the evening, while wearing a cow boy Hat.

Two other things to note in this photo, before I leave you all to do something much more useful with your lives:

1. This photo was taken last week. We've been living in the Nest 'O' Love for over a year now. We're still hanging the duvet over the shutters.

2. Propped up against that chest of drawers (which He Who Only... made with his bare, manly hands) is a white window blind. Which we bought within two weeks of moving in here. Which blocks out both light and sound completely. Which fits our window perfectly. Which has been sitting, propped up in that manner, since the day we brought it home. Over a year ago.

19 February 2007
Some photos from our jolly jaunt at the dogs and gambling and drinking and burning money outing of Saturday. This sums up the evening rather well:

The essential ingredients:
1. Booze
2. Pink gambling stubs
3. Form book
4. Fast food wrappers
5. (Just out of shot) Desperate, reckless fiscal abandon

I tried, three times, to take a photo of the dogs as they ran past. This is the closest I got. All six dogs are just to the right hand side of the frame. I think this is the race where we hadn't placed a bet, but had chosen one dog to support anyway. That dog was trampled on the first bend by two other dogs and was then lapped.

18 February 2007
Myself and He Who Only... decided that the very little money that we have between us was going to waste when put towards things like rent and food and electricity, and so we thought what would be better would be to throw it all in a bin, or burn it, or leave it unattended on a tube seat. But instead of doing any of those things, we went to the dog races in Wimbledon on Saturday.

This was partly in celebration of the birthday of one of more friends, but more to do with the fact that we thought that it was about time one of our Get-Rich-Quick schemes worked out, because the damned lotto wasn't providing all of the money we had been led to believe it would. However, out of 13 races, approximately 9 of which I bet on, and every one of which I chose a dog I predicted would win, I won a grand total of no races. That, statistically speaking, is worse than chance. Which means I really had to go out of my way to keep on losing. And yet I did.

We tried working out a system based on the previous form of the dogs (although I noticed, when perusing the form book over breakfast on Sunday, that I had actually been reading the form book entirely wrong). Then we tried to base it on how the dogs looked when being paraded around before the race. He Who Only... was working on the theory that the dog who did a wee/poo just before the race would be the one who won it (on the basis that they were that bit lighter on their feet). We even tried going by name, or lucky number, or colour of vest. None of this worked.

Out of 13 races, He Who Only... won twice. On one race I put on a "place" bet and my dog came third. We were incredibly excited, until we realised it turns out that, unlike horse races, a "place" bet only counts for first or second place.

But what was important was how much darned fun it all was. Now, I know there's a lot of things wrong with making animals race for our gambling entertainment, but I do know that these dogs are very well looked after up to the point at which they are retired from racing altogether. And the plight of the greyhound has been so well documented in recent years that most dogs are re-homed and retired to a good life as a family pet (for more info on that, go here). So, when you think about it, there's absolutely nothing at all wrong with wasting money, drinking heavily and eating some suspicious tasting chips on a Saturday night when you could otherwise have been doing, I don't know, some voluntary work with the homeless.

The only thing that I've learned is that gambling is a mug's game. And that also it would help if I had a system.

14 February 2007

Desperately trying not to be smug, on this day of all days.

Happy VD everybody!

13 February 2007
I was walking home from the gym last Saturday evening. It was getting quite dark in the day, and felt exhausted, doused in chlorine and bright red in the cheeks. I didn't have my MP3 player in, because I decided that Death By Mugging is not the way I want to go, and walking around anywhere in greater London with white headphones dangling temptingly out of your ear holes is asking for trouble with a capital "STAB". Thanks to this, I was able to hear very clearly when the guy that had been walking just behind me started yelling "Hey! Hey!", trying to get my attention.

I turned around to see if I had dropped something and realising that (a) I hadn't, (b) he was talking to me and (c) probably all he wanted to do was probably to kidnap me, rape me and/or kill me, I looked away again.

He therefore increased his pace so that he was now in step with me, and asked me if I was okay. I looked at him, and looked away again, trying to work out in the shortest of glances if he was carrying any weapons, if I was carrying any weapons with which to defend myself, how close I was to anyone else at that moment, and where all the street lights had gone to.

"Are you okay?" he asked again, and I continued to ignore him.

"Oh, I think I have seen you around here," he carried on regardless. "Do you live nearby?"

It was only now I realised he was just trying to chat me up.

Fucking hell, dear reader, does this kind of approach ever work in real life? All he managed to do was scare the shit out of me.

I kept walking, increasing my pace and deliberately turning a full shoulder to him to indicate how very uninterested I was.

The last thing I heard him asking, before he obviously gave up and tried some other, possibly more willing, lady, was "Oh. Are you a lesbian?"

The strangest thing was, it didn't sound at all like abuse, or a weird accusation. Just a question, as it seemed he really couldn't understand why I wasn't taking him up on his strange approach.

12 February 2007
Sorry, sorry.

I stop posting every day, and then I stop posting all together. Very poor form.

BUT! More tomorrow, probably. In the meantime, can you please let me know in comments if you have SKYPE or not. I'd like to start having some free fun.

Huge thanks.


10 February 2007
A dead snowman.

09 February 2007
This was the last leg of my commute to work on Wednesday morning:

This was the last leg of my commute to work on Thursday morning:

Although I do, admittedly, work in a ridiculously pretty area of the City of London (which is regularly used as location for a lot of BBC dramas), it has to be said that the addition of snow to any location at all really adds the air of cleanliness that this city seriously lacks.

08 February 2007
What’s important, of course, is that I blogged every day in January. To continue to try to keep up the attempt of blogging every day, I might go mad, and even if I don’t go mad, I will drive everybody else mad.

My life is simply not interesting enough to warrant a daily blog, it has to be said. I don’t have children or pets and people would be very quickly nauseated by constant reference to how brilliant He Who Only… is (although he does tell me I should be blogging about him every day). I could let you all know every time I make new plans to do something, move somewhere, change careers or hair cuts or hair colour, or even every time I buy something new. I could tell you in detail all of the new places I’ve suddenly decided I want to visit simply in order to increase my carbon footprint. I could talk about my work place, and see if I could get myself sacked. I could tell you all about my different duvet covers. But that would be both boring and boastful, and I’m not sure which is a greater sin in the blogosphere.

And also, blogging every day would lead me to using buzz words like “blogosphere”, and then where would we all be? We’d all be in hell, that’s where.

So goodbye to that ridiculous attempt. It was never going to work out, and it’s for the best that we draw a veil over the whole thing.

04 February 2007
We were watching the rugby today (in which Ireland KICKED SOME WELSH ASS, in case anyone isn’t aware) in the Irish pub up the road from us. It’s an excellent pub, shaped like a barge, so that all the space inside is due to length rather than girth (insert your own penis related gag (no pun intended) here). It’s also excellent at keeping in the smoke of the last 35 years, the smoke of every cigarette ever smoked inside its walls. Thankfully, the owners have installed beautiful stained glass sky lights, so that when the sun streams down from above, the rays are immediately fugged up by the 1980s pop video amount of smoke filling the room, and you feel at home and doped up to the eye balls and unable to breathe. It’s like being in a damp room that’s catching, very slowly, on fire. But the fire is not alarming enough to leave behind the sweet, sweet Guinness. Oh, the Guinness.

Anyway. While we were all happily watching Ireland KICK SOME WELSH ASS, a man from a table located away from the majority of the Irish contingent watching the match, and away from the main screen, walked up and past us on the way to the toilets. He seemed to have something of a swagger about him, walking like I imagine Liam Gallagher would if he had just literally shit himself. That kind of wide-legged, hip-swinging, I’ve-Got-Piles-The-Size-Of-Onions kind of swagger that some men adopt thinking it makes them look masculine but actually just looks like a Jack Russell trying to square up to an Alsatian - misguided, and bound to lead eventually to terrible trouble.

On the way back from the toilets, he stopped in the middle of the room - not quite blocking the view of everyone watching, as the screen is mounted high up on the wall, but certainly blocking a lot of the lower half of the screen. He waited for a moment, noted the score (Ireland were, at that point, 2 points ahead) and screamed at the top of his English accent “COME ON WALES! COME ON! BEAT THE PADDIES!” He then paused for but a moment, and continued to waddle his way back to his seat.

My question, which I put to He Who Only… very soon after the event, was WHY THE FUCK would you go into an Irish pub and then scream that kind of thing? He Who Only… had the very clear and obviously correct answer that he was only looking for some kind of response. It was to all of our credits that we collective ignored him, with one table swapping looks and a bit of a giggle, but not really anything else. I personally would have happily shot him in the head. I hate people who feel the need to try and kick off fights or even just vague ill feeling, but my response to them is always simply the urge to shoot them in the head.

Thankfully I don’t have a gun.

03 February 2007
I was in the queue to buy a loaf of bread from the bakers. In front of me, a family group of four: Mum, Dad, son and daughter. Mum and Dad looked like they may be suffering the excesses of the previous night.

Dad: ...so you have to choose one thing.

Daughter: (constantly through the discussion) Cake! I’m having cake!

Son: I don’t know...

Dad: But you’ve been saying sausage roll the whole way here.

Son: But now I don’t know.

Daughter: (happily) Cake! Cake! Cake!

Son: I might have cake...

Dad: But you don’t want cake. You want a sausage roll.

Mum: Let him have what he wants.

Son: Can I have both?

Dad: No! Only one thing.

Son: (looking around as if for help from a third party) ...I don’t know!

Daughter: Cake! Cake! Cake!

Son: (about to start crying) I don’t know!

Dad: But you said last night you wanted sausage rolls!

Son: (beginning to cry) I don’t know...

I nearly bought him the cake myself.