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Dreadful Nonsense

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

31 March 2007
I do, very often these days, sigh aloud and say to anyone who is standing near to me, that I am becoming rather tired of living in London. It's very stinky, I tell my avid listeners. It's quite loud, and there are a lot of people who are quite rude most of the time. Quite often, I'll continue to observe as my audience continues to hang on my every word, there are stabbings and shootings and people who stand on other people's feet on purpose, and it's just not like the old days, when men would hold the doors open for ladies and go out and kill dinosaurs to eat.

And then little things happen that make me remember immediately why, really, I do love this city. And those things are the things that happen in the middle of all of those other things mentioned above, the stuff that stands out despite of (because of) the pollution and rudeness and hectic pace and the self-serving nature of the London population.

For example, last week I was standing on the tube on my way to work. Getting on to the Central Line, I had been shoved forward from behind by a man who was about as tall as a 10 year old girl. Stocky build, looking exactly like a fully grown man, only much, much smaller and with a lot to prove. He shoved me forward because I had had the audacity to board the train on time rather than legging it at the last moment and hurling myself through the closing doors like some lame Hollywood stunt man. I really don't understand why people feel the need to do this - in the rush hour during the morning, the trains on the Central Line arrive every 30 seconds or so. That means that, by risking serious injury and holding up the entire service, this ridiculously tiny man had saved himself a 30 second wait.

I was therefore at my usual peak of being very, very irritated by London that morning, feeling all put out and grumpy. To compound this, I had a bit of a sneezing fit halfway between Bank and St Pauls.

The man standing beside me, a man of normal height and looking fairly healthily sane (although I would question his intelligence, as he was reading The Times) lowered his newspaper briefly, looked me directly in the eye, and quietly said "Bless you". He then went back to his paper.

In almost every other situation in any other place in the entire world, that tiny act of kindness, that little, inessential moment of human decency, would have gone unremarked and almost unnoticed. In London, in the middle of pushy-shovey-every-man-for-himself rush hour, that nearly made me cry.

Equally, seeing this sight this weekend brought tears of joy to my eyes:

The sight of a swan standing on a sunken branch in the middle of a man made lake in the centre of a park in North London, cleaning his feathers alongside four terrapins who are warming themselves in the spring time sun, for some reason reinstates my belief that there is actually a point to life.

What that point is, I'm not entirely sure.

30 March 2007
If you had a new camera, and you'd left that camera unattended in your flat, and your boyfriend had had what he wanted to call a little bit of "Bum Fun" with said camera, and you had a blog that is read regularly not only by your family and friends but also by many of his friends and you were able to host photographs on that blog, you'd post up one of the photos he took of his own arse, wouldn't you?

Wouldn't you?

I would.

29 March 2007
I’ve reached that absolutely insane crisis point in blogging once again, where I start to panic that I’ve not blogged for so long that there’s so much to catch up with, and at the same time I don’t know where to start and a paralysed in the headlights of the continuing passage of time which is coming to mow me down… and also I’m getting trapped in metaphors that really don’t fit the situation.

In brief, the things I have to tell you all about, in some detail, include:

My flights to and from Dublin last weekend.
The tiny men-children that kept chatting me up in Whelans.
Looking after a baby who wanted to eat my arm.
Possibly finding God in St Pauls Cathedral.
Being incredibly envious of my Granny.
Being escorted home by the police.
Becoming one of those statistics where an employer finds your personal blog.
My new tattoo.
Introducing the first Competition of the Blog.

And of course I also need to catch up with my Crap At The Environment challenges.

But! The problem is I have got a million trillion badillion things to do all day every day (I should be doing some of them right now, and I’m not) so what I propose to do is this:

Scream hysterically and run away.

I hope you can all join me.

(In actual fact I'm intending a full blog catch up, complete with backdated entries and! AND! photographs, all appearing on Sunday when I should be doing my Open University work. Happy now?)

28 March 2007
One of the ladies at work sent an email round the Firm last week saying that she had two tickets available to attend the St Johns Passion being performed in St Pauls cathedral the following evening, and did anyone want the tickets?

I emailed her back about 2 hours after she had sent the email (since I had left work before she sent the email around, and was being quite anally retentive by checking my work email account from home that evening) and said that, although I assumed the tickets would already have been taken, I would absolutely love to have them.

The next morning, she came up and handed me the tickets, saying that I had been the first, and only, respondent.

This made me both very happy and very sad. St Pauls Cathedral costs £8 to even enter these days, as it costs so much to keep looking so darned flash, and is such a tourist trap. I had never been in there for that exact reason. I had also fully intended some day to bite the bullet and get on with visiting it, as it had by now reached the top of my "To Do In London" list, just above kicking a tramp to death and throwing myself in front of a tube. But it's a place that every person who lives, works, passes through or passes out in London should visit.

Me and my friend EB went, as we are both very cultured and intelligent and pretty. I was slightly overwhelmed walking in through the door, because I'd never been inside St Pauls and it really is breath taking. The sheer scale of it for one thing hits you sideways across the skull and then keeps on tapping you on the shoulder as you walk up the main aisle, whispering "it's really rather big and sparkling in here, isn't it?" Thankfully EB has been inside St Pauls before and was able to lead me, gibbering and dribbling as I was, towards where we were supposed to be seated.

When I tell you now that we had sweet seats, I can't stress enough how darned sweet the seats we had were. We are setting directly under the dome, people. This entire cathedral was built with this kind of concert in mind, and we were sitting directly under the dome, the most amazing place to be in the whole cathedral when people are singing up in front of you accompanied by a full string orchestra with all the sound being captured above and thrown right back down on your head.

Although you're not allowed to take photographs inside St Pauls, I risked this one by putting my phone on my lap and just shooting upwards - this is how directly under the dome we were:

I think you'll agree, that's pretty much directly under the dome.

Dear Sweet Baby Xenu, the sound was so fantastic, the way that the choristers performed, the devastating beauty of the harmony, and the way that the final chords hung in the air at the end of each movement, fading away only incredibly slowly that you really, actually couldn't breathe for the wonder of it all, I swear to you I almost started believing in God again.

I can't wait until the Carols at Christmas.

27 March 2007
I don't know if I've mentioned this before - there may be one or two of you out there that need this kind of thing clearing up once and for all - but I really don't like flying. I don't understand it and I don't approve of it and if there is any other option at all, I'll avoid doing it. Really, I will. If I was a bird, I'd be a penguin.

Unfortunately, I was born on an island, and now I live on another island. Ideally, I should live in the middle of a massive land mass, and other people would come and visit me there, and if I needed to go anywhere I could walk, or possibly cycle, but this isn't happening no matter how often I ask, and because I don't have the patience to take the ferry, I do occasionally have no choice but to get on a plane and fly.

Something I've noticed recently - in the last three years or so - is the fact that I'm starting to hate flying just that tiny, but very significant, bit less.

This first started about 6 months after I started properly "dating" He Who Only... back in the golden days when we both lived on different islands and had to travel long and romantic distances in order to kiss each other and hold hands and irritate everyone around us. I was taking so many flights every month that they were starting to become quite routine, and dare I say it, even slightly boring. No less terrifying each time, I must add, but the terror was being slightly infringed by a more pressing feeling of mundanity. Can the mundane also be terrifying? Possibly. But it really does take the edge off it.

I noticed, as I whipped out my camera on the flight yesterday as we began our rapid descent towards Heathrow, that I had actually begun to enjoy myself.

The pictures, you really don't need to tell me, are quite rubbish, but it's what they signify that is important. My usual routine on a flight, He Who Only... will testify, is to cry for at least the first ten minutes, then descend into some kind of valium-induced stupor that leaves me unable to do anything but listen to the same song on repeat on my CD player/MP3 player and then eventually start getting antsy and restless that we haven't landed yet.

This flight, I had started by FALLING ASLEEP BEFORE TAKE OFF AND ACTUALLY SLEEPING THROUGH TAKE OFF, something Little Sister Edel had once told me she'd done and I didn't believe her because I thought it wasn't actually possible, and I finished it by taking photographs of the landing, photographs that involved actually looking out the window while the plane is still in the air and also not weeping, rocking, or praying.

Very soon, we go to Germany on holiday, and I'm actually, really, honestly looking forward to the flight.

25 March 2007
I think I may have found the one way of convincing He Who Only... that having babies might be a good idea, and that would be to justify buying this car sticker:

While in Dublin, I had the absolute honour of being babysitter, alongside Little Sister Louise (who was officially in charge of telling me which way up the baby was supposed to be at all times, and the one who would constantly say, yes, you're doing that right), of looking after four and half month old Cillian, the new person that was made by Mrs Moo. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Cillian:

There really is no justification for one tiny person being so darned adorable, and yet he is. Look at his tiny face.

I had an absolute ball looking after this man for eight solid hours. In those eight solid hours, the little man dribbled, chewed on my arm and fingers, sang to us, cried for but a moment, fussed a bit, chewed on his own hands, had a bit of worry about the fact that his teeth and gums are causing him some pain, did some of the most impressive burps you'll ever hear from anyone, did one massive fart that I mistook for a poo so completely that I ended up changing his nappy, managed to wee all over himself and his night clothes a different time I was trying to change his nappy (and looked astonishingly pleased with himself, I might add), lay down in front of the fire naked but for a nappy and kicked his brilliant little Buddha legs about for all he was worth, and utterly refused to go to sleep until 2minutes before his parents came home. Seriously. 2 minutes.

He is just God's Gift to mankind. Look at him!

That picture is out of focus simply because he never stops moving. He is so brilliant.

21 March 2007
I went to Dublin over the weekend for a short visit that was prompted for absolutely no reason, other than the fact that I had no reason for being there.

My justification, such as it is, came from the fact that every time I've gone back to Dublin for a visit since moving to London, it has been for a Reason - a birthday party, a religious celebration, a wedding etc. This time round, there was nothing for me to do when I went home, which freed me up to do absolutely anything I liked.

And so what I did was basically everything. I visited my Granny, and utterly envied the fact that she can spend all day sitting in the back room of her house, basking in the sunlight streaming in through the windows and looking out across her garden, literally watching the flowers grow. She is 89, and she bloody well deserves the rest, and I'm very much looking forward to being able to do the same at her age.

I visited Mrs Bishop, had long and serious discussions about what boys like to do in bed, and whether particular things are normal (yes) or common (relatively) or acceptable (sometimes) or expected (possibly on his birthday). We drank a bottle of someone else's wine and pretty much put the whole world to rights from 11pm to 5am.

I went dancing in Whelans, on a Friday instead of our usual Saturday night, and was absolutely astonished by the sheer tiny size and small age of the other patrons there. I was even chatted up by a tiny man who was no more than 20 years old and who I could have almost legitimately have charged his parents for babysitting money just for the time I spent talking to him. Everyone in Whelans seemed to be about 10 years younger than me, all pierced and tattooed and scruffy and trendy and just too much obviously The Next Generation for my comfort. Sure, I still knew all of the music, and darn it all I'm still attractive and hip and happening and down wiv the yoof but blimey charlie, I was pleased to be leaving at 2am and very sensibly got a taxi home instead of waiting for the NiteLink (and had a long discussion with the taxi driver about the problems of inadvertently picking up gay men).

I had dinner with my friends, at which my 10-year-old god daughter tried to teach me how to play chess, but failed to mention any of the important rules until she could use them against me, and so she kicked my ass (but I'm going to try to improve my game before my return visit).

I went up and down and up and down and up and down again on the green track of the Luas.

I bought some things in A-Wear, my favourite shop in the whole world now, as it is Officially the One Place in which I am without exception that Small Size in all clothing, and one full clothing size smaller in skirts, trousers and jeans than any other shop. Love it.

Most importantly, I spent some quality time with Bobs.

who spent most of his time giving me this look, as he's no longer entirely sure who I am.

16 March 2007
Week One: CATE Challenges

I was so excited at the start of this week, about the sheer amount of environment I might save undertaking these challenges. I feel I should say at the outset that I’m not that clear on what the specific problem is any more – we watched a programme last week that said that climate change doesn’t exist, and in fact polar bears prefer the icebergs when they’re all warm and watery. Apparently summer time will be warmer now, which means more birds and flowers and trips to the sea side, but on the other hand there might be more tornadoes, which means endless footage of caravans upside down on the news, and nobody wants that. Maybe it’s that there’s not enough environment? I remember when I was at school there a fuss about a hole in the ozone layer, so maybe the entire environment is leaking out of that? Anyway. I understand that we all need to save a bit of environment for ourselves, and I was quite keen to get started.

I wasn’t sure which challenge to go for, because they all seemed in their own way equally worthy and equally difficult.

I had to, almost immediately, discount the Not Flushing option (although I really appreciated the “Phantom of the O-Pee-Ra” title – all challenges should contain a pun) because I’m a bit squeamish (read totally insane) about toilets in general and what goes on in them in particular. I’m more than willing to put a brick down my cistern, so to speak, but I must flush at all times.
I wanted to remember to take a bag to the supermarket, but I kept forgetting to do that. And we’re getting our shopping delivered this weekend by a nice man with a van. However, I have partially joined in with that, because the wonderful people at Waitrose do a “green” delivery, where you can choose a slot when they will be in your area anyway, so they save on exhaust fumes. And I will recycle my plastic bag collection very very soon. So that’s partially done, right? I’m getting better at the environment already. I think.

Importantly, I’ve contacted Hackney Council, asking them to provide us with some recycling bins for our flats – we’re currently using one green box between the 13 of us who live in the building, which, considering our collective alcohol intake, is not sufficient to hold all the beer cans and wine bottles at the end of every week. I also asked for some of the food waste boxes, so hopefully they will turn up soon.

So, to celebrate the end of my first week of challenges, I’m going to make a Newspaper Pot tomorrow, while my boyfriend watches some endless rugby. I’m quite excited about this. It’s like being in the Brownies.

Photos to follow tomorrow.

15 March 2007
I bought a new camera yesterday, because the one that I used to have is now haunted by the spirit of what I can only assume to be some kind of mass serial killer of nuns, virgins and children. I can sense something very evil around the way that the camera refuses to take photographs in focus anymore, will not acknowledge a fresh pair of batteries and even shuts itself down after displaying some weird white-snow images on the viewer screen. I thought maybe dousing it in holy water would have help. Apparently even the full submersion and baptism ceremony didn’t make any difference. So the camera was thrown out in the bin last week (with, fact fans, the two copulating sea shells) and yesterday I bought a new one.

The one that I bought yesterday was cheaper than the last, but with more Mega Pixels (what make the pictures look more real) and also slightly smaller, which in this day and age apparently means it’s better. I assumed that since I bought my last camera over a year ago, as prices have gone down since and the technology has moved on, this one would be of equal or perhaps even better quality than the last.

Therefore I had a total freak out and hissy fit when it refused to take photographs in the near-dark. Despite pressing the button I assumed to be the one that would change the settings that would make the flash work for about 30 seconds, it was still not working, was obviously broken, I had been sold a fake and actually it’s probably that possession thing again. After muttering about darkness, evil spirits and even the devil himself for about five minutes, I decided that the new spirit which had taken hold of this unwise purchase must also be cast out and headed into the bathroom to get a bucket and my rosary beads, all the better to whip up a fresh batch of holy H2O.

Thankfully, He Who Only… had a better idea of what was going on, briefly scanned the instructions, flicked a switch and made it flash.

We have decided that from now on in the Nest’O’Love, I am in charge of cleaning and tidying, and He Who Only… is in charge of pretty much everything else.

14 March 2007
A fun thing to do while in Brighton is to walk along the pier that's still standing and gaze at all of the appalling things that are available to win. I was particularly fixated by these luminous dragons, and had to be dragged away by He Who Only... when I inevitably started climbing over the counter to get closer to them, as I felt that they were actually calling out to me to be held.

I love the way that you would actually consider handing over £2 to someone on the off-chance that you might be rewarded with one of these monstrosities once you had undertaken whatever piss poor challenge they had laid on at the stall (on this one, it was throwing darts at a dart board that's placed suspiciously high). You would never in any other situation consider actually buying one of these for £2, let alone risking £2 and chancing that you might not even get one after everything you've gone through. But the pier has a way of making you wish you had one, and you're willing to do almost anything (like throwing darts at a dart board that's placed suspiciously high) to get it.

This stall was my favourite. Fake Bob The Builders and Fake Chefs From South Park. These aren't even up to date or fashionable toys, and yet I still wanted to walk off the pier (and back onto the street, I add, not just off the end of the pier into the scary sea that's probably filled with copulating sea shells) clutching one of these in my hot little hands.

I didn't try to win anything on the pier, simply because I felt that the disappointment would be too much to take.

13 March 2007
I Am Crap At The Environment

I'm joining in with Mark Watson's new project, which is one of those A Comedian Tells People What To Do And Then Writes A Book About It things (cf. Danny Wallace, Dave Gorman, etc).

Those ACTPWTDATWABAI things usually really, really annoy me, but this one seems very worthy at heart. So I'm going to be playing along.

I'll be using my MySpaz blog to post exclusively about the CATE challenges, and will carry on blogging as normal here on topics as varied as how great I am and how rubbish the rest of the world is. Business as usual, really. Good.

The week one challenges, for anyone who doesn't know, are as follows:


I'm not sure which one I'm going with yet, but I'll have done it by tomorrow. More info on the whole CATE thing here, on Mark Watson Is Crap At The Environment.

12 March 2007
I think I mentioned previously that, while in Brighton, I picked up the funkiest, skankiest, most disgusting looking sea-shell and I carried it around in my bag all day, showing it occasionally to strangers and brought it home, placed prominently in front of the digital radio in our bedroom that sometimes turns itself on in the middle of the night for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
He Who Only… did voice a brief concern that there was still something living inside said skanky shell, but I laughed at his naivety – I am, after all, a veteran of annual sea-side holidays, and I think I know an empty sea shell when I see one.

You can see where this is going, right?

Cut to this morning, when I noticed that something was… well, not quite right with the sea shell. I’d go so far as to say something was… um… oozing. Oozing in the bedroom is not, I’m certain, a good thing (unless that’s what floats your boat). I picked up the shell to see what might be happening with my – I was certain of this, even then – completely empty shell.

Said shell split in two.

It wasn’t one skanky, funky shell. It was two. Two of them. On top of one another.


I think I’m beginning to realise what the oozing was.

I, of course, immediately screamed and dropped the shell I was holding on to the floor. The reason for the screaming and the dropping were not, you’ll soon understand, because I realised that something was living and attempting to breathe inside my lovely, previously empty until this very moment in my opinion. It was because, when I picked it up, I could feel it moving. That sent horrors through my very being, in the same way that the sentence “the call is coming from inside the house” used to when I was 13 years old.

So, the screaming. And the dropping. And the then having to pick up back up off the floor and put it in the bin, and take the bag out of the bin and bring the bag out to the rubbish outside and put the bag in the rubbish. All while screaming.


10 March 2007
We went to Brighton today.

I insisted we go there because I wanted to get out of London for the weekend, I wanted to do something a little bit different with our free time, I couldn’t face spending another weekend sitting in a pub watching sports (although that is my third favourite way to pass time), and I wanted to see the sea (and the horizon) again. So Brighton it was.

We didn’t, of course, check to see that the trains would be running on time (or even at all) and so a journey that should have taken 40 minutes took three hours, but then again, we got to see a castle that we wouldn’t ordinarily have seen, I saw an owl and some rabbits and He Who Only… got to read the sports section of the paper in peace for once (save only for me, every now and again, drawing his attention to yet another hovering hawk), so everyone was happy.

Brighton is magnificent, and I would like to live there. I’m not sure that the novelty of living somewhere where other people come for weekend getaways would ever really wear off, and I could stand and look at the sea pretty much forever without getting bored. I also found the most disgusting looking sea-shell which pretty much made the entire journey worth while and He Who Only… took part in a one-man stone skimming championship in which he took away the gold medal.

I’m going to start the Let’s Move To Brighton whispering campaign again. People, please join me in convincing He Who Only… that I deserve to live by the sea. Many thanks.

09 March 2007

I’ve been getting more and more grumpy over the last two weeks – this is partially the reason why the blog hasn’t been updated more often, due to the fact that most of the entries I was idly composing in my head consisted of me screaming in capital letters WHY MUST YOU ALL BE SO DAMNED RUDE and EVERYONE SHOULD REALLY BE MORE LIKE ME, DON’T YOU THINK? and I WANT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD TO DIE. I decided against posting most of these, because I thought there was a strong chance that I might end up being arrested.

However, I have decided to take a step in the right direction and start addressing what I’m insisting on calling my “work/life balance”, because that makes me sound like a wanker from the 1980s.

The main thrust of this Plan, if we can call it a Plan, and if the Plan does indeed have some thrust, is to find a new job. I know, the first and second rules about blogging are that we do not talk about work, but I’m not talking about work, strictly speaking. I won’t mention the fact that my boss [redacted] and that I would [redacted], given half a chance, and I will also not mention in great detail the many different ways the other secretaries in the company make me want to split my own head open in rage, having to listen to conversations about only three topics - (a) diets, (b) weddings or (c) pregnancy.

I had the genius idea of opening my eyes while walking around my local area, taking in the names of the law firms located in my local area, and emailing them, completely uninvited, and rudely attaching my CV to beg for a job. As it happened, one of the local firms took the bait, and over the weekend I worked out that, if I worked there instead of where I currently work, I would have Three Extra Hours In My Day (hours that are currently spent commuting and plotting various people’s deaths). Three Extra Hours cannot be sneezed at, and it’s hard to put a price on the fact that I would never have to get on the tube during rush hour again.

Working there would probably put a halt to the rot that is currently setting into my soul, the rot that makes me go out and pay £40 for a skirt in order to cheer myself up, £6 on lunch every fucking day because I feel the need to “treat” myself, or swimming furiously for an hour, up and down, working through elaborate fantasies about what I should have said to everyone that day that had pissed me off. It would save me having to hold back from actually finally buying the gun and going completely postal. It would, in short, make me a better person.

Unfortunately the job pays suck-ass money. Far too little money to consider working for. Less money than I earned in Dublin. Not even the Three Extra Hours could make up for the shortfall in money.

So now I’m even more depressed than when I started this Plan. I hope it all turns around, and soon.