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Dreadful Nonsense

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

Oh dear God, the fringe

30 June 2007
I find hair cuts very traumatic, and it seems that each time I go, I find a new way of making difficulties for myself.

When I called to book an appointment, I found my first problem, because I can never remember who previously cut my hair. I’ve been going to this hairdressers for over a year now, and in that time I have only had one bad haircut before, which was done by the only bloke that works there. However, I don’t remember his name either. So when I called, I was all pumped up to say “I’ll have anyone but the bloke”. Naturally, the bloke answered the phone, so I had to go for the second step – opt for any hairdresser with an obviously female name.

He gave me the choice of three names. The first was a Sam or a Jo or a Charlie – it could be man or woman. The second was a Spanish sounding name which, to my ear, could also be a man or woman. I therefore leapt at the third name, which was clearly and obviously female, and felt that, in this war, I had at least won the first battle.

The girl cutting my hair seemed to have based her entire style on looking half like Lily Allen and half like the drummer from the White Stripes. I found this interesting and off putting at the same time, but decided that, since in this hairdressers of all hairdressers I have only had one previous bad hair cut out of 6 other good haircuts, she could be trusted. How wrong I was.

I should have know better when, while cutting my hair on the right hand side, she held up one small piece toward the front and asked “can I leave this bit long and cut it short behind it?”

I didn’t understand the question. I had no idea what she was on about. I had, just that moment, been busily thinking about how, if I had a huge budget and owned the flat we live in, I would totally redecorate and refurnish the whole place, and I was just kitting out the sitting room in my head, almost entirely in things from Ikea (because I have no experience at all with this kind of thing, and Ikea is the only furniture store I’ve ever been to). So I nodded, and said – and I know, people, I know that this is where I went entirely wrong – I said “do whatever you like”.

Don’t ever say that to an ambitious young Spanish hairdresser in North London. Just don’t.

I have now got one of those weird London-Nathan-Barley haircuts where one side is longer than the other. On the right hand side I have one lock of hair hanging down like a parody of a Hasidic Jewish by, behind which everything else is cut the size and shape of those pixie haircuts everyone had in the 1990s. On the left hand side it’s all a touch longer, with hair that, while still all choppy and layered, stretches down to my chin.

And the fringe? The fringe? I hear you asking about the fringe. Let me tell you of the fringe.

The fringe starts about half way down my forehead on the right hand side and then SLOWLY GETS SHORTER UP TOWARDS THE LEFT. The fringe, dear readers, is on a slope.

Before you ask, no, there will be no photos. He Who Only… very kindly says that I look like an “alien princess”. There is nothing more to be said.

Don't. Blink.

26 June 2007
Two things also happened in the last week that would have been worth noting before now, had it not been for the trip to Dublin and then the colossal vomiting that took up my attention. These two things may well be purely coincidental, or they may also be a sign from Xenu that I need to be a better citizen if I was a better consumer.

1. I got paid a lovely bonus.
2. My MP3 player broke.

You, as our cousins in America often say quite loudly, do the math.

You do the math.

Do that math.

(The maths.)

I've been struggling with what to do about the situation. I've even checked into seeing how much it will cost to repair my MP3 player, which I've now had for a year and which is filled to brimming with tons of my music. You see, the quandary is that it's only the screen that's broken - the music still plays perfectly well. And luckily, the day something heavy was dropped on it from probably quite a height (NOT BY ME, PEOPLE. NOT ACTUALLY BY ME, I STRESS) it was set to random shuffle, which means that it will just keep playing everything stored forever more. Although weirdly that recently seems to be mainly Joni Mitchell, and I've only got 2 Joni Mitchell albums stored on it. Hmm.

It will cost about £50 to fix, although they can't confirm that for sure until I send it to them to check. A new iPod - an actual iPod, not a non-brand MP3 player like I've been lugging about for the last year (one that will play videos too) - will cost me £149 (or £150 if I buy it in white). As far as I understand how economics works, that means it only really costs me £100. £100! For a new iPod! That I could have delivered the following day if I order before 5pm! That seems like a good deal to me.

So I'm asking all of you MP3 owners out there, particularly you iPod goons, if you think this is a good idea or a bad idea. You should probably know two things:

1. I'm an idiot.
2. I drop things a lot.

Should I buy a new thing, or just fix my old broken thing?

The photos of statues were taken around Abney Park cemetery a couple of weeks ago. They've pulled down a lot of the old ivory in an attempt to preserve some of the older graves, which has just left the whole place looking creepier than ever. Particularly since the Blink episode of New Who.

Huey and Ralph

25 June 2007
Food poisoning, apparently, is more difficult to get if you’re vegetarian, and especially if you’re an ovo- or lacto-vegetarian (which I am, for the most part), due to the fact that most food poisoning comes from eggs, meat or dairy products. Most of the time. But not all of the time. Sometimes, food poisoning comes from fucking lettuce.

The lettuce, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, is the current source of many of my woes. Having overcome the massive stress of flying home and back again, being a brave little soldier in the face of more blood tests, braving the elements by going in to work on a regular basis with quite a painful back and also doing my best (my damned hardest, you guys) to be the breath of fresh air that everyone who knows expects from me, I was most recently struck down by quite a violent bout of food poisoning late on Saturday night and then again early on Sunday morning.

And oh holy Lord how it struck me down.

It’s almost 36 hours since I last vomited, and my stomach muscles are killing me – I can no longer laugh without doubling over in pain, and I can’t double over in pain without doubling over in pain, due to the aforementioned pain in the stomach muscles that are needed (a) for vomiting and (b) doubling over. The irony is fragrant.

As I crouched, spooning the toilet bowl and thinking about life itself in between violent retching, I came to the conclusion that it must have been the pre-packed salad I bought for myself on Saturday afternoon and ate with great relish (and some vegetarian bacon). Since He Who Only… didn’t seem affected, and since that’s the only thing we didn’t eat in common, it must have been the lettuce. Oh dear god, the lettuce.

And please, don’t tell me I should have washed the lettuce. The lettuce was PRE-WASHED. What’s the point in buying pre-packaged salad that has already been pre-washed for you, only to go and pre-wash it again? It’s like telling me to wash my hands after going to the toilet. I’m not going to do what you tell me to.*

If you need it emphasised that I think I managed to puke up everything I’d eaten over the last month on Saturday night/Sunday morning, I discovered this morning that I’d lost 4lbs. In a day. Not healthy.

In the aftermath of food poisoning, the main problem for me is finding something to eat. I’m really very fussy at the best of times about what kind of junk I eat, and when the junk I eat has turned around and been re-presented to me through a night of stomach cramps and waves of nausea so bad I considered waking up He Who Only… by hitting him in the gonads just so I could have someone to share my pain with, I tend to become even pickier once I’m starting to recover.

I still feel pretty bad, but I’m pretty convinced that the only reason I still feel pretty bad, other than pulling every muscle in my abdomen through about 2 hours worth of vomiting while trying not to pull every muscle in my back, is because I haven’t been able to eat anything today other than a packet of salt and vinegar hula hoops. That’s right – hula hoops, the diet of kings.

From now on, the fucking lettuce is an enemy of mine, and no food goes near me that hasn’t been washed three times, sprayed down with chlorine and boiled until it can be consumed through a straw. Either that, or I’m living on a diet of hula hoops and lucozade.

*This is an actual joke. I do wash my hands. Like, 85% of the time or whatever.

Home Sweet Home

22 June 2007
My trip to Dublin and back was a joyous success, albeit one that I don’t want to repeat in any kind of a hurry. It was only when I’d left work, picked up my ridiculously small bag, made my way to Heathrow and was sitting in departures that it struck me I was actually getting on a plane, only to get on another plane less than 24 hours later. The whole hurried-round-trip scheme of things wasn’t helped by the fact that, on the flight to Dublin, we had to fly through a thunder storm which resulted in some heavy turbulence and me having the shit freaked out of me. I hate the flying, you people. I hate it.

It was very lovely to be home, though. I was first greeted by Little Sister Edel’s dog Kesh, who tried to throw herself through a closed car window to get at me. That was pretty great. What was also brilliant was arriving home and finding lots of people there, all enthusiastic about my presence and ready to chow down on some Chinese food with me. Nothing says “Welcome Home!” more than a baby screaming with fear because a tiny dog with no brain won’t stop barking.

This is Cillian, momentarily forgetting about the pain in his teeth and the tiny barking dog.

The following morning was incredibly confusing, because I woke up at 7.30am to the sound of the shower in the next room. My first thought was that He Who Only… was up before me, which was weird. My second thought, on opening my eyes, was that I was in my bedroom in Dublin, and that I had obviously just been dreaming the last three years. My third thought was what the fuck am I doing in Dublin? My fourth thought was that I should probably just go back to sleep. And so I did this.

Being home is always superb, because of the many things that are different to being away from home, even if away from home is actually really home. For one thing, there’s always a ton of food in my parent’s house, and because they share the same allergies as me, I can usually eat quite a lot of it. There’s also always some kind of vegetarian nonsense in the house, because my Mum buys too much of it every time I come home for a visit, and it freezes very well. The luxury of having dogs around can’t be overstated, and as for the 100+ television channels… it took me most of the morning just to flick through them all a couple of times. I could channel surf all day and only once or twice come across the same episode of Friends. It’s great.

About half way across the Irish sea on Tuesday afternoon, I had begun to question the wisdom of spending all of this time and effort travelling all the way to Dublin just to talk to someone about the state of my crappy back, but that was dispelled the moment I stepped into the hospital, and the safe hands of the consultant that had seen me over three years before. This was further dispelled when in marched the lady I used to refer to as Rose on this blog, the physiotherapist that I went through a very long love-hate relationship with, which has ended happily on very much the love side. The final bit of dispelling came when all of my blood and urine tests were performed then and there, rather than me having to wait or come back the following day. In the hour or so I was at the hospital, I saw four different health professionals and got a serious bout of physiotherapy that left me feeling battered, bruised and incredibly relieved.

I’m incredibly fortunate to be in this position, in a way. The reason I made the panicked phone call to my parents last week was because the pain in my back had come back and wasn’t going away again, in the manner that I had become accustomed. I had tried doing it the UK way, and made appointments with GPs to have further referrals made, but that was going to take anything up to 6 months to even get the ball rolling – within a week of my tearful phone call to my Mum, I was in Dublin and being seen by four different people, all of whom were familiar with my situation, incredibly kind and supportive, and all of whom told me that I was going to be fine. And, dear and gentle readers, I really believe them.

Victory is Mine

19 June 2007
In the end, we did go to the Tom McRae gig on Friday night because (a) I'm brilliant and (b) I win. As it turned out, it was one of the best Tom gigs I've seen, rivalled I think only by the one we saw in Whelans about four years ago, where Mrs Bing spent the whole night telling us about how, one day, she would have his babies. As it has all turned out, Mrs Bing had a baby with another man, and so Mr Tom McRae's seed has yet to fertilise her, almost half a decade later. Still, there's always time, eh, Mrs Bing? That's right. There is.

Mr McRae had what he called "man-flu" and so had to skip almost half of his entire repertoire because he wasn't able to hit the higher notes. But that also meant that we, the audience, were encouraged to BELT OUT whatever songs we knew, which led to such a brilliant atmosphere. The couple standing beside us were particularly enthusiastic in their singing, which gladdened my heart so much - Tom McRae gigs are one of the few gigs where the whole audience behaves themselves, and acts as I would have every audience in the world act - with deference which borders on the psychotic in their love for the performer on stage. It seems so wrong that that might be the last time Tom McRae gets to play his own gigs.

Anyway. Today, I fly. I fly today, and also tomorrow. I decided, for the sake of my stomach lining, that I would not be flying two flights in one day (TWOFLIGHTSINONEDAY!) because that way lies ulcers and nervous breakdowns. My flight details are therefore:

London to Dublin
Tue 19 Jun 2007 17:05

Dublin to London
Wed 20 Jun 2007 21:30

Yee haw.

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...

14 June 2007
Now, I'm not one to complain very often. Lord knows, I'm very good at keeping my own counsel and holding my opinions internally for so long, I'm quite often left with some heavy constipation. Yes, that's right readers, I'm not a whinger. I'm not a whiner or a moaner. I'm stoic. I'm almost silent. I do not ever make a terrible fuss about everything and nothing.

Therefore, it will come as a terrible surprise to many and most of you, as you will be hearing this news for the very first time, that my back is fucked up again. Readers from way back in the past will be familiar with my medical history and specifically with the hate-hate relationship I have with my own spine. But to summarise incredibly briefly, it goes something like this:

1. Shazzle has arthritis.
2. Shazzle falls down stairs.
3. Shazzle's back gets twisted and broken.
4. Shazzle lies down for an entire year (2004) and cries.
5. Shazzle gets back up again and kicks the world's ass.

Unfortunately, God, Buddha and Xenu have clubbed together to get their own back for all the wrong-doing I've done during the last blissful two and half years in which I've been (for the most part) pain-free and fully functional, and they have between them decreed that a plague of metaphorical locusts should be playing with my spinal cord like the strings on a double bass for the last month and a half. I've become increasingly anti-social and, I'll be honest, a complete nightmare to live with over the last six weeks, and I've finally reached, as Gary Lightbody so aptly whines, my final straw.

The choices currently facing me today, the ones that have led me to bolt down a pint of beer on top of 2mg of valium and then sit down to blog this entry are thusly:

1. I have to miss a Tom McRae gig I bought tickets for 5 months ago tomorrow night and I ADORE HIM.
2. I have to miss a Joe Purdy gig next Tuesday and I ADORE HIM.
3. I have to fly to Dublin and back again next Wednesday (two flights in one day, TWOFLIGHTSINONEDAY) to meet with a consultant because at this point I've lost faith in the English NHS system, because all they've done is told me to go back home and get on with life. You get on with life, mother fuckers, when your own back is trying to fucking kill you with pain.

I am, as I previously stated, an absolute joy to live with.

To commemorate this fine moment in my life, here is a photo from the last gig I saw Tom McRae at, grinning at the ironic melancholy of his own lyrics, when life was good and I could still stand up. Not that I'm one for seeking pity. This is not a Pity Party. This is merely a pity post.

Many, bitter thanks.

A Beautiful Revolution

07 June 2007

This site is so pretty. I particularly like this one and this one and this one.

Goes together like a horse and carriage

05 June 2007
Something's been happening to a lot of our friends recently.

Let me explain: We, between us, know a lot of couples. No, wait. That's not strictly true. He Who Only... knows a lot of couples. A really lot. Lots and lots. In fact, I think all of He Who Only...'s friends are in couples. Let me just consider that for a moment.


Yep. Pretty much every last damned person that has the fortune to come into contact with He Who Only... is spliced to another person with whom they occasionally bump uglies.

It's a beautiful thing, really. And rather to be expected, at our age. Most people at our age tends to be connected to another person of our age. It's certainly not unusual.

What's been happening recently, though, is that these couples, these sets of two people who like each other quite a deal, a lot of them have decided quite recently that sharing a last name is the next cool thing to do. And so we've got a lot of weddings coming up.

And I freaking love weddings. Weddings, to me, mean (a) the opportunity to buy a new dress; (b) the opportunity to buy new shoes; (c) the opportunity to cry with joy in public; and (d) the opportunity to get pissed and dance to songs from the 1980s, all in the full view of someone's Granny.

The thing is, now we've suddenly found all eyes turning to us. Like the zombies in every zombie movie that's ever been made, everyone wants us to join their gang, and we've now become the Next Assigned Couple To Do "It".

And so we've come to an agreement - We have agreed to remain Unmarried for At Least the next Twelve Months. This allows He Who Only... to make as many disparaging remarks about the institutionality of marriage, the state designated, Orwellian structure in which to keep the plebs quiet and under control, and I can point at white, shiny things and coo without either of us thinking that the other one is trying to make a point.

He Who Only... looking for a way to escape.

Sub Title

04 June 2007

I've started, you might have noticed, adding sub titles to the title of the blog. This will continue to change as and when funny remarks occur to me. I also invite you all to add to comments any of the smart-arsed things you'd like to say to me every day, but until now have been too cowardly to say to my face. It's an open house. Everyone is welcome in.

For almost the last six months, I’ve been earning my angel wings* by doing some volunteering work in the incredibly limited spare time I have in between going to the gym, doing my OU studies, obsessively cleaning the house (my new joy – cleaning the doors and walls) and polishing my halo.

The charity I’ve been volunteering with deals specifically with people in the middle of suicidal crisis; that is, those people who have either already made one or more unsuccessful attempts at taking their own life, or who have active plans in place for doing so in the immediate or near future. Most of the people I have met so far have fallen into the former category, with some of them having made serious attempts five or more times in the past, and many of them having tried as recently as that same week. I’ve had some really strange conversations with people about methodology, including one very involved 30-minute conversation about the technical difficulties of hanging yourself. It’s very strange to have that kind of knowledge floating around in your head.

I've wanted to blog about this for the last six months, simply because there is so much stuff I'd like to talk about, so many things that have come up during my time there that I've wanted to discuss, so many people I wanted to mention. The thing is, obviously, the issue of confidentiality - both for the users of the centre, and the volunteers that work there - is incredibly important. Some of the users haven't told a single living soul half of the things that come out during their time at the centre, and a huge reason for that is because, at the end of it all, they won't ever have to see any of us again - there is an understanding (like on a stag night) that what happens in the centre stays in the centre. Therefore, my blogging hands are pretty much tied. I really can't talk about anything but my own experience of the place, and even this might be pushing the point**.

In the brief time I've been doing it, I've found that talking to suicidal people can be, in turns, wonderfully life affirming and paralysingly depressing. For the most part though, honestly, it's been a fantastic experience. I've come home from each shift I've done feeling uplifted, whether or not I feel like I've helped or not, whether or not the shift has gone well or gone horribly. It's both very easy and very difficult to say the wrong thing to somebody that's suicidal. All I've decided, so far, is that if at the end of my shift everyone in the building is still alive, I've done okay.

* Before I start blowing my own trumpet too loudly, please let it be known that this is for entirely selfish reasons – I got advice from a careers advisor that it always looks good when applying for post-grad psychology courses to have a stint of some kind of volunteer work within a mental health charity of some kind on your CV, as it shows enthusiasm for the job. It’s also good to work out if, in fact, you really actually do (as I do) want to work with people who have mental health problems, and if you’re actually suitable for that kind of work.

** However, if anyone would like to hear any more about the service the centre provides, please feel free to email me and I can send out more information.