Tuesday, August 29, 2006

heart like a wheel

Last night I lay awake between 2am and 3.30ish and listened to the barking dog. Bark, bark, bark, bark... bark-bark, bark. Random; irritating. Bloody thing. I lay and swore at it, and the futility of it's barking. Doesn't the damn dog realise that sometimes it's about me: not him and his incessant need for attention? I tossed and turned and got crosser and crosser and crosser with the dog until it seemed unlikely that I should sleep at all. When finally I persuaded myself to calm down and drift off I dreamt that I was holding the dog tight in my arms with my face in it's fur; and that I felt better than I have for several days. Even whilst I was asleep I thought this was ironic. I like that damn dog, I thought. I like it more than I have been admitting. Bugger.

I'm reading a book which has a whippet in it, which may account for the dream. It makes me want a whippet. I like the style of prose in the book but haven't yet managed to work out how it works, except that the author cares not for the speechmark. I plan to copy the style if I remember, so sorry about that grammarians.

Narrow Dog to Carcasonne. It's not edifying in any way. I like the illustrations. I like the fact that the author recounts the arguments that he has with his wife. I like the gentle humour, and most of all I like the dog.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

your bassline is shooting up my spine

There are an awful lot of beans in my life right now. It seems as though every time I turn my back on the bean plants for five minutes, another four beans appear. I am not complaining. I like beans. I am a fan of the bean.

Go and see the BP portrait award at the National Portrait Gallery. It's amazing. I don't exactly agree with the first prize (for no reason other than it's black and white and a bit small), but the standard of all the painting (except perhaps one which I thought looked a little...greasy) is exceptionally high. It's all very skillful, some of it photographic to the point where I had to push my nose 3mm from the canvas to ascertain that it was indeed a painting. I admire this enormously, as I couldn't possibly paint like that. Personally I think that the march of technology makes these paintings all the more amazing, as one would have to be so tremendously obsessive to make them when you could do a similar job in less than a second with a cameraphone. I love portraits, as you have not only the painting to admire, but also the reason for the portrait and the personality of the sitter to contemplate. Sod conceptualism.

Mole and I sat post-sushi in Soho square this afternoon and criticised the pigeons. Things have come to a pretty pass when the only thing one can find to criticise is pigeons, but really they were a fabulously dishevelled lot. It's all connected with the ennui of the British, dontcha know. (Oh, apart from the portrait painters). Even the bloody pigeons can't be bothered...what is the world coming to.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

yes, yes, dear, dear, maybe next year

1) 3568 free plants for the garden.
2) A firm hand in the small of the back.
3) The shiny silver vehicle.
4) The ones who laugh and smile when things go wrong.
5) Home.
6) Fry-ups at 3am.
7) Wine in the park.
8) 'I don't know if you know about succesional planting'.



Saturday, August 19, 2006

she hands out the bhagavad gita

'Have you ever been to the boat?'
'No, what's it like?'
'Well, it's very hot, and really really crowded..'
'..but there's loads of CAKE'

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Friday, August 18, 2006

like a stamp to a letter

I've tried and tried to respond to Vanessa's post about having her heart broken. Deleted so many emails that I feel as though I must have sent some of them, and so many comments that I am beginning to feel ridiculous. I am ridiculous.

When all I really want to say is me too. Doesn't it hurt. Isn't it the worst feeling in the world. Don't you want to kill the bastard who did that to you, and don't you want to cry whenever you see someone who looks a bit the same, smells a bit the same, walks a bit the same. That bastard who stamped on your heart and wiped it off his foot as though he'd walked in yesterday's dry dog turd. Walked on as though he didn't even notice. That fucking bastard.

And now that I am out of the other side of it? Doesn't it just keep coming back to slap me: sitting crying in the bath if I feel myself going the same way again with someone else, running a country mile to avoid the same characteristics in someone else, over-reacting to friendly behaviour which reminds me just a little too much of his spiteful teasing ways. Still crippled by the fear of getting that badly hurt again.

The iceberg on the carpet is a long haul, Vanessa. I wish I could say otherwise, but I can't.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

knickers to you, too

Sitting in the pub after dancing, the conversation turns to underwear. Beetle's girlfriend admits to having between 30 and 50 bras. I am impressed, and keep my count to myself.

Phildar recounts a tale that she read in the paper, about a girl who was dumped after a first date because when she got undressed her pants were not deemed suitably alluring. I am wondering silently which newspaper she reads, when the guy to her left interjects ‘Too right!’

Several of the women in the group look at him incredulously, though the youngest of us agrees with him. (Germaine Greer: weep now.) None of the more mature of us says what we are thinking, which from the sideways looks around the table translates roughly as ‘You twat’. I also resolve there and then that I shall never date anyone ever again, ever.

Phildar asks for a straw poll of who is wearing big pants. All of us put our hands up. This is not entirely scientific, as the wearing of big knickers to Ceroc is advisable just in case someone decides to do one of those turn-you-upside-down moves.

Someone then tells the men that they should show us their underwear. We go around the table and one by one they hoick bits of elasticated jersey from beneath their waistbands. Three grey, one black and one green. It’s not the sort of thing one expects on a sober night out. I may have to go to the pub more often.

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There is no way to dress this up. I have considered it at length. Or for a moment, at least. Here are some links to some things wot I wrote:

Something in the online Times Education Supplement (non fiction).
Something else at Decongested (entirely fictional).



Tuesday, August 15, 2006

wash my face clean

Last night just after I'd gone to bed there was a heavy downpour. A proper one, which lasted for a good ten minutes before easing off and then getting heavier again.

I wrapped myself in my duvet and opened the window wide so that I could watch it and listen to the heavy comforting sound. One of the advantages of sleeping in the back room of my house is that I can sit on the bed and look out of the window. It pleases me enormously.

I'm not sure when heavy rain became a source of comfort, something worth sitting up in bed for, something worth standing in. I can only guess that I associate it with moving to Devon when I was a child. I remember it raining incessantly, the raindrops running down the windows animating the warehouse opposite our tiny dark house, and the squeaking of the windcreeen wipers accompanying every car journey into the insatiable wet. Or perhaps it was ten years later, sitting in Rosie's kitchen listening to David Bowie; drinking her mum's PG tips and Earl Grey blend and drawing pictures of my mug in my sketchbook while the rain poured and poured over the view of the fields from her table. I remember that when I moved to London it was endlessly dry and cold, and that this seemed somehow wrong.

Yesterday, in the orange half-night which is the best that London can do, I leant uncomfortably on the windowsill and looked out at the sky. I watched the drops run down the windowpane and drip into the passage below, listened to the irregular beat of the raindrops falling on the ground, and luxuriated in the fact that I am free and able to do silly things like lean out of the window at midnight and be comforted by the sound of the rain.



Saturday, August 12, 2006

I see you baby...

I push my way out of the hall onto the balcony, and lean against the rail in the semi-darkness in an attempt to catch some air to cool me down. I'm far too hot, and not in a good way. I knew when I left the house that the white trousers were a mistake, but my bloody-mindedness made me wear them: I am sick of the skirts and heels which summer demands.

I smile and say hi to one of the regular dancers. Last time I saw him we had the first real conversation we've ever had, and the poor sod put his foot in it by asking if one of the younger girls who also dances regularly was my daughter. He was mortified; despite the fact that it's actually an entirely reasonable assumption that I might have an 18 year old daughter. (Dammit.)

His mouth is running away with him again. It does this when he speaks to me, for some bizarre reason. He says things on the noisy dance floor which I mostly hear only partly, and then apologises for whatever it is that he has said. It would seem that over 50% of his conversation is insult for which he must apologise. The weird thing is I don't think he really means to be rude: otherwise why would he talk to me?

Tonight we are standing next to one another. He is waffling like a drowning man whose last chance to talk himself onto a raft has just arrived, and I am still getting only about one phrase in three. This may be because he is 6ft3 and I am 5ft4. The atmosphere may be thinner up there, affecting the passage of sound. I am pondering this possibility when suddenly I hear 'Someone like you, who is Rubenesque'.

Rubenesque? I know I'm not a skinny girl, but...Rubenesque? I decide that probably (hopefully) he doesn't really know what he's just said. He has meant to compliment me. I think.

Obviously my face registers shock, and although I am biting back the urge to scream 'I'm not Rubenesque you fucker: I'm a size 12!'*I attempt to project a picture of serene calm. He on the other hand is projecting babbling wreck. I grin at him, and advise him to stop digging. He tells me that he has left his JCB outside. I smile again.

As he walks away I resolve silently
never to wear the sodding trousers again.

*[a blatant lie. I'm a 14.]

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees

I come over all four o’clockish and break away from the group, ostensibly to visit the cathedral. Trouble comes along with me. On the way we talk about the need for time to oneself, and I worry silently that when we get there the experience will be ruined by 15 years of visiting religious spaces with my ex. We also establish that earlier when I told everyone that I knew the way, I was actually going in completely the wrong direction; and have a secret ice cream that I will confess to two beers later. I have a small tantrum in the ice cream shop because someone pushes in front of me. Trouble teases me that I have it exceptionally quietly so that no one can tell.

The cathedral when we get there is white and looks sort of stranded. We sit on the steps eating our ice creams and mug at other tourists taking photos, then because there is a service on go down to the crypt, walk all the way around the building, and then finally stroll around the inside. It’s fine: just a cathedral, with none of the lurking miseries that sometimes surface when I do something I used to like doing with the ex. I wonder whether it would be possible to convince the rest of the group that I am deeply religious and have had to come here as it is on the route to Santiago de Compostela. Unlikely, but worth a try, I decide.

On our way back I send a text to Erialc. ‘Where are you?’

‘We are sitting in the Grand Place drinking Pimms champagne and watching firemen pole-dancing round a flagpole’ she replies. I know this to be a lie for several reasons:

1) Erialc does not drink.
2) Earlier we sent everyone a text lying about how early we'd been up for breakfast, and this is clearly in the same vein.
3) It's only 5pm.
4) It's just too far fetched anyhow.

I laugh out loud at the text, and we stroll into the Grand Place. There is a fire engine, a fallen flagpole, and everyone is pissed.



Monday, August 07, 2006

ich lieb dich nicht du liebst mich nicht

It’s late, but not late enough for bed. The hotel bar is closed, and the porter has helpfully directed us to a bar 'down there on the right'. The bar is small, dark, smoky, and filled with live music that people are cheering loudly. There is an unusually high incidence of black and white stripey tops and a bicycle just inside the door. The walls are panelled in carved wood, and posters are tacked into the panels. Magazines are propped along the ledge around the top of the room. The bar seems realer than anywhere else we've visited during the evening, and its realness makes it daunting. When we walked past it earlier I looked inside and wished that we could go in.

As I enter heads swivel towards us. I turn around and edge back to the group standing uneasily just outside the door. "Aren't we going in, then?" Trouble asks. "Well, yes" I reply, "only I went in and none of you came with me."

There is one of those committee moments when everyone looks at everyone else and tries to work out what they want to do. Do you want to go in? Do I? Will someone else make a move? Eventually someone does and we make it three feet into the bar, where we stand nervously by the ugly formica tables. Someone is going to have to go to the bar. It's not crowded, but the people sitting around it are packed close together, chatting. The bar looks impenetrable. If it were in London I'd march up and shoulder my way through the crowd, smile at the barman, get served. It isn't in London. I am hoping that someone else will go to the bar.

There is a flurry behind me and suddenly I have been handed several euro notes. I have a note in each hand, and I am getting a list of requests. Coffee. Decaf. Hot chocolate. Wine. I have a hand full of foreign money and a head full of list. It is too much information all at once, so I panic and have a little moment. "I can't do this!" I say, and try very hard to hand back the money. One of the notes remains in my hand. This is not unlike the time when I became hockey captain by default at secondary school. I've got the job because no one else wants it and I am no good at saying no. It has nothing to do with my qualifications. Bugger.

"I'll come with you" Trouble says, and smiles encouragingly. I am stuffed. I have to go to the bar. I walk up, shoulder my way through, and smile at the barman. I order in French, and when I get to the third thing on the list he gestures for me to stop

“You can order in English, this is a Flemish bar,” says a man sitting on the bar stool next to me. He is wearing a straw pork-pie hat, rolling a cigarette, and looks like Tom Waits. “He’d probably prefer Spanish, though,” he adds.

While the barman fumbles with the coffee machine we discuss the cultural incorrectness of my list, and the experience of being a tourist in a strange city when you don’t know any of the rules. I am apologetic, embarrassed. “Do you live here?” he asks. I shake my head. “Then how would you know?” he smiles.

I feel at home, and smile back.



Friday, August 04, 2006

to the stars above



Wednesday, August 02, 2006

hello earth


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I've drunk a lot of wine and I'm feeling fine

The above is a lie, incidentally. I don't drink wine in the mornings, but the mental jukebox insists that this should be the title. It ought to be called 'what I did', but 'what I did' is a dull as ditchwater title, so I'm going with the jukebox option. Also I believe that this post directly contravenes Sunday's declaration of blogdeath, which just goes to show that I know myself rather well.

What I did was go to Decongested at Foyles and explore the finer points of podium clutching. I thought that podiums were a sort of pointless affectation, but as of Friday last I realise that they are a blessing when one needs something to clutch. Especially when you have had to wait until almost last for your go. Which is at least three quarters of an hour. Sitting next to a fidget.* And you have had to be quiet as well. Difficult for me at the best of times.

I was reading a story. Which I am contemplating posting up here, or somewhere else linked to here, at some point, one day, if I ever finish an illustration for it. The reading of the story made my hands shake something terrible; hence the podium clutching. I'm pretty sure I got away without the voice shake though, at least after the first paragraph.

There was a microphone, and an audience. The audience was filled with kind people who would clap the opening of a paper bag, and because of this it was impossible to tell whether or not they liked what they heard. I have decided to believe that they did. It seems best.

I mailed Little Friend Susan beforehand and expressed my disappointment that she was not in the country to hear my story. Her reply went something along the lines of 'I didn't know you wrote'. (It was much longer than that, and she should write a blog; but she's too busy excavating the middle east and actually thinks that the blog thing is incomprehensible. Funny girl.) I agree with her. I didn't know I wrote either.

*aka moral support and chief entertainer