Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Back In The Real World

dirty cash

So, the job.

What they wanted: a team of temporary data entry operators for five weeks only, with previous office experience, fast accurate data entry skills, an accepting attitude to RSI and agreement to an hourly rate which will necessitate scavenging in dustbins for food from time to time.

As soon as I saw the ad I knew it was perfect.

Myself and the six other hapless souls to whom this 'opportunity' appealed are currently undergoing Training. So far, Training has been fun. The nice lady has made some arduous topics seem rather jolly. Oh how we laughed at the Health & Safety video! And, as we are in the employ of a Famous Financial Institution, we have been told how to launder money, which I'm sure will prove very useful in future.

To make sure we've understood all the interesting things we've learnt, we had to sit a test today. If we fail the test we will not be allowed to play on the computers tomorrow. We will have to re-sit the test. If we fail the test a second time I'm not sure what happens but I suspect it's probably sayonara.

Judging from the questions, if we fail the test at all we are probably too stupid to exist and should go home and place our head in a bucket and stay there indefinitely.

A typical question:

What is money laundering?

a) legitimate use of legally obtained funds
b) buying electrical appliances on credit
c) introducing illegally obtained funds into the financial system via a series of complex transactions designed to obscure the source of the funds
d) a type of duck

There were sixteen questions of a similar ilk and there was no time limit and we were allowed to look at our notes. I am keen to see who will be doing the Walk Of Shame tomorrow. My bet is on the guy who, when I asked him what he did before this job, looked confused and said "Had breakfast?".

As a serial temp, it is pleasant to be properly trained. It feels like cossetting, and happens rarely. I am particularly enjoying the fact that, as the job is only til the end of May, the three days of training for which I am being paid to do very little make up a whopping 13% of the total period of employment. And there are two bank holidays. Yow!

As a serial lazy-arse, it is also pleasant to be out of the house again doing something vaguely challenging. Too much of a good thing can wear you out. And, whatever my employment status, I remain non-working come what may. As The Wise One says, it's a state of mind.

There has been an unexpected and exciting by-product of having a job. Both days, Flatmate has given me a kiss before leaving for work. Yesterday it was a peck on the cheek; today the peck was deliberately diverted to the corner of my mouth. Who knows, by Friday it may be tongues.

A girl can dream.


Monday, 28 April 2008

Life Is Great

udderly brilliant

Another ripsnorting weekend, during which I tidied my room, made and ate pasta, and did some knitting.

(Now you see why the ear candles were a highlight?)

Flatmate made up a joke:

Q ~ Where does a hirsute farmer hide his cows?
A ~ In his moo stash.

As foxy as hell and a comic genius to boot.

Flatmate and I got a bit drunk. Late in the evening, he leaned in and confided heavily to the side of my face, "I could nearly marry you."

I wasn't brave enough to ask what kind of 'nearly' it was, and I'm not holding my breath.

To get the internet to not crash once every seven seconds or so, I now have to keep the router upside down and blow gently on its nethers from time to time.

But there is worse news: I start a job tomorrow.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Friday, 25 April 2008

Pulling Power

Flatmate enjoying a lunchtime stroll through the den of iniquity that is Cardiff Bay

“I pulled again today!”

Since his office relocated two weeks ago Flatmate no longer comes home for lunch, instead using his hour’s grace to sun himself in the barren wasteland that is Cardiff Bay. This increased exposure to the public at large has resulted in his pull-rate for 2008 increasing from zero to a staggering 1.5 a week.

The first was a rotund, elderly and only slightly eccentric German lady, who, after walking past Flatmate doing tai chi with his top off, veered back to tell him he was in great shape then talked about martial arts for twenty minutes.

The second was a young man gayer than Rufus Wainwright's cravat. Flatmate was taking in the splendid view of the Billybanks across the water when he noticed he was being ogled. As the young man's eyes trailed over Flatmate’s body and lingered a tad too long and more than a tad lasciviously on his (admittedly rather lovely) buttocks, Flatmate became uncomfortable.

He glared back in a wantonly heterosexual manner. The guy kept staring. Not enjoying being on the receiving end of this kind of attention, Flatmate got aggressive. “Having a good look are you? Want some?” he snarled.

When threatening someone with violence, it is sensible to choose a phrase that cannot be construed as an invitation to fondle your body.

“Oooh, yes please,” camped our hero in full sarcasm mode, having picked up the rejection inherent in the comment. Flatmate flounced off, as macho as possible. One nil the gay guy.

Yesterday Flatmate was lying on the grass in the sunshine, on his side, knees curled up, head resting on elbow, eyes closed. Suddenly, he felt somebody spooning him from behind.

He turned round to see who it was, as you would, especially after the previous incident, but it was a teenage girl. He didn’t know her, so he made a quick calculation of the ‘am I old enough to be her father?’ variety.

“Hello!” he said warmly, noticing her shapely legs and forgetting the maths. “You fit quite nicely there.”

She ran back to her mates before Flatmate could engage in further conversation and he watched them walk away in a huddle of shrieks and giggles.

"So I think it was a piss-take," he concluded as he related the tale of this third unsolicited sexual conquest, "But I still feel I'm doing quite well on the pulling front, all things considered."

I nodded wisely. So what if one was a dare, one was the wrong gender and one was an old lady with too many carrier bags? He should be proud of his animal magnetism. All he has to do, it seems, is venture outside, and the admirers come flocking. If only life could always be that easy.

"Man, I must be gorgeous."

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Just Call Me Weasel

and i'm not even blonde


I have just totally embarrassed myself in front of one of the world's Most Powerful Bloggers (The Grauniad said he was so it must be true).

Yesterday, I left a comment rich in idiocy over at the mighty Jonny B's powerful (and currently very chickeny) blog. A kind soul named Richard took it upon himself to reply. He opened his comment with 'OFW, ...'.

I, being a complete moron, assumed 'OFW' was one of those annoying and incomprehensible txt-spk acronyms we have to wrestle with in the twenty first century, like 'LMFAO' or 'ROFL'.

(I am having similar issues over at Bulldog's blog as we speak!).

So I left another comment asking Richard to explain what 'OFW' stood for (ironically, apologising for my stupidity, and offering up 'Oi Fuck Wit' as one possible explanation).

Back here, I proceeded to read the comments on the previous post, where to my amazement the lovely Jonners used the same mystifying acronym.

Then I realised what 'OFW' stood for...

Dear God.

I am so DUMB.

Further instances of my dumbness include but are not limited to:
  • thinking Mike Tyson was fighting at the Working Men's Institute in Chatham (viz, my friend: "I'm going down The Manor to watch the Tyson fight" - me: "I didn't know he was fighting there!")

  • insisting my thirteen year old niece fought her way to the front of a gaggle of kids clustered around a New Zealand sporting legend so I could take her photo with him, then replying to the New Zealand sporting legend's query to me over the heads of the assembled mass of children 'Who did you want in this photo?' by saying "You!", in a tone which barely concealed my contempt at his idiocy for having to ask

  • pumping up an inflatable dinghy with a metal foot pump whose little protective bits of plastic on its feet were missing, INSIDE the dinghy, on a tarmac carpark (eventually I worked out why it wasn't inflating)

  • eyeing a dress in a shop window so much so I walked into a lamppost

  • attempting to prise apart frozen bacon under the cold tap with the sharpest knife in the kitchen

  • incorrectly filling out a photocopying requisition form so instead of ten copies of a thirteen page document, I got one thousand six hundred and ninety copies of said document, in so many boxes it took a man with a trolley to deliver them

  • travelling to Hong Kong while it was still "British" and being surprised by the number of Chinese people there

  • not realising until my mid-twenties that the testimonial I got when I left school ('Weasel has the potential to do well') was not actually a compliment

  • refusing to go see The Foo Fighters in 2002 in Auckland, New Zealand when they were playing in a venue the size of a church hall because a) BK kept going on about it and b) I'd never heard of them

It's a wonder I'm allowed out on my own.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Waxing Lyrical

ear hygiene is the winner on the day

“Right, you’re going to be my Fire Marshall. If my hair catches fire, feel free to tip the contents of this over my head.”

Flatmate plonked a large jug of water on the coffee table.

He was trying Chinese Ear Candles for the first time and wanted everyone to join in the fun.

“I’m going to kneel on the floor and put my head on this dinner plate,” he continued. “When you put the candle in, make sure it goes in vertically. Try not to set my hair alight. Got the camera? Ok, ready when you are.”

I wasn’t quite sure why he had to rest his head on a dinner plate but it wasn’t my place to question. I was there to observe, reassure, digitally record, ignite, and extinguish.

I flicked the lighter. Flatmate watched from the corner of his eye as I brought it towards the six inches of rolled up cotton protruding skywards from the side of his head.

“Here we go!” I said. The flame leapt alarmingly as it caught. Was he sure this was safe? Safety issues, though, paled into insignificance next to how funny he looked with his head on a plate and a giant flaming reefer sticking out of his ear.

“Jesus,” chortled BK, “It’s really going off.”

I took a photo and showed Flatmate. “Fuck!” he cried. “Is the flame meant to be that big? Put it out! Put it out!”

“It is meant to be that big,” I said. “Look at the picture on the packet. That dude's candle is on fire bigtime. Do our smoke alarms work, by the way?”

“No,” bellowed Flatmate.

“You’re shouting,” I said.

“Am I shouting?”

“Yes.”

“Oh. Sorry. It’s just that I can’t hear anything with this in my ear.”

“Righto.”

We waited. I took some more photos.

“What does it feel like?” asked BK.

“Hot,” said Flatmate. “And I can hear it burning. I’m going to try and make the flame bigger by channelling my qi through my ear.”

As far as Sunday afternoon entertainment goes, this was the most fun I’d had in ages.

The cleansing of Ear One passed without further incident. Fire Marshall Weasel deftly removed the candle and dunked it in the jug of water. Flatmate turned his head over to let the melted earwax flow out. Onto the dinner plate.

I didn’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved when nothing emerged.

The cleansing of Ear Two produced the same result.

“Maybe it didn’t work,” said BK, “Because you’re not Chinese?”

Flatmate ignored him and proceeded to whack himself on the side of his head in an attempt to dislodge any aural slurry. “I need to be upside down.” He manoeuvred himself into position on the sofa and hung there a while. “No, that’s not working either. Can you hit me?”

That was too good an opportunity to pass up. Turned on his side with his head hanging over the dinner plate, I smoothed his hair out of the way with one hand and dealt blows to his skull with the other while he urged me to hit harder.

Still nothing.

“Shall I suck?” I asked (which, I do not need to add, is a phrase to be used very carefully in only certain situations).

“Yes!”

I curled my fingers into a tube, placed my hand over his ear, put my lips against the thumb end and inhaled sharply.

Thank God: it didn’t work. The last time I’d tried a trick like that I’d been siphoning petrol and I'd ended up ingesting a fair bit. I love Flatmate dearly but even I would baulk at a mouthful his ear goo.

Undeterred, Flatmate set to with a handful of cotton buds. They came out whiter than white.

“I can only conclude,” I said, “That your ears were already clean.”

“Yes,” said Flatmate. “It was fun though.”


Friday, 18 April 2008

Contra-Indications

a bit of a wally

Oh dear.

I think having an IUD fitted has affected my brain.

In the fifty or so hours since my cervix was assaulted by trained professionals, I have noted an unnerving change in my personality.

I have just… gone a bit different.

Fresh home from the infirmary, I could think of no better entertainment than switching on the DVD player to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which prompted an unusual bout of Deep And Thinky.

(“Why can’t I look more like Kate Winslet?”, but other, proper, existential stuff too).

After Flatmate took me to the coffee shop in the evening, we went to the supermarket and I wandered the aisles excitedly picking up random, exotic food items which would be purchased normally only by hippies and people whose first language is not English. (Oh, and a huge jar of gherkins).

BK is in the process of selling the bulk of his vast CD collection on ebay prior to nipping off to New Zealand, so in the evening I cheerfully volunteered to write the return address on the backs of one hundred C5 padded envelopes.

Yesterday I was aching for a job – a real, proper job – so I took the unnatural step of hounding an employment agency until somebody there rang me back with useful information.

I cleaned out nine months’ worth of junk from my ‘don’t look just open it, throw something in then close it again really quickly’ cupboard in the evening.

And today, I have watched another DVD (Fast Food Nation – disappointing, mainly because I thought it was going to be Supersize Me), played my first ever game of chess (against the chess computer - I appear to have room for improvement), had methi thepla with rice, gherkins and yoghurt for lunch instead of my usual peanut butter on toast, and will shortly be parting company with the sofa to go into town to see a “powerful and impressively subtle” arthouse documentary about emotionally damaged children.

God help me there was nothing about these freakish side-effects in the family planning literature. I will be buying broadsheets and wearing ankle bracelets next.

Reassuringly, I still managed to forget not only a wonderful friend’s birthday but also the first birthday of his baby daughter, so parts of the Weasel brain are still functioning normally.

The card’s in the post! No really, it is.



PS: Have just seen this on Wiki: "Running an electrical current through a gherkin will cause it to glow like a fluorescent light." Volunteers?

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Everything I Do, I Do It For You

ouch.

I threw myself at the mercy of the National Health Service yesterday.

After languishing on a waiting list for months, I finally went to have a delicate lady-procedure of the baby-preventative kind which is free in the UK and Very Expensive in New Zealand (male readers, you may want to look away now).

As is my wont, I first made my way to totally the wrong place.

“Is this Family Planning?” I asked.

“No, love, this is the Refugee and Asylum Seekers’ Clinic.”

“Righto.”

I have an uncanny knack of always going first to totally the wrong place - interviews, appointments, new jobs: you name it, I’ll muck it up. If you see someone standing uncertainly around the back of your place of employment, it’s me: late, lost and just ever-so-slightly starting to panic. Even if I’ve previously done a recce in an attempt to avoid this outcome, I’ll have recced the wrong building, possibly even the wrong town.

I’m starting to suspect it might be the manifestation of a subconscious desire not to reach my destination.

Anyway, I made it eventually to the Family Planning Torture Chamber. There, a brisk lady doctor and a teenage nurse in skinny jeans and combat-print ballerina pumps greased me up and prepared to do uncomfortable things to my reproductive organs with pointy metal implements.

“Because you’ve never had kids, I might not be able to get it in. It might go in, then it might fall out again. It might go in, and puncture your womb. It might cause a pelvic infection. I have to tell you these things. Just try and relax, ok?”

“Er, ok.”

“It might hurt a bit.”

It hurt a bit. And that was just the preliminary digging around.

“Right, I’m just about to put it in now.”

It hurt a lot. I didn’t cry, but I’ll admit to whimpering.

“All done. It went in! I can’t believe it went in!”

I stared at the ceiling trying to remember how to breathe. It felt like someone had just shoved knitting needles into my womb. I glanced down to see the doctor holding two bloodied knitting needles. Or medical equivalents thereof. Hopefully. She smiled.

“Oh, I should have asked you this before: are you allergic to copper?”

Flatmate got home from work and found me rolled up in bed feeling sorry for myself.

“How did it go?”

“Nasty! Knitting needles. Pain. Knitting needles. Nasty,” I wailed sorrowfully.

“Little monkey,” he cooed, “You’re so brave. Let me take you out for a coffee to take your mind off your poor battered cervix.”

I hauled myself out of bed and was surprised to find his open arms waiting for me.

“Just think about all the hot rampant sex you’ll be able to have now,” he said as he gathered me up in a big soft hug.

Not until my cervix has recovered, mate.


Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Happy Whoring

Flatmate has yet to fill his love bucket

Flatmate and I staggered home from the pub on Saturday night with a bellyful of beer.

It'd been a sunny afternoon so he'd suggested a swift half in the beer garden of a nearby bistro, which turned into several pints in there then several more pints in our local tavern and several more pints after that in The Claude which is as rough as guts and very brilliant.

(NB: Flatmate's off the wagon again).

If I had a penny for every time he told me I was beautiful on Saturday night I'd have approximately £3.24. Apparently he loves me on many different levels and he really, really fancies me too. Because I'm beautiful. And funny. And beautiful.

“I know you’d be my perfect partner!” he exclaimed as we swayed home at midnight hand in hand, “But I’ve got about five years’ worth of whoring to get out of my system first. I can't settle down until I've got the whoring out of the way!”

You have to admire his honesty. And his consistency, I suppose. And instead of getting all upset over it like I did last time I'm just going to make the most of him and his whoring ways for as long as we've got left. The main thing that's struck me about his whoring ways in the nine months I've known him is that he tends to runs a mile whenever a girl gets too close. BK attests he's been like this his whole life. Really, I feel lucky to have been granted a snog.

Ah well. If he wants me after June he knows where I'll be.



PS Picture credit again to the mighty Natalie Dee

Saturday, 12 April 2008

The Dish Fairy Has PMT

enemy of the zen kitchen

BK made mashed potatoes lunchtime Thursday.

The potato masher sat on the draining board for two days – that’s TWO DAYS – until I put it away this morning.

He had Thursday and Friday off work, and was at home for a large proportion of that time.

So let’s say that after he washed up the things from his mashed potato lunch he had approximately twenty two spare hours to relay the potato masher from drainer to drawer, a distance of just over two metres.

I recall something he said last month on this very subject:

“Why does nobody ever put my dishes away?” he whined. “I always put other people’s away.”

The agreement between the three of us is that we’re each responsible for our own things.

So if I’d have been made of sterner stuff, I could’ve pointed out I do not want nor expect him to put my dishes away therefore if he has chosen to put my dishes away he is not really in a position to go on and whinge about a lack of reciprocation.

I could've reminded him of all the times I have not only put away his dishes but washed them too, because they have been left by the sink overnight. I might’ve also reminded him of the time I asked him not to leave his dirty dishes by the sink overnight in the hope that some chump who is at home all day with nothing better to do (viz, me) will come along and do them.

I could’ve replied “Actually, in the evenings I’ve noticed that you eat early and wash your dishes and leave them to drain then go off to watch DVDs or do ebaying and you don't set foot in the kitchen for the rest of the night. Whereas me and Flatmate tend to eat late and have to put your stuff away to make space on the drainer for ours, and/or because it would be churlish not to when we are tidying up our own. How do you think the kitchen is clear of your things when you get home from work the next day? The fucking Dish Fairy?”

I could also have brought his attention to the fact that if the bin in the kitchen is full, changing the bag is more helpful than ignoring it; that Flatmate and I do not fight each other for the honour of putting the rubbish out on a Monday night; communal areas need vacuuming too; and the kitchen floor does not magically sweep itself.

I may’ve added that the mould in the bathroom disappears only when scrubbed with bleach; the toilet does not spontaneously self-clean and neither does the shower; and toilet roll and soap replenish only after a trip to the shop where British pennies are spent in order to purchase them.

I'd put his plates away Thursday night, and left the potato masher to see what'd happen.

Gggnnnrrrggghh. Don’t start me off about the wok.


Friday, 11 April 2008

Me Me Me

in praise of omphaloskepsis

BK had the day off work yesterday so we went to the coffee shop and sat in the sun with our lattes and read the grown-up newspapers and in one of the clever and learned articles I saw a word I didn’t know: solipsist.

‘I like the sound of that,’ I thought. ‘I wonder what it means?’

Solipsism, said dictionary.com when I got home, is the theory that reality only exists from the point of view of the observer. It is also excessive self-regard, absorption in the self.

‘A-ha,’ I thought. ‘A philosophy invented to describe bloggers! Especially me.’

I was reassured someone had given it a name because that means I’m not the only one guilty of it.

I asked Flatmate that night if he knew what ‘solipsism’ meant.

(He prides himself on his knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and spelling. I remember he first noticed me as a human being last year when we – for reasons unknown – started testing each other’s spelling. I told him he’d got ‘luscious’ wrong. He went to check his dictionary and came back to me, a smile of wonder and respect on his face, to say I was right, there was an ‘s’ before the ‘c’. It was the first time he’d looked at me properly. I’d just been some girl who lived in his house before that.)

“Yes!” he said. “I worked out that reality is entirely subjective when I was nineteen,” he said. “All on my own!”

The clever bastard. It took me until my thirties to reach that conclusion. He’s right, of course. It is all about me.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Six Percent More Swearing Guaranteed!

it's official: i'm an asshole

Click here to find out how sweary YOU are!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Mean Streets Of Cardiff

Flatmate: not at all like a lady

“I was walking down the street, right,” says Flatmate, “And there was this big bunch of kids hanging out on the corner.”

“So I keep my head down, right,” says Flatmate, “And try to walk past them all nonchalant like, because obviously I don’t want to get my head kicked in.”

“As I go past them, right,” says Flatmate, “I hear a wolf-whistle. One of the fuckers wolf-whistles me.”

“I think, ok, now I’m in trouble,” says Flatmate.

“But then I hear one of them say ‘Dom, that’s a bloke’.”

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Is There Life Outside Chateau Monkey?

of course i've heard of goats

This morning, my sister and her hubby of thirty one years flew to the Maldives for another one of their regular two-week, all-inclusive paradise holidays.

At the same time as they were on their way to the airport, I was crouching in the back garden of a terraced house in Cardiff, attempting to cut the grass with a pair of scissors, because we don’t have a lawnmower and can’t afford to hire a goat.

I’d stayed up til 4am the night before canoodling on the sofa with a man who is more interested in chess than in me, then lied about it in the morning to his brother, who adores me and with whom I refuse to canoodle.

I wondered where I have Gone Wrong with my life.

Perhaps my sister is right when she says I need a job.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Eighty Eight Days

time and tide wait for no man

Flatmate and I went to the coffee shop yesterday when he got home from work.

Unusually, he didn’t bring his chess computer and I didn’t bring a book, which meant we were forced to Make Conversation.

I’m rubbish at conversation. Everything about me is on the inside and seems to want to stay there. To conceal my inadequacy I tend to befriend people who love to talk. Flatmate loves to talk, but he veers between frivolity and intense, soul-searching debate. I’ve noticed that when we are out together in non-alcoholic situations he goes all shy on me and we struggle to make smalltalk. I take this as proof that I’m as boring as I think I am.

Thus the two introverts sat awkwardly with our lattes.

“I’m sorry if I was, er, a bit much on my birthday,” he said. “I was rather wasted.”

“That’s ok,” I said. “I’ve seen you worse. I was fairly wasted too. And, er, I’m sorry for, um, you know, trying to molest you.”

(He’d insisted on sleeping in my bed that night. Luckily for him he passed out shortly after his head hit the pillow so everyone’s dignity remained intact).

“Please don’t ever apologise for that,” he said. “No need at all. Quite all right.” Flatmate’s a very forgiving man. “Just a bit of, um, harmless fun isn’t it. It’ll all be over soon anyway. Not long to go til the end of June.”

“God. Don’t remind me.” I shook my head. I don’t want to think about it.

In a fit of altruism in 2006 I offered to pose as BK’s partner so he could obtain New Zealand residency. This would involve living together ‘as a couple’ for a year, which is how I ended up in Cardiff with BK, sharing a house with him and his brother who I'd never met before. June is the end of the year-long tenancy agreement and represents the household’s parting of ways: me and BK back to New Zealand via a few months with his mum in France, Flatmate remaining in Cardiff.

Leaving Flatmate behind is too heartbreaking to consider.

“Eighty eight days,” he said. “Eighty eight days, I think it is, til the end of June. Off the top of my head, like.”

I looked at him.

"Eighty eight days til you abandon me." He forced a smile. "I'm feeling quite sad about it actually."

Friday, 4 April 2008

Smiles Are The New Black

Downstairs Monkey models the world's first international cat adaptor

It's been a busy week.

The sun's been out, so I've been forced into the garden in a bikini for the delectation of the neighbours and passing helicopter pilots.

It was Flatmate's birthday on Wednesday.

I was summoned to the Jobcentre to explain exactly why I haven't found a job after four months of 'jobseeking'.

The last matter is easily explained by the previous two. It is a question of attitude. When one's motto is 'carpe diem' one is compelled to prioritise.* Is more fun to be had keeping a handle on exciting non-events at home, or toiling for peanuts in an office full of trolls? The latter activity, I'm afraid, seems pointless when one has the option of the former.**. It is a shame I don't have a maternal bone in my body as I think I would've excelled at being a fifties housewife: packing the kids off to school, doing a spot of vacuuming, cooking the dinner, then munching through a handful of valium and dreaming of Better Things.

I told the Jobcentre man I wanted to work in a library, and promised to try harder.

Flatmate's birthday was brilliant. His family don't do 'fuss' (BK didn't even give him a card!) whereas I think birthdays are the reason 'fuss' was invented. To repeated cries of "Dude! It's your birthday!" I persuaded him to start celebrating Tuesday night and we didn't stop til 6am Thursday.

Sensibly, he had The Day off work. I hid a selection of 'small' presents around the kitchen so he could stumble upon them during the course of the morning, and lined up his 'big' presents in the Quiet Room: the chess book he wanted, a voucher for a half-hour Stress Buster back massage, a handful of lottery scratch cards, and an international cat adaptor (NB before you go rushing off to your local Gift Emporium, this item was hand-crafted by my very own weaselly paws and is therefore unique. Any Dragons' Den producers reading this may wish to get in touch).

I think Flatmate liked his presents because he looked really pleased and kept hugging me.

We hung out in the coffee shop all afternoon, then when the sun was over the yardarm we retired to the pub where BK joined us for the night. We ate, and supped yet more Guinness and then cocktails. From this point my memory starts to blur. The state of the Quiet Room the next morning suggested a party à deux continued after the pub, but the details are lost, other than the vaguest memory of a hula-hoop fight and some cuddling.

Birthdays are great. Flatmate smiled all day.

So did I. So did Downstairs Monkey (...or was it a cat?).

Smiling's great too.

Have a smile. Go on, you'll enjoy it.




* Something about fish, I think
** More on the subject of being 'non-working' here