Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas



...to all you beautiful people, from me and Downstairs Monkey.


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

How To Write Off A Tuesday



I am popping to Cardiff, says the former blogger formerly known as the Blogger Formerly Known As Bulldog. Why don't we meet for a drink? I promise not to be a mad axe murderer or anything.

Okay, I reply, I am sure I could force down a swift half with you, internet person, because I am that sort of a girl: urbane, sophisticated, charming, witty, adventurous etc, with an alluring air of mystery.

We meet in The Claude, the spiritual home of all true Cardiffians, on a cold Monday night.

There is talk. The former blogger formerly known as the Blogger Formerly Known As Bulldog is splendid company, and the beer starts to flow.

There is beer. A lot of beer. And then some more. I could say too much beer, but that sounds like a judgment. Eventually, unfortunately, for one of us, the beer starts to flow the wrong way.

There is a lavatory cubicle. It has been a long time since the Weasel examined the inside of a toilet bowl from such close quarters. It is a safe place, and comforting, when the floor is moving about so rudely. I drape myself over its forgiving rim and settle in for the long haul.

There is a former blogger formerly known as the Blogger Formerly Known As Bulldog, waiting patiently when I finally brave the walk back to our table. I have quite possibly been gone hours.

Because he is a gentleman, the former blogger formerly known as the Blogger Formerly Known As Bulldog waves away my vomit-tinged apologies.

He helps me on with my coat, guides me home, deposits me at my front door, and disappears into the night.

Inside, I am sick on my knee, then pass out until Tuesday lunchtime.

That former blogger formerly known as the Blogger Formerly Known As Bulldog, he is a fine fellow, and my only regret is I wish I'd spent more time with him and less with the toilet.

But like I said, I am urbane, sophisticated, charming, witty, adventurous etc, with an alluring air of mystery, and sometimes these things happen.



Friday, 17 December 2010

Cake



It is two minutes past midnight; technically, still Thursday because new days don't start until you've gone to bed and slept and got up again.

I am dozing on my couch. I washed down my dinner with two thirds of a bottle of wine and an awful lot of sour cream & onion Pringles and some chocolate, and am feeling a little green around the gills.

There is a knock on my door.

A loud knock. A demanding knock.

I open the door.

There is Marvin, with a huge chocolate cake.

"Happy birthday, dear lady," he says.

"It's still Thursday, you fool," I say.

"Look at your clock," he says. "I think you will find it says Friday 17 December. Happy birthday, old woman. You must eat some cake."


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Embrace Your Postcode



I started a new job.

I am now a full time casual Christmas mail sorter, for three whole weeks.

Full time casual Christmas mail sorting involves standing for 8 hours a day squinting at badly-addressed envelopes while your trapezius muscles scream in agony.

Full time casual Christmas mail sorting also involves going home covered in glitter.

Full time casual Christmas mail sorting in Wales involves all these things AND being surrounded by men with rich, silken voices singing along to the radio all day.

I love my job. I love my job almost exactly the same amount as I hate working in offices. Except I love it more. I get to wear a hi-viz jacket and everything. Yes.

However it is not all sweetness and light.

My job would be easier if people who send Christmas cards knew that 'C1Z ?RQ?' is not a real postcode.

Or that us full time casual Christmas mail sorters need a few more clues than 'Mrs Jones, Church Rd, Glamorgan' to speed those festive greetings on their way.

My job would also be easier if I had more than a cursory geographical knowledge of the land of your fathers.

But then again I am doing better than all those people who address their cards to '...Cardiff, Wales, England'.

There is nothing finer than working through a tray of mail that is not only correctly addressed, including a flawless postcode (rather than one that, say, is a complete guess, or one that became obsolete six or seven years ago), but is also easy to handle.

You know: A5 size or thereabouts; rectangular.

Sadly, this hasn't happened yet.

Can I just put it out there that if you are tempted to post triangular Christmas cards, or circular Christmas cards, or rhomboid Christmas cards, or those tiny little Christmas cards - the miniscule, really ickle weeny cutie-wootie ones that are barely bigger than the stamp - then don't. JUST FUCKING DON'T.

If you are one of those people who think these cards are a great idea, you are guilty of pissing off 176,000 British postal workers, and you wouldn't want that on your conscience at Christmas, would you?


Thursday, 9 December 2010

So Much Younger Than Today



I'd gone back to bed...

There's always this 20 minute gap between having breakfast, and having a quick wash and dragging on your school uniform before you've got to leave, you see. With the parents safely downstairs, it's impossible not to sneak into their bedroom and snuggle down for a crafty nap on Mum's side of the bed - the warmest, comfiest place in the world, oh yes - and snooze off some of that porridge you've just had.

Much better than having a shower and that. Or finishing your homework - time for that before assembly.

Lovely. God I love this stolen nap time. If you lie really still you can achieve perfect comfort.

One ear on the stairs, though; don't want to cop it.

Sigh. I hope one day I turn into a cat. Perhaps if I wish really hard it might happen. Perhaps I already am a cat. Perhaps -

Oh shit - someone's coming.

Hang on, that's not Dad. Footsteps too soft. But Mum never comes upstairs, not until after me and Dad have gone. What the..? Why is she..?

Fucking hell - should've moved, I'm in trouble now, door's opening, she's coming in.

But she's not saying anything. Just standing there. How did she know I was in here? Why isn't she telling me off? What's the matter? She looks like she's seen a ghost.

"John Lennon's been shot," she says blankly.

There is a pause. We stare at each other. This is bad news. The Beatles have been part of my life forever, since like before I was a foetus. I love them, I really love them. Especially John. I hope he's okay.

"Is he all right?" I ask.

Her lip curls into an incredulous sneer.

"No," she says like she's addressing a total spong who's asked the stupidest question in the world. "He's dead."

"Oh," I say.

Another pause.

She turns and goes back downstairs.

My dad drives me to school. I can't speak.


Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A Question



You know when it's cold, like, and you're outside, and you breathe and you can see your huff?

Well... what happens if you fart?

Just asking.


Monday, 6 December 2010

It Was Eagerness



Tesco's Guy texted me Saturday morning: Hey, you able to make the journey today? xx

I was. In fact I was already freezing my arse off at Victoria Coach Station waiting for my connection to Cardiff.

Well if you want warming up later, I'm here for you :o)

I walked through my front door at 6pm. I was exhausted, nerves jangling from the four weeks I'd just had, all those sleepless nights worrying about Dad, the flat-out days; and all I'd eaten since Friday night was three chelsea buns and a banana.

Common sense dictated I should unpack, have a shower, eat a square meal, then get some sleep.

But Weasels have never been much good at common sense.

Two hours later Tesco's Guy arrived at my door; two hours ten minutes later we were in bed.

There's nothing quite like an enthusiastic young man to take your mind off your woes.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Teflon Head



It took me a week or so to realise there was something going on with Dad; something beyond, and distinct from, his usual idiocy.

A week or so of watching him get confused each time he took his medicines, unable to work his way through an eight-item pill list without getting muddled. A week or so of saying "No, Dad, you need to put the soluble aspirin in a glass of water" because he'd put it in with the rest of his pills again. A week or so of not quite believing he hadn't yet got the hang of his Seretide inhaler. A week or so of repetition. "Like this, Dad. You did it yesterday, remember?"

A week or so of him wondering what day it was, and forgetting he could check by glancing at that day's newspaper. A week or so of wondering why I was making him put his coat on - where were we going again? - when I'd told him just a few minutes before, and many times before that. A week or so of guiding him through the sheet of simple physiotherapy exercises for his broken wrist, because with each new day, he had no idea how to do them.

A week or so of thinking, this is bad; very bad.

I went to see his doctor.

"Your father is in a very poor physical state, medically speaking," the doctor said. "It is only sheer determination to keep going that has kept him hanging on this year. With all these problems he's had, he is not strong. Dementia can be triggered by stresses of this kind."

There it was - the ugly great D word. The calamity.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

All Going Well In Kent



...apart from some minor dismay at the weather.

Will Downstairs Monkey and I be able to get a bus back to Cardiff on Saturday?

We'd bloody better.


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Meanwhile, Somewhere In The Real World



Weasel: happy haircut niecey hope it goes ok xxx

Niecey: thanks aunt. set me back a large fortune but hair is so much healthier for it! Yay. Wat u up to? X

Weasel: oh, u kno, the usual - cooking dinner, sorting out paperwork, organising medical appointments 4 gdad, it's a glam old life. booked my annual haircut 4 fri xxx

Niecey: ooo yay for haircut! what's the goss, have you heard from your young man much?

Weasel: he's txted just b4 every wkend asking when i'm coming back, not sure if this is eagerness or making sure i'm safely out the way. but now getting double kisses on txts &he wants 2 meet up like the day after i get home - blimey. he was clearly impressed by my step-by-step re-enactment of robbie fowler's 1997 goal against s.k.brann in pub on date#2. niecey i just made the best fish pie ever, i am drunk on my own magnificence xxx

Niecey: nice one aunt X


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

What's That Coming Over The Hill?



After I wrote the last post, I washed my hair, shaved my hairy bits and walked into town to watch the firework display with Tesco's Guy. He and I then got admirably drunk and bopped away to wholesome tunes in the best bar in Cardiff until the small hours.

It was our third date. He is very nice. The next morning, I packed my rucksack and went to Kent.

I went to Kent because that is where my dad lives, and my dad is old and infirm, and he is also an idiot.

He is an idiot for so many reasons that to list them all would surely take up all of the internet, and he is not worth breaking the internet for.

He got out of hospital last Wednesday. In addition to the usual stuff (arthritis, high blood pressure, idiocy) this year he has mostly suffered from:
  • a blood clot in his leg, nearly resulting in amputation
  • pleurisy and pneumonia
  • blindness in one eye caused by cataracts
Strangely, at the time, none of these things made him think 'oh, perhaps I should seek medical assistance because I can't breathe/I can't see/my left foot is swelling up and has gone black and I feel a bit funny'.

No, his preferred modus operandi was to sit there thinking 'life is awful'.

Then, when he was finally patched up and mending, he tripped over his idiot feet and broke his idiot arm.

Instead of asking for help with stuff, he just sat at home living on biscuits until he got ill again.

He had several weeks in hospital, then they sent him home. I didn't think it was a good idea for him to be home alone again, so I handed in my notice at work (rah!) and hopped on the Kent-bound bus.

I'm here for a few weeks, during which time I hope to arrange care for him to protect him from his own idiocy, and to encourage him to take part in his own life for once.

There is little chance of the latter, but I am making slow progress with the former.

Meanwhile, it is like babysitting a helpless, hapless, and slightly backward tortoise.


Saturday, 6 November 2010

Well How About That



Blimey.

Two weeks ago, my dad wasn't in hospital looking old and frail and very tired.

Two weeks ago, there was no nice young man keen to accompany me to tonight's municipal fireworks display.

Two weeks ago, I had a job to go to on Monday.

More later.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Kathleen



A text tonight from Niecey:

I'm sad there's nowhere to go today to see nan! We should really let her ashes go somewhere else! Happy birthday to a super nan!X

Quite.

My mum: born 20 October 1920, died 7 December 2005.

Since her cremation, she has remained untouched in a plastic bag on my dad's dresser in the bedroom they shared for more than 40 years.



Dust to dusty.
In January 2007, I wrote to my dad about this from New Zealand:
I spent the first anniversary of her death honouring Mum's memory in a quiet way, doing a lot of thinking. After she died I put up a 'shrine' (or “Mumorial” as I called it) in my room - a collection of photos, trinkets that reminded me of her, a small vase with red rosebuds in, a rosary, a candle. On the anniversary day it felt right to take it all down, put it all away and replace it with a single photo.
This made me realise that spending time in quiet contemplation with my 'mumorial' had helped me a lot in my mourning, and it made me wonder if it isn't a bit frustrating for everyone else not to have somewhere specific to 'be' with her in solitude.
Have you thought about getting a bench somewhere or tree planted in her name? It would be nice if there was somewhere family and friends could go to focus on memories of Mum, a special spot.
Also it would be nice for Mum to 'be' outdoors again, remember how she loved it, always in the garden with a big coat on if necessary? I just think she'd like to feel the wind in her hair again after spending so long inside.

I tried my best to be tactful, to gently point out that she is not just 'his'. He ignored the letter. As far as I know, that was the first and last time anyone tried to broach the subject of Mum's ashes with him.

(It's a waste of time trying - we all know how he'd respond. Something along the lines of 'mine. Mine mine mine mine mine mine mine mine.')

So, no memorial for her, because my dad is a selfish arse.

But enough about him: it's her day, not his.

My mum was lovely - good-natured, mild-mannered. Gentle and dutiful. Kind-hearted and unassuming. And funny - often unintentionally.

The one thing everyone remembers about Mum is her laugh.

That great, rusty wheeze.

Sometimes, when she started laughing, she couldn't stop, and she would set everybody off, until we were all rendered helpless, tears pouring down our faces, dissolved in mirth.

Sometimes when she laughed, she laughed so hard she farted, which made her laugh even more.

She only had one joke:

What's better than a pie on the table? A tart on the floor.

It came out without fail every sherry-fuelled Christmas.



She got muddled with names - she liked that nice Agnes Deayton - and was a terrible snob. Of a new boyfriend of mine she once demanded, apropos nothing, in her best Margaret Thatcher tone: "Are you a communist?" (he had his own business, drove a BMW). My brother-in-law is fond of recounting that she didn't speak to him for months after he proposed to My Lovely Sister, what with him having long hair and coming from the wrong part of town and that.

In true Daily Mail fashion she abhorred homosexuals, but denied Julian Clary, Lily Savage, Liberace, Elton John (etc, et al) could ever be gay because they were wonderful.

She cried when Princess Diana died, bought me a glittery advent calendar every year, and adored kittens. Liked rhubarb yoghurt, liver and onions, Harveys Bristol Cream. Supported Cambridge in the Boat Race because she lived there once, before she met my dad. Considered herself posh because she was born in Marylebone, but she grew up near Archway. Couldn't resist a flutter on the National. Lived in trousers. Liked a tipple. Kept the garden looking beautiful. Did the ironing, made the beds every morning without fail. Enjoyed puzzle books, but wasn't much of a reader. Never passed her driving test due to "nerves". Played badminton, tennis, card games. Thought eating/smoking in the street was common. Put on a faux-aristocratic 'telephone voice', about which we teased her relentlessly. Kept herself to herself. Made a mean apple pie. Volunteered at Scope for 20+ years til her arthritis got the better of her. Went to church every week. Fussy eater. Had a nervous breakdown after I was born, and never talked about it. Favourite swear word: "Balls!" (used only in emergencies). Was always 'Nan', never 'Nana' or, God forbid, 'Gran'. Wouldn't say boo to a goose. Dyed her silver hair brown to the very end.

Some days I still can't believe I'll never hear that Muttley laugh again.

I honoured what would've been her 90th birthday by stopping off on the way home from work to have beef and ale pie, new potatoes, peas and gravy in the cafe at Sainsbury's.

As one who dined in Sainsbury's many a time, I'm sure she would've approved.



Happy birthday Mum. You rocked, we miss you.


Monday, 18 October 2010

This Is Insane


(photo: Michael Y Park @ The Epi-Log - click for link)

Jonathan Cainer said, "The problem with being tired is that it's harder to stay on an even keel when life delivers one of its little surprises.

"Today, if something surprises you, take it in your stride
."

That Mr Cainer wouldn't lie to me.

He got one thing right, for sure - I was tired.

Not just sleepy tired - tired of getting up in the dark, tired of working in a very unlovely part of Cardiff, tired of sitting in a gloomy office all day doing dull dull things, and especially tired of having to spend thirty seven hours of my life each week with a bunch of moaning, two-faced menopausal bores.

Tired of being tired.

I waited all day for a surprise, but there wasn't one, which was no surprise. When the blessed five o'clock came round, I scrounged a lift home with the one person there who isn't a moaning, two-faced menopausal bore and hit Tescos in Albany Road.

I swooped up the fruit aisle, and then down the dairy. I examined the reduced section.
So far so normal. Then, I noticed a guy looking at me.

I thought nothing of it. He was probably wondering how anybody's hair could be that frizzy.

Up and down and round to the soy milk. At the top of the bread aisle, there he was again. This time, there was no doubt about it - he was giving me the eye.

Oo-er.

So what did we have here? Tall, shaved head, glasses. Backpack and trainers. Intelligent-looking, possibly an arty/muso type. Rather diffident in his eye-giving manner.
Not too built, not too trendy. Quite young too, though not too young.

Nice.

I peeked back.
Embarrassed, he looked away. I couldn't help smiling. Was I unknowingly sending signals with my bananas?

I took off to look for the Marmite, then bumped into him again by the cereals. Where would he pop up next? Waiting to pay, he was in the adjacent queue. Our eyes met again. This was fun, but getting a little awkward.

Gotta look - wedding ring?

Nope.

He went through first, and I tried to peer surreptitiously at his groceries to see if he was doing single man's shopping - but the stupid girl standing behind him got in the way.

Gah.

As he left, he turned and looked straight at me. Not at the blonde girl just over there, not at the pretty brunette at the till, or at any of the other young girlies around the place.

At me.

Blimey.

I felt the back of my neck go hot. This was a most unusual food shopping experience.

I paid, and gathered up my bags.

Holy shit - he was loitering outside. Waiting for me? Surely not. Now I was nervous.

But he merely flashed me a glance as I passed.

Phew! I wouldn't have known what to do if he'd said something...

"Excuse me?"

Gulp.

I turned.

Of course, it was him.

"Sorry, I had to ask you, did you have a typing job in the summer at...?"

Oh, well, that explained it - yes I did.

We chatted for a bit. My relief at not being hit upon after all made me all smiley and bubbly. I said I didn't remember him. He said he'd seen me around shopping and stuff a few times.


As we talked, I realised I was disappointed he'd only been looking at me because he thought he knew me, because
actually he was quite cute. Lovely eyes - gingery brown, and friendly. A nice smile.

Then he said, "Erm, I was wondering, would you like to go out for a drink some time?"

Fuckaduck. Take it in your stride, Weez.

"Errrrrr... yeah, why not?"

Now, four sweet, amusing,
and - crucially - well-spelt and grammatically correct texts later, we have a date for Thursday night.

A date! For Thursday night! My first "date" since - and I'm not kidding here - June 2000.

Surprise!


Friday, 15 October 2010

Fashion Crimes of Albany Road #387



(Apologies for poor picture quality. Honestly, I think the best thing is for you to all pop round to my house to have a look at the original on my laptop. The see-through "leggings" must be seen to be believed.)


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A Filing Cabinet Adventure



It wouldn't open.

A girl tugged it, and thumped it, and kicked it.

She went for help.

A man came, and tugged it, and thumped it, and kicked it.

Someone came out of a nearby office.

Together, the three of them tugged it, and thumped it, and kicked it.

It still wouldn't open.

They went and got a trolley to fetch a new cabinet from somewhere.

Bringing the new cabinet up the stairs, a wheel on the trolley fell off.

Undaunted, they carried the trolley and the cabinet the rest of the way.

They put the new cabinet next to the old cabinet.

They tried the old cabinet again.

It opened first time.

I watched all this from my position at the photocopier (where I spend the bulk of my working day).

It was, no lie, the most exciting thing that has happened since I've been working at this place.

My life is decidedly below average.


Monday, 4 October 2010

Why America Has Got It Wrong (Or Right) About Gun Laws



Lunchtime.

I sit down on the low wall in the churchyard to eat my sandwiches, under the yew tree, a pleasant spot.

The sun is out. I roll my trousers up.

From here you can hardly hear the traffic on the Newport Road. I have a full hour, sixty precious minutes, away from that hell hole of an office. I read my book. Birds sing in the trees and bushes.

A group of boys pass by, wearing the uniform of a local high school. They slouch up the street. I barely glance at them.

Suddenly, something bounces near my foot. Then, something whizzes past my ear.

I look up. They appear to be throwing things at me.

I hope it is beechnuts, although it could be stones.

I scowl and mouth "fuck off" in their general direction.

They increase the bombardment.

"Oh you're funny, you're so fucking funny," I say, although they are too far away to hear.

One steps closer. He is close to the wall of the churchyard now. I watch incredulously as he screws himself up to full power to hurl his projectile at me.

He misses.

As the stone/beechnut flies past, that is the moment something snaps in my head. I want to teach him a lesson. I want to shoot him.

So I bend down and open my bag.

I pull out a .44 Magnum.

I stand, cock it, and take aim at the feral child.

I shoot.

He falls. His friends stand gaping. I point, I fire. Again and again and again, until they are all on the ground.

One lies whimpering among the bloodied corpses. I walk over, nudge him with my toe.

"I know what you’re thinking," I say. “Did she fire six shots, or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?"

"I'm sorry for throwing beechnuts at you while you were just trying to eat your sandwiches in peace," says the boy, weeping.

"Too late, shithead. You should have thought of that before. What has the world come to when the reaction of a group of children to a solitary stranger minding her own business is to attack her? What the fuck were you thinking?"

"I don't know... I just did it cos they did," he falters.

I consider this for a moment, then squeeze the trigger.

One less future arsehole.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Of course, the reality was they just carried on walking up the road and I carried on eating my sandwiches, but it was too late, they did not make my day.



Thursday, 30 September 2010

Apostrocatastrophic



Okay, so we're all agreed that one use of the apostrophe is to mark contractions - spaces in words where letters have been left out.

Right?

Right.

So what are we supposed to make of this apostrophe, spotted during a petrol stop at Asda, Cardiff Gate?

It definitely says Drive Thru'.

Er, Drive Thru-what?

Drive Thrush? Drive Thrum? Drive Thruppence?

Drive Thrumwort, Drive Thrutch, Drive Thrum-eyed?

Drive Thrust, perhaps.

Read as an imperative, it might stand for 'Drive Thrummingly', a sensible exhortation for us all to drive in a monotonous manner (the apostrophe being necessary because 'thrummingly' would never fit into that small space).

However, I suspect not.

I would like to meet the person who thought this apostrophe was a good idea, and shake him by the throat.

I'm with the panda on this.





PS It definitely wasn't bird shit.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Flatmate Moved To France Today



Worked late. A busy day.

Dawdled on the way home: admired the view of the river from the top of Rumney Hill; drifted up and down the aisles of Homebase, idly ogling the wares, thinking perhaps I need a Phillips screwdriver because after all, doesn't everybody?

Cooked a decent dinner, for once. Watched Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with the plate perched on my lap. Iceland has no public railway system! Who'd have thought.

Disposed of a behemoth spider sat waiting for me on my bed, with jam jar and a minimum of squealing. Spider, window; window, spider. First attempt failed due to dropping the jam jar when the imprisoned beast crawled at my hand. Second attempt successful after putting sock over the jam jar so the creepy little bastard wouldn't freak me out again.

Booked a bus to Kent for the weekend, did some outstanding paperwork. Watered the houseplants.

All very relaxing.

No need to rush tonight as there was no one eagerly awaiting me in the coffee shop. No text message demanding my company, no mad dash to get there straight from work, unlike previous weeks. No evening swallowed by his company after the coffee shop closes; no endless cups of tea and chitchat cwtched up on my sofa; no "See you tomorrow monkey?".

It's nice to have some time to myself again.

But.

Who do I tell the river looked beautiful?

Who cares that I stroked a lovely black and white cat sat on a garden wall?

Who will nod approvingly as I explain how I cooked the vegetables real nice tonight, with a dollop of red pesto?

Who will laugh when I say the Welsh woman on Millionaire looked exactly like Anthony Hopkins?

Who's there to give me a cuddle to commend me on my spider bravery?

Who will share my delight that the flowering cactus is flowering again after a three-month hiatus?

Who will admire my Phillips screwdriver when I buy it?

Sigh.



Sunday, 26 September 2010

Judgment



I am reading old diaries tonight.

An entry from February 2005, when I lived in Wellington, New Zealand:


There was a retarded man sitting in the seat in front of me on the bus tonight, with his carer.

The bus was packed, and he was looking around at the other passengers and commenting on what he saw, like a child would.

"That lady's fat," for example, to which his carer would shush him and attempt to draw his attention to something outside.

Then he turned round and studied me for what felt like an eternity.

My stomach curled, dreading what he would say. But I held his gaze. His eyes were amazing; clear pools of innocence, framed by thick dark lashes.

Eventually he said, "You have beautiful blue eyes."

"Thank you," I said. "So do you."

Then he turned back round, and forgot all about me.


Those were good times, the Wellington years.



Saturday, 25 September 2010

Now Who's The Arse



"Good afternoon Weasel, thank you for your email asking when and to which email address the invitation to interview was sent, the email was sent to you on 12 August at 11.30 am by my colleague Joanne Bloggs and it was sent to this email account. Best wishes, Person Who Organised The Interviews."

Numb horror.

I vaguely recall receiving an email from an individual whose name I didn't recognise, with a non-specific subject line and an attachment, around that time.

And just like any other email I receive from individuals whose name I don't recognise, that come with a non-specific (or clearly idiotic) subject line and/or an attachment, I deleted it immediately assuming it was spam.

BOLLOCKS.

Okay, so the universe doesn't want me to work at the library.

Now what?



Monday, 20 September 2010

Er, No It Wasn't



From: One Fine Weasel
To: HR Department
Sent: 19/08/10 14:15:39
Subject: Application

Hello

On 23 July I submitted an application via email for your Library Assistant vacancy.

I haven't yet received an acknowledgement letter and am wondering if this might be because I sometimes have problems with post to my address.

Please could you let me know if you received my application?

Thanks.



From: HR Person
To: One Fine Weasel
Sent: 19/08/10 14:40:16
Subject: re: Application

** High Priority **

Hello Ms Weasel

Thank you for your enquiry. We do not send out acknowledgement letters due to the large volume of vacancies and applications received.

However the good news is you have been shortlisted for interview and will hear directly from the department. The method of contact ie phone, e-mail, letter depends on each individual department.

Best wishes
Janet



From: One Fine Weasel
To: HR Person
Sent: 23/08/10 15:15:28
Subject: re: re: Application

Hello Janet

That's great news, thank you.

As mentioned in my first email, I do have problems with mail delivery to my address, so I would be very grateful if you could bring this to the attention of whoever is arranging the interviews so they contact me by email or phone as well as or instead of by letter.

I'm very anxious not to miss out!

Thanks again for your help with this.

Regards
Weasel




From: HR Person
To: One Fine Weasel
Sent: 23/08/10 15:30:52
Subject: re: re: re: Application

** High Priority **

Hello Weasel

I have forwarded your e-mail on to the person organising the interviews.

Best wishes
Janet



From: One Fine Weasel
To: HR Person
Sent: 16/09/10 23:03:17
Subject: re: re: re: re: Application

Hello again Janet

I am very sorry to be a nuisance but I still haven't heard anything and was wondering if it was possible to find out what's going on?

Thank you for your help.



From: HR Person
To: One Fine Weasel
Sent: 17/09/10 08:59:14
Subject: re: re: re: re: re: Application

** High Priority **

Hello Miss Weasel

I have passed this e-mail on to the recruiter.

Janet



From: Person Organising The Interviews
To: One Fine Weasel
Sent: 20/09/10 15:39:23
Subject: 0297/2010

Good morning, my colleague Janet has forwarded your email to me. You were shortlisted for the above post and an interview letter was sent to you via email. It states in the interview letter for you to confirm attendance of interview. The recruiter did not have any confirmation from you, so therefore, assumed you were not interested in the post when you did not show for interview. This post has now been filled.

Kind regards.



Thursday, 16 September 2010

Why Do I Do This To Myself?



In the corridor, there is a woman standing by the photocopier.

She appears to be trying to remove a staple from a stack of papers.

But look closer.

You will see she is actually trying to get the staple back in.

In this way, another few minutes of a grindingly dull day are disposed of, nudging the hands of the clock ever closer to five.

On her way back to her desk, she will veer off to the ladies, where she will sit and quietly study the pattern on the lino for a while.



Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Gotta Get Out Of This Place



"...and then the camel tried to eat my hair!"

They are talking about holidays.

I join in the merry laughter, and reach for the stapler.

There is a pile of paper on the desk in front of me.

A fluorescent light flickers above my head; a printer whines in the corner.

No jeans, no flip flops: I am wearing tights and a skirt and sensible officey shoes.

I have sold my soul to the nine to five.

It's such a long time since I've done this - the first 'proper office job' I've had since 2005.

As ever, I cling to that magic word 'temporary', a modest hoard of money to look forward to, and the promise of better-spent days ahead.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Knot A Problem



Last week's job-related events quite shook me up (...I haven't told you about the other interview).

If I cannot stomach the thought of answering a few phones and doing officey things anymore, I thought, then what am I; what have I become?

Yes, Weasel,
an inept, asocial freak.

But then I found this man's rather fabulous website, and it cheered me up enormously.

It seems that, what with eschewing permanent full time jobs since 1996, I am on the right track after all. Because, you know, I am actually a highly conscious evolved being and not at all an itinerant with antisocial tendencies.

But clearly I need to work on finding my life's purpose (assuming it is not just eating croissants, smiling at dogs, etc) in order to create and deliver 'value'.

I set about pondering what I can do, what I am really good at.

It didn't take long to find it.

I discovered I am really good at unravelling knots in balls of wool.

Yes.

Say, for example, you are halfway through crocheting a cactus that doesn't look quite right, and you finally admit to yourself it is not looking quite right.

You start to pull the doomed cactus apart with the intention of reducing it to its component parts, viz., four balls of wool of varying thickness and hue.

But what is this? You are left with a monstrous tangle of green wool. It could be no worse if Satan's kitten itself had been at it with three hyperactive kitten accomplices.

However, you are without doubt a bit unemployed, and cannot afford to keep buying yarn. Furthermore, you endorse recycling, because you do not like creating unnecessary waste. Also, you have far too much time on your hands. So, you do not want to just cut the gargantuan knot away and bin it.

So you sit down and start untangling.

Many rapturous hours later, you realise your legs have gone numb and it is past your bedtime. You retire, satisfied you have already restored two strands of wool to their previous incarnations.

The next morning, you leap from your bed and, pausing only to make a nourishing mug of instant coffee (with soy milk), resume your untangling activities.

And then, it is done. You sit back to admire the four balls of wool you have wrested from the chaos. You have another nourishing mug of instant coffee (with soy milk), and feel quite pleased with yourself.

Your mind drifts to the nice man's website. Your heart sinks slightly as you realise this may be the only thing you have to offer 'of value'.

You are determined to frame your discovery in a more positive way:

Meticulous. Tenacious. Problem-solver. Attention to detail. Excellent hand-to-eye co-ordination.

But wait! This prowess is transferable:

Related skills: untangling balls of string, elastic, rope. Picking apart those funny little twisty bits you get in thread when hand-stitching. Undoing paperclip chains. Deconstructing knots.

I may need to work on this 'value' business.



Thursday, 26 August 2010

Work Trials



Yesterday, 4pm

"So, why are you here? Talk to me."

The suited man looks at me expectantly.

"Er..." I say.

I am no good at job interviews. I hate talking about myself on demand. But the suited man has a twinkle in his eye - so far, he does not appear to be taking the interview that seriously - and I very much like eye-twinkles.

I launch into some shit about my work history. Blah blah library, blah blah temping, blah blah administrative officer in the Metropolitan Police Service about fifty thousand years ago.

"Hmm," the suited man says. "Why on earth do you like libraries? I used to work by the library once, used to see all these weird weird people hanging about; it quite freaked me out."

"Do you mean the staff, or the customers?" I ask.

"Both," he assures me. "Libraries. Books. Ugh."

This is the strangest interview I have ever had. There is very little sensible stuff going on. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

The agency that sent me to the interview said the job was a 3-month temporary admin/clerical position. The agency also said the suited man is desperate to recruit someone, as the current post holder is leaving on Friday after three years in the job.

"I've seen a few people this week," the suited man says, "but none of them..."

He grimaces.

"...clicked. You know, you talk to someone and there's nothing there?"

"Yes," I say, "I often temp in places filled with girls who can only talk about diets and/or boyfriends and/or Big Brother. It does my head in a bit."

"Really? So what do you watch on telly? Who do you live with? Have you got a cat? If you had a cat, would you put it in a wheelie bin?"

I explain I am a flat-sharing cat lover with esoteric tastes, then attempt to haul the conversation round to other, less important matters. I ask what the job actually entails.

The suited man doesn't actually know what the job entails, but thinks I'm interesting.

"You're... interesting," he says, "I like you. Could you start tomorrow?"

I need the money. The suited man is amusing. I can do 'admin/clerical' standing on my head.

"Yes," I say.


Today, 9am


I arrive at the suited man's office.

The current job holder sits me down and shows me her job.

It is not 'admin/clerical'. It is a PA job, viz, sitting around waiting for phones to ring, taking minutes sometimes, shuffling the odd bit of paper now and then. Organising things. Talking to people. Being bright and sparky and making tea and stuff. She cannot think of one thing she does that she can actually show me.

"It's mostly just fielding calls," she says.

My heart sinks.

I have been temping a long time, and through bitter experience have learned to tell the difference between first day nerves and a job that is actively going make me miserable.

Sitting around, fielding calls, taking minutes, organising things, talking to people are all activities guaranteed to make my soul shrivel up and die before the week is out. Give my hands some work to do, and I'm happy.

At 10.15am, I fetch my coat, apologise profusely to the suited man, and leave.

Some people are born to be PAs, and some people are born to work in libraries.

I resume my place amongst the weird, weird people.

Cos life's too short, innit.




Friday, 20 August 2010

A Random Man Sort Of Shows Me His Alan Whicker In The Park



It is not raining.

I go to Bute Park to sit on the grass and enjoy the sunshine. I am wearing my new purty pink top and compatible necklace. I play sudoku on my phone. I feel happy.

A guy walks past, then wanders back to ask me about the nearby stone circle. We chat, and he says he's been visiting Cardiff and his coach back to London leaves in half an hour and would I mind if he sat with me to pass the time until the bus leaves?

He is young, well spoken, a bit hippyish with quasi-dreadlocks, pleasant enough, so I agree. Strangers always seem to choose me to talk to. Generally, I don't mind, unless they are clearly an idiot.

He asks where's a good place to visit next time he's here?

I say Castell Coch - it's charming.

He says he will remember that because it sounds like 'cock'. We laugh.

I ask him what he's been doing in Cardiff. He says he saw some friends, went swimming, looked round the castle, climbed a hill that was shaped like a breast.

How nice to find a hill shaped like a breast, he chuckles.

He asks me questions about myself. I do not like it when people ask me questions about myself - if I want you to know about me I will tell you. So I jabber on about my new houseplant/baby niece/Cardiff/New Zealand for a bit then ask him lots of questions about himself so I don't have to talk about me anymore. He talks about art and life and stuff. He smiles at me and tells me he is enjoying my company so much he has doubled in size.

I assume he's talking about feeling happy or something.

I think, well, you still look about 5' 7" to me mate.

The conversation continues. He mentions cocks. He mentions cocks again. I suddenly realise he is mentioning cocks A LOT. Far more than would ordinarily be required in the course of an average conversation.

Hang on a minute
, I think, this man is talking about cocks a little bit too much for my liking.

Hmm. Okay, so he is clearly an idiot. Also possibly sinister, and definitely appalling.

I wonder what to do.

Half of me wants to run away, half of me wants to punch him violently and the other half thinks it's funny.

I glance around. There are plenty of people about; I am not in danger. His bus is due to leave in fifteen minutes and I am sure I am man enough to bear some random weirdo talking about cocks for a quarter of an hour of my life.

Decision made: I will sit this out meekly like the numbnuts I am.

Anyway, if I get up to go he might follow me.

I go very quiet, and wait to see if he notices I have gone very quiet.

He doesn't notice I have gone very quiet. He carries on talking about art and cocks and life and cocks and how much he's liking my company, then narrows the topic down to one cock in particular.

Then, like someone who believes that a cock with a man attached is all a woman could ever want, he uncrosses his legs, leans back on one elbow, stretches out, shakes his quasi-dreadlocks over his shoulders, and rubs his thigh with a languorous hand.

Then - just in case I have missed the point - he smoothes his hand around the bulge in his trousers.

I don't want to look but I can't help it. Even the briefest of glances confirms it's a monster, quite the biggest I have ever seen (and I have not been unlucky in that department). It is halfway to his knee. It is fucking massive. I become suddenly fascinated by a pair of magpies in a tree.

It's a shame I don't have more time here, he says, it's been so wonderful to meet you. You are a very open and happy soul and you make me feel good. What's your email address? I think we could be friends.

Er, I don't think so, I say. I'm afraid you spoiled it for me when you started going on about cocks.

Oh, he says. Well, next time you are in London, look me up - here is my email address. In fact I would like it if you could come to my art exhibition in Soho next September - here's the website.

Um, I probably won't, I say. You see, it was the cock thing. It was all going very well until you started going on about cocks. Put me off a bit, frankly. If you hadn't gone on about cocks, there wouldn't have been a problem. Call me old fashioned, but I thought it was a bit unnecessary. I was quite happy talking to you up until then. But, you know, you started on about cocks and that was that, really. Game over. End of story.

Ha ha ha, really? What a shame I have to go, he says. It would've been nice to get to know you better. You really are an out there person. I like that. I wish I could stay and talk to you. But we still have three minutes - you can't do much in three minutes; then again, you can do quite a lot.

He smirks suggestively.

Why don't you show your cock to those teenage girls over there on your way to the bus stop, I say? I'm sure they'd love to see it.

Oh gosh don't say that, you make me sound like some kind of creepy pervert, he laughs.

Yes, I think, there's a reason for that.

When he gets up to go, the rapey fucker actually bends down to kiss me warmly on the cheek.

I wish I'd got hold of his great big cock and ripped it off with my bare hands then hit him over his stupid smug presumptuous head with it.


Good Week, Bad Week


  • I am friends with Flatmate again - with the proviso if he ever lays a finger on me again I shall break his face. We go for a drink on Sunday night, and have a pleasant time.
  • I remain wildly unemployed despite continuing half-hearted efforts to find a job. It was nice while the weather was sunny, now it's rainy and miserable it's becoming a worry. Furthermore, the helpful and efficient benefit people keep mucking my payments up so my income at present is about £35 a week.
  • Undaunted, to cheer myself up I go charity shop shopping. I find a brand new top, with labels still attached, for £1.50. It is pink and girly; I like it. Then I find the perfect necklace to go with it. It is also £1.50. I buy them both. The flagrant expenditure cheers me up. Wearing my new purchases, I feel purty, oh so purty.
  • In another charity shop, a man shouts angrily at the assistant over a £3 pair of trousers. "I want a refund, give me a refund." The assistant explains a refund is not possible because the man has cut the price ticket off the garment. The man shouts even more: "It's not my problem, it's your problem, I want my money back." What an arse.
  • On the subject of arses, I have downgraded Marvin from 'idiot' to 'clown'. Even though he is loud and messy and a little bit strange, I am prepared to begrudgingly admit he's all right really, compared to some of the maniacs out there.
  • However, new housemate Hywel fills the arse-slot more than satisfactorily. He is one of those young, pointy-shoed, heavily-hair-gelled sharp-suited mobile phone salesman types who, well, just deserve a kicking. Fortunately, Hywel is rarely at Weasel Towers, spending his days selling mobile phones (or whatever), his evenings chugging down booze, and weekends at his mum's. He returns here solely for a few hours sleep on weeknights (usually with a few mates in tow) before heading back out into the big bad world in the morning. But while he's here, he makes his mark. He (and/or his mates) nick toothpaste, shower gel and food, don't wash up, 'forget' to lock the front door, use reams of toilet paper but never buy any, leave encrusted snot in the bathroom and once I found piss yes PISS on the rim of the sink yes SINK, which I had to clean up if I wanted to clean my teeth without leaning in piss. All of which earns Hywel an automatic upgrade from 'arse' to 'cock'. He is also ginger. I'm just saying.
  • I have to go into town; this is usually an ordeal due to chavs, numpties etc. On the way I find a very nice houseplant, in a pot and still wrapped in its cellophane, dumped in a bin. I claim it, like the true pikey I am. In town, I buy my baby niece lots of exciting yet cheap pink things for her birthday, which pleases me. Then I see a white dog wearing black socks. Ergo, my trip into town can only be described as a good thing.
  • Then a random man sort of shows me his cock in Bute Park. It quite spoils my day.
  • I make another cactus. I have learnt how to do one crochet stitch, and now I am crocheting cacti like a bastard. This will be my route to untold riches, I know it.
  • I decide to write a lightweight 500-word story on a subject of my choice, to try and get my departed writing mojo back. I give myself a generous deadline. Scraping it together is harrowing, so harrowing it would be preferable to have someone going at your nethers with knitting needles.
  • I find my good company (read: ideal man) has got engaged to an ex-bloody-Blue Peter presenter.
  • I discover the interweb contains every single episode of Brass Eye. I also discover Nathan Barley. Praise the Lord, it's a good week after all.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Getting To Know You



Questionnaire for Potential Housemates

1. When listening to music in your room, how loud should the volume be?
A: I keep my personal entertainment at a level only I can hear.
B: My music is joy made manifest, everyone should check it out.

2. How do you deal with unsightly matter (eg hair, food particles) in a plughole?
A: I remove it and put it in the bin.
B: If I ignore if for long enough it magically disappears.

3. What do you do if the toilet needs cleaning?
A: I give it a quick scrub with the toilet brush.
B: I thought toilets were self-cleaning.

4. If you need to know the postcode for your new home, how do you find it?
A: Check your tenancy agreement.
B: Wait until you know your housemate has gone to bed, then knock on her door with increasing urgency shouting her name, and when she does not open the door within six seconds open the door yourself and barge in, demanding to know the postcode.

5. What are your thoughts on sharing a kitchen?
A: Any mess I make is my responsibility so I make sure I clean it up as soon as I can.
B: A bit of food on the floor never hurt anyone.

6. In the kitchen, if there are three free cupboards, do you…?
A: Use just one cupboard because you don’t really have that much stuff, and if more people move in they’ll need those other cupboards anyway.
B: Spread your meagre food items between all three cupboards.

7. What is the purpose of a bath mat?
A: To soften the blow of stepping onto cold linoleum.
B: To soak up the flood I create when I wash.

8. If you are organising an internet connection, do you…?
A: Give the ISP your address.
B: Give the ISP next door’s address, then look baffled when your housemate explains it might be more fruitful to give them your address.

9. How do you adapt to living with strangers?
A: I understand late-night phone calls, hour-long showers, and random grunting and talking to myself may be perceived as weird or annoying so I moderate my behaviour accordingly.
B: It is not possible for my behaviour to impact on my environment.

10. Do you own a Wii?
A: No.
B: Yes.

Mostly As: Congratulations! You are not a twat, and may live here.
Mostly Bs: Fuck off.


Friday, 30 July 2010

Love To Love You Baby



I am trying hard to love Marvin.

It is only a matter of re-educating my thoughts.

So every time he lets his door bang in the wind ALL DAY I merely remind myself that some people simply don't notice irritating noise the way I do, and find a rubber doorstop to push under it.

Every time he spends hours in the shower, singing along to a portable radio and splashing water all over the floor, I remember he has never lived away from his parents before so it would be an act of kindness to show him in an assertive way how to share living space with strangers.

Every time he knocks on my door at 1am, offering me a cheese and onion pasty in case I feel hungry in the night, I thank my lucky stars I have such a thoughtful housemate.

Every time I am in the kitchen and I turn round to see him standing there pondering his next gormless announcement, I try and transmute my irritation into "aw, bless, his naivety is endearing".

Fate has thrown us together and it is looking increasingly likely we will be sharing space for at least another six months. Closely linked to this, I sincerely believe it is in my best interests to make my own life as serene as possible.

And so on Tuesday night, when I looked round to find Marvin silently observing my meal preparations (steak, salad) I merely smiled and said hello, how you doing?

And when he suddenly blurted out "I want you to teach me how to make a sandwich, how do you make a sandwich?" I barely batted an eyelid.

After a sharp intake of breath, I was even able to outline the rudiments of sandwich making without churlishness, deceit, sarcasm or violence.

Just because Marvin is an idiot it does not mean I cannot be charitable.


Friday, 23 July 2010

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

First Rule Of Porridge Club: Do Not Talk About Porridge Club



One Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was enjoying the splendid sunlit solitude of the living room with a cup of coffee and a good book when a huge Chinese guy came lumbering up the stairs carrying a suitcase.

"Hello," I said to this bear of a man, "Are you moving in?"

"Hello, yes," he said, "Just for short time. I go back to China after half a month. I am friend of landlord."

"Ah," I said. "Pleased to meet you. My name's Weasel."

"Weasel? Weasel. My name Phone. Phone. Like mobile phone."

If you say so.

We shook hands, he disappeared up to his room and I didn't see him again that day. But there are a trio of cacti lined up on a windowsill in the stairwell and I knew Phone was going to be awesome when I saw he'd moved the one bursting with bright pink flowers into the centre.

When I next saw him I produced a map of China and asked him to show me where he was from. That was when I discovered he was a talker. He not only told me about his city but described his whole country with eloquence and fondness. I probed his political views as tactfully as I could. Chairman Mao? Rubbish. The Party? Not important. The new capitalism? Good, good, everybody more rich. Tibet, Falun Gong? No good, cause trouble. History buildings, terracotta warriors? Just for tourists.

He thought it was hilarious that I'd been to China once - for three days. He scolded me, said I must go back, said I must see Shanghai, Haikou. He punctuated his speech with great bursts of laughter and comedy eye-rolls. It was impossible not to like him.

Over the next couple of weeks, every time he went to the supermarket he would bring me back something: a mango, a sandwich, a fruit salad, a pastry. He would knock at my door and when I opened it he would be standing there with his gift in an outstretched hand, beaming. He'd wave away my protests with a dismissive gesture and explain he'd got two for the price of one, or somesuch. I never believed him.

Such a nice guy. I liked how he never locked his bedroom door when he went out, and only ever closed it when he went to bed at night - an act of trust. And I liked the cheeky 'apology' for leaving the toilet seat up; washing rescued from the clothes line when it rained; eagerly shared websites of interest; outrageous gossip about the landlord; the surprise Tescos goodies; and always that great big smile.

But nicest of all, he left me alone. He was always around, but never in my face: the perfect housemate.

Two nights ago, I got home late. As I came up the stairs, a greasy-haired Indian guy was standing on the landing. He looked like he was waiting for me. He shifted nervously as I approached.

"Hello," I said, "Have you just moved in?"

"Yes," he said.

"I'm Weasel," I said, and went to shake his hand, and his handshake was like a sheet of wet clingfilm.

"I'm Marvin," he said, and then just stood there staring at me.

"Well, er, nice to meet you Marvin."

Uncomfortable pause.

"Excuse me, I'm on my way to the kitchen," I said.

"Oh, sorry," he said, moved aside, then followed me.

I put the kettle on, thought about making something to eat, glanced at Marvin who was standing in the doorway watching my every move, decided against it.

"So, what are the rules and regulations here?" he blurted suddenly with forced gaiety.

Eh?

"Er, no rules and regulations mate. Just if you make a mess clean it up, buy toilet roll from time to time, that sort of thing."

"Okay, okay." He nodded earnestly as if I'd just imparted the meaning of life. "This is my first time away from living with my family so I don't know what to do."

Oh god.

"Yes I am alone and homesick but I am sure we will be great friends and it will be fine. I am here for six months while I study engineering at the university. We can watch movies together, and play games - I have a Playstation - and my friends and me go salsa dancing and you must come too and dance with us."

I blinked. My worst nightmare was standing in front of me wearing a pink T-shirt.

"Sorry, I don't really like dancing, or watching movies, or computer games," I said. "I like reading, and, er, knitting and things you do on your own." I smiled what I hoped was an apologetic smile, grabbed my tea and tried to escape.

"I am from India," he said, apropos absolutely nothing, blocking the doorway.

"No shit," I said.

"No, really I am," he assured me.

"I was joking," I said. "I kinda guessed."

"Oh," he said. "Can you please teach me how to use the shower? I tried to use the shower this morning and could not understand it."


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Today I am making porridge in the kitchen. Marvin appears.

"Morning," I say.

He stares.

"You will teach me how to make warts?"

"What?"

"Warts." He gestures at the microwave. "I want to know how to make warts."

"Wh-? Warts? Sorry?"

"I have a packet of..." He walks across to my food cupboard and points at my packet of porridge. "I want to know how to make."

"Ah, I thought you said... never mind. Oats. OATS. Um..."

Various porridge-making techniques flit through my mind, the main one being 'read the fucking label'.

"Just microwave it," I say unkindly. "Milk, water, you know. Or heat it up in a pan."

I retire to my room. On the way I see that Phone has padlocked his door.


Saturday, 17 July 2010

Just Ask



I met Flatmate for a coffee.

I said, "Dude, BK told me you'd had an accident on your bike, what happened, why didn't you tell me about it?"

He said, "Right, long story, it was just after you went away, January last year I think..."

He then gave me a minutely detailed explanation of the event, its aftermath, and a re-enactment at the spot it happened while we were walking home later.

"I didn't want to worry you at the time," he said, "then I forgot all about it really. I mentioned to Ma the other day on the phone I'm still waiting for the compensation money to come through and I don't know how much it's going to be. That's how BK must've found out."

Just goes to show you, the direct approach works wonders (unless you are a Big Issue seller).

I shall kick BK's gossipy arse next time I'm passing through Auckland.


Direct Selling



A new Big Issue seller in Queen Street.

"Big Issue, Big Issue," he calls.

He sees me approaching.

"Big Issue, Big Issue my lovely? Come and get your new Issue. Wouldn't you like a big 'un?"

Oo-er.



Thursday, 15 July 2010

Style, Substance



Everybody's doing it.

Great She Elephant's done it, the BBC's done it.

(Is Newsarse going to have to do it too?)

Tarted up websites are the order of the day and there is no reason the Weasel should be left behind.

While there are other things I ought to be doing - housework, laundry, emailing friends (especially YOU - you know who you are), going to the Post Office, weeding the garden, crocheting a cactus, tidying my room, returning library books, doing exercise, attending to peekaboo grey roots in my otherwise luscious auburn locks, cooking something healthy for dinner, sorting out the mess that is My Documents, fixing broken things, creating a great work of art, writing that novel, oh, and looking for a job - I intend to devote the day to fiddling around with Blogger's new designy templatey thing.

Procrastination: u iz doin it rite.


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Bottom Dollar

pass me the champers, darling, I'm a blogger

Well I have been having ever so much fun tonight with the Blogger 'next blog' button.

Gone are the Christians! In their place, the gardeners.

But amongst the gardeners, some absolute gems.

I particularly liked Oasis - there's a whole heap of good stuff over there and even the gardening bits were interesting. I just hope that Tamara doesn't mind me linking to her blog without even leaving a comment after a whole evening's engrossed reading (I'm shy).

I also found out, by following some of Tamara's links and then their links, what my blog is worth.

It is worth $564.54!

So say the nice people over at How Much Is Your Blog Worth.

$564.54 is riches beyond my wildest dreams.

I will write to them to tell them where to send the cash and then I will book that cruise.



Monday, 5 July 2010

Satan's Arsehole

porno chickens spank sexy killer robots at Fifa World Cup

Okay, the Blogger 'next blog' link is really starting to freak me out.

That's it there, up at the top of the page, next to 'FollowShareReportAbuse' you unobservant person you (yes YOU, My Lovely Sister).

GSE wrote about this last year. She noted the 'next blogs' she got appeared to be themed, whereas back in the good old days they were intriguingly random.

I agree. Once I could happily spend a whole evening clicking on 'next blog', but not now.

Last time I tried it I got a run of blogs by arty types. I was flattered at first (oh Blogger! You have spotted I am a cultivated sort!) but quickly got bored.

And what did I get when I clicked through tonight?

Firstly, two blogs from New Zealand.

(Fine, yup, makes sense, well done Blogger you clever thing you)

But then...

(Excuse me I've gone a little shaky)

...page after page after page after page after page of blogs by PEOPLE WHO LOVE JESUS.

(*swallows hard*)

Without wishing to offend those of a Godly persuasion, it is safe to say that religion - any religion - and I do not share a close relationship.

In geographical terms, if I was a three-shack settlement in Patagonia, religion would be Shanghai. In literature terms, if religion was the complete works of William Shakespeare, I would be The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In mathematical terms, religion would be a Venn diagram here on this page and I would be a tiny circle three hundred miles away running very fast in the opposite direction.

Me and religion, we are Marilyn Manson and Cliff Richard; Graham Norton and Hitler; Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards and Pele; terrine of foie gras and supremes of pigeon flavoured with pickled cherries and Sarawak black pepper, and a packet of Hula Hoops - we do not belong together.

It has been this way since I got old enough to make up my own mind about things and it will always be thus. Like the Tooth Fairy, Daleks and Father Christmas, God is a nice idea but wanting it to be true does not make it so. I believe that lump of meat in our skulls is all we have to fall back on and when we die we die just like trees and flowers and monkeys and sea urchins and we probably invented the whole God shebang just to fulfil some subconscious need for the Perfect Parent.

(Please do not pity me for having these views, or try to persuade me otherwise, because that just makes me very cross* - although you are very welcome to pray for me: that's metaphysics.)

Anyway, so I don't know what I've done to deserve this parade of Christianity. Divine punishment perhaps, or maybe the Big Man Upstairs is having a pop at persuading me Himself. But if it is just Blogger peering into the murky depths of my blogging life and making a judgement call, maybe I need to pay more attention to my keywords (and a splendid start made with the title of post and caption, I think). Or maybe Blogger needs to work on the difference between blasphemy and devotion.

But that aside, what has happened to my freedom to browse? Variety is the spice of life, innit.

Boo, Blogger. Bad.



*no pun intended

Friday, 2 July 2010

Armless Fun

the truth is out there

Writing the previous post made me realise I hadn't heard from Flatmate for over a week. So I fired off a text: u still alive?

Instantly, a reply: Miaow!! x

Well, that's ok then.

An hour or so later, my phone beeped. Flatmate again. R U watching Murray? x

I was. A text conversation ensued. He said he was alone in his house now because all the other tenants - students - had left. He said they'd left loads of stuff behind. He said the store room downstairs was chock full of rich pickings for an ardent recycler* such as I. There were even five spare microwaves I could have. But, builders were there doing the place up while it was empty and they were going to start on the store room on Monday so I should get round there asap if I wanted any stuff.

I said ok, when?

He said, how about tomorrow night?

Oo-er.

As he opened the door my eyes were busy looking out for a bandage, a scar, a bruise - anything.

"Hello Weasel, it's good to see you," he said, eyes shining, giving me a hug.

Both arms looked fine. In fact he looked fine. I squeezed him hard: not even a wince.

"I thought there was no real reason why we shouldn't see each other a bit more. It's a bit daft, isn't it, not seeing each other, don't you think?" he said, looking at me bashfully through Bambi lashes.

I agreed, and harangued him a bit for being an evasive idiot, but he's used to me by now.

As we settled down for a chat and a cuppa, and I told him he was looking well which was good because he'd looked like shit last time I'd seen him.

"Are you well?" I asked.

He was, he said. But hang on a minute - as we talked he began massaging the muscle above his right collar bone, and grimacing as he did so.

"What's the matter with your shoulder?" I said.

"I've just got a bit of qi caught in it," he said.

Righto.

"I've been doing a lot of outer tai chi recently, instead of inner tai chi," he explained.

Uh-huh. Okaaaaay. I pushed on.

"So what you been up to? I haven't seen you for ages."

"Oh, just playing a lot of chess, getting all these chess books out the library, you know, getting lots of chess study done...". And off he went onto one of his chess monologues.

I waited patiently until another opportunity presented itself.

"So how's the plan going? You know, the debt relief thing so you can shoot off and live in France for a year?"

"Yep, yep, it's all coming along. Ma's coming to get me at the end of September. What about you, how's the job hunting going?"

Waffle waffle waffle. I eased the conversation back on track with the subtlety for which I am famous.

"So what's been happening then? What's the goss?"

"Nothing! Nothing at all. It's been very quiet."

"Something must've happened, I haven't seen you in a month," I said.

"No, no, just going to the coffee shop, you know, the usual."

But then he started rubbing his shoulder again.

"You're rubbing your shoulder again. Did you hurt it?"

"No, no, there's qi stuck in it, that's all."

Well fuck-a-doodle doo. He really was determined not to tell me about his accident.

"Have you been working out? Your ARMS are looking nice and toned."

Nada.

"Gosh this weather's lovely! I really need to buy a BIKE," I say.

Nope.

"Is that a new bracelet... on your WRIST?"

Little fishy no bitey. One last attempt then before I give up.

"Been wanking much?"

FAIL.



*ie, pikey

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

All In The Wrist

That Natalie Dee knows what she's talking about

Flatmate still texts me.

From time to time, usually last thing at night, I will get a ‘Hello monkey how’s it going? x’, or a ‘Shush you! x’ or even a ‘Miaow!’ (with or without a kiss) out of the blue.

I haven’t seen him for about a month now. We arranged to meet in the coffee shop so he could give me some mail of mine that went to his address.

I was there before him, ensconced with a latte and a book, and I watched him carefully as he climbed the stairs.

I was shocked by how haggard he looked, and by the pained expression that flitted across his face when he saw me.

As usual, he resisted all attempts to talk about anything other than chess, although he was happy to expand on his reasons for being really pissed off with life at the moment.

Every sentence started with “I hate…”. It boiled down to this:

I hate the people who get in your way in the supermarket. I hate the noise and the traffic and the fumes. I hate the immigrants, the litter, the people who shout instead of talk, people who use their mobile phones in the street, all the noise pollution. I hate buses, lorries, motorbikes and sirens. I hate people who park wherever they want and block the road. I hate those bloody boom-boom-boom cars that go by driven by idiot alpha males playing that awful bloody music. I hate people who walk around listening to music on earphones. I hate people who walk behind me. I hate people who walk in front of me, crowding the pavement. I hate computers. I hate CCTV. I hate people who take photos all the time. I hate the moronic attitude of the general populous. I hate work. I hate having to pretend I’m looking for a job when I actually never want to work again. I hate being deeply in debt, and I hate the banks for putting me in this situation. I hate all the hassle. I hate not being able to just get on with what I want to do, which is play chess and be left alone. I hate people being in my face bothering me and asking me questions all the time. In fact, I hate people. I can't wait to go and live with my mum in France in September and just drop out for a year.

It was quite a monologue. I just listened. As usual, he apologised afterwards, blaming the fact he didn't talk to anyone these days so it all got bottled up.

Here is one unhappy soul, I thought.

Later, I fired off an email to BK:

Your brother is not in a good way. I'm worried about him. I think he’s depressed – even more negative than usual, really paranoid, looking like shit, completely withdrawn and apparently unable to handle normal life anymore. He's blaming the whole world for everything and denying his problems have anything to do with him. He also mentioned he’s been feeling down and not sleeping but wouldn’t expand. I think being made redundant last year hit him harder than he cares to admit. He's not the same person I knew in 2008. He’s made it plain he doesn’t want to see me so I can’t do anything. Please could you do the brotherly thing and stay in contact - discreetly - so he’s not totally isolated?

(I didn't tell him Flatmate had started to smoke dope again, as Flatmate had specifically asked me not to. It was one of the things that caused our row.

"I don't want BK to know because he'll tell Ma and Ma will worry unneccessarily," he'd said.

"I'm not quibbling about telling BK, I'm quibbling your use of the word unneccessarily," I'd snapped. Turned out he didn't like being talked to that way.)

BK wrote back: forget it, he’s always been like that, leave him to it.

And now weeks have slipped by. I think about Flatmate sometimes, but thankfully without the anguish of before. What I feel for him now is mostly worry, with flashes of frustration that he has chosen to mould himself into this impenetrable fortress, and occasionally anger at his utter denial that what he and I once shared actually meant something.

And sometimes I don’t think about him at all.

BK rings.

“What about Flatmate's accident then!” he says.

I gasp.

“What accident? What happened? Is he all right?”

“He hurt his wrist. He got knocked off his bike by a car or something. I don’t know, I got this secondhand from Ma, I haven’t spoken to him.”

“He’s been texting me, but he hasn’t mentioned it," I say. "I can’t believe he hasn’t mentioned it. I totally, totally give up. Your brother is an idiot."

All the same, I remain concerned for his mental, spiritual and now his physical state.

But a small and very evil part of me hopes the wrist that sustained the damage was the one he favours for wanking.