Friday, 25 February 2011

Moaning Because I Can And Because I Feel Like It

I have kind of moved into my new house.

The couch is here, and almost all of my stuff.

Only pyjamas, toothbrush, Downstairs Monkey, pillows, duvet and other last minute essentials remain at the old place, waiting for the final ceremonial departure after a token room cleaning effort tomorrow.

I am hating the fact I have had to move when I don't want to.

The new house is occupied by a swathe of recently teenaged Polish girls. I tend not to bond very well with young females: as a rule, the only thing we have in common is a set of reproductive organs. This lot play fuck-awful music loudly. They gather in the kitchen and chatter. They leave shoes and cake and drying laundry everywhere but even so, the house is unnaturally tidy. They have a cleaning rota. A cleaning rota, for fuck's sake. The ring leader gives the appearance of being friendly but each conversation we've had has been carried out with her addressing my collarbone. The last person I knew who avoided eye contact like this was my brother's ex-wife, a borderline psychopath.

I am not happy.

I wish I could stay at my old place, that lovely, shabby old flat where I could sit and watch the world go by in the shopping street below; with Marvin and Jack, who are laid-back and loveable, stay out of my face, don't get PMS, don't play shit music (or in fact any music), and don't clean diddly squat but don't expect me to, either.

But life goes on. Life goes fucking on, so suck it up you silly cow: at least a building didn't fall on you this week.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

How To Spot A German

I am driving my dad home from a hospital appointment.

A car overtakes us on the motorway. It has a bike rack, onto which is strapped a bike.

"Ha! They've got to be Germans," my dad says.

"Who?" I say.

"That car there. With the bike rack. Germans," he says.

"What makes you say that?"

"Well, they've got a bike rack, haven't they?"


"A bike rack," he says. "So, they're German."

I consider this statement for a moment.

"Why do you think that having a bike rack automatically makes you German?" I ask, very politely.

"Only Germans have bike racks," he says.

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

I take my dad to the pub for lunch.

There is a huge Winnebago-type contraption parked in the car park. It is massive. It is magnificent. I want one.

"Phwoar! Look at that!" I say.

"Oh yes, very nice," my dad says.

"God I could do with one of those. Look at the size of it! I wonder who it belongs to?"

I scan the car park in case these miraculous creatures are waiting to leap out from somewhere with an offer of a look-round inside it.

"A German, of course" he says.


"It'll be owned by a German," he says.

I am almost speechless, but not quite.

"Why? Why will it be owned by a German?" I splutter.

"It's always Germans who have those sorts of things," he says.

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

So there you have it.

Germans are the ones having more fun than YOU.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Mr & Mrs


Matt & Sam get married today.

In the sunshine, at a remote spot at the top of the south island of New Zealand. Probably barefoot, with fine company, wine and even more happiness, and a swim in the sea afterwards.

All of the above (not least the Matt & Sam part) are among my most favouritest things ever.

Which is why I am thoroughly gutted I am not there.

Much love, dudes; much love. Enjoy your day.

[Matt: by the way, I am very excited about your promised 90-minute re-enactment of the proceedings à la Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) next time I see you so I hope you keep good notes throughout the celebrations. And you suggested this so don't try and wangle your way out of it now.]

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sweet Nothing

A text this morning from Tesco's Guy:

whether you go in for this kind of thing or not... happy valentine's day! am very much looking forward to seeing you later miss weasel xxx

I don't know what he's got in mind but I sincerely hope it includes helping me carry my couch to my new place.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


I found a new room to rent, not far from my old place, and on those days I'm not at my dad's I'm moving all my worldly goods from here to there by trudging through backstreets with a rucksack and a small trundly suitcase stuffed full of stuff.

Where the hell did all this stuff come from?

This time last year I had no stuff.

Now I have so much stuff. Too much stuff.

Why does stuff do this to me?

The new room is okay, it has plenty of cupboard space in which to conceal stuff.

I had a disconcerting experience, however, when I ventured out into the garden.

The new house is on a road running parallel to the road I lived on with BK and Flatmate, back in the day.

The new place and Chateau Monkey would not be too far apart, I guessed, from their positions on their relative streets.

The gardens of the houses on these roads run back to back, with a chest-height dividing wall between them.

I might be able to get reacquainted with Rosie the cat
, I thought as I hopped through a flower bed and wrestled with a buddleia to see if I could spot any landmarks I might recognise.

I didn't have to look far.

Wasn't that our old shed?

Right there in front of me?

So close I could reach out and touch it?

I looked up at the house beyond. That familiar sandy-coloured pebbledash, those white PVC windows, the paved area outside the kitchen, that rusty old coal bin round the side...


If BK slipped through a wormhole in the space-time continuum he could sit in his old bedroom and watch me picking my nose in my new one.

As a measure of how far I've come in four years, it was not promising.

Friday, 11 February 2011

How To Be Stupid

"Have a look at this, it'll make you laugh," I say with unwarranted optimism.

I plonk the laptop down in front of my dad, open YouTube, crank up the volume and click play.

"Royals on the first page, swine flu and road rage, find Maddie, foreign baddie, put him in a big cage..." sings Dan.

"...bureaucratic red tape, Facebook gang rape..."

Dad leans forward, watching intently.

"...criminals get Marks & Spencer vouchers when released on bail..."

(That bit makes me snigger every time.)

"...sports stars have sex, bears shit in woods..."


I glance at Dad. Was that a smile?

"...Brussels politicians want to stop us drinking English ale..."

Yes, definitely a facial movement.

"...Muslim women hiding stolen goods beneath their veil..."

Whoa - was that a smirk?

"...cancer from your shoes, from your dog, from your pen top..."

That was surely almost a laugh.

I glimpse victory. Surely by now he must understand why The Mail is a shit paper? That he is an idiot to read it, and nothing else, every single day of his adult life, and what's more, to believe its every utterance?

So many people have told him, over the years. Intelligent people: people with O Levels and that, people who can do joined-up writing. People who, unlike him, have gone out into the world, had a look round, and made up their own minds about stuff. People who aren't small-minded, petulant fuckwits.

There are other newspapers, Dad. The internet, too. Other sources of information, other views, other ways of seeing the world. The Daily Mail is not representative of anything I recognise as life.

Please? Please understand?

"'s absolutely true because I read it in The Daily Mail..."

The video ends.

All I want is an admission that, regardless of the fact it is often entertaining (and yes Liz Jones I'm looking at you), my father acknowledges The Mail is a heap of unmitigated crap.

Is that too much to ask?

He sits back.

"Whaddya think? Great, isn't it?" I ask.

"Well..." says my dad, "The point is, some Muslim women DO hide stolen goods under their veils."


No, Dad, the point is...

I search for words.

There are none. They, and the point, have departed.

"And anyway, what nationality is he?" he says, peering suspiciously at Dan.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

They Forgot Dieting

Posting this just in case you're like me (lives in cave, frightened of eclipses, worships lightning, etc) and hadn't seen it before.

Thank you for alerting me to the wondrous Dan and Dan, Mizzzz Biro.


I saw the above on Twitter and it amused me.

I told my dad about it over breakfast this morning. He snorted, unfurled his copy of the Mail (it's delivered daily to his door), and got stuck in.

It never takes him long before he's reading bits out, spluttering with indignation or sneering at the general idiocy outlined inside (it's why he doesn't have many visitors).

Today was no different. I gently reminded him: "Dad, think of the journalists."

And then something weird happened.

He laughed.

He only bloody laughed.

I can't remember the last time I saw him laugh. Like an actual, proper laugh - ha ha ha and all that.

I was astonished.

Later, still absorbed in it, somewhere near the middle pages, he made an unusual noise.

"What's up?" I said.

His face was contorted - mouth pulled wide, teeth bared, eyes wrinkled shut, air huffing loudly through his nostrils. What the hell was going on?

"I keep thinking of those poor journalists," he said.

Laughing twice in one day?


Sunday, 6 February 2011

Beautiful Day

Waking cwtched up with a lovely man.

Resuming my part time job as a library assistant at the university, only this time I have two libraries to play with, not one.

Gassing with colleagues: old friends, new friends.

Books - loads of lovely, lovely books.

After a long and tiring day, walking home through silent streets knowing all I have to do when I get there is fall into my comfortable bed and sleep.

A bus ticket: I am going to see my dad tomorrow, and know he will be pleased to see me. I will be pleased to see him too.

Little things. Big happy.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Save Your Library

It's Save Our Libraries Day.

"We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth." John Lubbock

Humanoid David Cameron and his government pixies want to close lots of public libraries.

They think it will help get the economy back on track.

"Nutrimentum spiritus." Anonymous, inscription on Berlin Royal Library

I think that's bollocks.

"They are the books, the arts, the academes, that show, contain and nourish all the world." William Shakespeare

There are currently 649 British MPs and they each earn an annual salary of £65,738.

(There should be 650, but Gerry Adams just resigned in stylish fashion.)

"The dissemination of knowledge is one of the cornerstones of civilization." John F. Budd

So MPs alone are costing us £42,663,962 a year, and that doesn't include what the dear old PM and all the cabinet ministers earn. 

"Not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life." Henry Ward Beecher

Let's not mention their expenses. 

"A library implies an act of faith." Victor Hugo

I'm no economist but I'm pretty sure there are better areas a few bob could be saved if they looked hard enough. 

"The medicine chest of the soul." Anonymous, inscription on unknown library

I'm a bit pissed off about it, actually.

"Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open." Laura Bush

It just occurred to me, I could probably save a few libraries myself if I went and paid my overdue fines. 

"What is more important in a library than anything else - than everything else - is the fact that it exists." Archibald MacLeish

Friday, 4 February 2011

Hotter Than Your Nan

It is dark. I am walking through Adamsdown, on my way to visit Tesco's Guy. I'm wearing jeans, Converse, a big warm jacket, my stripey scarf. I have decided to dress normally tonight, instead of the girly, making-an-effort sort of stuff I've been wearing before.

A man walks towards me in the otherwise deserted street.

He is singing quietly to himself.

As he approaches, I hear him say, "Pretty nice."

After he passes, I hear, "Lovely butt."

I arrive at Tesco's Guy's chortling.

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

I go to the council offices to hand in my application for Housing Benefit.

I am seen by a man who looks like a dissolute Santa: white hair tufting in reckless clouds from his head, coarse ruddy skin, forearms heavily tattooed with faded ink.

He is monosyllabic. I try to get him to talk to me like I'm a human while he's going through my paperwork, but he refuses to be drawn by my sparkling repartee.

"ID please," he says flatly.

He studies the photograph in my passport. A hard-faced, crop-haired 37-year-old stares back at him.

"You are very photogenic," he says.

I snort, to express disagreement.

"No, you are."

He glances at me, a wrinkly-faced, long-haired 44-year-old who hasn't seen shampoo for a week so is consequently wearing a voluminous woolly rasta beret.

Finally, there is a twinkle in his eye. "You are hiding your bushel under a hat," he says*.

I leave the Housing Benefit office chortling.

*(I do like a nice mixed metaphor)