Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Giant Pickle

I found this piece of spam in my inbox this morning:

Do you like charming the ladies? Watch their jaws drop when you whip out your improved giant pickle!

Er – quite!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Men!

Tango at El Portenito this evening. Leo, the host, usually intersperses the tango with a salsa or two, and sometimes a jive or a cha cha cha, during the evening.

I always long for someone to ask me to salsa, although this longing is tinged with nervousness that someone might actually do so because I don’t actually salsa! On one or two occasions in the past, however, I have managed to do a passing version of a salsa when I have had a leader who understands that they need to keep it uncomplicated. And lead clearly. This has led me to a (false, as it turned out) confidence in my ability to do that particular dance.

I happened to be dancing with one of my regular partners when a salsa came on. I made the mistake, on a past occasion, of telling this same man that I have never learned to salsa and would need a good lead – assuming that he would dance with me and treat me gently – only to have him walk off and find another partner! Barsteward! So this time, when he asked if I salsa, I said yes.

Me, salsa? Har har! Ten seconds later I wanted to go back in time and unsay it! Tom seemed to be in a rhythm all of his own – I have no idea what music he was listening to in his head, but it certainly wasn’t anything that I could hear, and his feet were doing nothing that my feet could replicate. And he was winding my arms around my head and behind my back and just not getting it that I was JUST NOT GETTING IT! At the same time I was trying to keep the shoulder strap of my dress from sliding down and exposing bouncing bits of me that I’m sure people would prefer not to see, plus trying to keep my ring from flying off my finger – not helped by Tom sliding it down my finger every time he grabbed my hand – and also being rather embarassingly aware that my dress was wafting a little too high every time I spun round.

My thoughts during the dance were not:

“Hey, I can do this, I look so cool, I bet everyone wishes they could dance like me!”

Instead my thoughts dotted about, something like this:
“Eh? What is he doing? Ow! Ooh no, I think I showed my knickers then! And my fat belly, I can feel it hanging down over my knickers! Oh god, why does Charles have to be watching me NOW? What the hell rhythm is this bloke dancing to? Is this really salsa? God why can’t we sit down! Huh? What is he trying to do? No my arms can’t do that, you silly man! Oh no, my ring, please don’t pull off my ring! When will this torture ever END!”

It was one of the most embarrassing dances of my life. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I expect Tom felt heartily the same way!

Charles and I had been to Leo’s other milonga, in Wimbledon, on Friday. I didn’t get many dances, then, because Charles was seated next to me and for some reason that always stops other men asking me to dance. I see them look over at me and then look away again as soon as they spot him.

I managed to get Charles to realise this by the end of that milonga, so tonight he spent part of the evening sitting on the other side of the room in order that I could get asked to dance by some other people. It worked, thank goodness! However, I think it’s so silly that that I can’t sit and talk to Charles whilst waiting to be asked to dance! Charles explained that, psychologically, on a primitive level, men see a woman as the possession of a particular man so they can’t go up and ‘take’ a woman from another male. Apparently this would be morally wrong in Man Code! Men, huh!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Women!

Woohoo! Only two weeks to go until my trip to Gay Paree! Well… Gay Disneyland, to be precise. (Oh dear, that sounds just so wrong!)

One of my friends mentioned in an email that she thinks she is plain. Why do we women never see ourselves as we really are? I think she is enviably graceful and feminine, and I would willingly swap my bouncing belly, flat feet and three chins for her grace and slimness any day! Sometimes when she is dancing she is so beautiful!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Old Flat and New Flat

I’m all painful – got period pain, headache pain and sore throat pain. Bleugh. I went into town with Ingrid at lunchtime… we just went into two shops and I came back absolutely flipping exhausted – pathetic or what!

We have our survey thingy booked for the new flat. 11.30 on 16th. Also, the lettings agency have received my personal reference (that was Simon, who made me sound fab) but not my bank reference. It’s all happening slowly.

My flat sale still isn’t happening yet, though, damn it – I want the money! My solicitor is off work with a sore throat so I can’t really hassle him either!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Computers

Charles’ computer died a death the other day and, as he needs a computer for job hunting (also can’t live without one because he is an IT person who can’t conceive of a day without electronic information in it!) I have lent him mine.

It’s strange not having a computer – I can’t watch TV or get on with my work. I’m having family history withdrawal symptoms, can’t update my records or search my records for information, oh my! What on earth should I do with my evenings now? I’ll have to – um – read a book. Or hoover. Talking of which, I was awake really early this morning so tidied up and did two loads of dishes before work. That felt quite good! One day, oh one fine day, I will actually be clear of all dirty dishes!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Now Now Now!

My thumb is getting gradually worse. Poo! But at least it’s not rheumatoid arthritis, as the tests came back negative. (I almost wanted them to be positive just to show my annoying GP, but no, it’s good that the result was negative!)

I want to put my thumb in a box and not use it for a few weeks as I keep accidentally hurting it, which might be why it isn’t recovering. There are so many things you can’t do without the help of your thumb – pulling up your knickers, trousers and socks being just one – try it, it’s almost impossible. I can’t go knickerless and trouserless just to save my thumb though!

I’ve been told that I may have a new boss soon, to replace Boss Number 2. Oh no! I have worked with this particular lady sometimes in the past, as some of her work overlaps the work of Boss Number 1.

She is a leopardskin-leggings-wearing, super rich, Greek lady and she is such a pain. She wants literally every single thing done now now now, and will stand over you to watch you do it, commenting all the while as if you are not capable of thinking for yourself. Because of her demanding nature I have taken to not answering my phone to her… but if you don’t answer your phone she immediately messages you to ask why you are not answering it… and if you don’t immediately reply to her message she comes running over (from another building!) to ask you why you didn’t reply! I have, on occasion, returned from a meeting or a coffee trip to hear Boss Number 1 explaining heatedly down her telephone that the reason I wasn’t answering my phone was because I wasn’t actually at my desk! And then, after a moment, saying incredulously, “Well, perhaps Jodie has gone to the toilet, Krystina!” She actually phones my boss to find out why I'm not at my desk!

Apparently this lady is going to move over to my area so she will be constantly on top of me. Bleh!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pray

We have had the result of our site survey at work. No redundancies – yee har! In fact we are going to be given millions of pounds to improve our ugly, dilapidated buildings. Hey, we might even get air conditioning that works!

My flat sale is coming along, too. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel at last. The retrospective consent for the windows I had installed has been given, which I think was the only thing holding up the sale, so it should zoom ahead now. We have put a rental deposit down on a posh flat near the river and move into that on 16th January.

It has occurred to me that Patrick’s group at work are getting very religious. Both Patrick himself and his admin are both keen churchgoers, talking about religion and god and church whenever the opportunity presents itself, which, as a total non-believer, I find a bit uncomfortable. And the other morning I came across Vince, slumped across his desk, with his head in his hands. I was a little concerned.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

No answer.

“Are you alright, Vince”?

Still nothing.

“Vince?” I screeched, loudly, and prodded him on the shoulder.

He jumped and looked up at me.

“Sorry, I was praying,” he said.

Oops!

Blimey, Patrick’s group meetings are going to turn into prayer meetings soon!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Because lettuce tastes lovely - doesn't it?

Watch out World, I'm on a diet!

I shall spurn your luscious chocolate cakes in favour of limp green crap. I shall laugh in the face of blubber. I shall be thin!

Ha!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Flats

I am having problems finding a place to live with Charles. We looked at the most gorgeous place yesterday - posh as hell, with ornate gardens leading down to the river, and two, yes two, bedrooms - but, because it's on the 'wrong' side of the river, all I got were moans from Charlie-boy. Basically he wants to be perched on the very top of Richmond Hill, as Mick Jagger's neighbour, and nothing else will do! The trouble is we don't have the budget for anything up there, they seem to start at around £2000 per month for one bedroomed flats, and anything up to £4000 for 2 bedrooms.

Convinced that I just hadn't been looking in the right places, Charles sent me a load of internet links for flats in Richmond, and I spent some time looking through those this morning. However, although initially they all sounded promising, none of them were as good as they made out. When I looked closely at the photographs, or read through the details, I realised that they were all pretty much studio flats masquerading as one bedroomed places, or basements with 2 foot kitchen 'areas'. We both got excited about one particular 1 bedroomed flat that we could actually afford, which was half way up the hill - only to find, when I phoned up the estate agent, that it was a single bedroom which could, in fact, barely fit a single bed in it! Hopes dashed on every single internet link!

In addition to the posh flat I mentioned, I have also seen two others by myself. On reflection, I think I made the wrong decision in trying to save Charlie-boy some time by viewing them without him though. The two flats were just about affordable and I must admit I had high hopes. However, one was an ex-student flat (and, boy, couldn't you tell - it had a rusting tin bath in the garden, and curtains instead of doors!) and the other had a kitchen only big enough for one person to stand in at a time (if they breathed in), and a shower but no bath. Crap, basically. And they were only one bedroom - no room for a study for Charles. But as Charles hadn't seen either place he was under the impression that the posh flat we viewed was a bit cruddy and we could do much better! O to live in Charles' little world!


Anyway, I now have to try to convince him that we would be lucky to get the flat we saw, and that cheap Richmond Hill flats only exist in a parallel universe. And quickly enough that some other person doesn't snap the nice flat up before us!

And if I go to see any other flats I'm blooming well dragging him along with me!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Va-va-voom! (not)

I was wearing my new, black, see-through, Ann Summers number with silky black stockings. Over the top I had on a hip-hugging pencil skirt and a lacy red top. All very clingy. And I wore my stiletto-heeled boots for good measure.

I hid everything bar the boots underneath my coat and drove up to the station to collect Charles.

When we arrived back at my flat I pulled him in through the front door. I slid my coat from my shoulders and let it fall to the floor, showing him what was on offer. He liked!

I moved into the kitchen and began to prepare our food - honey roast parsnips.

"Charles!" I called, "Would you come in here and take off my boots?"

He obliged and, bending down at my feet, took off my boots, one at a time, sliding his hands up my legs as he did so. I heard an appreciative "Mmm!" from below. He stood up and squeezed his arms around my waist. I could feel things stirring just where they ought to be stirring...

"Now take off my top!" I sighed, seductively.

There was a pause.

"Oh no, let's do that later." he said.

Eh?

"I'm trying to seduce you!" I prompted, just in case he hadn't spotted it.

"Yes, I know, but can't we do that after tea?"

* * *

I obviously have less va-va-voom than a parsnip!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Colour Me Beautiful

My workplace is very good at giving us interesting things to do over lunchtimes. As well as the sporty things like yoga or gym, there are often interesting meetings and external speakers.

Today I went to a colour and style workshop. It was really interesting. I found out the colour clothes I should wear to suit my colouring (warm tones), and the styles I should wear to suit my body shape (full hour glass – which sounds so much nicer than fat lump!) and my style personality (romantic) which apparently means that I should dress like Nicole Kidman. If only!

I suddenly feel all excited as I never really knew what to buy before, my clothes purchases have always been a bit hit or miss!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thumb, Part 2

I had an appointment with my very annoying GP this afternoon. He’s a strange man. He doesn’t seem to like touching people, which is odd for someone who has chosen to be a doctor, where you have to examine icky, ill people all day long.

In his last surgery he used to have the most enormous wooden desk as a barrier between him and his patients and, if he needed to examine you, he would lean across his desk as far as he could, straining to squint at you, but he wouldn’t walk around it to be any closer. Today was the first time I had seen him in his new surgery. No big wooden desk this time, but instead a very long desk with him sat at one end and a chair for the patient to sit on a full four feet away from him at the other end.

I went into the room and sat down on the faraway chair, and told him that the doctor at work wants me to have a blood test to rule out rheumatoid arthritis and an X-ray to rule out anything to do with the bone in my thumb. I held out my hand, expecting him to examine and squeeze it as the nice Occupational Health doctor had done. He just looked at it, sideways.

“I suppose you can have a blood test, although it’s unlikely to be rheumatoid arthritis,” he said, “but you don’t need an X-ray. I’ll write you out a form for a blood test.” And so he did.

Well pardon me, but how can he possibly know what’s wrong with me just from looking at my hand from four feet away? Does he have X-ray vision?! Silly man! Whilst he's probably right about the diagnosis, I hate his dismissive attitude. I will be glad when I’ve moved area and can change to another GP.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Geek Speak

Charles is in IT and often talks in Geek Language, which is something I have never learned. Whenever he says an unfamiliar word I find myself giving it a meaning dreamed up by my own head.

Today we have ‘zope’ and ‘plone’ and ‘web application layer’.

Zope sounds to me like a word for when you are all energetic, and zopeing about all over the place. Zope zope zope!

Whereas plone sound like a word for when the day is grey and miserable and slow, and there is nothing nice to do. Rainy Sunday afternoons are really plone.

Web application layer makes me think of lots of sticky spider webs all layered together on a bush.

On that subject, it was really foggy when I left for work this morning and all the teeny tiny water droplets had ‘lit up’ hundreds of spiders webs on all the bushes outside my flat. It was so beautiful, like bushes wearing jewellery. I wished I had time to run back inside and get my camera to take some photographs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Damsel With a Dulcimer

I’ve booked our final night’s holiday in York. Whee, holiday!

I was dithering over which concert we should book for that last evening. I had narrowed it down to either Handel’s Messiah in York Minster, which is bound to sound amazing – a choral work in the massive echo-chamber of the Minster; or, alternately, a group called Safar, singing and playing music from along the 13th Century Silk Road in the lovely sounding venue of a candlelit church – different, but possibly weird, given that it includes music from the Mongol Empire and other odd places. I ummed and dithered, and asked Charles for his opinion. He had none, not being familiar with any of the music.

So in the end I’ve booked us tickets for Safar, reason being;
1) I like candles,
and
2) They will be playing some funky-sounding instruments that I’ve never heard of before such as a gittern, a darrabukka, a tombak, a daf... but also a dulcimer, and ever since my teens I have wondered what a dulcimer is…

From Coleridge’s poem, Kubla Khan ‘a damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw.’

So now I shall know!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bedtime Story

I went round to my brother’s house this evening and, while I was there, did my aunty bit and read a bedtime book to my little niece and nephew. It’s the first time my niece has joined in story time, she was always too young before. How nice!

They both sat together in my nephew’s bed, perched on his pillow, grinning expectantly at me, and I sat further down the bed facing them. However, as I opened the book, it suddenly occurred to me that, because I was facing them both rather than in my normal position seated beside my nephew, I would have to read the book upside down. That’s not as easy as it sounds when you are reading out loud and with suitable expression AND doing funny voices! I just about managed but there were a few ums and ers and stilted bits. My sister in law says it gets easier when you’ve read the same story sixty-two times and know it off by heart!


The story was about trains (my nephew having picked out the book) and halfway through my niece got bored and tried to climb out of bed to go to her own room – sensible girl!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Birthday Girl

Happy birthday to me! Today I am – erm – twenty-three years old. Not.

Charles is officially the best boyfriend ever! He sent me a huge bouquet of lilies and a box of Bouja Bouja chocolates at work. After years of collecting flowers from Reception for other people it was finally my turn, and it did feel nice! Someone who saw the flowers said, “Wow, a man who sends you flowers! And in public too!” which made me giggle.

One of the girls in my group came up to me with a birthday card. Not for me, unfortunately, but to sign for somebody else whose birthday is tomorrow. Tact obviously isn’t her strong point – she saw my birthday cake on my desk and said, “Ooh we can use that for Katherine’s birthday cake, we can pretend we bought it for her!” Erm, no, I don’t think so, that’s MY birthday cake thanks! She could hardly have missed the fact that it was my birthday with the cards all over my desk and Charles’ lovely flowers (which I made a point of getting her to smell – sniff those, look it’s my birthday!) yet it didn’t occur to her to quickly run off and get everyone else to sign another card for me. Hmph! I felt like scrawling a grumpy It's my birthday too, you know! all across Katherine’s card, but thought I’d better not.

This evening Charles – becoming more and more like ‘Super Boyfriend’ by the minute – gave up his tango class to cook me dinner. That might not sound so amazing but Charles never gives up his evening classes for anything – not snow, not earthquake, not even if he’s so ill he can barely crawl. Even when he’s 92 he’s still going to be tottering down to his tango and Spanish classes four times a week, knocking people over with his walking stick if they try to get in his way. He did spoil the ‘romantic dinner’ effect slightly by saying that I had precisely two hours to eat because then he was going off into London for the evening… but he did rethink a little later and said I could stay a bit longer if I wanted to as it was my birthday. Gosh thanks! (Hopefully he’ll eventually get it that an evening together means a whole evening and not a tightly timetabled small slot in between going to London and watching Newsnight… but baby steps, baby steps!) Anyway, the dinner itself was gorgeous – cod cooked in cumin and garlic, with spiced potatoes. Mmm mm, dee-licious! Thank you Charlie-boy, much appreciated!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Early Music Festival

Charles has decided he would like to come with me to York in December for the Early Music Festival. I’m so pleased! I went a few years ago, by myself, and got a bit lonely at that time. The music was lovely – beautiful 11th century religious songs sung in echoey, old churches, just as they were meant to be – and I was lucky enough to hear a choir in York Minster practising a Thomas Tallis piece as I wandered around the Minster doing my tourist bit. However, it was cold, snowy weather and there were lots of homeless people sitting about the pavements, shivering, and one tiny little homeless puppy with sad eyes really tugged at my heartstrings – so I ended up spending a good part of my holiday walking around York doling out hot pasties from the Cornish pasty shop to every homeless person I could find. In addition to that the owner of my guest house had an altercation with some people right outside my bedroom and I didn’t feel particularly safe in my room after that. Not a very happy holiday!

So this time around I will be glad to have Charles’ company. I have booked our first two nights in a 3* hotel with a good restaurant (ie, not a grimy guest house with a shouty, scary owner, but hopefully a more refined experience!) and I have also booked our first two concerts. We have The Clerks' Group with some 12th Century chant and polyphony to listen to (not to everybody’s taste I realise, but I like it!) and also the Rose Consort of Viols with Catherine King as soprano. I heard her sing the last time I was in York and she has a beautiful, piercing, clear voice, so I’m very much looking forward to that.

And, hey, that makes two holidays for me in December!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thumb

I had an appointment with the doctor in Occupational Health this afternoon. I’ve been having problems with a burning pain in my thumb joint for several weeks now and thought it might be RSI. Any excuse not to use my mouse (ie not to work) for a few weeks would be nice! So I was horrified when he said he wants me to have a test to rule out rheumatoid arthritis. God I hope it’s not that!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Poetry

One of our tango friends, Julian, is a poet and I recently asked whether I could read some of his poems. Charles duly came home from tango last night and presented me with a shiny, unread copy of one of Julian’s books that he had been asked to pass on to me.

As a result, this morning I found myself curled up on Charles hall carpet, opening up the book and wondering what I might find. I was a bit wary. Poetry, for me, is usually love or hate and I was so worried that I might not like any of Julian’s work. What on earth would I say to him then?! I opened at a random page and started reading. I needn’t have worried – the poem was lusciously wonderful, full of colours and shapes and imagery… all orange and swirly. I decided orange and swirly was good. So I turned back to page one and read through the entire book in one sitting, devouring the poems one after the other like a bag lady let loose at a feast. Each poem made me want to hurry on and taste the next and the next and the next.

I wish I could copy some of the poems out for you here but I’m not sure how appropriate it would be to display such wonderful poems surrounded by the Barbie-doll pink fripperiness of my blog! So I shall leave them where they are in Julian’s book.


The nice thing is that I feel awakened to poetry again. Back in my teens and early twenties I read a lot of poetry, and attempted to write some (rather bad) poetry myself. I discovered poets I loved (Byron, whose poetry when read aloud rolls richly around, massaging your ears with sound; and Milton, whose Paradise Lost gives you every single thing that a poem should have); and also poems I hated (Coleridge’s This Limetree Bower My Prison, which has more exclamation marks in it than the whole of Foyles book shop). But I realised that, in order to write poetry myself, my head had to be in a rather weird place some several miles above Cloud Cuckoo Land, and I decided that I didn’t want to be weird any more I wanted to have friends and be normal! So poetry died away. But now I want to discover it again, read all my old favourites and find some new ones. Maybe I won’t write anything because I’d quite like to keep my brain on Planet Earth, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying a good read!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You are Gorgeous!

Two years ago today, Charles and I met at a tango workshop. I arrived a few minutes late and, as I walked into the room, about 10 or 12 people were stood in a circle introducing themselves. I quickly slipped into a space and glanced around the circle to see whether I knew anyone who was there.

As I looked to my left my eyes alighted on Charles… and my jaw clanged to the floor. “Phwor, you are GORGEOUS!” were the first words I ever spoke to him (albeit silently, in my head!).

Happy anniversary Charlie-boy!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Most Embarrassing Moment Ever in the Whole History of the World

After a good couple of months of decorating, sorting out and ‘house-doctoring’ I put my flat on the market last Friday. There are a few more things that I could still do to make the flat more saleable but I’ve had enough now, I just want to sell the thing and get on with finding somewhere nice to live with Charles.

As part of a final push, yesterday evening I cut back my forsythia bush which has lately started doing beanstalk impressions, trying to conquer the garden with its long, sneaky branches. Tempting fate, but not seriously expecting any flat viewers just yet, I left all the cut branches in a pile on the patio ready to pick up and throw away tonight. Also a large pile of clothes in the bedroom, and a toppling mountain of ‘to do pile’ junk on one of the dining chairs… again, to pick up tonight. I should have expected it I suppose, but dang it if the estate agent didn’t ring me with a viewer for 4.30pm – the exact time I get home from work, so no time for tidying up my crap before their arrival. Aargh!

In desperation I snuck away from work 15 minutes early. I will have to grovel an apology to Boss Number 1 tomorrow, as she was watching me leave through the glass wall of her office, powerless to say anything to me due to being in a meeting with someone at the time! At least it meant she couldn’t say no!

I zoomed down the motorway, screeching to a halt outside my flat at 4.10pm. Phew, 20 minutes to go. Slam the car door – run indoors – throw bags in a heap on the floor – oh no, that’s not good, pick them up again and throw them into the wardrobe – throw pile of clothes willynilly on top of the bags – jam the wardrobe door shut to stop everything falling out – put away washed dishes, crish crash – heave forsythia branches over the wall – stuff several piles of junk into the drawer under the bed. OK, ready now? – whoops, the flat smells of cleaning fluid and paint, not very welcoming – run around spraying perfume, then again with the coffee grinder, grinding it in every room and trying to waft the nice coffee smell about.

All finished, just in time. Bzzzzt! The door buzzer sounded.

The estate agent ushered in a very sweet and slightly effeminate man with glasses and a shiny bald head. We all shook hands and I took both men outside to see the garden. I went into raptures about how the sun shines right into the garden in the afternoons, how it is a Summer haven, blah blah, buy the damn flat, and then I sat myself down on the settee to let the estate agent do his job around the rest of the flat.

I listened as they walked around each room.

In the kitchen I could hear them opening cupboards. Oh god no, I didn’t think to tidy up inside the cupboards, that’s not good!

It got worse. In the bedroom the estate agent, not content with just pointing out the fitted wardrobes, slid open the wardrobe door to show Viewing Man the pile of crap I had just thrown in there. At least it didn’t all fall out on top of him, but why on earth do estate agents have to open cupboards? Do they not realise that’s where people store their junk?!

They moved into the bathroom.

“Here we have the airing cupboard,” said smoothie estate agent man, creaking open the door to show Viewing Man inside. Oh nooo! I cringed, picturing my blow up man (a Secret Santa Christmas present from work last year) waving up at them from the floor of the airing cupboard. Not quite what you want a potential buyer to see in your home!

And then…

“… and you can see there’s good storage under the sink with a cupboard here too…”

NOOO, DEAR GOD NOOOOOO! DON’T SHOW HIM UNDER THERE!! THERE’S A BIN FULL OF USED SANITARY TOWELS IN THERE!!!!

Oh the horror of it! Oh the total, cringing shame of an estate agent showing someone your used sanitary products!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Paris With Mickey Mouse

I’ve been planning a holiday to Disneyland Paris with my friend Sarah for a while now. It took us ages – months in fact – to sort out dates, and then days on the internet comparing all the options and prices for hotels and trains on various websites before I finally booked everything. But today Sarah’s cheque for her half of the costs arrived in the post, accompanied by a letter written on Mickey Mouse paper, and it suddenly all seems official now!

I feel I should point out that neither me nor Sarah are 7 years old, nor are we taking any children with us to legitimise our visit. But for some reason we have both always wanted to go to Disneyland, so off we are going!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Winter's Day

Brrr! It’s cold today. I’ve got the beginnings of a sore throat and a cough, and I think it’s time to start buying my Winter wardrobe… oh wait, it’s mid August, I should be in a bikini.

What on earth is up with the weather this year?!

Brrrr rrrrr rrrr!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Just answer the damn question!

Getting Charles to commit to a decision can sometimes be a very difficult thing.

His’ friend Madge emailed us to ask if we wanted to join her for some early music concerts in the South Bank Centre during September. What a nice offer! Being well-organised girls, Madge and I very quickly sorted out that:
Madge = concerts A and B
Me = concert A
… and we waited for Charles’ reply.

Count me in for whatever you two are doing, he emailed.

Erm…. Okay! Given that we both wanted to do different things, that didn’t help much!

We tried again. This time I offered to go along to concert B, too, if Charles particularly wanted to see that one – perhaps that would make the decision easier for him. This, I felt, was rather nice of me as I really wasn't keen on the lady singer who, judging from the sound clips on the website, is pretty shrieky and made me want to put my fingers in my ears. So…. did he want to go to concert B? Was I going to have to buy earplugs?

A new email pinged up in my inbox. I opened it and read Charles’ reply.

Hey, I'll come along to anything you two judge to be good.

Strewth! Madge (totally giving up on Charles’ ability to communicate and bypassing him completely) emailed me to ask whether I preferred her just to book concert A for us all, or whether it would be OK to book concert B too.

I replied that I preferred just the first one – however, we should wait until Charles answered in case he wanted to try out the weird shrieking lady as well. With some misgivings I bashed off yet another email to Charles.

Do you want to come to concert B or not?!

I am now sitting here, waiting with bated breath for Charles’ reply – and thinking that I really should have made the decision for him when I was given the opportunity! I can see this going on all day!


UPDATE:

OK, I'll just do the first one only.

Hoo-blinking-ray!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Too Much Tidying

As part of my preparation for selling the flat I’m spending every evening tidying and sorting and clearing up, moving all extraneous matter and clutter out to the garage.

I’m hindered by the fact that I can’t make myself just sweep everything up into a big bag and bung that in the garage. Being a Monica-type-person, I have to sort everything into themed piles and stack each pile neatly into an appropriate box (after pondering for half an hour over which pile and then which box each item should go into). It takes me days just to sort through one small heap of stuff! The perils of having an over-organising brain!

Charles said recently that he thinks I spend my evenings reading celebrity magazines and watching TV. If only he knew! The sad fact is that what really fills up my evenings is cleaning, sorting, oranising, tidying, planning… I just can’t sit down until everything around the house is done (which it never is so I never sit down!). I think the reason I generally sleep so solidly is that I go to bed so flipping exhausted! On the odd occasion that I do decide to have an hour with a book before bed I can’t enjoy it because of the self-imposed guilt guilt guilt! You see, I have this rather stupid idea that, if I can just get to the point where all (and I mean ALL) the useful things are done and out of the way, then, and only then, can I allow myself to relax and do fun things with my evenings. But of course there is always something useful that could be done if I look hard enough.


I’m actually really looking forward to a year in a rented place with Charles. I will still have to get things like shopping and cleaning and laundry out of the way before I can allow myself to switch off, but there will be no need to paint a wall, or run up a pair of curtains, or shop for bookshelves, or tidy the garage… all that can wait until we buy somewhere of our own. Instead I am going to enjoy reading books and creating art. Hey, my life will be fun!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Kitchen Garden

When me and Charles eventually buy our own place, hopefully in about a year’s time, we both want to have a little kitchen garden. Charles likes plucking mint leaves from the little plant I got him to put in cold drinks, and I want to grow tomatoes and peppers and herbs, and eat them freshly picked. In my ideal world I'd have chickens too, for fresh eggs, and a goat for milk, but I don't think Richmond Council would be too happy with that one!

But they can't stop us having our cloth cat!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wasps and Babies

Charles and I were invited to a tango party in south London this afternoon. I was a little bit nervous about going. I dithered about it for ages the night before, and then again when I woke up in the morning, and very nearly chickened out altogether. I’m never good in social, chit-chatty situations. I become frozen up with shyness and go into ‘awkward’ mode where I sit in a corner examining my shoelaces and trying to pretend I don’t exist. (God, I’m such fun!) However, I seem to be becoming a bit of a hermit lately, so I kicked myself up the bum and sternly told myself to get out there and talk to some people for once.

Decision made, off we went. We had a good drive to south London. The sun was unexpectedly shining, there was little traffic, it was very pleasant. We parked the car and found the house where the party was being held. Up the footpath we went. Charles rang the doorbell and quickly backed away, pushing me in front of him.
“You go first.”
“No way, you go first!” I scuttled around behind him again.
“It might not be the right house.”
“I know, that's why you have to go first, I’m a wuss!”
(We’re so grown up!)

He was the one in front as the door opened (ha!) and we were ushered down a long, mirrored hallway and into the kitchen. My eyes immediately skipped past all the people and alighted on a huge spread of food. Mmm! It all looked droolingly gorgeous – strange cheeses, sliced pears, various types of bread, huge bowls containing salads of every description – foodstuffs that it wouldn’t have occurred to me to put with each other, such as aubergine, courgette and roasted tomato salad. I could feel myself salivating wildly! I suddenly decided that there is actually an advantage to not really knowing many people at a party – you don’t have to say hello to anybody and you can just dive straight into the grub! Wahey – piggy heaven! However, after managing to grab a plate and fork, my cunning plan was thwarted by the fact that the kitchen was quite narrow and, whichever way I dodged and ducked, there was always some large bloke in between me and the food. Crap! In the end I had to patiently chew on some bread and houmous, which were the only items I could reach, until Charles had finished saying all his hellos (unlike me, he actually speaks to people!) – and he pushed a swathe through the crowd for us to move down the kitchen to the rest of the food and the garden.

Neither of us had realised that it was going to be a tango party. When two of the men started slotting wooden boards together in the garden to make a floor to dance on, we both looked at each other – we hadn’t brought our tango shoes! Oh no! Charles was in sandals, I was in sandals. Everyone else seemed to be better prepared and people began appearing outside shod variously in dance trainers and high heels.

The first couple to begin dancing were really good and we happily settled down to watch them. Not so happy, though, was the woman’s little son who must have been about 2 years old. He looked on in horror. What on earth was his mother doing leaving him alone at the side of the garden in order to go and do strange bodily things with this strange man?! It just wasn’t right!
“Mummeeee!” he wailed.
Mummy ignored him. She was enjoying her dance!
“Mummeee! Mummeee!”
Very fittingly, the singer on the record was crooning something in Spanish that sounded like ‘mommy’ so they had quite a duet going on. Another couple began dancing too.
“Mummeeeeee!”

In his distress the little boy started to toddle onto the wooden floor and was in danger of being mowed down by the dancers, so Charles very sensibly picked him up and sat him on his knee. This seemed to calm him down a bit. Eventually Mummy finished her dance and went off in search of a drink, so the little boy slid off Charles' knee to follow her, obviously very relieved that his mother was acting normally once more.

But, oh no – much to his dismay, she was out again a few minutes later with another partner, and again left him at the edge of the dance floor.
“Mummeee!” he wailed in disbelief.

Charles had by now wandered off to talk to someone, so this time I proffered my own lap and gave the little boy a cuddle whilst he looked on at the dancing. He settled down again immediately, but - hmmm, a child on my lap? Not a good idea! I’m so broody at the moment that all anyone has to do is point a small child in my direction and I'm guaranteed to end up running to the nearest loo to have a cry...

Sure enough, I could feel my throat tightening and my eyes filling up. Oh gawd, don't cry now you silly bat! I had visions of suddenly finding myself the centre of a concerned group of party guests, all patting my hands, clucking, and passing me tissues, whilst they tried to find out what dreadful thing was upsetting me - and I was sure that pointing at the little boy and squeaking, "It's a baybeee!" would just leave everyone thoroughly confused!

Sniff, gulp. How to distract myself… how to distract myself…

Distraction came in the form of a wasp up my skirt! When I felt the tickly insect feet crawling up my thigh I almost launched the poor child across the garden! Luckily he landed the right way up (albeit with a loud thump) and he ran off into the kitchen in search of someone less freaky whilst I frantically flapped my clothes about to try and get the wasp to come out. I have a wasp phobia so, when I say ‘frantically’, that is a weeny bit of an understatement. Jiggling about like a hula dancer on speed, I shrieked, "There's a wasp up my skirt! Ooooeee, there’s a wasp up my skirt!”
Everyone looked at me as though I was slightly bonkers.
“A wasp? Oh that's alright,” said someone, calmly.
Alright??! No it bloody isn't ALRIGHT, it's a WASP!! And it's just an inch away from my lady-bits!!! I flapped some more and the wasp fell out of my skirt and onto the patio, then flew off looking somewhat dazed.

Phroo, adventure over! That was scary! I was very wary of wasps for the rest of the afternoon. I sat there clutching my skirt tightly around my legs to make sure there would be no gaps for exploratory insects, every hair on my body twangingly alert for the slightest sign of another little waspy footstep or a little waspy breath.

In spite of the endless swarms of killer wasps that kept trying to land on me, and in spite of our inappropriate footwear, Charles and I managed to have a few nice dances together. I’ve been having a break from tango lately as I found I just wasn’t enjoying it in the way that I used to. I had begun to dread the Friday milongas coming around instead of looking forward to them and, when my calf muscle went ping and detached itself whilst I was running in Richmond Park one day, followed soon afterwards by someone spiking my foot with their stiletto heel during the Tango Extravaganza, which left me with broken foot bones, I decided that enough was enough - I just wasn’t meant to be tangoing right now and it was time for a break!

Today though, for the first time in ages, I actually enjoyed dancing! Charles danced in his socks, I danced in my sandals; we tripped over the joins in the boards or fell off the edge of the floor; we dodged the crab apple tree and the wasps – but none of that mattered, it was all just a really nice experience! I’m thinking now that maybe my tango break should come to an end soon. Perhaps I just need to find a way of making tango fun again? How I do that I’m not quite sure yet, but watch this space!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Channel Flicking

I was made to watch The One Show today on BBC1. Sulkily. I actually wanted to watch Jeeves and Wooster which is far more entertaining.

My friend Abdul is in a choir who apparently were going to be featured singing on the show and he gets a wee bit grumpy if you don’t show interest in everything he does – he never lets you hear the end of it! I think he feels that a ‘real friend’ would be eager to look at anything to do with him, in the way that over-keen parents have to turn up to every football match their child plays, every school performance, every ballet lesson. He keeps trying to make me listen to his choir, inviting me to every performance and complaining when I say no, and he even once expected me to buy a copy of the Times just to read a mention of the choir.

What he doesn’t get is that it’s not actually about him at all – I just don’t like the choir, I think they sound totally crap! ‘Cacophonous’ is the most apt word I can think of. It’s one of those choirs where anybody can pay to be a member and therefore singing ability doesn’t come into it – and, boy, can you tell!

This particular television show had even less to recommend it to me because the choir were going to be singing a song about redheads and how hard they have it in life, poor dears – not something I have any sympathy for, as I think there are far worse crosses to bear than a hair colour! Hey, if you don’t like it, dye it!

Anyway, in order not to get told off for not taking an interest, I decided that my best policy would be to watch Jeeves and Wooster but flick back to BBC1 every minute or two to see the choir when they came on. However, in the end my flicking came to nothing. Half an hour of grumpily back and forth (because of course the redhead article came on at the very end of the programme, typical) and I flicked back from Jeeves and Wooster to hear Bonnie Langford saying she doesn’t know what all the fuss is about, she never had a problem with her red hair. Yay Bonnie!


So all that flicking and missing Jeeves and Wooster witticisms was for nothing as I had missed the choir altogether.

Actually, maybe that’s a good thing!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Happy Face

Facebook is my Happy Place.

I can watch pretty coloured fish swimming about in my aquarium. I can go into my art gallery and look at all the beautiful pictures that I have put up there. I can get the weather forecast and read the news headlines. I can read Dilbert cartoons. I can look at my world travel map and reminisce about where I've been and plan all the nice places I still want to see.

And I can click on a picture of a hamster and make the poor creature vibrate, which for some reason has me in stitches!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sleepy

I’m so tired today, I can barely stay awake – my back ache woke me up at 4.00am and I had to get out of bed to ease it, so I was in work at 6.15 – grooh! Raj is coming round this evening to help me shift furniture into the garage (I’m trying to turn my flat into a show home before I put it on the market). I hope he doesn’t mind if I fall asleep and let him drag furniture by himself!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bzzzz!

In the middle of getting dressed this morning, I was standing there wearing just my pants and a stripey T-shirt. Charles came over and patted my tummy.

“Aww, it’s all round and cute!” he said. “You look like a bumble bee!”

Charming!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tan Tropez

Standing at the coffee machine Pete remarked to me, “You look very radiant today!”

“Why, thank you!” I said, feeling rather pleased.

“Yes, have you got that Saint Tropez tan stuff on?”

No I blinking well haven’t! In order to quickly disassociate myself from all Essex Girl connotations, I explained that I had been quite tanned since coming back from Spain.

“Nah, that’s that Saint Tropez stuff,” he insisted. “You look all orangey.”

Speechless, I removed one of my sandals and showed him the white, untanned strap lines on my foot.

“Oh,” he said, disappointed.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Bagpuss?

I love animals, especially dogs and cats, and I think a home isn’t homely without a cat on your lap and a dog lying contentedly in front of the fire. However, Charles didn't grow up with animals as I did, and he isn’t keen on pets. He thinks they’re unhygienic when they lick their bums, and scary when they show their teeth – or even just when they look at him. But he kindly said I could have a cloth cat as a pet! Hmm, maybe I should put up giant posters of cats on every wall, showing their wide, staring eyes and their 6 inch long, glinting teeth in glorious close-up, and then a real one would seem so teeny-weeny and fluffy and cuddly by comparison that he will be begging me to swap!

* * *

From the Favela Chic Tango MySpace page:
“This new and exciting social club night aims to bring, diffuse and expand the music and friendly dancefloor mentality of tango to a wider London crowd.”… friendly dancefloor mentality… ha ha ha hahaha ha haaa!


* * *

I have just found someone who has 261 Facebook friends. How can he possibly have met that many people in his entire life?!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Talk Talk

I met up with Rachel at Petworth House this afternoon. The drive down was good, it only took an hour, but I was so tired. I’ve had backache every night recently and it makes for very unrestful nights.

I had a fab time with Rachel though – lots of chatting, two lots of tea and cake, a good shopping spree in the National Trust shop – and a quick sprint around the rooms of the house as we had spent too long doing the other things and it was almost closing time. Our cars were, funnily enough, parked right beside each other, so we carried on chatting in the car park. Yak yak yak. Eventually we had to be asked to leave because we had been gassing for so long that they were waiting to lock the gates!

In the shop I had bought Charles a posh mug with ‘His Lordship’ written across it. He likes to refer to himself as Lord Charles of Richmond Hill, so it seemed very apt! I dropped it round to his flat on my way home and left it in the kitchen for him to find.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Butterflies

Charles gave me a present of some little butterfly pins for my cork noticeboard. They are so cute! He does give good presents.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Hopi

I’ve just had hopi ear candling done on my ears. Incredibly relaxing, but a little weird! Basically the therapist sticks a candle in your ear and lights it, and you lie there for 10 minutes while it burns down, at which point she takes the candle stub out and turns you over to do the other ear. It is supposed to massage your ear drum and relax you - worked for me.

Now I have very hot ears (come and warm your hands in front of my orifices, my dear!).

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Facebook

I have a new obsession – Facebook! My brother has a MySpace page and it’s kind of like that but oh so much better. MySpace seems messier somehow and a bit pointless, it made me want to run away. But not Facebook – I have to go into it about a hundred times a day and fiddle with it and see what my friends have been up to. It’s fun!

When I first joined Facebook a couple of weeks ago my only friendship link was Charles. Every time I logged on I read the comment 'You have 1 friend' - that sounded so pitiful! Ditto when it said 'You have just two entries on your wall' (which is the space where people write you messages). Does it really have to use the word just?! Basically Facebook thinks I’m a pathetic Norma No-Mates!

But as of today I am up to 11 whole friends! (This sounded not too bad until I went into some of those friends and saw numbers like 43 and 56 – blimey, I don't think I even know 56 people!)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Supermarket Sweep

I read in a magazine that if you eat two eggs for breakfast it fills you up all day and then you don’t eat any crap. Worth a try! I duly hardboiled two eggs as I got ready for work this morning and stuffed them into my bag to take to work along with my lunch. Result? Hey, it works! My morning eggs with a carrot and orange smoothie kept me filled up right until lunchtime… and then I couldn’t even eat all my lunch! Woo hoo! Easy diet!

Then along came this evening. I was an hour late leaving work, due to a crappy meeting, then stopped off at the garage to pump some air into my car tyres. So by the time I’d done all that it was way past my normal tea time and I was pretty damn hungry. Hmm, I thought - I know, I’ll pop into Tesco and get some ice cream to take home for my tea.


Silly me! Why oh why do I never learn that I mustn’t – under any circumstances – go into a supermarket when I am hungry?

I came out with…

3 packs of daal
6 chapatis
Pack of Cadburys cake bars
A bag of 13 chewy cookies
Salmon and cream cheese sandwich filling (even though I never make sandwiches)
6 eggs
A pack of roasted root vegetables
A tin of spaghetti
Brie cheese
Mashed potato
2 tubs of ice cream
8 chocolate brownies
A sushi box
A tube of Pringles (and I don’t even like crisps!)

Grooh! Going to be offloading a whole heap of crap food to everyone at work tomorrow!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Army's Way of Caring

Charles emailed me to tell me he’d done a good poo! How nice, I’m so pleased he shared that!!!

* * *

On the television at the moment there are a couple of army recruitment adverts doing the rounds - 'adventure mechanic' for the boys and 'saviour nurse' for the girls. I saw one today and it was the biggest load of army propaganda bollocks ever! A woman (to emphasise the feminine, caring aspect of course!) dressed in camouflage trousers is doing something with a group of sweet-looking, well-behaved children (no young yobs swearing and chucking rocks at her here!) when a hysterical mother carries her injured and bleeding child into scene. Capable and caring army woman instantly drops everything and runs to rescue the little boy, concerned look writ across her face. Then the army recruitment line flashes across the television screen saying hey this is what the army is all about.

Yeah, right - because caring people go into a job where you learn how to shoot people dead, to bomb them, to gas them, to blow them up with tanks and with landmines, to knife them and hurl grenades at them, to murder and maim (and where you unofficially learn how to beat them up, torture them and rape their women)… where the actual purpose of your job is to kill people! That’s soooo much more caring and humanitarian than, say, being a doctor or a teacher or a community worker!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Celebrity Lookalikes

Me

I found this on the internet. You upload a photo of your face to the website, then it shows you some pictures of celebrities that look just like you. That’s the theory, anyway! I tried it with a few different photos of me and it wasn't amazingly accurate – it repeatedly gave me Mariah Carey (well, maybe on a good day, and with a bit of plastic surgery!) but mostly it seemed to think I’m Chinese! Oh, and I also look like Eric Idle. Great!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Clear Out

Raj came round this evening. He likes to read my Heat magazine (though would never admit it) so he read out bits of article to me whilst I cleared out the hall cupboard. I do love a good cupboard sort out, you always discover things… this time I found paint pots and brushes and they are now sitting out waiting for me to use them. Raj was planning to fly me to France on Sunday in his little stripey plane but, the weather being as blowy as it is, I think I will paint some walls instead.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Let Me Eat Cake!

This evening Charles and I joined his friend Madge for a concert in St George’s, Hanover Square. The music itself was unremarkable – nice enough, but not really worth travelling into London for – and I spent the evening fidgeting about on my hard pew to try and ease my throbbing backache, and wondering how soon the concert would be over so that we could go home. (Being the strange person that I am, however, I was also pleased to be there because I felt very cultured spending my evening listening to classical music in a church. Work that one out!)

My tummy was rumbling when we came out and I had the happy idea of saying goodbye to Madge and settling down at a nice, cosy table in a dark restaurant corner to canoodle romantically with Charles over coffee and cake before going home. A nice way to end a civilised evening, I felt. Unfortunately I didn’t communicate this very well to Charles.


“Is there somewhere near here that we could get something to eat?” I whispered invitingly into his ear.

“Yes, sure!” he said, looking pleased – then invited Madge along to eat as well. I suppose I should have expected that one, it’s only polite. But suddenly they were discussing entire meals rather than snack-ettes of cake:

“Do you fancy a curry?” Charles asked me.

“Um – god no!” I wanted a ten minute canoodle then home to bed, not an hour’s solid eating followed by rushing to catch the last train.

“What about a pizza?”

“No, not really!”


Giving up on me he looked at Madge. “Hey, I know a place that does good pitta breads and it’s really cheap too, shall we go there?”

“Sure!”
she said… and I suddenly found myself being trotted halfway across London, up dark roads and down dingy alleyways to the bright lights and sleaze of late night Soho. Charles and Madge walked along chatting to each other and I brought up the rear, thinking, “Eh? Where we going? Where’s my cake? SOHO?!!”

Eventually Charles led us into a kind of MacDonalds-with-pitta bread place. All I can say is – dear god! The place was a post-pub Yob Land, packed with groups of drunken people milling about in search of a kebab. It was brightly lit by fluorescent strip lighting, the wipe-clean, plastic tables were all crammed together so tightly that once you managed to squash yourself into a seat you were pinned there indefinitely until the person behind you decided to move their chair, and the place had a grotty, take-away feel to it. As a bloke drunkenly dropped his coast on my head, my cosy vision of romance and cake floated away into the night like a pretty and unobtainable bubble, and burst into nothingness with a pathetically small pop. This place wasn’t at all what I had in mind – no canoodling, no nice atmosphere – and no cake! I really must learn that Charles doesn’t do telepathy and that I need to spell things out for him!

Last week, when Charles had visited this very place with another friend, he had been full of moans about what an awful, sleazy place his friend had taken him to. But now he was obviously having a change of heart because he eagerly tried to convince me how good the place was. Or maybe he was just hungry.

“It’s really cheap!” he said, “and look how much food you get for your money. And you can go back and fill up your pitta bread as often as you like – for free!”

Hmm, yes, because of course I’d want three extra helpings of crap!

Looking around the cafĂ©… restaurant… eaterie – whatever you want to call it – I thought I’m obviously missing something. Charles liked this place (at least, this week he did), so did Madge, and so did his other friend last week. So, apparently, did all the drunk people. But I could honestly think of no reason to ever come near the place except for sheer starvation of Ethiopian proportions. And even then I’d rather eat my handbag.


I think I must just be a snob (although I prefer to call myself ‘someone with taste’!).

Friday, June 15, 2007

How Useful!

In my building at work there is a brand new meeting room. It looks fabulous. It has a shiny new table in the middle of the room. It has lots of brand new, cushiony chairs, still in their plastic wrappers. It has a cosy armchair in one corner, and some nice, lush plants to add ambience. It couldn't be more perfect!

A carefully typed notice has been taped to the door, which reads:
'For health and safety reasons this room should not be used for any meetings.'

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why?

Girlie topic alert! (Boys, feel free to click away now!)

Why is it that, when you’re pre-menstrual... one minute you haven’t got the energy to get your fat arse off the sofa, there is just a vacant space where your brain used to be, you are feeling tearful, tired and downright grumpy… but then as soon as you scarf down a big bar of chocolate (well, OK, two!) it suddenly all goes away? Suddenly your brain is working again and you're capable of having a thought outside of "Myeurgh, I'm sooo miserable!" Suddenly you’re bouncing around the flat, feeling perky, and looking for exciting things to do (hoovering anyone?). Suddenly your grumps have gone walkies and you’re grinning at everyone on the TV as though they were real people...

It's odd! But yay for chocolate!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Being Civilised

A strange trait I have noticed in myself (and Charles admits to this too, so at least I’m not the only one!)...

Tonight we went to a small guitar concert. There we were in a little white room filled with rows of somewhat uncomfortable chairs, sipping orange juice, surrounded by an audience of elderly men with hair sprouting out of their ears and middle aged ladies wearing saggy cardigans and meaningful expressions, whilst we all listened to a girl play her guitar. And, whilst I do like guitar music, I have to say that the stuff we were listening to was a wee bit on the boring side. In reality I would have enjoyed myself far more if I had been lying on the sofa in my nightie, watching the final of The Apprentice, and scarfing down chocolate and cold milk.

Yet, instead of wishing myself elsewhere, I found myself feeling pleased that I was spending such a civilised Summer evening listening to a guitar concert in Richmond Park! I obviously have a strong ‘inner snob’!

* * * * *

Big things that happened today:

Charles got a new job (woo hoo!)
My work announced that they are having a re-jig and it's possible that I may be made redundant towards the end of the year (crap!)
Charles said, "WHEN we live together" instead of "IF we live together" (yay!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How to Be Happy

At work we are having a series of events for National Smile Week. This morning I went along to listen to a motivational speaker called Pete Cohen, who was talking about happiness. Apart from the fact that I got a nice goody bag that was full of balloons and cute little presents (wahey!), it was a really good talk, very positive and uplifting.

When the talk was advertised around the site I did my usual thing of letting my fear get in the way… I didn’t know anyone else who was going to the talk, so I told myself that maybe I wasn’t supposed to be there and everyone else would stare at me, maybe people would look on me badly for not being hard at work at my desk, blah blah blah… god my mind can be pathetic sometimes... but I like motivational talks, so I told myself to shut up and went along anyway! And funnily enough that’s pretty much what the talk was about – shutting up the voice in your head, choosing to do things differently!

One of the themes in the talk was that you are the person you choose to be. For example, if you tell yourself, “Oh I’m a real worrier, I can’t help worrying about stuff, that’s just me,” that’s actually not true. You don’t come out of the womb clutching your forehead and thinking, “Gosh I’m worried,” – you choose to worry and so it becomes a habit. So hey, choose to be a happy person instead! Makes sense!

My worst battle has always been with shyness rather than with happiness, but it’s a similar choice I think. When I was in my teens my friend fixed me up on a date with her brother, who I had liked from afar when I saw him sitting cross-legged in a field once. (Well I lived in a rural area, it’s what we did back then!!) On the day of the date she said to me kindly, “Don’t worry, I’ve told him you’re shy.” For some reason I felt I had to live up to the description of being shy as best as I possibly could. So I didn’t say a single word the whole evening. Just sat there looking a bit sad. He never spoke to me again, I can’t imagine why!

Conversely, when I first met Charles I wanted him so badly that I booted my shyness up the bum, took a deep breath, and went over to speak to him, trying my hardest to appear Miss Chatty-and-Interesting. I’m not sure how well I succeeded at that, but I know I’d sure as hell have got nowhere at all if I’d have said to myself, "I can't talk to him, I'm shy," and stood in the corner all afternoon looking at the floor!

Another thing Pete Cohen mentioned is that a lot of people see happiness as something to be earned. They tell themselves that when such and such happens I will be happy – when I have this house or that car, when I have achieved my business aims I will be happy, when I retire I will be happy. But of course that’s daft. You don’t buy a car, or reach the age of 65, and then suddenly PING! you are a happy person forever more! What changes your life for the happier is not what you buy, or have, or achieve, it’s changing your own perspective on the world around you. For example, I love writing this blog. But it’s not finishing an entry, or achieving a years worth of entries, that gives me that feeling of happiness, it’s the actual writing of the blog that does that. It’s ‘enjoying the doing’ – and I can feel that right at this moment, I don’t have to wait for a time way down there in the future when I’ve ‘earned’ it.

The talk was reasonably interactive, with the audience being asked to say or do various things. I got a clue that I might have a tendency to be a wee bit over-analytical sometimes when Pete Cohen said, “Turn to the person next to you and tell them what makes you happy.” I turned to my neighbour and said I am happy when I am in the moment, not worrying about the future or thinking about the past but just being fully in the moment. Blah blah. Everyone else gave one word answers! (The bloke in front of me said, “Beer!” Hmm, deep!)

Anyway, I thought Pete Cohen was bloody good! I felt positive and uplifted and ready to make changes. I was really disappointed when it came to the end of the talk, wanted to have a mini Pete Cohen to carry around on my shoulder all day spouting his stuff! But never mind, I will just have to remember the nice, positive feeling that I have now. And to stop listening to the duck in my head (yes, apparently there is one, quacking away in there!).

Monday, June 11, 2007

1950s Heaven

Dropping Charles off at his flat the other day, he sat next to me in the car for ages, rabbiting on about nothing in particular. I wasn’t sure why he seemed so reluctant to get out, and was about to nudge him through the car door, when suddenly he announced that he thought maybe we should live together. Woo hoo, you could have knocked me down with a feather, I wasn’t expecting that one!

Charles is very cautious about these things – “If we carry on getting on this well,” he said, “maybe in a few months time we should think about possibly moving in together. Maybe at the end of the year we could possibly buy a place. It might work. We’ll have to see.”

I must admit, I would have liked a wee bit more enthusiasm – something along the lines of, “Hey, I love you and I can’t live without you, let’s move in together right now… and, by the way, here’s a huge shiny engagement ring!” would have been more my thing. I can’t see the point of wasting all this time – if we’re going to do it, I just want to get on and do it! But you can’t expect a cautious person to throw his worries to the wind, so I’ll just have to make do with the fact that we have a vague plan for half a year away and be glad that at least we’re moving in the right direction! It’s hard – Charles moves so much more slowly than I do – I was ready for this over a year ago and I’ve had to dredge up so much patience to wait until his mind catches up with mine! (I have to say, he is worth the wait though.)

Anyway, we haven’t discussed it properly yet – so far we’ve just flung a few semi-humorous comments at each other, along the lines of:

“If we live together we’re going to have to do such and such.”

“That’s what you think – if we dooo ever live together I’m bloody not doing that, we’re going to do it this way!”

“Hmph!”

“Yeah!”

From these meaningful, adult discussions I have gleaned a few possible hurdles that we’ll have to overcome if our dream of ‘living together bliss’ is to happen:

One is that I have worked my way up the property ladder from my first studio flat with a nice balcony to my current one bedroomed flat with a secluded garden, whereas Charles is renting and, therefore, for him, anything with a mortgage is a step up. So he doesn’t quite get that I don’t want to go backwards down the ladder to some smelly old flat without a garden when I’ve worked really hard over the years to get this far. Hey, this time round I want a mansion and a private swimming pool!

I also get the feeling that Charles thinks it’s OK to try to make your partner (ie me!) act in a way that befits your vision of an ideal relationship – to change their bad habits (not that I have any of those, mind you!), and to make them have a sense of responsibility. Whereas I’ve learned that you can’t force anyone to have a sense of anything – it’s either there or it’s not – and if you try to force your opinion onto your partner, however well-intentioned you are, you will actually force nothing but power-struggles and resentments onto the relationship, and kick love merrily out of the window. You have to love each other just as you are, bad habits and all, for better or for worse! Also, having survived a very controlling marriage in the past, I’m a bit over-sensitive on this one, and therefore likely to over-react if poor Charlie-boy so much as suggests I should have coffee instead of tea one evening!

The final thing (and a biggie) is our very different views on money. Charles is a thoroughly modern man in that he thinks debt is a normal part of everyday life and, whilst he moans about having to make the interest payments on his credit cards each month, he’s the first to admit that if he managed to clear his credit cards he would quite happily run up some more debts on them. That’s what credit cards are for! He thinks just a month ahead, rather than months or years into the future, and doesn’t get the concept of saving money for when the bills come in, or of making your money work for you. Whereas I’m more granny-like in my views on finance – the thought of being in debt, even by a penny, scares me silly and I will do anything to avoid it. I will pick up pennies in the street even if they have dog poo on them. And I deeply resent the idea of handing many thousands of pounds of my hard-earned income over my lifetime to the banks when I could have bought myself a car, or a dream holiday, or even a house with that money – I think it’s daft that people choose to give an enormous wodge of their wages to the bank for the privilege of receiving nothing but threatening letters in return, and dying of a heart attack from reading their monthly bank statements. And, hey, if you’re not in debt the banks actually give you some of their money, and why would anyone not want that?! Basically mine and Charlie-boy’s views on money are poles apart – but the positive side to this is that, if we can get through this one, then I think we will get through absolutely anything together!

All in all, I actually think we’ve got what it takes to have a good, solid relationship. Charles, like most men, has a tendency to think he knows better than you do when you try to explain something, so he doesn’t always take on board exactly what you are trying to tell him. However, when he does listen he’s very good at it and listens properly, takes everything on board and thinks about it seriously. At these times he’s very nearly as good as a woman! He’s also the kind of person who you know will be there for you when you need him – he’s not one of those blokes who exits the room at top speed if he thinks you might have an emotion in front of him, but just takes all tears and unintelligible mumbles in his stride, opens up his arms and lets you snot all down his chest! What a man!

And, as for me, I refuse to let petty things get in the way of a relationship. I think that what matters is that you love and support each other no matter what. So I’m not going to make a big deal if Charles wants to pick his nose and flick bogies around in the shower. And if he decides he wants to change career and become a maggot farmer, or take up animal stuffing for a hobby, I’ll support him nonetheless!

I also think our preferences will work well together. I quite like doing the housewifely thing – cooking and cleaning, looking after the house. I was born in the wrong era – I would have enjoyed being a 1950s housewife, pottering round the house each day flicking a feather duster about, and greeting my hubby’s return from work with a welcoming smile and a tray of freshly baked fairy cakes. Charles, meanwhile, has more cerebral things to get on with. He often works through the night, going to bed at 5 or 6am, and housework is a frustrating chore that gets in the way of his work. So that would suit us both! (And the one thing I hate with a vengeance – doing the dishes – Charles is happy to do! Yee har!)

Anyway, proper discussions will commence shortly I am sure – we’ll do a few more “Hmph”s and “Yeah”s and see where we end up!

In 1950s heaven I hope!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Job Stress

Charles has been having so many problems with work, and particularly his bosses, over the past year or so. In recent weeks he has barely gone into work at all – he just couldn’t face it, and wanted to concentrate all his time on searching for a new job. He was even having chest pains, which worried me a little!

Anyway, things came to a head this week and he has been allowed to give zero days notice and just leave.

I think he’s really brave doing that, leaving without a job to go to. Lots of other (wussier) people wouldn’t. And I’m sure it’s the best thing too – he doesn’t have to go into work or argue with his boss again – after all, it’s stressful enough job hunting without that going on too!

I’m a bit worried about how he’ll do for money between now and his next wage packet though (which obviously is at least a month away and likely longer). I wish I could afford to just give him some dosh but obviously it would be a bit dim to get us both into debt, one of us needs to stay solid. But I’ll have to keep his food cupboards stocked up, make sure he doesn’t starve, at least! And of course, if it comes to it, he can move into my flat so that he doesn’t have to worry about rent.

Ooh, scary for him! Here’s hoping he gets a good job that he can be happy in, and quickly!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Book

Although it might not seem like it at times, I do actually have a brain (I just hide it well!) and I love to immerse myself in deeply academic history books, or to watch television documentaries on subjects as diverse as the chromosomal make-up of chimpanzees or the effects of rain on pyroclastic flow. But I also have to admit to a strong liking for a lot of the brainless crap that’s around – Heat magazine, celebrity gossip, who’s had a boob job, who’s shagged who. Charles, who is politically and mathematically minded, reads The Independent daily, and is Cambridge educated, needless to say doesn’t approve of the latter!

One of my favourite TV programmes at the moment is Katie and Peter, The Next Chapter. It’s total, brainless mush but I really enjoy watching it. And Charles, bless him, in spite of his deep disapproval of celebrity culture, reality TV, silicon implants (you name it, Katie and Peter has it!) went out and bought me a present of Katie Price’s (a.k.a. Jordan’s) autobiography because he knew I’d like to read it.

I thought that was brilliant of him!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Chipboard Papdi

A couple of days ago I nipped into Tesco on my way home from work for a copy of Heat magazine. The magazine section is located right next to the doors and the tills, so this should have been a quick in-and-out exercise, over in less than a minute. However, I was a bit hungry (stupid time to enter a supermarket, just before tea – guaranteed hunger shopping of crappy ‘food’ items!) and my rumbling stomach pulled me inexorably down into the deepest, darkest, depths of the aisles in search of crud – er, food.

Wandering down one of the aisles I came across an Asian foods section. They had some weird stuff in there. And I don’t mean weird in terms of the food so much as weird in terms of the packaging. There were huge tin barrels of cooking oil, tubs of rice the size of a small child, enormous sacks of flour… blimey, buy in bulk or what!

Anyway, a five-year supply of vegetable oil couldn’t tempt me, but I did end up coming out of Tesco with a whole bagful of strange foodstuffs to try. There was a box of sticky baklava, the remains of which I shared out at work once I had pigged a few pieces myself, there was a packet of spiced nuts which topped my energy up before going to the gym on Wednesday… and yesterday I opened a box of – hmm – well, the box said it was something called Soan Papdi, and the pictures on the box looked like little cakes with pistachio nuts arranged prettily on top – but I swear I’ve bought a box of chipboard pieces! It looks like chipboard, it tastes like chipboard, albeit a somewhat sugary variety, and there’s even things in it that look like squashed insects. (I just hope these are the pistachios!)

I’ve bought the chipboard papdi into work today, but I’m just wondering whether anyone will ever speak to me again if I hand it round…?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Huff, Puff, Grunt

Gym day today. Me and Charles joined our local gym just before we went on holiday and, now that we are back, every Wednesday night is gym night. Today was our first ‘proper’ session. (We can’t really count the one before we went to Spain, as that was my first gym session in years, and Charles’ first in a while, so it was a somewhat half-hearted effort, curtailed by the fact that I needed to get home to watch Katie and Peter on ITV2!).

Anyway, today I decided I was going to really give it some welly! Charles sat there on the bike and did his stuff, barely appearing out of breath as he calmly got on with his normal routine, but I threw myself into it, gripping the bike handles tightly so that I could whizz the pedals round at a million revs per second without falling off my seat, huff-puffing and sweating, upping the level and speed every 5 minutes; then onto the rowing machine, which I had never used before and which Charles showed me how to use, whoosh whoosh whoosh; then thudding the running machine into submission for a good half hour, stomp stomp stomp; and also some press-ups and some stomach and back exercises in the middle of all that. Phroo! Sweaty! (I used Charles’ towel to mop my red, shiny face at one point… ewk, that was a mistake... it was horribly soggy with man-sweat!)

Remembering back a few years to when I was truly fit, how I got that way was a combination of two things: 1) always being late for college lectures and having to pedal my bike like billio to get there on time, finally flinging myself through the door in a sweating, gasping heap to collapse on the nearest empty chair (I bet everyone loved sitting next to me in lectures!) – and, 2) being so competitive that I could never allow another cyclist to overtake me, even lycra-clad athletic types on their shiny racing bikes. My short, girly legs would pump the pedals of my little mountain bike so fast that they almost went invisible, refusing to be beaten, having to overtake each person back, no matter how out of breath I got, no matter how much my legs hurt! Anyway, the net result of all that pushing myself to my limits on a several-times-daily basis was rock hard muscles and a superfit body. I want to be like that again! Not sure I can achieve it without setting up camp in the gym, mind you, but once a week is something and so I’m bloody well going to push myself while I’m there!

I must say, I do like having Charles’ company at the gym. He’s very good at making us get out and do stuff (if running/gym was left up to me I think I’d quickly find excuses not to go, I’m such a lazy moo!) and I’m always glad we've made the effort once I’m into an exercise session. It’s nice, too, having him come up and offer me water, or just having a bit of a chat between machines. And because he’s more of a gym bod than me, it’s useful to be able to ask him how to use the equipment, or what exercise I should do for a particular muscle group. He definitely makes exercise sessions more fun! Everyone should take a Charles to the gym!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I Think I Need a Dishwasher

I hate washing dishes.

I can be something of a cleaning obsessive. I give my flat a major spring clean maybe once a month, manically hoovering, dusting, scrubbing, bleaching and cupboard-sorting until there is not a speck of dust to be seen, not a tin or bottle left facing the wrong way, not a piece of rubbish left unchucked…

And I like neatness to the point where every item and piece of furniture has to be arranged at precise right angles to each other, and precise distances from each other, and books have to be placed on their shelves in descending order of size, and I will notice if someone moves an ornament or a book even a millimetre out of place…

And, whilst my ‘to do’ pile is really more of a ‘still not done yet’ pile, and can occasionally grow into something rock climbers would be proud to scale, it is confined to one corner of the bedroom, behind the TV, where it can easily not be noticed…

So I think I would consider myself a pretty clean and tidy person.

So why is it then that I hate washing dishes to such an extent that they will sit in the kitchen for weeks, gathering pretty-coloured moulds and strange smells, piling higher and ever higher, and yet still I can’t face washing even one fork to eat my tea with? Occasionally I will even go out and buy paper plates and plastic cutlery just so I can avoid dirtying any dishes for a week or two, and have a nice clean kitchen. I even get a weird kind of thrill from throwing a dirty paper plate or plastic fork into the bin, as though I have somehow cheated the universe out of forcing its nasty, dirty dishes on me!


Alas today I can smell my dishes. From the hallway! I think I’d really better go and wash them!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Letter From the Queen

A couple of weeks ago my friend William held a birthday party for the Queen. We all dressed up in our best frocks and tiaras and waistcoats, and ate lots, and sang God Save the Queen (thanks to a judiciously printed songsheet, as I'm darned if I know the words!). The Queen wasn't present, obviously - I'm sure she had bigger and better places to spend her birthday than in William's kitchen - and I didn't think she had any clue whatsoever that us insignificant subjects even existed, let alone that we were birthdaying on her behalf.

Silly me! William thinks bigger than that! He wrote a letter to the Queen telling her about our party - and he's only gone and received a reply from Buckingham Palace! It's on royally headed paper and is signed by one of the Queen's Ladies in Waiting! Woo hoo!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

That's What Girls Like

Charles is a darling.

I woke up at 5.30 this morning, head full of sniffles, and nostrils full of those evil, twanging pixies, so I was very tired all day. On top of that, work was quite stressful... I'm preparing for two weeks off so there's lots to do to make sure things run smoothly when I'm not here, plus Boss Number 1 kept throwing unexpected work my way. I wanted to throw it back at her and shriek, "Nooo! Do it your flipping self!" But unfortunately I have my pay packet to think about so had to content myself with the merest little whine of an "Oh dear!" as I took it from her.

In between all this I was trying to chase up on hotels for our holiday, and none of the hotels had replied to any of my emails from yesterday. It was very frustrating. In spite of being in work so early this morning I stayed two hours late tonight trying to find decent hotels that had rooms available, emailing them, and chasing up on unanswered emails. And trying to do all this in Spanish!

Charles rang me at 5.30 to see how we were getting on with arrangements, and I swear he could hear my head throbbing through the phone! Anyway, he has taken over finding the remaining hotels for us, bless him. He'll get such a big snog when I next see him!

(Yes, that's what girls like! (in joke!) )