Wednesday, September 27, 2006

You couldn't make it up ...

Some drama is on the TV. The music fades up, and a familiar voice sings ...

Imagine me and you, I do
I think about you day and night, it's only right
To think about the girl you love and hold her tight
So happy together

And my housemate, 22, says "I like this song - I love Jason Donovan!" (click here if you are lucky enough not to be familiar with the 90s UK soap/pop pin-up).

When I had stopped laughing long enough to type, I found that The Turtles' hit Happy Together is the 44th most performed song of the 20th Century. Up there with Mrs Robinson and Let it Be. Who'd have thunk it.

Great song though.


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Key Frames

For those not familiar with animation or video compression, a key frame is a frame of the movie that is sufficiently different from all previous frames that it cannot be defined as "like the previous one but ... ". In a film or animation these usually represent a change in scene, camera angle or lighting. They are the frames which take up most bandwidth, not just online, but in our attention and concentration as well.

I have realised that recently my life has been filled with key frames. It's like watching MTV 24/7.

Deaths, moving house, relationship break up, change in habits. For a few years my daily life was very much made up of 'inbetween' frames. A typical wednesday could be described as "like tuesday, but a bit sunnier". Suddenly I am experiencing days which bare little similarity to the ones that went before them. Unable to assume the big picture and simply note the changing detail, I have to give my whole attention to the unfamiliar sights and sounds around me.

And the nature of what counts as "a change" is changing in itself. How confusing!

Having lived in stone and concrete boxes for so long, where street-works and changes in shop ownership were the things that made up the differences, suddenly I am immersed in seasons, migration, weather, propagation ...

Last week I attended the funeral of a very special person. Her friends and family describe her most perfectly as "the sweetest" person they ever knew. Perhaps it's not so strange then that, for me, that time has been marked, key framed, as the week the grapes ripened.


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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Meeting a true celebrity

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Augustine, who blogs, with Natalie, at Blaugustine. There is even photographic evidence on Natalie's blaug that not only were we both there, but we'd dressed using our special ESP-blogger powers.

Both Augustine and Natalie were quite stunning, and we had wonderful tea and croissants, and lovely conversation, though it can be a little hard to chat there without stopping mid-sentence every few minutes to remark on the amazing alternate realities hanging on the walls / sitting on shelves etc.

In the photos you can see that I am clutching my copies of The Joy of Letting Women Down and Augustine's True Confession ... signed of course. Wonderful. True Confession is an intense read. Somewhere between postsecret and a philosophy course text book. I am normally a fast reader, skimming and scanning at high speed. Now I am arrested by single phrases ... Without images there is no proof that a particular feeling ever happened at all. ... and I'm off into the depths of my own head, chasing connections that divide like amoebas.

You can buy a copy via a link on Blaugustine. Do it. Do it. You won't regret it (unless you are very very busy with important deadlines, in which case maybe you should put it off for a while because this book possesses time-machine properties, and Augustine and Natalie cannot be held fully responsible for any loss of earnings incurred during the reading of this journal).

I left feeling very enthusiastic about my drawing class which was due to begin tonight. Was. Not is. They've f'ing cancelled it (sorry mum). I will try to find another class but they are all full and they won't know til next week whether some people have dropped out. Very disappointing! Luckily I have a couple of good books to occupy my time and attention instead.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Overheard in Tufnell Park, London

Man (mid-30s, exiting shop, greeting a familiar face on the street):
Hey, how are you? What's happening?

Woman (mid-20s, after a moment's pause to think):
Great, yeah ... I'm growing my hair.

Am I the only person who's hair grows whether I want it to or not? Since when did this process constitute doing something? A happening?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Growing on me

In response to Lorianne's fabulous orange fungus I remembered this beautiful red-topped mushroom that my housemate and I discovered in a forest in the highlands of scotland last week.

I require no friendly experts or toadstool tomes to identify the type. It's a smurf-house!


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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pecking orders

Ah, I'm relieved to hear that Lorianne's dog Reggie is as much of a push over as my boxer Ruby in the cat department.

We have returned from holiday to discover that the cats have claimed both the dog's beds for sleeping in during the day. Ruby slowly approaches Frank (the cat) who is stretched out inside her crate, and she lies, head down, sniffing and wagging enthusiastically as he nonchalantly rolls on to his back and swipes at her nose with his claws.

At feeding time, she steps back and is muscled out by Ophelia, our dainty siamese (less dainty actually at the moment, having doubled in size whilst I was away), who likes to have first pick of the dog food, before retiring to curl up in Ruby's basket.

My dog has no difficulty being assertive around postmen, delivery guys, male strangers in the woods. She will bark at huge pieces of machinery and large lumps of stone / tree trunk. Even the scariest formations of plastic bags can be warned with the correct tone of woof. When they don't dare to attack us she turns and snorts, that told them.

In Scotland, no word of a lie, she sprinted 400 meters up a mountain (a climb that would take a human 2 hours) and rounded up a whole herd of wild Red Deer, tidying them into a coherent group and moving them around the side of the mountain, before returning at seventy miles an hour, panting hard but clearly imagining our approval of her at an important job well-done.

I have tried many things to achieve the level of control over Ruby that Frank and Ophelia seem to manifest. Cheese, bacon, training classes, whistles, clickers and even chopped up sausages. I would love to know what my feline friends are using - pheremones? Or perhaps some jedi mind trick ... This is not the bed you were looking for.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

994 meters of ups and downs

This is the view from the top of Sgor na h-ulaidh (pronunciation: Skor na yoo-lee) ... the hidden mountain of Glencoe. 994 meters high, it's quite an ascent - apparently famed for people losing their breakfast on the steepest part of the track up.

It was a great trip away. Walked miles, crossed rivers, breathed the freshest air and cheated the odds to have fantastic weather on all but one day. For much of the trip we saw no other humans, save each other - it was just me, my intrepid-explorer and map-reader-extraordinaire companion, and Ruby.

Ruby had many adventures, but I will save those for the coming days. Her holiday was made by the presence of Jess - a boxer of similar age and mentality. Mine was made by the presence of Jess's owners. My oldest friend. We laughed about the echo of the moments our parents must have had with us, as babies, as we watched our pups play nicely and shame us with their bad behaviour in alternate moments.

Friendships feel especially important right now. The holiday, and the isolation, cast in a different light when a very dear friend passed away suddenly and far too young midway through the week. A real but that can't be true moment. Many of them. I struggled with whether to mention it here, put off posting because I couldn't decide. But it is no doubt a pivotal moment. I will never forget where I was when I got the phone call, and made the subsequent calls to pass on the news to people who I knew would be heart broken. I suppose I should be glad that it was a beautiful forest with incredible views, and not a cramped commuter train or a service station. I am glad. Grieving sucks, but it sucks less with mountains to climb and friends to climb them with.

Having made the ascent, and reached the top - for me and my housemate our first Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000 ft) we tackled the descent. I'm glad I didn't know that this slope has been the site of a few fatal accidents over recent years, as we made our way somehow down an impossible angle covered in long grass and heather. Slipping, almost falling, became a regular feature rather than a heart-stopping exception.

Caring about people, living with the knowledge that all relationships are temporary, hurts. And climbing this mountain hurt. It hurt going up, it hurt coming down. It hurt the next day and the day after. As my friend, who is about to bag his 100th Munro, said (with a grin) "It's pain the whole time. That's no reason not to do it.". The trick, as Jess (a veteran of 7 Munros) has already sussed out, is to make the most of the moments when you can relax, without worrying about the slopes ahead.