Saturday, March 31, 2007

Inexplicably linked

It's funny how historical events get wrapped up with things they have no business being involved with.

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the true beginning of The Falklands War. Well, it's actually the 2nd of April ... but the ceremony is tomorrow.

And it makes me think of ... The Nit Nurse.

When I was six, I don't think there was a lot of definition between Bad Things. Having not yet developed a spectrum of fears and disappointments, The Nit Nurse and the fact that we were at war probably raised similar levels of anxiety in my monochromatic brain.

John Craven broke the news of the invasion with the same sincerity and heavy tone of voice that my primary teacher used to announce the inspection.

Two boys in the class were crying. One had nits, the other's dad was a soldier. I can't remember that I felt more sorry for one than the other.

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I can't blog because I have nothing to say ...

I have nothing to say ...

... except the huge tree in the garden fell down in the night. And we didn't even hear it.

I have nothing to say ...

... except that I have learned to Heely with my other foot infront too. And I can swap round. And earlier Ruby pulled me along the patio whilst I hung on to her collar.

I have nothing to say ...

... except my mum has just got on a plane to Japan. She is going to paint the cherry blossom in a country where she can't even read a sign for the loo.

I have nothing to say ...

... except I am finally over my partner leaving me. I know this because I can listen to James Taylor without crying.

So, as you can see, it's clear. I can't blog, because I have nothing to say.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A post with no name

On Sunday I made a collage of my vagina.

Not for fun. No. No no. No no no.

This was the final task set on the Art Therapy workshop I attended for 'Women who love women'. Or probably 'Wimmin who love womyn', as we seem to have been transported back to 1973.

Over Friday evening and Saturday daytime I had faced a fair few 'I would rather eat my own head, thanks' moments. I am shy. I am not remotely disinhibited on the vomit-free side of half a litre of tequila. You may be wondering why this didn't occur to me before I enrolled, but hey, it came highly recommended by someone I respect ... though she says the whole 'vagina collage' thing wasn't a feature of the course when she attended. Really, she missed out.

So, having spent my birthday weekend engaged in what I can only describe as a rare and exquisite form of torture, for the sake of brevity, let's call it 'Hackney Glitter Torture', we were set our last and most ridiculous challenge. Some of the other members were, understandably, confused. The therapist reassured us that anatomical accuracy was not the goal, and groped for analogies, settling on "If you were a box, what kind of box would you be?". I don't think she meant it quite so literally. (Sorry mum).

I sat, despairing, midst feathers, cardboard, tissue paper and copydex, living my very own Worst Nightmare, and the one and only positive thing I could think was "I am so gonna blog about this!".

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Aw ...

Diamond car insurance sent me a birthday card by email.

I am strangely touched.

It said:
Happy birthday Stray*.
Hope you have a lovely day,
and eat lots of cake!

Bless them.

*Diamond car insurance do not call me Stray. Obviously.

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Badgers can climb trees

Badger and I have a combined age of 58.

These pictures, and our lovely walk in the woods yesterday evening, made me realise how much I appreciate the fact that my body still feels much as it did when I was seven. I can still climb trees. I still stand up on my bicycle, I ride with no hands, I do wheelies - and now can do more on my Heelys!

There are bits of me that are showing some wear and tear. I've had a bit of poking around done, and need a bit more doing. Some patching up will happen later this year, and I definitely feel a little less elastic than at previous times in my life, but on the whole my body mostly feels like the well worn pair of jeans that have been my favourites forever. A little bashed and battered, mended in pockets and on knees, but it just fits.

I haven't ever looked in the mirror to see whether I have lines appearing. I genuinely don't care. I did have a brief wobble when my ex found a few grey hairs on my head, but I'm actually utterly ambivalent about that as well now I've recovered from the shock.

But, the day I see a perfect Climbing Tree, and don't start plotting my route up it ... or come to a grassy slope and don't contemplate rolling down it ... I will apply for my bus pass and subscribe to reader's digest.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

What a difference a year makes ...

A year ago today, I was in my loft apartment in central london, which I shared with my long-term partner, who I knew I would be with forever. I was waiting to turn 30, my first sober birthday.

Tonight I am in my crazy shack in the woods in Surrey, single (she upgraded me 4 weeks later for a younger, fitter model with bigger breasts and fewer hang-ups). I am waiting to turn 31, my second sober birthday.

In the 365 days in between, I have popped an astounding number of cherries.

I have a garden for the first time. I have chickens. I have killed one of my chickens with a spade after a stoat did a half-job on the poor bird. I have picked fruit from my garden and made jam and chutney. I have been camping on my own. I have climbed a mountain. I have told my father that one of his dearest friends has died, and cried my eyes out at her funeral. I have attended the wedding of my last boyfriend, and heard that he is to be a daddy soon. I have learned that I can take photographs.

And of course, I have started this blog.


Badger took this photo of Ruby over looking the Black Water Reservoir around 3/4 of the way through a 14 mile hike we did from Kinlochleven to the reservoir head, and on to the West Highland Way. Along the way we had to climb off the track up a very steep bank, for a long way, to find a route across a river that had become impassable. Badger wanted to turn back, which might well have been a prudent decision, but I simply felt that I had to keep going. Most of this year has been just like that day - a case of putting one foot in front of the other, not knowing what might be ahead, but knowing that I couldn't turn back. There hasn't always been a photo opportunity, but there have been a lot more high points than I would have imagined.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

ESP Shopping

Caroline has had a spooky encounter with a clairvoyant. I think I have surpassed it though.

Examine the photograph above. My sister and I decided not to collaborate for Mother's day this year. The card on the left is the one which I purchased. The card on the right is the one which she purchased. Without conferring.

I have often questioned whether my sister and I have anything more in common than a surname, but clearly we are more closely connected than I had thought.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My first pair of heels ...

On Sunday I will be an unbelievable 31 years old. How shocking!

So, as a birthday gift to myself I have purchased a pair of heels. Well, Heelys to be precise.

I have been levitating around the kitchen in them, with Ruby barking at my feet, objecting to the fact that the laws of shoes are not being obeyed.

I love them! I love them!

And, today I have had confirmation of what I have always known: I am a fashion guru, just so far ahead of the pack that my genius is not appreciated.

Gap have an ad campaign for their new range of "Boy Fit" women's clothes. Well, call me Jeff Banks, my entire wardrobe is age 10-12 boys attire! I am sooooo cool.

So, if you see what looks like a small 14 year old boy whizzing past you in the street, dressed head to toe in the latest supercool 'H&M kids' attire, possibly pulled along by a very good looking boxer dog, don't forget to allow for the possibility that it's actually a 31 year old woman with a blog.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Time machine ...

Exhibit A: A working time machine, hard wired to transport the user to February 1985.

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Thin King Bloggers II

Ok, so this whole Thinking Blogger meme thingy is just another chain letter ... and it generates traffic for the originator and John Baker is a bit miffed about it (thanks to Aunty Caroline for the link).

But ... the thing is - I've paid a lot more in hard cash to feel as warm and fuzzy as I did writing my post and choosing my nominations last night. And I genuinely do feel that my attitude to the world today is all the better for it (thanks Ms. M, you truly are a great psychotherapist for prescribing it) and I have been reminded of just how much I appreciate the people who share themselves in blogland in such generous ways. Plus I had the added and truly therapeutic realisation that Blogging about the detail has made me more present in my life without having to attend a yoga class, chant or read any self-improvement books (which are surely just a distraction from being present in your life).

So, don't go spoiling my buzz please John. Ta.

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Thin King Bloggers

Ms Melancholy not only tagged me with the 'Thinking Blogger' meme, she nicked all the best puns as well.

Apparently it's the brain child of Ilker Yolgas and we don't just get to pat ourselves on the back (or head, in my case - hazard of being under five feet tall) we get a sticker for our blogs and everything. The full list of rules and regs are here.

So, Ms Melancholy says my blog made her think. Think what? is a question she politely declined to answer. Possibly something about how she should really be getting on with the redecorating, and that it's amazing what mindless devotion a good-looking dog will show to a midget with a packet of bacon.

The thing about this blogging thing (I'm being serious now, please take your seats) is that you all make me think. Both the blogs I read, and the potential unknown reader, interact with my psychic space in ways I would never have imagined. I blog in my head. I comment in my head. I suspect that Ms. M may offer me some sort of treatment for this, but I probably can't afford it. I notice things around me because of what I am reading, and because I want to have things to write about. Tiny weeny interactions in the supermarket become potentially moving / poignant / funny / revealing anecdotes. That I never get round to writing them is at least half the fun.

Some of you make me think "Oh my god I am soooo crap at this writing stuff that I don't know why I bother ... ". Some make me think "If I am ever blessed with the insight of this individual I shall be truly happy / rich / suicidal ... ". There's a fair bit of envy and a hell of a lot of relief that it wasn't my cervix / testicle / cat / mother / child / car / bar mitzvah in the story. Thanks.

So - here are my nominations ...

... Best Screenplay: this too ... a fearless account in words and pictures, with honesty that stirs me every time I read.

... Best Sound-effects: Badger That ... a joyful reminder that being normal is nothing to aspire to.

... Best Script: Blaugustine ... a seriously philosophical artist, who informs me about politics, religion, the human condition and the joy of being just who you are.

... Best Actress Mad Harper ... an extraordinary performance in the face of adversity. (Mad's keyboard no longer has a letter J, and yet she writes 'ust brilliantly).

... Best Supporting Actress Hoarded Ordinaries ... the support bit being that Lorianne's ridiculously wise words pop me back on the kerb at very regular intervals. Wisdom, kindness and a good looking dog - she's got the whole package.

So - they can consider themselves tagged, and I spose I should tell them myself as well. I'm off now to look for my sticker ...



The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Stuff I've been meaning to blog about #1: Tourettes

Badger has Tourette's. Or, Tourette's disorder as it is more properly known.

I know this because I live with her. And it's great.

Contrary to popular media stereotyping, she doesn't swear and spit and rant. Well, when she does it's her Aspergers rather than the Tourettes to blame.

No, her tics are not nasty offensive swearing, shouting, blaspheming yukness.

Badger tics like a chicken. Or a cat. Or a peacock. Or sometimes Sweep, from Sooty and Sweep. She picks up noises from her environment, and echoes them back with astounding accuracy. Her impressions are incredibly convincing - she was once treated to the full courting display by a male peacock who believed her to be The One for him.

In between, she clicks and whistles. And sometimes makes cool little space noises.

The best thing about Badger's tics is that they are sometimes even a surprise to her! She can perfectly mimic things without knowing she was even capable. It combines beautifully with her Aspergers, because she blurts out her own reaction without the normal social constraints that would hold the rest of us back. And she does have a wonderful turn of phrase.

Badger has physical tics as well. She says it is like someone walking over her grave - a shiver comes up her spine and she just has to cock her head / move her arms / do a little dance. One time she simply had to straighten her leg whilst we were stuck in traffic. Being constricted by the dimensions of her Mini Cooper, she creatively wound down the window and stuck her foot right out to get the leg room required.

I can tell if Badger is asleep or awake because from my bedroom I can just make out the squeaking / clicking / clucking in her room. It's actually quite handy in the mornings if I am not sure who is up yet.

Badger stops ticking in only two circumstances that I have experienced. One is climbing mountains, the other is playing Guitar Hero. She is about to apply for DLA, and I think that walking boots and PS2 games should be listed as medical expenses.

Badger should learn to beatbox. She would be superb. For her first single I think we should record the Old MacDonald rap.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

5 things meme ...

So, way back on the 23rd of Jan 2007, Natalie of Blaugustine tagged me with a "Five Things You May Not Know About Me" meme ... and her wonderful responses are here.

So, um, yeah, after 8 weeks of procrastinating ...

1. On my 23rd birthday I climbed the Golden Gate Bridge, right to the top, accompanied by a structural engineer called Chip. Of course.

2. I have a condition known as heterochromia. This basically means I am a piebald. I have one dark brown eyebrow and one blonde one, eyelashes to match. I tan and freckle much more on one side of my face and body. I have some variation in the colour of my irises, but that's hard to spot because the eyebrows throw you off. People either notice and remark on this the very first time they meet me, or never tune in to it at all.

3. When I was a child I wanted to be a goal keeper. I also have a growth hormone disorder. The two are not compatible. Fortunately, when I was old enough to accept this kind of disappointment, my dad explained the harsh realities to me and we swapped places in front of the garage door and started working on my shooting instead. Ta dad.

4. A punk band, who I have never met, wrote and released a record about me.

5. I was a highly literate and numerate child, and very focussed on order and understanding things in their correct context, and making sure the grown ups around me did too. I once solemnly told my mother that I had the whole 'multiple births' thing sussed. One baby is a baby. Two are twins. Three are triplets. Four are quadruplets. And 5 are piglets. ... well, I wasn't that far wrong - was I?

Now I have to tag some peeps, so ... I tag ... Badger, Mad Harper and my new bestest blogging mate ... (ok, she's emailed me, twice, probably mostly out of politeness ... but she's now an international superstar of Shaggy Blog Stories fame ... so, that'll do me ... ) Ms Melancholy.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Snack attack ...

Clickety click. I am busy tapping away at my keyboard, hammering out flash code with my back to the rest of the room.

Crunch crunch crunch. The sound of Ruby's teeth working on something brittle slowly percolates into my consciousness.

Clickety click.
I try to identify, from the sound, what exactly Ruby is eating ...

Crunch crunch crunch. It doesn't sound like anything she should be chomping on.

Clickety click.
Maybe it's a biro? Ug, don't want ink all over the sofa ...

So, I spin around, jump out of my chair, and lean over the sofa to investigate more closely ... and then wish I hadn't.

Of all the things I had imagined it might be, it never occurred to me that it was a fully formed skull.

I'm trying to persuade myself that it was that of a fox, or a badger ... and definitely not anything to do with the fact that the previous occupant kept Jack Russells.

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Friday, March 16, 2007


Ruby and I returned to the woods this week. Throughout last summer and autumn we walked there most mornings, and some evenings as well. The Chantries lie on very steep hills, bordering the chalk downlands of Pewley Downs, and crossed by both the North Downs Way - England's oldest path - and Pilgrims Way.

These pictures were taken one morning earlier in the week, when we did a quick circuit of the well trodden sandy paths. This afternoon however, we did something I haven't done since I was a child - got lost on purpose. For over 2 hours we wandered from one side to the other, off the path, away from the familiar tracks, until we were properly lost, and then discovered a recognisable tree just as the sun was beginning to lose it's strength.

The purpose of the walk was to get away from the digital distractions of my desk, to give myself time to think about the book I have the absolute privilege of editing (all about why Global Warming is the best thing ever to have happened to the human race - watch this space for more on that) and am trying to create a 5 minute promo film for. Whilst Ruby chased at least 87 different squirrels, I ran around after 53 different thoughts, attempting not to grab at any of them in particular. I stopped on a bench for a little while and scribbled film notes on to index cards, whilst Ruby galloped in huge circles with 2 bouncy labradors she'd hooked up with.

I'm not sure I came away with any precise answers, but I did feel that I'd been on exactly the sort of educational journey of discovery that the original Chantries aimed to deliver to their communities.

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If you do nothing else today ...

... buy the book that Mike at troubled diva has compiled of "Shaggy Blog Stories: a collection of amusing tales from the UK blogosphere." It's in aid of Comic Relief. For charidee.

I am thrilled to see that wonderful, marvelous and fabulously funny Natalie of Blaugustine fame is number 65 of the 100 entries (which are not in order of merit or I'm sure she would be number 1). Which just goes to show that the blooker prize people don't know a thing about genius.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Sink plant ...

Spring is officially sprung.

This little green chappie appeared over night in our bathroom sink. The skylight above drew it directly upwards, and I had grand plans to carefully remove it and transplant it to the garden, as my housemates weren't too keen on me cultivating it in situ. Sadly it didn't survive the extraction process. I thought you'd want to know.

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