Wednesday, 30 May 2007

No, no, no!

I watched The Apprentice. It was good, as always. Sir Alan Sugar was hilarious tonight.

But then... I watched...

the remainder of Big Brother.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo! What have I done?? And why do I already have a favourite (or two)? Why? Why have I taken a dislike (well, sort of) to one or two of Them? My life is not empty. So why have I done this? Why??

Like a giraffe doing a pirouette

If you can imagine what that scene might be like (giraffe attempting to do a pirouette), and then picture it splatting hard against the floor, on its side/front, you'll get the idea of just how coordinated I was in the last kung fu session.

I tried my best to do the turn that was demonstrated, followed by the requisite kick. I sort of managed it once, then again. But the third time, I ended up taking a leap and thudded to the floor. It really, really hurt (I landed on my iffy hip bone and elbow), and had to do that thing of going 'it's OK, I'm fine...' while trying to stop the automatic tears that come to one's eyes on such occasions.

For the rest of the class, I was very careful, so much so that I was quite possibly pathetic, throwing weak moves and forgetting far too much. I was unbelievably tired.

I did, however, manage to regain some verve for the punching part of the class and skinned my knuckles in the process. The man holding the pads laughed nervously and said he didn't want to spar with me as he was having lots of trouble standing firm when I struck. That was quite satisfying.

But, God, I need some effing sleep. Hours and hours, not this restricted, militarily-regulated lark.

Still, I know it's all for my own good. Arggggh.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Call of nature?

There are dozens of starlings in the gardens nearby. They are squawking and calling, not moving much. They jump and hop and circle a little but other than that, they are sitting, making a cacophany. There is no assonance in their birdsong. They seem angry.

It's an odd sight and rather too Hitchcockian for comfort.

Monday, 28 May 2007

A bunny old life

My slinky black rabbit is eating hot, fresh popcorn. She didn't like the popping noises at first and hid underneath my desk until she was offered a couple of nuggets.

Albert, the blonde rabbit, has been quiet all day. She seems happy to lie there, apart from the occasional stretch.

Let's leap on to the bandwagon

I can't help wondering about this whole Madeleine McCann awfulness. Yes, obviously it is mind-blowing that someone could abduct a child, and I (obviously) hope that she will be found safely.

But the coverage? The coverage! A minute's silence? The imminent re-release of Don't You Forget About Me? The statement from Prince Charles and his wife lending their support?! The pledge by Gordon Bandwagon Brown that he'll do what he can?

It's beyond belief that we all care so much while we and our allies blow people up in friendly fire in Iraq, and cause 'collateral damage' that creates orphans and maims them. We haven't had a minute's silence for all the children who have been shot and killed in this country, or for those who have been abused and had their lives irrevocably damaged.

It was Missing Children's Day in the UK on Friday – 70,000 children go missing in this country each year. What is the criteria for gaining the support of Charles, Camilla and Gordon Brown? I bet the parents of the 70,000 wouldn't mind knowing.

Sunday, 27 May 2007


I need some of the above slipping down my throat. Damn this ban.
  • My just-dried washing (which was hanging up indoors) has unexplained mud on it so I am having to do the bastards again.
  • My car won't start – possibly due to a door being left ajar and a light draining the battery. Am awaiting an RAC man.
  • Some of my plants are probably dead as they were mistaken for weeds. S was only trying to help – he didn't know they were freesias. He's put them back in the ground but a week had passed. Let's see.
  • I am in a stinker of a mood – am sad and shattered. Where can I buy things to kick and punch?
  • Oh, I miss rioja ever such a lot tonight. How I long for a large glass of dark, mellow, velvety, strong, red, fine wine... Mmm... Even that sound as the wine glugs from its bottle into a sparkling, curvaceous glass. *Shiver*
  • I had to drive the car after it was started up by the RAC chap, who was very nice. I scored him as 'outstanding' on his little palm pilot survey. My drive took me to a place where I made permanent friends with a stunning pale yellow skirt.
  • Had a chat with a woman in the queue of a coffee bar. She regaled me with tales of How Things Have Changed as she ordered and paid for her tea and carrot cake.
  • In preparation for the arrival of the red iPod, I have come across albums I haven't listened to for a while, such as Portishead's Dummy. I miss listening to Strangers while drinking red wine and writing my novel.
  • I am calmer. But I have been doing random kung fu moves at home (on S and his father), in the style of Kato in The Pink Panther. No one was hurt (I was careful. Not incompetent).

Saturday, 26 May 2007

A wise man said...

"If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent. It is because you believe things are permanent."


"We all have the tendency to struggle in our bodies and in our minds. We believe that happiness is possible only in the future. The realisation that we have already arrived, that we don't have to travel any further, that we are already here, can give us peace and joy. The conditions for our happiness are already sufficient.

"We only need to allow ourselves to be in the present moment, and we will be able to touch them. What are we looking for to be happy? Everything is already here. We do not need to put an object in front of us to run after, believing that until we get it, we cannot be happy. That object is always in the future, and we can never catch up to it."
– Thich Nhat Hanh

To be able to achieve such a state must be an intense release. Ambition, I reckon, is healthy – it drives you on to better things and negates apathy. But, yes, putting happiness on a pedestal that you will never touch, see, taste, smell or hear, seems like a waste of life.

"Mellifluous Dark needs..."

So, what you do is put in your name and then 'needs', all in double quotes, into Google. (Shamelessly copied from The Scottish Lemon's blog).

My results:

Mellifluous Dark needs prayer. This is heartwarming... I had an especially terrible night.

Mellifluous Dark needs to throw up or possibly get some air. This is a bit spooky in light of how I've been feeling, thanks to work.

Mellifluous Dark needs tragedy. No. This is not true. I have had my share of tragedy, thank you very much, Gypsy Google. I have dealt with some very harsh things, and I don't mean insomnia in this case. Enough already.

Mellifluous Dark needs a nanny. Well, one that would look after me full-time and let me sleep all day...

Mellifluous Dark needs to leave her office now. Damn right.

Mellifluous Dark needs to be near your heartbeat of happiness. She needs your support. Can I argue with this? No. It is lovely.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Because I'm worth it

After the day/weeks I've had of late, I felt I needed a new toy. This is not simply an indulgence. It is a necessity.

Obviously, it's good that I haven't just gone out and bought another pair of boots or shoes. Where would I put them, anyway?
Indeed, there are several salient reasons:

• It is red (my favourite colour).
• It will be compatible with my iMac, which is not the case with my current MP3 player. Too complicated for words.
• It will enhance my commutes (many hours of my life...).
• It benefits charidee (I have to admit, ashamedly, that this is simply coincidental).

Where is the 'off' button?

I retched again this morning, and it was worse than before, as this time I was actually sick. The knots in my stomach are the cause. I know this because it happened before, when I worked with Kandi. I would carry on as normal but in the morning, before leaving the house, I'd almost be ill due to sheer nerves.

These were not nerves caused by fear but rather through having to steel myself for a fight, day after day. (I told a couple of people at work that I was unwell today and they did that "are you?!" thing of wonder/ excitement. No, dears, I am currently a stress-bunny. Not a mummy.) I emailed my sleep guru doctor and he confirmed that it sounded like work-related stress.

But I am such a mug. I did the lengthy commute, felt horrendous, did notes for the woman I am covering for so that she can pick up from where I left off when she comes back next week, and had to sort out all the shit that Gordon had produced and left in his wake of stinking ineptitude. I sat at my desk with no break until 4pm. Then I went home 'early'. Ha fucking ha.

I was – and am – incredibly annoyed with Gordon (who literally lives down the road from the office), so much so that I screeched plenty of expletives in the office, not really caring who heard. I was on the verge of tears by the afternoon. At one point, after hearing about yet another cock-up, I leaned my head over the back of my chair and pulled at my hair while saying rude words to the ceiling.

Gordon wasn't t
here, of course. He had fucked off home to "do other things" at 11am. He didn't give a damn that I was ill. Little does Gordon know that I will be back in that office (on another magazine) in a fortnight. I guess he will have said things about me in the meantime (he does, after all, slag off everyone else, including the publisher, who is a decent chap and would be an almighty foe). Let's hope some of what Gordon says gets back to me. I am not one to shy away from a verbal battle when the cause is worthwhile.

I would love to use some kung fu on Gordon but I will have to put up with punching and kicking pads at next week's class, coupled with the powers of my imagination. I cannot bloody

Here is a picture of Waterloo Bridge, simply because I love the views from it. It bookends many of my days, depending on where I'm working. It signifies hope in the mornings, and, at the moment, relief in the evenings.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Deep heat

The heat rose from the pavement with the promise of a bright sunny day at 8am. By lunchtime, it was cloudy, muggy and very hot. People sweated as they fumbled to find the air conditioning controls at work. It was a day for headaches and dehydration.

I met two friends (from a newspaper that has employed me for a few years) for a lovely lunch. We sat in the forefront of the open-fronted venue and ate all-day breakfasts and a club sandwich between us. I knew I'd burn it all off at kung fu, so I made an effort to clear my plate.

I'm scared to step on to the bathroom scales. I'd be shocked if I haven't put back on a couple of pounds. But, I do feel good (yes, it's the usual post-kung fu euphoria, and the promise of a dreamy, deep sleep lies ahead). My sleep diaries indicate that I sleep best after a session. I suppose it's not rocket science but it is, for me, something of an epiphany.

I'm terrified to suggest that I may have reached a turning point as far as my sleep issues are concerned. It's a bit too early, really. I remember P saying – warning me – that people reach a stage where they think they are OK and then lapse and decide to have lie-ins and afternoon naps, and the whole brain re-programming thing slides quickly down the drain. I've nodded off on the train back home a couple of times recently... Hmm. Need to watch that.

Actually, being so tired that I'm almost asleep during the day is not a good sign, and doesn't indicate a turnaround. It means I must need more sleep (which I am not allowed to have at the moment). I reckon I'm just getting used to feeling this way.

I want my daytime alertness back. I want it all back. I don't want to have to do the Tufty Club 'look right, look left, look right again' over and over and over again when negotiating a path from the bananas to the bread in Sainsbury's.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007


I've been walking around for two days with a nail digging into my foot.

At first, I thought it was City grit that had repetitively found its way into my black, flat ballet shoes but no, it was the tip of a nail from where the idiot at Timpson's had re-heeled the shoe and had driven the point in so that when I walk, the metal pierces me.

I only noticed when I saw blood on the base of my foot and brought the shoe close for inspection. Tetanus? Hmm, think I had a jab a few years back. Can't really recall...

It hurts when I walk, as you'd expect. Bloody bastard. Shouldn't they check these things? Hmph.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Punch drunk

Bloody hell, I've got bruised knuckles. The bones of my left hand are dark and red, slightly swollen and painful. Kung fu was (is) brilliant. I feel bloody excellent after my session. I was tired as heck, but after the day I've had, it was pure catharsis, so much so that I have introduced a new label to my blog: pleasure. Had I had a good day, I'd be shouting from the rooftops. I couldn't do much due to my ongoing hip problem (possibly caused by going slightly mental in class while kicking a few weeks back) but it was nevertheless great.

My commutes to and from work have been transformed due to the finding of the MP3 player. Wonderful. I close my eyes and can switch off for at least two hours a day.

And, this evening, I learned that Gordon was told by the publisher to work as agreed or walk. I can't say that someone possibly losing work pleases me – it doesn't – but my goodness, some people not only hang themselves by what they do and say, but they also buy rope, plant a big tree, fix the knots and even fork out on a new stepladder before leaping off.

Anyway, come what may, work is work. And, despite waking up sodding early for several days and working like a hound, tonight I feel fucking fantastic.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Music, food of love

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent..." – Victor Hugo.

He talked a lot of sense, that man.

When I was young – maybe four or five – I recall pondering music and what its point was. "But what is it for?" I liked it, I knew that much. My dad is a keen fan of classical music – Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mahler, Mozart – and gave me a very early appreciation of music. According to my parents, I used to cry at the age of one or so at the saddest refrains – especially Tchaikovsky – and then cheer up with the happier ones.

If I hear certain string pieces now, something happens within me – I can't explain it but I wish I knew where to find more of the same. My favourite (contemporary) song has soaring strings in it [Massive Attack's Unfinished Sympathy]. Without those strings, it would not be so utterly heartbreaking and beautiful.

I found my MP3 player last night and charged it up. So, despite having to get to a place near Trafalgar Square and The Mall for an early breakfast briefing (which is in fact tomorrow, not today, bloody hell...), I found myself somewhat mellow. God, yes, I was tired but it was OK.

So, I stuffed my earpieces into my strange ears on the way home (it has taken me 15 years to find earphones that stay in my ears – Sennheiser – very good, if pricey) and remembered that I'd forgotten how much I used to like U2 back in the day and all that. The Unforgettable Fire was better than I'd expected. How odd.

This nostalgia has made me dig out the soundtrack CDs to the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo and Juliet, which houses some good tracks where you'd possibly expect nothing memorable. This is due to the influence of the deeply talented Nellee Hooper, Craig Armstrong and Marcus de Vries. The orchestral pieces are the best. Naturally. O Verona, Mercutio's Death, Juliet's Requiem and Liebestod (on the second CD) are roaring, soaring, beautiful tunes, albeit far too short.

This song (Gabriel by Lamb) has some great string-age and was one of those songs that, on first hearing, hooked me. There is something shimmery about that song. The same happened with Prince's When Doves Cry when I was 14. There was something dark in Doves that captured me.

And, this, Bombay Theme, is exquisite. A R Rahman is a genius. When the strings kick in at 2:19... Mmm... Close your eyes and listen, don't bother watching the computer.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Broken rule and bruised spirit

Oh, good heavens. I overslept. By two hours. I either didn't hear the alarm go off at 7am or I slept through it.

This goes against my sleep programme and P will not be pleased with me. I dread to hear what she says when she receives my latest forms with the details of my waking and sleeping.

Anyway, my last kung fu session was awful despite its promise of being the opposite. I was so tired that I almost cried several times, in public, when I was shouted at to be told that I was doing various things (including standing up straight) wrong. Very wrong. The more these things were pointed out to me by the kung fu supremo, the more my shoulders drooped, and what remained of my confidence seeped through my trainers into the ground, which elicited more telling off. I wanted to die and cry with embarrassment and asked myself why the hell I'd bothered to turn up. I was grateful that I don't blush although I suspect that my burning shame showed through somehow.

What is/was the point of learning an art when you're not fully there, and not fully able to commit? What is the point? I was unable to fulfil what was asked of me simply due to this appalling exhaustion. Perhaps I have an overdeveloped masochistic synapse in my brain. I am an extremely determined person, but really, it is tough to keep going when other people are judging you as an equal when you are running on empty. I suppose I should pat myself on the back for even trying and for not bawling.

I let it all out in the secrecy of my pillow, later. I didn't sleep well.

I know that had I been feeling fully awake, alert and fit, I would have taken the criticism as constructive, and I would have risen to the challenges and my fighting spirit would have taken over. But my fucking back hurt(s), my head ached, I felt as energetic as a pebble and my brain was not functioning fully.
I barely ate all day. My appetite is in hiding.

Why do I continue to put myself through this martial arts lark? Why?! The first reason, I suppose, is that I need to exercise (to help me sleep, as well as for general health benefits), the second is that I relish learning a fine skill – an art – over mindless gym-going, and the third is that I fear giving up. I want to do things well. And I suppose am very hard on myself. I hated being the second cleverest at primary school. I was always short of what Yvonne achieved. And I was never as pretty as Isabel (when I was six, at any rate).

I have always felt a need to prove myself, to me. I compete – with me. It seems to be an ingrained trait. It gets me through things, horrible things at times. But sometimes, sometimes, sometimes, I feel a need to take off my armour, put down my shield and just let the arrows of nonchalance come at me.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Sick, tired and (sort of) hired

What an odd day.

It started out with me being sick as I got ready for work. The only reason for this – and I am sure of this – is stress. It used to happen when I worked for a woman called Kandi (and no, it wasn't in a brothel). She was awful and victimised me (and a few others) for nine months before I woke up with blood all over my pillow and vowed to never go there again. I think I had the beginnings of an ulcer or had bitten my mouth hard in the night. There was a lot of blood.

Kandi nearly ended up in jail long after I left. Police raided her house and she was found to have done some odd things with the organisation's cash. But she got away with it. I believe the karmic boomerang will get her.

So, anyway, my eyes watered as I tried to keep my breakfast down. My mascara ran a bit as I swallowed bile.

The working day – a mad day, yet again – ended with Gordon hinting that I wouldn't get paid for my work "because the budget was bust". I was astounded. But the publisher, who I phoned at home from the privacy of a side room, promoted me and placated me in one breath. And said he'd probably sack Gordon next week.

After this, I packed my stuff up with gritted teeth and went to a bar with my good friend, R, who has been working for me. She is a talented journalist and it has been a pleasure to have someone lovely and competent on side while Gordon has been in my life. I can only drink non-alcoholic stuff at the moment, but I imagined that my ginger ale was beer and dreamed of large ballons of dark rioja to come as I vented my spleen.

The day hadn't started very well, really. At about 10am, Gordon strode up to me and waggled a picture of some random, ill-looking woman in my face and said: "It's your mother," before laughing his head off and spending the rest of the day arranging his personal life and moaning about the magazine (and its publisher, clients and staff). Gordon is at least 55 but acts like a 13-year-old obnoxious fucker with a sense of humour triple-bypass.

Luckily, my mum is hale and hearty. If she hadn't been, God forbid, Gordon may have parted with his spectacles and bits of his nose. I'm sorry, mate, but never, ever insult or laugh at my parents of whom you know nothing. You utter knob.

I'm now a far, far different person to the girl I was when I worked for Kandi. My focus is fine-tuned (and is getting better due to kung fu, I reckon) and my bullshit radar is (mostly) supreme, especially in work scenarios.

So, I have no time or patience for people like Gordon, who treat me like an idiotic bimbo when I'm practically running a publication. Because I am a smartly-dressed woman, with longish hair, who looks young for 37, is generally friendly (and possibly, only possibly, because I hate to think this way...) not Caucasian, does not mean that my brain is in the toilet, mate. So, come Monday, we'll see what hand fate deals you. In the meantime, I intend to have a fine weekend.

Life. Is. Too. Short.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Dear diary...

...this is what tiredness does:

1) I fell over again. This time on a bus to the train station on the way home. I ended up half sitting on a man's lap. He was wearing a smart grey suit and reading a copy of one of the free London papers. I screeched: "Oh, God. I'm so sorry," as I settled on to my own seat. He smiled, and said, "It's OK, don't worry." I cringed for at least five minutes.

2) I felt like crying.
I couldn't focus during kung fu and couldn't get the hang of moves that I'd otherwise probably pick up fairly quickly. It frustrates me deeply. I cringed for nearly half an hour.

3) The pain in my back/hip is annoying. I couldn't do much kicking and felt as though I was holding up the rest of the class. I was so tired that I could have cried, then and there. N told me to do other moves instead, which was a godsend, and he gave good advice on how to treat the pain. So, I must buy some tiger balm. Funnily enough, I bought some stuff called 'badger balm' today, but was too embarrassed to admit it. Badger balm claims to 'ease sore muscles' etcetera: relief when you need it.

4) I am furious about being dumped on at work. I'm astounded that Gordon comes in when he pleases, leaves when he pleases and has effectively made me editor through his absence and apathy. This means that everyone comes to me instead of him – for everything. I can't physically do it all. No one could. I'm struggling. But someone has noticed my work and I've been offered more projects. Perhaps my stance with Gordon has dispelled the soft, girlie image I used to have (in some people's eyes). Finally. I mean, I am 37.

5) My appetite has disappeared. I have lost half a stone without even trying. I have to make myself eat or I could go all day with no food – not great when you are expending as much energy as I am and toning muscles. And quite often, I am so wound up that I feel physically sick. I'm never actually sick but I retch (in private). Nice.

6) I almost stepped into the path of a car in Clerkenwell today. Fucking scary. My tiredness terrifies me at times.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007


I have turned into Alexis Colby. Was that her name? That hard businesswoman in Dynasty? Me, that is. At least for a while.

I blame the t*r*dness but I have a short fuse, a very long to-do list and a light peppering of patience when it comes to Gordon at work. The useless tool, who does eff all, all day, except whinge, had the audacity to come up to me today and ask: "Are you happy?" after yet another disaster occurred with an article we were meant to process today.

Are you happy? I'll give you sodding bloody happy, you insipid, gumptionless, talentless, lazy man.

Gordon not only has no clue as to how to run a magazine but he is getting paid twice as much as me to not run the mag and to leave it all to me. Brilliant. I was so tired yesterday that I fell over on the stairs at work. I mean.

So, now, after nearly two weeks of shit-shovelling, I have finally had enough of this malarkey and have become Very Tough. I speak to Gordon in the manner of Sir Alan Sugar barracking a boardroom failure in The Apprentice. Cut to the chase. Take no crap. Scythe away the waffle.

DO IT, I say. And he does it. Happily.

WHERE IS THIS PAGE? I ask. And he fumbles around and finds it (eventually).

He has no clue unless told or asked. I think he likes to be dominated. Well, at least one of us is getting our rocks off on it.

I have no qualms about behaving in this manner. I just want to get the magazine out and for it to look good. It will have my name on it as deputy editor and, as some of you may know from previous posts, I guard my professional reputation fiercely. I've held editorships before (yadda yadda) but now I'm freelance, and you really are only as good as your last job.

Fierce. Yes, that's it. I feel fierce. Resolute and fierce. Is this a result of the kung fu or tiredness? Or both? I wonder. I did sleep well last night, though. But who wouldn't after two hours of kicking and punching (albeit in a slightly pathetic manner due to feeling wrung out)?

I need to sleep well or I will collapse. They will find me, a well-dressed heap with nice shoes/boots, fairly toned legs and arms cetra (thanks to the Wushu) and baggage under her eyes far bigger than any so-called 'bags for life'.

NMJ has reminded me that I intended to post on the subject of The Apprentice. Well, all I can say is: can Katie possibly be any more smug? She is horrendous! How has she survived? How can this be? She is simply awful, with her 'witty' insults and oh my, that nose to end all noses.

Perhaps she is so used to it obscuring her view that she can only look down on others. If she looked any more horsey, I'd be slapping a fiver on her at Sandown, I tell you. Maybe her nose grows as her smugness deepens, in which case she'll have a trunk in two episodes' time.

I thought Sir Alan was great. As usual. I'm worried that I'm beginning to see him as a sort of business role model. Have to say, Tre performed far better than I thought he would, though that beard stuff is a tad odd. I'm not sure who I want to win, though. As long as it's not Katie, I'll be happy.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

A slip of a girl

My day started with me actually slipping on a banana outside the station. Really.

The working day ended with me falling up the stairs.

I then went home, which is where I am.

But I must fly as I have kung fu now and if I'm late I'll have to do 50 press ups. The way this day is going, I am not taking any chances, and want to get there early for once. For I am very, very tired, you see.

I shall be back (hopefully) at some point today, if it is not too late, to a) reply to comments and b) tell you how much I'm giggling due to the endorphin thing that's going on. I hope.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Come here, my dear girl...

Ohhhhhh, I lay down upstairs in the spare room, under a duvet, while the rain pattered on the flat roof. A womb of comfort.

I closed my eyes.

And I napped for a minute or so. In fact I had several micro-sleeps over the space of half an hour. I tried to think of this and that to stay alert but my eyelids were as heavy as the wings of a jumbo jet.

I have broken the rules. For I am forbidden from napping during the day. It could have been worse, yes, but I have done wrong, and I enjoyed it.

I tried. I tried. I tried.

And I am so tired.

With every day that I am denied it on my terms, the sweet pull of sleep grows stronger... It is overpowering and all-encompassing, like a pair of strong, kind arms beckoning... inviting me in, pulling me closer with every second so it can take me, all too willing and desirous, into its darkest depths...

Pastoral sympathy

Valley, Polesden Lacey, Surrey © Mellifluous Dark, all rights reserved

Polesden Lacey – an Edwardian stately home where King George VI and the Queen Mother honeymooned – and its grounds (the North Downs) provide balm for the soul. It is an ideal setting to spend a long afternoon when you feel full or health, or are full of tiredness, as I was/am.

S and I walked around the grounds for so long that we missed the last entry time for the house. But it didn't matter too much as we'd visited the house once before and I could recall that it is opulent and filled with gorgeous artifacts, as are most National Trust properties.

There was wisteria hanging from the house, which is immediately surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. I stared at the wisteria greedily, wishing this season of lilac-blue flowers and twisted grey-silver branches could be endless. But, if that were the case, my beloved autumn and the colours and shiny conkers and chestnuts over which I lust yearly would never arrive.

The wind – which had an edge of warmth rather than ear-chill – made the long grass undulate like shiny waves, and at certain angles, the buttercups dominated the fresh, green grass while brave baby rabbits popped out of their warrens to feed.

Pathway, Polesden Lacey, Surrey © Mellifluous Dark, all rights reserved

This shady pathway was one of several that led from the house to the valley. It brought back images from fairytales I read as a child. As you walked, small creatures scuttled, not as afraid of the human species as you might expect. It was quiet but you knew – and felt – that the place was teeming with life.

Cow scratching her face, near Polesden Lacey, Surrey © Mellifluous Dark, all rights reserved

This large, nut-brown creature with luscious eyelashes (she was the only one of her herd with a clean-ish tail, too) came over to investigate as we leaned on the barbed wire fence, eager to see as much of these gentle animals as possible. She gazed at us unblinkingly, walked over to the tree and had what looked like a thoroughly good scratch.

I badly, badly, badly wanted to sleep on the drive back home (S drove). But I couldn't, obviously. I managed to avoid lying down and napping when we got home, as per sleep guru P's instructions – or, should I say 'orders' – and fell into bed at 11.30pm. I slept fairly well but had to wake and get up early, as per P's orders. I hope I get used to this process. It's tough. I am, often, running on empty.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Oh, do shut up, eh?

Flowers are other-worldly beautiful things, aren't they? Rhetorical, obviously. I just stepped into the back garden to discover a wild mass of pansies and new roses basking in this morning's rays. The leaves are wet from last night's rain and the sun is glinting off the droplets. The picture above was taken at Kew Gardens a few weeks ago. It is, unfortunately, not my garden.

I went to bed in a grump last night. I'd spent the evening having dinner with two friends, one of whom complained constantly that she was very tired, and she is, again, very unhappy in a newish job. (Er, why not just bloody well leave?? Life's too short, my friend...)

So, I watched as they drank wine (I'm not allowed any due to the sleep programme and the sleeping medication I'm on). But that was OK, I really didn't mind. The waiter brought over a fruit cocktail based on passion fruit. It wasn't as nice as a dark, fine rioja would have been as it slipped down my throat, but it was a good substitute.

But, Maria, who I do actually like a lot, spent the evening saying how tired she was. Tired. Tired. Tired. So fucking tired.

Don't get me wrong – I did feel for her at first – how could I not? – but after ongoing comments about how big her under-eye bags were (they were non-existent) and how bad life was in general, because she was working so hard (join the club), I felt my patience and sympathy waning rapidly.

Now, I realise that my stance probably appears unkind and lacking in compassion but Maria knows about my insomnia, she knows I've worked like a dog for months and knows I feel like something that a cat has half-killed and dragged in as a gift for its owner much of the time.

Still, as per a previous post, I can't expect people to understand how debilitating insomnia – the clinical kind – can be. I smiled and laughed but felt my smile tighten with every blasted additional reference to her sodding tiredness. Maria is probably now still in bed, sleeping soundly. I was up at 7.10am, as I will be every single day for months as per sleep-guru-therapist P's instructions.

It was quite something for Maria's complaining to bring me down last night but it did go on for
at least three hours. I'd spent the working day laughing my head off at just about everything, despite the problems around me at work (namely Gordon). I blame – or, rather, thank – my post-kung fu euphoria, which a) helped me to sleep and, b) probably released a shed-load of endorphins that made me very, very happy. Giggly, in fact. I laughed so much that I cried. I laughed at everything and nothing. It was like being a child again.

Work had (as usual) been chaotic as Gordon flapped around all day like John Inman looking for a particular type of tie at Grace Brothers in Are You Being Served?. But I found it all funny instead of annoying for a change. It was infectious. My colleagues (bar Gordon) started laughing, too, and we sat there for most of the afternoon, red-faced and mildly hysterical.

Thursday, 10 May 2007


So much for me blooming well saying how fit I felt on Tuesday. Today, I couldn't walk up or down stairs, get up from a seat or (worse) sit down without using my hands for support as my thigh muscles are so stiff and painful.

It is like walking with rods of steel inside my legs. I'm going for some more punishment later, though. God help me.

CBT lady P says that my first week on the new sleep programme was going to be hellish and that I am not unusual in that respect. It was good to hear her say that it was an extremely tough bastard of a method but that, for 95 per cent of people, it worked. She has also allowed me 7.5 hours a night in bed, which is an extra half an hour. And, she has encouraged me to buy some nice body treats, such as posh cream, as part of my going to bed ritual. As if I needed an excuse.

Gordon was in a right flap at work today. But I am trying to be positive so I just smiled generously at him. Eyes and teeth... It sounds a tad cruel but he has made a rod for his own back by being AWOL for weeks. He's walked back in to the office (under duress from the Big Boss) to find that things have changed while he was "working at home". One thing is that he is short-staffed next week due to not booking someone in. Unbelievably – and bear in mind that this man is in charge of an entire magazine – he has said that he "shouldn't have to deal with staffing matters." Hmm.

The rabbits are cleaning one another's ears. It's the most delightful thing. They lift the other creature's ears – one at a time – and make sure they get all the way around.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

"It's just like the war. But without the war."

I don't know what happened last night at/after kung fu. Possibly it was the endorphin rush, possibly a state of heightened exhaustion that has gone full-circle, but I felt extremely positive following the session. I came home and, despite aching like a mule working at a water mill, vowed I'd stop saying negative things and thinking in negative ways (where possible, I mean; I'm not quite born again). Relentless tiredness has a way of ripping away joie de vivre, replacing it with despair. Your perspective, judgement, sense of fun, humour, tolerance, confidence and patience take a hike.

Conquering insomnia – or, rather, its effects – by doing something as gruelling as a martial art while feeling as energetic as a melting Baked Alaska, has proved (to me) that I can take myself on further than I thought possible. I feel stronger, I am stronger and can cope with more than I knew was possible. It was a bit of an epiphany. Even mentally, I feel more steely. And, at the moment, I need to be. I am almost doing the jobs of editor, deputy editor and commissioning editor.

I love (most) work, and I like to work hard (mostly). Yes, I'm a tad odd. I don't like being patronised though. The 'real' editor, Gordon, who is not around much (he's also freelance), sometimes winks at me. Not in a pervacious
manner but rather in an avuncular and somewhat melodramatic, 'It's the war and we'll get through it, my girlie' way. Gordon says things like: "Oh, it's all such a fiddle, isn't it? Oh, what a mess..." and "My God, what will we do, eh?", oh, and "We'll get through it, won't we?" instead of just getting on with it. I half expect songs about the Siegried Line to come whistlin' from his lips.

Gordon is a nice enough chap and I feel guilty for criticising him but he's like an annoying puppy. And he obviously thinks I'm around 25 - he called me a 'genius' today for agreeing to do what I consider to be a small part of my job. All I could say was: "Oh, er, do you think I'm a genius?" After all, with my new resolve of using positivity where I can, I could hardly say, "What? Me? But I'm really thick, mate."

By the way, I ache like a brute and can hardly walk today. But I still ran up the stairs and escalators to and from work. Am I becoming one of those exercise addicts, do you suppose? Or just a nutter?

Tuesday, 8 May 2007


Ohhhhhhhhh, I loved it. We did our first class where we hit stuff and kicked stuff.

It was excellent. I love kung fu. I haven't mastered the techniques by any means – it's very early days – but feel I am improving slowly and surely. And I liked it when a couple of the blokes looked all surprised when a girlie smashed her foot into the pad with a pure look of - erm - madness, perhaps? - in her eyes.

Our instructor, N, combines strictness and discipline with approachability. He has such intensity in his eyes at times that you just know that if someone seriously crossed him, a penetrating look would be more than enough to have an effect, and he wouldn't need to resort to moving a muscle or raising his voice.

I'm on such a high now, if aching like heck. Feeling positive is an achievement after the day I had – doing two people's jobs, commuting across London, I'm as tired as fuck and don't have time to eat properly.

S's fractured finger is still too tender for him to have joined me at kung fu (it's a cricket injury), so he missed out on what was a brilliant class. He looked very tired when I got home and said he felt grim and couldn't imagine how I must feel, having been tired for as long as I have. It meant a great deal to hear that tonight. I can be someone else entirely when I am at my most exhausted. And he is patient when I am not.

Monday, 7 May 2007

How can this be fair?

I dragged myself out of bed at 7.25am instead of 7am and patted the rabbits' heads for five minutes (they were lying next to one another, which meant I could stroke all four ears and two soft heads at once).

But I'm not sure I can function like this for much longer, even if it is a programme that is meant to be 'hard'. It took me at least 40 minutes to fall asleep last night. I went to bed at P's "earliest time I can go to bed", which is midnight.

I have to get up at 6.40am tomorrow morning and commute for around 1.5 hours, then do a day's work that will most likely involve me being two people. So, I'm going to go to bed at 11.30pm. This is not in keeping with my sleep programme but frankly, if I carry on like this, I won't function at work, which promises to be challenging in good and bad ways.

My head is aching again. My back hurts. Maybe I was grinding my teeth all night. I am deeply fucked off. It's excruciating.

S and I went to a party, which was not entirely successful due to someone accidentally dropping a bottle on my ankle. It hurt loads – and for a long time – and I couldn't get my (tight) boot on again. Excellent.

One of S's friend's eyes glazed over as I was explaining the insomnia situation to her – she even did that thing of looking to see who else was in the room while I spoke.

Unless they've been there, people do not get it – or don't care – or maybe it is just all too boring. But I shouldn't expect them to feel empathy, should I? From now on, I am not going to talk about it to people who don't really, really, fucking well understand. The look of 'Right. What, so you're tired, is that all?' usually followed by 'God, I sleep really well, me,' sometimes accompanied by a little laugh, makes me want to scream.

I was glad it was cooler yesterday so I could wear my Ugg-style boots when I met R. They were loose and soft. She was sweet and great company. We sat by the river and chatted for hours.

I wonder what I should do today. Fuck knows.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Ankle bite

As you may know, one of these bunnies, or possibly both, ate a great part of one of my (many) sandals on Friday. Admittedly, I was silly to leave footwear in the hallway. And, secondly, the poor creatures had become unexpectedly hungry due to S and I meeting after work for a quick dinner without going home to feed the pets.

I regularly leave slippers in the hallway but they seem to just toss those around like toys; they don't eat them. They are wise. Sometimes. The rabbits are not allowed in the bedroom, which is where *whisper* a pair of Christian Louboutains (bought in the sale) and a pair of Jimmy Choos (ditto, sale etc), live with their sister non-designer boots and shoes. The footwear is stored under the bed in cardboard boxes, which is another thing they love to eat. Can you imagine the carnage if they were let loose?

My ankle hurts today. A heavy, full bottle of beer fell from a table and glanced my bone yesterday while we were at a barbecue. Bone pain is pretty bad. I sat down and smiled and carried on chatting to people, while it throbbed horribly and my foot went numb. Eventually, we put an ice pack on it, first applied directly to my skin (which was wrong, and meant the water went everywhere), and then S got a towel to wrap it in. Most people were sympathetic and it started to feel better with the ice, although it was embarrassing sitting there with my leg raised on a chair. There was no chance of me getting my (tight) boot on again, though.

Anyway, I'm spending today out, complete with sore ankle. It's meant to rain later but R and I have agreed to meet, which will be good, rain or shine. If I'm getting up at 7am like this everyday, I need to make the most of it. And I need a haircut.

I'm tired, though. My head feels as though it is clogged with gloop.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Am I the only one thinking this?

The news (well, some of it):

a) This story about a missing three-year-old has made me angry. Obviously, I cannot imagine the trauma that the parents are suffering, but - erm - is it right to leave your 'precious' three-year-old and her two-year-old twin siblings alone while you dine out? The parents were checking on Madeleine every half an hour, we are told. We are also told that the premises had a creche.

Now, how can the parents have relaxed and had a proper meal if they were checking up on their offspring every half hour? Why not put them in the creche? You were that concerned about your children that you checked every half hour, so why do things by half when it's your children – tiny children – that you're talking about? I really just don't understand. I hope that poor Madeleine is reunited with her parents swiftly. But, bloody hell, parents, what the fuck were you thinking?

b) A 17-year-old girl was murdered (and the images put on the internet for sick bastards that like that sort of thing) in Iraq. Her crime? Falling in love with someone from the 'wrong' community. Thousands watched as her relatives stripped, beat, kicked her and bashed her to death with rocks. I hope their God is watching them. It happens in the UK, too. Here, it's not as dramatic in terms of the 'theatrical' aspect but brothers, uncles and fathers have stabbed and strangled young women who dare to live according to their own rules. What kind of world is this?

c) Anyone notice how we have less and less time to save the planet, according to scientists? Eight years. Wasn't it hundreds, then 50, then 25? The report is scary. Those who have, or have yet to have children (assuming they want them) would be sensible to fear for any grandchildren.

d) So, today we hear that Jade Goody is pregnant (see earlier 'Big Brother' posts). Goodness, I must have a cynical side. I can't help but think it's a PR stunt. We'll see, won't we? Can anyone explain why this announcement was even on the news? She is best known for being on a reality TV show and for being an insulting bully.


Well, the alarm went off. And here I am. I broke one of P's rules by not getting up straightaway.

Last night, I did not sleep well.

I feel like shit and wish I could have stayed in bed. P had said, "This is going to be hard," at the time, and I sat there thinking: "How can anything be that hard?"

My body aches with tiredness. I feel like a zombie.

Ah, I can hear the birds singing their morning songs. Bit late for them, isn't it? Still, it's a pleasant sound.

Better feed the rabbits as they're pulling at my dressing gown (and we got home late-ish last night during which time they had eaten part of one of my sandals – I dreamt about that last night). Oh, the trauma.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Better set my alarm, eh?

The first thing about my new CBT sleep regime is that I must go to bed and get up at the same time everyday, be it a weekday, weekend or a precious Bank Holiday, such as the one on Monday. (Well, Bank Holidays aren't highly regarded by us self-employed types as we aren't paid a penny for the privilege but still, they provide an excuse to have a lie-in.) So, I must get up at 7am. Every. Single. Day.

Thing is, I have worked very hard this week (okay... so no change there). But not only have I started the CBT course to help me sort out my sleep but I've begun working on a new magazine. That alone is pretty intense but add the long commute, an AWOL editor and my dedication to kung fu lessons... and, well, I can safely say that tonight I'm bloody shattered.
My neck is so tense that it made a loud cracking noise in a meeting this afternoon when I turned to look at someone. That attracted some interesting looks from my colleagues, I can tell you.

'Go to bed!" my body screams.

'Stay awake till at least midnight!' yells back the crib sheet from my lovely CBT lady, P.

Now, P is very strict. She's the velvety equivalent of my steely (but excellent) kung fu teacher, N, who was in a fearsome mood last lesson. I thought I'd pass out during the warm up. At the end, we were told: 'Do 20 sit ups. Right, now another 30, then 10, then another five...' I almost felt sorry for him having to face people who flailed and failed repetitively. Aaagh, it makes me cringe when I think about it too much.

I think N thinks I'm a bit of a plank after the last session. I can do new combinations of moves when I copy someone but seem to have temporarily lost the ability to retain the information and carry them out independently. I was deeply embarrassed. Never mind. I am a stubborn ox of a person. I shall persist. After all, I can spend the extra time I gain by waking at *cough* 7am practising my moves...

Thursday, 3 May 2007


The sound that a cricket ball makes against wood, eh? Or perhaps the sound that such a ball made against S's finger, which now bears a crack, in a vertical line.

I was exhausted last night and went to bed earlier than normal. This meant that I was uncharacteristically asleep when S came back home at around midnight (he plays for several teams, one of which is on the other side of London).

So, this morning, he kisses me on the head and I slowly come to, and he droops his hand before my face and says, "I think I've broken my finger. I couldn't sleep as it's so painful." I switched on the lamp and sure enough, a black, blue, green and yellow digit, in a puffy, lumpen shape, appeared before me. He couldn't move the finger. I sent him to A&E. Neither of us needed an X-ray to know he had cause for concern.

OK, so people have worse breaks, but S loves his cricket and more to the point, needs to practise kung fu as grading is potentially in a few weeks if we reach the standard (who knows?). He sure as heck won't be wicket-keeping for a while. I really do feel for him. (Or what kind of wife would I be, exactly?)

Mercifully, I was working from home today enabling me to see a sleep therapist to talk through my sleep 'act'. She is excellent. Expensive, too. But sleep is priceless, as my friend SS said today. She has given me plenty of rules to follow. They aren't easy but they aren't impossible.

But one thing will be difficult, especially as I have loads and loads of it at home: no more chocolate, in any shape or form... aaagghhh!

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Working nine to five...

If only. Nine-to-five? Hah! What with a commute that incorporates at least two bus journeys, two (potentially long) walks (unless I want to wait ages for yet more buses) and a train journey – through central London's busiest nubs – it is most definitely a case of seven-till-eight, at least. OK, so they're not exactly bankers' hours, or traders' hours. But I don't earn that sort of money, not by a long chalk. Yet.

The latest kung fu session was good. But I am not very coordinated. Yet. When we have been shown new combinations of moves, I have struggled. I can do the moves but get lost in the putting them together and remembering. N told me that I have improved "lots" and said that everyone in the class was the same standard but had just had different amounts of training. I need to build up my confidence, that's for sure.

N's words were reassuring, so instead of burying my head in my hands and weeping (as I did at the time of the work-related blacklisting debacle, in the privacy of the car, obviously), I have vowed instead to practise, practise and practise until I am so focused that when I am on one of these lengthy commutes, say, my mind is in fact busy sending my body leaping across a beautiful backdrop. I shall be lithe, light and strong as an ox, and will be able to translate these mental images into reality. But wait. I am those things, and I can do those moves already. I am. I can! I'll have none of this "I'll try" any longer. Load of baloney waste of time, that. Pah.