Saturday, 30 June 2007


A Glasgow Airport terminal had a car driven into it earlier and they're linking it to the London terrorism attempts. One of the men in the blazing car – which contained propane gas – was wrestled to the ground by members of the public. One (not sure if it was the same one) is badly burned. And is currently getting NHS treatment. He was wearing a suicide belt.

Our national threat level is up to 'critical' – the highest. A security and terrorism expert on BBC News 24 is currently saying that for the level to be raised is 'extraordinary' and that the security services "know something is going to happen". Wow, can't wait to get back on to the trains and buses on Monday to traverse this city I love. Hmm... brilliant. We don't normally see police officers walking the streets in this area but they were out there tonight.

Some people have said, on news reports, that they aren't bothered by the attempts, but how can you not be the slightest bit worried?
More people will obviously be concerned as this latest incident was not in London. I recall when 7/7 happened, some people I spoke to who live far from London actually seemed disinterested because it was all happening down/up here.

As for those responsible, well, what can one say about them? What possible reason can be good enough to justify the attempted murders? What kind of humans are they? And why? Rushdie? Blair? Brown? Bush? What? Whatever their reasons, why target innocent people? Madness.

This news has shifted the other big stories off the front pages. The country's still flooding badly, with more rain forecast. The poor people whose homes are half under water must be wondering what on earth is going on with the weather. S and I were near the Thames today and, in the rain, the water levels looked especially high, and it wasn't high tide. The torrential rain has effectively killed several people over the last week or so. What country is this again?!

And there was a 40-car pile-up in Kent today, caused by fog and rain. One person died. Again, what is happening with the weather? It is the middle of summer. Isn't it?

Restricted blog

So, my blog isn't suitable for those under 17. Quite pleased about that.

It's based on the use of expletives (f*cking, hell, f*ck and punch). I don't see how 'punch' can be that offensive. What if I was talking about a summer party, where I had created a lovely, fruity drink? Hmm?

I've managed to kill two-and-a-half hours since my alarm woke me. I've sorted out the rabbits, had breakfast and sat at the computer (with my head slumped on to the desk for a while). I'm so, so tired. My head feels heavy and there are dark circles under my eyes.

When I spoke to sleep therapist P briefly on Tuesday (after she cancelled my upcoming appointment), she seemed to think I was getting enough sleep! Unbelievable.

I know people who need eight hours of quality sleep, minimum, and feel awful if they get less. Not everyone is the same. Anyway, I didn't sleep well last night – had weird dreams and I woke easily.

What to do today? Goodness knows.

Friday, 29 June 2007


It goes without saying that I am incredibly, deeply relieved that this story didn't make worse headlines. When I woke, it sounded like a smallish story (well, relatively speaking) but the details of what was in that car make terrifying reading (nails, gas cylinders and 60 litres of petrol). Explosives officers manually defused the bomb. Imagine doing that as a job. Heavens.

They've just identified another suspect car in an underground car park in central London, near Hyde Park, which has now been evacuated...

Apparently, according to the BBC just now London is on "heightened terrorist alert" as 07/07/07 approaches. It was an ambulance crew that noticed smoke coming from the car; intelligence didn't crack this one, which is a bit scary.
Someone I've just spoken to for work has said he reckons it's all a bit coincidental what with Brown newly in power. He works in IT but was more cynical than an old hack!

I'm watching News 24 on my computer. They keep stressing how the public "must be vigilant". It's horrible.

Update: so, we're under 'severe threat' – the second highest level, which means an attack "is likely". Bloody hell.


Yes, that's how my head feels. Mind you, that could be due to the hayfever/coldy thing I have at the moment.

I could barely move when I woke up this morning. In fact, I didn't – I lay there for 40 minutes (yes, yes, breaking the Sleep Programme rules). I was semi-awake and semi-conscious. The headache that plagued me all of yesterday had gone but my limbs were heavy, crying out for an extra hour.

Anyway, some good news – my little rabbit is back home, but is under supervision as she is not completely recovered. She's a feisty little bundle.

Kung fu was back on the agenda yesterday, which definitely helped me to sleep. I've explained to N, the instructor, what's been going on with me – he has given me some sage advice and has been very empathetic.

However, I have lost another pound in weight, possibly due to the exercise, I guess. I'm eating better, thanks to my dearest parents cooking me lunch daily this week, so it's odd. Good old stress, eh? The best diet in the world. Or the worst.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Feels like a conspiracy

My sleep therapist, P, just called. My long – long – awaited appointment, which was meant to be next week, has been cancelled. She apologetically told me that she has a hospital appointment. I tried to sound all, "Oh, OK, that's fine. Sorry you have to go to hospital."

I am shaky now.

My stomach feels like a washing machine.

She says I can have a chat to her on the phone for about 20 minutes today. I haven't seen her since the start of May. It's July next week.

I have four weeks of this sleep programme left; I was holding on to my appointment – a light at the end of the tunnel. It was my carrot. Now it is a stick. And I feel like I'm fucking crumbling.

Dream interpreters?

So, what does this mean? Anyone?

In my dream last night, I was wearing contact lenses. I had no idea how they got there (I wear glasses for driving and the computer and cannot bear the thought of wearing contacts... All that eye-touching – uggggh).

Anyway, the lenses were causing my eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable. I had to use a magnifying mirror to find them as they kept swimming around my eyeballs.

The relief when I managed to get the dratted things out was immense.

I woke with a headache.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

My oven is dead...

...and it has my lovely "recommended by Observer magazine" M&S dinner in it, half-cooked. The fucker.

It has cooked sufficiently to let the aroma waft everywhere and for my stomach to begin to eat itself.

I know that NMJ had oven problems recently. Bloody hell. What is going on?

I am hungry and have had to order a fucking bloody pizza – £10, minimum order etc – because the fucking fridge (still functioning, thank heavens) is full of frozen, oven-ready things. Bugger and bollocks.


No flights to Heathrow...

There are no flights arriving at, or taking off from, Heathrow at the moment – the world's busiest airport. The last time I recall that happening was 7/7.

The reason given is that there has been a gas leak on a perimeter road. Hmm. The M4 motorway, which passes close by, has been closed, too.

Since a fortnight ago, or so, there has been a very strong police presence on the Tubes and trains in London. I mentioned it to a friend who said it was probably because we are, again, under severe threat from certain people due to Blair going and that awful anniversary approaching.

As Tony Blair left Downing Street today, and as new PM Gordon Brown stood outside making his first speech, I felt oddly nervous. There is a funny vibe in the air today.

The bad, the good and the wankers

The bad things that make me somewhat enraged. I am:
  • Annoyed that my pet rabbit is still ill and in the hospital.
  • Annoyed that the first vet we saw gave me advice that could have killed the bunny. And his advice cost hundreds of pounds and made Albert suffer. I wish to shake the stupid, mercenary cretinous wanker until his teeth fall out.
  • Annoyed that I am so tired I cannot say the words 'kung-fu' let alone attend class.
  • Annoyed that my GP changed some medication I'm on without asking, "because the PCT said it was too pricey and anyway, it was only prescribed by the hospital because your consultant went out to dinner with a drug rep". Er, don't bother calling me to discuss, eh? Oh, and, dear GP, you have libelled someone at a very, very good hospital. Fucking twat.
  • Annoyed that my entire life is dictated by the Sleep Thing (my social life is a joke right now).
  • Annoyed that I feel sick all the time due to stress – why can't I just be one of those people who doesn't care? I've lost weight and have to keep buying new clothes.

The good things that help:
  • My boss has let me work at home for this week and possibly next, which means I save three hours of my life a day as well as travel costs, and am less tired at the end of the day. Well, relatively.
  • My parents live fairly nearby and will cook me lovely lunches and dinners some days this week. Left to my own devices, I'd be subsisting on M&S sarnies. Not very inspiring, or healthy enough.
  • The wonderful vet who is now tending to Albert says she is bright today but there is a mass of something in her digestive system that needs to be eradicated.
  • It is sunny.
  • I found the receipt for a recently-purchased but damaged Laura Ashley bed throw, so will go in today at lunchtime and give as good as I get to the man who called me "stupid" as I walked out of the shop on Saturday. (The throw has a hole in it – he refused to give me a credit note, was as charming as a Glastonbury toilet, and insulted me as I walked out of the store. Utter wanker.)

Monday, 25 June 2007

Azure Monday

It never rains... cetra cetra...

My first notable incident after dragging myself out of bed this morning was to walk into the corner of a knee-height open wooden drawer as I got dressed. Normally, when one bashes oneself, there's a bit of a sting and that's that. But no, I managed to split the skin. Large globules of blood leaked out. It's not a huge wound but it was enough to take my breath away and make my eyes water.

After plastering up my knee and getting the LK Bennett dress ready to be posted back to the shop (it's hanging off me), I went to the GP, who said I need to have a lump – probably a cyst – under my armpit aspirated (needled and analysed). She didn't seem too concerned but said I should have it checked out.

Next stop was the vet, to collect Albert, who still isn't quite right but was getting stressed by the cacophony of other animals there, which obviously wasn't helping matters. I've brought her home to relax in her own environment, and am keeping everything crossed that she eats and performs certain bodily functions pronto.

As I left the veterinary surgery, the rain was pouring from a grey sky. Added to that was a sight that always makes your heart sing: a police officer hovering by your vehicle.

So, the van-driving Peeler stood by my car, which was parked next to a vet ambulance, and watched unblinking as I ran towards her with Albert in her blue carrier dangling from my left hand and a bag of medication in my right hand. She asked: "Is the vehicle yours?"

Er, no. I'm just running towards you with a sick animal in tow in the pissing rain because I really, really like coppers with nothing better to do than fuck up my day.

I was tempted to argue the toss with the woman but took one look at her wasp-chewing face
and knew it would just be a waste of my time (and there was also the risk that Albie would get wetter and more stressed).

Officer Compassion Bypass glanced at me, her face as warm as a statue in a wintry graveyard, and said, in a monotone: "You're on the public pathway," before thrusting a sodden, sodding penalty notice thing into my hand. Bet the only place she'd secure a kiss would be Glasgow...

Hmph, that's £100 down the drain – and for what?! The place I parked was next to another vehicle – the kerb was even lowered so that cars could mount it! I gave her a look that probably won't have had much effect on her conscience but possibly might have made her feel something for a nanosecond. I wish I'd taken a photo of where my car was. Damn – £100! I could have appealed. Or bought a new dress to replace the baggy but beautiful LK Bennett number.

Anyway, here we are at home: me and my two house rabbits. My knee's throbbing and I've got lots of work to do. My day, however, will be deemed a major success if Albert produces a dropping or 10. And I never thought I'd say that...

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Extreme frustration

My little eight-month-old rabbit Albert developed a lung infection (pneumonia) while we were away working and is now at the veterinary hospital. She had been staying with my other rabbit at my parents' place. Poor little thing, she was panting and hadn't eaten or drank all day. Classic signs of pain in a rabbit.

Not eating is very serious in a rabbit, although no one else (apart from the nurse I spoke to, who had mercifully treated Albert previously) seemed to have a bloody clue. Vets are not all trained in rabbit care and treat them as they would small cats and dogs.

I'm glad I did my homework instead of relying on professionals, who, I have come to experience, are rarely founts of as much knowledge as they should be. Rabbits are exotic creatures and you cannot apply principles from treating cats and dogs to a different species, for fuck's sake.

The vet patently had no idea that when a rabbit doesn't eat, its gut goes into stasis and it often dies. Fucking hell. It's basic knowledge. Why he didn't check her for dehydration and recommend force-feeding and a drip is beyond me. Idiot. That, plus the lung infection, would have been a significant strain on the poor animal. Grrrr.

I spent my first hour in bed last night weeping, which was nice. Worry about Albert. Exhaustion. Stress. All the very best things in life.

It's obvious that my tiredness is having an effect on those around me but there isn't much, if anything, I can do. Except apologise for having this problem. It's not as though I can have a nice long rest and be all fresh and bouncy. I feel as though I'm getting to the end of my tether.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Home, sweet home

It is so good to be home. I love home.

I've been to several cities across the UK for work recently and it has been excruciatingly exhausting for me. Some of the trips were one-dayers, where we went to the destination and returned the same evening, and others – most recently – involved hotel stays.

I'm a bit of a fusspot when it comes to hotels. I like cleanliness and comfort. It's not much to ask. But the places we stayed in were distinctly uninspiring – paper-thin walls, questionable bed covers (I didn't want to touch them), rogue hairs in the bathroom and bog-standard buffet breakfast.

As for the places visited, well, they all melded into one amorphous Where Are We Now? after a while. You'd hear different accents, notice varying attitudes and levels of friendliness, but there's only so much to differentiate places when they come so thick and fast. Certainly, the hotels were Stepford-esque in their uniform blandness and cheap, nasty minimalism.

Some cities were noticeably more moneyed and boasted shiny city centres and shiny people, whereas you could see the generations of struggle etched in the faces of others where "adversity", as they put it, was high on their life agenda. It was an interesting assignment, but I struggled to keep going, as I felt so awful.

I worked on the journey home, stopping occasionally to watch dark clouds hovering and raindrops spattering across the train windows like sperm racing towards an ovum, as the train rocketed south.

I also peeped at the laptop of the young woman seated next to me. She was writing a list, a long list, of things like: 'have bath with Jo Malone oils', 'buy [insert list of luxury items] for new flat', 'plan picnic with lovely food and drink', ' go horse-riding', 'sleep', 'shower', 'wake up', 'have lunch [insert name of posh restaurant] with [insert name of friend, relative], 'buy [insert designer-label] clothes for [event]'.

The taxi home from King's Cross was quick – it was a new, spotless black cab complete with friendly driver. The flat was fairly tidy. There was a pile of post waiting, including a card indicating (I think) that a beautiful dress I ordered from LK Bennett in the sale – the last one available – had arrived and was waiting at the Post Office. My credit card bill and the rest of my post are unopened next to me. I slept well last night.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Stop the world...

Been to Newcastle, Glasgow and back to London, all in the space of two-and-a-half days. At least 1,200 miles.

Sitting back in my chair in my home, I feel as though the world has finally stopped whizzing past my head. It's great to be home. I have been feeling unbelievably ill with tiredness. Literally sick.

My own bed, my own bathroom, my things. Lovely.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Like a cat in a bag

I barely slept.

I was gnashing my teeth all night. My mouth tasted appalling this morning.

I feel like a jelly. My hands are shaking. My heart is thudding.

And I have lots of work to do before heading to Newcastle and Glasgow for work. Long train journeys on which I cannot sleep.

Don't even have the energy to scream...

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Up, down, sideways

This stupid tiredness is shoving my moods all over the place, into this corner and that hole. That sort of thing. I think the sleep stuff is the cause. The lack of sleep is being helped lots – lots – by the tablets but I am not sleeping for long enough (due to my strict regime). I still feel the deficit. I am in the red, sleep-wise.

Confusion – well, something underlying – is plaguing me tonight. I feel odd and sad. Tiredness? Hmm. Possibly. Maybe. Who knows? I'm not sure I do. I'm listening to Massive Attack's Protection now. It's beautifully melancholy:
"I stand in front of you and take the force of the blow..." However, it doesn't match the exquisiteness of Unfinished Sympathy. Not much does.

I was exhausted after my last kung fu session. My limbs now ache with heaviness and there is a darkish mood simmering in my head. It was one of those days where lethargy coloured my abilities, such as they are.

Where are the endorphins now? They've gone, gone, gone. They've buggered off.
I'm meant to do some yoga or t'ai chi (as prescribed by P six weeks ago) but I haven't got round to it. What an idiot (me, not P).

It has been very humid in London for the past two days. The air has weight. A deep breath does not refresh your lungs sufficiently, not in the heart of the City. The rain, when it comes, is hard but brief. I've carried a raincoat, umbrella, and had to wear or carry a cardigan as the office can be cold when the air conditioning is switched on.

So, I end up like a bag lady with all my bits and pieces; my skin glows uncomfortably from the strain and heat. If the newsstand people thrust free papers at me, I'm done for, co-ordination-wise. It's too challenging. I'm never quite sure where my train ticket is in such circumstances.

This weather drains me. I feel like a slug that has had salt poured on to it (I have never done such a thing but can imagine what happens...).

I wish for a dramatic storm, for the electricity cloaked in the clouds to make supercharged connections and create the biggest, most beautiful sparks that nature can manage. Come on.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Father's Day

OK, OK, so some say Father's Day is a commercial piece of poo. But I do love my dad. Any excuse to buy him a present is fine by me. He and my mum deserve far more than I could give them.

You tired? Me, too...

One of the most difficult things in in my life is conveying to selected others how wretched this sleep disorder makes me feel. The next most difficult thing is trying not to let its effects show, which usually applies in work situations. Sometimes I succeed.

It's not just feeling tired.
It's not something that a couple of good nights' sleep will solve.
Its not something you can relax out of.

It is debilitating. It is depleting. It is distressing. It is frustrating. It is hellish. It is all-encompassing and touches every area of your life. Sometimes life is such a strain that you wonder what the point is. You are a walking zombie. You are lucky that car drivers are more alert than you are. You cry on the way to work. Kindness can make you melt or make you rigid.

You have no capacity, no resources, no buffers, no energy to cope with everyday things. (But you do, somehow.) You want to scream. Exercise – kung fu – makes me sleep, but ironically, when uber-tired, I am so mentally absent that I feel I don't get much out of it bar more frustration and the fear that I probably hold up the rest of the class with my half-hearted, half-remembered moves.

Insomnia is – I am realising more and more – a condition that deserves more respect and treatment than most people deign to give it. Including my GP, who told me that just lying there would be OK. The fucking, fucking, fucking, smug idiot. "Lying there and resting gives you 80-90 per cent of what you get through sleep. Don't worry about it."

Fuck off. I feel like death warmed up, have nearly crashed my car, and you tell me, doctor, not to fucking worry? ARGH. And don't lie to me. I am not an idiot. I have a degree in psychology, and yes, I know a bit about sleep. Do not fob me off. You fuckwit. Sometimes the NHS stinks.

I do not tell people about the sleep problem indiscriminatel
y. I try to be discerning and only do so when necessary – such as to explain why I am not drinking alcohol – at a party a few months ago.

Sometimes, apropos of nothing, I just click with someone and feel able to share the experience. Those in this second category do seem to genuinely understand and care, which shocks and delights me, making me want to hug them.

The others tend to do one of the following:

a) tell me how tired they are (I have no words to adequately describe how incredibly maddening and insulting this is).
b) look pseudo-sympathetic but give the impression that you are somehow wimpish. This is usually accompanied by them changing the subject or looking over your shoulder, as happened at a couple of events earlier this summer. Those incidents put me off socialising with certain people for the time being at least. I cannot be arsed.

c) offer solutions such as "drink chamomile tea" (hmm, yes, never tried that one)... but at least the category 'c' people are trying to help, which is refreshing.

I can't – and don't – expect those who haven't suffered from insomnia to know what it's like. How could they? I wouldn't wish insomnia on anyone, (except perhaps the woman who shafted me and slandered me at work at Easter). But I do expect grown-up humans to have enough nous to not say trite things and to at least acknowledge that not sleeping well for months... years... might be bad news.

S's birthday meal, which was meant to be at a restaurant that I booked months ago, was cancelled and converted to having pizza in the spare bedroom. It is an attic room with a wide view of the sky. I must admit I was grateful to not have to dress up and trek to Piccadilly, knowing that my curfew loomed and that wine was a no-no. It wouldn't have been much fun for either of us, and S, who has seen me insane with tiredness this week, didn't mind at all. Having pizza delivered and doing nothing except watch the sky with the radio on in the background, was a godsend. Being out with me semi-comatose would have been such fun...

Earlier, I had spent most of the afternoon clearing out my two wardrobes of clothes I haven't worn for a while, then lay on the bed upstairs, unable to move. I took painkillers as my body ached so much. I tried not to sleep (the radio was on, to keep me awake) but suspect I may have lapsed into a micro-sleep. If I did indeed commit a sleep programme sin, it couldn't have been terribly deep as I still felt drained when S came into the room and mooted the pizza/sky-watching plan.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Big Brother is losing me

Have to say, I am a) either slipping from the demographic at which BB is aimed or b) BB is exceptionally bad this year.

Usually, there are one or two people who engage me and make me almost fervent that they deserve to win. Nadia, for example, and Shilpa in the celebrity version. And then there were proper villains, such as Makosi, Maxwell, Saskia and Grace. This year? Hmm, not sure.

Last night, I watched the programme from the
bit where gurning Davina introduced more men to the house. Predictably, the lobotomised twins imitated goldfish, Charley leapt on to one of the incomers, wrapping her legs around his waist within five seconds, and all the females, bar Carole and Tracey, screamed like idiots.

The most amusing part for me was the eviction of that egotist Shabnam "I've had a blast" w
oman. Dearie me. All she could talk about in the house was wanting to get "a deal". I'll give her a deal if she shuts the eff up. How desperate and wannabe-esque can a person be? She interests me not, and frankly, I will not buy anything that puts her on its cover in an attempt to make me buy it.

She took an age to leave the house, telling everyone she "loved" them and promised to "look after" them (?!). It was deeply embarrassing to watch. During her studio interview, during which she went on and on about "having a blast" and "having energy", there was an uncomfortable lack of reaction. No one laughed at what she obviously reckoned were fabulous jokes. No one cared much.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Synchronicity and strength

Some serendipitous and strange things have happened lately. In the last week, I've bumped into/heard from three friends (separately) who I had last seen at least 12 years ago. They are all from an era of my life that brings forth nostalgia and makes me feel grown-up because of the passage of time. The latest one was an ex-colleague going home on the train this evening – he was a thoroughly decent individual then, and still is now. Oddly, I know all three from the same place.

I've exchanged details with the trio and hope to meet up soon, so we can recall those heady days of unbridled energy and a large capacity for alcohol and several nights out in a row. Now, two of them are parents.

My tipple was always a black Russian. I cannot even sniff one now following an incident in a certain night club when I was 23 and the fresh air hit me after I downed eight of them. Ugh. I recall thinking, as consciousness faded in and out like a Belisha beacon as my head slumped on to the bar, that this was no way to die, that my parents would be deeply ashamed and upset, and that my face would be on the front of the newspaper for which I worked.

Aside from these chance meetings, I have worked like a mule. S, his colleague and I have been working in Liverpool, a city I last visited in 2005. The people are, on the whole, either fabulous, gregarious souls who could talk the legs off several donkeys, or simply your average Joes and Janes. Every town has its characters but the Scousers – some of them – are peculiarly and particularly funny and interesting.

Luck struck here, too, as we inadvertently met people who were interconnected with some we had met while travelling to other towns (one is very well known, which was a bonus). It was exceptionally weird. There is definitely something magnetic in the air. (Yesterday, I even read my tarot cards for the first time in years, as I felt so affected. They made me smile.)

But, this morning at breakfast, burdened with lack of sleep and exhaustion so deep I could barely speak, I sat alone watching the rain cascade down the wide, cold Liverpudlian hotel windows. The water streamed diagonally across the glass like furious tears. It was grey outside and I was grey. I matched Liverpool. It was 7.45am or so, and my work companions were still in their bedrooms, asleep. I, of course, had to get up early due to my sleep programme. I had not slept at all well and felt ill. I picked my way through the cooked breakfast. The best bit was the strong, black tea.

My tiredness is all-encompassing and I am, at times, made mad with it. I feel, on occasion, that I cannot possibly do another thing. But I do. So, I must be stronger than I think.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

I do hope karma exists

I am angry – again.

Just read this story about older people being treated horrifically by their so-called nearest and dearest. It's not really news to me but it makes my blood boil. When I wrote an article about the way those above the normal working age are treated in some of this country's hospitals, by some of this country's 'dedicated angels', I received feedback from readers that made me weep with fury and sadness. But for families to act with such cruelty, too? Madness.

What is wrong with some people? Why do the older members of so-called 'society' receive so little respect in the UK? How can we treat our older relatives or those being cared for, or who just have the cheek to become a little infirm or frail, with so little regard?

It's unbearable. Sometimes human beings make me sick.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Telly and that

Well, Simon Ambrose (left, looking elated) won The Apprentice. He is a good chap, very clever and personable, so no problem there. I thought Kristina (left, looking a tad fraught) might have won but always felt that Simon had more potential and was a more interesting person all-round. I love The Apprentice – one of the best programmes on the box, for sure. It inspires me.

The bits where snake-tongued Katie got her come-uppance in front of the live studio audience were class. It was quite something when Sir Alan said that if he had known what she was saying about the others behind their backs, he would never have considered employing her and that no one else would (now), either. That is one woman who should really learn to keep her mouth firmly closed. She is shameless.

I have no idea what happened in BB tonight. Do I care? Not really. The two programmes are, though genre-related, diametrically opposed.

More kung fu today. I ache like mad but it is all good.

Oh, and the weird things – signs – phenomenon keeps happening. Serendipity is my shadow.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

The drugs do work...

...but they are not a patch on kung fu. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Feel so much better now. My latest lesson was better than any therapy.
  • Cathartic. Very.
  • Fun (yes, maybe I have a masochistic streak, but there we are).
  • Challenging – in a good way – I do relish challenges when the dratted t*r*dness hasn't taken me over.
  • Great for your physique, too.
I absolutely fucking love it.

Things to make your head explode

I am angry today. Angry.

1) So, this latest honourHONOUR?! killing in this country... Fucking hell. What planet are those cretins living on? How could a father and uncle take the life of their daughter/niece in the name of something 'good'? Or in the name of anything at all?? They left the woman dead, naked, six feet down in a suitcase, under rubbish, in a back garden in Birmingham. She had been strangled with a boot lace, which was still around her neck. HOW CAN human beings behave like this? Culture? Religion? I don’t give a fuck. How can they justify their actions? You just know these murderers will go to their deaths, eventually, believing that they have redeemed the honour of their family. Those responsible, apparently, have shown no remorse. I want to know: where was the mother in all this? *SCREAM*

I've just had to switch off the radio as people have called into a news discussion programme saying that they had been raped and abused in this country by men who are meant to be paragons of virtue: fathers, uncles, priests, etc. I'm not even going to start on religion, if it is even relevant. All I can hope is that, for the hypocritical perpetrators, hell exists. It is about power: warped, inhuman, inhumane 'power'. It makes me SICK and I can't stand that it happens.

2) People are so bloody rude. I was working in a town that I shan't name (but suffice to say it is in the west country). A woman manning a stand called a security guard because my colleagues and I were in 'her environment' while I was interviewing someone.

Now, this woman had only to come up and tell us to move away, politely, and we would have. We were not next to her or blocking her (and what with her face like a smacked arse with a bee buzzing up it, I have to say she was not doing any trade at all)... But no, she called a security guard. Nice.

I ended up having a very loud conversation with her and told her not to be so rude, to learn some manners and to learn to represent her company a bit better (she was trying to sell mobile phones) as we were potential customers, and that what we were doing had absolutely nothing to do with her. I was furious. Small-minded, petty individual that she was. What has happened to people just speaking to one another? Twat.

3) The point above reminds me of comments I received while working in towns out of London recently. People brought race into what could have been innocent conversations and would look at me while they expounded racist views, prefacing their turdage with "no offence" while looking at me (the only non-Caucasian), before going on about 'negroes' and 'Pakis'. I have brown skin and do not define myself by it. So why the flying fuck should they? Is that all they see when they saw me? Christ. How stupid are some people, still?

I gave as good as I got within the bounds of politeness. I was born in this country, pay more tax than they ever will in their bitter lives, speak 'their' language better than they could and can certainly string sentences together without resorting to gutter-talk (when I choose to).

4) I have not slept well since last Wednesday. I am bastardly tired.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Signs of the times

I was told yesterday by some acquaintances-now-friends from my kung fu club that I 'see everything as a sign'.

A group of us sat in the sun for hours and chatted. It was lovely to feel so at ease with people I hadn't known all that well – I found them interesting in different ways, intriguing even. Some seemed interested in my so-called 'spooky' side, wanting their Tarot cards read (I have no idea how it works but I found that when I tried, years ago, it did... and I uncovered secrets along the way). It was greatly refreshing to be able to talk, however briefly, of ghostly things and 'energies' without being thought of as a nutcase.

Our instructor, N, told us about a visit to China: the visiting Brits stayed in accommodation that had been carved into the side of a mountain – part of a huge mountain range – they trained outside in the morning as mist rose gently from the valleys, snaking upwards until they were shrouded by tiny droplets, and visibility fell away. It sounded ethereal and utterly beautiful.

Afterwards, we went for a curry but the room was far too humid, being upstairs. I wish we had gone to my choice of air-conditioned curry house instead. Don't know who chose that place. Eating curry on a warm evening after sitting outside in the sun all day called for a cool room at the very least, plus iced jugs of water thanks very much. I was glad to have not been able to drink alcohol during the day.

It's funny, over the last fortnight or so, I have felt super-sensitive to all sorts of things. People, places, conversation, small things and mundane moments that have linked in lateral ways to other things.

It feels like life's doors are opening and closing (not closing in a bad way, but perhaps just shutting out negative people such as Gordon et al); opportunities feel as though they may be blossoming from unseen flower buds... it is as though a certain part of my brain is tuned in again.

It has happened in the past, tends to occur in concentrated periods of my life but comes back stronger after each temporary absence. Synchronicity, intuition, call it what you will... I like it very much. It's always there. I will endeavour to nurture it and not take it for granted.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Action is eloquence?

What says more? What means more? Someone telling you things? Or, someone demonstrating things?

Action is eloquence. Of course it can be.

But words are deeply powerful. I am in lov
e with words. Used well, or dangerously well, words change the world.

Words, words, words, words, words. So e
xceptionally beautiful, poetic, powerful, damaging, cruel, romantic... They can reach into the nerve endings of your solar plexus and the cavities of your heart, the synapses of your brain, and squeeze hard...

Words: so convincing to an ear that wants to be seduced by something or someone – from the blue-eyed boys who shave their heads and goose-step, to the potential lover. You hear all sorts of meaningful things within the neutral when you want to. You reinforce your good, phase out your
bad, and if not careful, are driven mad.

A look, however, can say much, and effortlessly – a world can pass from one person to another in one glance. Touch can be unbearably wonderful or simply unbearable. Scent is a purely limbic thing and will repel or attract at some level.

Taste? A tricky one... The taste
of a longed-for kiss prefaced by a look and the exchange of words (however mundane they seem to the not-looked-at) would be the best scenario, surely? Maybe words, used alone, would lose out in such circumstances. Unless you were Shakespeare and had the power to conjure with people's minds.

I love words that cut to the chase, like heat-seeking missiles. Words: a rather apt anagram of sword. They should be treated with all due respect.

These words make me cry, always:

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
(W B Yeats)

Many of the poems of John Keats touch me, too, especially Ode to a Nightingale and La Belle Dame Sans Merci. They make me more heady than any wine ever could.

I can't say I recall every word or remember every verse. In fact, I don't. I don't want to sully something so simply 'right' by tearing it apart and intellectualising. That's partly why I didn't study English beyond O-level (A grades in lang and lit, I'll have you know, back in the day).

I used to sit in class and wonder at how some of my English teachers had the audacity to stand there and theorise about what is so subjective, so personal, and then – horror – criticise it. How the hell did they know exactly what the author meant? One idiotic female teacher almost made me cry/scream because of her cynicism and lack of teaching ability. How I wish I could meet her now...

Mr Coleman, however, is a teacher I will never forget, and for the right reasons. It is partly down to him that I love words as much as I do. He conveyed his love of literature beautifully. I do wonder what happened to him and hope life has been good to him. I recall reading the part of Lady Macbeth (out loud) in class as he read the part of Macbeth. I was shy and many of the girls were in awe of him. It was embarrassing but delightful.

I remember Mr Coleman's disappointment when, in my review of Kes, I complained that there "was too much detail". I regretted my comment for years. "So, you didn't like it then?" he wrote in small, neat red ink. I replied with something like: "Oh, I did, really. Just preferred Lord of the Flies and Macbeth...". I felt awful.

If I close my eyes – or even if I don't – I am back in that sunny, first-floor classroom overlooking the playing field. I'm sitting next to a dear friend, a smiley 15-year-old, who tragically didn't live beyond 20; there are piles of books, a blackboard, chalk, desks, wooden chairs, and a lift in my heart at the start of double English, with Mr Coleman at the front of the class.

As a child, I fantasised about quiet Cambridge libraries with wooden walls, high ceilings, dark corners and precious books; it's an image and longing that will never leave me. But when I choose to dip in and immerse myself in certain words, I am transported.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Again... into the gutter

So, hands up if you aren't going to watch BB tonight and watch Emily call Charley a 'nigger'?

Channel 4, it appears, has had therapy and realised that one must take a stance on such things. I don't think Emily really meant it, meant it. But come on, how thick do you have to be to say that stupid word? For stupidity alone, she needed to be ousted. Ten minutes to go before That Music...

Post-BB update: I think they got rid of Emily as damage limitation to a) C4 and b) Emily. A 3am chucking out! If that 'n-word' debate had gone on tomorrow, the Shilpa Shetty saga would have looked like Play School. And I think C4 would have had to pull the show.

Today, I have been so tired that I cried on the train (little dribbles of tears; I clamped my eyes shut but my right eye leaked). I cried when my current boss, who is also my friend, sent me an email saying I looked sad and was I OK? (I let my hair fall in front of my face; no one saw, I don't think)...

I felt so wretched that I looked at the cast iron Anthony Gormley statues dotted around the South Bank – naked metal men standing at the edges of buildings and on Waterloo Bridge – and wondered how they felt, what they saw. How nuts is that?

I wondered whether they were contem
plating their lives and whether they wanted to end it all, then and there. I was so melancholy that I played Portishead's Dummy on my red toy, an appropriate soundtrack for sure. Sour Times, indeed.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Blast from my past

Today, S and I were on the train when we heard a man – very well spoken with honed tones – telling someone on his phone that there was an update for 'the bulletin'. S said: "He's just got a scoop" (S is also a journalist and observed this quickly; I was in sleepyhead land). So, we nosily listened in and then I saw the man's face: a face I'd sat opposite 15 years ago when we were rookie reporters.

Now, this man presents the TV news regularly and all traces of the boy/rookie have gone – and in a good way. He was always saying he wanted to get into TV and he bloody did it. The thing about him is that he is devoid of arrogance but has plenty of ambition. A fabulous combination – unusual in the meeja, frankly. So, it was a happy moment to re-acquaint with an old friend. I now have the impetus to arrange some kind of meeting of our old newsroom. It will, undoubtedly, be in a pub. Just like old times.

Later in the day, I saw a smartly-dressed man walking purposefully along Waterloo Bridge. Backwards.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

A mixed bag

To be honest, I'm a bit pissed off tonight. Maybe it's due to the full moon. Anyway...

• The 2012 logo is simply awful. It's a pile of technicolour vomit. I cannot believe it. Are we in some sort of sporting version of the Truman Show re the Olympics? It's got to be a pisstake, surely? My rabbits could have done better with random bits of card and strategic droppings.

• I listened to my new red thing today while working. It is lovely and I love it. So pretty and easy to use.

• I feel very old after watching BB tonight. I – erm – think I like Chanelle a bit. Her only crime is being young. She is not vacuous or obnoxious like the awful twins, Charley, Emily, Tracy or the especially horrendous Shaban. She's just young... Ziggy went up in my estimation after having a go at Emily. He's definitely got a brain, which is a plus. Seems like a nice chap.

• I feel crap after being crap at kung fu. I joked about being pathetic (because of my painful hip) at the start of the class and the instructor, N, jokingly said something related to my 'patheticness' that made my small reservoir of confidence dry up. Sometimes I wonder why I bother. It was a joke but he's right – I'm not really there – I am so fucking tired that I am seriously beginning to think I should knock it on the head for a while and go back in three months.

• My glossy black rabbit nicked a piece of toasted bagel from my plate (cinnamon and raisin) and ate it under the table.

• There was so much bad news in the free London paper I picked up this morning that I was depressed by page two.

Monday, 4 June 2007


One hundred posts... My one hundredth 'new post' window. And a handy excuse to publish the cover of one of my favourite group's albums.

It would appear, from my labels, that my top 10 topics of blogversation are: sleep, health, insomnia, kung fu, exhaustion, work, family and friends, stress, food and drink and the garden. Does that represent work-life balance? I suppose it depends on what the heck it is that I yak on about exactly.

I am pleased that Big Brother is not among the top 10 – I'd have to get psychiatric help, and fast, if it was. But I'm not so pleased that there are so many references to my blasted sleep disorder and exhaustion.

And why is work so high up on my list? I've had months and months of problems this year. Until today (touch wood cetra)...

Today, I was offered a full-time job on a mag. However, judging by what I was told, I don't think the pay will match what I earn as a freelance, and I am not sure I want to relinquish being my own boss. I love working for myself. I work hard but relish what I do (people sometimes make it difficult but that's par for the course, in this industry of egos and tossers). Anyway, I'm very flattered to have been asked.

Oh, and I was called up unexpectedly by an old contact who offered me some lucrative work that I annoyingly can't do as I have no time. And, I heard today that one of my articles has been deemed 'best read in ages' by a magazine for which I write.

So, work was not at all bad today. But I was still retching and ill due to 'stress tummy' before I left for work. My doctor says it's definitely due to ongoing work stresses over the past few months and nothing else. It's horrible.

Another thing – I seem to be slightly more psychic than usual.
I knew I'd see S at the bus stop (I very rarely see him on the way home). I knew I'd hear from two friends I hadn't heard from in a while. I think I even half-dreamed the email conversations. I knew that we'd see our kung fu instructor and his girlfriend tonight, in this neck of the woods, many miles from where they live. I knew things. Just general things of no special or obvious significance. But I knew.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

The bosom of home

I've spent much of this afternoon visiting my lovely parents for a long lunch. They are so lovely that I can't believe I am their product at times.

They understand me, feed me, never judge and never let me feel that I have to make an effort if I'm feeling low/tired/rubbish/stressed/irritable. I am a lucky, lucky, lucky person. I know this and it makes me tearful at times.

Don't get me wrong – I'm not some brat who has sailed through a privileged, moneyed life. Some horrible things have happened. Anyway, my parents worked harder – uncomplainingly – than most people I know, to get by.

If it wasn't for my parents being who they are, I dread to think what might have become of me. They are the best. I would have to damage anyone who said otherwise.

Sunday morning alarm

It's very peaceful. And very warm already. No one is around.

The rabbits have been fed and are skipping around, pattering on the floor with happiness and full bellies.

I have the window open and am drinking from a huge cup of tea with a slice of lemon in it.

But I wish I could go back to bed... Everyone else in the street is snoozing. That's how it feels. It's like a secret world. When my alarm buzzes at 7am every morning – every morning! – I feel like a spy, getting up to carry out a secret mission before normal people are conscious. Sundays are worst.

Update: am listening to the radio. Apparently there is to be an 'international Maddy day' for missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann, and the parents want J K Rowling to insert 'Maddy bookmarks' inside her new Harry Potter books. Why does this make me feel so deeply irritated?

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Lovely lilas

The smell of one hundred barbecues (including the one we had here) no longer fills the air. For I have closed the windows and lit a Diptyque 'lilas' candle that I bought while I was on my short but wonderful trip to Paris earlier this year.

I had to close the window – and not because of the barbecue smell, either. I like the smell of barbecues. Thing is, some of our neighbours have a questionable taste in music. Really, for people with a lovely home and who are indeed very pleasant, they do own some ghastly stuff.

Anyway, if they want to stoke up an evening in that fashion, that's up to them but they had their music on one of those iPod speaker things in their manicured garden. I'm sure lots of our fellow barbecuers could hear the strains of MOR tunes interfering with the chitter chatter and chinkle of tipsy laughter.

It was, however, one of those situations where we Couldn't Say Anything as it Had Gone on For Ages and we'd exchanged niceties. I can hear them now; they are as drunk as lords. I shall have to go to bed soon (sleep programme... yadda yadda). It's been very warm today but I will have to sleep with the window closed to shut them out. Pah.


As we drove back from Birmingham the other night, which is where S, a colleague and I had been working for the day, reports on the radio warned that the M40 was closed off as there had been a "nasty accident" earlier that morning.

It transpired that not long after we'd driven up to Brum on the same motorway, a northbound lorry jack-knifed across lanes of traffic, went through the central reservation and ended up smashing into the southbound lanes. At least eight cars had tried to get out of its way. Three people died at the scene, many others were injured. The motorway was closed for eight hours.

With the debris cleared, the sight of the lorry's tyre-tracks indicated that it had somehow done a 90-degree turn at one hell of a speed to end up where it did. The black skid marks and the bollards protecting the temporary replacement central reservation made me want to weep.

Earlier in the day, a car transporter, in the middle lane, weaved around dangerously (obviously). The driver was chatting and laughing with someone else in the cabin. I gave the driver a dirty look as we overtook his vehicle. What a fucking imbecile. For fuck's sake. THE FUCKING BASTARD CRETIN. I would loved to have smacked his face with my fists and shaken him until he screamed and UNDERSTOOD that he was in charge of a fucking lethal weapon. ARGHHH.

On the way home, we saw a dark blue lorry weaving in and out of the hard shoulder. As he did so, dust rose from the verge. The driver was obviously distracted and either falling asleep or chatting to someone. We consequently left the motorway as soon as we could, wondering whether to call the police – but what would we say? A small, blue lorry somewhere on the M40 is weaving about? It happens all the bloody time.

I lay in bed and thought of those poor, poor people that didn't make it home on Wednesday, and of their families and friends, and of how their lives would never be the same.

My hatred of people who drive lorries (or cars) on motorways – or on any roads – with any degree of nonchalance is intense.
I slept very, very badly.

So, here we go, into the gutter

Join me, why don't you, to roll joyously around in the muck that is Big Brother?

So, Ziggy, the new housemate, was introduced to the show la
st night. I just read his profile. He wants to work for Hugh Hefner and is also a banker. He is "up for romance" in the house.

The man's introduction to a houseful of women (who are mostly slightly insane, which is not a bad thing) was interesting to watch. He loves himself. And the women (on the whole) love themselves very much indeed... so will there be room for love to – manifest – in a houseful of self-love?
Ugh, actually. Ugh.

Personally, I like Laura (left) a lot, so far. She is down to earth and was bothered when Lesley (the Women's Institute member and ex Cambridge don) sat alone outside. Laura said she was worried for Lesley as she was being so solitary. Most of the others didn't seem to even notice or care about Lesley. Bitchy Charley "a self-proclaimed it-girl" *vomit* has already picked Lesley out to be house underdog.

Carole is a good sort. She has taken on a matriarchal role (what a surprise) and is surprisingly game. She is old enough to have developed confidence that will win her friends in a houseful of insecure wannabes whose only real ambition is to appear on the front of Nuts, Zoo and possibly the adverts for Television X.

Most of the others don't do anything for me, but maybe that's because I'm not a 14-year-old boy (or 24-year-old man) who has got his willie out to watch the girls (two of whom are twins who describe themselves as 'twintastic') and prance – yes, really, prance – around in very little pink outfits. They are like lobotomised deer.

The twins are not only vacuous and dull but they are not as good looking as they reckon they are. Goodness, all that endless modelly posing in their bikinis... But I don't suppose the lads' mags will focus too much on their faces. And they can always be airbrushed.

As for Davina, well. Well, well, well. Not much changes, does it? The same tired repertoire. The same easy interviews (to come)...

Oh dear. What was that? The summer slipping by... Noooooooooooooooo!