Sunday, 29 July 2007

Wakey wakey

The sun was pale as we made our way to SS's birthday party on an island in the Thames. He had a great turnout and was in a jolly mood. A fair number of journalists and writers were gathered there, and everyone was separated by just one degree. It's a small, incestuous world, London hackdom.

As we stood outside, watching the Thames rush by at an alarming speed, raindrops began to spatter on the tall, leafy trees above, which provided adequate shelter for a little while. Eventually, we went inside to chat and eat nibbles. Some people played pool, others drank and became progressively red-eyed while conversation flowed (regardless of alcohol intake). A large fluffy cat, the colour of fudge and chocolate (white, dark and milk), loitered, waiting for strokes and scraps.

With each passing hour, the rain increased in intensity, calling fat slugs and various island creatures out. I didn't look at the ground too closely as my feet hit the sodden pathway. It was very dark but occasional lights threw the shapes of night-time creatures into shiny silhouettes.

By the time I got home, my 'earliest time to go to bed' had been and gone, and I still faced getting up at 7am today no matter what. And I just couldn't nod off. I stuck my earplugs in but the one in my left ear was extremely painful so I had to ease it out, which meant I could hear GFG walking around downstairs and S doing his business around the flat.

Tired? God, yes. But I am cheered that this week is to be sunny. I don't know why but the rays always imbue me with a certain energy that is otherwise elusive. I am seeing reiki lady today. I hope I don't fall asleep. It is not allowed.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Eating carpet...

Not me. No. M, the rabbit, has been pulling at the corners of the carpet under the stairs (there's a spiral staircase that she sits below). Rabbits can be very naughty indeed. She is looking at me with a sad, brown eye (I can only see the one eye), knowing she has done wrong.

I have been up since 7am as I embark on the final stage of the sleep programme that has regimented my bed and wake times for the past three months. Oh, and there's the caffeine deprivation, the chocolate deprivation and the alcohol deprivation too, just in case the sleep deprivation alone seemed a bit namby-pamby.

Anyway, my early waking – and getting up – I feel, is a remarkable achievement seeing as, a) I spent yesterday doing a fair bit (and hadn't slept the previous night), b) didn't sleep well last night and c) I have a friend's birthday party to go to later, and will need to feel energetic.

The sun helps me. Today's forecast, as I sit here with the sunshine pouring through the window, looks rather promising.

Friday, 27 July 2007

A good day

I didn't sleep very well as I said goodbye to being 37. However, as sleep therapist P had let me have a lie-in till nine ("everyone deserves a treat"), I didn't feel as bad as I would have otherwise.

My birthday cards have a stylish theme, as though they were chosen to sit together. They are beautiful, some I'd like to frame, but won't, as I never get round to doing such things.

S took the day off to spend it with me. He treated me to a massage (the woman was very good and I left feeling relaxed, not scratchy); then we had lunch where the food, served by Frenchmen, was delicious. I had to undo the belt on my dress. The place, situated in a beautiful part of London, was full of actors and people who lunch for a living.

I'm pleasantly tired – glad it is Friday – looking forward to seeing my parents later. It's been a mellow day, just what I need. I didn't sleep much last night... I cried a lot. An awful lot. I think it was the adrenaline of waiting for the sleep appointment, the catharsis of the actual appointment, and then feeling utterly depleted during kung fu (I was ridiculously badly coordinated). I cried as soon as the class ended (in the loo). And when when I got home, where it was quiet and empty, M, my rabbit, bounded over and followed me around, as she always does if I'm upset. That made me cry even more.

Anyway, 38 looks good so far. I am tentative, as I am in the middle of so many cloudy things. But on the whole, like today's weather, it's sunny.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Method in the madness

I feel as though a weight has been lifted from my shoulders... the sleep doctor guru and the sleep therapist were excellent and I feel a bit guilty for questioning their motives, as I've done in the past weeks.

Anyway, the reduction process is to begin tonight – I shall have less benzo than before – and I need to keep up the strict regime set in place by therapist, P, so that when I am drug-free, my body just goes, "There's the bed, this is a pillow: sleep."

This may not sound like a big deal but it is. I was prepared for a battle to persuade them to take me off the tablets etc but it was all on the agenda anyway. It'll be tricky keeping up the sleep programme for another couple of months or so but it's crucial and I'm on the home stretch so I'll do it. Ha.

I got some early birthday cards today – they are very pretty and made me smile.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


Well, it feels as though I have been away for months! This just shows how much of an utter blogger I really am. I missed it. How dare work get in the way, the cheeky blighter.

OK, so it's only been two days. But still.

Thing is, life is rather odd at the moment. The tablets that are meant to help me sleep are a mild form of LSD, and the side-effects are increasingly horrendous. I'm seeing the doctor very soon, so I shall tell him I've had it with the medication (but I shan't admit that I have cut down, albeit only by a tiny amount... but why wait?). I'm not having any alternatives, either.

My head hurts a lot of the time and I feel as though a blood vessel is throbbing inside it. Also, the latest joy is that I am a bit breathless, and breathing in hurts. I lose my train of thought, feel confused, retch uncontrollably (usually in private, thank God), am often spaced out... Oh, and there's all the emotional fuckage as well. No thanks!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Pants and fudge

Well, not quite fudge and pants, as such. But I'm trying not to swear. I do, however, love fudge and wear pants.


Just to say I have done the day job, commuted home in a horribly packed and damp train, filled with sodden people, walked home in the rain (actually, I quite like rain), have sorted out the rabbits and must now do more work, so cannot blog properly.

I want to watch Corrie, so I'll eat then. And after that, it's grindstone again.

Pants! Fudging pants. In fact, vittu!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

I am a...

Well, it sounds OK. If I have to be something, then it will do.

I don't agree with the trust thing, though
[hold your cursor over each colour inside the box to get an 'analysis']. It takes me a while to trust people, which, I find, is a sensible way to be.

On those very rare occasions when I click with someone instantly, I want to tell them everything.

And, seeing as I love daydreaming as much as I do, I am fairly imaginative. So, it ain't foolproof, this test. Fun, though (if lengthy).

It's a sin?

The man on the bus stood proudly, his pork-pie hat set neatly on his head, his umbrella furled perfectly, his eyes staring straight ahead, as a look of contentment crept over his face.

In his hand was a magazine, open at the page: "Are you a sinner in the eyes of the Lord?" He held it in the hand that he was also using to grip on to a pole, so that everyone looking his way could see it, held high. It seemed deliberate.

Have I sinned? Well, yes, in all probability. Who hasn't? But I suppose it depends on your definition of sin. It's all subjective (although I do know of one person who has committed an undeniable sin against me). If you look to religion to define sin, you find factions that can't even agree on one interpretation of their holy book(s). They kill over minutiae, convinced that they are surely right. This is all very simplistic, I know, but how complex does it have to be? It all boils down to some people's basest need for power: I am right. You are wrong. You must suffer (but in the way I choose).

Now, the weather. The weather! How wonderful was the monsoon rain yesterday morning (in London, at any rate)? I had woken up late – 8.15am – an hour late! But time did something strange and twisty, and I managed to get washed, dressed and to work on time. However, it was dark all the way, and I was half-convinced it was 4am. The slate sky was heavy, angry and beautiful, overflowing with a sense of what it might do.

And then it did it: rain, hail, thunder, lightning. Marvellous. I had been listening to Portishead's Dummy on my red iPod on the way in. The weather matched my soundtrack.

Friday, 20 July 2007

A game of tag

I have been tagged by Anna MR. Hello Anna MR! How are you, dear linguistically-talented lady?

Here are the "Rules":

(Note from Anna MR: Please adapt or ignore as you see fit).

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

1. Drinking Champagne gives me a post-facial glow the next morning (but so much better than a real facial, which can cause breakouts). It's very, very odd. But very, very satisfying. Also, no hangover. No other form of alcohol does this (not that I am drinking any at the moment)...

2. I have been looking at people in the street and wondering what they looked like when they were five years old. This is something I started to do this week. Odd behaviour, I know. But I am fascinated by people's ways and how they get from innocent baby (or are babies innocent?) to the adults we deal with daily.

3. I've discovered dark secrets about people through trying my amateur hand at things like tarot and graphology. I don't know whether it's just intuition working but something's afoot, and I rather like it.

4. I wish I'd studied different A-levels and gone to a university with spires to read English. Instead, I did sciences and maths, which are not my forte (not helped by my school going rapidly downhill in the late 80s) and studied for an honours degree in psychology (interesting subject, nonetheless).

5. I have seen ghosts. Clearly. (With a friend who saw exactly the same things on one occasion).

6. My unfinished novel attracts and repels me at the moment. I know that if I pick it up, I'll despair that I have to do work work sooner or later, which gets in the way of its flow. The not-being-able-to-carry-on is too painful. Hence, a paradox. I'm at the story's halfway point.

7. An uncle has traced my family tree back to a prince. This uncle can be a bit of a joker but he has done his homework according to my cousins, who can be his biggest (if loving) critics. Maybe there's a palace tucked away in the mountains, with my name on it... Sigh.

8. A Canadian penpal I started writing to as a 14-year-old is now one of my dearest friends and is someone I consider a kindred spirit. We have known each other for more than 20 years... We first met in person when we were around 19, got on amazingly well, had a blip of not writing in our early 20s and then picked up again, strangely having been drawn to the same jobs and similar people.

So, that's me done. I shall in turn tag:

Pony Person
The Scottish Lemon
The Struggling Writer
In Search of Adam
Misanthrope and Glory, as he was the first person, I think, to comment on my blog.
Life is beautiful, as she hasn't written anything since May.
The Inner Minx as I have lurked there.
Yumi Yumi, a random discovery.

NMJ, you got off lightly – I think someone got to you before I did!

Thursday, 19 July 2007


I had around three hours of sleep last night. My eyes were as heavy as the fins of a space shuttle by 3pm. I flicked my hair forward so that my colleagues either side of me could not see my eyes and I closed them for a moment. I'm pleased I face a window or I would have been caught having a quick shut-eye.

Having looked up the tablets prescribed by the sleep doc, I am now deeply worried. These things are hard core. They explain why a) I feel sick; b) I have lost weight; c) I have strange headaches; d) I am irritable (sometimes to the point of rage); e) feel anxious, and oh, I could go on and on. Suffice to say, this period of my life is not one I want to repeat.

Tough? This makes granite feel like silk.

The most worrying thing is that to come off these tablets can be an absolute hellish bastard. I have looked up the process and it isn't exactly a piece of cake. It's scary. But I no longer want to be on the tablets. It must sound stupid to take something and not fully research it but I had faith – finally – in the doctor, and got swept along because he is who he is.

Nearly four months on, I have some level of physical dependence. It would have happened after about eight weeks. My doctor has barely seen me in all that time. And now I am a fucking drug addict. Brilliant care, that.

I went to kung fu tonight, having made the decision that my life, going forward, must be as drug-free as possible (bar alcohol, on occasion). I obviously need to sort out the reason I don't sleep well but the way of the benzodiazepine is not the way for me.

Google "benzodiazepine" and "withdrawal" and you will see why I am not thrilled. I feel as though I have poisoned myself – or let someone poison me. I'd rather stick to natural endorphins, thanks very much Dr Sleep.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Kung is the drug

My goodness, today was good. Good: that's what today has been. Goody, goody, good.

The combination of kung fu last night (have I said how much I love it? Well, I do...), the resultant druggy rush from the latter, the day's endorphinising sunshine, a reasonable amount of laughter at work, meeting my friend J (who I hadn't seen for more than a year) for a lovely lunch and being told that I look 'alive' tonight by a jovial S, are all very good things.

Should I become a kung fu/writer version of Lara Croft? Hmm. I could fight baddies and write about it... I could.

I slept like a (good) baby last night, so maybe it's worth consideration if that's what it takes. It has to be better than taking blasted drugs that keep me from my moderate intake of chocolate and Champagne, surely?

(OK, one thorn in my side is that I have been working up until 10 minutes ago – I'd forgotten a deadline... oops. Oh and my kicked breast still hurts; it twinges every now and then.)

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


Vittu is a new expletive (well, as far as my vocab goes, anyway). Courtesy of Anna MR via NMJ.

Ouch, ouch, ouch!

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. And OUCH!

It happened at kung fu. The chap I partnered while we were practicing moves accidentally connected his foot to a breast, which happened to be mine.

I was holding a pad up as protection at the time but somehow the angle was wrong and it let P's foot through. He is nice, though, and I forgive him, especially as he felt terrible. But I was pleased when N, the instructor, demonstrated proper kicking on P all the way down the hall. Ha ha. Ha ha ha. (Yes, I have the post-kung fu endorphin thing going on again...)

'Intense massage' will help (and people watching where they are kicking!).

N's girlfriend, who also attends classes, later showed me a hard plate-like thing – Madonna-esque – that she wears when sparring. I want one. I want one!
I will be able to get one – plus sparring gloves and stuff – when I pass my grading and am allowed to spar...

Oh, and N was telling us about a recent kung fu camp he went to where he ate brain from half the head of a lamb, which still had an eyeball in it. He said it was very tasty. He said the eyeball squelched as it was removed (for eating purposes). What can you say?

Monday, 16 July 2007

Bugatti on the NHS

On the low table that sat between rows of blue chairs were various magazines. The magazines were mainly about golf, Bugattis and living in Sussex.

This was the breast clinic, OK?

There was one copy of Grazia that hadn't been touched. I read it in five minutes. Kate Moss appeared about 15 times. Pearl Lowe (do I care? Er, no...) was in a feature about being bad and then being good, and the handbags du jour were stupidly expensive.

Anyway, they're cutting the thing out from under my armpit. A local anaesthetic, a bit of snipping and stitching, and it should be OK. It doesn't look sinister, so that's obviously brilliant, but they'll check to make sure.

S took the morning off to go with me – excellent as my stress levels have been sky high (my blood pressure, however, was remarkably low, probably due to exercise – hurrah!). But my head hurts when it is stroked.

Sunday, 15 July 2007


Reiki was interesting – a wave of relaxation pushed me into a state that was between sleep and wakefulness. I saw a few images and at one point felt as though a volcano of emotion was making its way up my body; I stopped it. Sarah sensed and saw pictures while her hands – so gentle and restful – were on me. One thing that she texted me after she had got home, has shocked me because of its relevance.

The neighbours' barbecue was good – even though I couldn't share any prosecco, beer or wine. Or chocolate. S arrived later and stayed on alone as the party continued, as I had to get back home to bed. I was unable to move when my 7am alarm went off, so I stayed in bed until 8.30am. I feel absolutely wiped out. My heart is beating a little more forcefully than normal.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Reiki, BBQ and BB

The sun's shining, which is good as Sam and Christine, the couple next door, are having a barbecue later today. They've had the meat specially delivered from a farm in Wales and, as they are very much on the right side of the breadline, the food promises to be good. Christine works in events organisation and knows how to throw a good party.

Actually, if Sam and Christine were on any kind of breadline, it would be Poilâne. I interviewed M.
Poilâne once – he was a lovely man, full of Gallic charm and a saucy grin. He was short and I am tall; his eyes were often level with my décolletage.

During the interview, he offered me delicious coffee and platters of butter and tasty sourdough bread. He sadly died a few years ago while flying over water in his private helicopter. Why do wealthy people travel in helicopters?!

Prior to the barbecue, GFG's friend Sarah is coming to see me to perform Reiki for an hour or so. Now, I have no idea whether it will work, and I've only spoken to a few people who have had the treatment (all positive r
eports) but I am intrigued. Let's face it, two types of medication and a restrictive sleep programme haven't exactly turned my sleep world around. Next on my list are acupuncture and yet more exercise. Reiki will involve an hour of lying down, which sounds good to me.

I worked from home yesterday. Well, I say worked, but my head ached and I felt terrible, so only accomplished half a day's worth. I did some kung fu – just a little – before dinner, and my headache lifted. I think we know where this is going... (More exercise and having to work this weekend to catch up...)

My friend, SS, who did my Tarot cards earlier this week, popped over for a cup of tea and asked me to read his cards yesterday afternoon. I haven't read anyone's cards for a while but they were spot on despite the pressure in my head. He was pleased.

SS also brought over some chocolate cake (we live within 20 minutes of one another and when we are both working fr
om home, occasionally take a slice of cake to the other in return for a quick cup of tea). Due to the blasted sleep programme, I had to watch as SS ate his cake, which looked delicious. My slice is in the fridge, luscious and forbidden.

Talking of doing things you shouldn't, I watched – and enjoyed – Big Brother last night. It was very amusing watching Charley. She is vile but entertaining, and I maintain that without her in the house, all you'd have is a programme fill
ed with shrieking, vacuous idiots whose only conversation revolves around hair-straighteners and the Chanelle-Ziggy non-romance.

The funniest bit was when Charley went back into
the house after her fake eviction and told everyone that the crowd's banners, plastered with her face and name, meant they loved her: "They really LOVE ME! Oh, my God, I'm just being honest. THEY LOVE ME SO MUCH. Oh, I LOVE you all out there!" Just how wrong can a girl be?

Friday, 13 July 2007

Lowri's 'alien' baby

NMJ raised the subject of Lowri Turner (pictured left) being somewhat dismayed at having a brown baby (after conceiving the little girl with – wait for it – an Indian man).

Shock, fucking horror! (Daily Mail)

Lowri says that the experience will teach her things. She says she is worried that her daughter doesn't look like her (no comment). She says all sorts of things that make you want to call social services.

Why should she worry so much about how her daughter will be perceived? Does she really mix with such stupid people who focus only on the melatonin levels in the baby's skin? (Apparently, yes.) Many of my friends have children where the parents are of different skin colours, and so what? The children are usually beautiful, much-loved, and erm, like any other children.

Obviously some idiots out there will name-call and point to the person's 'dual heritage' but you don't expect one of those ignoramuses to be the child's own mother!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Small pots of gold

• A stranger gave me her newspaper on the train this morning, complete with a smile. This was a nice gesture as I hadn't had time to pick one up.

• My buses came quickly. I ran for my train and caught it. Got seats on all the forms of public transport I took – no mean feat.

• My friend, J, emailed me, full of concern after reading a recent blog entry. Having someone (who isn't my next of kin) be so forceful with advice touched me and made me super-aware of three things: 1) friendship definitely shows its true colours in times of need; 2) R, who I thought was a good, solid friend, is not
. Her remarks about insomnia, which I talk about infrequently, have been startlingly flippant – and she didn't invite me to her birthday drinks but told me how 'great' it was (weirdo); 3) I do need to sort myself out, pronto, and put my wellbeing above other issues (such as R: I cannot be bothered...). Or, I will not be here to deal with 'issues'. That's how serious it is.

• As I chatted to S on my mobile while standing outside the office, telling him properly how worried I am about the way I feel, a butterfly fluttered around me, back and fort
h, back and forth. It was stunning – orange, black, red – possibly a Red Admiral, seeking flowers in the heart of a dusty City. Words caught in my throat as I watched it soar. S and my parents have been swept up in the hurricane of my insomnia and been somewhat battered by it; they worry a lot. So, talking about it very seriously was only good. My decision to do something was resolute.

• Through my week-long headache and fog, I can now see a lighthouse. It is there, beaming at me in the distance. There is occasional fog forecast but that's par for the course with lighthouses, eh?

• I spoke to my dear dad, who recommended some herbal tablets that I'd heard about for years but never tried. I bought some and felt the underlying cold
ness leave my body an hour after taking them. This is promising. And I found the energy to laugh and chat to my colleagues.

• The PR woman for someone I'd been chasing for an interview called and said 'yes'.

• My boss is a lovely woman. I can talk to her about my insomnia and she listens and recommends things to help. And she told me, as we said goodnight with a kiss on the cheek (this is not what we usually do – this was spontaneous affection), that I could work
from home tomorrow. Wonderful.

• As I rode home in the bus, it rained for a minute, just a minute. A clou
dburst and then it stopped. Then, as I walked, I saw a glorious rainbow. I almost cried at the beauty of the evening. The roads were quiet, the rain made the pavements shine and there was a post-rain stillness in the air, as well as the curve of colours. Flowers and leaves dripped glinting raindrops on to grass and pavements. You could almost hear the Earth breathing gently as the sun's rays dazzled it.

• And, I've just had a message from Ground Floor Girl, with whom S and I had an amiable drink the other night. She has sent me the details of someone she knows who can do acupuncture, which she says has sorted out her energy levels. Excellent. GFG is an example of when good neighbours become good friends... Ahem.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

A mixed bag

I'm not sure about this whole sleep programme thing. I have a constant headache. I'm sooooooooooooooooooo tired.

So tired.

I'm office-based at the moment so I try extra hard to keep my spirits up. My colleagues are very nice people and that helps but I spent the afternoon trying not to nod off. Very, very difficult.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Slightly lifted

Not sure why, but I feel a little better today despite being v*ry t*red. I laughed a lot with my witty colleagues at work, a meeting went well, and I travelled home with a friend – it was nice to chat to him.

On the doorstep was
a package of gorgeous Origins stuff I'd ordered. Lovely. I shall slather myself in it shortly.

Also, the sun shone today, and this evening, we went out with GFG (who lives downstairs) to the local pub for a natter.

The only negative thing was an email chat with a friend who does that I'm broke thing and then goes on about where she has been and how much she has had to drink, and ooh, I must cut down! And then she says she can't afford to go anywhere with me. She's certainly selective with her spending.

Anyway, bugger that. I'm too old and too bored and too knackered to be bothered with such broken records. Bo-ring.

I missed kung fu tonight but shall have a session tomorrow to make up for it. It was a good day on the whole. Ha.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Let's just say I'm angry

I cannot even begin to explain.

Not many people would want to listen anyway, so what's the point. Christ, I wish I had a three-hour kung fu class tonight. It's really the only thing that would make me feel better.

Oh, yes, and the higher dose of tablets (it was one, then two, then one, now one-and-a-half) – don't make a flying fuck's worth of difference to my slumber.

Am I wasting my money? Feels that way. My head hurts. My neck hurts and I feel like shit. What IS the point? And no one (who knows) will talk to me about it. This makes me feel as though I am on an island, cut adrift. It's frightening.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Natural beauty

The sun shone in London yesterday, making the Hampton Court Flower Show far more spectacular than it would have been under mizzle or gloomy grey skies. Stating the obvious, maybe, but without rays of sun, the huge lake in the grounds of Hampton Court, the water features and the flowers may not have reflected and glinted and winked with such an inviting eye.

The funny thing about the 'show' is that it's really a sale. A sale of flowers, greenery, garden furniture, outdoor ideas and all sorts of artsy-craftsy things that appeal to those who love their homes and relish (and have time f
or) their gardens.

The majority of people there were 40-plus (or more likely, 50-plus) and they had among them, quite a bit of disposable income. They'd need to. You pay £25 a ticket to enter the event, for goodness sake. And, if you know no better, the car park would set you back £9. Staggering exploitation, car park-wise. That's £34 before you even see a petal or leaf.

I mean, look at this garden – it's a tiny section of the whole. You'd need a huge house and large space to accommodate this and make it look good. Some of the displays were stunning, though, and there was a lovely, tiny wooden summerhouse, painted pale pink, that I instantly fell in love with. It had a pointed roof and a comfortable seat; its windows were shuttered, I think. It cost £8,000-ish, but it was dreamy. And in my dreams is where it must remain.

There were many plants on sale, many of which we admired, but none of which we bought. (I succumbed to an exquisite coat, though: er, Happy Birthday to m
e – well it is later this month)... We had lunch outside, followed by a cream tea (again, outside) and then sat on the banks of the lake as a brood of cygnets and their mother glided by. I was happy to be wearing one of my New Summer Skirts, finally! And my legs caught a bit more colour. Hurrah.

It was a lovely day – peaceful. Even the security men walking around with their black labradors were singing "Lazy Sunday Afternoon" as they patrolled.

• • •

The day, with its blend of fresh air and walking, was a recipe for a good night's sleep. But no, not in my case. I did some kung fu when we got home but I was still quite sleepless. Plus ça change.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

An interesting lunch

I popped in to see my friend S one lunchtime last week. On the spur of the moment, as I drank the last of my cup of tea, I asked him to do my Tarot cards. He re-appeared with a pack of cards and a bag of rune stones.

Now, I must stress that I am not the sort of person who would dream of living their life though what cards 'say'. When I was in my early 20s, my friend Hannah and I would often visit the readers that sat in a small room in a corner of Covent Garden. Our futures, depending on who we saw (we always went in together) varied. However, there was one woman, Vivian, who was spookily acurate. With her northern vowels and her mad, reddish-orange hair, she looked scatty and scattered. But her unlikely tale of Hannah's life to come was remarkably accurate.

For me, well, she seemed to know what line of work I was then tied up in, what I'd succeed in, mentioned 'publishing' and 'using my writing to do things to make health better for people' and so forth. Both of those happened. I can't recall what she said about my personal life but everyone I ever saw said there were two sons, "if I chose to have children" (I don't have children at the moment).

My friend identified a few situations that one could argue he may have known about anyway. But there were some themes recurring from when I read my own cards some weeks ago. My health and work came up and so did several people, one of whom had been hard work at work (and is in the past). The rune I picked tied all of the cards together into a neat package of: "Look after yourself, things will change, and don't succumb to extremes of behaviour".

Then, he told me about a past-life regression he had had. It started out with cynical comments – S not knowing what the point of him sitting there was, him being totally aware of what was going on and therefore couldn't be being properly hypnotised – and evolved into a tale of changes in his body as he sat on the sofa... sensations and the sounds of being shot at, and possibly dying, that were so odd and real that I was alarmed and fascinated in equal measure.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Anger: an insight

I have come to the conclusion that anger has been the prevailing emotion in my life of late. Like a sponge that has soaked up Bad Things until it cannot take in any more, stuff seeps out and droplets pool around it. Around me. Things that come close are touched by it. The closer people get, the more the anger droplets wet them. Sometimes they have the strength to flick them off, sometimes they can't, or don't. They get wet and are affected, too.

A friend recently read a batch of my June posts after I (angrily) said he could see what I was up to by perusing the pages here, if he was bothered. I was angry that he hadn't been in touch for a while. He was 'staggered' by the amount of ongoing anger I expressed, which, sadly, is mainly due to the failures of medical professionals with whom I have come into contact (re insomnia) and the [insert collective term for egotistical idiots] bosses I've contended with of late. Luckily, my friend can shake off the droplets and see past my fury.

I am angry a lot of the time. My fuse is short. It is probably all due to that boring old bastard, underlying tiredness. I then become a sponge that's already saturated, with a bucket of cold water sloshed over me from time to time just to make sure.

However much I understand why I feel this way, I am aware that insight alone will only help me so much. Primarily, I need to sleep well, which I do after kung fu (which in itself is wonderful catharsis and acts as a kind hand squeezing out the sponge).

Secondarily, I need to learn to switch off more, and to do so my way. Not what the doctor says, or what people advise. But the way I need to. This is something I have not fathomed but I will work on it. Maybe it is kung fu. Certainly the endorphins help and I come home full of laughter. And there is a mind/body/spirit element to the art that is tantalising.

So, occasionally, I am a dry sponge, but the time it takes for exhaustion – whatever – to soak and drown me can come all too quickly. My task is to find something that will shelter me during such moments.

Just say no?

Damn. The sleep doc has told me that I need to go on an extra half a tablet a night. It all seems a bit random, to be honest. I want to come off the tablets. Now. I'm SICK of taking tablets. I'm fed-up with not being able to have any wine or champers. It's pissing me off.

When I told him that I want to come off the medication, he said that people with a sleep disorder sometimes take medication "for a long time". Hmm. Seeing as the only thing guaranteed to make me sleep is kung fu, I think it may be more sensible to do more kung fu, paid for with the money I would have spent on pricey private treatment, which seems to be a bit ad-hoc what with the yo-yoing dose and the AWOL sleep therapist woman.

I'm not sure what to do.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Fur flying

Rabbits are highly territorial animals. This trait is causing serious problems chez Mellifluous Dark, as since Albert was reunited with M, who has lived with us for nearly two years from kittenhood, they have fallen out badly.

Albert and M used to cuddle up and groom one another. Now, since Albert was hospitalised for her illness, they've attacked each other, and have to be separated. M comes off worse as she has beautiful, velvety short hair, and her delicate skin is easier for teeth to grab. She is nursing several horrible cuts and bites and I feel awful about it. They look sore and raw. Albert, with her thick fur, came off comparatively well. I only felt a few bites through her longer butterscotch coat.

This morning, I took the bunnies to Lorna, who runs a local rescue centre, in the hope that she could re-bond them (she worked magic when the animals first met and didn't get on, what with Albert not being male as we had thought, but a competitive female). As she did previously, Lorna set them up an area of neutral territory. I left her wielding her trusty broom (to separate them if they fought) and went to work.

Two hours later, I had a phone call. Lorna had "had to abandon". When I went to get them at lunchtime, she looked horrified at what had happened under her roof and apologised. I can guarantee that she hoovered before I arrived, to hide the evidence of silky black and longer honey fur... We'll probably give the bonding another try once M is healed. I bathed M's cuts in salt water and applied tea tree cream. We can't keep doing this, though, as it's very stressful for both poor creatures (as well as for the humans watching). Hmm.

As I write, they are launching at one another – Albert is in a large cage, for both their safety – like dogs.

Well, I slept...

...I gnashed my teeth for a while but I did sleep, and it's all due to my saviour, kung fu. There is a pattern: I do kung fu: I sleep better. I sleep! So, it looks as though I am going to have to become a kung fu kid and practice it every day. I do try to, but don't always make the time. I love it though, which helps.

However, I've lost faith in my sleep therapist, who postponed my appointment this week as she had a hospital appointment. As my friend, J, pointed out, she should have cancelled her own appointment if she was any kind of professional. And, I am peeved – dismayed – that she said that I've been sleeping well. It makes me wonder whether she is in fact looking at the right person's sleep diaries! If that's 'sleeping well', well, I'm a giraffe wearing clogs.

Yesterday evening's thunderstorms were quite something. The rain was torrential. It was gorgeous (obviously, this sentiment would not be shared by the poor flooded folk up north).

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Born slippy/sleepy

I know I talk a lot about sleep and tiredness. I wonder whether I should not talk about these things. But then I think – what's the point? – sleep (lack of) touches everything else and it may explain why I sound like I'm going nuts at times.

So, let's get it out of the way: my neck and head ache like heck due to me gritting my teeth and grinding them a lot last night. S told me this. He had a rare night of not sleeping well as he was preoccupied with a work thing. Sometimes bruxism wakes him, and he touches my cheek to stop me from gnashing, but I am glad that he sleeps through it mostly. I feel rotten today and have had to come home to work.

As for the biggest news story, well, it would appear that the people suspected of planting car bombs in London and driving into Glasgow Airport's terminal building, all work for the NHS. Some are doctors. Many of the suspects seem to be from Jordan. As usual, everyone interviewed asked about the men and woman arrested appears 'shocked' because 'they are such nice people'. They always are... OK, so not all have been convicted and justice must take its course cetra, but two of them were caught red-handed...

Let's finish on a British note: the weather. It is definitely April here, what with the showers. I should not be having to carry a raincoat and brolly in July, surely?! I just heard a clap of thunder. Matches how my head feels, anyway. And what shall I do with the lovely summer clothes I bought? They are sitting there, all pretty, along with a new pair of sandals, which I had non-slip soles put on, as I would otherwise end up sprawled somewhere. I am quite a slippy person at times.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Beyond cute

There is no sight sweeter than a rabbit washing its face...

Smoke-free and terror

July? How did that happen, then? I hope this is a good month.

Well, my hair smells nice now, because I washed it last night after S and I returned from a pub where we had had dinner. The food was lovely but I was seated in front of an air conditioning unit, which blew everyone's smoke towards me – not exactly what you need when trying to enjoy food. My clothes and hair stank. My eyes watered. It was the smokers' last chance saloon, though, and it was good to know I was being saturated in smoke for the last time while eating out; today, smoking is banned in enclosed public places. Good.

People talk of the ban as being a breach of human rights. Well, what about my human rights? OK, if people want to smoke, that's fine, but I think it's an imposition to smoke where others are eating. As for the limp refrain: "Well, if you don't like smoke, go somewhere else," well, back at ya.

Talking of human rights, people on a news opinion board have been talking about the attempted attacks on London and the car at Glasgow, and have been saying that our 'rights are being taken from us'. How? Are we talking about CCTV? Well, CCTV will help to find those responsible. ID cards? Big bloody deal (although I don't see how they'll help eradicate terrorism or other crime). What are we scared of? I despair when people trot out statements and abstract views about our 'rights' and 'liberties' without backing them up. It's waffle. It sounds rather paranoid. Cut to the chase, please.

Others have harked back to the war and the Blitz, saying London has been through worse than the latest bomb attempts/car attack. Yes, yes, we know – it's stating the obvious and not exactly insightful, is it? Things have changed. This isn't that kind of 'war'. Anyway, 7/7 was the biggest loss of civilian life due to a bomb on British soil since the Second World War. What? Is this a competition?

I recall the IRA being an unseen but real threat for my entire childhood and most of my adulthood, and yes, Londoners of a certain age will recall those times of constant security alerts, bombs exploding and mass murder. I'm afraid it's disingenuous to say that 'life went on'. For many people it didn't (my friend's family lost many, many friends in Northern Ireland); for others, there was constant disruption, and it was worse than the normal signal failures and cancellations on trains.

Frankly, many of us don't have a choice as to whether we 'carry on as normal'; we aren't being heroic, we are just doing our jobs, living our lives. We can't just stay at home whimpering – and why should we? But we should care. To not be affected at all is insular and ignorant. And possibly dangerous.

So, how can some say that they aren't at all affected by the actions of peculiar, misguided men who are building bombs and using cars as weapons? Being apathetic is as bad as being hysterical. Anger would be a good place to start for those who remain 'unaffected' or disinterested. For a start, we are involved in an illegal war; Blair tied us up with Bush, who has remained silent thus far – I think the news coverage of Gordon Brown in the last couple of days has deliberately steered clear of any mention of cosy shoulder-rubbing with the US. I think the British public will go mad – mad – if we are again caught in flagrante with the US (and its 'war on terror') if (more) people in the UK and Iraq are murdered, maimed or threatened.

Since the day Blair handed over to Brown, I sensed something afoot that made me feel nervous. I hope this is the end of it. But, really, how can it be?

An update to all this stuff: I was at my parents' home today – we watched bits of the Diana concert at a very impressive Wembley Stadium. Cheesy, maybe, but much more fun than watching News 24 or Sky News and feeling depressed. My dad, who worked at the Twin Towers (as was) smiled as he recalled the rush of adrenaline when a concert was about to start.

Then we talked briefly about the car bombs etcetera. Dad recalled how much he had wanted Tony Blair to become PM 10 years ago. "Now... well..." he said, shaking his head. Hearing that really hurt, actually, and made me angrier at what the last Government sparked. My dad's a man who has worked his arse off, lived the life of a good citizen, and now he (and my mum, who is an equally lovely individual) have to think about shit like terrorism. It's really, really not fair.