Monday, 30 June 2008

Chirp, chirp, chirp

There is a bird chirping outside. It chirps every two to three seconds usually. All day. Just one note.





and on and on...

It sounds plaintive. It isn't singing. It sounds like the whistling your nose makes when you have a cold and can't breathe well.

Friday, 27 June 2008


I have written a letter to my ex-friend, to enclose in her birthday card. It explains why things went wrong and why I was so off-the-planet. No excuses, just explanations – and an apology for expecting mind-reading skills to be on the friendship job description. I felt good writing it. I hope she feels good reading it.

Couch potato

I planned to go out to join some friends in the pub last night but instead, fell asleep on the sofa in front of Big Brother, which was a bit lame (the programme and the slumbering).

So I slapped some butter on fresh bread and slathered on a dollop of toffee sauce from the Hawkshead company. Delicious. Then, I watched Sex and the City on Paramount with the rain pattering outside.

I realise that this is all a bit lazy but after the six-hour guitar hero marathon the previous night, far too much wine and insufficient sleep, I was flaking out. Sometimes it's good to be a slob.

PS: BB Sylvia really is quite odd – the thing with her and Luke was simply not funny. She's like a petulant three-year-old but with the hormones of a dog on heat. Ah well, eviction night tonight, eh Sylv?

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Biker chick reflection

I sometimes cycle on the path that runs alongside the river. I can cover two miles in about ten minutes, which isn't bad. Yesterday, I had a ride on my slightly rusty bike (the poor bike was unused for about two years after I bought it because I hated the saddle, but it's been serviced, re-saddled and runs well now).

When I've made it from my home to the river, I feel relieved. I enjoy seeing what's going on on the Thames and relish the shade provided by trees some of the way. Also, you only have to worry about other cyclists, joggers and dog walkers instead of car doors and lorries (but there are a few midges and mosquitoes that bite). I reckon I smile as I cycle, as people seem to smile at me and I'm never sure why. I probably trundle along grinning like a loon. I do this sometimes. If something good has happened, I smile (this can be as mundane as bagging a bargain in a sale or as important as having something positive happen to do with loved ones or work). If I am unhappy about something, I kid myself that I have a normal face but it doesn't fool people who know me remotely well.

However, sometimes, I wear a distant air (so I've been told). And when tired I can lose perspective as well as seem preoccupied. That happened frequently when I was bastardly exhausted while I was on the sleep programme and medication. I have fallen out with a friend who failed to understand why I was on planet la la and was acting oddly. I've re-read emails that we exchanged (she was angry, I was frustrated)... we haven't communicated for nine months. One thing she said, in response to my telling her what had been up with me, was 'Why didn't you tell me those things were happening? I'm not a mind reader'. Hmm. Good point. I chatted to S about this and he agreed that I sometimes didn't tell the whole story to people who really should know. Old habits.

So, my friend perhaps did have a point. Maybe I was guilty of being difficult to understand at times. Goodness knows, there have been days, weeks, months, when I had no idea whether I was coming or going. It was horrendous. I've decided to contact her. I'm not looking for reconciliation (though I hope for it) but I think it can only help her to perhaps not feel so bad if I (finally) tell her what was going on, in as much detail as possible, and it may help me to set the record straight, too. I'll give it a go, come what may.

Guitar heroes

Ahhhh, so tired. Myself, S and a friend played Wii guitar hero for five hours last night. I got to bed at 3am. I was rocking along to songs that I had previously not heard (and if I had, I wouldn't have liked them sans game). It was fantastic fun, quite possibly moreso because we drank lots of wine and ale. I haven't laughed so much in months.

It's 4pm now and I feel OK on the whole but have that heavy-head tiredness that accompanies late nights these days (not that I often party midweek). I'm meant to be going out tonight but will stick to water, I think. My liver will be grateful. I'm just glad I am on holiday this week.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Things I saw today...

• A group of what looked like South American Indians performing near the shops I visited today. I usually walk past but, as I have time on my hands this week, I slowed my pace. It was very sweet and relaxing, this music. It made me feel sad, and I am not sure why.

• A smart old lady pushing a trolley of Stella and other stuff through the car park in Sainsbury's. I wondered how she would cope with unloading the trolley. Either she was much tougher than she looked or was in fact aged only 50 and a hardened boozer.

• An email inbox devoid of work emails. This is rare. (There were some from worky people but they were group emails and were fairly banal in content.)

• Cards for 40 year olds. The friend I have recently reconnected with is having a party to mark her big day on Saturday and S and I are going. I looked around several shops to find a suitable card. It wasn't easy. Most cards for women were either tasteful and rather too sedate or completely ridiculously 'up yours' at being 40. So I got a card that didn't make any reference to age, which, I firmly believe (being 38) doesn't matter a flying fig anyway.

• A man lying in the road having been knocked off his motorbike. His helmet was in bits. He seemed to be talking to the police and paramedics. I hope he is OK, and I hope the car driver is OK, too. All too often, motorbikes zoom out at mad speed (but I don't know if this was the case, and shall reserve judgment). I turned my music down as it seemed disrespectful to drive by as though I was having a party.

• My rabbit, M, is so excited when I get home these days that she races around the flat and binkies (twisty jumps while running). She is extremely cool and very affectionate.

• I saw – and bought – some scallops in Sainsbury's. S cooks these to perfection and I am having to stop myself from raiding the cupboard for the tortilla crisps I bought to preserve my appetite.

• The sunshine – at 5am. Sunrise is very early these days, eh? My eye mask had slipped off and, apart from feeling tired, I was convinced it was 7.30am. (I still get up early-ish these days as per my sleep programme rules, holiday or not.)

Fudge and foxgloves

Typical Southern Lakes landscape © Mellifluous Dark, all rights reserved

There were foxgloves all over the place in the Lake District. They are pretty flowers, bright strands among the green. (I have a vague memory of them being poisonous though, so didn't touch any.)

View from Western Lakes © Mellifluous Dark, all rights reserved

I was craving the break when it came. My head
had been spinning with the amount of work I had to complete before I could pack and shop for our self-catering cottage. I was stressed so badly that my sleep was plagued with worry and teeth-grinding, which always scares me. I cannot let myself ever get back to my old, poisonous sleep-stress patterns. I am by no means completely cured of insomnia and when stressed, I gnash my teeth, wake with headaches and become crazed with exhaustion if it goes on for too long. I can control it by sticking to the regime. I have developed new patterns. It was so, so hard and I shall not be wasting all the effort I put in over the past 18 months.

Anyway, that particular week seems a long time ago now. In the past week, I've done some more work on my novel, which is now two-thirds complete and very dark in places. I'm not sure why, but when I write when I'm away and can let myself become completely engrossed in the story, the characters do things that surprise me. Something about the lack of email, internet and distractions gave me the chance to immerse myself in the characters' world. I found it difficult to write much when I had an entire day stretching out before me while S went walking up mountains one day (my knees don't allow such activities at the moment). But on the days when we went out early and came back in time for a cup of tea in front of Countdown (oh yes, we became middle-aged for sure)... well, on those days, I'd write a fair bit post-tea break. S, at such times, would go off and do yet more walking while I crafted my story.

Ullswater © Mellifluous Dark, all rights reserved

We visited several new places including Penrith (closed, as it was Sunday, and very cold indeed), Kendal (unexpectedly pretty, with a lovely chocolate shop that sold tasty fudge that I'd been after in Penrith), Ullswater (a peaceful, vast lake), and we went to some old familiars, such as: Hawkshead (which is always raining when we go, which means we have to stop for cream tea), Ambleside (pretty and busy) and we also found ourselves back in Seascale (a bizarre town with a very long horizon that gives me the shivers; it is near the nuclear power plant and has an air of desolation that seems to creep under your skin).

Lemur monkey © Mellifluous Dark, all rights reserved

And there was also the South Lakes Animal Park,
which we thought might be just OK, but was fabulous. We wandered around in the cold sunshine (yes, it is possible) and saw plenty of animals, which were being bred to be released or were being cared for due to excessive poaching in their homelands. It was a very well-kept place and our only moments of unease were generated by seeing the big cats, beautiful lionesses, pacing up and down, looking as though they wanted to eat the people who watched. We didn't stay long in that area, preferring to see the free-running lemur monkeys and emus.

It goes without saying that we walked on the hills, though I was somewhat limited due to my ongoing knee problem, which is improving slowly. I got to the top of one mountain as the steep, winding road went quite a way up. S helped me over rocks as we made our way to the freezing summit; it was really very cold. I was scared to see the clouds coming in behind us and, when S said we shouldn't hang around, I was alarmed. The mountain is no place for the unfit or those who don't know it like the back of a hand. There's something sinister about clouds that appear from nowhere and follow like silent ghosts, surrounding you, blocking you from seeing your path home. I love views but do find the majesty of what nature can do (sea, wind, sun) quite astonishingly awe-inspiring.

We did some clay pigeon shooting, which I really enjoy, despite the man in charge being a bit too prescriptive. I think he thought I was incapable of holding the rifle still and kept interfering. I hit the targets when he refrained from standing up close and personal and let me get on with it. I should have told him that I do kung fu and am not averse to hard sports. Silly chap. Anyway.

So, back to reality. I did a clever thing, for once, and booked this week off, too. For the first time in years, I have two weeks off! But, being self-employed, I did get a couple of work-related texts from colleagues last week who seemed to have forgotten that I was on leave despite me drumming it in. To say I was angry was an understatement; my neck snapped into tension and I had to reply to tell the man to leave me alone and sort it out himself. I couldn't believe the thoughtlessness.

Yesterday, I had one work-related conversation but that was OK, as I'd made the call to put my mind at rest about something I'd slaved on before going on holiday. It was deemed 'compelling' by a new editor I'm working for – hurrah! Deeply relieved, I went to check out the sales, sit by the river for lunch and later watch The Edge of Love, which was average at best but was an impromptu stop at the flicks and not a bad way to spend the latter part of the afternoon. Today? Not sure... but I like it that way. The sun is shining in London and I have a diary that says only 'hol'. Great stuff.

Cringarama BB

Is there anything more cringeworthy than someone throwing themselves at someone who is patently not interested? Sylvia has excelled herself in that department. The way she followed new housemate Stuart (pictured left) around was puppyesque – and I am pretty sure he wanted to shake her off his leg. His body language was a lesson in 'get stuffed' (or as Miranda in SATC might say: 'He's just not into you!'

Last night, he told Jennifer that he was only in the house for the experience and nothing else (i.e. no Sylvia). While I find Kenny Everett – oops, I mean Stuart – a bit odd, I did feel sorry for him. If it had been a woman targeted by a man, there would have been uproar. It's a shame that Jennifer, who purports to be Sylvia's friend, didn't just tell her that Stuart didn't fancy her. Instead, we now have a situation where Sylvia's all angsty about her poor boyfriend In The Real World and is hankering after the Everett lookalike (why, I have no idea).

Anyway, as tedious as all this might be, it's not half as dull as the Dale-Jennifer mating dance. Uggggggh...

PS: Seeing as I was away, I didn't get to talk about Alexandra's efforts. Hmm, yes. She reminds me in some ways (mainly in terms of her attitude) of the lovely Ground Floor Girl – our neighbour – who is a difficult, defensive moron. I was listening through the wall recently (well, I am a journalist and quite frankly her voice is quite loud)... and she was telling her visitor, an estate agent , that she is off to travel the world soon. Shame.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Holiday! Celebrate!

Not one of Madonna's better songs, but, hey... I'm off work – on Holiday! – for two weeks as of this afternoon, and am deeply pleased. We'll be in a beautiful part of England for part of the break, in a small, beautiful cottage that nestles in hills.

I shall report back with pictures and tales in a week or so. In the meantime, today, I have about 2,000 things to do. So I had better get cracking. Have a good week, one and all.

Thursday, 12 June 2008


So, Lee won The Apprentice last night. Despite lying on his CV and then blatantly lying to the interviewer who questioned him (in the last episode), he won. Still, compared to the rest of them, he seemed like a decent bloke. Apart from when he yelled at Sara.

It was a good finale, but then, I have loved the show since it started four years ago. I was slightly surprised that Claire and Lee beat the other two, based on their 70s-esque commercial for 'Roulette' fragrance, but they did actually work together and didn't snipe with members of their team (made up of previously fired contestants).

I didn't think Helene stood a chance of winning; she seemed quite dour and negative a lot of the time. Alex came across as a tad sulky, but I think he'll go far. As will Claire (but I do think Sir Alan was worried she'd drive him crazy). Lee had boundless enthusiasm and seemingly, was a gentleman. There was no contest, really.

So, now that The Apprentice is over for another year, the question is: do I let myself succumb to Big Brother? Hmm.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Memory Lane

I'm shocked at how horrendous my insomnia has been over the past 18 months. I've been reading my blog entries since I began in January 2007 and, this time last year, I can honestly say – without exaggerating – that I was in hell.

How the hell I survived it, I don't know. I'm possibly more determined than I thought I was. As summer came and went last year, I went from madness to sanity and am now drug-free and getting my sleeping patterns back on track.

I sleep fairly well, most nights. But I have to be careful. I've been drug-free (that's benzodiazepenes, my friend) for a month now, following my rapid end-to-the-withdrawal due to a very dodgy prawn curry at the local Thai place. I mean, there was no point taking tablets that would only be in the sewer an hour later. It hastened things. I'm not sorry about that.

Anyway, several themes are clear to me:

• I need to exercise to rid myself of stress
• I can't drink very much alcohol
• I must handle stress well – dealing with things quickly is a must (where possible)
• some of my friends are angels
• S has the patience of a saint, though he would disagree

Listening to: Editors - The Racing Rats

Monday, 9 June 2008

Too late for flowers?

I have realised that it is June and I haven't planted any flowers for summer. Is it too late?

Good timing

Monday morning, and I am fraught. I was meant to be on holiday this week but have had to put it back due to people being tardy and tedious when it comes to their part of the bargain re meeting deadlines.

Green & Black's has, however, seen fit to send me a free organic cereal bar with chocolate in it. This is good. Perhaps the day will turn around now.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

It's a cycle

I don't cycle much, and when I do, I prefer to stick to quiet roads and the path by the river. I wear a cycle helmet. It felt so tight today that it gave me a headache. I was too scared to loosen it. And, anyway, the instructions said it should be tight, so that has to be right, doesn't it?

A tosser in a Porsche drove right behind me at one point – inches away – in a scary manner. He revved the engine as he passed me. Moron with small penis.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Bunny and the hayfever tabs

M has a breakfast of hay, crunchy veg (dried) and crunchy veg (fresh). She loves her food. Her small black head bobs delicately as she chews her feed. I swear I can see happiness in her chocolate brown eyes.

She likes to eat, then sit in her small, soft bed, grooming her dark, velvety fur. Then, if the sun is shining, she stretches out and dozes. She tends to do this in front of the drawer in which I keep my hayfever tablets and vitamins. That's what she is doing now.

I've got the window open, it is June. I have hayfever.

M's eyes are half-closed. I can't move her. Well, I could, but I can't...

My eyes itch.

Yes, yes, I did. I did.

My name is Mellifluous Dark and I watched Big Brother last night.

And by the time the third person – or was it the fourth? – trotted down the stairs, I had favourites. Oh dear.

I can't remember all of their names but the ones that immediately spring to mind for being instantly annoying are:

• The Leo woman (Alexandra?) who thinks she is 'it' (and gives a bad name to us Leos)
• Dale the 'ruthless' sex maniac
• The dancer bloke – just seemed really desperate

And the (initially) interesting ones:
• Luke, the teetotal student who doesn't swear
• Sylvia from Somalia – there's something about her I find interesting
• Rebecca the excitable lass who really should be irritating but is infectiously happy, and that's no bad thing; I do fear she'll go up and down in the mood stakes though
• Rex – he will cause fireworks, which will be interesting at any rate
• Mohamed – I am intrigued to see what he's like in the house
• Kathrey – OK, so she's utterly nuts. But I like her.

The rest? Well, we'll see. I can't remember their names. But, as you can see, I have taken a) the trouble to watch the show and b) the time to write this post.

Whooosh – that's the sound of the summer flying by...

(But seriously, no, I am not going to watch every night. If the weather is crapological then I might. But I intend to watch now and then (probably for all the evictions and maybe a night or two on top), but that's it. I am a journalist. I need to be well-versed in popular culture. Innit?)

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Zany Lucinda

Well, it never really crossed my mind that Lucinda would be the new apprentice for Sir Alan. She was far too new age and wasn't motivated by money – not a combination that you could attribute to Sir A.

I enjoyed last night's penultimate episode of The Apprentice. The interviewers were hard buggers. They were unreasonable and unfair, and it was tricky to see how any of the candidates would be recommended to Sir Alan after the gruelling day of interviews.

I cringed when Lee's CV lie was uncovered. And Lucinda's lack of money-motivation was silly – did she think Sir Alan would like that? Claire was just herself (gobby, loud, hard, cocky). Alex was strange – clever but also snakey (and I don't see the appeal as far as his looks go)... Helene was once more bovine and went on about a hard childhood... hmmm.

So, anyway, instead of firing three people, Sir Alan gave Lucinda her marching orders and kept four back for next week's final. The fact that he thinks there's so little to choose between those remaining makes it hard to predict who will win. I wonder.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Sex and the City

Today's sunny in London. The sky has been (and still is) blue with a few fluffy, white clouds here and there. People are walking around with their coats draped over their arms; after all, yesterday was coldish.

I timed my half-day off well. I did some work-work this morning, plus some housework, then took myself off to the nearest Odeon cinema to catch the matinée of Sex and the City. I was meant to see it with my friend, H, in a week or s
o, but I have heard so much about it that I couldn't wait. I shall go along with her when she's free – it was a very good film and I'd happily watch it again.

Having watched the entire series, and bought the (shoe) box set of DVDs, it just had to be done. I feared there would be a bit of shmaltz. There was a bit. Just a bit. But it was balanced out by a good storyline, great dialogue, fab acting and the lovely clothes. Mmm, and the shoes. Mmmmm. The red heels of Christian Louboutains flashed at the audience frequently.

I went to the cinema alone, which didn't bother me. The cinema was only one-third full at that time of day and it was nice to just lose myself in NYC for a while. I felt nostalgic remembering discussions and laughter in my late 20s and early 30s following episodes. There would be long phone calls and much mirth. I have similar chats with the same friends these days – the closeness is very much there – but the topics have moved on, as was the case in the film.

It was great. Really good, in fact. Abso-fucking-lutely fabulous, as Big would say.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Michael and Raef, yer fired!

I had to do this post as a two-in-one, having been a lax blogger of late. Also, I missed the Raef-firing episode and there are various reasons I haven't blogged of late:

• Work (I've been working on several magazines; sometimes I have no idea where to head to when I wake up in the morning... and when you are staring at a screen all day, and into the night at times, believe me, you don't want to blog...)
• Holiday to Paris (lovely break – and it was hot and sunny the whole time)
• Stress and tiredness have taken over (due to work). I have felt better; it's been bad – bad – at times.

So, anyway, The Apprentice. Well, Michael, who is so young, according to Al, went. I'm not surprised, but I have to say that I wasn't too bothered whether it was him or Helene that went. I reckon they had to fire Mikey due to Helene's comment about age (i.e. the Beeb couldn't risk a furore over Sralan being ageist).

Helene defended herself well. She seems OK, at times, but has also been a horrible bully, and is so miserable looking that I can't take to her at all. She needs to liven up a bit, methinks. She's looking permanently bovine.

Michael was an entertaining little thing, wasn't he? Irritating but quite watchable in a sort of experimental fashion. As for Raef, well I watched the boardroom bits on BBC iPlayer, which was handy, and after seeing the commercials, think he had to go. Shame really. He was just too subtle and measured for his own good.

As for tomorrow, I reckon that Helene or Lucinda might go. But I really hope it's Lee. He was awful to Lucinda and frankly, needs to calm down. I think Claire and Alex stand out as my final two. For now.

London people

I was sitting on the bus, a packed bus, and looked at the people spilling out from Holborn Station during rush hour. And I thought: how wonderful, all those people in my city, helping to make it run, living here.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

June greetings

I would like to wish you all a happy June ("white rabbits").

I will be back soon. Properly. I will blog again. Quite a lot. And it is not because Big Brother is on this week.