Thursday, 31 July 2008

Bits of my day

  • The hairy arms of the person next to me on the tube tickling my bare ones. Yuk. Stay in your own space! Gaaaah!
  • Chuggers. Just chuggers. Who are these people who stop for them? It's good in summer as you can wear sunglasses and zone them out completely. They rely on eye contact (and stepping out in front of you).
  • Estate agents asking for your requirements for the 100th time. It is not a good sales technique.
  • PR people lying. Hmm. Yes.
  • Being casually offered a full-time job that I casually refused (politely). Flattering, though.
  • Feeling my chest tighten for the third day running. It's extremely humid at the moment – perhaps this was the cause. I thought I would collapse with the heat on the Tube home, though. Luckily, I unearthed an old asthma inhaler with the date '2006' on it. I am seeing the doctor on Monday.
  • S texting me four times – and them arriving at once despite being written across the span over an hour. He said eating alone was a lonely experience – he's in Edinburgh, hundreds of miles away. He sounded so forlorn. I know S will come back with many tales of japes from the Festival. I recall being in The Witchery when I was 31, looking up at the tarot cards etched into the ceiling, a boulder in my belly as I pretended to enjoy the delicious food. I felt so lost as I drank the deep, dark wine. But the cards above my head were full of promise.
  • Spending a pleasant evening with some members of my kung fu club in the pub – they are a really nice bunch of people. I like that they are so different but that we have our martial art in common. I'd like to learn the stories of some of them; I think we all have reasons for doing a martial art.
  • M, the rabbit has stuck close by. She hasn't had much company today. I gave her extra leaves and broccoli to compensate a little.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008


I hate misunderstandings. Most people do, I expect. It seems so unnecessary and avoidable that flaws in human communication – based on perception, reality and actuality – can cause so much turbulence in one's mind and put a lead balloon in your being. Of course, this only happens if you give a damn (I usually do).

Misunderstandings have always troubled me. I recall, as a young girl, how I'd come home upset and rack my brains as to whywhywhy I felt so out of sorts. I'd analyse. I'd wonder. I'd have butterflies in my belly. And then, I'd recall something that had been said during the day that had troubled me, sometimes at a subtle level that left the matter a bit too deep to immediately grasp. Once pinpointed, I could either decide to dismiss it, deal with it or, as has often been my downfall, I'd make a note of it and squirrel it away where it would be left to curdle and produce new life forms that did me no favours.

As I got older, I realised that this was not good. I learned that what bugged me would not necessarily be of import to others, and if it was, then addressing the matter was no bad thing. To leave things misunderstood robs me of sleep and fills me with heaviness. Years ago, a friend said she was not used to anyone being upfront with her, and seemed perturbed, though she did add that me wanting to air things had made her realise how much she kept back. But you can't win them all.

I don't confront everything, everyone. But if I care about the issue, the person – then I have to say, to ask, to clarify. And it's not really confrontation, not if you care. It's consideration.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Hot stuff

Can you imagine what it's like to do a session of kung fu in humidity, when the air is heavy, the wind is absent and the sun is burning through the haze? It's tough. You drip with sweat. Your hair sticks to your head. Your skin is wet and warm.

There were quite a few of us at class despite the sauna-esque heat. We flocked to the door during our two-minute break and breathed in the slightly cooler air. But we had all forgotten to ask instructor N whether we could leave the main room (which we need to do so he can keep track of us for health and safety reasons; someone might drop dead and he wouldn't know, he said). So, he told us off and made us do 50 press ups. I won't forget again. Some people looked cool – I was convinced I looked like a roast chicken, oily and brown. My friend, V, told me off for worrying that my upper arms looked like a scrotum (but some friendly teasing did ensue).

I wished the storm that was brewing would arrive during the class, and bring with it a breeze and the smell of earth in summer rain, which has got to be one of the best aromas on the planet. The sky cracked beautifully at about 10.30pm and the rain fell hard at about midnight. I found it difficult to sleep but the panic that used to occupy my mind this time last year under similar circumstances didn't even peep at me. I gave into it. What else could you do on a hot, stormy night? Wasn't insomnia a given? The fan was too noisy so I switched it off, and my throat was dry. I let my mind wander, a bicycle of thoughts gathering speed down a mental hill. Eventually, probably at about 2am, I fell asleep.

Had a horrible dream though – I was being sick, something red, like chilli, was coming out of my mouth. I woke with heartburn. No great message in that one then...

Monday, 28 July 2008

Silver linings

Having had a rather odd week, I started to feel a lot better the night before my birthday (yep, I am still talking about it...).

I'd asked a few friends to come to the dog races for dinner and a spot of minor gambling. None, bar one, could make it – understandable seeing as I'd given people four days' notice for a Saturday night in July. So, despite a shadow of self-doubt creeping into my mind, I didn't take offence and instead believed people's reasons. In any case, it has given me the excuse to extend said birthday celebrations for when some of my friends are free.

I was a little nervous, however, that the races wouldn't be enjoyable, fearing that my blue-hued mood and accompanying state of mild unease might return. But instead, and I don't know why, the cloud that had been sitting on my shoulders lifted, leaving behind only a silver lining.

S won many races, showing an ability to read form that surprised me – not for the first time. I mainly went on a combination of a liking for the dog's name, gut feeling and a scan at the dog's past few race results, and won about one in three races. Our friend, P, gambled a couple of quid on a few races and mainly lost, but we all got into the spirit of the event quickly and had a wonderful evening despite not beating the bank.

The next day, I woke up at about 9.30am and got ready slowly. The actions involved in me having a shower and blowdrying my hair rendered me hot and sticky. Beads of perspiration sat on my nose and upper lip. Not the look I was going for. I wore a floaty dress with thin straps, and sandals, and that was all still too hot. As S and I waited in the sun for a bus, I squashed myself up against a wall to stand in a sliver of shadow. Ordinarily, we might have walked along the river to get to our destination, but it was scorchingly hot.

S took me to a restaurant overlooking the river where the air was conditioned (even though we were sitting just outside) and the food fantastic. The cold, sparkling wine we drank magnified the drowsiness caused by the heat, and we sat there for hours before making our way to a park, sitting there for a while and then returning home, where we lay in front of a fan. It was relaxed and relaxing. I was merry on wine and warmth. It was a lovely day.

At one point during the meal, I recalled my last birthday, when I felt horrendous on account of being in the throes of terrible insomnia and my sleep regime. I realised that in one year, life had moved on in a way that at that time I could not imagine. Perhaps that change – the fact that things have altered – has given me cause for (careful) excitement for the coming year. A friend emailed me today, reminding me of a list of things he had said I'd do between my last birthday and this one. I haven't done any of them. But that wasn't my list. It's time for me to draw up one of my own.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Eight of wands

It was my birthday during the early hours. I woke having had the eight of wands, a tarot card, going through a sequence of dreams. Often I forget such details but this, to me, seemed significant and it was clearly in my head.

I wasn't sure, in my dreams, what the card meant, although in waking life I know it is a card of action. So, to be sure, I have looked it up. If it is a portent of what is to come, I am pleased. It's all about action, bowl-you-over energy, newness, doing, having passion for things, and moving on from things that may have held you back. Communication is meant to be good, too. It's pretty powerful. Lovely.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

39 is a prime number

According to what I read today in Grazia (*cough, cough*), a woman is at her physical and mental prime at 39. This prime state lasts till she is 46.

This is obviously based on an insane amount of research and fact. Isn't it?

Who cares?

Fuck me. Bring on Sunday.


My beautiful rabbit, M, doesn't like being picked up. Her instinct is to struggle madly, so if she needs to be carried, it's wise to wear long sleeves and be firm (but not too firm – she needs to feel secure, not scared). In the wild, rabbits are only ever picked up by swooping birds of prey or foxes and things.

It's my problem that she looks permanently in need of being picked up and hugged close. It's her brown eyes set into the smoothest, softest, velvety fur. They shine: a little feary, a little teary, and often, full of affection. She wouldn't thank me for holding her to me, so instead I just watch her as she watches me, until work takes over again. She must think I am crazy, tapping into the white plastic thing for hours, my eyes fixed on the box that has patterns and lights on it for what must seem an age to her...

PS: I am currently working at home. I don't drag M across London to an office...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Muggy, fuggy

My head feels as though someone has piped in a load of plasticine and followed it up with some glue and treacle for good measure.

My arms are heavy and my shoulders ache so much that I could hardly lift them to wash my hair last night (due to strenuous kung fu). Echoes of my tiredness at its worst sneaked back into my not-very-distant memory, making me glad that those cruel days and nights are now fewer.

So, at least I know what has caused the arm ache. But, as for my head... There are several possibilities. It could be the weather, the warm, humid, soporific, slow dance of weather that has sat around my being today. Or it could be a poor night's sleep, not helped by said weather. I need a storm. I want a mad, lashing, crashing storm. One where the sky is split once then twice, then explodes again into a furious mass of fiery energy. It all seems pent up now. Waiting.

Another possibility for the dullness in my head could be as per my last post – a sort of 'it's my birthday in a few days... hmmm' kind of thing. What can I do about that? Not a lot. I don't care for ages. They don't bother me. I say something along the lines of 'Oh, I'm 38' now and then, but what does it really matter?

The third reason is a bit odd but I had a dream that I was walking through a particularly rough part of London. I had a gun with me. I was a spy, I think. I can recall the weight of metal in my hand, the coolness of the steel, the rough pattern moulded into the part you hold. In the dream, the gun was like part of my hand, it would save me from the baddies. And so I went, at an exhausting pace, from corridor to room, hiding under tables, in cupboards, behind walls, like some kind of James Bond. When I woke, I felt as though I had been living it. It was like a film.

Maybe it's all of the above and once the storm has come and gone, taking with it any silly birthday woes, and I've had a better night's sleep, the fug will lift, leaving behind it a warm, fresh sensation, like when you stand in torrential rain in the tropics (or a stupidly hot London), smelling the earth and air, and are able to breathe again.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Could it be the upcoming birthday?

But I feel a bit fucking poo. And, really, I don't care about age. It means sod all to me.

However it is a marker of time: time to look back – and forward – can cause rawness.

(But I am aware, not-so-deep down, that it is a cause for joy.)

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Ever since I can remember, I have had a narrative going on in my head. I recall making observations, such as "Mell D plans to get on her bike and ride fast through the mud, to get splashed and really dirty, and then enjoy getting all clean and reading her book upstairs while drinking strawberry Nesquik and spying on Vernon and Graham playing football in the road" and "Mell D sneaked up the garden path, no one could see her. She looked at the biggest, fat red roses and felt the velvety petals"... and on and on. Even when I was 22 and had had far too much to drink at a work party and was slumped on a bar, on the verge of passing out, I could hear "Mell D was found slumped on the bar after drinking eight black Russians and three beers"... and in my head I could see the front page and imagine my parents' shame at how their daughter had ended up.

It extended to everything. It was almost as though I was writing headlines and then a story to accompany it. Putting the most mundane into story form has always appealed to me, and it is something I've been lucky enough to do for a living.

Sometimes my childhood narrative would have me at its centre and at other times, I put everyone around me into the ever-growing tale/account of life as a young girl in northwest London. I used to do it so much that I worried that I was odd. Maybe I was. Perhaps I still am. I am constantly observing and soaking up what's going on around me, sometimes exhausting myself in the process. I have to stop myself at times: I close my eyes on the bus and train to stop some of my senses from becoming saturated. I have to plug in my iPod so that I don't tune into all of the conversations around me (I learned at a young age how to listen to more than one conversation at a time, keen to know everything). Too often, I see or hear something and think: "I must remember that" but on top of all the things that I really do need to recall, my brain becomes overloaded and it tires me, and I forget.

I think I need to learn to meditate. To switch off this unending stream of thought, planning, noticing, analysis. I am interested in seeing what happens in the 'silence' that you allegedly experience when meditating. That in itself will be something to write home about...


Later today, I'm meeting a friend I haven't seen for a year. Our friendship was a casualty of my cruel insomnia and various stresses that she was encountering. The friendship didn't die but it was damaged, like a cracked vase, and was left up there on a dusty shelf, to either be repaired or discarded.

But it is a much-loved vase, it has held such flowers as you could hardly imagine – everything, all types of blooms and greenery have sat in the vase and have brightened up rooms and faded elegantly when their time was up. The vase could hold all types of cuttings and look good. Even when they died and dried, the flowers held beauty.

The crack, it would appear, is superficial. Water doesn't leak. Its function is not impaired. When mended, maybe it will be stronger where the bond is renewed. Perhaps, then, it will be taken off the shelf and put in pride of place again.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Getting booked?

Someone in the publishing/broadcasting industry has suggested I write a book on my insomnia. And they suggested I use this blog as the basis.


I could do that. Anything to make people take insomnia more seriously could be only good. I have tired of the number of people who tell me that they, too, are tired when I say that I suffer from sleep problems.

Have they been driven to the edge of sanity?
Have they had to carry on working while utterly zombified for weeks on end?
Have they driven so badly that they have caused cars to swerve to avoid smashes?
Have they walked into traffic, unaware of cars coming?
Have they felt aggressive, irritable and angry to the point of wanting to destroy things (and not caring about the outcome)?
Have they had this for years?!

Hmmm... No, I don't think the odd couple of nights of poor sleep can begin to touch the bastardly evilness of insomnia. It would be good to tell it in its goriness.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Where are the Mexicans?

Two men on a London bus. One on my right, one on my left.

The one on my right is very loud as he shouts into his phone. I have to turn my head away because his voice hurts as he bellows to the woman on the end of the line. I can hear her, high-pitched, trying to be heard. The man, who is about 20, says lots of things ending with, "Yes, but that's not what I had planned. It doesn't fit with my plans." And then she, thankfully, speaks for a while, which gives my ears respite. I think he is talking to his mum. I exchange the universal look (eyebrows raised, lips slightly pursed, slightly smiling) with my fellow passengers and see that they, too, think he should pipe down. They are all wearing the look.

The man on the left is asking whether there are any Mexicans on the bus. He says: "Where are the Mexicans? You can't tell me we are all British on this bus. We ain't all Brits. Are we? We are meant to be multicult. Multicult, innit? Mexicans!" Then he laughs gently. He smells of lager and his teeth are shades of yellow and black.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Couldn't buy the sausages

They should hold off the descriptions on some packs of sausages. I was at Sainsbury's today, doing a weekly-ish shop, and thought Mmm, yes, some nice bangers would be good...

I like sausages with a very high meat content (as do most people) and read packets to see if I could find any that were 90%-plus. I picked up a packet that looked promising and read that 'the pigs are given room to roam, mud baths and shelter and warm bedding to keep them comfortable in the winter'.

Guilty? I felt a bit sick as I went to look at pasta sauce. I know I am a hypocrite and of course I want animals kept well but it made me feel like an evil murderer. It was the bit about keeping them warm in winter that got to me. I didn't buy any sausages. (But yes, I know, I am a terrible hypocrite...)

Shoot him in the stomach

Because it will be a slower death than if you shoot him in the head. Sorry to sound so gruesome, but this person is of no use to anyone. Is he??

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Friendly hiya

I recently posted about my friend who I had lost touch with through our respective problems swallowing us whole.

I sent her a card and letter for her birthday this week, apologising for any hurt, which would have been unintentional. She emailed me back that evening, thanking me for the card and saying it was lovely to hear from me, adding that we had both been rubbish at communicating our recent suffering (mine being insomnia). We had a brief email exchange the next day but she is calling me tonight to arrange when we can meet. We haven't spoken for 10 months! Far, far too long.

This is good news.


I went to Hampton Court Flower Show on press day this week. In one of the marquees, there were two donkeys near a 'dream home' set up. One was pale and the other, dark. The deep brown/grey animal had a cream eyeliner-style thing going on, which made it look sad. In fact, it looked so sad that it made me cry. (It was actually perfectly fine but had the air of something that needed a cuddle.)

This morning, I was horrified to hear on the radio that live donkeys are thrown from towers etc for religious reasons. I can't even cry. People are shit.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Affair of the tarts

S and I went to a live comedy show at the weekend. Sometimes the acts are good, sometimes appalling, and, on occasion, you'll see a mixture of the two.

So, anyway, that's enough about the acts. Really. (Seriously, they were nondescript.)

Anyway, what really got my goat (and S's) was that there was a couple in the front row, a man and woman, who were openly having an affair. They told the acts they were married (to other people) and seemed nonchalant about it. They had the air of a couple doing illicit things who were obviously getting off on the people around them disapproving. (It wasn't a joke, this pair were far from jokers...)

OK, so I know affairs happen. But bloody hell, this was ridiculous – why they didn't just go public and make it 'legit', I don't understand. You could just tell they were off on some 'business trip' as far as their spouses were concerned but, most disturbing, they were loving the fact that they were talking about their wonderful relationship in public where no one knew them. A pair of exhibitionists. They really didn't give a damn.

The comedians commented on the affair but you could tell they were uncomfortable with the whole thing and mainly resorted to looks of disbelief at the canoodling pair. At one point, S saw them sucking each others insides out and the woman said to the man (referring to the comedians' disapproval): "This always happens when we come to [insert name of area]." And she giggled madly. Pair of tarts. And you could just tell that the man had bought a new shirt from Ted Baker to impress the woman. It was a pulling shirt and he must have been 45 or so. Nowt wrong with being 45 but bloody hell, he looked odd.

Cringe x 50 million.

Friday, 4 July 2008


A friend who has known me for a decade says he prefers it when I write when angry. I agree that when I am angry, I write from a place that is otherwise unreachable. A door opens and there we see the emotions unleashed: seething, passionate and erupting like Vesuvius.

I am calmer in some ways, these days, about certain things. But there are some things that make me angrier by the day. Especially when almost each day brings news of a new stabbing in London. I wait for it on the news, and sure enough it comes. I am in danger of becoming blasé. Well, not really, but it's getting bloody ridiculous.

The statistics show (and this is from a friend who is a television crime reporter) that violent crime in the capital is falling but that the ages of those involved have dropped.


Is it because they are deprived?
Is it because they have no opportunities in life?
Is it because they have no parents who care?
Is it because they have no role models?
Is it because they are victims of prejudice?

Or is it because we have too many people who use the points above as an excuse? This is not a fucking ghetto. The problem is these kids have no boundaries – thanks to those who get their limp hands out and stroke the heads of those who are embroiled in such crime and support the provision of Playstations in prison. Of course there are problems (a la the points I have made) but how dare the saps of this country/city declare that all those who somehow fall into these categories are some kind of underclass doomed to live lives devoid of any humanity? There we go, little hard-done-by boy [who happens to live in one of the richest countries of the world]... have an ASBO and let's talk about it later; do it again and we'll have to take away half the DVDs we gave you to compensate for your tough life.

One of the worst things that you can deprive a human being of is boundaries, because when you do that, you rip away any sense of belonging. And that does not freedom make. These kids don't know whether they are coming or going. They don't know where they come from or could go to, because the waters are muddied by those with the slimy, limp hands, whose favourite past time is to make punishments enticing or simply irrelevant.

I was frustrated with the parents of one murdered schoolboy who said they didn't think anger was the way forward, that they would forgive, and that it was for all of us to ask why the murderer put a knife in their innocent son's heart. Now, this may be the way that some people with religious beliefs deal with grief but why not 'an eye for an eye' instead of 'turn the other cheek'? Jesus was hardly a passive man. Whatever you think, he stood up for what he believed was right and made clear what he thought was wrong! (I am not religious BTW.)

What might have made a difference would have been (in my opinion) the parents condemning the families and peers of those responsible, who live their lives like non-humans. I would have loved to have seen passion, anger, fury and raw emotion to call for change, rather than passivity. OK, so each to their own. But how can people say: 'Oh well, they had a bad start in life' while their own child
is lowered into the ground? I don't understand.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Big Brother Bex

This year's BB lot started off as quite normal (ish). But they are horrible, most of them. Bex, who I initially thought was funny and self-deprecating, is a twonk. She is childish, spoilt, spiteful and argumentative. When she broke Mo's belt, I was hoping he'd go mad at her but he is obviously peed off with such idiocy.

I also think Jennifer is horribly manipulative. She is up for eviction against Rex who seems to annoy people mainly because of his bossiness in the kitchen (he is a chef). I hope Jen is voted out – she is the sort of woman that most girls will have encountered in the school playground at some point. She plays people off against one another while seemingly untouched by the fallout. Not nice.

Back to kick ass

Well, not quite kicking. But I went back to kung fu last night after a break of about six or seven weeks. It was great to see my classmates and to do some proper exercise. I ache today, but in a good way. I think it was the blows that did it. You use back and chest muscles that I'd forgotten existed, as I had become so used to the moves. Anyway, I am back, Back, BACK, as they used to say in Smash Hits years ago.

Doing strenuous exercise has saved my sanity, as I am prone to letting adrenaline take over, which is a cause and effect of my dreadful sleep problems. So, I need to be cautious and not go mad (yet) but have to expend enough energy so that I can sleep, have a good appetite and be toned and strong. Not much to ask, is it?

Listening to: Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child o' Mine