Monday, 29 September 2008

Craig Charles in my head

I didn't sleep well last night. The reason? I had a dream – a nightmare in fact. Craig Charles was running down a street, chasing me. I was running for my life. Running as though I had jets under my feet. Running because Craig Charles was chasing me with a paper aeroplane in his hand.

Yes. He let go of the – erm – paper plane and I ducked. It flew quite well but didn't hit me. After this, Craig changed into some unidentified assailant armed with something shiny, and at that point I woke up. Well, I screamed in my sleep and woke myself up and then was so scared that I couldn't get back to sleep.

I had had beans on toast for dinner and some Guinness at a pub quiz. Not a trace of cheese, but I'm not having that combo again, I tell you.


That feeling, when you are tired, so tired that you simply cannot keep your eyes open, can be unbearable (if you are at work when it strikes), or beautiful (if you have a day off or it is the weekend and there are no places to be, no calls to be made, no things to be cleaned).

A year ago, I would not have been allowed to nap, as I was in the throes of a sleep programme to reset my body clock so I could sleep. But now? Now, just occasionally, I let myself slide into sleep when I feel the uncontrollable slow of my heartbeat, the cooling of my skin and the gathering sluggishness of my thoughts. Now, I can let go and just sleep, just for a while, just until the drug of exhaustion wears away. And if the sun is shining on my tired limbs as I drift off, I am lost in splendid relief, as I melt into a warm, subconscious world.

Saturday, 27 September 2008


I never seem to have enough time to write down my thoughts. It is driving me mad.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Things on my mind

• My dad is out of hospital and recovering. The doctors, on the whole, were incredible. The nurses ranged from fantastic to below average. There were occasions, however, where we had to drop in that I am a journalist – funny how attitudes changed from monosyllabic/apathetic to communicating/caring... Hmm.

• I love sparring. I can hardly walk today as I've done two days of kung fu in a row (yesterday was seriously hardcore – I sparred with three men, including my instructor, who batted me around as though I was a piece of string). Wonderful, wonderful stuff. It is by far the best exercise anyone can do. And great catharsis.

• The neighbour is a total c*nt and needs to be spoken to – probably tonight. She has again woken us with door slamming. It is unacceptable.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Salt of the Earth

I have a fantastic plumber, a superb electrician and marvellous builder/handyman. These three men are real finds. They are rare honest tradesmen and are so good at what they do that I must remember to write their numbers down in my address book. If I lost my mobile phone, I'd be back to pin-sticking in the Yellow Pages, which, as I have come to find, is not a source of high quality workers.

Today, our builder/handyman came round to do some work on our flat. I added to his workload by asking him if he would please put up two shelf units in the bathroom and en suite shower, and he did so without question – and without an extra charge. We drank tea and talked about crime, punishment, political correctness and common sense. All in a day's work.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Doctor, doctor...

When the NHS is good, it is very, very good. I dismay at the system at times, and have kicked up a remarkable stink when people have been treated badly (why be a nurse if you patently hate people? It's really only a minority of nurses I've found to be apathetic – and I've made big noises about this)... but goodness, when you meet certain doctors and consultants and see what they can do to really change people's lives for the better, it's quite humbling. Leaves me in awe.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


My dad called me early this morning, well at about 8am. He had been up since 6am being prepared for surgery. He sounded nervous and tired.

Mum just called and said that the operation was in fact "meant to have been tomorrow", so all the tests and psyching up and eating nothing, has been for nothing. Fucking stressful for a 79-year-old man.

It's really fucking ridiculous.

Monday, 15 September 2008


The bitch downstairs (GFG = Ground Floor Girl) severely wound me up yesterday.

I deeply resent having her bullying behaviour being present in the back of my mind when I am talking to other people. Especially when I was talking to my dad yesterday, who is going into hospital for an operation tomorrow (bed availability depending). I wanted to give him 100 per cent attention. I did my best but there were slivers of Fuckface seeping into my head every now and then. I was slightly preoccupied.

What also pissed me off was that I felt ill and I wasn't able to relax in my own home. I should have really stayed in bed all day but I couldn't bear to be home alone with her making noise and using my garden equipment. If I had been feeling well and didn't have an infected eye, I would have gone outside and asked them what they were doing. But I was on my own and ill, and decided to hold off in case I needed a witness.

S was out for the day and I didn't want to go home from my parents' place so I popped into a friend's home for a chat. Then I went home. On the way, I bought some wine, knowing that I would need a drink to calm down. I was so furious that I was punching the wall (with gloves on) and did some press-ups on my knuckles. I only stopped punching as M, my rabbit, looked worried.

She let a door slam. The place shook. Bear in mind the endless (deliberate) slamming and stomping of feet (on wood) and the early morning hoovering – all knowing I suffer from insomnia. I screamed through the floor and didn't hear a peep afterwards. I will not be bullied. Does she really think people will put up with shit and that there will be no consequences? Moron. Does she know that people, when driven mad, don't care any longer?

Sunday, 14 September 2008


There are only two people in this world who incur my wrath on a personal level. One of them is GFG who has lived downstairs for nearly two years. She is the most selfish, arrogant person I've had the misfortune to deal with. I despise her.

I can barely begin to list the things she has done. But this morning, she decided to let her doors slam so hard that they woke me and S from sleep, and she then decided to hoover, and sang "I'm hoovering on a Sunday morning." Singing? Well, wailing. She did this because her husband (poor bastard) is home from his job away (he's rarely home, wonder why) and she feels a bit more courageous and finds she can more easily act like a knob. She helps herself to our garden furniture though she has paid for nothing, and you can be sure that if we used anything that was hers, she's go mental.

I am so angry I actually don't know what to do. I find it's bordering on harassment now and am considering calling the police. I can't put up with this for much longer.

I'm ill and should be relaxed at home (S has just gone out as he had something planned for today) but I haven't slept well and every time I hear her move, I am on edge. I will have to go out to get some peace of mind. This is ridiculous. Ridiculous. I can feel myself simmering; soon I will explode.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Hovis triumph

The new Hovis TV advert is superb. S and I watched it in unexpected silence and after it had finished said: "What a brilliant ad." And then, after a moment of silence, we confessed that we both felt tearful (in a good way, filled with nostalgia for times that we had never even lived in being in our mid to late 30s).

I have just found a clip of the advert – it was aired this evening (with Coronation Street made shorter for the first time, to accommodate its length). It charts the Hovis Boy, the one we all know so well, going through streets of more than a century ago and track him running through the 20s, 30s, 40s... and on and on through evocative moments. You see Suffragetes, the Blitz, the miners' strikes, 1966 (football of course), the Millennium and on it goes until the boy runs into his warm 2008 kitchen with a loaf of bread. I felt choked watching it.

Absolutely fabulous work, ad folk. You did well. I think it is one of my favourite adverts of all time – and I have seen it but once.

Cold infested

It's horrible being self-employed when you have a cold. I have had one all week – it started mildly and then, due to commuting for three hours a day and being in air-conditioned offices, it has worsened.

I've been drinking horrible Lemsip (orange and something) and trying to eat healthily, though I seem drawn to cheese (Mini Cheddars, cheese Doritos/M&S tortilla chips, cheese sandwiches, cheese sauce (on gnocchi) and erm, I think that might be it).

I have an eye infection now and look as though I have been punched. My right eye was red and angry when I woke – I have thrown all my (newish) mascara into the bin just to be sure I'm not harbouring germs. A day in bed would have seen this off but hey, no such thing as sick leave for the likes of me. I so want to scratch my eye – it is dry and gritty. Aaaaagh. I've been coming home and flopping almost every night.

I think I picked up the virus from a chap in kung fu last week. I asked how he was and he snuffled: "Am OK but am just getting over a cold, thought I should come back to class." Oh brilliant. Then we had to hold hands while stretching, which can be a sweaty affair at the best of times – and doesn't perspiration carry toxins? Charming.

I wish the instructor would bring in two new rules: 1) do not train when you are ill (it is selfish) and 2) always use deodorant! (some of the blokes stink!)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Bag, brolly, ticket and tissue

I have a cold and feel like poo. Why has no one come up with a cure yet? I hate Lemsip and all the other cold 'soothers'. Yuk.

PS: It's far worse having a cold when you have to commute for hours and it is raining. Juggling a bag, brolly, ticket and tissue is not much fun. I am exhausted.

End of the world etc

I am pleased that the Large Hadron Collider experiment didn't result in the end of the world. It may yet do so – in 2012 – anything to avoid those pesky Olympics, eh?

It's said to take four years until the impact of the experiment is known. Wouldn't it be ridiculous if this was the equivalent of a massive schoolboy cock-up and we really did send ourselves into oblivion? What a way to go. The Mayan calendar ends in 2012, I think. Hmm. Ah well.

One professor un-eloquently commented that those who fear that the LHC will spell doom "are twats". Out of the mouths of scientists... comes a load of rubbish sometimes. How arrogant to assume that we know better than nature and the universe. Man has a phenomenal capacity for destruction, and science should not pretend otherwise. All actions have an equal and opposite reaction, as someone [a scientist, hmm?] once said...

Friday, 5 September 2008


You know when someone says something to you and it's so unexpected and so weird (in a bad way) that you think you are going mad, that it can't have been the case? Well, I feel like I have just imagined an entire conversation.

Sometimes I feel as though I am speaking a different language (to some people). I am numb.

I can't even begin to explain it (sorry, I know that's not very helpful in blogland).

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Fight Club

I love it. I love it. I do...

I sparred for the first time in ages tonight (following a cracked rib and knee problems). I haven't worn my fighting gloves (well, mitts) since January, so this was a big deal for me. Erm, I was a bit scared when I started but instructor N told the first man I was paired up with to back off a bit as he was going for it a bit too harshly (and he has plenty of experience, compared to me). I must admit, I'd have come off pretty badly without this intervention. The second chap was more restrained and we had a great session. I need to be far more 'solid', I know. And, of course, my technique needs plenty of work. But it was bloody brilliant. The amount of energy you expend is amazing, and you feel as high as a kite afterwards.

This was catharsis at its best, believe me.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


In my profile section on this here very blog, I talk about not being keen on people who display apathy as a trait. I love people who have passion, whether that is for cars, justice, kung fu, cricket, writing, work, chess, food, or recreating medieval battles in a field somewhere that no one has heard of.

Having something that you feel brings you vigour and sparks your endorphins is the stuff of life. It gives focus and breeds energy and a zest for the subject that makes the brain work – and gives it the capacity to grow and retain the sponge-like qualities that enable it to keep the synapses firing.

People who love what they do for a living are truly living a blessed life. Or are they simply getting their arses into gear? I am amazed I do not meet more people who say that their jobs give them pleasure and turn them on. How anyone can stay in a job – long-term – where they are unhappy, is anathema to me. Isn't life more precious than that? I understand that work equals money equals numerous things despite boredom/torpor/brain death... as it pays the bills and all that. (Believe me, I know...)

But to be resigned to be stuck in a dead-end job is, I think, a crime against one's intelligence and humanity. It turns you into a robot. I know that needs must but if apathy reigns, needs must be changed.

Passion. Passion. Passion. The word was batted to me once (and again and again) by an interviewee who talked with such passion that I decided that my life had to change. I was drunk on her words, on her way of thinking... I got back to my office after the interview and there, the seeds of my escape from stagnancy were sown as I wrote the article. That was seven years ago.

Since then, I've gravitated to people who have the p-word as a trait. They are always interesting, always on fire. Here's to people with passion: long may you live.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Scones and tea?

For scone fans, this is the recipe I used, courtesy of the BBC Food website (see below). Excuse gratuitous repeat of close up of scones with butter and jam. I had no clotted cream, unfortunately, but they were still tasty.

225g/8oz self raising flour
pinch of salt
55g/2oz butter
25g/1oz caster sugar
150ml/5fl oz milk

1. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter.
3. Stir in the sugar and then the milk to get a soft dough.
4. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.
5. Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.
6. Cool on a wire rack and serve with butter and good jam and maybe some clotted cream.

Girl of my dreams

GFG (Ground Floor Girl) is a pain in the arse. She's rude, selfish, messy, unfriendly and very odd.

And, as I discovered by listening through the wall, she is selling her flat soon. Such a shame.

(Normally, I would have scruples about eavesdropping. But where she is concerned, I am quite happy to throw them out the window – as she does with her skanky fag-ends.)

Oh, yes, I had a dream this morning that I was telling GFG exactly what I thought of her. It was quite satisfying. Maybe dreams can come true.

Monday, 1 September 2008


One of the magazines that I have subscribed to dropped through my letterbox this morning. I was appalled to see a leaflet for 'Christmas subscription offers' enclosed.

Are they mad?

Speaking up

Regular readers may know that I've been on a bit of a downer lately, which worsened after my kung fu teacher said a couple of things that upset me.

On Saturday, we had a club day out, which I'd arranged a while back (I am the social secretary). I was in two mind
s as to whether I should go (due to said comments) and I had also woken with swollen eyes, which looked as though I had been punched. I got the swelling down with cold water and managed to appear vaguely presentable, pleased that the sunshine meant I could wear sunglasses.

At the meal, N was seated on one side of me – I wondered if he would be frosty but, on the contrary, he was warm and friendly. My intention was not to talk about my concerns at the meal, as it seemed a bit unfair/irrelevant to the other people there. However, V, whose tongue loosens with alcohol, announced that she thought N wanted 'to get rid of' her/us/people from the class but later added that she had noticed that he was being nice to her 'now that she was focused'. I couldn't get a word in edgewise (V is easily the loudest person I know) as she and another classmate, Diane, argued across the dinner table, which was a bit awkward for everyone else. N, who looked shocked, stressed that 'nothing was ever personal', said he had to try different ways to push us, and, interestingly, that it frustrated him that he felt he couldn't teach us at times.

As the conversation shifted and people left, I raised my own concerns about what N had said to me in the pub. He explained that I am animated when I talk about something I am really interested in (yes) but can look vacant in kung fu (matter of opinion, but I put that down to a lack of confidence in my ability, not vacuity), that I'm not a vacant/vacuous person (good!), but that he wanted to see animation in kung fu (fair enough).

Why couldn't he have just said that in the first place?! I wouldn't have gone home and felt like shite and nearly thrown away 18 months of learning something I absolutely love. I don't mind criticism but there's a time and place (not the bloody pub)... He also said I'd clearly improved a great deal and could potentially be very good, which threw me (in a good way) after all the 'you're crap' comments.

I'm satisfied in the knowledge that my teacher now hopefully knows that a barrage of unbroken negativity doesn't motivate me but sends me the opposite way, deep into a shell (it's this that possibly makes me seem 'vacant'... the irony). And I'm convinced that come what may, it's always, always, always better to air grievances. Always. Not only does it empower, but by remaining tight-lipped, how on earth can anything have a chance to change?