Thursday, 30 October 2008

Flying south

Swallows, calling to each other, have just flown over my corner of London, no doubt going south. I wonder if they will end up near the Canada Geese that took off last night, making noises I have never previously heard. The sky was dark and the air was bitingly cold, as they communicated in a warbling, eerie pitch.

Today, the sun shone for a while but is now hidden behind pale bluey-grey haze. It feels like winter.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sad yellow flowers

I saw a funeral procession going ahead of my car yesterday. As I turned, I could see that the leading car held a white coffin, probably child-sized. The cars behind were black, shiny and sleek, filled with adults whose faces were hidden with veils and grief.

I could see an arrangement of flowers at the back of the first car. At first I thought it was an initial but as the car turned, it was apparent that the blooms had been made into the shape of a yellow dog with a blue collar. For some reason this choked me.

The sight of the coffin alone had made me feel philosophical but here was a person, possibly a young one, who had owned a dog, their pet, and was now never going to walk or play with it again, or do anything ever.

Monday, 27 October 2008

'Don't pee in your wetsuit'

Why is there a supposedly 'tailored' ad on my email inbox that says this? Eh?

Friday, 24 October 2008


My spam inbox, which I clear regularly, just had a message in it telling me to 'grow giant snake in pants'.

No thanks.

Talking of snakes, GFG just passed me in the hallway; she didn't look at me (which satisfies me) but I had a brief, awkward chat with her husband, with whom I have no problem, as yet. I called the police station and left a message with the copper who had come round after GFG had kept us awake all night, saying that they were back. My initial instinct to walk the other way when I saw them at the doorway (going out), as I returned home evaporated swiftly. This is my home, I (and S) have done nothing wrong and I will not be made to feel uncomfortable again.

No thanks.

Coat me in it

There is a coat that I really want. I don't need it. I want it. It's so lovely that when I saw it in the window of the shop I instantly coveted it and, erm, gasped. It's long, warm and very stylish, nipped in at the waist. It's tweed and won't get dirty like my cream winter coat, which has been worn to death and now has a shredded lining and costs a fortune to keep clean.

But it's a bit expensive for a person who doesn't have that much work on. I check the website of the store daily to see if it has been reduced, but it hasn't. I did, however, dream about said coat last night. In fact, I had three or four dreams about the coat. I kept waking up, falling back to sleep and there it would be in my subconscious, tempting me...

Argh. What to do?!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Cold infested – again

Agh, I have yet another cold. It has robbed me of sleep this week and given me a sore nose, chesty cough and too much phlegm for my liking. The virus (above) is amazing looking though, don't you think?

I toyed with the idea of going to kung fu earlier this week but wisely refrained and took to my bed with painkillers washed down with a mug of hot water that had manuka honey and whiskey dissolved in it. It seemed to knock me out. But still, as is the curse of the self-employed, I have had to work... Thank God I am at home and can sniffle about with no make-up on and get out of bed a bit later than I usually do. I am also wrapped up in several badly coordinating tops and a pair of jeans. M, the rabbit, just looks at me, cute as hell, eyes as limpidly affectionate as ever.

S told me I look lovely yesterday evening, though I knew this was far from the truth. Bless him. I was pale and the skin around my eyes is dry and uncomfortable. We ordered a delicious curry this evening. I don't have much appetite or energy but a curry always goes down well and I'm certain it helps to destroy the cold virus. Worth a try, anyway.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Up, up and away

I cycled up a hill that I thought I'd never manage today. I was tired due to a poor night's sleep and had also underestimated the strength of my legs. The day was bright, cool and sunny, reviving me (as did a scrambled eggs, pancakes and tea breakfast).

Leaves turned golden, brown and red around me, and floated down as we cycled over their crunchiness for miles, for hours. Up, up, up we pedalled. And then down, freewheeling, only the possibility of people or animals emerging from trees and shrubbery, keeping our speed down. My eye, still irritated for some reason, watered and wept as the cool wind hit my face – just the one eye dribbling a tear down my cheek. I stopped periodically to wipe it away and then carried on pedalling.

Men and women carried cameras to capture the stunning display of autumn scenery, me not among them this time as I had forgotten my Canon. You could see Canary Wharf, the London Eye, the Gherkin, all so clearly. It was beautiful.

At home, we had cups of tea and teacakes, then went to my local pub with family and friends and came second in the quiz. What a delicious day.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Focus and pressure

I've slept well since we complained to the police and GFG went on her holidays. The stress of Monday night/Tuesday morning was immense... I felt as though I had run a marathon and was in recovery for at least two days afterwards.

I went to kung fu to get rid of my pent up adrenaline through the sheer physicality of the exercise and to do the best bit, sparring. It felt as though something had clicked in my head as I blocked blows and dealt them. I did get my fair share of whacks but I stood my ground more than I have in ages and actually earned praise from my instructor, N, for showing improvement.

Having confronted the GFG creature and slept well, I felt sharper. I forced myself to think of the things that were annoying me (which wasn't difficult) and visualised myself batting it all away. It seemed to work. I was bopped on the head, face, stomach, and various other spots, but that's all part and parcel of it.

N later said that I needed to be put under pressure to spar. It's true that I am best under pressure. I like a challenge; I find work that's brainless tedious. I like having deadlines; my ears prick up when someone tells me something can't be done. I'm not a rebel (or, if I am, I always have a cause) but I think there's very little in this world that's impossible, if you put your mind to it.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Calm after the storm

The calm before the GFG vs Us Upstairs storm wasn't really calmness. It was more a case of holding one's breath and counting to 1,000,000. Well, it did go on for many months until the point of no return, which is when the police were called in.

Now, GFG is on holiday presumably. She trundled out of the premises (after keeping us awake till past 4am), with a large case, looking fresh-faced, don't-care-ish and obviously thinking she can do what the hell she likes. We were bemused at her attitude. It was simply incredible. This is the trouble when you are a reasonable person. You give other people the benefit of the doubt and can't really concieve that others can knowingly behave so horribly and mean it. You live and learn. And she obviously thought our reasonableness was tacit compliance/the surrender of the bullied.

Having got the police and council involved, though stressful in itself, has bestowed a certain amount of calm on the situation. There was no alternative. Some people can't communicate, won't communicate and are reprehensible, so it's best to let the officials take over.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Good cop, good cop

The police came round and were very helpful. They listened, gave advice and offered to help. The main constable, who was an excellent communicator, soared in my estimation when he took the effects on my health and sleep very seriously, saying that he feels rubbish when he misses sleep and could relate to how I must feel.

It's a shame GFG isn't home, as they would have had a word about harassment among other things. Her front door had been left open (she'd left it that way), so they had a good look round her flat (and commented that they could see what I mean re the doors...) while shouting: "anyone in?" Ha ha, bet she'd love to have seen that.

They'll be back.


The door slamming went on and on and on and on – until around 3.30am. We went to bed after speaking to the police, who said that they were busy (it was a full moon) but insisted that they did intend on getting someone out to us. As it happened, they called us at around 4.10am and suggested we get some sleep and said someone would come round later today.

Anyway, this morning, at 7am, the door SLAMMING started again. We shook in our beds (through anger and the vibration, not fear) wondering why and how life had become so strange. Can you believe it? We couldn't.

* just had a call from the police apologising for the delay and saying they will be sending someone around; I have to say, they have been pretty good at calling us back *

S and I cannot believe things are the way they are. We lay in bed as GFG ram-raided her way through the early morning, feeling sick and tired and bemused. We have done nothing – really, nothing! – to deserve this treatment. It's appalling. My stomach hurt and my head (dulled now by painkillers) throbbed. I had looked forward to today being productive and enjoyable. But all I am doing now is popping pills, drinking caffeine, waiting for the police and council to get back to me and, oh, yes, trying to write a piece (on stress) for a deadline today. Can't concentrate. Funny, that.

We had a feeling GFG might be on her way out to work, or somewhere, so S waited at the bottom of our stairs, inside our flat, and stepped out when she opened her door. He asked her if she was going out "because we called the police after the continual noise and they will want to speak to you..." She actually feigned surprise and looked at S as though he was talking Swahili. Barefaced in the extreme. As much as I would have liked to have punched her (and I punch pretty damn hard) I am not an especially violent person and don't want to end up with a police record because of her.

I immediately went down and asked her what the noise was all about, she kept on about "I'm on my way to the airport. I have to go," whilst S (who kept his composure remarkably well) said: "It was quite deliberate, what you did, that noise last night." I added: "You kept us awake all fucking night. What is your problem? What have we ever done to you? You know I have insomnia and you did that?!" The all-too-brief conversation, such as it was, ebbed between S telling her she was a liar, a despicable human being and a nasty piece of work, me asking what the fuck was going on, and GFG saying she was off to the airport and that "she would have let us know" if it was deliberate. Amazing, utterly incredible.

Watch this space.


I've had enough of GFG's door slamming. So far, it's gone on until 1.30am, so I called the police (at about 1am) and am awaiting their arrival. I had earplugs in but still her blatant malicious SLAMMING, which shakes our home, woke us up. The SLAMMING has been going on all evening. I shouted at her to stop but it doesn't have an effect. Neither does the polite approach (tried that months ago).

My chest tightened horribly and my blood pressure must have gone through the roof; I can feel the adrenaline coursing through my body. I can't keep letting this happen. I will blow a fuse. I was having a nice peaceful evening watching telly and then she started (S was out). I have a deadline tomorrow and the actions of that selfish, immature little c*nt will now fuck up my day. It has gone on for months, the best part of a year. Too long.

I have fucking well had enough. ENOUGH.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Weekus horribilus

The people waiting in the hospital eye casualty department were a mixed bunch. There were some like me, in their 30s, with nothing too obvious afflicting them. Then there were older folk with super-thick glasses on. And then, of course, there were a couple of young men with black eyes, stories to tell and bloody bandages.

I had secured a late appointment at the GP who told me to go to eye casualty immediately as the antibiotics and other types of drops had failed to clear my eye for a month. It's been itchy, blurred and red most days. The GP, who is lovely, asked me if I have been stressed lately. I mentioned only that I had had money in Icesave, which collapsed amid much uncertainty over what would happen to savers' money; I decided the rest of my worries would take up far too long to explain so curtailed any further chat.

By the time I got to the hospital, which charges a stupid amount for parking, it was nearly midday. The GP had warned me that I would be there for a couple of hours, but I was not prepared for a five-hour wait! It was ridiculous. Luckily, I had taken some work with me, a report that needed to be read, so I sat there with my green highlighter and wodge of paper as absolutely sod all seemed to happen around me.

Occasionally, I went back to my car to buy a new parking ticket (£10 spent on that) and sat in the autumn sun listening to the radio. Strange fat caterpillars with wings (I think) crept over the windscreen so slowly that any distance covered was only apparent after many minutes. My route to the hospital, as advised by the GP, had taken me through a beautiful park, where dying leaves of green, gold and red hues made me catch my breath. If I wake early at the weekend, I will take my camera with me and capture some images. Mist rising and deer feeding... stunning.

Eventually, after lunch (£7) I saw the ophthalmologist who flicked my eyelid inside out (OUCH) and prodded about. He ruled out the usual infections and said my eyelids were inflamed and the eye itself didn't show anything unusual in terms of sight etc. He seemed to accuse me of using make-up to irritate my eyes, which I found really annoying. I haven't put any eye make-up on for bloody ages! I miss lashing my lashes with mascara and eyeliner. I've only relatively recently got the hang of painting a line above my upper lashes.

Dr Eye gave me a tube of steroid ointment that I must squeeze into my affected eye for a week and that was that. I got home at 5pm. So far, the redness in my eye has subsided a bit but last night I lay awake as the pesky itching returned in the dead of night. I started reflecting then about my savings, my expenditure (which I have reined in but does nevertheless merit consideration), my lack of work, my appalling neighbour's ongoing idiocy, my body's reaction to cumulative stressors over the years, and somehow fell back to sleep.

My kung fu instructor, N, said I seemed withdrawn yesterday and a couple of my classmates saw through my unconvincing smile and asked if I was OK. I had to blink back tears. Normally I can hide how I feel from most people but I just didn't have it in me. The thumpthumpthump of thingafterthing can be wearing. I was paying N for a class when he said he reckoned my eye problem was down to stress, which I agree is right; he advised me to train to get rid of stress. Trouble is classes cost... I have the option of doing some leafleting for the club in return for classes, which is good, but it is slightly disheartening that this is what I must do. If any writing needs to be done for the club, I can hopefully do that in return for classes (I've done some in the past, as a favour), but it seems nowt needs doing now. I must sort out some work...

This has not been the best week ever. Not the worst. But not the best.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Icy times

Talk about stress. I have a smallish amount of savings – from the sale of a flat and many years of hard work – in Icesave. I was gutted/stunned when I heard the bank went bust yesterday – especially when I couldn't access my 'easy access' cash. I have even developed a stress-related dry skin condition (nice, huh?) But this morning, as I sat glued to the computer listening to Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, panic lifted.

Thank God
they're going to cover savings. I'm finding work hard to come by as it is, and losing hard-earned savings would have been too horrible to boot. I spend time looking for good deals when supermarket shopping and have reined in my unnecessary expenditure where possible, so losing a huge amount of my money would have hurt. Badly. Oh, and any plans I had to visit Iceland are no more. I won't be spending any cash in a country that stuck two fingers up to me and other UK investors when it came to the question of compensation. Bastards.

Regardless of Icesave, I've been avidly watching or listening to the financial news (is there any other, beyond the US elections?!). It's addictive. God knows what will happen next. Is this really all the result of the US money men being complete morons?! The tectonic plates that have seemingly kept the economy going are sliding all over the place, giraffe-on-ice style. I'm half scared, half intrigued and overall, very pleased we didn't buy a new place last year.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Eye drips and drops

There are drafts of three unfinished posts in my 'posts' basket thing. They are entitled: "What goes around", "Choosing battles" and "Reflection".

The first two posts, had I bothered/had time to complete them, were about downstairs woman, GFG, and her wet walls and ceiling, which mysteriously leaked really badly for one night and then stopped. She had to come up and talk to us after being nasty for months. She still remained frosty and rude but it was funny to see her on the back foot. I call it karma. I call GFG, the door slammer extraordinaire, a bitch.

The third post, possibly more worthy of my time and brain power, was about how very tired I feel at times now. It reminds me of how I felt when I was suffering particularly badly from insomnia. I cannot now imagine how I got through weeks, months, years, without madness descending. (Or maybe it did...)

My current tiredness is due to having an eye infection that has gone on and on and on and on. I cannot wear eye make-up, which makes me feel a bit naked if I'm in a professional situation (I like my eyes to look 'polished', if that is possible). The skin around my right eye is red and raw, and I look as though I have been punched. The eye is scratchy (eyeball and lid). The eye streams at times. There seem to be bits in my eye. I wake due to all of the above, and I scratch and press my poor eyes.

I know it is not good to rub your eyes but I do so with much vigour. I do it in my sleep. I rub until my eyeballs squeak. The bad one is so irritated that I screw my fist on to the closed eye until my mouth waters. (I know, this is weird. I feel strange and obscene writing it down.)

My GP gave me some drops (that followed the previous prescription of eye cream) and while the drops feel cool, they don't stop the ITCHING. Bloody, stinking bastard itching.

I am irritated, itchy and annoyed. Even doing hours and hours of kung fu, which made me madly tired, have not been able to overtake the keep-awakeness of the eye thing. Hmph.