Friday, 28 November 2008

Madly driven

I was terrified today, as a friend drove me somewhere via the motorway for a day out. I probably am a bit of a control freak, possibly not helped by having had two car accidents that were not my fault, and been injured as a result (the first one, a head-on crash, gave me a broken collarbone that went undetected as the doctors were more worried I might have broken my spine – thank God it wasn't the case – but I was in a lot of pain; the second was a shunt that made me lose feeling in part of one arm and hand for ages)...

So, anyway, my friend, who I hadn't seen for a while, and I had a lovely day out but the drives to get to and from our destination were hairy. I clenched my fists, grew hot and let the sweat form on my brow and nose. I was absolutely terrified as she put her foot down and went at 80mph-plus in the fast lane all the way, leaving insufficient distance between our vehicle and the one in front should she have had to brake. At some points, she even checked her phone for texts and horrified me by making a call.

I prayed to get back home in one piece. I really did. And I told S to remind me that I must never accept a lift (with this friend) that would take me on any fast roads... She's thankfully never had an accident but I know all too well that they are often caused by events beyond one's control and it's not wise to drive so effing close to the car in front. It's stupid and while I am obviously very fond of my friend, I felt somewhat violated.

When I got home, I relished every little detail of everything at home, home, feeling drained and relieved. I'm not trying to sound melodramatic but I genuinely felt lucky to have escaped unscathed and hope my friend calms the heck down with her driving. I did broach the subject of speed with her (while we were in the car, which is a bit of a racer) but she said she was well within the national average speeds. Hmm. Hmmmmm. Not good enough.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Anyone here watch Spooks? It's the BBC drama based on MI5. And it is absolutely fabulous. It manages to be topical to a degree that makes me wonder when on earth they make the show – do they add scenes or dialogue in at the last minute?! It's slick and sharp, set in London, and is unfailingly gripping.

I watched the new episode that was aired on BBC3 last night and, without giving anything away, was sat there in silence as my heart thudded, skin grew clammy and my stomach swam. Sounds like flu, I know, but this was the Spooks effect. The writers are not afraid to lose characters, and this is what makes the show all the more visceral.

Hermione Norris, who plays the ruthless but razor-sharp Ros Myers, was quoted in an interview complaining about the programme's lack of budget. She said it was 'obvious', but I don't think it is. So, the sets are not all that exciting but in a backdrop of one amazing 'set' – London – it's not so bad.

Mmmm, I love it.

Friday, 21 November 2008


I was hit by a wall of sadness this evening. It came from nowhere and swamped me, a fierce wave of emotion that smacked my solar plexus and made me catch my breath. OK, so I wasn't in the world's best mood (poor kip, painful knee, raw skin on my face, sore arm post-flu jab, being unexpectedly kicked across the room while holding a pad, which f*cking hurt my leg!).

But, it was when I saw the little chairs at the side of the room, the small plastic seats that infants sit on, that something happened inside me. It was odd. It was as though a plug had been pulled. I felt as though I might weep loudly, and never stop. I just swallowed and batted back the tears that had started to form.

This was, I think, about people, justice and my faith in karma. Baby P justice, justice for the innocent Asian man killed by two fuckwits who got 'life' (13 and 17 years in jail before parole comes up for consideration – how in hell is that life?!), justice for girls raped in D R Congo. And on it goes.

The one thing that keeps many people going is that there is justice, divine or otherwise. But how can we have faith when apathy reigns and we let inhumane behaviour go on as we quote the tough lives of those who are responsible as the reasons why. This tolerance for the intolerable surely makes us culpable? If you don't know something's happening then you can't stop it. But if you do... like with the case of Baby P, and still nothing happens to change it, where is there to go? Is this just anarchy, albeit diluted? Do we have any control over anything? The thought that we don't and that we have no one to really rely on (and by that I mean the 'authorities'), is chilling.

I couldn't drive. I am frustrated with myself, with things that have affected me, with powerlessness, with things beyond my control. I sat and cried. There was nothing else to do.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Strictly not that big a deal, is it?

The lead item on the news (TV, radio and papers) has been the fact that John Sergeant has quit Strictly Come Dancing.

Is this really news? OK, it is interesting to fans of the show and of Mr Sergeant, who is by most accounts a lovely individual. But the lead item? For two days?

If he was bullied off the show, well, that's just not fair. I can see that some of the judges' comments were rude... But, seriously people, it's just a flipping dance show. Come on...

Am I missing something?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The details are the devil

Baby P, Peter, the little boy whose face has been on many front pages over the past fortnight, is on my mind. When I can't sleep, I sometimes think about him, his situation, the stepfather, the mother, the lodger...

I let myself try to imagine how lonely it must be to have no one in the world. To feel lost. To be cut adrift. To have human needs and feelings and to have them unrecognised, to have them unmet. To be small and have dark secrets. To feel utterly helpless. To not know how to escape. It makes me weep.

As more details emerge, especially the testimony of the lodger's 15-year-old girlfriend, I find myself even more unable to fathom what happened, how another person could possess such a capacity for callousness and evil. I hope there is a hell.


Yet again, I have an injury that is preventing me from going completely hell for leather in kung fu. It's the old knee situation. It's my own fault. Both my knees were painful so I did physio exercises; they got better and I stopped the physio. Now, one is bad again – searing pain when it's in a certain position.

It's annoying. Not only do I have the knee thing, but the skin around my eyes, following the eye infection, which is still waxing and waning, is so tight that it hurts. Nothing seems to help. It just flares up and abates, with varying degrees of severity. Last night, my skin was so itchy that I hardly slept and my eyes watered and itched again. I have longish fingernails and was so uncomfortable that I was scratching my face without really caring what happened. Luckily, it doesn't look as bad as it feels. I was so tired when I dragged myself out of bed this morning...

I had hesitated to tell my fu teacher, N, that I was yet again, yet abloodygain, injured/unfit. He said he had never met anyone like me (in terms of my capacity for things to go a bit awry). I said I hadn't either. I know that many of my ailments are stress-related, and stem from lack of sleep and unpleasant things happening to me. But I have to report such things, or I'll be shouted at for not performing remotely well.

I needn't have worried about N's reaction, which was possibly the nicest/most motivating thing he has ever said to me – that he "would be so annoyed if you don't become really good at kung fu, as the amount of grit you must have to keep on, despite all those things happening must be huge..." It was a bit of a shock to hear something positive, as I'd become somewhat conditioned to criticism. But it meant a lot. Without going into my life history, I suppose I am strong. S tells me I am. So do close friends. But I often, too often, forget and think I'm rubbish. So damned British.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Baby P

EDITED for legal reasons...

Little 'Baby P' suffered so badly that I can barely write about it without feeling sick. He suffered at the hands of his mother and a man who shall remain nameless so that an upcoming trial is not jeapordised.

I am incensed, beyond angry, beyond disbelief, that these social workers and health professionals can ALL have fucked up so royally. What? I even heard a professor of social science or somesuch going on about how social workers did not need to have any common sense, that child abuse is not common sense, so how would common sense help? What in hell's name is this man on about? I was staggered at his crass stupidity and smugness and am blown away by Haringey Social Services, a bunch of self-centred, self-congratulatory, self-obsessed, self-important idiots who failed to have any sense, common or not.

They issued an apology this morning. Bless 'em. So that makes it OK, does it? An apology is worth jack shit UNLESS it is coupled with an assurance that a lesson has been learned, a point taken, or a promise to make amends is made. What planet are these people on? Really? They have all kept their jobs. I know many people who have lost their jobs recently due to cutbacks but these incompetent individuals are still in post. The people of Haringey must be thrilled that their council tax is being spent on such quality, especially following the same social services department's failure to stop Victoria Climbie's relatives neglecting her to death.

And why, why, why... can anyone tell me how the people involved have not been charged with manslaughter at the very least? P died at their hands. I don't understand it. So, mummy dearest will get 14 years (will be out in seven) and the others will get who knows what? The sentencing is due on December 15th.

Sixty visits. Sixty visits. Sixty visits! In eight months, P was visited 60 times. But no one spotted a damn thing. He was literally broken and battered. I cannot think of a single adjective strong enough to describe how appalling the details of this boy's treatment was. The little lad was apparently also conditioned to lower his head to the ground when he was approached by one or both men. The mother, surely a case for sterilisation, said her bloke was "a bit of a nutter" but hey, she "loved him and let him do what he wanted". Fucking freak. I didn't really want to swear in this post. There aren't really any words strong enough.

The mother gave birth to a daughter while in prison over the death of P. The fucking social services shits, the liberal idiots who have nothing resembling a brain cell between them, who have no sense of what is right in this world, and what is to be valued, said that the woman should be allowed to have contact with her new child "as it was her human right to bond with her child". Fucking unbelievable. The whole thing is fucking unbelievable. If you don't know what happened, read this and weep. And for God's sake, get angry.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


Wow. I woke up suddenly after 4am and could feel the vibe. I knew. Obama had to be the winner.

When the alarm went off I switched the radio on and learned that Barack Obama had indeed won the election and is now president elect. I had a bit of a cry.

It's amazing. Exciting, promising and hopeful. This is a great moment.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008


I hope Obama gets in. I have shivers down my spine.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


My eyes are so raw and red and itchy that I feel I could scratch them out. I am worried, as my sight is a bit odd at the moment. The GPs I've seen have recommended X, Y and Z as cures but none have worked. The eye A&E chap was not better (and I am pretty sure he didn't use gloves when he touched my face/eye – ugh).

The eye thing, whatever it is, has extended to the skin around my eyes – it's so dry, it's awful. And when my eyes water, the saltiness of my tears makes my skin burn with pain. It almost makes me want to cry but that would just hurt. I'm waiting for a referral letter to the hospital. Madness. How bloody long will that take? The itchiness breaks my sleep, precious sleep. It's rubbish. Rubbish and crap.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Chocolate heaven

I am baking a chocolate cake using a French recipe that a friend was sent by the people who owned a cottage in which he holidayed recently. The first part of the method involved melting dark chocolate and butter. None of this milk chocolate or margarine lark, I'll have you know. The aroma of the butter softening and the bitter-ish chocolate turning to liquid was incredible.

I added the other ingredients and watched as the rich, possibly quite unhealthy blend glistened as I moved it around the bowl. The texture and colour was fabulous – it put me in mind of the character in Chocolat, which was a better book than it was a film. The sensuousness of the scenes and smells that I imagined in Chocolat was present in my kitchen. It still is.

The buzzer on the oven just went but the cake is not yet done. I will give it another five or ten minutes, to ensure it is solid enough to cut. If it isn't, it won't be a disaster. I licked the slim, sharp knife I poked into the hot cake and it is definitely not cooked. I know it was silly to lick the knife but if you'd have seen what was on that knife, you'd have run your tongue carefully along the blade, too.

A picture of said cake will follow once it is done. I'm just going to sit awhile, in the warmth, inhaling. Mmm.