April 30, 2004
If Thursday is the new Friday than surely Friday should be the new Saturday? In which case, what the fuck am I doing sat at my desk wearing yesterday’s clothes, looking and feeling like a sack of shit, when I should be enjoying a luxurious lie-in at home?
Lard. Lard is the only thing that can help me now. Lard will succeed where Nurofen and two cans of coke have failed. At least I hope so.
April 29, 2004
A modern day story
I read about two books a week. Last week I was browsing the “three for two” section and found a couple that appealed immediately. Determined to take advantage of the freebie, my eye was drawn to a book called “Three”. A quick skim of the back… “A modern day Story of O. Lyrical, delicate, sensual and haunting”. Hmmm… Story of O… Never heard of it. I check my watch to find I’m running late for a meeting. Fuck it, I’ve no idea what it’s about, but I buy it. Impulse decision… sometimes these are the best.
So, I’m on the train yesterday reading the book. It’s about ten past eight, Snow Patrol’s on the Walkman and I’m slowly disappearing into my own world, the way I like to on my commute.
La la la… first chapter or so…dum di dum… fairly innocuous… boy meets girl…bit boring …
And then BANG!
If it doesn’t turn into an erotic novel! Silk cords, blindfolds and threesomes erupt all over the page and I’m suddenly drawn in to a dark and sordid tale of sacrifice, submission and degradation!
Holy shit! I lower the book and glance round the carriage. Do they know, these fellow commuters, that I’m reading this saucy stuff? Can they tell? I think I’m blushing. What would that woman and her Daily Mail think? Would she be shocked or would she ask to borrow it when I’m done?
Anyway, it’s compelling stuff so I carry on reading but I’m sure that everyone in the entire carriage can see the words “orgasm” and “clitoris” blare in neon lights from the page. I’m sat next to an eight year old. This is wrong.
On the tube, I hold the book at such an angle so that no one can read over my shoulder. I still can’t put it down and by the time I get to work, well let’s just say I needed a strong cup of tea to focus my mind.
April 28, 2004
I can see a rainbow
Well! There’s nothing like a spot of rain to show up this country’s infrastructure as the dilapidated pile of crap it actually is. It’s understandable I guess, Britain’s landscape being such an arid one and rain being such a rare meteorological event, one so difficult to second guess. Of course half of South London had to abandon their cars last night and of course the rain has short-circuited half the signal boxes on our railways this morning. It makes perfect sense for our dry and thirsty soil to suck up the rain so fast that it flows in torrents along the Jubilee Line.
Still, one must put on one’s happy face mustn’t one?
I should be grateful, when faced with such adverse weather conditions, that I have a (not quite so solid) roof over my head. I am therefore trying to put my recent renovational despair into perspective.
Thus, having a few moments to kill at work this morning, I’ve put together this little ditty as a follow up to yesterday’s post.
Over The Rainbow An interpretation by Ms Jones.
Somewhere over the rainbow
My flat’s all done
The garden’s coming on nicely
And I’m chilling in the sun
Somewhere over the rainbow
The kitchen’s new
The bedroom’s comfortably furnished
In soothing hues of cream and blue.
Someday I’ll languish in the bath
While bubbles trace their soothing path
My troubles seem so far away
As my flat seems nicer every day
Relaxed you’ll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow
On their comfortable sofas
I hope they shrivel up and die.
I thank you.
April 27, 2004
Somewhere over the rainbow
Someday I will be sat on the train looking forward to getting home. I will drop into Sainsbury’s on the way back and fill my basket with fresh, fragrant ingredients in anticipation of spending some quality time in my stylish yet summery kitchen. With dinner cooking in the oven, I will walk barefoot over the tiled terracotta kitchen floor into my comfortable and cosy living room, stopping to admire the tidy and welcoming hallway with its neat row of coats and shoes. I will place a soothing CD into my fully functional stereo, check my emails from my new desk with ingenious storage capabilities and walk across my kilim rug to draw the blinds on my brand new double-glazed windows.
I will then walk back through the bright and welcoming hall and into my sanctuary-like bedroom complete with king-size bed, ample closet space and relaxing lighting. Here, I will peel off my work clothes, wrap myself in my luxurious dressing gown, grab my book and head towards my clean and tasteful bathroom where I will run a hot bath and light the scented candles on the window sill.
I’ll step out of the bath and pull on my comfortable pyjamas in time to take my dinner from the oven out into my beautifully tended garden where I will pour myself a glass of Cabernet Shiraz and listen to the birds from my new wooden garden furniture.
Until that day, I will continue to feel constantly harassed and stressed and fail to find peace anywhere. I will continue to smoke and drink in unhealthy quantities. I will never feel truly at home. I will always feel that there are a hundred things I should be doing but never find enough hours in the day to do them. I will feel guilty for having fun. I will be running on empty, my life fuelled only by the adrenaline created by feelings of constant panic and dread. I won’t be able to concentrate on all the other things I really want to do.
Today that day feels further away than ever. Bollocks!
April 26, 2004
SHIT WANK ARSE FLAPS BUGGER HUMPING BUGGERING FUCK
There I am, proudly standing over a couple of boxes into which I’d packed the contents of my bathroom and half the kitchen. In the bedroom, my suitcase was packed with a few clothes, my radio alarm clock, some CDs, some books, my laptop and my diary. I'd booked the day off work tomorrow and had transferred some money from my “don’t fucking spend this unless it’s on your flat” account into my "spend it like you've won the lottery" account and I was looking forward to shopping for bathroom, kitchen and floor stuff. I was just about to cover all the rest of the flat in dustsheets and load the car when I get a call on my mobile.
It’s the builder.
He’s got the flu.
So has my uncle (who works with him).
They can’t start until next week.
SHIT WANK ARSE FLAPS BUGGER HUMPING BUGGERING FUCK
It’s not their fault. It really, really isn’t. I know that. I saw my uncle the other day and he looked like a sack of shit he was so ill. I know that they’re reliable and nice and that they’re going to do a good job without charging me much. I know they’re fucking great and it really, really, really isn’t their fault.
But I’m SO fucked off with it all. At this buggering fuck of a rate we’ll be well into the next geological era by the time this place is done. That's if I don't end up like Miss Haversham, sat waiting 20 years amongst the cobwebs and dust for the work to get done.
And now I’ve got to go and stand on the edge of the bath and re-hang the fucking shower curtain. Look. I appreciate this isn’t the end of the world but Holy Mary Mother of Jesus our Sweet Lord (I live next to a happy clappy church. They’ve just had a rather vocal service) when the FUCK will I start feeling like I’ve made progress? EH?
To top it all off, I just ripped my foot on a fucking nail sticking out of the floorboards.
SHIT WANK ARSE FLAPS BUGGER HUMPING BUGGERING FUCK
Sis. Put that vino on hold. It's all going tits up over here
We are family, I got all my sisters with me
I’m lucky. My sister is also one of my best friends. Our family is a complicated one to say the least. Before my parents married, they each already had a son, and Dad had two stepdaughters as well. This means that I have.
1 full sister
2 half brothers
2 step half sisters (that one takes some thinking about)
And by a strange quirk of logic, the same goes for my sis. Funny that!
Anyway, without going into any amount of detail, our immediate family is ridden with rich blend of complicated baggage and politics, the sort that makes Christmas a “hit or miss” affair.
As the youngest children and the only ones who went to the same school, we are very close. We can tell each other anything, have the same completely childish and very “particular” sense of humour. There’s no one else with whom I could spend an afternoon translating “drive my car” by The Beatles into French so that it actually works. I’ll admit, she can sing it better than me. I just stick to filling in with the “Beep Beep, Beep Beep, Ouais” bit.
My sister and I are alike in many other ways. We are both stubborn and competitive, we each believe that we are right, even if we’re not, we both want the last word and we are both quite sensitive and take things to heart a little too much.
When we were young we used to squabble, fight, claw, scream, kick and maul each other, all for the power of the remote control. These days our squabbles have taken a more controlled and grown-up turn. For example, over Easter (note: we were both synchronising on a pmt level) she accidentally knocked a glass of red wine over my cream beige cords. In all the ensuing commotion I heard no apology from her, which got on my nerves more than it should and I was feeling pretty narked inside. A year of therapy told me to never internalise anger as it will turn around and bite you in the arse whether you like it or not.
So, in a controlled manner, whilst boiling the kettle and with bottom lip quivering and eyes slightly moist, the following conversation ensued:
I just have to say, because I don’t like to bottle things up and because it’s better to express these things rather than stew on them, that I’m upset that you didn’t feel you should apologise about spilling red wine on me.
Small voice, looking upset
I did apologise. You just didn’t hear. I apologised straight away.
Feels guilty for accusing her of not apologising
Feels guilty for not apologising loudly enough
Ten minutes later She enters
I feel upset that you didn’t think I would apologise and I’ve been feeling really guilty about this, but like you said, I shouldn’t hold it in and so I’m telling you that I’m upset
Well, you know, I didn’t hear it and I was just angry and upset, you know, because I wanted to wear these trousers and well, you because I didn’t hear you apologise, I assumed you didn’t and, well, it upset me.
exit to living room to play sad music on the piano
Turns to teapot feeling guilty.
Ten minutes pass.
Goes into living room and offers cup of tea as peace offering.
Accepts cup of tea.
Let’s not fight
No, let’s not.
I’m moving in with my sister tomorrow while my flat is ripped apart and put back together by builders. Coincidentally, my company are likely to offer her a temping job so she will be working in the next room. We were joking the other day. How will it work going from living apart and working apart to living together and working together? Will our relationship pass the test or will the new situation precipitate a change for the worse?
Well as long as neither of us stops smoking and we don’t synchronise, we’ll be just fine. Jezebel, crack open the vino and bring out the junk food, I’m on my way!
April 23, 2004
There's a spring in my step...
“The sun is shining and the weather is sweet
Makes me wanna move, these dancing feet”
That about sums it up. Bring on the weekend; it’s going to be a good one.
April 22, 2004
A few years ago, B and I went on holiday together to small village in Corfu called Pelekas and stayed here . It really is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. In late summer the sun is still hot but most of the tourists have already headed home leaving just a few of us to convene in the tavernas and swap stories.
It’s the sort of place that the same people keep going back to year after year. B and I have never returned ourselves being too ashamed of our sometimes less than ladylike behaviour. They probably wouldn’t have us back anyway. Or maybe they would, but for the wrong sort of reasons.
Ahem. Moving swiftly along…
Towards the beginning of our stay we got chatting to a young couple over lunch and we agreed to meet a few days later at the beach. That evening a rather peculiar gentleman introduced himself to us. He explained that he was staying in the room next to ours and asked if he could join us for a drink. He was in his late fifties/early sixties and was holidaying by himself. There was something very strange about this man. He looked like a scrawny mole with huge glasses and his social skills were those of someone who spends most of his time alone.
We asked him if he was enjoying his holiday and he told us he was having a wonderful time, that he came here every year and that if we found the time we should hire a pedallo and make our way to the next cove along from Pelekas beach.
“It’s idyllic. Very peaceful and such lovely people go that beach. But you can’t easily reach it by land so not many people know about it.”
Conversation with this man wasn’t easy. His behaviour was pretty unnerving at times. He wanted to come clubbing with us and we found it hard to refuse. He stuck out like a sore thumb… a dirty old man perving awkwardly over us and all the other girls in the club. We managed to shake him off eventually but we would see him throughout the rest of the holiday on his balcony or in the bar. Each time he would try to strike up a conversation, but we managed on most occasions to give him the brush off.
It wasn’t until the second week of our holiday that we actually got around to meeting the couple we’d met earlier in our stay. We told them about the idyllic beach we’d heard of and we decided to go and find it. We set out in a pedallo, bastard things that they are, and slowly (very slowly) made our way out of the bay and towards where we thought this beach was. It took ages and the burn in my thighs was worse than the one I’d get in a spinning class if I ever bothered to go to one.
Eventually we saw it and tuned the pedallo back towards land. We’d stopped enjoying ourselves by this point. The sun was blaring down on us and the couple just moaned and moaned and moaned the whole way.
Even from a hundred metres out I knew immediately that there was something very odd about this beach. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I pushed the thought to the back of my mind, focussing only on the cold beer I hoped I would be drinking when we got there.
Ten metres from the shore, just as we were about to jump out, I noticed B was looking at the beach intently. I followed her gaze, slowly registering what I was seeing.
She looked at me. “They’re all naked,” she said.
I looked at the beach.
“They’re all butt naked,” she repeated.
“Fuck”, I said.
“What shall we do?” asked the girl.
“Look”, I said, aware that it had taken us an hour and a half to get here and we were all completely knackered. “Why don’t we just stay for ten minutes, grab a coke, get our breath back and then get the fuck out of here”.
B was looking at a guy who was lying on his back, legs bent and apart, all his glory on show.
“I’m not taking my bikini off though.”
“Christ no! Now who’s going to get the drinks? There’s a hut over there.”
After some persuasion the bloke gallantly tiptoed across the naked sunbathers and came back with some cokes. Just as I was about to open mine I heard someone call my name.
I turned round and to my absolute horror I saw our peculiar neighbour striding over to us wearing nothing but a sunhat.
“Hullo”, he called enthusiastically. “Beautiful isn’t it?”
Despite my every effort, I found myself glancing at his tackle. My stomach tuned.
“If you think so”, I replied.
I grabbed B, and started heaving the pedallo back to the water.
“Well, we must dash”, I called over my shoulder. “We need to get the pedallo back.”
We jumped in and pedalled our little hearts out.
Needless to say B and I went for dinner elsewhere that night… and we steered well clear of the sausage stew.
April 21, 2004
Cue the huge panic attack
A call to the builder (my uncle’s mate) and I find out he's starting on Tuesday... of NEXT week.
Holy fucking Christ!
There’s so much to do:
I’ve got to pack away everything in the kitchen, bathroom and hallway, stuff it all into the bedroom and living room, buy dustsheets to hang over the doors and panic.
I’ve got to buy:
Bathroom floor tiles
Kitchen floor tiles
Then I’ve got to pack and move to my sister’s for two weeks.
All by Tuesday!
And I’ve got plans erm…tomorrow night, Friday night, Saturday night… which leaves a bit of Saturday and a bit of Sunday. So what have I decided to do tonight? Yes, you guessed it. Go to the pub. I'm going to need 3 pints and ten marlboro lights to come to terms with this one.
The day of rest
Sunday morning was a novel one for me. For a start I was up and out of my friend’s house by 9.30 in order to get to the other side of London before the marathon jammed up the traffic. I decided to pop into Sainsbury’s for some hangover food and pulled into the nearly empty car park at quarter past ten. I was about to get out of the car when I noticed that the place was shut and that a little crowd of blue rinses, parents, and their hyperactive toddlers was milling at the entrance. I sat back, switched the radio on and waited. It had to open soon right? I mean those people had only just shown up. Surely they weren’t like those strange people who queue up all night for Wimbledon tickets?
“Run” by Snowpatrol came on and I let my head drop back on the headrest. God I felt rough. My eyes wandered lazily to the left where two kids were crawling all over a dishevelled looking bloke in a bright orange van. I looked to my right where an elderly couple in their Sunday best were waiting patiently in their Rover. I checked the clock. Ten twenty. What the fuck was I doing??? This isn’t my world.
I decided to stick it out and sure enough, the doors opened at half ten. I was desperate to get back to bed but I figured if I could dash in, buy some supplies and dash out, I would be grateful when I woke up mid afternoon to a full fridge. Five minutes, I thought. That’s all. You’ll be back in bed in less than twenty.
I stepped out of the car into the South East London drizzle and headed into the store picking up a basket on the way. No need to buy much. If you’re quick, you’ll be at the check out in five.
First stop, the bread aisle. Mmmmmm, muffins. An idea was forming. Muffins, cream cheese, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. It’s not much healthier than a full English, but it’s a start.
Two minutes in and I was nearly done. Bed was getting closer.
And then a voice came over the tannoy system that cut through my heart like a cold, cold knife: “We would like to remind our customers that due to trading laws we are unable to open the checkouts before eleven AM. However, customers are welcome to browse until then.”
Eleven AM??? Eleven fucking AM?? I looked down at my shopping basket, crestfallen. 27 minutes to kill. In a Sainsbury’s. Feeling rough.
I decided to stick it out and buy some stuff for the rest of the week. A bit of a mistake that, as it turned out: I didn’t really need to buy dried mango, and it’s no good buying the potatoes and the onion gravy if you’re going to forget the sausages. I struggled round the store making one bad decision after the other and finally headed to the checkouts to wait it out. Maybe they’d let me lie down on one?
I spotted a short queue and made a beeline for it. Once there, I was treated to a bizarre display of supermarket behaviour. Watching the woman in front of me load the contents of her trolley onto the belt was like watching Kasporov take on IBM's Deep Blue Supercomputer. It was fascinating. She took one item at a time and placed it strategically in some predetermined order known only to her. And when it came to loading the shopping bags I was stunned to see her open four of them and place the shopping carefully and deliberately in each one, often moving an item from one bag to the other after much contemplation and thought. Some sort of neuroses, I thought.
Finally it was my turn and I chucked the shopping into the bags, paid up and headed to the car. Ten minutes later I was at home, cooking myself some brekkie, and twenty minutes after that I was in bed. Just as I was dozing off, scrambled eggs nestling comfortably in my tummy and my brain relaxing into a deep and beautiful slumber, my sister called.
“Hey sis, you’ll never guess what I just saw at the London Marathon. This woman was running past us and…”
I hung up a nauseous twenty minutes later and fell into a deeply disturbed sleep.
April 20, 2004
Keeping it in the family
I haven’t posted today. Instead, with a proud tear in my eye, I’ve been busy helping Jezebel set up her very first blog. I outed myself as a blogger to her over Easter and within a week she’s started her own. That must be a record. So please go and check her out, make her feel welcome and say lots of nice things. I will post something of my own tonight (or maybe in about half an hour, depending on how long I can be bothered to work for).
April 19, 2004
Handle with care
I realise that about once a month I write a post like this and it probably bores the hell out of you all but it makes me feel better and that’s my main concern.
I feel like utter shite today. I’m in such a mood, which fucks me off because I had a good weekend and I’d rather feel good about that than feel shit and not know why. Well of course I know why: It’s all down to my period (I swear if any single person leaves a quote about donning tin caps, walking away slowly remark, I won’t see the funny side).
I feel tearful, angry, despondent, restless, annoyed, irritable and prickly all at the same time. If there was something specifically wrong I could talk about it and make myself feel better, but the problem with these pmt induced feelings is that they won’t go away until the hormones settle. When the fuck will that be?
And another thing. Just because these emotions aren’t caused by anything in particular, it doesn’t mean they feel any less real. In fact I find it more frustrating because I know I can’t do anything except ride it out. And I feel that no-one really understands because I don't even understand myself.
So here I am, riding it out, having been nearly in tears twice today, once over an advert on the tube and once because of something someone said. It’s a pile of wank really. I want a hug and a tummy rub.
April 15, 2004
Wouldn’t it be great if “hairy” was the new “black”? I mean the whole shaving, waxing, silk-epil, hair removal cream thing is such a nightmare. They should offer a BSc in depilation… it’s far more complicated than astrophysics and more widely used I should think.
For a start, what method to use:
Shaving: Very smooth effect at first but it grows back in no time and the re-growth is thicker. Legs, easy. Bikini line: impossible.
Waxing: There’s this whole idea that you get beautifully smooth legs from waxing but that, my friends, is a load of old bollocks. Waxing only works on longer hair so very often you’re left with little patches of shorter plumage dotted around the place. It doesn’t feel smooth to the touch like your legs do right after shaving. And don’t get sucked in by the new Veet ads for shorter hair. It doesn’t work. Trust me, I tried it a couple of weeks ago.
As for the bikini line, I have one piece of advice. Never EVER do it yourself. It’s one of the most painful things in the whole world. The one and only time I ever did this I remember applying one of the devil strips, taking hold if it and thinking “what the hell am I doing? This is going to really, REALLY hurt.” Of course there was no going back, so I took a breath, closed my eyes and ripped it off. Holy Mary mother of God, I ain’t never doing that to myself again. Get a professional to do it. And get drunk first.
Silk-epil: A little contraption my Sis introduced me to. It works on the same principal as waxing: pulling the hair and its root out of the follicle. Only this time these little metal grips rotate and pull the hair out as you pass the thing up and down your legs. REALLY, REALLY not recommended for the bikini line… I never tried it there myself but I know someone who has…
Hair removal cream/foam: This is my preferred weapon of choice for tackling the bikini line. You simply apply it, wait ten minutes and rinse it off. The hair just washes away. Again with the legs, you don’t get the smooth effect that you get with shaving but it’s better than waxing.
You see what I mean! There are so many options that it can sometimes be baffling to decide what to do for the best. Trial, error, and very often acute physical pain are the only ways to find out. Then there is the sheer laboriousness of it and the pressure to constantly be smooth and shiny. Look at the outcry when whatserface, you know the smiley actress whose name escapes me, turned up at a premiere with hairy pits. One of the most beautiful women in the world slated because she’d forgotten to depilate her underarms.
Anyway, all this came to me last night as I went back to the trusty old Venus razor and consigned them devil strips to the bin.
April 14, 2004
How many of us are qualified to judge the rights and wrongs of history? How many of us really understand what is happening in Iraq? The situation is incredibly complex and rooted in so much history and culture that the vast majority of us over here cannot even begin to truly understand and I’m immediately suspicious of anyone who claims to.
We get one line from the government spin-doctors, another from the anti-war activists and another from religious fundamentalists. None can really claim to portray a balanced representation of the truth. All sides are guilty of twisting the facts to support whatever political end they are trying to achieve.
Strong opinions have been expressed here and that’s fine. But it makes me sad because all that energy expended in the comments below, well what exactly has it achieved? I’m not trying to offend anyone, but this is my blog so I’ll speak freely. I think that if people believe in something strongly enough, they should get up and do something about it. I’m not just talking about going on the odd march. I mean if it’s that important, make it your bloody vocation. Work for Amnesty, work for the UN, become a journalist. Otherwise, it’s all just a load of wasted hot air.
As for imperialism? Well some incredibly good things have come about because of it, but some heinous atrocities were carried out in its name. Again, the reality is somewhere in between.
Do we have to argue about the past? Man, there’s so much shit going on just outside your front door TODAY. Your best mate’s going through the hardest time of her life. Why don’t you give her a call? Your 90-year old neighbour has broken his hip. Why don’t you help him level out the path to his front door?
People will call me naïve for what I’ve just said. But how naïve is it to believe that you can make a difference just be venting your spleen from your armchair?
April 13, 2004
Du pain, du vin, du Boursin
Bridget’s back in old Blighty (I hate calling myself Bridget by the way) and I’m feeling very refreshed for the break.
We arrived in Paris late Thursday night and had to be up at the crack of dawn to pick up the transit van. Sorry, my parents had to be up at the crack of dawn to pick up the transit van. Bridget Junior and I had a lie in and wandered over mid morning to help load it up.
Let me explain. My parents live in a part of France called La Vendée but dad works in Paris so they have to rent a place up there. They’re moving across town to a much smaller flat and so Bridget and her sister were drafted in to help move a whole load of crap down to La Vendée.
Well, it all went swimmingly. That is it was a cold day, we were all bitching at each other and then the lift broke down. Mmmmm, great… the flat is on the eighth floor! Thankfully the engineers got it working again, but not before I had made four trips laden down with boxes and bags. My derrière hurt like hell the next day… and still does. And they actually invented step machines? Are people INSANE???
Dad and Junior set off in the van and Mum and I travelled down in the car, sharing the driving. Mum drove the shitty bit, getting out of Paris is faster on foot than by car and I took over once we hit the open road. Motorways in France are rarely crowed at this time of year. I put my foot down and hit 140kph before Mum reprimanded me and I dropped down to 130kph. But then she fell asleep and I put my foot down again. My parents have a huge car compared to my 1 litre 1990 Polo Classic and I felt like the king (well queen) of the road.
Dad and Junior, however, weren’t quite so fortunate. Apparently Dad had to make a fifty-five-point turn to get into the Payages gate and he scraped the side of the van in the process, much to the amusement of everyone else! Oh and he also stalled in the motorway ???? His excuse: “Diesel, Pah!”
Once the van was unloaded at the other end the rest of the weekend was lovely. Helping my dad around the place in the country air was just the tonic I needed. Among other things, Bridget Junior mastered the art of mowing on a mini-tractor and I planted an oak tree. We all got stuck in to the cheese and wine and slept, on average, 10 hours a night.
Oh and Witho... it is Pastis... you were right. I checked my dad's bottle as soon as I got there.
April 08, 2004
This time tomorrow Bridget will be in France gently sipping a Ricard with her father. Actually, that’s highly unlikely. I’m more likely to be carrying a bed down eight flights of stairs or driving a Transit van through the streets of Paris. Neither prospect appeals much, but we’ll be in the country by Friday night so the Ricard can wait until then. I’ll have earned it.
It’s controversial, but I actually love France and the French. I mean they’ve got their priorities right: start work at 9, two hours lunch and then wander home around 5. No overtime (pourquoi?) and if someone tries to mess with their rights, they park their lorries and tractors in front of all the country’s major ports.
So many times I’ve heard people from this country call the French a bunch of obstinate, lazy wankers. Yet I just imagine them sat back looking at us from across The Channel and pissing themselves laughing.
“Pierre, look at those Brits working stupid hours and not complaining about it.”
“I know Jean-Luc. They think it’s a matter of principle but really they’re just fools”
“Encore une Pastisse?”
“Et bien, pourquoi pas?”
Brigitte will be reporting from France over the weekend. Remember, it’s not Goodbye, it’s Au revoir!
April 07, 2004
Let's serve up some humble pie
Well it’s going rather well I think. That is I’ve been thinking more about DIY if not actually doing any.
I spent Saturday on the couch (for couch please read single mattress with two beanbags propped up against the living room wall. For living room please read smoke stained room with manky walls, rotten panelling and curtains so grimy they shine in a certain light) leafing through my Jackson Day DIY Manual. I have a feeling this book will become my bible.
After last week’s panic attacks when I actually listened and believed those people who shook their heads doubtfully when I told them I planned on fitting my own kitchen, I thought I’d better see what the big deal was. I expected to open the book to find it written in Greek. I thought it would all be so blatantly impossible that I’d call those people up and go “yeah, you’re right. I don’t know why I even thought I’d be capable of that”. But it wasn't, it really wasn't. I’m under no illusions that it’ll be a walk in the park but there was absolutely nothing on those pages that looked beyond my capabilities. Anything’s possible with time, patience and determination.
So fuck em. Fuck all those doubters, those people who pissed on my parade and dared suggest I wasn’t up to the challenge. Fuck em! Fuck em! Fuck em! They’ve just made me all the more determined.
Oh, and I’ll be sticking two fingers up when they come round to my beautiful flat and I serve up some humble pie for dinner in my new kitchen.
April 06, 2004
I’ve mastered the art of speed shopping. I’ve had to do this because shopping is right up there alongside rubbing hydrochloric acid into my eyes as one of my least favourite things to do. I get flustered, frustrated and fucked off with it within the space of an hour, so I have to plan my shopping pretty carefully.
I don’t understand people who can just “go shopping” without having any real idea of what they’re looking for. I tend to wait until I need something really REALLY badly before even contemplating an excursion to the highstreet.
When I do, I already know exactly what I’m looking for and can scan the contents of a shop quickly. If I’m looking for a black top, I zoom round, pick up all the black tops in size 14 (takes about 5 minutes) and head for the changing room.
Oh, this brings me to another couple of things I really hate about shopping. 1) queuing for the changing rooms and 2) trying things on. Queues are fucking awful no matter where you are, but when you’re laden down with bulky garments and sweating away under your winter coat it’s a seriously fucking hideous ordeal and the UN should have laws against it lest it be used as a method for obtaining information from suspected terrorists; not that the UN having any laws really makes any difference. Then there are the changing rooms – or more importantly the lighting in changing rooms, which for some baffling reason has been designed to make you look as hideous as possible. There’s a self-esteem killer right there. Every little thing you dislike about your figure but have managed to put to the back of your mind is highlighted in glorious 3D Technicolor.
I digress… Speed shopping. I work near Oxford Street and am therefore lucky enough not to have to make any real effort to get to any shops. I tend to do all my shopping during my lunch hour. The last couple of days I’ve been looking for some kind of Spring/Summer coat, something light but shower proof. My winter coat is too warm for this time of year and my jeans jacket is too scruffy for work. I “popped” out Thursday and Friday lunchtime last week to have a butchers as well as yesterday evening. That’s three hours of shopping right there and I’ve been in every high street retailer from Marks & Spencers to Top Shop and haven’t been able to find a fucking thing.
Speed Shopping has let me down and I’ve had to resort to wearing my jeans jacket with this black body warmer I’ve had since the late 90s (coz it’s just a little too chilly for the jacket on its own). I’m conscious that I look about six years out of date fashion-wise and not a little like a Pony Club member. If it wasn’t the trendy shoes I picked up in New Look, I’d be ashamed to leave the house.
So what can I do? I can either be too hot, too cold or look like a a twat. It’s such a shame coz everything else I’m wearing is actually quite nice. The body warmer just ruins the whole fucking look.
I know for a fact that there are some fashionable little minxes who read this blog on the odd occasion. I'm asking you all: where on earth can I find a knee length summer coat that’s not black or beige, that doesn’t look like a Burberry Mac imitation and that retails at under sixty quid? Answers on a postcard please.
April 05, 2004
“The Tide is High”
It was supposed to be your average Sunday. I drove round to pick a couple of mates from their respective houses, went to the carwash, brought some compost, mowed the lawn, weeded the beds and potted a herb garden. So far so Sunday. So far, not very Bridget.
It was great to have a Sunday free for a change, rather than travelling to the far corners of Greater London to play footie in the pissing rain. My mates agreed. We all love the game but it’s nice to have a break from it over the summer.
Having exerted ourselves ever so slightly in the garden, we sat back with a beer to watch the semi-final highlights. After a while, a low grumbling in our stomachs indicated it was time to hit the curry house.
Imagine my surprise when just 3 hours later I found myself singing karaoke in an almost (but sadly not quite) empty local… even worse, to the Atomic Kitten version of “The Tide is High”!!!
Note to self: your singing does not improve with alcohol!
April 02, 2004
...got tickets to Glastonbury, after hours and hours of hitting F5 and the redial key...
April 01, 2004
Yesterday I wobbled about as much as you can without actually falling down. Suddenly all my big ideas for the flat came crashing down around me as they were knocked from their cloud by that thing called cash. My ideas will cost six grand. I only have three and a half. The reality’s there isn’t it? Just got to stare it in the face and deal with it I suppose.
I’ve also got to stop being a big girl’s blouse. Blubbering away to your folks when they’ve been there, done that (three times over) and made you wear the t-shirt all your life didn’t entice the sympathy I’d hoped for. My dad offered to lend me his camping stove and told me to get on with it.
You see, I bought a complete wreck of a house and while structurally it is sound as a pound, every fixture and fitting is at least 25 years old. The floorboards are the original Victorian ones, rotten, loose, uneven and naily. The walls are, for want of a better expression, fucked.
For reasons I won’t go into, I have to repair both the kitchen and bathroom floors at the same time. In fact “repair” should read “replace” as I have to get rid of every single last floorboard. Then I have to level out the concrete extension so that it is flush with the floorboards. To do this, I have to rip out both the kitchen and the bathroom. Now, here’s the big deal: I can afford to repair the walls and the floor, and probably will be able to buy a bathroom suite and have it plumbed in, but I won’t have anything left to buy more than a kitchen sink and a unit to stand it on. I won’t be able to put any tiles on the floor or walls of either room.
So this is the prospect I am facing. Living for an indefinite period of time with a fridge, washing machine and sink, my dad’s camping stove and a tiny table. No cupboards, no floor. The rest is down to me, probably buying one unit a month for the kitchen and fitting it myself, laying the floor, learning how to tile walls, learning how to fit skirting boards, learning how to fit worktops… the list grows longer by the minute. And after that, there’s the bedroom and living room to deal with.
Yesterday the reality of the task hit me square around the face and it terrified me. Today, after a pep talk from the folks, some beers from my friends and a good old English Breakfast cuppa I’m relishing the challenge. It’ll be hard and no doubt a few more tears will be shed along the way, but imagine how proud I’ll feel when I tell people, “yeah, I renovated a Victorian conversion all by myself and made a shed load of cash in the process.”