Now then, blogging. Deciding what to write and actually writing it is a little like the homework set at the start of the long school summer holiday – you know you need to do it, and there are endless empty interludes where you could conceivably get your head down and finish the damn thing, but you put it off and put it off and before you know it it’s the night before you go back to school and you’re up til 3am cobbling together a project on the Bayeux Tapestry and wondering where it all went wrong. And since I am the world’s greatest procrastinator (I never used to be but since I began hating my job in earnest I can divert my attention away from the job in hand with the best of them. ie everyone else here….) I have found myself spending the day knowing I have to write something but not being sure what it is and instead surfing other people’s blogs and being jealous because they’ve posted today and I haven’t, which means they’re done and I’m not. Actually, the statement that I never used to be so good at circumventing work is pretty much wishful thinking on my part. It’s true that I used to be a lot more focussed than I currently am, but on reflection I’ve always been an exponent of the 80:20 rule, in that most of my output is achieved in a bad-tempered frenzy about thirty minutes before a deadline.
So, now we’ve got that out of the way, I still have no clue what today’s entry is about. I’ve pondered a number of subjects, from childhood holidays at holiday camps, cars my family has owned, or the school dog (more of that another time, I promise), but I keep coming back to the subject of how I’m not who I used to be any more. I know I’m not alone in that – none of us are who we used to be, that’s the way of the world. But sometimes I look at where I am – child, job, fabulous Other Half, decent car, flat etc and I wonder how on earth I got here. Ten years ago I had nothing of the sort. I left home at seventeen and spent the following four years in really wrong relationships (one with a psychopath, one with a guy who wanted a cross between his mother and a housekeeper, with extras – I’ll say no more than that..), before moving back to my home town at the age of twenty one to start living properly. I rented a flat to start with, sharing with an old school friend, but after six months of karaoke, vast amounts of wine and very little else, I realised that it really wasn’t working out for me. She had, well, let’s call them issues, shall we? Now I’m the first to admit to slight (!!) obsessive qualities, as I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post (check the archives people – the posts were much better than this when I started this thing), and the Other Half, bless him, is frankly so weird he makes Rain Man look normal, but this girl really was very strange indeed. Her working day began at 8.30am, so of course the obvious time for her to get up was 5am. Honestly. There then followed an elaborate ritual (5.08am, shower. 5.17am, dry hair. 5.32am, ironing etc….) that could not be deviated from IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. If a task wasn’t completed within her own oddball timeframe, all hell would break loose and believe it or not she had to start again, which was where the 5am start came in. By the time we decided by mutual consent (for “mutual consent” read “massive argument culminating in me screeching “mental bitch” at her and slamming my bedroom door as she wept angrily in the living room and rang the landlord to tell him that no, actually we wouldn’t be renewing our lease”…..) I was deliberately setting my own alarm for 5am so as to sabotage the whole thing and see if I could trigger a breakdown before we both moved out. Not very mature, I grant you, and since meeting the Other Half I’ve realised that mental people can be fun too, but at the time it made me feel a whole lot better. Especially on those mornings where she put her shoes in the tumble drier, which was on the other side of my bedroom wall. So, from there, it was off to my friend’s sofa. In the meantime I’d met up with some very excellent people in the best pub in town – a drop-in centre for bikers, hippies, drunks and dislocated Irishmen, and was spending a great deal of time with people that would make most of the general public cross the road, if not themselves. A friend of mine was selling something that she no longer made use of and, since I’d acquired a dreadlocked boyfriend with a dog on a string, and a hefty bank balance owing to the fact that I’d sold the car my parents bought me for my 21st (sorry Mum but hell, it was worth it. For a while..), I somehow found myself the proud owner of a Volvo FL10 lorry, with an ex-GPO mobile office box on the back. This thing set me back two and a half grand, and the plan was to travel overland to India and do a couple of years in Goa. Yeah right. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s never trust the plans you make with people who spend more time saying “another pint please” than anything else, except maybe “can you cash my giro here, I’ll give you a fiver”. We did the thing up, and spent a few weeks parked in an impossibly glamorous location: down a no-through-road lined with derelict garages. People who think “life on the road” is romantic have obviously never spent seven rain-soaked weeks in the back of a lorry, pissing in a bucket (really), washing in B & Q of a morning and fending off junkies at 3am because “it’s cold and I want to sleep in here because you've got a fire”. Every time the battery ran down (meaning no electric lights and it’s tricky to read by the glow of a woodburner) we’d have to run the engine, which filled the whole living area with diesel fumes. Nice. If the dog needed a wee in the night the dreadlocked one would have to go with him, as the dog was impossibly large and ungainly, and the door was impossibly high off the ground. Our only transportation was my motorbike (until I wrote it off), so going shopping involved getting a taxi from Kwiksave and directing it to “the big yellow truck down by the old garages”. Even better was the time my mum came to visit – she pulled up in the Merc, gingerly climbed the rusty stepladder and peered through the door, declared it “lovely” and fucked off again as quickly as possible. Of course, at the time I thought I was living the dream…..in reality it was horrible. We only ever got as far as a turkey farm six miles down the road, and it took over four hours to get there owing to the fact that neither of us knew how to drive a lorry. We stayed there for three of the longest weeks of my life – I gave up turkey plucking after three days on the basis that it was horrible and I was rubbish at it, and spent my days stocking up the woodburner and making sure the proper gippos who came plucking didn’t steal our generator. Also, we were parked up next to a shed filled with at least a thousand turkeys, who expressed their constant surprise at spotting another turkey by creating a wave of sound that became known as the Mexican Gobble, as it would sweep up and down the shed every two minutes or so, for about twenty two hours a day. Eventually, the boyfriend and I decided to call it a day, and I ended up flogging the truck back to the guy who’d originally been storing it for my friend at a massive £1700 loss. Well done me. I spent the next six weeks homeless, including Christmas, before renting a tiny room and starting again. It was shortly after this that I met the Ex – talk about a run of bad luck…..(this was after a brief re-interlude with the dreadlocked boyfriend who’d moved right up in the world and was living in a semi-converted horsebox with a leaky roof and no engine).
So as I say, I look back on myself – pink dreadlocks, rings in my nose and lip, dog on a string etc and it’s a mixed feeling. I obviously don’t miss being cold, going to the launderette, asking a friend when I needed a bath, or the dreadlocked one’s (look away now if you’re of a nervous disposition) habit of pooing in a carrier bag and throwing it into one of the garages. However, I miss the freedom of having nowhere to go and nothing to do. I miss my friends – when our pub was bought out by a chain and turned into a theme pub it was genuinely heartbreaking, and I miss being able to dye my hair pink and say a big fuck-the-world to everyday nonsense. On the other hand, I have a fabulous daughter and have been lucky enough to have found my soulmate, and believe me he’s gone a long way towards making me feel how I did during those mad, carefree days.
Blimey – from nothing to say to running off at the mouth. Sorry about that. Bloody hippies……