Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Surly - the Return

Well, what can I say?

Pathetic, isn't it? I can give up smoking. I can give up being mean to people who are thinner/prettier/generally nicer than me*. I can even give up jerk chicken, if it means I'll look better in a t-shirt this summer. But, as I've proved to myself this past week or so, I can't give up blogging. Nope. Can't be done. And I really, really thought I'd cracked it this time. No more just sort of trailing off for a week or so, still religiously checking stats and tracking comments. No more vague worrying about posting/not posting/commenting on other blogs/not being able to comment. No. This time was going to be different. Close the blog, and just Move On. Perhaps take up a hobby - say, crafts or learning Esperanto for fun and profit. Whatever the outcome, me and blogging were finished. Done. Over. Finito.

Except, what do you think I've done in the interim? Have I, in a momentary fit of altruism, offered my unpaid services to the local Brownie pack as assistant Brown Owl, dreams of fusty tents and hairy string glittering in my mind like precious jewels? Have I begun practising the art of interpretive dance, in order that I may convey the beauty and majesty of the planet to bewildered passers-by in the town centre of a weekend, in a whirling cloud of patchouli, tie-dye and one of those floaty skirts with bits of mirror on them?

No. Fortunately, I have done neither of those things.

Instead, I've checked my stats, tracked comments, worried about not posting, thought of a million things to post and finally, this weekend, realised that I might as well just get on with it. I like writing. I'm not wired up to write fiction - I don't have it in me. So I'm afraid this is just going to sort of dribble on until one of us gets bored with it and, past form considered, it isn't going to be me.

And if you don't like it, you can bloody well suggest a hobby that will occupy me sufficiently to stop me clogging up Blogger's bandwidth on a semi-regular basis. I can't be responsible for everything, you know.

Cue stony silence and tumbleweeds. Bastards.

* This is a complete lie. I can no more be nice to people than I can levitate.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A tribute.

Memories are what life gives us to hang onto when things happen that we can't understand.

Memories. Of getting a new motorbike and loading all seven stone and no fear that was my friend Razz onto the back. Tearing up and down past Hylands Park in the middle of the night, blasting through the fog with her whooping and giggling and screaming "warp factor nine, Mr Sulu!" in my ear as she tried to get me to go faster. Rallies we went to together where we started drinking before we put the tent up, rallies where we played silly games and danced and snogged unsuitable men and laughed and laughed and laughed because we didn't have anything to worry about, not then. Endless nights in the pub, talking about nothing and everything and all the rest in between. A huge crowd of friends who didn't have good jobs, or money, or ambition and really didn't need any of those things because we were young and we cared about each other and all we needed to do was laugh and drink and sing and play and everything else took care of itself. Parties at our house where the Hippy juggled fire in the front garden, and you couldn't get down the stairs because of the queue for the bong. Sitting with her in the basement living room at Johnny Springate's house, smoking pot and shaking yoghurt pots full of lentils along with Fishbone on the stereo because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Wandering into town to spend our giros (a fiver on food, the rest divvied up for a week's beer money) and giggle at the people who were tied down by the nine to five. Celebrating birthdays with pub crawls, spending Christmas at Zanna's and eating so much that nobody could move for an hour afterwards. And the hours and hours and hours we all spent just being friends.

It couldn't last. It never can - life gets in the way. I moved away, got married, found a decent job, had a child...you know the rest. But the people who were my friends then are my friends now, and in my head they are always where I left them, waiting for the next milestone birthday or a wedding to bring us all together. I'm lucky to have such good friends, and to have shared good years with excellent people who loved me as much as I loved them.

Razz died yesterday. She was thirty-eight.

So I'll keep my memories, and I'll share them with my friends at her funeral, and they'll share theirs with me. And we'll cry, but we'll celebrate. We'll drink, and we'll laugh, and we'll sing, and we'll never, ever forget her. Because now, memories are all we have.

Sleep tight, Razz. I miss you.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

End of an era

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come.

I started this blog in April 2005. The Other Half had suggested it as a way of calming my neurotic, over-active brain. I was living with Small Person after leaving the Ex six months previously. I had a lot going on - there were enormous changes in my life that I need to process, and blogging helped. It helped a huge amount. I talked through stuff that bothered me, ranted about all the stupid little things that irritate me on a daily basis. I bared my soul, I talked bollocks and I made some very good friends.

Over the last couple of weeks or so, as I've sat down to write, I've come to realise that there isn't anything I need to say. I've kept on banging out the odd post, but it hasn't flowed like it used to. Whatever was driving me to spill out six hundred frenzied words on what I had for tea, and why do people leave the labels on their shoes, and aren't people annoying...well, it's calmed down. I feel more able to deal with the things life throws at me, and the things that have happened to make me into the unstable fuckup you've been kind enough to listen to for the last year. It's weird, and this lack of headless-chickenness has bothered me, so I've thought about it and I think I've figured it out.

I'm happy.

So there you go. It's been fun, infuriating and heartbreaking in equal measure. Some of the things I've written have made me laugh out loud, some have had me sobbing like a baby. All of them have been an exercise in understanding who and what I am. I don't like some of the things I've learned, and there's a way to go before I can even begin to describe myself as at peace, but I'm getting there.

I'm leaving the blog up, so you all get to keep your links. I want to thank everyone who's dropped by and felt moved to comment. I want to thank the lurkers, the accidental tourists and all the people so obsessed with Gloria Hunniford's hairstyle that they have boosted my daily traffic by ooh, four hits or so. But it's done*. Time to go. Everyone out of the pool.

Carry on.

* I do of course reserve the right to miss blogging and start again in a month's time. Probably.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Things of little interest

It’s that time again.

You know you love them (you also know they are the last resort of the blogger who can’t be arsed to write anything else today), so may I proudly present my latest collection of random searches that have brought hapless surfers to these pointless, slightly depressing pages. Please note: I have not included the numerous searches for “girls fucking” (and variations thereon), mainly because I feel sorry for the overexcited people who eagerly followed my link only to sit, deflating, faced with reams and reams of wittering about David Hasselhoff and why I hate my neighbours.

Anyway. Shall we begin?

Chav toilet Jacuzzi. Mmmm. Here’s hoping you found what you were looking for

Drink recipe booze semen. Mmmm. Here’s hoping that, for your friends’ sakes, you didn’t find what you were looking for

Small floating poo. Why are you googling this? Why?

Anthony Worrell Thompson wanker. File under “things we already knew”

Three storey bungalow. Mutually exclusive, anyone?

I stabbed Barbra Windsor tits. Hello? Police? I’d like to report an elaborate fantasy

Dog Bounty Hunter wears a wig. Sadly, I think it’s his own hair

October 1981 2 found dead in flat London UK murder suicide left there for 3 months. Whoever googled this had better not make the Gary Glitter mistake of taking their PC in for a clean-up….

Listening to your friend do a poo. Um, no thanks..

Cancun nightmare chloroform. Tips for Spring Break, anyone?

Jason Lee balding. But so, so sexy

Poo in the sea. There’s a theme developing here

The Hills Have Eyes breast suckle milk picture. Okaaaaay. Now I am a little unnerved

Vauxhall Chevette black magic. It was the only thing that kept them running

I can only conclude from the above that a) there are quite a lot of very, very odd people out there and b) my blog appears to be an unwitting receptacle of the weird*.

Takes all sorts, doesn’t it?

* Woo! Top band name! Receptacle of the Weird!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Here comes summer. Bollocks to it.

Fat girls hate the summer. Fact.

See, the winter is fine. You get to wear big jumpers, and coats and things that you can hide under. Winter rules. But the summer? Meh. I am surrounded by skinny girls. Skinny girls in shorts. Skinny girls in vest tops. Skinny girls with no bellies or bingo wings, and I hate them. All of them. Every last skinny, lithe, effortless one of them.

I’ve never been what you might call slight. As a child, I learned the art of eating to pass the time during endless hours spent at the pub with my parents. From midday on a Saturday until (sometimes) eleven on a Saturday night, plus Sunday lunchtimes, from the age of around five until I was about twelve and permitted not to go any more, I filled my time with pub lunches, ice creams, crisps, peanuts, cheesy biscuits…anything to relieve the monotony of listening to old men telling dirty jokes and my mother ordering yet another dry martini and lemonade. But this isn’t the place for me to convey the utter, desperate boredom of being sidelined every weekend; suffice to say, I hated it.

So anyway, I was destined never to be skinny. Over the years I’ve gone from a size twelve to an eighteen to a size twelve, up to a fourteen and pretty much everywhere in between. I put on loads of weight last year (fat and happy), so I’ve lost a stone since Christmas, but am now stuck. And the weather keeps getting warmer and the prospect of feeling just ever-so-slightly uncomfortable and holding my stomach in all summer is too much for me to bear. It’s a real dilemma though, as I love eating. I really, really love it. I love lager too, on sunny evenings (and cold ones, and dark ones, and snowy ones and…well, you get my drift). Something’s got to give though, and so last week I swallowed my pride, put on my lightest clothes and joined the Cult of Weight Watchers.

I resent slimming clubs. I resent the enforced jollity, the conceit that we’re all just happy thin people waiting to be set free, the way you have to pretend to be pleased because Brenda-with-the-hips has lost three pounds this week when you know she deliberately put potatoes in her pockets at last week’s weigh-in so that she could go to that barbecue at the weekend and still look like she’d lost weight. It’s all sarcastic applause and simmering resentment, and it doesn’t sit well with me. Regrettably, neither does two extra stone (I was horrified), so I am religiously measuring out pasta and trying not to mind that fruit comes out of my daily points allowance. On the plus side though, every time I go running I accumulate four extra points that can be counted towards what is euphemistically referred to as “socialising”. Since I run three times a week, I get twelve extra points. And what do twelve extra points make? Six pints of Stella! Result!

It’s all so hopeless, isn’t it? Podgy, miserable women* gamely surviving on lettuce and fat-free dressing all week, so that they can put on ever-decreasing** sparkly tops*** and fall out of Chicagos****on a Friday night.

Still. You’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?

* I am one of them.
** A general trend, regardless of actual ongoing weight loss. Or is that just where I live?
*** Not me though. I’m strictly t-shirt and trainers, thank you.
****I would like to say that I have never been to a Chicagos in my life, but that would mean telling a lie. Terrible places. However, when my divorce comes through I plan to purchase an ill-fitting animal print top and maraud around our local one, cruising inappropriately young men. By the looks of it, that’s the law.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Windmills of my mind

Freezer bags. What's that all about?

I was making Small Person's packed lunch for school tomorrow (I caved to the teacher's request that she be allowed to have a packed lunch one day a week - the inference that if she didn't she would be peerless and friendless was too much to bear....), when a thought struck me. It's not freezer bags as such. I understand the concept. That's all fine. It's the little wire closure thingies that they put in every roll of freezer bags. It just sort of got me thinking.

I don't use the little wire closure thingies. I'm not that sort of person. I'm the sort of person who rips a bag of frozen peas open with their teeth, then spends the next five weeks picking frozen peas off the kitchen floor as they spill out of the freezer in torrents owing to the huge, ragged gap in the corner of the bag that I have failed to reseal. So based on this, it's not too surprising that I don't use the little wire closure thingies that come with the freezer bags. I tie a knot in the bag instead. It's just easier. And then when you want to use whatever-it-is, you just rip the bag open and if it's bolognaise sauce, or curry, or a placenta or something (don't ask) you end up with it all over your hands and then the remains of the bag drip all over the floor on the way to the bin. So, it's easier. Um. Anyway, to sum up, I don't use the little wire closure thingies that come with the freezer bags. And I started thinking - does anyone use them? Anyone at all? I don't think they do. But they come with the freezer bags. Regardless of the fact that nobody uses them, and that they just languish in the obligatory Kitchen Drawer of Crap until you move house and throw them away. And the implications are huge.

Somewhere, there's a factory that produces the little wire closure thingies. It has a managing director, who has a secretary. There are floor managers, maintenance staff, people who run the little-wire-closure-thingy machines. There are cleaners, and packers, and drivers, and all sorts of people. All of them turn up for work for forty or so hours a week. All of them get paid. They get paid, and spend their working lives producing an item that nobody uses. Seriously. Sticking your fingers in your ears and going "la la la, my entire career is a fallacy as nobody uses the little wire closure thingies that come with the freezer bags, and if I tell anyone we'll all lose our jobs so the conceit is that we offer a valid service and it'll be fine" on that sort of scale is impressive. And now I feel like blowing the whistle, only I wouldn't know where to start. And if I did, then I would have to live with the fact that I had ruined lives and fractured families and that children would be going to school in the wrong sort of trainers and being bullied for it because their dad got laid off from the little-wire-closure-thingie factory because someone exposed the business as irrelevant and unnecessary, and I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

So I'll probably just leave it. Makes you think* though, doesn't it?

* Just me then. Right.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Reasons why I never get any work done #1376

I have a new obsession.

No, not that. My new obsession is (armchair, currently) Urban Exploration. It started thus:

Near to where the Ex and I lived was a disused hospital. It used to be the County Asylum, and had continued as a psychiatric unit until closing in the early nineties. During the time we lived in the neighbouring town (from 1996-ish), it was empty. There was no perimeter fence, no security and the place was fascinating. We used to go and poke around up there on Sunday afternoons – me, him and a very nervous Labrador. In those days, it was possible to walk right around the buildings – taking in the three-storey wards with their broken windows and flapping curtains, the deserted airing courts, the endless corridors and the massive water tower. We found the old chapel, the staff graveyard (elaborate headstones bearing florid testimony to the deceased), the patient graveyard (rows of anonymous headstones marked only with a hospital number and the date of death), and a number of open windows giving a glimpse into rooms still cluttered with equipment. What we didn’t find was the courage to go inside. On one occasion, the Ex discovered an open door onto the exterior corridor that led into the heart of the main building. He walked up to the junction with the main internal corridor and beckoned me to follow. It was dark in there, and creepy, and I had seen way too many horror films. He didn’t go any further that day. Another visit found the main door to the Admin block ajar. We were with friends on that occasion; one of whom wanted to explore, one who didn’t. The two of us who were reluctant to enter the decaying building were also too spooked to wait outside, so nobody went in that day either. The Ex has never forgiven me.

I’ve never forgotten those silent, eerie afternoons spent wandering round the grounds of an empty asylum. I wish I’d been brave enough to go inside. With this is mind, it’s remained a fascination of mine, and I recently came across some fabulous websites run by people who do exactly that – find an old asylum and poke around in it. One of the best UK sites is urbexuk, run by someone with a real passion for documenting the history and architecture of some of the finest derelict buildings in the country. I’m sure there’s a Boy’s Own element to this practice – the thrill of eluding security, the danger of wandering around somewhere that’s gently falling down around you, the last-house-on-the-left creep factor of finding dark, forgotten rooms, old patient records and strange-looking medical equipment. But looking at some of the photos on this site there’s also a real sense of wanting to document the architecture, the history and memory of these places. And I for one can’t get enough of it.

There are some other excellent UK sites (which I’ll put in the sidebar at some point), but for me, my absolute favourite recent site is American. Opacity is run by a man named Motts, who seems to spend an inordinate amount of time in places he’s not supposed to be. And the results are stunning. My current favourite galleries* relate to Danvers State Hospital, as featured in the (slightly rubbish but compelling) film Session 9. Some of the photos are outstanding, and if you get bored with that there are about another three thousand or so pictures to look at instead.

I’m trying to understand what my interest is in these forays into the forgotten. What it is that captivates me (and a lot of other people, by the looks of it) about damp, empty relics that hold nothing more than decay and memories. I’m too scared (and too sceptical) to be a ghost hunter. I’m not one to revel in the misfortune of those who found themselves incarcerated. Nonetheless, a grim fascination remains. Looking at the photographs on these sites, I can’t help but wonder about the people who lived, worked and died in these places.

I also really, really want to go and have a look round some of them**.

Um. Okay. I seem to have quite a lot to say about this. Still, at least I haven’t discovered a latent fascination for stamp collecting. Or naked pictures of John Prescott. So think yourselves lucky - I know I do.

*For “favourite galleries” read “gave me nightmares most of Monday night”

** Until anyone offers to take me, that is.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cor blimey. Apples and pears. Etc.

It seems like a lovely way to spend half an hour, doesn’t it? The London Eye, I mean.

Well, take it from me: it isn’t. It is arse-clenchingly frightening, in a very sedate way. It’s like one of those dreamy unnerving arty films where on the surface it’s all calm but suddenly you become aware that all the angles are wrong and there are faces in the trees….

Anyway. It became apparent this weekend that I am comprehensively afraid of Transport. I was frightened on the train, on the Tube, on the Millenium Bridge (I know it’s technically not transport but it’s a way of getting from somewhere to somewhere else so it counts), on the Eye. Everywhere, really. I don’t even know specifically what I’m afraid of*, it’s just general fear. I am a wuss. As we rose majestically above the London skyline, small children leaned on the sides of the capsule, people wandered around pointing out landmarks and I sat frozen with fear and gripped the bench with whitened fingers. Look! Said the Other Half. There’s Buckingham Palace! Oh, said I, in a Very Small Voice that I could barely hear above my internal monologue of getmedowngetmedowngetmedowniwantogetOFFNOW. It was fascinating, and an experience and all that, but I really, really hated every single terrifying second of it. In fact, it was the most frightened I’d been since refusing to go in the live bit of the Chamber of Horrors on Saturday afternoon. Wuss.

Sheer terror notwithstanding, the whole weekend was just plain fabulous. We’d planned to go to Camden on Saturday night but since we picked a weekend when pretty much the entire Tube network was closed, it didn’t happen. So we went to Covent Garden instead, and stumbled across the wonderful Boulevard Brasserie on Wellington Street, which is very highly recommended indeed. Really. And then yesterday it was all sunny and we walked from Tower Bridge to the London Eye and back again (we didn’t mean to go all the way back again but it all went a bit wrong and we ended up trying to get on the Central line from Monument (because we are from the country and didn’t know any better) and consequently paid £4.90 to pretty much walk to where we were trying to get to on the tube, via an endless maze of corridors and escalators – what’s that all about?) and it was lovely. Apart from the Budgie Man. Who I was also a little scared of. And last night’s Me First and the Gimme Gimmes show at the Astoria was excellent, and we didn’t get home until 2am, and I had to get up at 6.45am, and so now I am tired, grumpy and tired. It was worth it though.

It’s official. Fancy London rules.

*This is a lie. There are lots of things that I am specifically afraid of, including but not limited to:
Mechanical or structural failure (including bits falling off/breaking/catching fire/crashing. Etc. My mind treats me to endless detailed cutaway shots** like on disaster movies about cable cars (I am deeply afraid of cable cars) where you get to see the cable unravelling a wire at a time even as happy skiers laugh blithely in the face of impending doom in the car below), terrorism, random acts of violence (what if that man stabs me to death for no reason?), sinking boats/ships (I am rubbish on ships and must continually go out on deck to make sure we are not sinking. It is only me checking like this that stops us from sinking***), and, you know, just general worst-case-scenario stuff. Honestly. It’s exhausting.

** I am mental.

*** See?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cry for help

So, say if me and him were off up to Fancy London for the weekend. You know, just suppose.

We've got the hotel booked. We're off to a gig at the Astoria on Sunday night. We have most of Saturday planned, and will be mostly lazing about on Sunday. Where you come in is here:

Where do we go on Saturday night? We don't do trendy wine bars. We don't do dressing up (either for dinner or the Torture Gardens, thank you). We do, however, do pubs, and beer and live music and not spending horrendous amounts of money and we're staying north of the river.

Go on then. Recommend something. I dare you.

*waits for barrage of unsettling suggestions or, worse, three people commenting and suggesting the bar at the Novotel*

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Reasons why I am weird #394

I’ve always wanted to break my leg.

When we were eight, Oona Longridge broke her leg in Greenwich, on a school trip. She went to hospital, we went round the Cutty Sark. When we swung by the local casualty department on the way home, she was resplendent in a toe-to-thigh plaster cast, and sat in state on the back seat of the coach all the way home. For the next six weeks she was the centre of attention. And in a refreshingly good way too – owing to her unfortunate accident (involving seven Boy Scouts and a mechanical horse) she was unable to indulge in her usual school-trip pastime of stealing from the gift shop. Honestly, the girl was a kleptomaniac. She was once chased round the gift shop of Hatfield House by Mrs Lawson after attempting to make off with a box of country fudge and a fridge ornament in the shape of Lady Jane Grey. Oh, and she nicked a tenner off the dinner ladies once and we all had to go into the headmaster’s office one at a time and say in a loud, steady voice “I did not steal the money” and using his amazing-Derren-Brown-powers of mind control he sussed it was her and beat her with a slipper.

But anyway.

Oh yes. Centre of attention. For the duration of her time in plaster, that girl was feted like the heroine in a bad nineteenth century romance – and why? So that we could have a go on her crutches, of course. I can still remember how important it made us feel (well, me anyway) – lurching round the playground like little spastic robots, hacking people’s ankles and periodically falling over. Meanwhile, a succession of small boys and girls attended to her every need, to the extent that I disturbingly have an extremely vivid memory of a teacher demanding that I accompany Oona to the toilet, in order that I might hold her leg up while she had a wee. Seriously. On the school’s Tudor Day (excruciating – our mothers had to make our costumes [I was Catherine of Aragon, resplendent in a green cordouroy curtain with some wire in the bottom hem and a weird wimple thing made out of cardboard and an old velvet blazer, and declaimed my divorce from Henry VIII in rhyming couplets thus: “I had baby Mary/ he wanted a son/so in came the next Queen/and out went One”] and mine made me walk down the high street afterwards still in my dress and I wanted to DIE) she was allowed to lead the procession across the playground and declare the buffet open. Which excited everyone, but nobody more so than Charlie the School Dog who spent a fabulous hour or so stealing sandwiches and pushing his nose into the crotches of various startled parents.

So yes, I’d still quite like to break my leg*. Except I wouldn’t go to work while I was in plaster – I would make the Other Half leave me a picnic every morning and I would lie in bed and watch telly and if people came to visit and were sufficiently nice to me I might let them have a go on my crutches.

Except I probably wouldn’t. I’m selfish like that.

* But only if it didn’t hurt, or make me look stupid while it was happening. I wouldn’t want to get run over, for example, because that would just be embarrassing. Falling off a horse would probably be alright. Is it possible to get on a horse after an epidural (for the pain)? Probably not. I’d need some help of some sort, which would be undignified. Maybe skydiving then. Or rescuing a drowning puppy. Ooh, that would be alright, because then I would be a hero into the bargain. I’m not sure how you break your leg while rescuing a puppy from the river though. Maybe it would involve slipping over on the riverbank, and now we’re back to undignified. I know! I know! I could dive into the river to rescue the puppy and break my leg (bravely, and in quite a sexy way) on a submerged shopping trolley and Robbie Williams would dive in and rescue me and I’d be a size eight and have a clingy wet t-shirt on and then when I got out of hospital (looking pale but still bravely beautiful) he would whisper urgently in my ear how he had to have me now….

….and in an ideal world I’d get to keep the puppy and everything. Result!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Danger! Ethical minefield ahead! Again.

Sometimes things happen that make me feel weird about myself.

If you’ve been paying any sort of attention, you’ll know (from the forty-three references that I’ve made to it) that we’ve recently moved house. Our house is beautiful. We love our house. We’ve even sort of got used to the thumpy neighbours, in that we only spend two or three evenings a week idly discussing our favourite ways to bump them off without getting caught/damaging their property (and ours, via the party wall) in the process. We have a small but perfectly adequate garden. The location is good, on a sunny plot, in a nice area. So, you’d think I could just be grateful with what I have. Well. You’d think that, but this is me, after all. Miserable, ungrateful me. And, it seems, unbearably middle-class me.

What we don’t love about our house is the time it takes to clean it*.

You know what? Before I even write any further, let me just make it clear that I know exactly how that makes me sound. It makes me sound petulant, spoiled and the sort of person who would quite happily sit eating expensive chocolates while an exploited eastern European skivvies on my behalf, thus freeing up more time for me to have my nails painted and bitch about whatever friends I’m not currently sitting around bitching with. Well, I’m not that person at all.

What I am (for “I am” read “we are”) is Busy. I work full-time. So does the Other Half. This means getting up at six thirty every weekday morning to get Small Person to school/Breakfast Club, and arriving home at around six every night after picking her up from the childminder. The exceptions to this are Wednesday night (when I have to bring her home, give her a bath because she spends the following three nights with her father and he appears to have forgotten where the bathroom is in his house, and take her over to his parents’ house because although he protests that he “doesn’t see enough” of Small Person, he routinely goes out every Wednesday and she sleeps there), Thursday (grocery shopping) and Friday (by which time we feel we’ve earned an early curry and a few drinks). In between all this, Other Half has two evening football sessions, and Small Person has spellings, general homework and an additional project to work on, all of which require parental supervision. There is laundry to do, dinner to cook, dishwasher to load/empty, more laundry and do you know what? This whole paragraph just makes me sound even worse, doesn’t it? Whine, whine, whine.

The bottom line (and the bit I struggle with) is this. We feel that we work hard enough during the week. We have a fairly large house. It has two-and-a-half bathrooms, three and a half bedrooms , grillions of stairs and a lot of stainless steel things in the kitchen**. We both resent spending so much time at the weekend, when Small Person is away, doing nothing but cleaning. We know that we are lucky to have time to ourselves – please bear in mind, however, that my feelings of good fortune are tempered by the fact that I have to spend one day of the weekend, albeit with the man I love, bereft of the company of my precious Small Person. Being up to my elbow in any one of our three toilets just tends to make me feel worse***.

So we’ve employed a cleaner. Well, two cleaners actually (but that wasn’t our idea, honest). To do what we are perfectly capable of doing ourselves.

I am trying to understand why this makes me feel guilty. We are using a reputable agency which is as committed to safeguarding the rights and reputations of their staff as it is to promising us a reliable, honest service. We can (just about) afford to pay a rate that ensures that whoever comes to clean our house is doing so for a fair wage. We work hard, and are fully entitled to utilise a service that lets us maximise the time we do have spare. I thought I would be worried about a stranger being in my house and rifling through my knicker drawer/eating all the hobnobs/hooting with derision at all the Jackie Collins books in the study. Instead, I’m more worried about what people will think of me, and am doomed to become the sort of person who cleans the house because the cleaner’s coming tomorrow.

Stupid conscience.

* Disclaimer: I will not be entering into any sort of actual moral discussion regarding the ethical rights and wrongs of employing someone to undertake a task that I am capable of completing myself. I am not making any assumptions/offering any generalisations regarding the potential gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or lifestyle choice of any prospective person who may or may not undertake to clean my private residence. Seriously, if you want to get into all that, please go somewhere else and do it – this is not your platform. I’m just thinking out loud on this blog, not seeking approbation/condemnation from anyone who feels moved to comment. Hell, nobody’s saying you can’t agree or disagree with me, and I’ll defend your right to do so. But I’m shallow, you see, and lazy, and at this stage I’m more worried about whether a cleaner will tell his/her friends that my towels are shabby and mismatched, and whether I am indeed turning into my mother. See? Shallow.

** Yes, it has a living room as well. I just became aware that I was just listing rooms. And now I’m making it worse. Bugger.

*** See?! See how I attempted to justify myself there by making out that cleaning toilets makes me feel worse about not seeing my daughter/ruining her life****? Talk about your avoidance of responsibility.

**** Can anyone recommend some sort of therapy to help me just, I don’t know, get over all this already? Even I’m bored now.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Blogging. What's it all about then?

I can hear my reader sighing in despair at the thought of yet another existential waffle from me on why we all do it, and blah blah blah. Well, don't worry. You're not getting one of those.

It's just the whole taking-over-your-life thing, isn't it? Stupid webmarshal won't let me see any comments or profiles from work. So I can't leave ill-thought-out, insensitive remarks on blogs during the day. I can't even look at profiles to see what variety of nutter I'm attracting these days. I have to try and fit it all in of an evening, or at weekends, and it's bloody hard work. So, why don't I just, um, not, or something? Well, because I like it. And you can't make me stop, just like you can't stop me moaning about it. So shut up.

In other news, it's Bank Holiday Monday. It's pissed down for most of the day. I spent most of yesterday sitting on damp grass (but it was totally worth it - a local free music in the park event offered the first sitting-around-drinking-beer-talking-bollocks opportunity of the season, and very welcome it was too), and am worn out after going out an unprecedented five times in the last week (Wednesday, gig. Not drinking. Thursday, night out with best friend, celebrating unforeseen woo! moment in her life. Drinking. Lots. Friday, birthday celebration for colleague. Drinking. Saturday, hen night. Drinking, pussycat costumes, major taxi-related confusion. Sunday, music in the park. Beer, bands and a doughnut stall). I am tired, and it is only Monday. So, what do I choose to do? Blog about how annoying blogging is, then follow it up with nothing to say. Oh, and I'm having a glass or three of wine. Just by way of a change.


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