Sunday, 13 September 2009

This can't be good...

Something appears to have gone terribly wrong. I am suffering a bout of the usual Man Flu that goes round at this time of year; for those who, like my poor indignant boyfriend, have never heard the phrase, it means I have a cold. And that, were I a man, I would be calling it the flu while making plaintive noises about the strong possibility of my imminent death.

And this Man Flu has led to the frighteningly boring culmination of several illness-induced things:

1. Fever dreams - they're meant to be vivid and exciting and leave you wondering what the hell is going on, yes? Not mine. Apparently the fact I seem to have miraculously avoided Spider Fortnight this year is concerning my subconscious. So I dreamed I was looking for spiders. Except there weren't any spiders. So, essentially, I spent the whole night dreaming about carpet. Carpet! It's no great wonder that I eventually got up just to escape the sheer, crushing boredom.

2. Derren Brown - something about his Lottery prediction has really piqued my interest, so I must confess to having spent several of my waking hours reading all the commentary on the Guardian blog (best comment of the lot, posted while the reveal show was running: "This is a load of flannel"). Most of the comments, as they tend to do in these situations, said pretty much the same thing. So, having bored myself silly during my sleep, I continued the process by reading the same thing 600 times.

(For the record, I totally guessed how it was actually done while the show was still going on. The split camera bit, not the stupid Wisdom of Crowds bit. And I'm also pretty sure that the stupid explanations are all part of a bigger reveal that will come later. Sorry Rest of the World, this probably won't make sense outside of England...)

3. I have now tried to watch the first episode of Warehouse 13 four times. Each time, I have either been interrupted or lost my satellite signal for no apparent reason. And it's always during the same part, so I'm becoming awfully, boringly familiar with a very specific portion of it.

4. I realised things were reaching epic dull proportions when I felt genuine excitement at how neatly I'd torn the wrapping from a toilet roll.

Please won't somebody save me? Please?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A prison made of self

For a very long time I've felt lonely and useless. It goes back, annoyingly, to the job I was working in at the beginning of the year - though, for the record, not to the insults from my "superior" that my career, education and life in general were useless and laughable.

I would like to blame it on that whole experience, but it wouldn't be the truth: I went quiet not only because I was working 11-hour days while pushing 3 or 4 more in the attempt to pull myself out and couldn't keep up, but because I couldn't pretend I was ok. And so I ceased to find any pleasure in texting, calling, blogging, logging into SL, Plurk - all of it. And so began the decline.

For some reason, I feel the need to reassure everyone I love that I'm fine. I feel the need to not burden them with my useless crap, though my biggest fault is wondering why they don't already know, while at the same time being aware they cannot know if I don't tell them. So I disappear to lick my wounds, and wallow, and then have no idea how to come back, and every attempt I make falls flat precisely because I'm holding back.

I know so many amazing people, and so many I love and admire, and at some point I stopped knowing how to let them know how much I care. But, if you're reading this and wondering whether it's you I mean: yes it is. And I miss you all, more than I can express.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Transatlantic Dashing

In case there are any burglars reading: my flat will be vacant and welcoming for the next fortnight, do feel free to make yourself a nice cup of tea while you're at it and the key is under the mat.

(It's not.)

It's that time again, you see: time for a transatlantic booty call, to the arms of my darling boyfriend; it's been far too long since I was close enough for snuggly affection. He was in London in May, but since then the distance has been back between us. It's hard, yes, but by God those kisses are worth it.

So, in the interests of making it back into his arms, I shall be boarding a 13-hour flight tomorrow and inflicting myself upon him - and his whole family - in Wyoming.

My hair is trimmed and shiny, my teeth are cleaned and also shiny, I am waxed and smooth (but not shiny). I have completed the Refusal To Be Bored On A Plane Campaign and therefore have hand luggage filled with laptop, DVD player, PSP, iPhone and an entire Arthur C. Clarke trilogy. None of which, of course, I will be in the mood to do should I have chosen one of those planes that just plays soap re-runs on TV screens that are in the aisle, several metres ahead and to the side.

And I have finally finished the packing - although my process was a little questionable and culminated in so many things strewn around my flat I might equally have called it "unpacking" - and am now doing all the odds and sods that need doing before one exits the premises for two weeks. Someone please remind me I haven't watered the plants.

One more sleep and it's airport kisses time!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Things I Learned Tonight

1. GI Joe is not a good movie. It's got a pleasing number of bangs and whistles, but a script written by a halfwit.

2. Burnt Sienna Miller (thank you Tim) has a club foot. Unless that's her "sexy walk".

3. Channing Tatum reacts to danger by looking like he's about to burst into tears. He's also as close to cross-eyed as dammit. And he looks like a potato. An emo potato.

4. Taglines are difficult to write. "When everyone else gives up... they don't." Really? 'Don't'? Is that honestly the only verb that sprang to mind? What about 'save the day', 'prevail', 'kick things while shouting a lot'? Just 'don't'? Isn't that a bit like a dog worrying a sheep?

5. Richmond Odeon has appalling sound quality. In addition, its staff are apt to scarper before you exit the movie, denying you whinging rights.

6. Blowing up Paris is fun under any circumstances.

7. The credits boasted that the movie had a Mold Department. You need a whole team of people to leave a mug under the sofa these days?

8. Lord n'Lady GaGa has a pee-pee. Which I did not find out from the movie, incidentally. An evening with Tim is nothing if not educational. I still love her though, my life would not be the same without Poker Face.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Insect Asylum

We are not amused. Somehow my flat, through no fault of its own, has become a haven for bugs of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. A safe place to buzz and flap, without risk of discrimination.

Why me??

It started with a wasp and ends with a wasp. Wasp the former apparently sat on my head for the better part of a day (as the only time I ventured into the stickily hot outdoors was during the afternoon), only to be discovered at bedtime, when I ran my hand over my hair and was rewarded with an annoyed "BZZZZ -.-". I think I woke him up.

This time last year we had a slug problem in the garden - the little buggers kept coming up and over my window and then questing across the kitchen floor. Nothing there of interest, guys, turn back. That was pretty revolting, but I can't decide if it was better or worse than the insect asylum.

A couple of days ago, I walked into my flat to see a spider sitting on my anti-spider electrical device. The one that is supposed to emit a high pitched squealing that insects are unable to tolerate. The cheek of it! As Laura put it, it was much like a stubborn child saying: "Yeah, I really like this noise ANYWAY!! It's my favourite (nottalking)."

There was also an incident with a mosquito biting me in a place I would prefer not to have been visited by an insect, let alone bitten. That is all I shall say about that.

And last night, as I slumbered safe and warm in my bed, dreaming, no doubt, of cookies and cream, I rolled over onto a wasp that had decided to join me and got stung on the ankle.

That's it, I declare war.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Reboot: The Pre-credits Bit

Not very long ago, Sparky Tim informed me, as he ferried me home from the cinema, that I've stopped blogging. I had, of course, already noticed that I've stopped blogging, but I still had no excuse. Bearing in mind I've left it so long since my last post that I'm coughing up cobwebs with every keystroke, how can I possibly get going again without writing a hundred catch-up posts? It's been an interesting year, after all.

"So reboot it," he said, in a not uncommon moment of sense. "It worked for Star Trek."

Mind you, he then shared his intention to go and twist his body into funny shapes in a room with the temperature cranked up to 100 (something to do with Yoga), so not everything that comes out of his mouth is a pearl of wisdom.

So this post, if you like, is the bit before the credits, before I go storming off into another chapter. The bit where I catch you up on what's been going on, so that I'm making at least some sense when I get on with the wittering. This, I think, will go best on a month-by-month basis, beginning just after I left off...

Typical, had to start on a big one, didn't I? At the beginning of that month, I turned 30, an occasion I celebrated with a significant amount of booze (and munch) and the company of my favourite people in Oxygen, my favourite bar. I avoided the mid-life crisis, but not the hangover. Funniest moment of the night? Trying to put my pyjama top on inside out, upside down and twisted half back to front, as Laura tutted at me and said, "That's literally how an idiot tries to get dressed".

Later that month, W*P*D and I invaded America - now there's one I wish I'd blogged properly at the time. We started in NYC, moved on to Vegas and then drove down to LA; I came back with an extra suitcase (mostly full of clothes), a profound appreciation of the continent (especially its food and people), a mistrust of Yank cocktails and a boyfriend.

Yes, that's right folks - for anyone who hasn't been following my indiscretions on Perplexed and the City, I did indeed go to America and fall in love. And if you haven't already been bored silly by it, you can find out more here and here about how virtual life became real life with just one gaze across an airport.


Most of this month was spent in corporate hell, working very long hours for a shockingly unpleasant company. Low pay, low quality and, worst of all, an appalling attitude towards contributers, which meant I was repeatedly ordered to wriggle out of paying them. Screwing people over for their hard work? Not my ambition in life, really. Especially not for a boss I suspect was a little wrong in the head (that being the part of her doing all the shrieking).


I escaped hell in April, bravely jacking in that terrible job despite the money munch. Since then, Mewsic, Ghost and I have been working on machinima, making pretty videos as Sound'r - so much more fun.

Canimal also came to stay for a week, during which we went to see Spike from Buffy play live. Oh yes.

The aforementioned boyfriend came to visit for a blissful couple of weeks, another topic covered in depth here. It might not be easy falling for a man who lives thousands of miles away, but when you do get to spend time together, and you decide that this might well be the one you'd like to spend all your time with, it can be safely chalked up as the highlight of the year (if not most years). Pleasingly, my friends are equally keen on him: he and Best Mate's fiance made firm friends, while Best Mate has become a one-woman cheerleading squad for the Marry Them Off campaign. We spent a fabulous evening making art with W*P*D, and another drinking cocktails and making merry with Laura, Willis, Johan and Danni. Good times!


Aside from moping about missing my man, this was a fairly quiet month spent on Sound'r things.


Best Mate got married! The month began with her hen party, which went from posh afternoon tea in a swanky hotel to cider and black in my favourite rock pub, The Intrepid Fox. The night before which I had spent drinking vodka with Willis, and the day after which I spent watching Wimbledon with Pignut. Brilliant.

The wedding itself was beautiful, and perfect, just as it should have been - because those two are a perfect couple and belong together, so there were nothing but smiles from everyone there. Including from me (I may or may not have expressed my pleased-ness many times to anyone who was listening and several who weren't). She looked stunning, and our bridesmaids' dresses were purty, and I got a beautiful necklace as a gift for wafting about in it, too. Also brilliant.

And W*P*D had her first gallery opening, too! Another incredibly well-deserved moment for her huge amount of bravery and whole heap of talent - plus one of the paintings that went up was part of the series we helped her prepare for in May, and features little old me. Still brilliant.

So there you have it: a swift overview of the year so far, and now normal service can and probably will resume. Good idea, this reboot thing, innit?

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Numpty Strikes Out Again

Not that I wish to start the year on a negative note - and aware, also, that I'm running a little late with the resolutions part of the new year - but my ambition for 2009 was, I'm afraid, born of A Bit Of An Emo.

Looking back at last year's resolutions, I don't think I've done too badly, money aside, and I was doing pretty well with that until the credit crunched - or, as Ian put it, the arrival of the money munch.

I did escape England and in six weeks I'll be doing so again on my Yankland extravaganza with W*P*D - I might be a year late, but I'm going to Las Vegas to see Vici after all. I did learn new skills, I did read better (I'm even a regular reader of The Spectator these days) and I did, in general terms, Be Better, although not in the specific ways I had planned. Tim is going to need to buy those bigger robes and grow his beard, as his position as Entertainment Guru (barring the unpleasant experience of watching The Spirit) was fully secured. And I carried through one particular resolution that changed everything else along with it - I never spoke of it here, and still won't, but most of you know what I'm on about. And if not, feel free to ask.

And, best of all, I discovered just how talented and amazing all my friends are, and got to spend a considerable amount of time investigating said marvellousness and then boasting that I know them. That wasn't on the list, but I count it as an achievement.

But then there's the downside: I'm not a lot closer to finishing the dusty book that's plagued me for so long. I wrote some, promptly hated it (as is my wont) and set it aside for a while, telling myself it would come when it was ready - then changed that thought to: "Well maybe it's not the one I should start with, it's a bit ambitious what with all the research and trying to talk like an Egyptian". That's talk, not walk.

So I started a new one, stunning myself one evening with a cracking idea that not only fed into all my geeky loves in life - angels, fantasy and so on - but would also let me write in the style I'm comfortable with. Perfect, I thought, and sat down to write the first page.

It was met with varying reactions. W*P*D declared it hilarious and immediately offered to illustrate every chapter (if you've seen any of her paintings, you'll know just how hoppingly exciting that is) and Tim and Ghost liked the idea and are considering donating chapters of their own.

But then I sent it to MummyC, who said only that it was overwritten and awkward. I rewrote it, she liked it better, but both Ghost and I think it's completely lost its soul.

Which triggered a realisation. When it comes to writing, I'm perfectly happy wittering away on this blog - and on Perplexed and the City - and I've never had any qualms when it comes to tapping the keyboard at work. I think the number of magazine articles I've seen published now tops the 100 mark - I have a portfolio of them up here, if you're particularly lacking for things to do, but please bear in mind they weren't written for the intellectual portion of society. It's not an achievement I ought to dismiss, but somehow I do.

The second I open the files for either of my books, I immediately want to slit my wrists - I can't relax into it, so it comes out self-consciously. I go back to them frustrated, read them over, hate what I've written with every fibre of my being and throw a small tantrum that ends with a sworn oath to NEVER BLOODY BOTHER AGAIN.

I've wanted to write fiction since I was a child. I vaguely recall mentioning this before - I can't be bothered to check - but I first had a go at writing a book when I was about 13. It went marvellously: it was based on the wonderfully cheesy Point Horror series and managed to include virtually every possible means of killing off your characters within 100 pages. I had classmates sat next to my desk waiting for me to finish the next page and then passing it round - mind you, I cunningly named characters after some of them in an early demonstration of marketing prowess. A fair number of other attempts followed as the years went by, but not one of them is finished, and I eventually lost the will to try.

It wasn't until I met Ghost that I realised just how well I'd walled off that part of me with bricks made of stupid excuses. Watching his constant creativity, going starry-eyed over everything he creates, tapping into his ever-artistic brain (it was he who inspired the newest of my never-to-be-a-books), passing many a happy hour talking of plots and characters and ideas - it woke back up the hunger, and with it the fear.

Because the truth is, I'm just scared to fail.

Then what would I dream of?

And that long-winded explanation brings me to this year's belated resolution: I will write The Guardians (the new one), without flailing back and forth to find reasons not to and without sneaky avoidance tactics. And what's more, I'll write it without coming back the next day and whining that I don't like what I've written, oh yes I will.

Because if I don't, W*P*D is going to be stuck with an empty wall where the paintings ought to be and I'll still be irritating everyone by complaining I can't do it without finding out whether I can when I'm old, grey and can't see the keyboard.

p.s. I just realised I wrote this post instead of getting on with the book. Oh the irony.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Candy Kissed

Just a little Christmas wish for everyone I love and care about, wishing you lots of candy, mulled wine and presents under the tree - and, of course, all manner of Christmas kisses.

Thank you all for a fantastic year - the best I've had in a very long time. Excellent friends, wonderful company, good times, plenty of laughs - it's been emotional. I love you all, in a very understated British way.


Thursday, 11 December 2008

Slutting about

Just thought I'd share with you the lovely new blog that I shall be contributing to...

Along with Anonymous Friend, I shall be slutting about for your entertainment. Aren't we good to you?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Italian Dreams - Part 1

DaddyC being a photographer, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that he booted me off the cruise ship each morning, blinking pitifully in the unfamiliar light of dawn, with instructions to venture forth into the Italian cities and take as many photos as possible. I obeyed, of course, because that is what one does in the face of parental instruction, and thus earned a reputation as tour group liability, generally to be found trotting along at least 50 yards behind everyone else, relying on my brother's impressive height to help us see over buildings and find them again.

So far, I have only processed and uploaded photos from the first two days of our cruise and, in doing so, have filled up a Flickr account. Apparently you can only have 200 pictures unless you want to pay out to go pro (which I don't), so I shall think laterally and make a second account for the rest.

You'll notice I'm skipping over the fact that I took 200 photos in two days. Before anyone panics and pastes on the fixed smile, this is the bulk of them - DaddyC ventured off the boat with us for the latter part of the week, so I handed over documenting duties to him.

I actually joined the cruise on the second day, having thrown a hissy fit at the idea of missing out on Eddie Izzard and a night out with Laura and W*P*D (which actually included Danni, too, as a welcome surprise). I bought a tshirt that says "Cake or Death?"; people will think I've gone a bit peculiar, but who am I to argue?

As an aside, because I'm sure at least some of you were wondering, here are the evening's official Laura Leandros Memorable Quotes:

  • Are there small people hanging off my face?
  • Am I the skanky goo pigeon?
  • I can't imagine leaving the house as a willy in the morning
  • I was generally dribbling about the area.

I think we finally clambered into bed, full of cheesy curly fries and chicken wontons, at about 4am, congratulating ourselves on avoiding a hangover by eating most of Tescos. The car turned up to take me to Luton airport at 9am and found a scraggly, hungover mess shivering in the snow. So that worked well, then.

All was well once I landed in Nice, of course, because as anyone who has been on a cruise ship knows, at least three quarters of the onboard space is taken up by Things To Eat. MummyC and BrotherC took me on a whistlestop tour of the ship and then it was time for the first of many, many meals. A three course one, in the posh dining room.

Shortly followed by a slice of pizza along the shopping arcade and a little visit to the 'informal' dining room upstairs, which was basically an enormous room filled with troughs of deliciousness. Even if you limit yourself to a demure spoonful of each dish that catches your eye, you still end up with an edible mountain. I do so miss that dining room.

On Day 1, my brother and I joined the organised tour to Florence and Pisa. We were the only English people, because the ship is American, so we were treated to the inevitable conversations about how politely we eat, how strangely we spell everything and how bravely we put up with all that drizzle. I think we were something of a novelty.

Follow the photos on the Flickr backwards, if you so wish, to see where the tour took us - as far as I can tell, we covered almost every landmark. Our tour guide was most impressive at herding us about the place. I need - and want - to go back and spend a little more time there, because it's impossible to take it all in at that speed, but it was a perfect introduction.

Day 2 was Rome, and quite possibly counts among the top 10 days of my life. I came back full of dreams of moving over there for a while, perhaps signing up as a tour guide and treating tourists to my uncanny ability to get myself completely lost.

I would love to do it, it's the most beautiful city I've set foot in, full of history and culture and beauty literally everwhere you look, not to mention the ridiculously attractive people. I hardly knew whether to gaze at the ancient monuments or ogle the tour guide.

This tour was as packed as the first , taking in Trevi Fountain, the Imperial Forums, the Coloseum and Vatican City, and there's plenty more I'm itching to see - so W*P*D and I have hatched a plan to go back for a long weekend and rent a villa on the outskirts, to give us time to have a more leisurely explore of the city. I'm pining to be there again.

Of course, both days were finished off with some quality MummyC time, moving from food outlet to food outlet at our leisure. These cruise ships also have their own theatre, big enough to seat 1000, so we took a slice of cake and some popcorn and settled in for a magic show on the first night and an ice show on the second.

Do feel free to browse my many, many photos if you're particularly bored at work. There's a little gadget on the sidebar that will take you right to them, or click here. Part 2 coming up when I've regained my sight from processing the first batch...