Sunday, 30 December 2007

The Right Kind of Soft

One of my personal quirks, being a lunatic by nature as well as nurture, is that I am slightly obsessive about soft things. Not just any old soft things, however. They must be The Right Kind of Soft: so smooth and fluffy under the fingers that one might be stroking a cloud.

It can all be traced back, I suspect, to the fact that when I was a Small Sarah, many moons ago, I sucked my thumb while grasping Hankie, one of my dad's old handkerchiefs that I rubbed between my fingers until it was as soft as soft can be. Slowly but surely, of course, I would whittle away the fabric until all that was left was a sad little scrap.

My poor parents dreaded the day when they could no longer put off Hankie Substitution, because they faced histrionics and heart-wrending grief until my busy little fingers were able to create a suitably soft area on The Imposter.

I did thumb-sucking obsessively, too, finally allowing my nearest and dearest to coax me out of the habit at about the age of 13, when my teeth had bored such a nightly hole in the top of my thumb that I sported a permanent tooth-wound almost reaching the bone.

Interestingly, I was a smoker within about a year. Oral personality, perhaps?

The upshot of this sweet little story is that my very favourite present this year was not the hugely expensive camera or the drool-inducing Battlestar Galactica box set. It's a 3-inch tall wolf finger puppet with irresistible fur.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Thoughts from a Train

I'm back home from my lovely, cosy Christmas with the parents, having dragged two suitcases and a large bag across the country despite the ill will of every other passenger on the train (Christmas spirit doesn't take long to dissolve, it would seem).

I had the cunning idea to pack a second suitcase inside the one I was taking with me, thus giving myself double the carrying power on the return trip. However, as usual I underestimated the sheer volume: the Christmas day haul and the results of three consecutive days out in the sales (they started on Boxing Day this year - did you know that the Lakeside House of Fraser took £1000 a minute during the first hour?). I had to add another giant carrier bag to the already precarious equation.

None of this was helped by the train guard announcing I would have to be 4 carriages up if I wanted to clamber off at Clapham, which apparently has a stunted platform - getting everything I was carrying down those thin aisles was an act of sheer will.

And even now there's a huge box of stuff back at home in Bournemouth that I just couldn't manage.

My Christmas pile filled three boxes, not least because my stocking has slowly become a sack over the years and every item on my Christmas list was huge. Highlights of the treasure pile include Battlestar Galactica season 3, a chocolate fountain, a George Foreman grill in pink (how girly is that!), three Jeremy Clarkson books, plenty of jewellery, bathroom scales, a stepper, a posh meetings folder and a number of Neal's Yard gift sets. And, of course, my main present: a swanky professional camera.

My sale items were no less numerous:

1) 2 pairs shoes
2) 2 pairs trousers
3) 5 skirts
4) 1 dress
5) 1 handbag
6) 8 tops
7) 2 necklaces
8) 1 pair earrings
9) 1 handbag
10) 3 DVDs (Bettie Page, Shaun of the Dead and Miami Vice)
11) 1 DVD box set (the complete works of Eddie Izzard for £12 - I almost fainted)
12) 1 calendar (of the movie 300 - what could be better than all those nekked tummies advertising the year?)

As you can see, Mum and I are frighteningly efficient in the sales - not a single item on that list was frivolous or won't be used.

Here, for example, are my beautiful shoes.

Anyway, I must toddle off to start the unpacking marathon, as I stupidly decided that I was not allowed to put anything away without throwing out old stuff to make way for it. I hate my brain.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Sale!

Monday, 24 December 2007

CLUNK

So here I am at home for Yuletide, well fed but bereft of digital companionship - my poor computer, I whine about it so very much but at times like this, one realises how lucky one is.

I'm typing on my mother's laptop, which has a screen the size of a postage stamp, has never in its existence been used for anything more exciting than checking the prices of QVC bargains and has keys that make the following sound when typing:

CLUNK...CLUNK....MOTHER OF A CLUNK...CLUNK...space bar....CLUNK

The heady pace of technology is a beautiful thing. I'm jus' sayin'.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Merry Christmas (plus a Sabotage Story)

I wanted to leave you, as I swan off to the heady heights of Bournemouth for some familial mindlessness, with a sophisticated Christmas blessing.

I wanted to send a thing of tasteful beauty and make you smile in anticipation of all the Yuletide happiness ahead, rejoicing in the luxury and togetherness of the week to come.

Unfortunately, Laura got home as I was taking the picture and excitedly tried to join in, without my knowledge or permission. She, like, totally lowered the tone. Tut.

Bollocks to it, next year I'll just send you all some socks.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Extreme Posting

This is a Public Service Announcement for everyone in Britain: December 20 is the last day to post your 1st class packages. I repeat, today is the last day for post.

If, like Laura and I, you like to live life on the edge and add a little danger to your gift-giving, you will doubtless have left the cards and packages on the hall table until this, the very last minute, while you warm up for the challenge of Extreme Postage, accompanied by a Rocky-style training montage.

(I'm not sure what would be involved in one of those, maybe speed envelope licking and postbox lunges.)

The photograph above is an actual scene from this year's Extreme Postage qualifying rounds, taken by super-photographer Laura. Heed the warning, people: to truly excel, you will need appropriate gear and the right attitude. Half-hearted attempts will not cut it on the Last Day of the Post: you will need to push it right to the last second, to cross the finishing line just as the Royal Mail van pulls up. You will need to overcome terrifying obstacles and look fear right in the eye. You will need nerves of steel and balls of iron.

Is this you? Are you among the masses who engage in this yearly sport?

Good luck, my friends, may the Parcel Force be with you.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Tat: A Tribute


With Christmas coming, it's been a joy to experience the generosity and kind-heartedness of Second Life's designers, who have been leaving gifts under Christmas trees, carefully designing exciting treasure hunts and dreaming up special freebies for their fans.

All of which feeds nicely into my compulsion to test the limits of my inventory.

I have ceased to be able to control myself. The second a freebie is announced, I'm off. I call it my Tat Collection: things I do not need, things I will not be able to wear after Christmas Day, even a couple of things I already had. I run for them, with fear in my heart that I will be too late.

Mixed in with the ice skating outfits, the snow globes and the lemming guns, you see, are some fantastic items - gold bangles I actually went shopping for an outfit to pair with, trousers that seem to match every top I've ever bought, skins I didn't realise would even suit me. Who knows what the next freebie announcement will bring!

I'm beginning to love my tat. I don't want to take my reindeer hat off and I'm wondering if I can make ice skates a personal gimmick.

If you thought my inventory looked a bit daunting before, you ought to see it now. I'm not even bothering to unpack any more because the second I start, there's another announcement.

So yeah. Merry Christmas. Give me stuff.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Clunky web-swinging

I've just returned from watching Spiderman 3 with Best Mate and Anton on an overhead projector thinger he brought home from work - marvellous contraption, it made the image huge (probably about the same size as the Richmond Odeon screen - which isn't really saying much mind you) and the sound is extra loud and comes from behind you, which feels like a proper cinema experience. None of this surround sound nonsense.

Loved the movie, a fittingly excitable end to the trilogy. Nothing like a bit of clang and bang of a Sunday afternoon and now I'm in a post-movie glow of serene happiness.

Favourite moments: when Peter Parker drove across the screen on his small, crap scooter and Anton commented that it sounded as if it was powered by an army of very small wookies. And the typo that Best Mate made when sending me an IM in which she announced she'd finished lunch and was ready to watch Spidernan (that would be me, were I a superhero. Actually maybe not, I couldn't be a spider, I'd frighten myself stupid).

There was one annoying clunky bit near the end: I won't give too much away in case you haven't seen it yet, but basically a random peripheral character who has literally two lines in the whole movie appears from nowhere to reveal something to a main character it was clearly implied he had just realised for himself - and it would have been a better message had he been allowed to do so. It was so obviously added on after a test audience full of thickies didn't understand what was happening that I'm almost convinced Sam Raimi made it clunky on purpose.

It's all got me to thinking that I'd quite like to have a go at graphic novels. I'm not sure where to start, but I think I know exactly who to ask...

P.S. Laura has asked me to somehow include the word 'pants' in this post, so there it is to please her.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Smuggery


Finally pinned New Boss, who has been dithering to extraordinary levels over the last couple of weeks, down long enough to ask him about the results of the Open Your Mind town test.

Apparently they're rechecking the test figures because the retention level (i.e. how many people came back to buy Issue 2, for those not at all interested in dull publishing jargon) was so astonishingly high they can't quite believe it.

I R PROUD.

And I no longer mind the fact I had to go ALL the way into the centre of London, which is full of rude people and frost.

And now I have lots of lovely work to do over the next week, which will keep me out of mischief and amused. Hurrah for Faffing Boss, as he shall hereby be known.

P.S. The shop down the road makes astonishingly good breakfast baguettes. Best Mate and I had one for breakfast and I'm pining miserably for another.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

A Wheel-based Fantasy

Oh the joy, the pure and unsullied joy. For those who labour under the impression that virtual worlds have nothing to offer, let me present to you a happy little exercise in wish fulfilment...

Step 1: I develop a wanton obsession with Top Gear and spend a growing proportion of my waking hours wishing Richard Hammond was my lovebunny and Jeremy Clarkson lived under my stairs.

Step 2: I articulate this wish to others, often and loudly. Dearest Laura, being a sensitive soul, picks up on my subtle vibes and begins to plan a Willow Wonderland.

Step 3: Summoning me to our little virtual abode, Laura attracts my attention with the following casual notice:


Step 4: Naturally I decide to check. And lo! A shrine to the wondrousness, covered in large, prettily framed pictures with a chair in the centre so that I can settle into my daydream. Is my roomie the bollocks or what??


When, in real life, the main light bulb has blown, the door handle is hanging by a thread (both of which were, incidentally, today's traumas) and all hope of a new hoover has gone, I will know that my own personal paradise awaits me on Second Life, smiling down in BBC-authorised glory while Laura watches the telly in the next room. Bliss.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Heaven help us all

I just saw on Friday Night with Jonathon Ross that the Scots have spent £125,000 on a new advertising campaign to attract tourists to the country. Something to welcome visitors to the vibrant, modern Scotland and make it a visit they will never forget.

They came up with:

Welcome to Scotland

Words fail me.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Cartoon Bollocks in the Black Hole of Calcutta

Today was a mixture of very very good and very very bad. This morning I was woken by the landlords' latest weapon in the fight to make my life a misery: blokes wanting to change my windows. Which seemed fine to me as they were, I had a door and a window and they both opened and closed, which is all one really wants in a ventilation system.

I then spent the next couple of hours wearing two jumpers while the window men knocked out most of my back wall:


Exposed to the elements, I was. Brave, I was. They then came trotting round the corner with...double doors. Incensed, I was. I can't have double doors in my flat, that would mean I had NO windows at all, what the hell am I meant to do in the summer? I can't go off to bed and leave the door wide open, I'll hard boil. Grrrr! If anyone of a legal persuasion knows what I can do about this, do please shout...

(As an aside, note my little bin, sitting majestically and pointlessly in the middle of the garden.)

The day improved dramatically, however, after I met Canimal (who now lives in London, how marvellous!) to see Beowulf at the iMax. Which is a fab movie in 3D! It would probably be a bit shite in an ordinary cinema but watching monsters cavorting off the screen and Angelina's perfect form swaying about (apparently that's really her figure, the lucky cow) is rather spectacular in multi-dimensional glory.

I think what we both took away from the experience (aside from a splitting headache) was an impression of gore and bollocks. The gore was satisfying, if revolting, but the bollocks never really appeared, they were merely promised to us.

Beowulf needs less excuse than Pamela Anderson to strip off, you see, and spends an awful lot of the film flipping open his buckles provocatively. And then, of course, there's the Austin Powers strategically-placed-objects scene when he decides to fight the monster in the nud. As you do.

Still, it was entertaining and I am gazing longingly at the Tim Burton season, hoping that when Cani said she'd happily go see someone filing papers if it was in 3D, she meant it. She's in the same city as me now, she's doomed :)

Monday, 3 December 2007

Grumble - tagged

WillowZ very unkindly tagged me, so now I have to think of things about me that are even remotely interesting. Prepare to be bored stupid, rest of the world.

“Eight Random Facts” meme.

Here are the rules:
(1) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
(2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
(3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names
(4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

I hate things like this. So here goes...

1. I have a clicky, sort-of-dislocated jaw from the impact of a champagne cork, which popped out unannounced and caught me on the chin - bloody hurt, that did.

2. When I was little, my granddad used to walk me around the house saying "Good morning Mr. Begonia," and "Good morning Mr. Banister," in the hopes of furthering my vocabulary. I was 3 days old when he started.

3. I had 15 years of voice training, which means I have a gold medal from LAMDA and can project my voice for miles and miles, even when I'm trying to whisper.

4. I've never had an operation and the only bone I've ever broken was in my little toe.

5. I played truant from school with my best friend Jo at the age of 8, but when the teachers heard our excuse - that we had gone to give her gran her paralysing tablets - they were straight round to get us.

6. I play the box sets of shows I really love (Buffy, Angel, Battlestar Galactica) over and over and over in the background when I'm working, because it's comforting. I can also watch Top Gear and then watch it again on +1, which is also WillowZ's doing.

7. I really like puzzles, like the nan we all know I am - my favourite are nonograms, Japanese picture puzzles.

8. I'm dithering a novel. I'd say writing but I've managed 4 chapters in as many years.

Hmmm...who to tag without inviting a speedy death...ok Best Mate, Hallie Greenstein, Vicious Firefly, Canimal Zephyr, Tymmerie Thorne, Sparky Tim, Inexplicable DeVice and Sysperia Poppy. Sorry guys, I'll send you cookehs.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Premature Midlife Crisis (without the balding)

I don't do cars, they're dull and all the same. They're boxes on wheels that are convenient means of movement when not in London - I haven't had my own car since I left Catchup Ketchup, my little red Fiesta that was almost as old as I was, in one place for too long (Matt could only come out to jump start it so many times a week) and the neighbours complained and had it towed. Bastards.

Imagine my surprise when I followed the advice of dearest sis WillowZ (who has been rightly bragging about her find here) and watched an episode of Top Gear. I thought all that babycare had finally driven her round the bend but, as she does tend to point one in good televisual directions and is an entertaining TV buddy, I obliged and turned to Dave.

(Aside: Dave is the new name for one of our cable channels, so called because apparently it's friendly and welcoming. I have not the words.)

It turns out that Top Gear is probably the most amusing, entertaining and brilliant programme ever made. What it basically is, at heart, is three blokes having a laugh and letting us watch, and the added bonus is that they're all hilarious.

Grumpy Jeremy Clarkson, dithering James May and perky Richard Hammond - we love them all. There are plenty of clips on YouTube (the Polar special is so funny there are no words for that either) for non-Brits and there's Dave for those who must suffer it.

It's making me like cars, heaven help me. I'd quite like an Aston Martin, if anyone's amenable. Or an MX5...uhhhhh...yes ok, still a beginner, if I carry on I'll sound like a nan trying to be knowledgeable about heavy metal.

Mostly as a tribute to the GENIUS who introduced me to Top Gear, who I know will appreciate these, I will end with some quotes from the show:

James: Can I make it absolutely clear, here, now, that I'm only here because the producers said I had to be. I don't like snow, I hate being cold, I hate outdoor pursuits, I hate the idea that I've got to "push my body to find the limit," I can't stand this stupid clothing that makes this rustling noise when you move all the time, and I hate the zips, and the toggles, and all the pockets, and that and I hate your stupid truck.
Jeremy: [shushing James] Listen. If we make it, look at it this way: you will be the first person ever to go to the North Pole who didn't really want to be there.

Jeremy: It feels soft and flobbery, like a big woolly bison.

Jeremy: Speed has never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary, that's what gets you, that's the killer.

James: The interesting thing about the French nation, I think, because they are essentially peasants and Communists, is that they are quite good at the fairly small and fairly simple car.

Richard: Oh, dear, I fear Jeremy may be heading this way with an opinion.

Jeremy: (On the Daihatsu Copen) It's not so much a car as a shoe.

Jeremy: This is the Renault Espace, probably the best of the people carriers. Not that that's much to shout about. That's like saying "Ooh good I've got syphilis, the BEST of the sexually transmitted diseases".

James: I'm sorry, I'm gonna have to stop you there, I hate to interrupt, but this is quite honestly the biggest load of limp-wristed twaddle I've ever heard in all my five weeks in television. These two... these two are not men, okay? This one, Richard Hammond, every morning, sticks his head in a bucket of hair product, right, he's got a dog, but it's a poodle. I don't know what you're laughing about, Clarkson, because you won't drink brown beer. And this is the man that says flatulence, 'Ooh, it's not funny,' when clearly it is! I am actually the only proper bloke on this programme.

Jeremy: (After seeing May's Audi 80)You really can't believe that's a hundred quid car. I mean, I was ready to go, 'Oh no, James has bought a hen house'.

Jeremy: (about the Exige S, a few seconds later) And he's lined up alongside a plastic car that was made by some Norfolk turnip farmers, which is being driven by a fat bloke with a dicky hip.

Jeremy: (On the BMW X3) And if you are clinically insane, by which I mean you wake up in the morning and think you are an onion, here's your car.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

24: The Board Not Necessary Game

Best Mate and I are huge fans of 24, we go silly at the mention of Kiefer's name and are more than happy to disappear for the best part of a day with the newest box set.

(Not a full day, of course, for it's 24 telly hours, which is 18 of your normal, everyday hours.)

(Also, before I continue, please forgive the presence of my jim jams in the photo to the left.)

We were most excited, therefore, to find the 24 board game on sale in HMV, offering an interactive CTU experience involving, we assumed, engaging plots and an opportunity to prove our spy-foiling mettle. The PS2 game is fantastic, even if we're a bit shit and can't get past the car bit with the tunnel, so a board game has to be more than enough for a fantabulous night in, no?

No.

First of all, there are no instructions. I never claimed to be the brightest spark in the Marks &, I need a bit more guidance than "congratulations, you're playing a game". So I was a bit edgy wondering if my tiny mind would be able to comprehend the game's brilliance.

While the DVD dithered about wondering whether to like my player (not entirely the DVD's fault - anyone got a cleaner thingum?), we worked out - proudly - that the little square card things are supposed to go on the little squares on the board. In any old order, doesn't matter which.

So, if it doesn't matter where the landing places are....how can it matter how and where the lines between them run? And if the lines don't matter, how do you know where to go? And why are there no dice? And what do you do once you get to a square?

We trusted, foolishly, that the DVD introduction would make everything clear and tell us, if nothing else, how to play. But no, it merely repeated the happy, yet vacuous, instructions from the flimsy and unhelpful sheet in the box.

Clinging helplessly to the thought that the clue cards would make everything clear, we greedily grabbed at the pile whenever we were (entirely randomly) directed to do so. I came quite close to a hissy fit about an hour in when I only had one card and Best Mate had been offered a fourth (WHY?), but in the end it didn't matter, for they told you NOTHING. One informed me that the fictional company in question had recently begun exporting to Japan. Why in God's name would I give a monkeys? They weren't just 'not much help', they were completely and utterly irrelevant.

So...the board is useless, the cards are useless, the little plastic characters are useless, there are no dice, there's no end point and you don't gain anything by moving round the board, not even a flimsy cash bonus. Not really a board game then, you might say.

Did it redeem itself by being a halfway decent DVD tellybox game?

No.

Aside from the fact that you only ever need the one button (not the greatest test of skill, really - not to mention the fact that they don't give you any instructions that might enlighten you to the one-buttonness, so I was mashing away at my poor remote like a joypad for absolutely no reason), most of the mini-games were like badly put together versions of Pong. After an hour of trying to work out the logic, we still had no idea why there was a huge delay between pressing the button and anything happening and had to rely on luck to complete them.

Bollocks to it, she's giving it to Oxfam. With my blessing. Pity the poor bastard who picks it up, two pound fifty or otherwise.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

I am not organised: Part 2

I am ashamed yet truthful. My post about being disorganised clearly heralded events that were soon to pass...

Once in a while I do an Internet grocery shop, because not having a car and residing at the top of a very big hill means I have problems lugging my heavy ingredients home. So, in the interests of stocking up on potatoes and cans of beans, I sometimes allow Mr Sainsbury to bring his wares to my door.

This time I ordered ingredients for the following meals, and the following meals only (pay close attention here):

1. Chicken curry
2. Chicken stew
3. Chicken with white wine and cream sauce
4. Peppers stuffed with mini pasta.

My order arrived and I merrily unpacked it, happily anticipating the near culinary future. Only to discover that, in my blondest moment ever, I forgot to order two things.

Chicken and mini pasta.

I have nothing to say for myself.

Not long after, I described my harrowing ordeal to Laura, who very sweetly commiserated and didn't once call me a spanner. Well, not until the moment I leaped happily from my chair and scampered off to retrieve something from the kitchen cupboard...

Laura Leandros: so let me get this straight, you forgot all the key components for actual dinners, but it's ok cos you DID remember Nesquik Magic Straws?

I said it then and I will say it again: I would dearly love to be able to correct her, but sadly that is exactly the case.

Lollybloggings Returns!


This is an exciting announcement for all of you out there who have been waiting with baited breath for the next installment of Lollybloggings and the Grumbly Willock (there must be someone).

It's complete! After hours of toil and a brave infiltration of SL wearing child avs (we'd have been lynched if anyone had spotted us), Laura and I have brought to life the New Adventures of Willock. My words, her pictures, joint insanity.

Click here to find out what he's hating this time...

I am not organised

I am not organised. Though I know this will come as a massive shock to some of you (those who have arrived here looking for elk sponges, for example), the significant majority instinctively understand that my brain is not a place to lose something.

I try. I do, I really do. I create folders and subfolders and places and spaces and systems and so on, but I am easily disheartened. This goes for any filing system I ever encounter: home or work, virtual or physical.

My Second Life inventory happens to be a marvellous example of this. It's been nearly 4 years, people, I can be forgiven for amassing 14,000 objects - if only I had a clue where any of them were, we'd be set.

I also ought to confess that I have about 30,000 objects packed randomly in boxes, which is the SL equivalent of stuffing crap down the back of the wardrobe.

Here is a step-by-step guide to how I get myself in such a mess:

1) Start with systems that make perfect sense at the time and, with a little determination, are bound to translate to 'a sensible way of thinking'. You can train your brain, right?

2) Tackle increasing intricacy of accumulated items in unworried manner: simply add numbers, labels and subfolders galore.

3) Notice a much more sensible system of doing things.

4) Attempt to convert system to new, more sensible alternative.

5) Lose interest; promise to complete task later.

6) Go shopping (or writing, or creating - or anything else that involves multiples).

7) Realise error of ways. Lose hope. Ignore filing system and allow mess pile to accumulate.

8) Curse repeatedly. But do nothing about it.

Behold the results of this nonsense (or at least a very small glimpse of the terrifying whole - I write this after a somewhat urgent attempt to restore order). And if my inventory looks like this, one can only take pity on my brain.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Dog Scarf

Mood: currently missing my Internet Dog.

I swanned off to Bath this weekend to visit the Lovely Lisa because, after 5 years of relying on her to fill the pages of my magazines with her wonderful words (at breakneck speed), it was high time we celebrated with a little wine and a good long natter.

And some excitable dog, too, because I got to put a wag to the maracas and meet Skye, the dear pooch who I fell in love with a couple of months back and immediately adopted as my virtual pet. And I am his Internet Person.

He's utterly absorbing in real life, I couldn't stop watching him and making a fuss of him - I wanted so badly to stick him in my suitcase, long legs akimbo, and scuttle off home with him.


Here we are on Day 2, after Emma arrived. She's very used to dogs and had him under control immediately - I'm not, but then I found his antics highly entertaining and didn't want to stop him!
And as Skye said in his blog, nicely summing up a wonderful weekend:

Sarah Person let me leap all over her last night, and she laughed when I clambered up onto the back of the chair and draped myself around her neck like a big furry scarf. She played ball with me (my People are very well-trained, and always throw the ball when I bring it to them!), and they drank wine called "The Naked Grape" which made them giggle because of the name. People have a strange sense of humour sometimes - I didn't think grapes wore clothes anyway! Amber Person made necklaces for our Friends, and talked about designs and art with them.

This morning I woke Sarah Person by jumping on her Head, then kissing her. Luckily she didn't mind. She gave me a big cuddle. It rained all day, so I created endless Pawprint Works of Art for everyone to admire. When Em Person arrived I jumped all over her too, and sat between her and Sarah Person on the sofa so that they could both make a fuss of me.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

It's not just annoying...

...it's Marks & Spencers, extra rich, covered in jam and roasted for a week annoying.

I can't take the M&S adverts any more, I can't, I can't, I can't. Who the hell IS that bloody woman, curling her voice around words like a cat on heat. It's not remotely relevant to food - I want Gordon Ramsay assured tones (the man might look like a deflated potato with a chick on his head, but who'd kick him out of bed?), not some ninny saying "sponge pudding" like she's expecting me to lick her feet for it.

Who gives a crap if the gravy's from some cave in the mountains above the lake in the land of the golden ostrich? It still tastes like gravy.

Food is seductive in its own right. That bloody woman is not. Get rid of her, before I spork her to death.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Candy Kisses

I was idling around the Second Life grid yesterday, not really doing much of anything, when the wonderful, yet devious, Sysperia grabbed me with a walking stick round the neck and dragged me to her lair.

She does that.

Her intentions were almost pure - this time - as she was putting together a calendar of naked and near-naked wonderfulness to give to her friends and customers as a Christmas gift. And this was the result of my avatar's shoot, in all it's candy-coated, sugary pink, feathery glory!

I will now proceed to use it everywhere, for everything, always and forever. Oh yes I will.

And yes that is a nipple and if that doesn't entice Marcus to come and read my blog, I don't know what will.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Little baby Sian

I realise this is a little belated, because the wee soul has been with us for a couple of weeks now, but I've been boasting to anyone and everyone who would listen that the first picture taken of baby Sian was for meeeeeeee and I wanted to check I was right. And I was!

Baby Sian is WillowZ's new arrival. I was rudely awakened by a text message at 5am on Saturday morning (November 3) to let me know that Sian had finally made it into the world - about 9 days late, she wasn't in a hurry (I believe she then slept for the first 8 hours of life) - and then a picture of her being small and adorable came through.

Definitely worth losing sleep for and I'm ever so proud to have been the first to get a picture - you can hardly blame me, look at her! Now I just can't wait to get up there to have a cuddle <3

Oh and to be asked to be the godmother *puppy dog eyes*

Sunday, 11 November 2007

What the...

People stumble across blogs in some very strange ways. I have, for example, been discovered in the past by someone looking for "exciting descriptive words beginning with v". I believe Tim was found through the google search: "slipping someone acid".

I am, however, placing my bid here and now for the Weird Discovery crown. For I have gained a new reader through a google search that makes the mind boggle: why was this person searching for it in the first place and, having made the inexplicable decision to type it into the search box, how the hell did it lead here? How??

The search term in question: elk sponge.

Yes, really.

The Complaining Torso

Friday night was Tim's 30th birthday and, aside from the incomprehensibly painful hangover the next day, was an absolute riot. Lots of old and new faces got together in The Goldhawk, the local pub back in the day, when we all worked in Hammersmith (right next to a lunatic asylum, fittingly).

I got to spend time with lots of lovely people I haven't seen in a while, such as Marcus (who renamed my magazine Open Your Legs and couldn't be persuaded out of it) and Martin (note to Martin: the bloke I was trying to make you listen to on my phone was Richard Walters) and Robert (I'm so sorry I made you sit in the corner and try to work out who I was making Martin listen to on my phone) and Lorna (who at one point forgot herself and shouted out "MY TITS" when I asked where she'd sprayed her perfume). I also got to meet the infamous Inexplicable Device, who was utterly charming and still has the green hotpants.

Apparently there was a dog chasing balloons, but I didn't see it, which begs the question of what on earth I was doing.

But the real trouble began on my way home. At about 12.30 I realised I was in serious danger of missing the last bus home, so I slurred a few goodbyes, staggered back down to the bus station and clambered onto the first moving vehicle I saw. Followed closely by a bunch of chavs. I made it about halfway home before I lost the ability to not laugh at their chav-speak. Sadly they clocked my mirth and started grumbling about it.

At which point I sent the following text to Best Mate:
They have spotted me. They see my glee. They chattin at me. I merry like santa. I off cup now. By cup I mean bus. On hill. Feel ma mad storytellin skillz.

Which tells you all you need to know about my level of sobriety. Worrying about this unusual, out-of-character behaviour (it was, it was, it WAS), Best Mate toddled out to the pavement in her nightie to make sure I hadn't collapsed in a heap somewhere twixt bus and home. And there I was, giggling and stumbling away. Taking pity on me, she escorted me back to her room, where I promptly slumped to the floor and started muttering. Best Mate was over the other side of the room making me toast and tea and could only see the top half of me over the furniture, so has decided to call me The Complaining Torso. It is a fitting moniker.

I would say I need more nights like that, but I'm not sure I'd survive.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

My heart goes out

It was announced earlier that someone I have always admired and enjoyed spending time with in Second Life has passed away suddenly. The speculation is over and I hope very much that everyone who questioned and understandably wondered will show their respect for a Second Life legend.

Starley has posted a beautiful tribute on her blog. At times like this, it's impossible to know how best to help - the online world is not great for sympathy.

It's a horrible loss and my heart goes out to his loved ones. Ginny, you and your amazing talent will be missed always. You were the undisputed queen of Second Life fashion and you had a bloody good sense of humour, to boot. You were the standard by which all other creators measured their work - few could even reach your bar to push it.

It was an honour, and a pleasure, to know you.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Today was, almost from start to finish, an exercise in culinary adventurousness. I recently wrote a piece on Bonfire Night recipes for the website I provide the content for - you can see this particular masterpiece here - and Best Mate and I felt strongly that they ought to be tested out. All of them. One massive shopping trip later, and after the heartbreaking realisation that we were never going to manage the lot, we got going. And the results were:

Baked potatoes - these are impossible to muck up, you just jab them with a knife and stick them in the oven. They got a bit cold waiting for Anton to arrive, but it wasn't his fault (see: Toffee Apples). But all in all, they were baked and they were potatoes and that was the general idea.

Bonfire Toffee - without a cooking thermometer, this stuff is hard to judge. You're meant to let it reach 140C, but how the buggery bollocks are you meant to know? It boils up alarmingly, like milk does, but with the added fear factor of looking like tar that would melt your skin off on contact. Needless to say, we messed this one up swimmingly, and it's sat in my fridge looking like a very small, very neat peat bog.

Catherine Wheel Biscuits - these were a great success and went down well with the boys (I sent some over with Best Mate when she went to visit after the cookathon). I managed to whip them out of the oven just in time for them to keep that cookie squishiness. And then ate four.

Chicken stew - I did plan to make simple vegetable stew, but I thought I'd have a go at numerous birds with my stone and make a big, freezable batch of my all-time favourite dish. It's my nan's recipe and, if you're game for a long chopping haul, will make enough for about 7 meals, all for less than a fiver. Brilliant. Can't go wrong with this one and I even got plastic cups for Bonfire Night authenticity.

Parkin - none of us knew what this stuff was before we made it. We managed to navigate the problem of not having a clue what the end product was meant to look like by just doing what we were told in the recipe, but who the hell knows if what we made was right? It seems to be a weighty little bastard and we all had to douse it with cream and hack it with axes to eat it...so it might not have been quite right.

Toffee Apples - not our best success. First of all I managed to forget the sticks and Anton was sent on a mad rush to Tesco on his way home (which is why he was late) and then it transpired that sugar boiled in water just doesn't cut it as a coating material. I think I was missing something.

Still, as cook-ups go, it wasn't too bad and we all came away with full, warm tummies. Of course, that was probably because of the parkin - like a brick, that stuff.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Stardust and glitter

I'm not normally a girly girl, but when it comes to fairytales I do have a tendency to revert to being a five-year-old, gazing up in wonder and amazement and a craving to believe and join in. Much the same manner, in fact, with which I imagine Tim staring at the iPhone.

Emma and I indulged our easily pleased childlike sides this evening with Stardust, which may well be my favourite movie of the year (I'm not sure I should be admitting that).

It's not really the schmaltz I enjoyed so much this time, although the magic and effects are pretty darned cool and it's a lovely new addition to the world's collection of fairytales. I do like a golden story with a happy feel to it. But with Stardust, it was more the fact it was just so bloody funny! And it wasn't the people you expected to make you laugh, either - Ricky Gervais, for example, is a bit by-the-by. It's Robert de Niro, in the most bizarre movie role I think I've seen him take on, Michelle Pfeiffer and her incredible self-confidence and Clare Danes, for once not simpering madly, who stole the show for me.

And Tristan, bless his heart! I don't think I've ever seen such effortless acting from this side of the pond. He's not emoting and try-harding, he's just there, being Tristan, amiable and stupidly charming and almost crying out for a bear hug. He's hilarious, believable and impossible to dislike. One of these days I'll get to work on the Museum of Cute I've been threatening to do for much of my adult life, and he will get his own little pedestal. Oh yes!

Friday, 26 October 2007

Memory Lane

I thought I would share with you a memory I just described to an old friend Facebook has re-acquainted me with. It's given me the giggles, you see:

I tried that pub with my ex about six or seven years ago - he went to the bar, the woman came over to serve him, he held up a finger because he had a sneeze coming and turned away, but there was a pillar behind him and he smacked straight into it. So the message the barmaid received there was something like: "WAIT! I must headbutt a pillar first".

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Open Your Mind

What you are looking at here is a stack of magazines, nestled in their free-gift-with-Issue-1 collection binders and piled up next to the magazine rack in WHSmiths of Richmond.

Why is this exciting? Because it's the magazine I made! This is the exciting, top secret project I've been pouring my heart into. What's happening right now is only a limited test in a small area, but the months of toil have finally come to an end and there, on display and available to the public, is the result!

I came up with the idea for this psychology-based partwork a year ago, back when I worked at my old company. Our client - now New Boss - loved the idea and asked me to begin putting it together. A few brief stumbles later - firstly when it was handed over to somebody else, who had a very different concept (that turned out to be wrong), and then during the demise of Old Company - and after a little shuffle around so that I was working directly for New Boss, we finally had a clear road ahead of us and went about making a magazine.

I've had some fantastic help along the way. Wonderful writers who scribbled masterpieces for me in a matter of hours to help me meet the deadlines (Emma, Lisa, Nicola, Deborah and Sally), super-talented Bill, my all-time favourite artist, and a series of fabulous designers, from darling Jo who set the style to Graham (who I hardly think needs an introduction round here) to dear Richard, who took a great idea for a design and turned it into a kick-ass magazine. Not forgetting long-suffering Blanca, who had to interpret my photo requests, and marvellous David, my one-man support group. And all of them with never a complaint, no matter how unreasonable my demands.

So here we are at the town test. This is about the pinnacle of things at my little end of the publishing industry - getting to create a magazine that might one day (well, April) sit on the racks next to the ones I grew up reading. One that's entirely my own concept, which I got to hand pick the very best contributors for and nurture into an actual, printed, real magazine. Crazy!

Here's the original picture, from before they found a handy stand for it: I cantered down to the shop to see for myself the wondrousness, only for my phone to turn itself off - which meant I ended up batting my eyelashes at Richard until he agreed to go down there with New Boss's phone. He felt it might attract negative attention were he to be caught snapping pictures in the women's section, so I believe this shot was a fly-by.
If anyone needs me over the next couple of weeks, I will probably be in WHSmiths, lurking behind a pillar. I'm stopping now, before this post turns into a gushing acceptance speech. But I do want to thank the above-mentioned superstars, who all went beyond the call of duty to help make my dream come true.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Cut n' stick

I bought pasta in the shape of wheels today and I can't tell you how badly I want to glue it to something. Is this the result of being a child of the 80s, I wonder, or am I just, at heart, a creative genius?

Monday, 15 October 2007

Richy Rich

Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I love Eddie Izzard more than I love chocolate biscuits, possibly more than I love pizza and Buffy the Vampire Slayer combined, more than I would love to own every pair of shoes Manolo Blahnik ever made, and that I would follow Eddie Izzard into the very pits of hell if he so desired. Probably even if he didn't.

It will not surprise the miniscule proportion of humanity in the category of 'knows me well' to hear, therefore, that I am absolutely determined to like his new series, The Riches. It's a confusing little show, so far, but it's not turning out to be an unpleasant experience.

Eddie plays a drifter who, along with his family, takes over the lives of a super-rich family they accidentally run off the road into a swamp with their motorhome. Ethically iffy, I'll admit, but very amusing. He sounds a little odd with his American twang that, bless him, he periodically forgets he's meant to have, but he's still got the beautiful Eddie twinkle.

Minnie Driver's not half bad in this either - I went off her for a while when she turned all prima donna, but she's always had one of the most infectious laughs in Hollywood and she was born for this role, she's hilarious in it.

You can catch The Riches on the big old lie that is the new Virgin 1 channel - all that hype and such small trousers. They made it sound as if it was a sparkling new channel with all new programmes unavailable everywhere else, but thus far that's only true of The Riches and everything else is thieved from Living and Bravo. Pffftt. The second programme ever shown was called Penis Envy, that tells you all you could possibly wish to know.

But it's worth tuning in to catch the beautiful, wonderful, fabulous Eddie, who is my hero and long-term crush object. And if you've managed to live this long without hearing him do stand-up and laughing till you cry with him then, well, shame on you and all who sail in you.

The youth of today

I thought I might share with you, this chilly autumn evening, what might be my favourite email forward of all time, courtesy of Lovely Lisa. I made my dad read these while I was on the phone to him earlier and, as he's just recovering from a nasty cold, his appreciation was expressed in splutters.

They are apparently a selection of beautifully crafted metaphors taken from Year 12 essays. I don't care what they are really, they're bloody funny.
  • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  • He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without oneof those boxes with a pinhole in it.
  • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature prime English beef.
  • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
  • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
  • He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
  • The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at aformerly surcharge-free ATM.
  • The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
  • McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
  • From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and "Sex in the City" comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
  • Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
  • The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot oil.
  • John and Mary had never met. They were like two humming birds who had also never met.
  • Even in his last years, Grandad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
  • The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
  • The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
  • "Oh, Jason, take me!" she panted, her breasts heaving like a Uni student on $1-a-beer night.
  • He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
  • The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
  • He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
  • She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Catch the birdy

A newspaper article I came across today made me chuckle, but not because it was intended to be amusing and certainly not because the subject matter was cause for merriment.

It all began when, through simple curiosity, I took a look at a group that's apparently very popular in the London network, which has 50,000 members all calling for Ian Huntley's profile to be removed from the site. Even though he hasn't actually got one.

The group was apparently formed on the basis of informative and detailed articles from such publications as the Sun and Mirror. One of which I followed a link to, and discovered All That Is Bad About Tabloid Journalism.

It's not the political, social or moral implications of the whole episode that are concerning me here - those I will leave well alone and allow you to draw your own conclusions. Suffice to say I would be appalled if Huntley was actually on there and would happily join the protest. The part that I am finding morbidly funny is the unashamedly sensationalist writing that some people are clearly taking to be gospel.

Tabloid journalists ought to be ashamed of themselves for pandering to and actively fostering a mob mentality and, without mincing my words, making shit up. Why why why is this allowed? Why why why do people persist in believing it's truth?

Fortunately this article truly reveals what a farce it all is. Let's see if you can spot what made me burst out laughing:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article23125.ece

See it?

Yes, that's correct: the incredible attempt to induce shock value by adding capitalisation and a heavy bold font to a BUDGIE.

Now try to imagine Sir Trevor McDonald saying it like that.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Spider Upsettingness

Having so confidently predicted that the Spider Behemoths would only be around for a fortnight at the beginning of September, it is with great shame that I admit to a sighting this week. It was perched jauntily atop the towel I keep tucked under the door into my flat, cheeky little fecker. I went at it with a bit of the banister (I didn't rip it from the stairs for the purpose, although I can't deny I would have done if necessary) and managed to chase it into my next door neighbour's flat. At which point I beat a hasty retreat, because he's almost as pathetic in spider circumstances as I am. Here beginneth the hastily compiled mission to Avoid Blame.

Spiders: why?

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Fishy tales

I am prepared to accept that this is probably the last time some of you will venture on here, because I am about to scare you away with some atrocious humour.

It all started, you see, when I found possibly the best ever typo on a friendship tribute website:

You know friendship is true when it continues even after one friend's sole has left this earth.

Typos: not just fun for editors.

The story continues with me feeling Not My Usual Cheery Self for the past few days, a problem compounded when I trotted off to the bathroom today to discover that the lovely new trousers I bought on Monday had a dirty great rip in them across the lower stomach (I don't mean that in a coy way, I do mean literally the lower stomach) and I'd managed to wear them for a full day AND put them back on this morning. Ye gods, what a numpty.

Best Mate decided to rise to the challenge of cheering me from this little mood slump by carrying the fishy amusingness to its farthest possible point. Nor was she flying sole-o (sorry), I decided to throw my lot in too. So please welcome the Best Of Fish (and do feel free to join in if you haven't already left in disgust):

If your pet fish is a fantastic confidante, does that make it the sole of discretion?
If it has a huge family to support, none of whom have jobs, does that make it the sole provider?
If the fish enjoys a spot of karaoke, does that make it a sole singer?
Would its favourite movie character be Han Sole-o?
If you were baptising your fish, would you have to say 'bless my sole'?
In its younger days, when it was the coolest kid on the block, was it a funk sole brother?
Financial difficulties plus incontinence? Poor wee sole.
If he set up a business selling something you couldn't buy elsewhere, would he be the sole trader?

It's all a bit sole-destroying really, isn't it?

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Amanda's song

This post is a tribute to my darling Amanda because it is our song. Why? Because (and you can't deny this is peculiar) although we live 5000 miles apart, we both saw it on the iPod Nano advert, fell in love with it, didn't know what it was, asked everyone in earshot to no avail, frantically googled the lyrics to work it out and immediately downloaded it - within an hour of each other.

So there you have it: great song for great minds. Ta da!

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Spin me round, round baby

After two weeks of walking into door frames and being permanently cross-eyed, it looks like my labyrinthitis is on the way out. It all began on Best Mate's 30th, when I felt a bit peculiar and had to go home from work for a small nap. Here I am at her birthday meal, being a bit dizzy (no change there then) behind the menu. Lurking, you might say.

As a brief aside, it was a very entertaining day. Best Mate and I went to House of Fraser at lunchtime, where we purchased her present, Chanel No. 5. I then treated her to a McDonalds, because she is nothing if not a woman of disparate tastes. After work we went to a tapas restaurant called Destino, where we made the usual spectacle of ourselves.

Anyway, back to my ears. Two days later and the spinning had begun in earnest - just when my first week off in 6 months began. Bloody typical.

For those of you who have never suffered this aggravating illness: labyrinthitis is a virus that affects your inner ears and mucks up your balance centres. As a result, your whole body thinks it's in a washing machine and tries to compensate for it by spinning you in the opposite direction. Entertaining? Absolutely not.

It's like that feeling when you're small and spin round and round until you fall over, which is great fun until you take it a bit too far and feel like you're going to vomit on your own feet.

I'm painting a particularly beautiful mental portrait today, aren't I?

Anyway, I'm pleased to announce that the tribulations are finally coming to an end and I no longer sway as if caught in a breeze. I will no longer lurch to the left while walking, confusing my fellow pedestrians. I will not be forced to spend long periods lying very still in silence, an activity that is pure torture for a fidget. I can finally see the television and computer screen again without my eyes scanning across them like a typewriter. I have been able to get to the supermarket and avail myself of the fresh vegetable selection, something I craved like a crack addict during the worst of it. I am free!

So what did I do in celebration of this fact? I played Warcraft, of course.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Poultry Addendum

Two posts about World of Warcraft is probably two too many, especially in one night, but I had to share with you the joy of my new pet.

I found an easter egg quest where, if you cluck like a chicken, at a chicken, one hundred times, you get to talk to it, feed it and claim it as a pet.

You're asking yourself how I found this easter egg, aren't you? I wouldn't.

I have named her Peck, which Flopsticks thinks is silly. She runs faster than your average cheetah and has a better tracking ability than a bloodhound - never loses me. Three cheers for Peck!

As an aside: a note about the popular brand of sauce, Chicken Tonight (I believe the mental link here is fairly obvious). It can be eaten with duck, turkey, anything you like, and it's in the longlife section so you don't need to rush. I therefore pose the idea that it ought to be called Poultry At Some Point.

Warcraft, and other guilty pleasures

I've been needing a new game to occupy me in the rare moments when I'm not working or being a bother. Second Life has lost its charm in recent months, everyone on there seems to be in a temper. So I'm taking a bit of a break and allowing myself to be seduced by World of Warcraft.

I've always avoided it because I am a tightarse and it makes you pay monthly - I couldn't see how it justified this considering it's no different to Silkroad and they let you play that for no munnies. Turns out that's not true: Silkroad and its brethren are a bit pants compared to the gaming wonderland that is WoW.

Here I am being frankly impressive with some buffering spells in my swanky new mage's robe. I got it by killing some upsettingly realistic spiders and collecting their silk. I don't know quite how I feel about that...

I am not alone in my virtual adventures. Helping me thwack gnolls and bait bears is the lovely Laura, and it's just as well because I get scared when sent out alone and I die every 6 minutes because mages are feeble and only need to be poked with a stick to kill them.

Her boyfriend is fast going off me, mind you, because he's a night elf and has bunny ears, so I call him Floppybonce. As if that's not bad enough, I then called him Flopsticks, which Laura thought was so funny she keeps using it herself. Earlier today, his 3-year-old daughter called him Flopsticks. Oops...

Here are Laura and I posing wilfully in front of a portal I found in the woods. I am a humble level 28 mage, while she is a flashy level 56. I am her bitch.

Laura herself just appeared on yahoo and requested that I tell you about the monocle her character wears. You cannot see it here because she chickened out during the photo session. As she put it:

Laura k: can u mention my monocle?
Laura k: i wish i hadnt had monocle shame


p.s. On a side note, Blogger seems determined to talk to me in German. I can't think why, it's not like I'll reply.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Neville the Fox

After making a huge fuss and bother about my phone not letting me download photos to my computer, I discovered this evening that I was, in fact, completely wrong. Poor little mite is more than happy to let me do as I like...so I have.

And here, for your amusement and pleasure, is a picture of Neville, my fox friend. He resides in our garden and is fond of ham, but not of loud noises. He is very pleased to meet you, I'm sure.



Not a word about the fact you can barely see him, it's a scenic shot. And I haven't worked out how to use the zoom properly - give me another few months for that. About the time I upgrade the phone, actually. Fun fun!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Office politics

As I sat at my comfortable, personalised desk this morning, sipping a Columbian coffee and nibbling a bit of cake that the office building had provided for us courtesy of Starbucks, I took to musing on the relative merits of the places I currently work.

On the one hand, I work up in Islington in a building that I am convinced used to be part of Holloway Prison (and, indeed, still boasts the barbed wire and high walls), has a central portion that looks like Alcatraz and is in an area where I'm convinced I will be mugged any day now. For no reason at all the temperature is constantly above 30 degrees (16 is my optimum) and there isn't a proper shop within a 10 minute walk.

On top of this, Old Boss has it in his head that freelancers mustn't have their own desks, so you never really know where your bum might land of a morning. There is also no cutlery, to the extent that Kev had to eat his Pot Noodle with a pencil on my first day. He is currently Keeper Of The Fork after we went on a mission to gather plastic implements to share between us.

I'm not sure I'd mind one of these issues on its own, but I've had to buy my own plate and glass and I've nowhere to keep it - and I'm certainly not going to be the loon on the Tube with the crockery.

On the other hand, there's the Richmond office, which is at the bottom of my hill. I need only leave the house 10 minutes before my day begins and I arrive to my own, lovely desk with everything exactly as I left it. We have sparkling water on tap - seriously! - and there's always real coffee and biscuits on offer downstairs. Today we had our freebie breakfast from Starbucks and David assures me that a trolley of donuts is often brought round of a morning.

I wonder if you can guess which place I like going to best? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Spider Fortnight

Anyone who knows me also knows that I'm a ridiculous arachnophobe (to clarify, language-wise, I mean that the arachnophobia is ridiculous, not the me). So stupidly arachnophobic that I will throw a tantrum if you come near me with a ball of dust I deem suspicious.

It is for this reason that the first two weeks of September are my least favourite of the whole year. You know those massive behemoth spiders, the ones that make the floor move as they stamp across it and are the size of a small cat? This is the two weeks of the year during which they all decide to go on an excursion.

Why? Because they're male and they want a shag, why else? For all other arachnophobes, here is the information you always wanted, but could never google for fear of the images that might come up:

1) They will only be around for two weeks, and tonight marks the first official sighting - have just had a text from Best Mate to say she caught one doing the hokey cokey at the bottom of the stairs.

2) They don't stay long, so all is not lost if you lose one of the speedy little bastards under the sofa - they're hunting for the ladeez, you see.

3) They don't come up the plughole - if you find them in the sink it's because they're thirsty. But I always leave plugs in and sellotape up the overflow pipe just to be sure. Paranoid? Don't be ridiculous.

4) They do not like lemongrass or peppermint oils. Sprinkle liberally on thresholds to deter at least a percentage of the leggy fuckers.

5) There's no point trying to drown them, they don't have hearts or lungs. Which makes perfect sense to me.

Just two weeks and I can relax. Guh :(

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Every dog has his day...


Today is my first day off in nearly 2 months and what have I chosen to do with it? Sleep and indulge in doggy nonsense, that's what!
Couldn't resist making the above picture to illustrate the possibilities of dogs and their angles. Look at dear Skye, he's really going for it!

Friday, 31 August 2007

Parental unit

Have just been treated to a whirlwind visit from my mother. She blocked the road, caused a traffic jam, parked across someone's drive, ferretted about my flat, rearranged things I was perfectly happy with, unpacked stuff in places I didn't want it, attached jewellery to me that she didn't want, forced two electric fans on me when I wasn't aware I needed one, inspected my shoes, disliked my cappucino, searched my fridge in case she wanted anything, rifled through my wardrobe and then went home again.

Such is a typical visit from my mother.

And you wonder why I'm the way I am!

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

I have a new dog!

OK that's sort of a dirty great lie...sort of. For I *do* have a new dog, but he isn't mine. Well he is. But he's not.

Meet Skye, new addition to my friend (and favourite freelancer) Lisa's family and one of the most expressive and cutest dogs ever born. He even has his own myspace page to record his antics, through which I have been adopted as his Internet Person.

This means I have cunningly claimed ownership of his intermaweb activities and can begin shaping him into a virtual phenomenon, as he so deserves to be. Just you have a look at his photo album, I defy you to disagree!

Herewith an exerpt from his blog, describing a day in the life of an Amusing Dog (Upon Reaching Puppy School and Failing to Comply):

My Person was a bit embarrassed because all the other Puppies Came and Sat and Lay Down as soon as their People called them. I ignored my Person and went and jumped on everyone else instead. Everyone offered my Person bits of their delicacies in case they worked better than the Treats she brought for me, but I still refused to Come, which meant I wouldn't Sit and I certainly wouldn't Lie Down. One of the Labradors was very pleased, and ate all my Treats instead. Now my Person has to do Homework with me. She has to get me to Come and Sit and Lie Down. I'm being Very Good about doing this at home. But, of course, when I go to Puppy School next week I'll pretend I don't know what she's talking about.

So, in the interests of setting things going and introducing this bundle of hilarity to the world at large, here is my favourite snap of Skye, just begging to be given its very own caption...I hereby open this to the floor...

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Grumpiness roolz ok

I wanted to share with you a book I'm reading, which I am (alarmingly) finding myself empathising with more and more with every turn of the page. It is called Grumpy Old Men and is a diary of irritation accumulated by one poor bad-tempered sod over the course of a year.

Everything in there annoys me too. I also think it's a crying shame they didn't ask my dad to contribute as he's been nadgy for two thirds of a century.

Anyhoo, here is a short except that made me snort with laughter in the middle of a District Line carriage this afternoon.

30 May
Heard a report from the Congo on the World Service this morning. The reporter was venturing out of the capital, Goma, in her car. 'It's too dangerous to venture far away from the city,' she said, 'so I turn the car around. To turn a whole nation around will be much harder.' What, turning the nation around is even harder than turning a car around? Extraordinary.

Your Monthly Cat

Bless the little bastard...

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Exhaustion and other exciting descriptive words

I could probably sum up this post in three words, so I ought to, if only to prove that emo can be speedily summarised:

I'm bloody exhausted.

I do hate to ask if anyone was paying attention (well I don't, because I have a kinky enjoyment of knuckle rapping), but shame on you if you weren't. How do you keep up with Hollyoaks, for god's sake. Anyway! I've been doing this freelance song and dance for the best part of a month and I feel like the walking dead.

I can hear you all clamouring for front of house to hear about my current situation, I really can. It's a delightful little delusion and I will lynch the first person to ruin it. k? k. Anyway! I'm not going to oblige for two reasons:

1) I'm sworn to secrecy for reasons of inter-industry espionage
2) I feel very swanky saying that.

So this goes out to all you lovely people who've asked very genuine, very much appreciated questions about what I'm up to, which makes me smile a muchbit. The answer, in the most specific terms I'm allowed to manage, is: everything and nothing and no sleep!

But I do feel as if I'm steering right. And that makes me more happy than I can tell you.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Lollybloggings and the Grumbly Willock


It's finally here, the online story book you didn't know you were waiting for. A tale of love, high adventure and rainbow hairclips, starring what we're pretty sure will be coming soon to the sticker on a kid's lunchbox near you.

Yes, it's Lollybloggings and the Grumbly Willock, a tale in pictures created by myself and Laura. I've had precious little leisure time since wandering into the world of freelance and this, ladies and gents, is what I've been doing with it. Sensible? No. Worth it? Of course!

Let us know what you think, we're all for criticism. The Willock isn't though, he hates it.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Reaching the surface

Life gets away from you sometimes. You become a bad friend through lack of time management, by running and running without ever getting anywhere, by letting go of a dear friend's hand just when she needs you to hold on.

This artwork is Sysperia's impression of my avatar (and thus of me). For those who don't know the term, this is my virtual representation. I am privileged to have been included in her Most Beautiful collection, the idea of which is that beauty contests in Second Life are meaningless without including and evaluating a person's heart and mind alongside their (virtual) looks.

Avatars are soul-less creatures who tend to stare blankly into the middle distance, but in this image my eyes are deep and swimming, with all the weight of the world and the knowledge that is my burden.

I cannot make up for not having found enough time, I can't wish back the conversations we should have had, but I can do this one thing: tell everyone else what I already know.

As a daisy flourishes among thousands of blades of grass, so Sysperia Poppy rises above those around her - in every way. But especially within her art, and as a friend.

Syssy, I'm so sorry.

If anyone reading this would enjoy a window into their own soul, or even just to see or ask for some beautiful artwork with tough themes, please let me know or visit Syssy's gallery.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

My daemon

I don't like this thing, WillowZ faffed at it and changed me into a furry sideburned cat thing and I was NOT happy, I like my snow leopard. Retribution was mine, however, as somebody has made hers into a ladybird.

So the rest of you now have 12 days to click buttons and make me miserable. If you make it anything but a snow leopard, I suggest you back away slowly -.-

In other animal-related news, there's a fox basking in the sun in my back garden. I have named him Neville, he is very cute, I opened my curtain to see him properly and he made an annoyed face and bit a flower.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Group who? Group me?

See that bloke there to the left, looking all talented and cool and professional? He is! How do I know? Well aside from being prepared to testify that he makes the best ever spicy meatball, gives the warmest hugs in London and - as mentioned before - has a steal-worthy CD collection, I am also now his groupie.

Yes!

This is Best Mate's boyfriend, for all the nans in the room: it is a strictly musically appreciative sentiment.

I spent this evening holed up in a little venue in Kingston called The Fighting Cocks, waiting for the marvellous Trickswitch to take the stage. Their support act was The Addons, a delicious old school indie band who gave me happy tummy feelings.

As for Trickswitch: consider every preconception I ever had poked with sticks onto a bonfire with elves and goblins celebrating their demise. 'My mate's band' - that's meant to mean a half-arsed attempt you turn up to because everyone else is going and then ignore, but clap dutifully at the end, surely?

Trickswitch are something truly special, and this from Fussy McMusicalFusspot. They have every ingredient to make it big, in spades - except recognition. And possibly confidence, I don't think they know how good they are - they've never been on our end to see how forcefully their energy hits you. And they don't have a clue how hard it makes your heart beat.

So go have a listen and see, because they're incredible, and as amazing live as any signed band I've ever seen.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

The most beautiful song I've ever heard




I loved this song so much I wrote to him on myspace to ask where I could buy his EPs and he very graciously pointed me in the right direction (www.beardmuseum.com for the first one and Amazon for the new one, Pilotlights). He will also be playing in Soho on August 2nd - I've roped in Clone Emma and Best Mate, any other takers?

A little bit tiddly and full of chicken

Advance warning: if at any time during the reading of this post you wonder why I'm making no sense, please be assured it's not you. I'm a little bit merry and a muchbit amused after a night on the town with the fabulous Jo.

We've been promising to have a catch-up since we had a meeting about a magazine she helped me develop and ended up nattering for a very long time. Such was the situation this evening - we talked at speed for hours and there's so much left to say that I'm just going to need to make her come out for a repeat performance. Not a shame!

The highlight of our tour of Twickenham was the boozy ending, which of course involved guzzling junk food and loud laughing. KFC's late-night staff were rather taken with Jo, whose flirty attempts to get some extra mayonnaise earned her an amorous takeaway admirer.

As we chomped in a ladylike manner on our burgers, a bunch of revolting chavs wandered in and treated us to the insightful drunken commentary that only the drunk and chavvy can achieve. "You've got burgers," (yes, yes we have), "Can I have a chip?" (no, no you can't) and "Are you lesbians?" (presumably because they consider KFC an appropriate choice for date night).

As the chav who treated us to the final question cackled and ran off out the door, Jo uttered an immortal line: "Bring him back a minute *dramatic pause*....and I'll tell him about his face". Perfect delivery, perfect timing.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Oh what a beautiful day

Today I shopped and drank beer. Is that not a beautiful phrase, women everywhere?

It was my last chance to prance about town with Canimal before she goes back home to Israel, so Sneaky Sneakerson here left work at 2pm and spent the afternoon introducing her to the shopping heaven that is Oxford Street. I'm utterly inept at breaking rules, but a) this was a very special occasion and b) what are they gonna do, sack me?!

Now I don't really like shopping for myself, because I can't be doing with changing rooms, but I do love scouring the rails for someone else, especially someone who looks good in everything you put them in. We found any number of cute new tops for her and a pair of flipflops (poor thing turned up soaked from a sudden rainstorm and unable to enjoy a thing until we replaced her sodden footwear). I somehow managed to come home with a new wallet, shoes and umbrella, too.

And for anyone doubting Cani was put through her London paces: not only did she bear up perfectly under the strain of a rush hour Tube journey (giggling fit notwithstanding) and deal with numerous snotty sales clerks with aplomb, she also tucked into a steak pie and mashed potato for lunch and felt much improved for the experience.

As far as the beer part goes: after resting my poor feet for a couple of hours and losing to all and sundry at facebook scrabble, I spent a happy evening in the pub with Best Mate and her man, Anton (of CD thievery fame). Life right now is filled with exciting new people and places and experiences and the love and comfort of those I care about most. I have little to complain about, all in all <3

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Annoyed!

Almost every Monday I am taken in by WHSmith's kind and useful half price book offer (except when they try to sneak in tat), but never again! Oh no, not after the nice checkout lady handed me this, the literary equivalent of poo in a bag.

I'm so annoyed, I really am SO annoyed by this book. I have not words to explain my contempt. To the point that I feel obliged to issue this warning to Second Life residents everywhere: for FUCK'S sake don't buy this book.

You see, the author comes with great credentials: judging by the jacket description, which pretty much credits him with single-handedly brokering the 2003 Geneva Accords, there's nobody more qualified to write a mystery novel about peace negotiations in the Holy Land.

So why, WHY, for the love of all things wordy, did he decide to include Second Life into his plot? WHY? He's quite clearly never been near the thing, I don't want to sound like some sort of metaverse protection agency because I'm not in the slightest bit bothered about misrepresentations. Publicity is publicity, innit? It's nice, in a way, that a mainstream writer is including our 'weird' little hobby in his lovely blockbusting romp. But why did he have to go and balls it up so badly?

Not one single thing his character 'does' during her entirely shoehorned-into-the-plot wander about the grid could actually be done. One does not left click another avatar to stroke them, one does NOT log in stark naked and wait for the pixel fairies to clothe one and one can certainly not be reduced to pixel goo by another avatar. Not without clicking 'ok', anyway. Oh and his main character appears to be able to open SL from absolutely anywhere, at speed, without any pesky 30mb downloads or 'with this graphics card? you'll be lucky' error messages.

So I am now in a position where I am utterly unable to appreciate what ought to be a fascinating insight into the Middle East because the author is a) so keen to be the next Dan Brown he's elbowing the plot aside to shove in 'clever' twists - involving, of all things, a virtual world and b) obviously so blasé about his research that he can't even be bothered to splash out on a free download and spend 3 minutes experiencing what he's writing about.

SO AGGRAVATED -.-

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Cheesy beans and candy

I am ashamed to report that poor Canimal's impression of England will be dominated by a preoccupation with soft cheese and a vomit-flavoured jellybean.

Canimal Zephyr, uber-famous SL fashion designer and one of Style Disorder's head honchos, is over from Israel on holiday, so it was up to WillowZ, Kris Ritter and myself to entertain her for the day.

We started out (once we'd actually managed to find each other) in CyberCandy, a fantabulous store that imports chocolate and sweets from all over the world. They have all the stuff you see them eating in movies but have never seen in real life, like Tootsie Rolls and Twinkies and Oreo cereal. I squished my Twinkie :( But it still tasted good :D

We went to various pubs and eateries, drank beer and cocktails and sampled a couple of our purchases. Firstly a chocolate bar from New Zealand that looked like a normal Dairy Milk but had a different surprise centre in every square. I ate a piece that tasted (and looked) like pureed skin and Cani discovered that she does not, in fact, like turkish delight.

We then tried the Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, based on the Harry Potter books. Now these weren't the meek and pointless version they put on sale over here, these were bona fide evilness in a box. Between us we tried earthworm, booger, soap and earwax flavours and I bravely accepted the challenge of eating a vomit bean. It was not an experience I will be repeating. We left some on the tip tray, which probably means we're banned from the Zoo Bar.

The mystery of the information WillowZ found on the internet was solved: they do have cream cheese in Israel after all, they just don't have Brie. Cani was grilled (like a piece of cheese, in fact) for dairy-related information and it's safe to say there's now little I don't know about Israeli cheese.

So here's the question we couldn't answer: if you were to give a tourist one item to take home that truly represents England, what would it be? And WillowZ, if you say "a pigeon" one more time... -.-

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Today we are mostly listening to...

...Anton's entire CD collection. Anton, I would like to make a public apology for the sheer length of time they've been festering on my shelf.

Scrat here is attempting to convey my deep and heartfelt shame.

All billion of your albums will be returned to you shortly and I may very well buy you a pint, should I judge you to not yet be suitably placated.

P.S. This picture is not of a captured spy squirrel.

Squirls

Apparently, the Iranian police have arrested 14 squirrels on suspicion of spying. They were found on the border equipped with eavesdropping devices.

Now squirrels are my favourite animals precisely because of their talent with covert operations, but even I hadn't cottoned on to their potential.

I wonder if they were disappointed to have been spotted. What a self-esteem blow for the poor little mites.

P.S. This picture is not of a captured spy squirrel.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Old Person Strawberries

Riding the wave of controversy my beaner post inspired (ahem), I thought I would follow it up today by submitting a view shared by myself, sis and Laura for your consideration, which is as follows:

The best strawberries are old person strawberries.

We believe the most succulent, juiciest, yummiest little beasts come from the loving care lavished on strawberry patches by their OAP owners. If you have nans or grans or nandads who indulge in fruit farming, you will know this to be true.

Not to mention the jam, nothing beats a good bit of strawberry jam.

I should like to propose also that everyone book themselves a trip to the pick-your-owns this next couple of weeks, if only to have the chance to repeatedly use the word 'punnet'.