"Tis the season

"holidays are comin'... holidays are comin'..." (to paraphrase a particularly nauseating ad for a trademark beverage)

And not a moment too soon. I'm knackered. Mentally, I'm a soggy brussels sprout hiding under a remnant of parsnip. Physically, I'm not much better, either. As for emotionally? I'm pretty much like those cheap paper confections you rip apart: crackers.

But enough of my moaning. Theo and I were discussing adoption at the weekend. Specifically, we were considering the adoption of a guinea pig (although we wouldn't rule out fostering an actual human child, either... but maybe starting off with something smaller would be sensible.)

I love guinea pigs. I always have. When I was a wee ankle biter, my sister had a guinea pig called Dumbo - he was ginger and very squeaky. In common with others of his kind, he wasn't even slightly bitey and didn't mind a five year old's grubby mitts pawing all over him... much. When I was bit older I had a guinea pig too - although she succumbed to guinea pig flu and I didn't have the heart to get another. I did however read The Tales of Olga da Polga which was some comfort (and if you haven't read them - shame on you! Olga is a fantastic story teller and has a very healthy appetite, too.
Of course, you might want the excuse of buying the book for children, but even if you don't know any children you could always read the books and donate them to a children's library or charity or something.)

I get quite annoyed at how sniffy some people are about children's books. "Oh, I'm a grown up: I don't read them. Harry Potter? Brain rotter!" and all that guff. I'm no fan of JK Rowling's when it comes to writing style - Philip Pullman beats her into a cocked hat when it comes to style, intellectual engagement, plot etc - but when was kids reading ever about style? If the story is good - even if it is derivative - and it engages the mind and imagination, where's the harm? In fact, even an appallingly written children's book can be a good thing. Imagine - hordes of kids reading something, realising they could do better and later growing up to write better books! How terrible! And another point to consider: if grown-ups don't read kids books, how do they know what kids are finding out, thinking about, learning? It's hugely arrogant to think that only reading "hard" literary, serious books is worthwhile. If it amuses you, you learn or laugh, then surely that makes it worth the effort?

But I digress. Guinea pigs. Eventually, we decided that maybe we wouldn't adopt just yet. We'd maybe wait until the bunster has had her "special lady's operation" and when we could dedicate special cavy time without worrying about the health of the queen lagomorph... Instead, I think we are going to support Thistle Cavies - a Scottish guinea pig rescue charity and therefore help several guinea pigs without needing to buy a new hutch... Of course, we still haven't entirely ruled out getting a hairy sausage dog, either. Did I mention we have cream carpets?...

The Unbearable Shiteness of Being (At Work)

I am freezing.

Yes, I know it's Scotland.

Yes, I know my office is a manky hut on a hill, so poorly insulated that if it rains I swear it steams. (Well, OK, a touch of hyperbole, but...)

Yes, I am aware it is November.

But - it's cold in here!

And one of the side-effects of being cold is that it makes me hungry. I'm supposed to be eating more healthily too, but the local shop only sells rubbish - and I've already eaten my lunch. It's only 11:30.


I'm fantasising about a Double Decker. I won't have one, of course, but I can imagine one. And a bag of tortilla chips. And a plate of mashed potatoes, with onion gravy, maybe a sausage or two... A steamed pudding of some sort.. syrup... custard...*sigh* I'm not helping myself, am I?

Double bah.

Anyhow...Life is good - still! I still haven't managed to fix the towel rail I broke off the wall (by catching it on my pocket) and I need to give the kitchen floor a bloody good scrub, but home is the place I want to be more than anywhere right now. Me, Theo and the furry beasts. *sigh* But I'm at work in the hut on the hill, hungry and with only a crappy shop nearby to buy supplies...

Triple bah.

Do you think anyone would notice if I sloped off home?
- You rotten hope-dashing bastards...

(Oh, work is fine, really [obvious previously mentioned bits notwithstanding] but there was a woman on the bus reading a copy of Milan Kundera's magnum opus and I can almost never resist a pun.
- I listen to Radio 4, what can say?)

The rain it raineth every day

When I am at work, on a clear day you can see Arthur's Seat, Castle Rock, The Braids and beyond. Today you can see... the housing estate over the road - and that's about it. It hasn't really rained in Edinburgh for a while, but now that it's started it doesn't seem to want to stop.

Fag breaks are the only time I get to see daylight - the office this side of town has tiny greyed out windows at the top of the walls - no view, so nothing to distract me from working. Except everything distracts me from working at the moment. Particularly seeing as we have no admin cover - I'm rocketing from my seat to answer the phone far too frequently for my liking, losing my train of thought entirely and derailing my day in the process. Thankfully, I'm alone in the office at the moment so I don't have to listen to the godawful pop-spewings of the radio. I really, really hate Mika. No, really.

Theo is worried about me. I'm not sleeping well, I seem gloomy and down and I've been more than usually tearful (I have to add the caveat "more than usually" because, to be fair, I do cry like a leaky tap even when in buoyant spirits). In part I put this down to "winding down" into the relative calm after what I can only describe as yet another stressful year (am I asking for extra stress all the time, I wonder? The flat-buying was a far from straightforward process, what with fucktard lawyers and missing paperwork, keys, commonsense and all - even leaving the rented place has been a sack of woes, as for my health! Oh, don't even get me started on doctors....) and in part I also put it down fairly and squarely to work.

Anyone who works for a not-for-profit project knows about the vagaries of funding cycles. Mine is a particularly vicious cycle in that it ends after one year. I've been told that even if funding isn't renewed, there will likely still be a job for me - I do have a permanent contract after all - but that redundancies can never be ruled out. How very reassuring...A big mortgage and no real job security. Lovely. I take some comfort in the fact that I am performing better (and more consistently) than other members of the team, so when it comes to redundancy I might not be head of the queue - but even that makes me feel uneasy: competing within a team just isn't healthy. I've decided a tea-making/biccie buying/sucking up strategy might need to be deployed - but my sarcastic nature doesn't do it very convincingly...

In addition, I have a manager who doesn't manage much - neither her team nor her own life. Since being back from "long term sick leave" she's been off ill nine times in as many weeks. This creates havoc in the workplace as well as an uneasy atmosphere... No-one knows what LooneyBoss will want from us next - or even if she'll be around. She seems to have taken a particular dislike to me - a "support and supervision" session a couple of weeks ago was more an "undermine and derision" opportunity. I came out of it feeling demoralised and entirely misunderstood - and the demoralised part seems to have stuck. Theo is encouraging me to look for a new job - the trouble is, I actually like the work I do, I just don't seem to fit into the working culture, so I'm very torn. (I am, of course, looking for a new job just in case - but I hate being seen as a quitter and leaving too soon would make me feel as though I had unfinished business. It's a catch 22 - stay and be demoralized or leave and feel like an arse... Hmmm)

Glowering alongside it all, the final dissolution stuff will be dropping through my letterbox - as soon as the Royal Mail catch up with the backlog of mail, that is - and even though it is ultimately a positive thing, I still can't shake away the crumbs of pain left from the mess of it all. I was trying to explain to Theo the other night that although I was the one to leave ExWife, I really don't wish her anything but good stuff for the future: we didn't work out, it ended badly and messily (much of the mess down to me) -but 18 months later we are both in a better place than we were. It's a pity we aren't in touch, but maybe it's for the best right now. We really were very different people, on reflection.

I don't feel the same about ExFriend. I feel bitterly angry still that she was an integral figure in the fucking up of two relationships - one of them deliberately and coolly - and that she sails through it all (like a lipstick-wearing warship with pitifully small torpedoes) without so much as a moment of real regret, reflection or insight. I don't actively wish her harm (I'm not a murderer, torturer or the like- I don't even know any... really...) but I passively wish her an uncomfortable conscience. And piles. Or maybe warts. Anal warts. I used to think we were very similar people, but we are worlds apart, thankfully.

On a far more positive note, Theo and I are taking some time out to revisit York in a couple of weeks time. The lure of cheap cocktails, excellent cakes and medieval streets has proven too hard to resist. We'll be staying in a B&B that "specialises" in breakfasts, oddly enough. It also specialises in beds - both beds and breakfasts are hand crafted and locally sourced, apparently. - In addition, weather and sofa delivery (!) permitting, we are also going to visit one of her favourite places in Scotland this weekend and picnic on the sand (so there's a clue - either its a bunker in a golf course, or it's coastal).

One thing I do know - work, stress, crazy ex stuff, pisspoor health and all, Theo makes me happy and that's the stuff that really matters, whatever the weather.

Crappy Birthday and other passing matters..

1. It was my birthday 15 days ago. It sucked. Theo was away in England and I was at work.
And I was was 36. 36??! Oh god - how have I got so old? I'm a youthworker for fuck's sake: I must look ridiculous...

Actually, work sucked more than usual - the (ha!) team had a major argument over nothing - spent an hour arguing over the definition of "presentation" amongst other things. No-one could agree about anything. I tried my pacifying schtick, but to no avail, so I just shut up and counted to ten. 47 times. Ah, team spirit, eh?

2. I've been referred to the hospital for an ultrasound (no, I'm not pregnant...) Could be gallstones, could be a stomach ulcer, could be some liver problem (well, it could be, but it's very unlikely) but whatever it is, I've got a pain in my right hand side and I wish it would go away. Grr. I'm even cutting out all dairy produce and substituting milk in my tea with soya milk (eurgh!) in case it helps a bit.

3. On visiting the "old" skanky bastard landlord flat, I discovered a slowly decomposing mouse, skeleton showing through the eroded fur. I left it well alone and left cautiously. I am now curious as to what killed the sleekit wee bastard (but not curious enough to go back for another look).

4. The furry bunster has a new house. It's wooden and bark covered. She has taken to eating her house late at night. Morning arrives and an overexcited bunny looks gleeful at the devastation she has wreaked - house in pieces, bark everywhere. I build it back together and the bunster gives me that look: "UR PWNED human slave..." She's right. I am. Occasionally, she humps Theo's arm, too. Tell me, is that normal for a female bunny?

5. I signed my civil partnership dissolution papers today. Due to Royal Mail's utter incompetence and inability to find where I live (and if you knew where I lived, you'd see the ridiculous irony in this...) I had to go into the Sheriff Court to do it. One quick signature and that's that. In 14 days I'll be ... dissolved.
I'm still angry about how things ended, but not that they ended, if that makes sense. I could have been braver, gentler, less naive -and a damn site less trusting of manipulative arseholes who say one thing but mean something entirely different. But I wasn't. You live, you learn.
And no, I haven't ruled out ever getting a civil partnership again - just not just yet, eh? Save up for a party and a cake first, maybe.. Honeymoon... That sort of thing... ;-)

And summer's lease hath all too short a date

Doesn't it just.

I have the painfully awful post holiday blues. Cripplingly awful, truth to tell. I am hating every second of being at work today (first day back...) and missing being around Theo. Even worse, she's off on a training course to my old alma mater so I'll be without her for a whole week next week. Luckily I have the cats and the bunny for company. It won't even vaguely be the same without her though...

I spent my meagre hols (damn you employers! damn you to hell! *shakes fist at pitiable annual leave allowance) with Theo at my sis's place - blazing hot, ice-cream at every turn, Great Uncle Frog, fresh bread, fetes, festivals - a huuuuuuge scooter rally, a chance to be with the one person I want to spend my time with all day, every day - and Englishness everywhere.

Sometimes I forget how very English I am. I sound English, certainly - but the vowels return to their more relaxed state when in England. In Scotland, I barely have a discernible regional accent; in England you can hear the influence of every town and city I have ever lived in. I know English stuff - in Scotland I can spot a hairy coo and recognise heather growing on hilltops, in England I know my Friesian from my Charolais/Hereford cross and know where best to find saxifrage and eryngium... I can even appreciate a nice bit of thatch (I know, I'm starting to get a bit bucolic/John Craven/one man and his dog... I'll stop) All in all, the natural landscape of England, the language, the culture of Englishness has all worked to shape who I am at my very core.

I never really "got" the English Romantic poets when I first went to Uni, but the longer I am away from England, the more I begin to get an insight into how nature has affected my nature, how much a product of natural as well as cultural heritage I am and how the nature of being is entirely in the - anthropomorphic- hands of one's surroundings.

Reflective being that I am (so reflective I don't tan - the sun just bounces off my skin... well, apart from the back of my neck which burns to a crisp, apparently) I can't help but look back to the same holiday last year, though. Except of course, it wasn't the same holiday at all... Admittedly, I went to the same place and both my sis and my bro-in-law were their usual brilliant and welcoming selves, but in all other respects, things were different this time. And different meaning better, entirely and totally.

I don't regret many things I've done - but last summer was a mistake I wish I could burn or hack from my past. I glossed over things at the time, chose to ignore the uneasy feelings I had, the feelings of being alien to myself and what I believe in, the challenges to my own morality. I was so caught up in trying to be something I wasn't for somebody else - a somebody who proved to be far more calculating and cruel than I could have imagined, and so very much less a person than I thought them capable of being- I got lost, my moral compass was sent spinning and I ended up hurting the most important person to me. I allowed myself to give in to temptation: I was unfaithful (- And with someone who had let me down before after promising me so much and would go on to let me down again... I kick myself for letting it happen and I'm thankful now that I made the choice to excise them from my life. Sometimes surgery is the only option. I'm still dazed and grateful that Theo eventually decided to give me another chance...I can't imagine life without her.)

I've said it before, in private - but I'll say it here in public too: Theo, I'm sorry for all the pain I caused you, for my selfishness and my infidelity. It will never happen again.

I've grown up a lot in the last year. I've refound my daft streak, that's for sure- but I've learnt about consequences, remorse, loss and reunion, responsibility for and to each other, teamwork, support, balance... all of those things that sounded so frightening and distant before but are part of me now.

Apart from the simple joy of spending time with Theo and my family, being away from work and getting to refill my reserves of Englishness, this holiday has proven to be good one for me in reminding me who I really am, that I don't need to make massive accommodations to who I am and what I believe in: I can be myself and still be wanted, still be liked even when weak and vulnerable, I don't have to be strong all the time, or even entertaining, I can love and like someone and feel secure that how I feel won't be used against me by them - I don't have to be anything at all except me - just so long as I am honest and faithful. And that makes all the difference in the world.

Just one word


(Thank you for your kind indulgence).

Ok, so I'll elaborate a little: buying a flat; moving from rented place; having the bastard landlord from hell; family bereavement; clients who don't show up; clients who do show up; managers who frankly, dont; an irritating colleague who makes a face like a cat's bum anytime anyone swears or blasphemes (and has an irritating croaky/squeaky voice. And is German. And a social work student); waking up every morning at 5 because that's when the seagulls get up; bloody tourists getting in the way and asking stoooooooopid questions; getting the bacon burps from a pack of Wheat Crunchies...

Anyhow. just thought I'd vent a little.

Otherwise, everything is fine and dandy - the sun is shining, I have less than a fortnight until my hols, Theo is laaaaarvely, the bunny isn't bity, I have some very comfy socks...

Not Quite Dead

Well, I'm not.

Fact is, between battling the landlord and other property matters - as well as working like an enslaved alsatian being beaten with a very gnarly stick with client work, report writing, case noting, schlepping across town and juggling other people's money hassles (not just my own, pah...) marketing and general voluntary sector schmoozing - I've not really had time to blog. I'm sacrificing a fag break now, just to let my reader(s) know I'm not dead. *cough hack wheeze*

Anyhow, life toddles along. Theo and I are sound as a pound, ta. The bunny is now much bigger and I am counting the days until I can get a break from work. (PLEEEEEEASE!!!!)

Better get on with massaging my stats and writing this bloody report.

More, soonish. Well, maybe..

Vomissements sounds so much nicer.

I have been unwell and off work. For weeks. Almost three weeks (and counting) I still am rough as a badger's handbag, truth be told - but nausea, lethargy and its bowelly friend squitteriness are not reasons to stay off work now that the actual anti-social spewing has stopped, apparently- and it only lasted a fortnight or so. Pah, hardly ill at all! (God they make youthworkers tough these days...)

Bizarrely, having upchucked and squittered for this painfully (aloe vera bog roll? soothing? don't make me laugh...) long amount of time, I have managed to put on weight. I am perplexed- and more than a bit pissed off. The "as bloaty as a corpse pulled out of the Water of Leith" look is not one that works for me... And it would seem bulimia is never going to be an option for me either. Double pah.

Typically, doctors have been a bit useless. I thought one of them was prescribing me expensive champagne, but I misheard - it was Domperidone I was supposed to take before eating. Still, cheaper and actually pleasant tasting (unlike champagne - or am I the only person in the world who thinks that champagne makes your mouth taste like Satan's anus 30 minutes after drinking it?) and it works, up to a point.

You know you are really feeling poorly when even the thought of watching Jeremy Kyle makes you cry and hide (as opposed to when you are well when it makes you want to shout, "Shut up you tedious wankstain on the sheets of society!"): I didn't once feel strong enough to watch so much as the titles while I was off. Actually, the thought of it is making me weepy now...

Theo made me her magic risotto (known to cure all known ills- and delicious, too) and I've rallied a bit, but I'm still feeling crappy - if risotto hasn't been able to fix me, then god knows what will... Let's hope it's laser printer toner, badly washed cups of tea, phones ringing at inopportune moments, really badly designed chairs, pressured deadlines and yampy clients that make me feel better, eh?

"Take a drink. Go on, take a drink"

It's no secret I have some problems when it comes to drinking. Somewhere along the line my "stop" button got broken and there have been times when I have had several drinks too far. I have had blackouts, found myself coming-to in places I have no recollection of choosing to go, sometimes with people I can't even remember meeting. I have lost hours, days. Once I found myself being hovered over by two paramedics: I was in a foetal position and yelling - drinking had released a traumatic memory and I had regressed to the age of around 8. I remember seeing my friends and flatmates looking pale and stunned, the paramedics very pissed off and all I felt was shame and confusion. The hangover the next day seemed like a welcome punishment - it was a pain I could understand- unlike the pain both numbed and released by drinking. My flatmates avoided me and my friends were almost painfully concerned. It was frightening.

Sure, I can drink "socially" perfectly safely (for example, I'm perfectly content having the odd one or two with Theo and I never feel as though there is any pressure to have "just one more...") and I have had some great boozy parties and softly winey evenings . I know that I need to steer clear of spirits in almost every shape and form, but I also have to be aware that one drink too far can take me further than I would ever want to go, particularly if I am feeling nervous, anxious, emotional or vulnerable in any way.

I can become frightening when drunk. Howlingly drunk isn't just a colourful phrase, it can be my reality. Self-pity overwhelms me, and I obliterate myself to get rid of it. Drink becomes a cushion between me and the world: I cancels me out so I am no longer there and don't have to feel the discomfort and fear. I am weak when it comes to drinking.

My workplace has a drinking culture. It's not unusual in frontline services working with the homeless - tough work leads to hard play, or something like that. I'm not convinced. I'm also somewhat alienated from the team-building drinks - I've avoided them on two different occasions, citing different excuses each time. I'm not sure how many more excuses I can come up with... So far this week all conversation has been focused on a leaving do that happened last Friday- the do I missed, very much deliberately. I was interrogated by a team member as to why I was absent. I had the handy "excuse" of both being on annual leave and recovering from a visit to the dental hospital, but I felt harassed and flustered - and angry that I should feel as though I needed an excuse to not turn up to something outside of work hours.

Even the thought of going out socially with my colleagues fills me with dread. I don't want to have to explain that I have a problem with binge drinking- and I don't feel comfortable enough with them to just have "one or two". I know I won't get "howlingly drunk" - but I don't want to feel the pressure that I should even get mildly inebriated. Drinking soft drinks isn't an option. Within the Scottish "take a drink" culture -particularly this organisation's "drink as play" culture- I might as well admit to murdering small fluffy animals as to preferring an orange juice. I'm worried that I won't be seen as part of the team unless I adopt the culture of the team (somehow ironic for an agency that does youth work and tries to empower young people to avoid peer pressure and to make healthier choices when it comes to drink and drugs) but I don't want to be part of a culture that damages me. I can't risk damaging myself for the sake of a job, regardless of how that decision affects how I will be perceived.

There is an "away day" coming up- a team-building "fun" away day that will inevitably end up with drinks. Attendance is obligatory - all work, all client visits, all shifts, stop for the day. I'm already dreading it- and I don't know how I will be able to get through it without taking a drink, or explaining just why I really would prefer not to.

A load of old ballots (and other stories)

Well, being a poll clerk was fun.

-Incompetent No. 1 Presiding Officer who couldn't even get the size of his trousers right let alone a ballot box, miserable old trout fellow poll clerk, ramming ballot papers into the poorly designed boxed with a 30cm ruler, 16 hour day with no breaks, confused old folk and ceaseless repetition of the new voting procedures notwithstanding.

Ok, so fun might be an overstatement, but it has certainly given me a huge insight into why the democratic system in this country is so...crappy. (The SNP really have got in by default, I would say - and one seat does not a resounding victory make, so stop looking so fucking smug Alex Salmond - you've completely pissed on Nicola Sturgeon's chips too, and you really shouldn't mess with her: she's feisty. Watch your back you greasy, power-hungry, toadfaced fuckwit *taps nose* I'll say no more.)

I have nothing but respect for the the older generation - however, if you didn't vote and yet you moan about how the country is going to hell in a handbasket, well, blame the pensioners! They turn out in droves, every single election while the younger generation stay at home or go to the pub. Mind you, a fair number of them were totally befuddled by the newfangled voting, so that might account for the 100squillion disregarded/spoilt ballot papers. They still outnumbered younger electors by at least 3:1 though... Something to think about, anyway...

Oh! And while clerking I spotted a horrific ghost from the past: Evil Bitch Colleague. She was the one who made a lot of whiny-wheedly noise and did fuck all, flirted and flashed her tits at the boss (-the straight line manager, not the gay director: that would have been redundant to say the least. Mind you, she was boyishly flat-chested without the help of a Wonderbra, so maybe it would have worked...But I digresss) and took all the glory for the grafting I did. Then she managed to do some emotional manipulating for good measure. We ended up almost hissing at each other in a very small office and even communicating via email was an effort. Not nice.

Anyhow, she was looking like shit and as though she was perhaps not doing as well as her crowing would have predicted. Heh. She was also voting Green*. Hippy.

In other news, the furry bun is quite binkytastic and well, ta. Less soft poo, too, which is a blessing.The BFV declared her a "bonny wee thing" then, with a whiskery roguish smile , proceeded to tell horrific tales of bunnies he'd encountered with myxomatosis while deftly administering an injection. I do like the BFV. Tales of bunny deaths notwithstanding (the moral of the story was actually about the importance of preventative treatments unless small furry tragedy were to ensue...) he cares. His surgery is also somewhat cleaner than the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary - a place I know all too well, alas.

I'm visiting the ERI again tomorrow, by the way. Seems that although my broken ankle has healed, I have a "mysterious unevenness" at the bottom of my fibula. ("Oh, I bet you say that to all the girls, doctor...") Once more, a few hours will be killed at the fracture clinic, where no doubt I will be met by a mustard-trousered orthopaedic registrar who will have that "whip the limb off - I haven't done a good amputation in ages" glint in his (and so far it has always been a "his"...) eye.

Anything else? Oh, probably. Theo and I have some pretty exciting news, but I'll sit on it for a while, if that's OK. And work is work. Picking up a bit. Actually getting to meet clients and "engage with young people" -which is the fun bit. The radio is pissing me off still. I downloaded some Chumbawamba onto my harddrive to distract me/give me hope. It works. "If they tell you you can't, then you can."

So true. So very true...

*Actually, the Greens have some reasonable policies/ideas - but appeal to folk in a "politics for people that don't like politics and/or soap" way. Which is not exactly what a modern political party should pander to, in my humble blah blah blah. I'm using it as a very specific form of abuse for this particular wishy washy waste of DNA- no offence meant to any other Greens ;-) I actually admire the politicking Robin Harper and Patrick Harvie have managed in allying with the SNP to form a minority government. Nice work! Er... Maybe I should shut up now...

Office Games

In the office at work where the youth team live there is a clapped out radio. It has a paperclip as an aerial and the CD lid is hinge-free. It spews out Real Radio all day. Occasionally, for a change, it plays Forth One.

If I hear Mika one more time I might go postal. As for Gwen Stefani, well, I've heard her wailing one too many time: she is not my favourite girl, so she's right there...

Anyway, whenever I am left in the office on my own I play a little game: I re-tune the radio to Classic FM.

Apart from finding it relaxing, inspirational, complex, mood enhancing stuff -usually without any niggling asinine words to distract me from putting together project descriptions, grant proposals, case-notes etc (and it doesn't help anyone when you are planning for a serious meeting with the high heid yins to have Take That's "Whine"-sorry- "Shine" running through your head)- it amuses me no end when someone else from the team does a double take and pulls the horrified, "oh no- Culture!" face.

OK, so they immediately re-tune the radio to something poppy, but I chalk it up as a small victory, nonetheless.

Little things... I know.

In other news, the Furry Baby Bun isn't entirely well. To be precise, she seems to have ISS (Intermittent Soft Stools) - a sort of bunny IBS, I suppose. Theo and I are both worried about the vast quantities of pappy poop she is passing, so we are taking her to be seen by the BFV (Big Friendly Vet). She is binkying and gnawing as normal, so we aren't yet scared for her life, but it is nonetheless worrying. It can be stressful being a parent...

(A brief return) Our Very Furry Baby

OK - in short...
  1. Theo: increasingly/consistently lovely
  2. Job: challenging
  3. Trauma: recovering *I broke my ankle - ironically, on my way to accompany Theo to an emergency visit to the hospital... it's getting better, but I'm still walking with a limp...
  4. Furry Baby: adorable
I am a very proud parent, apparently. I look extraordinarily pleased when she eats veg or hay. She's fearless, too- unphased by cats, loud noises, anything at all, really. And she doesn't shit all over the place, either... and just like her mummies, she is a born rug-muncher (admittedly, the furry one prefers the woolly things from IKEA, but all the same... )

I wasn't sure I was responsible enough to be a parent... I'm still not sure, but bless her little furry trousers and shoes, she makes me responsible, dammit!

If you are lucky, you might get an update pic from time to time. If you are unlucky, you might just get a wee whinge about work from me...

[Not sure about a regular return to blogging - I'm busy, maybe in another period of transition, maybe just busy...and no, I'm not being needlessly enigmatic, just playing my cards close to my chest...]


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost)

I've been thinking about this a lot.
I've got a whole lot of new, exciting, scary, enlivening things going on in my life right now.

& I'm happy.

I'm not going to blog for a while. I'm probably not going to read blogs for a while either. (I've got a whole lot of new, exciting, scary, enlivening things going on in my life right now...)

I don't want to get into the navel-gazing I've been guilty of in the past - I want to just enjoy myself. Experience things and share them with the people I care about most. Maybe just enjoy things for myself, even.

If you are a friend, you'll get in touch with me from time to time, touch base, text, whatever- like you already do.

If not, well- to anyone and everyone else - you're just passing through here, either skim-reading or looking for subtext, commonalities, diversion - whatever floats your boat. There are world upon worlds of other lives to read about - my world won't be missed. (Or at least, not for long...) But thank you for reading anyway.

I'm not the person who started out writing this blog. I've changed almost unrecognisably (or is that imperceptibly?) In many ways, I don't "need" this blog any more - I wrote it as a kind of plaster to cover up the cracks in communication I had, and it stemmed from a need to express the many things I couldn't say and reach an audience who would validate that what I said had some point, some basis, that I was worth listening to.

I don't have that "need" anymore: I am confident that I can say all I need to say to those who I feel need to hear it.

So thank you - and, well, goodbye. At least for now. Who knows what the road will bring?

Can't blog now...

...On my way to work.

(Oh, the novelty! It'll soon wear off, I'm sure...)


...damp (rather than "Rising Damp" - but have you googled image searched for "Penetrating Damp"? It isn't pretty... *shudder* Actually, some of it is pretty- in the pretty sort of way that black mould can create interesting patterns type thing, but I digress...)

My flat would appear to have it. It is dripping down my bedroom wall, peeling off the paper, leaving a kind of strange ectoplasm where the cheap emulsion on the wall has separated out into its constituent parts.

The plumber my landlord sent round is not happy. His precise words? "Oh shit..." A pipe wrench does fuck all good when the problem is hidden behind a wall and comes from the flat above.

Not a clue what this will mean for me - although I guess at some point my bedroom will need dehumidifying and painting. With better paint.

In other news *shuffles papers* ...

My gums bloody hurt. The anaesthetic started to wear off before the procedure had finished again. And I'm now onto my third or fourth dentist. As my current one remarked, I probably know the consultant better than she does. After all, I at least know his name and don't just refer to him as "the tall fella"... [*waves* Hello Charley...]

For this Friday's surgery I'm opting for the anaesthetic that gives me a racing heart and palpitations for about 2 hours: my heart beats like a fucked clock and I feel like I've run a marathon at the end of it- I'd rather cope with that than feeling the cutting, slicing and stabbing in my mouth. It won't make the healing time any quicker but it might cut out some of the bleeding and surgical pain. With any luck this will be the last 2 hour appointment. With my luck? Who could say...

My encounters with the Housing Benefits folk is getting increasingly frustrating. I would appear to have acquired a taciturn pen-pal - today's emailed missive was entirely in capital letters. The short version is I might get some money, it should be in my bank account, but isn't. The long version requires a dark and stormy night, a pipe, an open fire and a bottle of a decent malt to recount (it's that kind of horror story...)

Oh, and I start work on Thursday. Theo has been calming me down (I'm already getting the non-teaching equivalent of "first day at school nerves": What if the big boys and girls don't like me? What if my dinner money gets nicked? Will I have anyone to play with? When is home time?) The reality is starting to kick in. Time to be a responsible adult again!

Holy shit...

I take that back....

OK, so actually I got the job.



I got a call yesterday afternoon apologising for taking time to get in touch (something about equal opps... illness....cancelled interview...something else...) and offering me a post working part strategic/ developmental and part frontline work with young people experiencing homelessness. It's going to be hard yakka, but something I can sink my (admittedly fragile) teeth into. Much chuffedness on my behalf. I may have cried. (actually, I did...)

Oh! And I got a refund of £139 from the bloody council tax. I even heard from Housing/Council tax benefits people...OK, so by having an actual JOB I won't actually need it in the future (hurrah!) but I'm still sort of relying upon it to fill the yawning belly of my overdraft in the very real present. This, as the Cheeky Girls so rightly say, is life (and no, you cannot touch my bum...)

Of course, life being what it is, there are still some lumps in the custard. Teeth. Unbearable fatness of being. Happy pills. Facial hair. Greying eyebrow. Anger. Grief.

-But, BUT, BUT! There is also a whack of optimism - Theo, a new career, a flat I can stay in, a world to travel, a goldfish to buy - NOT HAVING TO WATCH JEREMY KYLE EVER AGAIN! Oh yes.. I'm not going to count any chickens, I'm not even going to imagine a rosy, dreamy future - but things seem to be moving and not sliding at long last.

[Oh yes, and it is "cake toasts" time again. I favoured a muesli scone hand-baked by Theo this year.

Incidentally, the picture above makes my teeth itch, but Beryl Cook pictures graced my Mum's living room walls for far more years than I dare estimate... So,
cheers Mum...]

Another kick in the teeth

I've got another appointment with the dental surgeon next week. Another couple of hours of periodontal-hell. However unpleasant it may be, that is not the kick in the teeth I mean.

I had an interview, interviewed well - and didn't get the fucking job. Again.

I'm starting to feel like it is personal. There is some sort of vendetta against me. Employers across all of Edinburgh have decided to fuck with my head; "Interview her... look impressed....even tell her she interviews very well... BUT DON'T GIVE HER THE JOB! Bwahh ha ha haaaa!" That sort of thing. I wonder if it is karmic or a pre-destined trial. I start getting superstitious and look for omens and oracles. I turn to wondering if it is a very big "Candid Camera" set-up. I make bargains, deals and compromises to a God I don't even believe in (-in short, I am being driven ever so slightly mad...)

People tell me that the right job is "around the corner"; Theo consoles me-even while I am unattractively blubbering like a tearful whale - and gives me practical (as well as emotional) support; friends even offer money and remind me that they too have had leaner-than-a-well-chewed-chop times.

I'm lucky I have this support-some of it helps, some of it perplexes- but not getting the job still feels like a steel-capped kick in the teeth. My gums hurt...

*sings* "There are more questions than answers..."

It’s a sad state of affairs when you lose sleep over internet-type questions…

I’m still in a state of blog-constipation and question-flavoured blog laxatives aren’t really working…. Regardless, I’ll have ago at answering. My apologies for having taken so long.

What's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to someone you know ?

It’s not really my place to say, but I do know of someone who, when being assessed for a teacher training assignment, went to great lengths to ensure the kiddliwinks understood the gravity of the situation so he could achieve a pass for classroom management. The childer were lamblike and obedient- quaking, almost- throughout the lesson and m’colleague trotted up expectantly to the assessor at the end of the lesson. As hoped the lesson was a success, however the assessor had placed a large question mark at the end of his notes. M’colleague was more than a little concerned and enquired as to why he had been queried. He was met with the response, “Well, you taught with your flies open throughout the lesson - I was wondering if it was a deliberate act of intimidation.”

Apart from being embarrassed, he was mightily chuffed at the thought that whatever filled his boxers could intimidate anyone…

Will you remember to feed Bob too? And will you not mind that the flat's a mess(I slept in), and not tell everyone what a midden I am? Please. Oh, I think I've just done that... *bah*

Yes; not at all; *discreet silence*. Er….

... most embarrassing sexual anecdote?

Oh C'mon, what else did you expect from me eh ;-)

Personally, I’ve never been embarrassed. Things have been awkward sometimes, I’ve almost dislocated limbs and all, but I’ve not been embarrassed. *Shrug* Maybe I really am shameless… A former flat mate’s boyfriend almost had his todger ripped off by an angry cat, but as for me…sorry!

What an interesting opportunity… However, I shall attempt to keep my questions to things that are not *too* unsavoury.

We’ll start in the work related sphere:

-What is the worst/ most inappropriate thing/ biggest lie you have ever told in a job interview?

“Celluloid is a fun word to make with your mouth.” *cringe*

-Did you ever do anything to one of your students that in retrospect was a little cruel/ evil?
No. It would be unethical. Honestly! I do have some professional integrity!

- On the last day of a job have you ever done anything really naughty?
Apart from nick some envelopes? No…God, I sound terribly responsible, don't I?

On another note – are there weird things you find yourself doing or saying when you are alone?
I mutter almost constantly, but even I don’t listen to myself so I have no idea!

What's your favourite way of spending a Sunday morning?

A lot of it would be in bed, snuggling with Theo... followed by scrambled egg and smoked salmon bagels with a vast mug of tea…then some idling and lounging. Maybe being fed chocolates. Maybe a newspaper to peruse. I’m a simple soul.

If you were able to push the rewind button on the life you have lived so far, how would you live it differently?

This question has troubled me. There are so many points at which I would maybe think, “Change that, alter this” but then I wouldn’t have had the experiences – good and bad - that have made me the person I am. For all my faults, insecurities, massive fuck-ups and small triumphs, I’m OK as the person I have become. I would quite like to have a quick peek at the teenage me - just for a giggle, and to wince at the appalling self-consciousness and fashion choices I made at the time. (For a literary example of this phenomenon, I would refer you to Henry Normal’s prose poem “Love Like Hell”)

What's your first memory and why do you think it stuck?

Hmm. I was about 18 months old. I remember the man from which my Dad bought his second hand Volkswagen Caravette. He was a butcher with a Dick Dastardly moustache and a stripy apron. He waved us goodbye. I remember the tweedy seats of the Caravette and lying on my back looking at the trees overhead as we drove back to our “new” council house. I have no idea why it has stuck, but it has.

Cherry Charger or Mango, Lemon and Ginger Infusion?

Mango, Lemon and Ginger of course. Cherry Charger tastes of wet sock.

Any more for any more?

*scratches head*

I've been having a blogging crisis, really. I can't in all honesty think of anything to say.

Of course I have been places, done things... lovely Theo and I have spent time together - I've even met her parents - I've been cooking, cleaning, showering, eating, thinking, being interviewed, getting frustrated by the creaking mechanism that is the DWP, picking my nose, drinking tea and nibbling hobnobs, etc., but some of it isn't blogworthy and some of it I just want to keep to myself, my own personal, private 'real' self. (I have one of those, you know...)

I'm sure there is lots of stuff I could write about - but I'm getting a bit blog-baffled.

So, I'm opening it up to you - this could be risky.

Ask me a question.
Any question.

Unless it is ridiculously incriminating (so no, I'm not going to tell you about any major crimes I have committed, nor the whereabouts of any corpses...) I'll answer it.

So, over to you.

Fire away.

I'm waiting....

A Means to an End

I've been considering my finances and in light of my direly straitened circumstances I have decided to be proactive.

I am not, however, considering prostitution (I'm under-qualified in that particular area. Mens' parts? *shudder* Ick Ick Ick...) although I suppose it would be one way to get some cash... & maybe a drug habit, some diseases and a range of assaults upon my person. Not that I want any of those particularly. It would be something to talk about at dinner parties, I suppose. Ho hum...

Instead I am trying desperately to sell some stuff: to whit, an electric guitar, a violin, an oboe, some computer games, and possibly a couple of dodgy old mobile phones I have knocking about in a drawer somewhere. I'm not yet selling my accordion. It's not that I am loath to part with it that deters its sale so much as the fact it smells like a dead man. A very sweaty dead man. A unique selling point, you might agree, but not a good one.

If you know of anyone who might like to part cash for any of the above, let me know - I will kiss your hems and tug my forelock in obsequious gratitude...

Of course, if the DWP had got their collective arses in gear and actually processed my JSA claim a month ago, my finances would merely be grim rather than dire. Come to think of it, if my former employer had paid me for the work I'd done, I wouldn't be quite so mired in shite either. It is cold comfort to know that I have a couple of hundred measly quid coming my way when rent and bills are due and I need a new set of clippers in order to continue to save money by cutting my own hair...

Anyone want to buy a kidney? Anyone?

Happy New...er...

Well, Hogmanay was something of a damp squib this year. Actually, it was a sopping wet, gale-ridden, torrentially pissed-on squib. I'm rather glad it was celebrated chez Gripes with a Scotch and Wry DVD and a mug of hot chocolate. I can't quite imagine ever wanting to wander into Princes Street to throng among the multitudes, gradually getting colder and needing to pee while drunks go in for a tongue sarnie at midnight. Not that that was even an option this year - Princes Street got cleared while the rain fell horizontally... I did feel a little sorry for those who had travelled across oceans of time/the world to "experience" Hogmanay Scottish-style - but only briefly: after all, isn't part of the whole Scottish experience about getting cold, wet and disappointed?

Anyhow, one of the wannabe revellers was an old schoolfriend. We met up for a pint or two and exchanged tales of ye olde Norwich City FC and other stuff. We haven't seen each other in about 17 years and apart from getting older, rounder and with both more and less hair in various places, he was exactly as I remembered him, only older. It was good to see the old bugger (he was the first boy I ever kissed - well, apart from Glenn Forbes in Primary School, but that really doesn't count...) and good to hear that life was treating him well. It was also good to hear someone speak so lovingly about Norfolk. I miss Norfolk and to be reminded of its culture (yes, it has culture!) landscape and people was a good kind of nostalgia. I also got to meet his wife and friends - who were also good folk- and got told the "romantic" version of how they met, which was typically self-deprecating and gallant. I hope we keep in touch a little better in the future, its good to know someone so grounded and rooted.

In other "news" I start the year broke. Church mice might be tempted to leave me donations. There has been a fuck-up with my benefits payments and god alone knows when I might be getting money into my account. Ho hum. *applies for dog-on-string and begging hat/blanket combo*

Oh yes - and This Life +10. *sigh* As much as it was good to see the old crew back together, I did feel a sense of disappointment. It wasn't crap per se, just less snappy and somehow less "true" than the original series. Or maybe I didn't relate to it as well as I did in the 90s (I'm far less successful and affluent for a start...and my character has developed since then, even if theirs hasn't.) And for fuck's sake - there is no way that Egg would be a best-selling author! "Ooh, let's all rush out and buy a book about selfish, shagging lawyers" let alone one that would garner enough interest to warrant a documentary. But that's fiction for you. Hmm...

Happy New Year folks, should that be what you're after!