...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?


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!