Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Long Haul

I have spent days, and days, and days, in these four walls, staring at this screen, working, by and large, pretty well, and I’m halfway through the condensed notes I’ve got for tomorrow’s exam, but after that I have only two days until my next two exams, on wednesday and thursday respectively, and then I have two more on the wednesday and thursday after that. THank goodness they’re not closer together otherwise I’d never be prepared, but I have plenty of friends who have had exams spread right across exam season, when they would have the time to take a break of an afternoon or an evening or a morning or even a whole day, and I don’t have the luxury of time.

I’m going to give myself two hours after tomorrow’s exam, and I’d like to go swimming or something but I know that doing so will give me real guilt, so I’ll save it, I’ll just curl up with iPlayer or something and if I feel too stressed or guilty I can crack on with more revision. It just strikes me that over the next fortnight as I have been for over a week already I’ll be working and sleeping, and not much more. Not really having time for meals, not eating properly, definitely not having enough time to make some sense of this room, tidy it up a bit, or do any laundry, or get out of the house, or talk to anyone. No, just me and my books, slogging onwards, and it’s just this giant weight on my back, it’s dragging me down, nose to the desk, keep going, keep going, keep going.

The sunshine is mocking me. I can’t revise outside, it’s too distracting, and it’s beautiful, and I want to be out there in it with an ice-cream or Pimm’s or with my walking boots strapped round my feet and map in hand.

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Written On The Body

This is the title of a book by Jeanette Winterson. I can’t say much about it, but narrated by the protagonist who remains nameless and even, up to a point, genderless, and without detail – we aren’t told much about them at all, but that’s almost exactly the point – and the love of their life, and all the stuff around that. It is, essentially, a book about love, and in that sense it reads almost more like a poem in parts. It is stunning and heartbreaking and I loved it, and M recommended to me and I can entirely see why this is her favourite book. Read it. A didn’t like it as much as I did, but either way, we would all recommend it. Definitely worth the read. That and the girl in the book is entirely beautiful.

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More of a Tweet, Really…

…this is a short one.

I quote A, who says, of me: ‘PoshJenny is a cellist of no little skill and whose family does music like other families do football, or organised religion‘. I like that statement. It makes me feel skilled and unique, where I would say I am neither to any great degree. Anyway, it was a nice line. On the music front, I have plans, to get together some friends to play the Mendelsohn Octets over the summer with some friends and friends-of-friends. An octet, in terms of strings, is four violins, two violas and two cellos, the exact double of a string quartet (oh, and if you know anyone who wants a wedding quartet, I have one, very, very occasionally, although I think me and the viola have been usurped, which is fine by me because our replacements are probably far, far better; but we’re not half bad. And by not half bad, I mean pretty damn good. So let me know – who knows, I might even do some practice especially. We can play anything you ask, as long as we can find an arrangement for quartet, or even write one, as we have done in the past).

A also said to me he doesn’t read Cloudlife, becuase ‘I was there. You were going through hell, and I see no reason to read it again and feel that sorry for you all over again’. I never thought of it as hell. Was it?

And a quick update on the mental health front: yes, I am still fine, still happy, and still loving it, but I can’t help seeing warning signs everywhere, and then panicking that my seeing warning signs is a warning sign in itself, and panicking some more, but if I didn’t worry about it, I guess I wouldn’t be half so grateful for being OK. That’s not quite what I mean. I’d rest on my laurels, relax into it, and then my cloud would swoop up and catch me with my trousers down, and so, of course, I’m always on the look-out, whatever difference that might make to my ability to do the least thing about it.

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Filed under Family, Friendship, Happenings, Music, Thoughts

Not Comedy Central

No, not comedy central at all, in fact. My grandmother is blind, and this could seriously affect the ability of her and others in her position to get access to the books she loves in a format in which she can take them in. Spread the word, this is important. That is all.

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Comedy Central

Humiliation comedy, awkward moments, that whole shebang. On Peep Show, Gossip Girl, wherever, I just do not like it. I hate it when someone has made an effort or is trying to act like something they’re not and the whole act just comes crashing down in hideous cascade around them. I hate it when someone sets out to make someone else look stupid. And I hate, more than anything, that we, the audience, are meant to find that funny. It’s terribly uncomfortable viewing and I would rather watch torture-porn or the shipping forecast or something, anything, instead of watching characters who I can’t help sympathising (or empathising, we all do it) with, being made to look stupid, hoist by their own lime green humiliation petard, or by someone else’s, laid out carefully for them. It makes me squirm. I literally can’t stand to watch it. I have to look away, wait until the scene is over, go away, make myself a cup of tea, anything. It’s the one thing I cannot watch.

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Filed under Introspection, Life, TV

This Entry Comes With A Bad Language Warning…

…though it shouldn’t have to, because I regularly and freely will use the f-word in my blog. This post, anyway, is about the word ‘cunt’, which I will try to avoid using so as to not offend the sensibilities of my readers – an apology and avoidance I personally feel I shouldn’t have to make about this word. As a word, for what it describes – the vagina – it is perfectly descriptive, with those muscular consonants and soft yielding plosives and such – and please don’t put any feminist/post-feminist/blah construction on my use of hte word ‘yielding’, that would be just silly.

It also doesn’t have any of the negative connotations of any of its synonyms, as I’ve said a million times although not necessarily on here – even vagina means sword-sheath, and I shouldn’t have to go into any of the others (I mean, ‘pussy’? ‘gash’? Seriously?). Obviously like many of these words it is used offensively, but so are words like ‘cock’ and so on, so why should ‘cunt’ be any different?

How is it that like no other word it has kept its power to shock? ‘Fuck’ is a commonplace, now; and I have friends who will talk about being ‘so raped’ in a game of tennis or centurion or something, or ‘facebookraped’ by their friends. By definition we should be utterly appalled at such a lighthearted use of such a term, but instead most of us still get our knickers in a twist about the ‘dreaded c-word’. Why?

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Filed under Happenings, Life, Society, Thoughts, Women

Sleep, I Miss You, Come Back, All Is Forgiven.

I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in nearly a week. On Wednesday night I went out for L’s birthday; I revised until late on Thursday, I went to see some friends and a large quantity of gin (twice, thanks to A, who rather suffered in drinking games) on Friday, on Saturday and last night I had bad nights for assorted reasons (Saturday being a real Cloudlife moment), and having finally dropped off at around 7am this morning, and pretty fitfully at that, I am still awake tonight, partly out of the fear of being unable to sleep, and partly because I am no longer tired. This is annoying. Tomorrow night I will break out the Nytol and go to bed at ten.

I don’t know why I tell you all this – I have real friends, in the real world, to whom I can bitch as much as I like about the sleep I do or do not get; I can always talk to A, for starters, then there’s R and M who are both invaluable, numerous people at the ends of numerous phone lines, but I don’t feel the need to have a Big Conversation about any of this, merely to say look, this is me, here I am, and this is what I am experiencing, and it’s a bit of a pain but it’s nothing I need to talk about. I just can’t sleep, and right now there’s no-one I want to say that to except the ether, people removed enough to choose to comment if they will, to choose to read or not, to choose to completely ignore, and that’s entirely up to you and that’s just how I like it. Do you know what I mean?

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A Letter To…

The Guardian Family section, which comes out on Saturdays, has a section called ‘A Letter To…’ which is also (obviously) on their website here. Not all the pieces from this section have made it up onto the net, but some of them have, and I just read the whole lot, from the most recently posted, to the first that ever was.

They’re beautiful. They’re letters to family members, dead and alive, friends, houses, comfort blankets, step-mothers, step-fathers, imagined relatives who never quite happened or never quite played the part they could have played in a person’s life, written by ordinary members of the public and sent in, with and without names and addresses. They talk about the ordinary details of ordinary lives and reveal them to be utterly extraordinary, the love and sadness and joy of anyone’s life and anyone’s relationship with the family that surround them. They talk about extraordinary lives and extraordinary circumstances, and they range from the utterly heartbreaking to the hysterically funny to the letters which bring a tear to your eye just because they are so full of warmth or longing.

They make me realise that it’s extraordinary enough just to be alive, that I don’t have to walk to the North Pole or cure cancer, that I don’t have to do anything, I am alive, and that, in itself, is everything. They make me realise, too, that so far I am just too damn lucky. And right now, all I can be is daffily grateful for that – that all I’ve ever lost in my family is a grandmother, who had time enough to say goodbye.

My one regret, though, on the subject of her death, was how easy it was to see her as a caricature – and I don’t mean that in a nasty way. She was a wonderful woman and I loved her, and she was the perfect storybook grandma, living for the rest of us, giving her time and enthusiasm and so proud of us all in so many ways, unfailingly wonderful throughout the lives of all her grandchildren. But I don’t know what made her tick for herself (or if I do know, I’ve got these things from other people, and I’d like to have been able to get them from her) – what made her laugh, what her favourite films or books were, what she did if she had half an hour to spare, what she was like when she was younger, whether she had any boyfriends before my Granda, what were her own opinions on politics or global warming or the work my father does or her relationship with each of her children.

Partly because that side of the family is very reserved on some things – family secrets and stories are meted out on a very need-to-know basis – and blimey, we’ve had some problems in our time, but I would feel terrible recounting any of them here – so I never would hear from her her thoughts on her relationships within the family and only ever got those things from my parents, who obviously have a biased view on things like that, being daughter-in-law and lapsed-Catholic son respectively, which made it too easy to make her almost into, well, not a joke exactly, but something to sigh lovingly and frustratedly about rather than someone with genuine moral issues with the things her family had done, who must have struggled to come to terms with the modern way of doing things and her family’s gradual loss in the faith that had supported her all her life.

Well, at least in front of the kids. The habit of hiding things from the children is one which will stay with my father, as far as I can tell, forever, and that’s fine, it makes some things easier to deal with, because you only have to deal with the practicalities of a given situation, and for the emotional side there’s hugs a-plenty should you need them and that’s quite enough, thank you!

But these are all thoughts I’ve had only since her death, and since coming out of my own cloud and finally being able to grow up, and I feel that if I’d realised things like this sooner, then maybe we could have been closer yet. Not that we weren’t, but I was in many ways still a little girl to her, because she was still my Granny, and she probably wouldn’t have had it any way, but it might have been possible. But I didn’t, and it’s made me realise more and more that I have a responsibility not to come close to making that mistake with anyone else in my life.

So, apparently, this is a letter to my Grandma, who so unflinchingly loved us all, and in the end, remembered where she’d buried her hatchets… and put them back. You are still missed. And I feel even worse for my younger cousins, who never even had a chance to see past your perfect Granny self.

Worth noting, too, how impossible it is to make a fair pen-portrait of anyone without feeling that what you’ve ended up saying wasn’t at all what you meant to say, so please make allowances for the fact that pens run away with themselves, or keyboards do, at any rate, and I can’t trammel my thoughts effectively without drafting and re-drafting for hours, and these are hours I haven’t got. I say this all with ridiculous quantities of love for my whole family even though most of them will never read it, and heartwrenching amounts of pride in them all and above all, hope.

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RapidShare

Because I love you, here’s a tip off. I’m going to assume you’re all reasonably technoliterate – ask me in the comments if you have any questions, but if you want to use my Rapidshare account, I’ve got a premium account for the next 90 days and it might be of some use in downloading films and such – go to Rapidshare, go to the Premium Zone login, and enter username PoshJenny and password mrshaml3t (I haven’t used that password for anything else, so don’t think you can go changing my facebook status to anything supposedly ‘humorous’ or anything like that), and then search on the web for ‘rapidshare [a film you’d like to see]’.

When you find one which doesn’t want you to hand over money or anything (they’re pretty common, especially if you search for ‘rapidshare [film] free’… OK, now I’m assuming you’re about as technoliterate as my mother, which wasn’t the plan) click on the links for that film (it’ll be in ten or twenty small bits) and you can download them, but they’ll be WinRAR archives so you’ll have to download WinRAR or the Mac equivalent, but trial versions are free from somewhere and there doesn’t seem to be a working time limit before you have to hand over money). Put them all in the same folder. Then you’ll be able to unzip them, string ’em all together and watch the film.

Like I say, any questions, put them in the comments, and if I can’t explain what I mean, someone can. It really isn’t as complicated as I’ve managed to make it sound – after all, I can do it. Dubious legality, but usually pretty decent quality. That’s how I discovered Skins, Gossip Girl, and today, Brokeback Mountain. I used to use S’s account but it doesn’t seem to be functional any more. Enjoy!

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Typical Jenny Stupidity

Right. Some background. There is a pond down by the halls in which I live, and it looks lovely, and there are ducklings, but it smells odd, and we’ve been hearing rumours all year that people who fall in the pond are whisked off immediately for any number of jabs and inspections and medical hoohah. Today is beautifully sunny and warm, and what looks like the entire student village is sprawled about on any bit of grass they can shotgun, wearing rather less than normal and getting burned, feeding the ducklings, revising, chatting, playing guitars and some have even dragged their kitchen tables outside to sit around and work sensibly. It’s all rather charming, though as the sun begins to go down people are now drifting inside.

I have just got out of the shower.

Surely you’ve guessed what has just happened by now? Yes, that’s right. Someone’s rugby ball ended up in the pond, and the two lads who were playing with it were rather wussily poking at it with twigs and throwing things into the pond to try and drift it shorewards; contemplating hoopla-ing it with the life ring, and otherwise Being Ridiculous.

So, of course, I womanfully rolled up my jeans to the knee, marched down to the pond, and waded in. What I didn’t know is that just after the cobbled slip into the pond hits the water, it suddenly drops away to silty, oily nothingness. Had I not been surprised by this change in terrain I wouldn’t have fallen over, but fall I did, right in to the pond, on one side, up to my neck. Thankfully my head didn’t get submerged otherwise perhaps right now I’d be hanging about in some surgery waiting to have needles jabbed into every inch of skin, tablets washed down with horrible hospital ‘fruit’ squash, and so on. Anyway, I rescued the rugby ball and have just spent the last age in the shower, I’ve put the clothes I was wearing into a very hot wash, and have contemplated the use of bleach to clean my body before I dry myself off, but it’s probably a bad plan, so I won’t, I’ll just hope for the best. The receptionist at the entrance to our student village has told me I should be fine, but that I should keep a serious eye on the cut I recieved on my foot and keep it as clean as I possibly can.

Anyway, it’s a story very typical of me. No patience with idiots, a gung-ho idiot bravery, and pondweed, dead leaves, and black, oily scum all over the floor of my soon-to-be-vigourously-mopped shower! Thankfully I find the whole thing hilarious, as do my loving flatmates… .

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