Monthly Archives: November 2009

Dreams No.2

This is actually about dreams of things I would like to do with my life and not stuff I’ve thought whilst asleep and not accountable for what happens in my head. So here is a list, ranging from the mundane to the definitely-never-going-to-happen-but-wouldn’t-it-be-nice, of things I’d like to do some day, outside of the whole career-marriage-kids-die-happy thing. I’ve probably done a post like this before but it’s probably changed a bit, and I felt like writing this list, so here it is:

  1. Learn to knit well enough that I can knit exciting clothes for myself and (sorry, kids) my maybe-some-day children (they’re going to hate me).
  2. See a rocket being launched (albeit from a certain distance).
  3. Travel round the world without going on a single plane (this is not particularly likely)
  4. Be able to draw people that look not only like actual human beings, but also like the people they were originally meant to look at (to this end, I’ve joined the Life Drawing class at my university).
  5. Know about wine – what’s good, what’s bad, what’s better, what those strange words mean, what goes with what, and most importantly, what I do and do not like (in slightly less vague terms than ‘this is nice’ or ‘this tastes cheap’).
  6. Know one end of a camera from the other (ditto joining PhotoSoc). To be fair to myself I am my mother’s and grandfathers’ (yes, both of them) daughter/granddaughter insofar as they are all (or were) good and interested amateur photographers (my grandda does the photos for the Peoples’ Theatre in Newcastle and still develops the films himself in his darkroom behind the kitchen); and I’ve taken some not completely terrible shots in the past, but I would like to know more about the technical side of things rather than just be baffled as I am at the moment by all the strange numbers and symbols and moving parts on my grandfather’s old manual or the various DSLRs I’ve managed to get my hands on in the past.
  7. Pretty-much-always be part of a half decent orchestra/choir.
  8. Learn to sew and make my own patterns (because I like very few of the patterns you can buy in the shops because they don’t appear to be designed by anyone who really knows what’s going on in fashion right now – so I don’t know where Lucy gets her patterns!
  9. Some day get a solo in the university chamber choir.
  10. Learn to ski (seriously it looks fun and also I’m kind of embarassed that I can’t – it seems that everyone has been at least once and I don’t want to end up doing a Bridget Jones (although I’d be far better dressed, all sleek in all-black minimalist awesome skiing…stuff. Whatever people wear when they’re skiing) and making a fool of myself; it just seems like one of those things I ought to be minimally competent at).
  11. Make a creme brulee – I don’t know why, I’ve just always wanted to try.
  12. Have singing lessons and get vaguely good at this whole singing thing.
  13. Go and buy lots of clothes in London next time I have money (Camden, Portobello Market, Oxford Street, and the rest. Perhaps I should go on a minibreak for one).
  14. Climb all the Munros (mountains higher than 3000ft in Scotland)
  15. Learn the first Cello Concerto by Schostakovich.
  16. Go back to That Hamlet Near Morfa Nefyn (I can’t remember what it was called) on the Lleyn Peninsula, Wales – unbelievably stunning even in the rain.
  17. Have my entire wardrobe consist either of things I have owned since forever or of things which I bought second-hand or sourced ethically (and be able to afford things like this)
  18. Be able to paint/draw and be pleased enough with my efforts that I can stick ’em up on my walls in frames and such. I would love to know how to handle oils well but I’ve lost the confidence I had as a child/young teen so I’ll work my way up from pencil and charcoal slowly, thanks!
  19. Have a book published (why not? you know this blog is beautiful :P)
  20. Habitually sometimes cook from a recipe – and an interesting recipe at that. Yes, I can make up delicious food from scratch using only lentils and cabbage and taters, but I would like to have to arse around for days finding a deli that stocks asafoetida or something, and then do finicky little things with this or that ingredient, and then unveil a dish of something so unbelievably perfect that it makes you almost cry, matched with the perfect bottle of wine (see no.5), and followed by a melt-in-the-mouth have-more-than-three-spoonfuls-and-your-heart-will-stop dessert. Preferably served with candles and Mr Right and not much else.
  21. Live in London for a while.
  22. Go to the Proms once in a while.
  23. Go to bed every day feeling that I have accomplished something (I like that feeling in my life at the moment. I may be incredibly stressed but I like that I am getting things done)….

…which means I should get off the laptop now and go and do some more work. Is there anything I’ve forgotten?

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We Didn't Get Burgers In The End…

So I decided I’d go for lentil burgers and potato wedges. I say this, what really happened was that I boiled some lentils and potatoes, steamed some cabbage, didn’t have any bread, fried the potatoes with garlic salt and chilli, half-arsedly mashed the lentils and slopped them into a frying pan with no binding or anything other than more garlic salt and chilli, and tipped it all onto a plate. How did ‘I’m cooking tonight’ turn into throwing the first three things I found in the kitchen into a variety of pans and hoping for the best?

When I turn my mind to it, I can cook pretty well. I know a large number of ‘dishes’ off by heart; I can follow a recipe and create something delicious, I like baking, I like cooking, I like preparing and eating nice food. At least I’m no longer surviving on tinned tomatoes and chocolate, but seriously, what happened?

Anyway, I am in the library and today’s menu has consisted of porridge, a wrap, a cookie, and a cup of tea, because I have been in rehearsals or the library all day and can’t actually remember what the outside world looks like any more. How I shall ever find my way home I do not know.

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Dreams

If the dream is a translation of waking life, waking life is also a translation of the dream

– Rene Magritte

Dreams are pretty interesting, aren’t they? Who appears in them, and who doesn’t. I know people who believe that dreams can tell them about the future, that dreams can tell them things in general. Dreams can surely only tell you what you already know, if you look at it the right way. Dreams are a way of reshuffling what you’ve experienced and processing it and turning it into a crazy adventure involving naked parcours or treetop monkeybusiness, skydiving, characters who are a surprising (and surprisingly resonant) amalgamation of several people you know, encounters with people you’d thought long forgotten. Sometimes I hate my dreams but I don’t seem to get nightmares – or at least Nightmares – any more; and meanwhile opening a greasy spoon cafe in the North Pole probably says nothing to me about me but it’s pretty funny (‘I don’t mind, you know’…what?…’I mean, they’re polar bears, they probably don’t need teaspoons’ – yes, I talk in my sleep).

Anyway, I need sleep or more beer. Not sure which.

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Going To Be Hot.

“OK, now, we have some serious decisions to make”

“About food.”

“Yes. First off, do we want savoury or sweet or both”

“Both. I’m seriously craving potato wedges, we could make those and then make chocolate crispy cakes and also have barbecue sauce”

“Yes but I want something with my wedges; we could get burgers”

“Burgers that are hot or burgers that are going to be hot?”

“Going to be hot. Also, I have bacon and cheese so we could have bacon cheese burgers”

“Plan. Because you have bacon and cheese left over from last night, so we could have bacon and cheese burgers, right?”

“That’s what I just said”

“Oh.”

Conversation turns to pudding.

“well, desserts are always on offer at the [corner shop].”

“I thought we were going to get cornflakes and make chocolate crispy cakes”

“Yeah but I was thinking as well.”

“So we can eat chocolate crispy cakes as a kind of starter for pudding?”.

I love J. We are also half-planning on going out tonight, to the least lovely place in town, because it’s cheap – we have no major sorrows to drown, and I’m ‘drinking, not drunking’, so we’re planning on “maybe…bathing our sorrows a little bit?”. We’re funny.

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I've Never Wanted Something Rational…

OK, we’ve all got used to the concept of the song that makes you cry – mine is ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol – and that’s fair enough. You’ve all got one.

Question is, have you got one of these: the song that makes you sad now because it used to make you happy? I got into Alanis Morissette just after I got into not-being-single.*So I was happy, and don’t deny it, we were, and yes, perhaps this song took how I felt further than I actually felt (Hello, appalling grammar!) (I never said I was in love, after all, but then, I never have, and it’s not as if Chasing Cars is really an accurate reflection of my feelings when really I’ve just had a slightly bad day and would like some nice sad music on the bus please-thankyou-bye) and perhaps it only described one facet of my feelings, but anyway, it always brought a smile to my face. Although musically I don’t approve of some aspects to it – like the way the chorus ends, or the fact taht the tune is the same thing over and over again – but I still like it for being all ‘woah. I’m happy and you’re actually a nice decent human being and, seriously, what?’ which is roughly how I felt at the time. Now, of course, I’m single again, and someone handed back my Bitterness Licence. (Alanis, be careful, he’s probably a douche, because – and I’m a single woman so it’s practically my biological and evolutionary imperative to say this – all men are bastards really). Except, and I’m going to betray the sisterhood here a little bit, sometimes they’re not. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.

Anyway I didnt’ mean to go into pseudo-emotional ramblings. This song used to make me happy, so now it’s a little bit poignant, but I did just spend a million years in the gym and I feel great and now I should go and do some work.

*I know, I know, I probably shouldn’t be into Alanis Morissette at all – she’s neither ‘cool’ nor ‘so kooky and unusual and interesting a thing to like that I’m cool by default’. But I am twenty years old and I like what I like, OK, so as my friend L would say – no judgies! Anyway. I

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Bad Habits No. 4

Stalking old friends and classmates on Facebook.

You added each other as friends back when you still were friends and actually saw one another on a regular basis, so this isn’t your average bitchy stalking session*. No, this is where you find out that the guy who you secretly fancied for years went to Somewhere Prestigious and is living waht appears to be a really cool and interesting life, like something out of Brideshead Revisited. Or those girls who were bitchy as hell but sure could dance really did make it as professional dancers. I’m not sure if I do this to make myself feel bad for my comparative lack of achievements, or rate myself against these people, or merely out of pure friendly interest.

And what I’ve noticed recently is that these days not only do the boys not look like boys any more, not only do they look like young men, no, I’d got used to that one – now they’re getting pot-bellied and wearing chinos and have started making tentative and bizarre creeping motions towards the big 3-0. They have blue oxford shirts and embarassing sunglasses and girlfriends who look like serious Daughter-in-Law material with neat blouses and picture-perfect maternal smiles. Meanwhile the girls I used to know you can imagine with a few more wrinkles and a more sensible haircut ten years down the line. You can imagine what they’ll look like as ‘real grown-ups’ because we’re getting to the point where that’s what we are. All that separates a lot of us from looking like we actually are thirty years of age is the haircut and the attitude. We’re graduating and we’re not ‘young’ any more. We’re all getting more heavily set, dropping the last vestiges of ‘coltish’, ‘gamine’ or ‘gauche’, filling out. Not necessarily in a fat way – some people are still as thin as rakes – just like, well, you know when you can tell a dog or a cat is or isn’t just out of adolescence? We’ve been fully adult for a few years now, but now it’s like we’re settling into that. There’s enough there that I can see the future. So, yes, I stalk people with whom I’ve in some cases almost entirely lost touch – because I can see the future, and it fascinates me, enthralls me, beckons me in… .

*although that’s fun as well – seeing whether girls who used to bully you are any less ugly now and finding to your utter delight that they’re fat/they wash their hair even less often than they used to/they’ve given birth to the ugliest baby ever (although to be fair I’ll still find it cute and probably say so becuase that’s the weird kind of person I am, saying nice friendsy things to people who used to tip my lunchbox out onto my head, because that’s perfectly normal)/they have a boyfriend who looks seriously, seriously weird/they’re living what appears to be a miserable existence in general, OH I AM SO LOVELY.

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You Know It Really Might Be Christmas Soon When…

…the Waitrose ads are the last to start up, I find, don’t you? Whilst Morrisons and Curries are jangling and waving celebrities and deals in our faces and stuffing materialism into our greedy little souls (insert obvious turkey metaphor here for maximum cynicism; I can’t be bothered), and M&S gets all pornographic and tries to get us to indulge to excess (whilst being super middle-England and faux-classy about it, of course), the Waitrose adverts are always my favourites. I know they’re only selling me turkeys and puddings and chutney and party nibbles, but at the same time this particular advert also seems to be about homecoming and families getting together – the non-cynic in me feels that they’re saying that the food and so on is secondary to what it’s all about, which is getting together with the people you love. After all, on a very general level, it is. It’s about the birth of God’s only son – it’s about children, and parents, and bringing people together, love, and community, and what it means to be home. I know, really, that they’re only trying to flog me a turkey, but just for a second they got me a little bit teary-eyed…! Anyway, it’s a little bit lovely. Go on…

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Bad Habits No. 3

Generalised Motion Rage. Yeah, that’s right. I don’t drive, so I don’t have any claim to road rage, except a) as a passenger on behalf of my driver and usually with my driver (is it wrong how much I enjoy bitching to whoever’s driving me about whoever else is on the road? I guess this is why this post it called ‘Bad Habits’. I somehow love it when whoever is driving me has cause to beep someone else (which makes me sound like a three-yaer-old, but it’s far more malicious than that), and I can bray, ‘what a BARstard’ in my most hideous plum-posh Hampshire.

Then there’s bus journeys. How dare someone have the temerity to sit beside me when there are free seats elsewhere? Sometimes I’m perfectly happy about it – I think the worst thing about this bad ‘habit’ is its unpredictability. Sometimes I feel all good and kind for letting some sweet old lady share my seat on the bus. Sometimes I want to push said sweet old lady away and steal her plastic rainhood thing and then proceed to prod her viciously with her own umbrella. I feel guilty just writing it. If you’re not a sweet old lady or pregnant, be warned, I will hate you.

I hate bus drivers because apparently the job description actually states that they must spend as much time as possible making their passengers feel stupid, ungrateful, or completely wrong-footed. Don’t get me started on the tediously petty thing they do where they can see you arrive at the bus stop, but they’ve just started shutting their doors, so no way are they opening them now, oh no.

I also feel like non-earphone-wearing types are judging me for being all yoof-of-today and listening to my music on the bus, and I want to say to everyone (this time in best BBC posh), ‘oh no, it’s alright, it’s Beethoven’ (‘air nair, it’s alrate, it’s Bate-oh-fen’) whilst giving my best Tatler smile. And conversely I’m convinced you’re judging me for bringing my cello on my bus. Not because it’s a cello, but because I either have to stand with it on my back for the whole journey, or sit down and clutch onto it for dear life so that it doesn’t fall over, and either way my coat will fall off my shoulders, ditto my handbag, and because I’m so desperately trying to either support the cello or stay upright so it doesn’t get knocked, I can’t do anything about the whole disarrayed-clothing situation, and eventually we get to wherever-it-is and I stumble off the bus, clothes and bag all over the place, looking hopelessly deranged.

As a pedestrian, I Secretly Want To Punch Slow-Walking People In The Back Of The Head. Thank you, facebook. I hate drivers because they’re always driving where I want to walk (at least when I want to cross the road) and always seem to be cross with me (probably because I just hope for the best and assume that they’ll stop driving and not kill me). If I was in the car, I’d be sitting there going ‘you BARstard’ as previously described, but clearly it’s me we’re talking about and so I, as pedestrian, am in the right, yes? Also, real drivers, do you do that thing where you deliberately drive through puddles near pedestrians? Not funny. Stop it now.

All of the above probably makes some kind of sense on some level. I’m trying to get somewhere on time and alive and hopefully feeling even vaguely rested by the whole experience, and people who get in the way of that are annoying. OK, perhaps it’s not taht rational. But compared to Lane Rage…

…what’s that? You may well ask. I go swimming quite regularly – I did fifty lengths on Sunday which, if you’re interested, is 1.6km. Anyway. I started off in the Slow/Free Swimming lane, but what I hate about that is the dodging and weaving you have to do to get out of the way of other less capable swimmers. Even worse, the awkwardness of accidentally groping someone, or, as I did on Sunday, kicking someone’s child in the head. So you’re yawing around all over the place and everyone hates everyone else. So I moved into the medium lane.

This was a complete misnomer. At least two people in it were swimming slower than the six-year-old lad with the sharks fin float strapped to his back in the Slow lane (yeah, that’s right, the one I kicked in the head). But they’re Serious Swimmers Doing Lengths, doncha know. I always assume I’ll be one of the slower swimmers in Medium but I gamely join the lane anyway and actually no, I’m not. I’m stuck behind this girl, a sweet, doe-eyed type, and I’m thinking ‘good on her’ because it’s clearly hard work for her, her technique isn’t great, her head’s dipping in and out of the water, it’s a slow, long struggle. And I assume that she’ll do what I would, when she gets to the end of the lane, namely, check how much of a tailback she’s got and let me and whoever else is behind me to overtake her. (I don’t necessarily do this because I’m nice, you understand, more because I’m embarrassed and I don’t want anyone to laugh at me for being slow, and if I’m at the back maybe they won’t notice). And she does, and I begin to regain faith in humanity. So, tra la la, later on I’m stuck behind this bloke who is getting really competitive about it, deliberately blocking anyone from overtaking by swimming practically down the middle of the lane, and instead of a nonchalant shrug-and-keep-going thing – not letting me overtake merely because he’s in his own little world and doesn’t realise how annoying I’m finding him, which I could just about deal with, he’s absolutely not going to let anybody get in front of him or let anyone through at either end of the pool. So I hate him. And having got in the hating mood, I hate them all: the man in the next lane who insists on doing Butterfly whilst I’m doing backstroke, so I end up nearly drowning with my face above the surface; the two gossiping girls who do a length every ten minutes and in between get in the way at the end of the pool, Having A Nice Time (how dare they), the skinny sporty types, anyone who can do front crawl and not feel like a seal in a seal-hunt, but mainly this incompetent bloke who can’t swim, but can’t let himself be beaten by a woman either.

Perhaps the answer is that I should just stay here, try not to purposefully travel in any direction, and then I will always be happy… Meanwhile, I have chocolates to eat. Perhaps I should just constantly eat chocolate whenever I’m travelling to keep me distracted and calm.

Chocolate is another bad habit.

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Thanks, Dear.

I met a girl last night who is a friend of my sister’s, a girl I haven’t seen in a while. In fact the penultimate time that I saw her was last Christmas, when I got drunk and completely embarassed myself. She said she wouldn’t embarass me by relating the sheer horror of that night but effectively then proceeded to do so (the fact that no-one but me heard her seems completely irrelevant), and I cringed every second. I think I was supposed to find it amusing. I have very little wish to talk to her again, which is irrational, because she’s a lovely girl, and actually I want to have nothing to do with my old self, and this sweet, self-possessed young girl has almost nothing to do with the matter.

But all she knows of me is the things I used to do, the person I used to be – and she knows very little of what was going on behind all of that of that behaviour. I have no wish to tell her what was going on inside my head that day or indeed any other round that time, none whatsoever. I don’t want to have to explain myself, spend all my time wanting to tattoo it on the insides of peoples’ eyelids: forget everything you ever thought you knew about me. I am not that girl any more. Not only am I not the girl who used to get hideously drunk and do some bloody atrociously stupid things, I am also not the kind of girl to spill up my emotional guts to people I barely know. I don’t want to have to make excuses for myself either – I chose to do those things, after all, and the fact that I wasn’t in a good place isn’t really an excuse. But I do wish there was really such a thing as a clean slate, a complete tabula rasa. All I can do is be patient, though, live by example, until people just get it.

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Hell Houses

There are Christians out there mad enough to think that schemes like this are a good idea. They are, according to The Times, ‘the new morality plays‘. That article, incidentally, is well worth reading, because it says what I’m saying, only better. Basically the plan is that on Halloween young teenagers (and their families) go to hell houses to see horrifically graphic and realistically gory depictions of late-term abortions and gay men dying of AIDS and teenagers committing suicide, as well as the negative effects of drinking alcohol, pre-marital sex, and so on. These are played out by real actors as darkly as possible. The idea is that the children who see them will thus be ‘saved’ by their fear of sin; and that people who still choose to drink, smoke, take drugs, go on the Pill, use tampons, or have a partner of their own gender are condemned to hell straight out, with no possibility of forgiveness.

I’m sorry, but there is nothing wrong with alcohol, tampons, homosexuality, the Pill, or cigarettes, in terms of sin. It is offensive and wrong to suggest to anyone that being gay automatically leads to dying of AIDS more than having straight sex would. It is terrible to suggest that drinking and partying absolutely and definitely WILL culminate in rape and suicide. It’s nonsensical. It seems downright silly to suggest that using tampons will mean that you are no longer a virgin, that you will get Toxic Shock Syndrome and you will then die. And when your audience is young and impressionable it’s even worse.

I am a Christian, and I believe in love and forgiveness. I believe that you have to live your own life and make your own mistakes and ask for forgiveness when you truly understand for yourself where you’ve gone wrong. I also believe that, like I said, the vast majority of the things these far-right Christian organisations would have down as sins are in fact not sinful in the least. But even for things which I would agree are wrong in some way – adultery or promiscuity – I believe the only way you can truly be a good person is to understand why this is bad and that is good, and being shown Struwwelpeter-like horror stories about gory consequences and hellfire is absolutely not the way these things should be ‘taught’. Among my Christian friends, the ones I most admire, whose moral choices I most respect, those who are the most accepting, the least judgemental and the most outward-looking – those who accepted and helped me the most – are those, in the main, who have got to that point by much the same route as I took – who started off most definitely not on the straight and narrow, made choices that ended up not making them happy, and then realised that living life differently could bring them peace and contentment and joy. I’m not out to judge anyone in that last sentence, incidentally – I know there is joy to be had in drinking far too much and piecing together last night over a bleary coffee the next morning, in pulling someone you’ll never see again or ending up the wrong side of town on the wrong side of the day after completely unpredicted adventures, and as far as I’m concerned that’s a personal choice.

And personally I do not think that traumatising and scaring young kids, shutting os cut ‘sinners’, raining judgment and hellfire upon anyone who doesn’t conform, as all of the more right-wing church movements do in one way or another – I do not think that this constitutes Christian behaviour. I think it’s wrong to terrorise impressionable young people, I think it is wrong to judge other people for the way they live, I think it is wrong to lie about the consequences of life choices you do not personally agree with, I think it is so absolutely xenophobic (in the sense of ‘fear of other’) that part of me is amazed that things like this even exist in this day and age. I think it’s disgusting under any guise, and I am absolutely appalled that this is done by people who apparently share my faith (or indeed anyone’s). I feel like I’m apologising for the black sheep of the family, the fatcat businessman in a family of loving, giving liberals. I could reel out some apt quote about the Pharisees criticising Jesus for something like not washing his hands in the temple, while they themselves are trading and doing business in the temple instead, but instead I shall go to bed. I will never understand the logic behind right-wing Christianity, I really won’t.

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