Monthly Archives: April 2010


I keep seeing lone magpies everywhere. One for sorrow, two for joy. I can’t remember the last time I saw more than one, if I’m honest. If I’m being really honest, this unsettles me hugely.

I don’t know why. I’m a scientist. The world works like this. All of my beliefs cohere together and yes, God makes scientific sense within that to me. Or rather he would if I had a better grasp of various things that have been explained to me and made sense to me in the past but I’m not terribly bright, so I can’t remember. But what I don’t understand is where do all these superstitions fit in? Where does wearing a specific pair of purple pants to any exam or interview I ever do, for luck, make sense? Or the lucky piskie necklace my mother gave me for the same purpose? Or the earrings I only ever wear for job interviews? Or the silver cross necklace which I still wear every single day? If I’m going to need ‘luck’ on a given day I make our black cat walk across my path before I leave. And I make up superstitions on the spot sometimes, trade-offs. If I do this, then desired/undesired event A will or won’t happen. It’s just a comfort blanket, a lot of these things, but I do, for some reason, believe those things. And I don’t know why.

Meanwhile, those magpies. There’s a rhyme you’re meant to say when you see a lone magpie. I can never remember it. This seriously worries me.

EDIT: later. I was sent a link by a good friend to the Wikipedia article on the subject which doesn’t mention the rhyme to which I referred to (for lone magpies) but does have a large selection of variants of the rhyme about magpies. I think the most common is probably

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret that’s never been told.

However there are regional variants which add extra lines or bring different things – the devil, kissing, the true love you’re missing, bogey pie, and so on. Very interesting. Also if you scroll up a way it also goes through how you’re supposed to greet Magpies in order to allay bad luck or bring yourself the good luck promised by their number. But there was definitely a rhyme you should say to a lone magpie, which isn’t in the article. Hrm.



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I'm Going To Say Something Hideously Controversial So Please Don't Misconstrue It, Alright?

Basically, this. And I will clarify, before I start, I hated being depressed, of course I did, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone and I would never ever wish to be in that place again if I to any extent have the choice, and I want you to read the following paragraphs being absolutely certain of that because otherwise you’re all going to hate me. And I don’t know how to say this or where to start because it’s hard to put into words but I want to have said it.

So basically. There are very, very, very few good points about depression – in fact, I think, there is only one. And it is this: that people show you just how much they do care, in a way that when you’re not depressed, or ill, they sort of have no cause to. Does that make sense? There was something really, really good about, when having a bad day, just having someone there to hold my hand and look out for me. When everything tasted like cardboard and nothing had any kind of colour and I couldn’t care less about anything it did actually matter on some level that you were there holding me whilst I drifted miles away marooned in my cloud. There is no greater or more valuable proof of love than that you were waiting for me to come back and didn’t blame me in the least and some of my favourite memories of some of my favourite people are from some of the bleakest and most awful days I had. When I was panicking, running, desperate, away from rooms and crowds and people, or having nightmares and crying out in my sleep, too, and you were there unquestioning saying soothing things as if I was actually a small child whilst I tried to remember how to cry. I want to apologise to the people who had to deal with me in that kind of a state, for the days I ruined, the moments people have had to miss out on in order to stick around and look after me, I don’t like that I’ve put people through that, and it’s probably deeply boring watching me take three hours to decide whether or not I want a cup of tea and then drink it, and it must be hard taking decisions about whether I should eat or drink something and having to put me to bed and watch out for me, it must have been hard taking responsibility for everything for me because I couldn’t do that for myself sometimes, and I’m so very sorry. There’s a bit of me that here and now wants to write a list of tiny little moments that I will always treasure, just to show you all, but I’m not prepared to lay myself and my friendships and, well, other people, that open.

But the way I have been loved and cared for in those moments means more to me than I can possibly express, and now I am (thank God, thank everything, thank everyone) OK, now I’m not depressed and I don’t have nightmares about anything worse than finding myself naked in the supermarket or whatever, now I am fine I don’t expect I will have that absolute nurturing love from anyone ever again, not unless I get ill with something else or something (here’s hoping that never happens to me either), and there’s a bit of me that is kind of sad that never again will having someone’s arms around me or watchful gaze over me as I lie there have that same kind of emotional weight. But I know full well and I know I am lucky to know this, that there are hundreds of ways of feeling loved and of loving people and of being loved.

Please say that all of this does make sense and doesn’t make me a bad person? I know this is a garbled entry, too many convoluted clauses, too much and too little punctuation, very badly expressed, but I hope you can understand this.

So before I move on (I have so much work to do), very simply, thank you, and sorry. Whether you read this or not, you all know who you are.


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So I Failed.

Everyone, I’m sorry. If it wasn’t just about me and how I felt I would have done it anyway and bugger the consequences.

Basically I realised, thinking about it, that I am too hung over to give blood. That it’s not impossible, given the way alcohol affects me and the amount of time it takes me to get over a hangover, that I still have alcohol in my blood. Yes, the Talisker and the Laphraoig last night was lovely lovely lovely, but I really, really should have remembered before I started drinking that I was giving blood today and really oughtn’t to drink.

I will make an appointment, tomorrow, and go down to the blood centre in town.

I’m sorry, after I nagged you all so self-righteously and got up on my high horse. So I’m climbing down, and apologising.

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So Today I Was Going To Say Something Worthwhile

I had several ideas for blog posts which I wrote down… somewhere. (Ed: Found them. Tomorrow is going to be controversial. I’m a little nervous).

However today you have a choice – you can listen to me ranting and raving about how brutally hung over I am, or you can watch the newest John Lewis advert. You remember how the Christmas one made me cry (Ed: Oh, wait, that was the Waitrose one, but I think the point still stands)? Well. This one might just be worse. By which I do of course mean better. And it’s fantastically effective – because I want to be the John Lewis woman now, and that obviously starts with buying, I don’t know, a new cushion and a dinner service. Because these things will obviously cause me to marry and settle down in a big beautiful house and have an improbably beautiful and successful deeply middle-class family who are all brilliant at family games and own a selection of deeply photogenic dogs.

Actually I can’t be bothered to rant and rave about how hungover I am. I’m too hungover to be hilariously witty about it. But I will say this: I’m in a far less terrible mood than I usually am whilst hung over.

Oh, and – ‘hung over’ or ‘hungover’? Thankfully it’s not a question that tends to come up in the books I proof-read. Talking of which, I’d better shoot.


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Give Blood

I’m giving on Wednesday. I give about twice a year because I’m a little low in iron. When did you last give blood? Go to where they will tell you where and when your nearest and most imminent session is. It’s also easy to book an appointment to give blood on the site. It couldn’t be easier to organise. So unless you’ve got a genuinely good excuse (I know some of you really do), sort it out. That is all.


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Vote For Policies?

Since you’re all so fired up about the election you might like Vote For Policies. It’s a questionnaire where you select the policy sets that most appeal to you on as many as nine key issues (you don’t have to answer for all) and then at the end you get to see which parties you agreed with most and which least, broken down literally policy area by policy area.

For example, although I was mainly roughly where I expected, I selected the UKIP Education policy set in the Education bit…! You don’t get told when you see each policy set which one is from which party, which is good, otherwise I would never have clicked on that particular policy probably merely based on the fact that it was UKIP. If you’re more savvy than me then if I were you do your best to not think about ‘I wonder if this policy is this party’ the entire time because you’ll only think, ‘ooh, this has to be Labour [or whatever] so I’ll click on that’ when actually if you went in blind as it were you might actually have preferred the Green Party’s views on whatever-it-was.

Anyway. Certainly interesting.


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Can You Tell I've Been Reading The Weekend Magazines Again?

Is there anything more boringly, mundanely unflattering than wearing above-the-knee-length dresses or skirts with tights and ballet pumps? If you’re thin it makes you look like a heron, if you’re not… let’s not go there. And it’s not even like a fashion statement, no, it’s one of those things you do when you want to wear a dress and it’s spring so you have to wear tights and you don’t have any more suitable shoes than plain black ballet pumps which you just cannot get away with, m’kay?

Not that I don’t do this myself sometimes.

Easy simple solution: lace-up shoes. Tennis shoes, brogues, whatever. Shoes which do something around the ankle basically. Or low heels of some kind. Or sandals and just deal with the lack of tights.

Actually what I would really like is tights which don’t have toes. Tights which say have a hole for your big toe and a hole for the other four toes together, a bit like flip flops. Yeah, I know not wearing tights with sandals would be better but we do live in Britain and then you could wear tights with dresses and actual reasonable springtimey sandaly shoes.

Just, please. If you’re wearing ballet pumps your skirt has to be longer than the knee. Or you have to be wearing trousers. It really is that simple. Unless you have literally got the shapeliest, loveliest legs on the planet. And by ‘shapely’ and ‘lovely’ I don’t just mean long and thin, sorry to all you supermodel types. I do just massively envy you normally, but.

Shoot me if I do it again?


Filed under Fashion, Society, Thoughts

Alright So I'm In Birmingham On The Internet.

This post is basically ethical fashion linkspam. I’m good at that. If you can’t be bothered to visit more than one link then this is the link you should click. It’s to the Guardian ethical fashion Earth Day gallery – fourteen pictures, fourteen different ethical brands, fourteen beautiful pieces of clothing, footwear and jewellery, fourteen more reasons to jump on the ethical bandwagon. The rest of this post is basically me jumping about going LOOK LOOK LOOK so you may as well stop reading. Although if you were to click on just one other link it would be this.

Yesterday I basically had to get my weekend newspaper fix so I went on Guardian online and found OH MY WORD ETHICAL SHOES AT PRICES I CAN ACTUALLY CONTEMPLATE. Then I remembered that these days I’m not allowed to go on the internet and buy shoes in case my feet don’t like them. So I thought I’d give you the link. Don’t be put off by the poor site design (although the home page will scroll through various of their designs and initiative so you should get a preview of various pretty things if you wait) and instead look at these brogues. Or these wedges (which have a really pretty print on the heel. Lovely lovely). It’s a bit of a trawl but these are affordable and ethical shoes and the existence of such a site makes me very happy.

You should definitely look at the Guardian gallery where I found the brogues – it led me to Terra Plana shoes (I want these, for starters); Komodo (a bit hit and miss but worth it for the hits); Beyond Skin (really, really lovely vegan shoes, mostly with heels); MonkeeGenes (actual organic ethical blah blah blah genes that I would actually buy at pretty normal prices); and last but most definitely not in the slightest bit least (this may be my second most recommended link on this page) Fashion Conscience, which I hadn’t come across before, another of those sites that pulls together a lot of different ethical brands and puts them all on one site, where I found this top (please?).

So there you go. Knock thyselves out. Me, meanwhile, I just got a whole load of new clothes from my housemate and I said, I said, that I wasn’t going to buy any clothes this term. So. I’m… not going to. Seriously. I mean it.


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I Really Don't Have Much To Say For Myself At The Moment.

I’m going away for the weekend. I will have access to the internet – after all, I’m only going to be at my aunt’s place – but I will also be reasonably busy and I can’t foresee inspiration striking any time soon, so basically don’t expect an update until Monday at the earliest.

Next week it’s all choir concerts and so on. I’ve got a hideous feeling I’ve effectively missed the orchestra concert having missed two rehearsals in a row and seen a poster recently advertising the concert as being, well, tonight, and I’m away.

I’m doing a quartet gig in Birmingham and from somewhere in my wardrobe I have to produce a summery and yet formal colourful dress in which I can play my cello. I don’t actually have that many clothes up in Uni Town with me (for once) so this could be interesting.

And on Thursday night I had a dinner party. Originally it was going to be me and A and M-and-H, lasagne and a nice bottle of wine before off to the pub quiz… we never made it to the pub quiz. Actually it turns out that M is an experienced and good cook who flummoxed me with his knowledge of technical terms (and, worse, how to pronounce them), so he quickly decided I wasn’t up to the mark (really he should have tried the lasagne I produced on tuesday, not that, of course, he was there, being an atheist) and made the whole thing for me, effectively. I felt slightly galled, I’ll be honest, but it did mean I got to sit down and relax with a nice glass of wine. And it was good wine. I did myself proud there. Now I even know how to say ‘Rioja’, which I didn’t before, although I certainly knew how to enjoy it. Don’t go thinking I got wasted; I didn’t.

Anyway, what happened in the end was that my housemate J joined us, as did my vegan housemate E (who had soup instead) and her boyfriend A (who is not a vegan) and suddenly we had seven people which felt a lot more like a party and was certainly too many for the table, which stayed stuck in the corner and we all sat around the sitting room eating lasagne and making philosophy jokes. I was the only non-philosopher in the room, by some strange chance, actually, but to be honest, witty repartee in the world of philosophy is dead easy – just reply ‘Ah, but is it?’ to anything anyone says and they’ll think you’re hilarious.

I have such fantastically cool friends… .

Anyway that’s quite enough lasagne for one week.

Does anyone know where I can catch the latest leaders’ debates online? I missed Thursday’s.

That was one hell of a boring entry. Please don’t watch this space. It’ll be empty for a while.


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Like Bloody Buses

It’s not a wholly relevant title. But nor is it wholly irrelevant.

Anyway. Somehow I think about all of this and I don’t know what to do right now because I have far too many choices. Somehow this makes me think of things that went years before. And somehow that means that I conflate you with everyone else and somehow manage to write you as a villain in my head and I become far more powerless, when I’m not, and you couldn’t be more considerate if you tried.

In my head I manage to turn you into someone else entirely and this is not the situation we are in, because we’re all adults now, and panicking at two in the morning about a completely reimagined reinterpretation of you is not going to help anyone, and I feel terrible that I can even do that to you in my head.

So, well, thank you.


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