Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008

So it's Hogmanay. Given that I've never really got the hang of New Year, despite insisting that everyone else should have a jolly good time, it is so not worth trying to land a babysitter tonight. So, nothing happening.

It's difficult to look back on this year and not feel kind of depressed. I've done several unspeakably stupid things, I've been incredibly slothful, I've achieved very very little and I've lost some friends. I'm in pretty much the exact same position I was in this time last year, still with all the same complaints, but with a considerably heavier conscience. And I've been blimmin' 33 for all bar the very start of 2008.

But that's the way of sadness.

For the parents of Emily, Freya and Liam, 2008 saw the arrival of precious little bundles.

For Grania and Andrew, and Isla and James, 2008 was the year in which they got married.

For me, 2008 was the year in which my children grew into talking, opinionated, wise, competent and funny little people. It was the year that I discovered various fantastic things that were written/made before but which I encountered for the first time. It was the year I got to *know* wonderful people. It was the year I passed exams and coursework and found my brain to be in full working order after years of stagnation. It was the year I turned vegetarian, which is surely a good thing.

And so, 2008 shall not be dismissed as all bad, all those things will be looked back on fondly.

2009 is anticipated eagerly, with my 34th birthday imminent, and I have a conviction that this is going to be the year of achievement.

Stuff is all around me

Quelle surprise. I've not decluttered.
In fact I've made things much worse and not done the day to day things that always need done. Ohappihogmanay.

I have a squilion shoes. Not because of any shoe fetish, I just never throw them out. Either because they're perfectly good shoes, they just don't fit/suit, or because they are much loved and I can't bring myself to bin them. As a result I have every pair of shoes I've bought in the last 15 years or so. The time has come to say goodbye...

Hicky Nude Gear

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

It's the thought that counts

Well, a life was practically had this evening. We were to go and see The Complete Stone Roses, playing at a club round the corner, but as evening approached we decided we couldn't actually be bothered. Mostly based on the fact that the tickets were expensive(ish) as they included the after party, something that would have excited me 15 years ago and which doesn't exactly appeal in my dotage. So nothing was done, but surely the opportunity and the turning down thereof counts as having a life?

And then, the plan to watch one of the two "best films of the year", except, the means with which to watch them is currently in several pieces being upgraded. I can't even remember what they were, something about old men and something else I completely forget the name of.

Hmm. Too woolly.

There we go: There will be Blood and (I've forgotten again, hud on...) No Country for Old Men. One of those. Not being watched tonight. It seemed important to watch them during 2008, there's always tomorrow.

Tomorrow. Hogmanay. I am a big believer in doing on New Year's Day what you want to be doing most of the coming year, but tend to view it more as NOT doing the things I don't want to do much. I am particularly expecting great things of 2009, for everyone, and so I'd like to start it off in a shiny manner. Shiny house, shiny soul. Something like that. So I intend to have the grand decluttering tomorrow. Get rid of all those things I've been meaning to get rid of forever. In a day. Ha ha ha ha. Nothing like a spot of optimism. I have too much stuff. I like stuff. I don't have room for stuff. I don't need stuff. I can't really be bothered. I'm going to do it. I am. Think positive. Sleep well and prosper.

I fully expect this to go the way of all other plans made today. But tomorrow is another day and maybe, just maybe, I'll achieve something miraculous.

Unconnected thought 1: Alive. Good.
Unconnected thought 2: Very pedantic. Good.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Prettiness, pettiness and pitiful preferences

A practically perfect day, aside from the grumpiness of certain people that might well have been me.

The boys have only been on a train twice, once for the sake of it: we got the train from Kirkcaldy to Burntisland and back; and once on the Bo'ness Steam Railway. So today we thought we'd take them on an adventure and we got the train through to Edinburgh. It is a beautiful journey, and one which I have been doing on and off for 20 years. I miss it a bit, there's all the sights along the way, many of which have changed recently. But how nice to have two new pairs of eyes to point it all out to, and eyes belonging to people that don't think you're bonkers for caring like fellow commuters often do.

And then we arrived in Edinburgh and took ourselves off to Princes Street Gardens to travel on the Big Wheel.

Marvellous, and I was most pleased to note that the only tears were of frustration at not being able to get on till we got to the front of the queue. I took lots of photos and played around with the camera settings a bit (not enough, I have more learning to do).


Edinburgh Castle on automatic

Edinburgh Castle with a little tweaking


And then the children insisted we ride on the horses on the carousel, which pleased me immensely having never succeeded in getting anyone else to go on them. Waiting for the previous turn to end, I decided which horse was to be mine, as you do. Debating whether it was in fact the done thing to pull a small child off a horse because I wanted that one, imagine my joy when that horse just happened to be the next one and I got it.

This is he:

and this is why:

I was almost as happy as my son.



This, plus lunch, plus trying to understand the new system at Waverley took most of the afternoon and then we got the train home again as the sun set. I took some immensely rubbish pictures from the Forth Rail Bridge (the pillars don't half get in the way).


Sleeping... or not


Sleep. Not my strong point. Unless I'm watching a film, it is 3pm or I am on a train, then I am quite gifted, but sleeping at the right time eludes me. This used to be fine as I could sleep till lunchtime or later at the weekend. Indeed, times of unemployment when I was in fact able to do that old "sleep when you're tired, get up when you wake" thing revealed that I am ready for sleep at about 5am and can get a glorious 8 hours in, waking at 1pm. That isn't all that compatible with a normal functioning life unfortunately. So having to go to work and what not meant being permanently tired all week and then catching up at the weekend. Sorted. Then I had children.

No more lie ins. I get up at roughly the same time every day and it is never 1pm, it's usually about 8am. This is not good. "Go to bed when you're tired" they say. Ok. This is usually 3pm. That's not practical.

So. I cope. I drink too much coffee. I (very) occasionally go to bed at 7pm and have a bit of a catch up. They say that lack of sleep reduces life expectancy. This worries me. So I thought I'd investigate firstly, who "they" are and secondly, HOW.

Firstly: "they" are scientists. I find this unreassuring: theoretically, I am a scientist. Onward.

Being sleep deprived can make you more likely to have an accident. Makes sense, I did kill my Volvo for that very reason. Mostly avoidable though.

Being sleep deprived can make you more irritable and emotional, potentially leading to stress related illnesses. So does a lot of things.

Good quality sleep allows the production of white blood cells and so it is possible that lack of quality sleep could hamper the production of white blood cells and so hinder the immune system. Except, my understanding is that the body is very good at getting the good quality sleep and if you continually don't get "enough" sleep, you cut out the unnecessary stuff and get the essential part of sleep. The brain adjusts. If it didn't, you'd presumably develop narcolepsy.

Right. So I'm not too worried so far. But there's correlations between reduced nightly sleep (from 7 to 5 hours seems to be the figures mostly used) and increased levels of cardiac disease, obesity, colon cancer and other things that are quite definitely worrying. Causes? Well, apparently lack of sleep affects the ability to correctly interpret appetite. And, erm, well there's a correlation is there not? It must be relevant. Lifestyle anyone? Lifestyle? Lack of sleep is usually a symptom of something else, and the something else most likely causes other things that in themselves can lead to things that might or might not be potentially harmful. A bit like, well, anything.
It's difficult to find decent information about sleep deprivation without getting references to complete sleep deprivation, or lack of sleep due to conditions like sleep apnoea. Not the same as just not sleeping enough, but the information on general lack of sleep is a bit on the woolly side. Hence the wooliness. Or, I'm a sheep. Something. Count me if you can't sleep.
One. One. One. Maybe there needs to be more of me for that to work. This is a bit of a tangent. Back we go.

I'm still not worried. There's nothing there that doesn't seem to have a lot more to do with lifestyle than amount of sleep. We're all sleeping less, yet life expectancy continues to rise. Nobody knows anything. I should probably stop drinking coffee. This is not likely.



The above is a picture entitled "Sleep and his half brother death" by John William Waterhouse. The title conjures up that eternal fear and the frisson of creepiness that accompanies such fears, that if you sleep, you may never wake.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Positivity

I'm feeling a little warm and fuzzy. Or fizzy, as I seem to find the locating of the correct keys in the correct order a little challenging tonight.

So, the fizzy fuzziness is a result of that Christmas thing. Christmas itself was a little tiring due to ill people not sleeping between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, and stupid people not going to bed when they can. But the whole time around is just lovely. A little impetus to catch up with people and suddenly you remember that perhaps you're not as crap as you thought you were and that people aren't necessarily pissed off with you. It's easy to spend time with people after all. And it's always nice to get stuff. I like stuff. I got lots of lovely stuff.

Going to a splendid wedding on the 20th helped set the mood, but it's nice. I refuse to accept that it's not nice. Yes, I spent most of Christmas Day in the kitchen. Yes, I have had to see virtually all of my relatives. Yes, it's been hectic. Yes, I'm knackered and yes, I couldn't afford it. But it's all been nice and sort of life affirming. Spending Christmas Day with two children who have no memories of previous Christmases is simply magical, the discovery of Santa's visit was one of my best parenting moments yet. And I got to write my first letter from Santa! All nice. Nice nice nice and I have nice people.
(And crap ones, but they're crap and thus aren't entering my psyche at the moment because they don't deserve to, and because they are insignificant and diminished by the sheer existence of all the nice people).

However, Christmas is over, it doesn't really go on for 12 days and enough already, thank you.

People seem to be feeling a bit bla at the moment. Noone seems to have had a good year. Some have had less good, some have had ok years, but noone seems to have said "yes, this was a good year". Everything seems to be petering out, ending, getting too much to cope with; people are putting their heads down and surviving, licking their wounds, trying to get to the end. It's saddening, but it does seem to be universal.

But look! There is an end! An end to this year. A new year starts in just a few days, and marks a new beginning. For everything that has ended, so there must be a new beginning for something else. 2008 was to be the year of new beginnings, but it forgot and instead stamped a big final full stop to all those things. 2009 will be the rebirth year. 2009 will be the year that all those things that should have happened already actually happen. 9's a good number.

Trust me.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

This year in ponders

At some point earlier this evening I had a momentary panic about the date, for I was quite sure it was next year. Wishful thinking perhaps, but I can only assume that the whole thing about time slowing down when you're busy is true, for this week is incredibly long and I've done more this week than I've done in the last 6 months!

I do believe time does literally slow down but that's something my brain doesn't understand.

So I got to thinking back over this year and what it's been. According to the bible, the year 2008, or 8 to make things simpler, is a year of new beginnings and rebirth. 8 being the number after 7, which is how long everything's supposed to take to complete a cycle, based on the 7 days in a week thing and an awful lot of excitement about the number 7. So, 2007 saw the end of the cycle begun in 2000 and 2008 was the beginning of the next cycle.

Brilliant.

So we can look forward to another 6 years of economic downturn and the media being idiotic. Myself, I think I'd like to opt out of life until 2015 and live in a commune somewhere, eating carrots and seeing if I suit dreadlocks.

The economy:

not that great, really. I don't fully understand it all because it's imaginary money. Somebody somewhere said "actually, I'm not going to give you any more "money" because you might not pay it back" and the whole world ground to a halt. Prior to this, everyone just lent pretend money happily in the belief that it would be virtually returned to them later and all was happy, then suddenly they didn't. And everything collapsed. Why they couldn't say "only joking, of course I'll transfer some not-there money to you and look, we'll say you owe me it and they owe you that and we'll all get some new cars".

Now everything's shutting down. Except it's not. It's not the good stuff. It's the kind of rubbish companies that have been winging along on the happy economy. It's not stuff we want or need. It's the dregs. It's the shops that exist purely because they always have. Nostalgia is not a reason to keep something. This here blog post says some of what I want to say, I shall link it instead of badly paraphrasing.

And banks, I don't care. We don't need a million of them. They're all greedy and provide a non-service. Even Nationwide want all their cash back. Standard Life aren't passing on much of the interest rate cut, because hey, the customer can subsidise them.

The loss of jobs is indeed sad, and terrible for those it is happening to, but, erm, that's what happens in a recession. Never mind, only 6 more years!

The Media:


Well, the biggest story of the year has to be the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross/Andrew Sachs debacle. Whataloadofnonsense. Yes, it was cruel and I don't consider what they did to be funny, but Andrew Sachs had agreed the broadcast could go ahead. So he wasn't that offended. Who are the Daily Mail to be offended on his behalf? Utter nonsense.

The other piece of utter stupidity was the fraca about the turning on of the LHC. Not that many people understood it but the media focussed on the whole idea that this was the end of the world and ignored the actual science. Noone got excited about the implications, apart from that guy from D:Ream who everyone fancied for a day (Brian Cox, remember? no?). It was really important. It could have answered the fundamental questions about life. But it got turned on, we didn't die, it got broken and everyone thought it was quite amusing. It's still exciting and will still be mega when it gets turned on again next year? the year after? sometime? And we still won't die.

People have died, they always do. I'm not even going to try to suggest which deaths were significant, every death is important to someone. Other people were born: 2 little girls and 1 little boy arrived in my little circle, all perfect, all gorgeous and all most welcome.

Myself:

My own year hasn't been all that eventful although I have mostly been a rather rubbish friend. 2009 is going to be the year I stop saying sorry: no more apologising for things I haven't done, and no more doing things I have to apologise for.
The nicest thing that I do appreciate this year knows it.

The other stuff that mattered this year: I proudly and exhaustedly watched my two little guys grow from toddling babies into competent little boys, I turned vegetarian, and I got an iPhone. And I've been 33.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas lights

This was this year's most "impressive" display of Christmas lights...

The picture doesn't really do justice to just how visible for miles around these are. They are in the heart of a council estate (as are all the "impressive" displays, oh how my poor suspension suffers from the speed humps) and there's a steady stream of tourists taking a look.

NB: I got a lovely new camera from Santa (which took the first of the above pictures, not by me, I am not responsible for wobble). I will be posting my life in tedious shots for a while. Soz.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

good tidings I bring

It's Chriiiiiiiistmaaas!

A very merry Christmas to everyone who's been nice, funny, sweet, thought provoking or otherwise brightening.

x's all round, have a huge virtual drambuie on me

X

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

tis the season to be a wally

Oh dear. 'Twas the night before Christmas eve and not a soul was stirring.
Or similar words. I'm not so good with words today. I'm not sure if the people I'm talking to are hard of understanding or if I'm an oaf but I'm not doing so well.

Number of people spoken to today (excluding the poorly): 6
Number of people now pissed off at me: 4 (there's still time for the other two)

Grumpy I am.

The rest of my family are sick. Nicely sleepily sick between vomiting but it's the 23rd of December! We've got stuff to do, people to see. Or now, I have people to see and run the risk of offending them as that seems to be the order of the day.

I ran out of sellotape. Of course I ran out of sellotape. It's one of those days.

Ah well. I shall listen to Terry and Aled and go play Santa to people that aren't actually expecting gifts. I think I've got something confused somewhere.

TV based itinerary

Plan for Christmas Day (terrestial telly only, and based on the Scotland times, so it might be out for regular viewers):

Actively avoid TV until 15.00. At 15.00, disconnect the eletricity just in case the TV turns itself on. Possibly sneakily watch Channel 4 just in case it's another Ali G.

15.10:
Watch: A Shark Tale on BBC1. Maybe read a book as well.
or, if you must, watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askakabanana on ITV1.

16.30:
Watch: Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit on BBC1. Reminisce about the shorts.

(possibly record The Truth about Carols at 17.00 on BBC2. It might be interesting)

18.00:
Watch: Dr Who on BBC1. You have to. It's not Christmas otherwise and it's always got vital plotlines.

19.00: Now this is a tricky one. You have a 5 channel choice:
Watch: Blackadder's Christmas Carol on BBC2.
Avoid: Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1.
Avoid: Coronation Street on ITV1
Avoid: Channel 4 nicely sidestepping Christmas altogether, although if you have a particular aversion to Blackadder (for which you probably need medical attention), The Nativity Decoded at 19.30 might be interesting.
Avoid: Memoirs of a Geisha on Five. Yawn. Remove Five from your channel list in case you return to it at all that evening.

20.00: Probably a good time to eat. Disconnect electricity (candlelight is nice) and block up ears in case of hearing someone else's TV.
Avoid: Eastenders on BBC1. Christmas doesn't have to be spoilt.
Avoid: Dad's Army.
Avoid: Dancing on Ice at Christmas on ITV1. Each of those words makes the others worse. Dancing: not great. On ice: marvellous, even less skill. At Christmas: with added tinsel.
Watch: Shrek the Halls on BBC3 if you missed it on Christmas Eve.

20.30:
Watch: Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death on BBC1. A new short! Hurrah for Christmas!
Avoid: anything else. Come on! Wallace and Gromit!

21.00: disconnect electricity again. Have pudding.
Avoid: Eastenders on BBC1. You won't care, having had the sense to avoid the first one.

21.30:
Watch: The Royle Family on BBC1. Oh yeah! A new one! Hurrah!

22.30:
Watch: Blackadder Rides Again on BBC1. It's Blackadder! Nothing else matters.

After that, read a book. Eat mince pies. Get an early night.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Now it feels like Christmas

HMV came good, I love them again. 4 little parcels of Christmas. Muppet Christmas Carol for me, hurrah! hurrah! I finally own it! And The Snowman/Father Christmas for the boys, they are glued to The Snowman just now. Peace and tranquility for a while.

Which reminds me:



that's ace.

The trouble is...

Her
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you

Him
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Cant make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

Listening to Christmas music today, I noticed that little bit of Fairytale of New York. Them's nice words.

It's a song. Like all the nice words. I wonder if Harry Nilsson ever reckoned he couldn't live without his lover? Did Anna Kournikova need Enrique to be her hero? And did the singer from Air Supply ever actually lie with his head on the phone? It's all very nice the whole idea that songs are actually written to someone, but they're not, they're written to sell singles. The two that spring to mind that are written for someone, the Lady in Drag, sorry, Red, and Wonderful Tonight are both "neh neh, she's mine, look at me publicly telling her she's braw" which isn't all that romantic. Romantic is "you" not "she".

See, with the exception of Enrique there, those songs are rather old. Back in that time when I was forming tastes and what not. Specifically, it would seem, my taste in men.

And that's when I was bombarded with images. Bond. Bond. Bond. Milk Tray Man. The Saint. Hello girls, this what a real man does. What do you mean he can't ski down hillsides? How's he going to deliver your rather boring chocolates? Other stuff I can't remember has left me with the lasting impression that real men can ski down any incline, can waterski, can jump from one moving vehicle to another, have a pun for all occasions and always get the last word. Oh yes. Charming, naturally. Devastatingly handsome. And complete shits. Each and every one of them. Not a decent bone in their body. Which forms the lasting opinion: bad men are attractive.

No they're not! They're rubbish! The real ones can't even ski! Or own a Jaguar!

Take Daniel Craig. Not particularly attractive, he's been in a few films and nothing registered. Then he was Bond. Hello! Why Mr Craig, you are suddenly the most attractive man on the planet. And look, he really fell in love, it's possible, you Can Change the Man. There is hope for all of us. Oh, that's a bit mushy now, that's not so attractive, no, maybe not... oh look, Angry Bond's back. Mmmmm.

Watching Survivors, which is rather good, the character played by Max Beesley is immensely fanciable. He's not very nice. He's a bit unhinged and ever so angry. Yummy.

Why? Why do they do this to us? Little girls should see only Disney, where the men are complete saps, but goodly and nice. Then we'd all fancy sappy men with strong jaws and propensity to burst into song, perish the thought. Because you see, girlies really want to be princesses. To be cherished. To have a pedestal to perch prettily on.

Anyone disagreeing with that princess thing by the way, I give you: weddings. The bride. The frock. The tiara. The bridesmaids, the carriage, the wank and circumstance: princess envy.

But it's impossible* to fancy someone nice and goodly and all that. It's just not attractive. Bad boys don't cherish; nice boys don't ski. Or something like that.

Damn you Mr Bond, damn you.

Luckily for me, bad men don't even realise I exist, so I got a grumpy one instead. It's near enough.

*surmountable in presence of other factors, which are a secret.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

And to make amends

I've done my cards, I've made mince pies, and so a bloggy greeting:

Gloomy tidings I bring

And so enter the giant bad mood. Obtusely. It's exactly one week till Christmas, which should be nice and glittery. Glittery in a virtual manner, naturally. Except it's not. It's not working. Why? Because there's other people.

How other people ruin Christmas every year:

1) Shopping
The shops are shut for one day, maybe two. A rough guess would put half the population out visitating, so they don't need food for either of those days anyway. Stockpiling would seem unnecessary. So why are there people buying huge, overflowing trolleys every moment of every day? What are they going to do with all that food? Do they really consume significantly more over a period of two days than they have over a normal weekend? Can one family actually use up an entirely trolleyload every single day? Given the the Royal Mail are struggling to deal with the sheer volume of things bought online, why are the shops still heaving? Where's my order from HMV?

2) Socialising
So everyone has to offload their endless supply of food/drink/canapes. Understandable. So commence the endless squabble over who goes where, when. It's not that complicated, but the simplest of arrangements becomes a military exercise of precision as soon as Christmas approaches. Not all that difficult, but hey, don't commit, there may be a better offer. No, there won't be. Just agree to something mutually easy. No? Make it more of a hassle? Go on then.

3) Moaning
(Which I am getting increasingly good at)
It's a holiday. It's a holiday when people eat too much food and exchange gifts. That's not a bad thing. All blokes have to start off about now going round with a po face and complaining about how much they hate it all. All women have to get into a flap, are you all ready for the big day? Well, no, it's a week away, I think cooking now would be a little premature. Yes, I do believe that Sainsburys will still have a turkey next week. No, it probably won't snow. Does it really matter? Noone's going to go and play in the park on Christmas Day, it just looks pretty when you look out, stick a nice snowy picture up. Look, there's snow all over the Christmas cards, look at them for a bit. No, it never snows, yes, it's all because I drive a car, indeed it was always perfect when you were a child, of course you're not confusing real life with films.

And this week, my own special contribution: being a nightmare. I'm stressing about things, I'm hurting and I'm being thoroughly unpleasant either by being snippit or whiny or generally going on. So, er, sorry.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

More joys

Mothers what have sore backs need to lie down.
Mothers what have small children should not just rest their eyes for a moment when lying down...

Hello? Something's not quite right here...where are the children that were playing right there in their boxes?
presence of majorly bizarro thoughts indicates sleep has just been had

child number 2 has mastered the special shove sequence to get into the bathroom and is yelling about washing his hands
child number 1 is nowhere to be seen
children have been doing something that makes them dirty
children probably in my room
children have been at some of my stuff
what have they got?
can I get off the sofa?
can I deal with it later?
dammit I need to go and turn that tap off


Execute inelegant manouever required to alight from sofa, hobble through to bathroom (back really not working very well) to turn tap off and eject tap obsessed child. Enter bedroom to see which of the lotions/potions/pens/general stuff they've got hold of...

Oh.
Shit.

The bed has been painted beautifully with a combination of Clinique mascara and Yves St Laurent bronzer. The Per Una highlighter adds a shimmer to proceedings, added to the 17 eyeshadow that's been crumbled over the top. Detail has been drawn in using Clinique lipstick and Elizabeth Arden brow pencil. All added to the not so violated other things in a big pile of messy, gooey, powdery mess. One gloss wand all mascarad, and no sign of the gloss itself. Missing, presumed ruined. One child cunningly washed the evidence off, the other seems to have been made up. All over make up.

Don't cry. It's only make up.

(it's the good stuff!)

you never wear make up

(I like it though! I'm wearing it at the weekend! I wore mascara the other day!)

Calmly rescuing what was rescuable, muttering about hatred and swapping children for lipsticks, the discovery was made that new stuff was needed to be purchased. (any excuse)

Explained what we were going out for, semi echo doesn't quite repeat that we were going to get some new bake up because Mummy had lost her dipstick. And when new dipstick was purchased, further explanation was needed to explain that we weren't buying boots, we were just in Boots.

It's a rite of passage, all mothers at some point have to have their make up ruined. And I have just been bitten. Do you get boarding nurseries?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

When you say nothing at all

Ow
Ouch
Ow
Ouch
Ow
Ouch

I've jiggered my back. One of those bending pop ouch things that really hurts.

No, that's not entirely true. It only hurts if I walk, bend, sit or lie down. Standing completely still is fine.

Dammit.

How to lose friends: the email method.
So, I'm not at my finest of a morning. A little tetchy at best. I tend to avoid people at this time as it tends to end in tears usually.
Mine, through contrition, but still. Not so today, no, I systematically sent a snippit reply to the emails in my inbox today. The personal ones, I doubt Amazon et al would care. I didn't mean it, it just happened. And then I'll moan that no one ever emails.

Sigh.

Ow.
Ouch.
Feel sorry for me, even though I'm horrid.

Monday, 15 December 2008

A CBeebies Christmas

Christmas again. Bang bang bang.

The wee guys like CBeebies. They also like other channels, but I like CBeebies because it doesn't have adverts or particular shoutiness.

This week they seem to have kicked off their Christmas stuff. It's lovely. I have issue with the Christmas/children thing because, erm, I don't believe in all the son of God stuff and that's a rather large part of it. I guess they have to know it sometime, but I'm not comfortable with telling them. I'm hoping that can be left up to Someone Else, like a teacher. The daughter of a friend of mine came home appalled because they had been taught songs at nursery with swearing in them. After some persuasion she revealed that the swearing in question was "Jesus Christ". Is an issue.

Anyway. This is what Christmas means to me (expanding on comments from before and quite probably boring into a stupor):

A celebration of winter.
I think that this is possibly the reason for the date, because Jesus Christ, if he existed, definitely wasn't born in December. It's a midwinter thing, possibly even a pagan date. So none of that makes sense, but it is nice to celebrate winter. All the glittery snowscenes, and lights to make the most of the dark really do herald being in deepest winter. Roaring fires, gluhwein, roasted chestnuts, perpetual hope for cotton wool snow on Christmas morning; that's all nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with December.

Family, friends and fuckwits.
Christmas time means you get in touch with everyone. You catch up. You find out what people have been up to. You arrange meet ups and people make the effort to join in. You stop and think about the people in your life, what they like, what they do, what they want. It's nice, even if it's fleeting, grudged and seemingly unreciprocated. You wish everyone good cheer and spread a little reluctant happiness. If you don't do anything, you still find out who is thinking about you, and you get grand TV and time off work. And really, noone's particularly worse than they are the rest of the year, and given that it matters so damned much to most people, you can drink silly amounts of alcohol for the sake of it.

It's not magical, it is expensive and it well and truly hits home all the gaps you have in terms of socialising and family, but this time, the build up, the pre-Christmas sparkle, well, it's nice.

CBeebies gets this. It's all glitter and songs and snowflakes and cookies. No Jesus, no family, just a happy atmosphere where everyone loves* Christmas and each other.

So, a very CBeebies Christmas to everyone.




*they actually do, these people are the nicest on the planet.

Discipline

We are having discipline issues at present. Two little guys seem to delight in seeing just how far they can push their mother before she breaks. Solution to this seems to be calmly putting their favourite things in the bin. Not actually in the bin, but they don't know that. It's working...slowly.

Imagine for a moment that this happened as adults. If, for example, I was being particularly tantrumy (a little unlikely but not impossible) and my husband said, right that's it, and (as far as I was aware) put my phone in the bin.
I would go mental. Absolutely ballistic. I would put the hoover through his windscreen. Except, I'm a bit lazy and would probably throw it from the window. And I'm not that good at aiming and it would more than likely hit a neighbour's car. Oh, excuse me, I just inadvertently dropped a hoover on your car. Yes, you did hear me correctly.

It's not a real hoover by the way. It's a dyson. I hoover with it, I don't vacuum. It is a dyson hoover. so there. it is the heaviest thing in eyeshot. why is the hoover in my bedroom? it's not that far to the cupboard it lives in. Sigh. Even when properly doing housework I still slip in some slothfulness. Oi. Where are you going with that phone?

ineedtosleepnow

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Fixing the future

Hurrah! Perplexed and confused by the predictions for next year, another magazine - that shall remain nameless for purposes of not being hated - has the solution.

So. To be a better person in 2009, it is necessary to do the following:

1) Light a candle every day, It's life affirming. As is being surrounded by flowers. Buy some. Pick some. Look at them. Take time to contemplate life, write down what you think. It achieves the realisation of the authentic you. Then in order to recover from the shock of this, move on to...

2) Plant some seeds. No, not cress. Seeds of action. Take a small step towards a goal. Because you'd have never thought of that as a way of making things better. But if you think of it as a seed and plant it in fertile soil and nurture it, then you'll get confused and end up with some tomatoes. And how could you not be cheered by some tomatoes? But still, sound advice, take steps towards betterdom.

3) Feed your tomatoes. No. Sorry. Add nutrients to your life. These are the things which give your life purpose. Do more of them! Make time for them! No, really, that will help. Do nice things: feel nice. Light the candle again. Have some bruschetta.

4) Nurture: tell someone you love them. I like this one, it is good advice. Everyone should tell other people the positive things they like about them. You think it, you tell them in your mind or when they're asleep, you don't say it because it's odd. Weirdly, the better you know someone the harder it is to tell them you love them. Tell them now. Properly. So they hear you. Give them some Baby Bio.

5) Growing strong roots: look after your body. Do exercise and stuff. Don't be a sloth. You know all this, right? Yeah. A grow bag may help, but equally well might not. Acknowledge that you're not perfect. Unless you're perfect, in which case feel smug. But for most people, go easy on yourself. Don't expect too much. Watch a bit of TV. Light a candle.

6) Do a spot of weeding. Get rid of all those rose bay willow herbs. Or alternatively, rid yourself of the negative self beliefs that get you down. Advice here is to take something you are scared of, something that you believe you can't do and try to do it. Example given is if you hate speaking in public, find something you care about and talk about that. Uh huh. Not likely. Nuh uh. Oh no. Not on your life. Next?

7) Model yourself on people you admire. Steal their clothes. No, don't do that. But think of how they act and try to act like that. Not sure how this relates to being the authentic you, but hey, it's not my advice, I'm not so keen on plants.

8) Take up landscape gardening. Create a wondrous garden of your weed free plants of confidence. Expand your tomato plantation. Create seed circles of positive people and look back over your horticulture and consider all you have achieved. Make them into soup.

There's some good, if bonkers and rather obvious, advice in there. Go tell someone you love them, go easy on yourself, remember you're a womble and that gardening purges the soul. Or something like that. Go do something you've never done before.

Concisely crabbit

Feeling right crabbit today. So all the stuff that was floating around my head early this morning when I sensible decided to sleep has now morphed into grrrrrrrrr.

So abbreviated thoughts:

Christmas to non religious christians (if Richard dawkins calls himself a Christian, it applies) is, or should be, a celebration of the winter with all coal fires and lights and what not, and it is also a celebration of love: love for your family, colleagues, friends and everyone you care about. It's a chance to catch up and if nothing else do your duty.

You can't help who or what you love. You just do. You can't unlove a single because it's unpopular, you can't make yourself love someone who makes your flesh crawl.

Methinks both of those need expanded on, but like I said: crabbit.

Power from the people

So the people of Manchester said no. They didn't want the "carrot" of public transport investment, instead they objected to the "stick" of paying congestion charges. (Analogies there from the media, they've used that carrot/stick thing 5769 times today).

The problem there: the people. Why didn't the powers that be in Manchester didn't take the hint from Edinburgh and the other place that's name eludes me? People are NEVER going to vote yes on this. Why waste time doing a referendum? Either just do it, Ken Livingstone stylee, which they are legitimately allowed to do, or accept people won't like it and give up on the idea.

People generally don't know stuff. Even clever people, they know about what they know. Votes don't work for this reason. People are asked to vote: they acquire knowledge. Or they don't, but for now we shall credit Joe Public with an inquisitive and intelligent mind. Where do they get this information from? The media, that's where. So in effect, by asking the "people" to vote, the vote is being given to the media. Who aren't renowned for being unbiased and focussing on the facts. They want sensationalism and "this is a good thing which will benefit the greater good" is not sensationalist. The people vote as they are told to, because they believe they have the facts.

Same thing applies when the public are asked to vote on reality TV programmes. There's a problem there with the sort of person that votes on these programmes. The sort of person that pays money for a mostly irrelevant vote. Irrelevant because anyone can predict the outcome: the judges tell the public categorically who to vote for, and the voters follow suit. It always happens. The popular guy never actually wins, it's the judges' favourite that wins. Or in the case of Big Brother, the editing team at Channel 4 lead the votes by carefully selecting what's broadcast.

HBOS is being taken over by Lloyds TSB. Good. Sorted. But the people, who don't have a scoobie about fiscal policy and banking in general and quite like the big posh building in Edinburgh, would have voted "no!!!!! we want it to go under or something, we don't want a takeover, then it would go to that England place". Which wouldn't have resulted in the correct action being taken.

So the public should never be allowed to vote. They don't get it right.

Except, we live in a supposed democracy. We should have a say. It is wrong to impose things on people without consultation. Everyone should be consulted.

A solution: a two stage voting process. The first stage would open to anyone who felt they would be affected by the outcome. This would consist of a series of questions and in order to progress to the second stage, a person would have to demonstrate an understanding of the situation being voted on. This initial stage would have to be carefully constructed so that the likely vote of the person was not revealed, but that their suitability to pass opinion was. Not an intelligent test, not a lot of trick questions so the Mensa members rule the world, it would be a fair test of unbiasedness and willingness to appreciate the facts, which would be made easily and unbiasedly available to allow as many people to access them as cared to find out. This would open up the vote to anyone, so be democratic and should have a reasonable cross section of society represented, but closed to idiots.

Impossible. And quite probably elitist. But how nice it would be.

Friday, 12 December 2008

No. No. No. No Nooooooooo.

No. I can't accept this, I have to have my ears removed for the duration of the rest of time, or at least until Christmas is over.

The X Factor finalists are to sing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which is the most beautiful song in the world and does not need 21st Centuryised by some everyone-else-soundalike. That is the biggest travesty I have ever heard of. And I haven't heard it yet, I pray for some miracle that I never do and continue to be able to listen to the best version untaintedly.

And that's another thing. The Jeff Buckley version is not the definitive version, it is not the best. John Cale's version is the best; he has a beautiful voice, he sings it to perfection. Jeff Buckley's version is very similar, just slower and not as well sung, not as poignant and just simply not as good. Just because John Cale wasn't one of the most beautiful people ever to have lived and didn't tragically drown at a very young age, doesn't mean that he didn't do the song infinitely better.

So no. I'm not happy with the choice for X Factor. I hate the existence of the X Factor, it's drivelly cruel TV that produces another drivelly singer or four that are exactly the same as everyone else in the dirgey charts and this is the final insult.

And I continue to be extremely unhappy that everyone mistakenly claims Jeff Buckley's version to be anything like as good as John Cale's, let alone better.

By the way, yes you have heard it, John Cale's version is the one in Shrek. It's also the second song here.

Opinions pls

Ok, I need advice.

I have made some presents here, and I'm not all that convinced that they're not utterly rubbish.

So. Are these acceptable presents? bearing in mind that:
a) they're bracelets with elastic. Scale not good, I reckon that needs clarified
b) each of the persons intended to receive these is getting something else too, albeit less than the expected amount of something I should probably give.

So, do I:

1) get nice boxes for these and make like they're proper presents?
2) buy something else and give these as a joke "and here's a little something I made"?

Honest please. I think they're cack but I made them and that renders me useless at judging.

Now, I know that it should be all about the thought, and it's a great idea to save money by making stuff, and that's what Christmas is all about etc etc. But that's all fantasy talking and people aren't really like that. Christmas isn't like that. I don't want to see the look in people's eyes when they open up something that isn't a "proper" present.

I'm going to buy something else anyway. I know I am. But I still would like to know if these efforts ought to go in the bin.

PS apologies for pic quality, laziness meant using da phone.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Oh what?

Disclaimer: if you're not interested in transport links over the Forth, this will probably be a bit tedious. I'm having a rant.

For approximately 3000 years, the A8000 link road that took travellers from the Forth Road Bridge to link with the M9 was desperately needing to be upgraded/replaced/taken out the back and shot. Finally, last year or so, the new link road opened, making the road smooth and dual carriagewayed. Marvellous. Journey times reduced massively, stress levels minimised.

But. While they were building this road, which took 82 years, they were establishing that the existing Forth Bridge was nearing the end of its likely life, due to the huge increase in usage compared to anticipated levels when it was built. A new bridge was planned. Or a tunnel. Or something. Something that would solve the problem of the sheer volume of traffic wanting to travel across the water. Something that could maybe incorporate a light rail system to accommodate commuters. Or just something. Just a new something to get excited about and be seen to be taking a proactive approach to the problem and stop the existing bridge from tumbling into the sea.

Then they announced the new plan. A dual carriageway bridge with a hard shoulder with possible room for a (small) change of use in the fullness of time. Sounded a leeeetle bit like the existing bridge, just up the river a bit and so not connected to the marvellous new road network. Not a tunnel. Not a multi use bridge. One with what pretty much sounded like it would have exactly the same capacity as the old bridge. But not connected to the road network. Which is quite important. There's another bridge just opened up the river at Kincardine next to the existing Kincardine bridge, which should address some of the traffic issues, but that's been a bit hush hush, surprise! We built a bridge! Now back to the one we use...

This is currently the work of the SNP, with the rather marvellous Alex Salmond, who's not shy of doing what he thinks is the right thing. Mostly he's done incredibly popular things, most of the ones I've paid attention to are trying to undo the ludicrous transport proposals by his predecessor, the utterly despicable Jack McConnell. Salmond couldn't stop the trams; he did take the tolls - put in at huge expense while the investigation as to the impending closure of the bridge was carrying on - out. I rather like the Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson, he seems to actually know a thing or two about transport and environmental issues which is a novel concept for a Minister. Or that's what I thought until I read the news today.

Most of the plans for the roads up north and so on sound ideal. Latest plans for the Forth Bridge? Oh dear. The new bridge is to be downgraded from inadequate to downright awful. Exactly the same as the existing one, just in a new location. It's going to be half the cost, should come in on budget (setting a new record, surely?), and will be ready to be operational in 2016. At which point it would be at capacity. And the finances. This is a response to the credit nibbles apparently, so we're not going to use the controversial fund (which I know nothing about but that sounds like it's supposed to be for projects like this), but instead we're going to borrow from the Treasury. All the funds up to 2018. Because that's what you do in an economic crisis: get into more debt. A good example to set, n'est pas?

But joy! The existing bridge will be saved! For use by buses only. A marvellous idea in theory, buses are carbon neutral if you fiddle the figures and la la la a lot, everyone should get the (ugh) bus. Presumably the bus operators would take advantage of this, run more services but fail to make it a less heinous experience, nor would the Council/Government/God address the issue of getting into town. The traffic from both bridges would converge at some point, additional buses wouldn't really help that, there'd be a bottleneck closer to Edinburgh. Unless the magical trams could link up with the buses out of town and then there'd actually be a solution to many problems in place but that seems like wishful thinking. The new roads make take away the traffic going to destinations other than Edinburgh, but the traffic on the bridge at congestion times? That's all headed for Edinburgh.

So the new bridge will be battered by lorries, the trains will still be restricted by the capacity of the rail bridge, and the buses that won't get used will have the existing bridge and the marvellous road all to themselves. If it survives. Which it might not. While they're investigating that fact, they will presumably get on with building stuff and worry about whether it works sometime after its operational.

all done now. Sorry if you're bored. I did warn you.

Put your arms around the whirled at christmas time

It's the 11th of December, the worst day of the year. Goodie. That's precisely the sort of thing I ought not to make a note of, but how could I wallow in self pity then? Indeed.
I'm not actually feeling unhappy, I'm glowing from the combination of a lovely compliment and a Giant Unmentionable Crush. Shallow be my name.

Of paramount importance: it is merely one month today that I cease to be 33. That's good. Very good. And on this day, Woolworths start their closing down sale. That's this day, not that day.

Note to self: do not go to Woolies. It won't be fun.

I just did my Christmas shopping, hence the festive clip art there on the left. Woo. I actually bought Christmas itself (Muppet Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street and Father Christmas/The Snowman) for practically nothing (£13, free delivery) from HMV, my new best friend in an online shop sort of way. It's a Wonderful Life is in storage - sob! On the present front, Crabtree and Evelyn, Amazon and Boots have done their online bit. ELC, Azdaz (that's Asda to you) and Sainsburys have done their bit as well over the last wee while, but they don't count as they weren't online or tonight or specifically for present shopping.

Except...there's still the ones I have to make, which is why I'm celebrating the small amount of money just parted with. I haven't got anyone anything much, I've got a pile of stuff that could theoretically be assembled into gifts. I should probably make them, so I can establish they're unacceptable, sob over them, and buy something else. Or, go for something totally different and give everyone a sandwich for Christmas. I would cut it into a star, it would be festive. And unique. I think I'm onto something here. The Christmas Sandwich Co, motto: there's no b in television. Keep up, keep up, it's all coming together beautifully.

I think I'm overexcited again, this is a sort of boingy blog. Gingerbread cookie anyone? Oh you're asleep. Oh. Right. It's 2am. It's 2am? Oh.

Random thought: I remembered something else I liked from TV this year.
That Pushing Daisies thing. I liked that. It was smile inducing.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Love thy condom

Wednesday morning 9am:

Honest child: Mummy! Mummy! I've got a sore head
Sleepy Mother: Why are you all wet?
HC: I banged my head in the bathroom
SM: Shit! Shit! No! Not shit! I didn't say that! Jesus! What's that noise?
HC: Shit shit shit shit shit
SM: No don't say that
Turn the taps off
Shit
There's water all over the floor
HC: shit shit shit
Oblivious child: Ha ha ha ha shit shit

Less sleepy mother turns off taps, uses every towel , clean or dirty, in the house to mop up floor, prays floor is sealed properly and woman downstairs doesn't come knocking. 4 loads of washing follow as the machine can't cope with that many wet towels.

Wednesday later on sometime:

Foolish mother writes blog entry.
Realisation that children are suspiciously quiet.
Discovery that an entire large tub of aqueous cream and vicks vaporub have been used to decorate the bedroom walls, both children, both beds and the book case. Handy wet towels to mop everything down considered momentary blessing. Another load of washing of encreamed clothing and bedding.

Wednesday, even later:

Two children doing laps up and down the hall, screeching in that precise tone that makes your eardrums pack their bags and start venting about their unwillingness to continue in their position. Up and down. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee no don't do that wobbieeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
And down EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEollllieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee that's miiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnneeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
and up again
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEMummmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
fuckeeeng fuckeeeng jeeeeeeeezezEEEEEEEE

for about an hour.

I have a very sore head and am currently ignoring them take all the washing out of my washing basket. Well, it aint going to get washed today. They're in the washing basket, it's perfect, it has two sections, one for whites, one for coloureds. Or one for one brother, one for the other. I might put them in the machine. They're stuck in the washing basket...

>short interlude<


It is 4 months and 1 week till they start nursery.

Humble Pie (and being a suckass)

Oh, I feel bad.

I'm way too cynical to accept authenticity, but a very nice comment just left reminded me that anyone at all can read this. Mostly, they don't, but sometimes they do.

And there's me being entirely mean about Psychologies magazine, which I do actually like. I do. I complain lots because I dutifully do the quizzes and it tells me things I already know, but I like doing the quizzes. There's been more than once that I've read an article that makes me feel like the mad things I'm feeling are entirely normal. I like most of the contributers (especially Oliver James, incidentally) and I, erm, like the magazine. I buy, and keep, every issue and it's wrong to be mean. I like psychology, I buy books based on the ones they feature, it's a worthwhile magazine and is one of the few I feel that is aimed at people like me.

That particular article was less good than normal, it irritated me because it sort of suggested that the reader is unaware of normal issues and needs a crisis to think about ethics and not being greedy and extravagant. But this is not the norm for this magazine, the articles are normally very good, the rest of this issue is of the usual standard, the free journal is excellent and I feel I need to point all this out to the other Psychologies reader who reads this. (Please buy it! I'll buy it for you!)

I am a bad person. I did persuade a lady in Tesco to buy last month's issue, I am partially vindicating myself for this reason.

Other People's Thoughts

I think of things too late. So here stands thoughts based on what other people have said:

On politeness:

I tend to be pretty polite, I always says please and thank you and all that, I speak to people, all people, I don't treat anyone like they are less than me and have the same inane chat with someone, whoever they are. I do this for two reasons: 1) I always have some banal thought in my head that I want to voice, be it to the car or to the binman, and 2) no matter who it is, they have something to say and might well want to voice it themselves. It might be fascinating, it might be boring, but it's rare that one or both of you don't have a moment of interactive happiness just from exchanging a few words.

So, the supermarket. Here comes me: blether, blether, ooh, isn't it cold, what a lovely packaging that lettuce has, it's nearly time for lunch, etc etc. Mostly to the checkout staff, because other customers usually think you're mad if you talk to them. Unless you're both looking at the same thing, in which case there's an opening for "ooh, that's lovely isn't it?".

Anyway.

I do that because I do, I don't HAVE to do it. If I'm a bit tired or sleepy or sad, then perhaps I won't instigate chatter, but I don't remain mute if people talk to me. So I find it rather irksome when the person who is supposed to be nice to me, the person who is paid to be nice to me, the checkout operator, fails to even look at me, only mutters the very minimum of necessary words "do you have a loyalty card" and "that's £3m please". Not because they're shy or in a bad mood, no, this has happened to me three times this week: twice because the checkout operator was having a chat with the person at the next desk, and once because she was Reading A Magazine. That's rude. And when the mad customer beams and says a cheery "thank you, bye!" it surely doesn't hurt to say "bye" back?

Gah.

On Nintendo:

I've loved Mario for a long time. Longer than I've loved anyone else other than maybe Worzel Gummidge, but Mario has had far more of my time. From glimpsing him first on the first Gameboy, to coveting him on the NES, owning him properly on my own SNES, watching him 3D on the 64 and Gamecube and then flying through space on the Wii as well as being 3D and platform on the DS. And there's all his other adventures: Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, Super Smash Brothers and the sublime and addictive Mariokart. All actually good renditions of the sport they're meant to be, but with the silliness and humour of Mario.


Mariokart.
Mariokart.
The greatest game that ever played.
The DS version is probably the best. Retro, but good.

I've played Nintendo with so many people, people used to come round just to play Mariokart, or Mario Bros depending on their gender. It's fun. Playing Mariokart sure beats showing everyone just how bad a singer I am and infuriating them all by the fact that although I sound like a strangled cat, I'm actually scoring quite well because I am accurate if unlistenable to. But I do restrict it mostly to Mario titles. I mostly ignore the fact that a PSOne, PS2 and now an XBox 360 have joined the household, there's no Mario, there's no point. I can't stand regular driving games, it's going round and round and round in circles, then blinging your car and driving slightly faster in circles. No humour, no violence, no cheating. Pah! I do quite like Driver and GTA, because you have to do missions and shoot people, but I'm not very good at them. I have played a fighting game precisely once (not including Super Smash Brothers), it was Tekken 2, and I got killed immediately by someone's laser eyes, so that was that. War games are unnecessary, and I've never got the Sim thing.

So, if it's about Mario walking about collecting things and jumping on turtles, I'm hooked. Or sports titles where you do something relatively interesting - the Wii is pretty good for this. Some of the titles available leave me cold; Animal Crossing and all those role play pretend life things are boring as hell. They're primarily DS anyway, and everyone knows that's for Brain Training, Trauma Center and emergency Mariokart. Wii's a bit different, it's interactive again, it's sort of addictive because you can be crap, that's ok, you're better next time and it's very proud of you when you are. It's like your friend. I do believe that everyone can enjoy this, even my Mum likes playing golf. Even I like playing golf and can nod appreciatively when people talk about albatrosses and irons. You don't need other people, but if there's other people around, they can join in. And you don't need to have the 1000 crap titles. Go old school. You know you want to.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

This is the future

Well, it's the 9th of December, which according to all the magazines means it's New Year.

Happy New Year everyone!!!


Auld Lang Syne On Ocarina - The best video clips are here


Time to reflect over 2008 and look onward to 2009...

You may not have noticed, but there's been a bit of economic downturn this year. It's been mentioned here and there. If the media's anything to go by, you've probably had your house repossessed and lost your job, so you'll have sold your computer and you're just imagining you're reading this.

So. Psychologies magazine, which I buy each month to complain about, has predictions about what *we* are going to be doing in 2009. Mostly as a result of the money thing, it makes us appreciate the good things in life because *we* didn't do that before.

Firstly *we* will be looking for serious issues in fiction and drama, and have an increased interest in political affairs. *We* will be buying DVD box sets (because that's how *we* see things) of things like The Wire. At the same time *we* will be looking for escapist glitzy culture because obviously *we*'re going to be a bit confused by all that serious stuff *we*'ve never considered before and will need something to lose ourselves in. Perhaps hiding the serious novels in a maze would help everyone?

*We*'re going to start looking for spirituality and may consider going to church. The church, in an attempt to connect with all these new confused and cynical people, will go through radical changes in a complete about turn of what the church is actually about. *We* have moved away from the relationships formed from duty and *we* will embrace these relationships once more.

*We* will rethink our values and have the shocking revelation that society of recent years has been fuelled by greed. Stunned by this realisation *we* will rethink how we treat the world and generally be better people as a result. This won't cause us to be more moral, no, that's old fashioned, but *we* may think more about whether *we* cause harm by our actions.

< some of us did that already, I'm sure it's not the realisation of the greed thing: I didn't just notice>

*We* won't do anything about our health, but there's new stuff being researched. How nice to know that the researchers are going to do something, presumably they've been saving up the last few years for this Year of Research. Meantime, Oliver James, cheermonger extraordinaire, tells us *we*'re all going to be more prone to depression and stress, which is an profound thought; people might find losing their houses and jobs a bit upsetting. On the plus side, *we* might come to realise that *we* don't need so many things and that our career is the only thing that gives us meaning. *We* may even manage without two incomes.

Leisure pursuits. Well, sadly *we*'re going to give up the lavish and extravagant overseas holidays. *We* will be looking for cheaper ways to spend our time. Heavens, *we* might do things like go to the seaside or take walks. *We* wil also embrace what is known as "bushcraft" holidays where you learn survival skills in the woods.

*We*'re going to grow our own veg and eat out less in another astonishing revelation that not spending money is a good way to economise.

And in a prediction that makes less than no sense, the majority of people will be single, while more people will get together in a need to be with someone. This includes married people who won't be able to afford a divorce so will have affairs instead. The author of this does gratifyingly use the word "paradoxically", before confusing the issue most of all by talking about organic relationships and retro dating.

So, to recap, we're going to pretty much like the same entertainment we did already, join the church and reconnect with our families, think about being ethical, spend less money, go camping in the woods and have lots of affairs.

I'm going to make the most of the rest of this year.

Monday, 8 December 2008

When in doubt, tell the truth

Copied duly from Sam, whose pages are ever so much prettier than this.


Truths, as I think them, for the definitely generic "you"

  • That which you take for granted, you will miss most when it's gone
  • You are what you eat: I am a cauliflower
  • Anticipation is not as good as a pleasant surprise
  • Love makes you determined
  • You only have other people's word for what happens when you're not there
  • Everyone receives at least one chocolate orange every Christmas
  • Kittens are cute. Noone could hate a kitten
  • You cannot change the past, the future can be anything you want it to be
  • You're smarter than you think you are, braver than you think you are, and stronger than you think you are. You're probably not as funny as you think you are
  • If something doesn't cost you any money, it doesn't contain any calories
  • Somebody loves you more than you'll ever know
  • Something definitely lives under the bed. Don't mess with it, just in case
  • The most patriotic people don't live in their homeland
  • For each who is annoyed by small talk, there are one hundred for whom it can make their day
  • Hope may be the cruelest emotion, but if we cease to dream, we cease to live
  • Sweet potatoes make an excellent substitute for swede
  • Notice everything. Everything has something beautiful to share
  • Believe in whatever makes you happy. Don't let anyone take it away from you


And that is all I can think of for now.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Lost in Transgression

I've loved cars since I was old enough to think about it. My first remembered car-crush was on a Lotus Esprit that I passed on the bus on the way to school; looked like this one:



Then I moved onto BMWs, which adorned my walls as a teenager. I passed my driving test as soon as I turned 17, then had a fairly long term crush on Volkswagen.

I sort of had a Golf when I persuaded my mum she needed that when she needed a new car and then most obligingly got a job where she got a lift every day. Selfishly, when I left home, she kept it though, so many moons later, I got my first car at the age of not-quite-25. Off I toddled to ogle the Volkswagens, looking at probably a 3-4 year old Polo or similar, maybe something a little cheaper. Stopping smoking had provided the funds, all I needed to do was choose which little car was going to be mine.

I came home with a 5 month old 1.0l (973cc to be precise) Vauxhall Corsa, by mistake. Despite the woeful lack of power, it was a great little car. It had a tiny tank, but it still drove from Worcester to Kirkcaldy on one tank. The Golf, which I had been allowed one trip south to source a place to live, got as far as Knutsford going south. I transported a double bed (with foldable mattress and the base on the roof rack) , several Billy bookcases, a wardrobe, a sofa and various other items at different times in the Corsa. It did many pootles rounds Worcester between massive drives north and really did ok. The potential arrival of twins meant a bigger car was needed, as well as the fact that my husband had passed his test (finally! I taught him, you know) meant that he took ownership of the Corsa and I got the most wonderful car in the world, my Volvo. I loved that car. I had a most anxious ferry trip in a storm with my baby strapped up in the cargo area, I was so pleased to see it in one piece after that. Yet, I killed it just over a month later and that was where the whole car thing started to unravel...

My current car is a Vectra. I don't love it. I had an all consuming crush on it when I got it, it's ever such a nice colour and it is like the Corsa with power. Then bits started to creak and groan, and I had two massive skids which were freaky and thankfully caused no more damage than a broken wheel. I dream of owning a BMW.


Except, no, I don't any more. I have sort of fake daydreams where I'm the old me and I loved driving and don't care about things and it's just not real.

So I started to listen to people. Mostly people I have a giant crush on. Like Marcus Brigstocke. It went in. Something weird has happened to me and I'm starting to care about things. Cars aren't that great. We should all ride bikes, get the train, walk. Walk a bit more.

What? Hello? Where did that come from? Next you'll be a vegetarian.

Oh.

So there's me for approximately 30 years: I love cars. Technology is the future, we should endeavour to build better roads, climate change is random and chaotic and unpredictable: we should all drive BMWs. Food chain things, we breed animals to eat them, it's the way of the world, we've got teeth for eating meat; we're built to eat meat, you can't get proper nutrition from vegetables; everyone should eat steak.

A bit of wavering from the age of 31 (30-31 was mostly spent being pregnant and I didn't think anything) and insisting on organic milk, trying to buy local stuff and obsessing about seasons and buying free range everything. Not hard to go anti-plane: although it's fun to take off and land, flying is a painful experience. Horrible waits after tedious check ins with increasingly strict rules, cramped space on the plane, constant hassle to buy stuff, tedious waits for bags, etc etc. It's not fun. If you're going a relatively short distance, get the train. If you're going to Australia, then yes, perhaps the plane is the best option. If you're going to London, it's probably not. 4 x 4s are just wrong, so wrong in so many ways. Not least because they make every other car on the road less safe, so if you want a safe car, you need a 4 x 4 because other people have them and they might hit you. Ban them all. Bring back Ken.

Then wham! I'm a vegetarian. Bam! I think we should all cycle everywhere unless it's too far then we get the train. I am not practicing this at the moment, I still drive, but it makes me feel GUILTY I justify it because I take the children with me most of the time. I produced a coherent argument as to why we should have congestion charging.

Is this growing up? Why now? It's not making me happy, it's making me question everything else I thought I knew to be true. I don't like it.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Power

Oh, the joy to delete.

In a funk.

Don't want to speak.

FAIL.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Ignorance

That's my ignorance I refer to by the way. Just in case anyone hasn't got the time to read past the first line and wants to decide I'm mocking someone else.

I'm reading this book just now, called "Who Runs Britain... and who's to blame for the economic mess we're in" by Robert Peston. I would like to know the answer to this question, hence the purchasing of the book. I am on page 5, due to courseworks and what not, so I'm not all that in a position to judge.

But I can judge myself. And I'm off on a talk-about-myself thing, I do apologise. Blame Chandler.

I'm back to this whole "I don't know what I think" thing. I make a crap anarchist, because if someone's in charge, I get all meek and think "ooh, how exciting, he's in charge, how very assertive". (if it's a he; if it's a she then I think, ooh she's not very pretty, no wonder she went into politics). I like being told what to do. Within reason. If I kind of wanted to do it anyway.

I want to be told to do the things I want to have the freedom to decide that I want to do. On the fence a bit on that one.

Libertarian: make your own decisions. Nope. Too much responsibility. No thanks.
Fascist: force me to do things I don't want to do. No thanks.

Next?

Right's bad, right? So why does David Cameron make so much sense? Is he from the shiny happy wing that like social cohesion and want to join Europe? Does that really exist?

And why does Boris Johnson make so little sense? No, Boris, don't listen to the people, they don't know what they're talking about... oh you did it anyway. Never mind. "We love you because you bumble". No. No bumbling. Be assertive.

Nick Clegg's nice. He always says nice things. Very nice. Totally harmless. Being nice. I just looked to see if there was anything not-nice about him and the worst I could find was that he'd said he'd slept with no more than 30 women. Oh, really. How terrible. Obviously we all want virginal politicians that bumble. Anyway, I likes him: can promise the moon on a stick as will never have to provide, thus promises little pretend moons on matchsticks because that's rather nice.

I have no idea what Gordon Brown says about anything because I think he has a nice voice and immediately switch off. It's not intentional, I find him very boring. He's a lovely MP, he writes occasionally about how much he wants to improve Kirkcaldy and is often seen at the Rovers, but yawwwwwnnn. Oh, you did what? We spent how much? And you're not... ok. Alistair Darling, similar problem, I watch his eyebrows and the words wash over me. I can't remember who the rest of them are, those government types, boring people that drivel on. I like some of what they say, I'm kind of annoyed about the whole war/economy thing, I don't really care about them. VAT, woop, I've saved about 10p this week, I appear to mostly buy VAT free goods anyway. I buy a wodge of things, look at the receipt, Total bill: £45.97 VAT saving: £0.02. Oh wow! Really? Every little 2p adds up. If I start buying stuff I don't normally. Biscuits. I need more biscuits in my life just to appreciate the VAT decrease.

So, as demonstrated, I'm a bit clueless.

And back to the book...

I was slightly dubious as he's from the BBC and they might just possibly be a teeny bit biased against the government, but hey, no conclusions jumping. But he's not really. He's one of those people that absolutely categorically knows what's right in his mind, he knows exactly what he thinks and what he believes in. I want that. I want to know. I don't want to be woolly and impressed by young, nice, unbumbling people in suits.

I want to care. I want to be passionate like I was about hating Jack McConnell. I knew I hated everything he said, it was easy, shout "you're an idiot!" at the TV a lot, object to every word he says. Easy. Why can't I hate the rest of them like that? I need to hate more, then I'd care more, then I'd know what I believed.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Freaking out

Aargh! Eek! OMIGOD!
I am having a freaking out attack. Like actually having a racing heartrate and difficulty breathing.

I can't do this work! I don't understand it! I've got no time to do it!

And I've gone retarded. I just wrote an email of apology, starting with "I am really sorry" but I missed out the word "sorry" so it says "I am really".
Insert word of choice: sorry, stupid, careless, ambivalent, thirsty, looking forward to the weekend, sick... the options are literally endless.

Never mind. I said sorry again later. Or to be precise, "please accept my apologies" because it was THAT type of email. Mince for brains. Mince.

Anyway, deep breath, can concentrate. It's ok. I can do this.

I need a ruler and a pencil. This is alien. Where do I keep these things? I only normally need them for exams. Exam stuff. Umm. My phone has a ruler on it but the edges are a bit phone-y.

I am going to locate a ruler. I may be some time. Don't wait up. Unless you have a ruler?

UPDATE: no ruler was forthcoming in the drawer-where-things-like-rulers-live (although I did find a number of pens, two automatic pencils, a lipstick and my calculator as well as the stuff expected to be there) nor was one apparent in any of the stashy hideyholes, so a trip to Asda was required to purchase a ruler. I miss my desk, but I now have a ruler. Hurrah!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Christmas wishes

I wish that...

...all my Christmas shopping was bought

...I didn't say stupid things All The Time. this amount of fretting is alarming.

...my assignment was in

...Christmas was really all snow and log fires and singing

...Santa would really pop in on Christmas eve

...I didn't have to spend money offending people by how little I spent. Why don't we all bake each other cookies?

...everyone could have a little bit of joy today, just because it's December and Christmas is in the air

...I had office parties to go to, even the official one

...I'd never seem The Office Christmas specials so I could see them for the first time.


And most of all I wish you a very happy pre-Christmas fuzzy moment.

ohappiday

I just looked at the date. It's the 2nd of December today. The piece of work I'm hyperventilating over is not due till the 4th. Two whole evenings to go. Not one. Two. That's like 12 hours or something.

Christmas arrived yesterday in this house, hurrah hurrah hurrah. Tree is up, sans baubles as they have been lost by Someone Else, so it's covered with candy canes and foil covered chocolate and looks really quite cute. Yesterday we celebrated Andrew Collins by having a holiday, that only the government took, in honour of him. Or maybe it was some other Andrew, I'm not sure. Alex Salmond is obviously a fan.

Talking of Andrew Collins, this is what Nathan Jay's done now, it's amazing:




Oh, I just realised what I have to do with my new found free afternoon, the boys' birthday is one month tomorrow and the card has to be at CBeebies 4 weeks before, so needs posted, erm, today, I think. Yah. It's 4 weeks on Saturday, and given that Christmas gets in the way...

Oh cack.

Action stations. I needs a photo of them. Panic! Panic! Has to be printed too. Still have the CBeebies cheaty stickers to make auto-card. Need glitter!

I feel the need to hyperventilate again.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008

I don't know if you can see, changes that have come over me

Ah, I'm having a patriotic moment. The homesick Scot song, Caledonia on an advert to "try" and persuade Scots to come home in 2009. Because, like, it's so much better here... What do you want with a good job? Beautiful scenery to the left of you, don't look right.

Possible cynicism at the timing, just before Hogmanay and all...

You can view the ad here, if it gets to work, if it doesn't, it features actors Sir Sean Connery and Brian Cox, cycling star Chris Hoy and golfer Sam Torrance, musicians Lulu, Sandi Thom, Eddi Reader and Amy Macdonald, plus Kelly Brown and Thom Evans from the Scotland rugby team.

It's cheesetastic, but it made me proud for a moment. I want Sean Connery to read me bedtime stories. I know, I know, but he's damned lovely. I keep replaying that and swooning at his bit.

This song was featured on one of my favourite ever adverts, a Tennents one from 1990:



Sigh. Grand. I wish it was 1990.

So the guy gets sick of London, he heads home to Scotland, takes in the beauty of Edinburgh... and goes to a pub for a pint of Tennents? Like he wouldn't head to the chippy for a white pudding supper and a tin of Irn Bru?

Irn Bru ought to be the one thing that represents Scotland. It's special. It's magical for curing hangovers. We're the only country in the world (I think) that doesn't have Coke as the best selling soft drink. We have Irn Bru fridges. We have Irn Bru taxis. We love Irn Bru.

Come home, we drink Irn Bru here. That's enough to get anyone home.

Also from about 1990, the best Irn Bru advert ever, a parody of Coke adverts, and erm, it was about 1990, it's not its fault:



More here

I apologise to the eardrums of anyone that clicked all of those, it's all terrible, I know this. It makes me proud to be a Scot though, cheese and all.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Snippets of airy nothing

3am, 750 words of 2000-3000. Decision taken to invoke the "5pm Friday is the same as 9am Monday" rule.
9am, approximately 700 of those words discovered to be irrelevant.
Dammit.

I am so disorganised. I should have just watched Buzzcocks last night. Mark Watson was on it! I love him, even if he is but a child.

I *need* to sleep. Not write. Not amuse hyper people.

Is it wrong to have pistachio ice cream for breakfast? I have some and it's divine. Pistachio. The elusivest and tastiest of ice creams. With bings of pistachios in. If you want chocolate ice cream, you just go to a shop and buy chocolate ice cream. Not true with pistachio, and there it was just sitting in Tesco's freezer looking all pistachio-y.

It's just a nut thing. I may continue with the daily nut related supermarket news. I may not.

No. I'll have a muffin. Not healthy, but at least it's sort of breakfast fayre.

Genius is in fact genius.
It's marvellous.
Get it now. You just turn on Genius in iTunes, wait several years for it to check all your dodgy downloads and sometime in another lifetime it will be done and you simply click on a song, click the genius button and tada! A playlist of joy. You have to go back to iTunes to delete the ones that it gets a bit wrong, but so far out of 50 songs, I've had to delete 3.

I did another playlist, this time from Human by The Killers, which I still love, and the playlist is spectacular (mostly). For one, it includes Intervention by Arcade Fire which is exactly spot on, and again, it's included stuff I thought I didn't like (Beck? White Stripes?) and yet I do. Except for two hideous errors, Celine Dion and the Spice Girls, but that's my own fault for not deleting their albums when we accidentally got the entire Top 40 a few months ago. Genius probably thinks I like all that cack, Connie Talbot and other people I had to Google to find out who they were. Anyway, Genius is fab. I am very lazy when it comes to listening to music, especially with the ease of playlists, I tend to listen to the songs I like and rarely "discover" new ones. The radio is my only salvation usually. I went through and copied the songs I like off the server onto my beloved the other day, and now Genius is picking the Other Songs for me. It's a revelation in toons.

I'm liking this cheapness thing. Every time I open my email there's a pile of messages telling me things are reduced, free delivery, 20% off, free stuff, more free stuff, please please buy stuff. I've dispatched a spy to go and see if Woolworths are giving away their stock yet. I'm noticing a lot of "2 for the price of less than 1!" offers. It's good, even if we have to ignore the fiscal implications. We all HAVE to buy stuff, our economy depends on you buying some stuff. Yes you, go buy that thing you reckon you shouldn't. It's not extravagance, it's survival.

Tomorrow: a blog entry where one paragraph has anything remotely to do with the following one.