26 December 2008

Oh Christmas tree

Christmas has been a mixed bag so far. Mum has got flu, so is feeling even worse than usual, and I'm terrified I'm going to catch it off her and be ill for New Year. I had to make a considerable effort to ignore it and still give her a hug etc while she coughed in my face. I felt a bit like Princess Di hugging those lepers on TV.

Christmas Day was nice as I spent it up at Chris' and we had a nice lunch, and then we saw some friends in the evening. Mum did say in quite an accusatory tone what a boring day they'd had without me, but I thought that had been the point, so she didn't have to make any effort! So fuck it, I'm not taking responsibility for whether they have a nice Christmas, not when she TOLD me not to come home.

Then today was my annual hell of lunch with my horrible grandad. He was fairly well behaved for a change, but Mum came this year and shouldn't have because she felt ill straight away and the food took too long and then was wrong and then I had to wolf mine and drive her home before anyone else had even finished eating. So now I'm sat on my own while she rests. Still, at least it got me out of the lunch quicker, so it's not all bad, and hurrah for mobile Facebook and blogging.

20 December 2008

Still ill

I'm still feeling ill, I was hoping I'd be better today. It's kind of feeling more like a normal cold now, the more fluey symptoms have gone away a bit. I could live with that though, at least you can ignore a cold a bit.

Chris went out without me last night so I was on my own for pretty much the whole day, which was a bit depressing. I liked his self-interested reasoning: if you have to stay in cos you're ill, that's depressing; if both of us stay in that's twice as depressing. Hmm, twice as depressing for you maybe. It's even more depressing for me to stay here on my own! Anyway, he's just surfaced from the sofa bed, so I am off to breathe on him vindictively now.

19 December 2008

X-Factor final - move over Leona

So anyway, following on my from my ranty ill post, last Saturday was the long-awaited X-Factor final. The last three in the running were horrible, horrible little Eoghan/Eeyore/Eggnog/puttyface potato baby, JLS, and Alexandra. Naturally, we wanted Alexandra to win because she has easily the best voice.

I can't be arsed to go into massive amounts of detail, but first to be executed, I mean eliminated (wishful thinking) was Eggnog. Thank GOD for that, I was getting really worried about him. He was getting far too smug and sure of himself as the weeks progressed, and he just does NOTHING for me. He's too young to be cute, even when he's older he's not going to be cute because he looks like Michael Myers, he's got a fat arse despite being 16 years old, and there's just no power to his voice. He's just awful. So anyway, he got a quick slap down, leaving us with JLS and Alexandra.

Things could still have gone either way, as lots of people seem to like JLS. In my opinion, this was the moment that finished them off though, 51 seconds into this video:

What the HELL was that??? We were so stunned when we saw it we had to rewind it three times just so we could laugh at it.

So in the end, after I'd sneakily voted six times at considerable expense whenever Chris' wasn't looking, Alexandra emerged as the rightful victor. She seemed rather more surprised than I thought she would be, she could hardly talk, and she was crying so much that her foundation went all streaky (as a friend correctly pointed out - they'd gone for expensive mascara that didn't run, but scrimped on the foundation).

So hooray! Obviously I would have preferred Austin, but that dream died weeks ago. They've since released the voting shares for each week, and to my HORROR Eehhggeeoon got the highest number of votes in 6 out of the 10 weeks. So we had a lucky escape there I think, I couldn't stand hearing him on my television all over Christmas. At least he can bugger off into Irish obscurity now.

Alexandra has released a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah as the X-Factor single and basically guaranteed Christmas Number 1. I quite like it, I've always liked the Rufus Wainwright version, and she makes it into an uplifting song. It's brought some controversy with moany whingebags on the internet proclaiming Jeff Buckley's version is the definitive version and it should never be recorded again, and they've started a download campaign that might see us have the same song in the Number 1 and Number 2 slots by different people, which is ridiculous. I've listened to his version and don't actually like it. He sings it with a lot of pain, I'll give him that, but if I want pain I'll slam my face in the fridge door. I just find him quite whiney, his volume changes are abrupt, and his trill things are random and unstructured. So anyway, I prefer the Alexandra version.

So that was the end of X-Factor for another year. Shame the Christmas Number 1 is always guaranteed to be whoever wins the show, it's quite hollow. I like Alexandra though, she's got a great voice and she's less sappy than Leona.

Fed up

I'm so fed up. I'm ill, and have been since 3am on Tuesday morning when I woke up with raging backache and headache. I appear to have caught the flu, and this time it actually is the flu and not just a cold that you have to call the flu so you get more sympathy. I spent Tuesday laying on the sofa unable to sleep because the pain in my lower back was so bad, cramming paracetamol eagerly down my neck only to find it didn't make the slightest difference.

Since then my symptoms have been varying themselves each day, just to keep me interested. On Wednesday I was feverish, dizzy and achey, and then the aches turned into shooting pains in my hips overnight. Since then it's been a mix of dizziness, an annoying cough, neck ache, general fatigue, and bizarre temperature fluctuations that have me sweating even when it's freezing in here.

Surprisingly for me, I actually have a piece of work that I need to get on with (I know, who would have thought?) and so I've been stressing about that. Today I tried to drag myself into work because I thought I'd be feeling better, but I didn't even make it out to the car with Chris before I felt faint and had to give up. And then I was just annoyed with myself for getting up early and wearing myself out and making myself feel worse. It's our office Christmas party today too, so I'm missing that now.

And on top of that, when I did get to the car this morning we found that some fucktard has done something to the passenger door so you now can't open it from the outside. The key doesn't really turn in the lock, and the handle just flaps uselessly up and down. You can open it if you get in the driver's side, thank god, so it's not a disaster. If both doors had been fucked it would have been a nightmare this close to Christmas. Who would do that? Why the fuck can't people leave things alone that don't belong to them? It's not even that nice a car to try and steal, if that's what they were doing. It's seven years old, it's small, and the paintwork is all scratched where Chris helpfully 'cleaned' it with a scouring pad, not thinking that perhaps that's a bit abrasive for use on a car.

So anyway, now we've got that to sort out as well. Won't be before Christmas, there are only two working days left. Then the new year... probably not time again before Chris goes back to work. So then when? February half term? How fucking ridiculous.

So I'm fed up. And I don't want to be ill any more. And Chris' sympathy has long since expired - I only get two days of it before he gets bored and decides me being ill is just annoying. I've been too ill even to blog the final of X-Factor, after months of watching it and ranting about it on here. Maybe I'll do it in a minute, first I'm going to channel hop on the TV and see if I can find someone less fortunate than me to make myself feel better.

UPDATE: Ha! I didn't even need to channel hop, because East17 have popped up on the telly and Brian Harvey is certainly less fortunate than me. For one thing, he's entirely unfortunate looking, he looks like a rat baby. And he also had that incident where he accidentally ran over his own head (quite an achievement) and had to spend months in hospital. And then he tried and FAILED to become our Eurovision entry, which really is a slap in the musical face - you're not even good enough for Eurovision, the continental career-killer. So yes he's less fortunate than me and I'm quite pleased about it.

11 December 2008

Work Christmas do

In the end there wasn’t really any drama to report from yesterday’s Christmas do. Nobody was sick, nobody was asked to leave or told they were making a scene, and Abby didn’t even do the skit she’s been preparing for the last 8 months.

We had a nice meal though. I had tikka halloumi kebab for my starter, and then my main was potato rosti topped with spinach topped with a poached egg topped with melted cheese, which was yummy. And the dessert was doughnut straws with chocolate dipping sauce and vodka sozzled cheeries, mmmm. Plus we got a good half bottle of wine each, and it was all free! Well not free, but I’m not paying, and that amounts to the same thing.

I also had a new and enjoyable experience at the restaurant (no I didn’t put my hand in anyone’s bra), I fed a baby for the first time:

It’s only the second or third time I’ve even held a baby, so I was a bit unsure what to do when it came to combining holding AND feeding. I was assured though that if I just shoved the correct end of the bottle into his mouth and tipped it up a bit, he’d know what to do. Luckily for me he seemed more experienced than I was at it. I actually really liked it, and he was very good and wasn’t sick on me. And then he sat on my lap for quite a while and occasionally tried to hurl himself off sideways through general wriggling.

While I don’t think that I’m anywhere near wanting a baby properly yet, I did enjoy having one for half an hour, and it made me think that maybe I will want one at some point. For now though I think I’m happy with occasional cuddles and feeding of other people’s babies, with the option of giving them back if they start to make unusual noises or turn green or anything. I think I’d make a good uncle for a start, and then maybe a dad in five years or so, or whenever I’m ready to give up on all the selfish aspects of my lifestyle in favour of a small pink blob wrapped in a blanket.

Anyway, after our meal a few of us went for a couple of drinks at the pub down the road, and then people slowly trickled off until there were just four of us left. Then by 9.30 we’d had enough too, so we mooched off home WITHOUT being asked to leave, so clearly an improvement on last year.

I was in work at 8.15 this morning, feeling fine (good old vodka, always my friend), and now I’m just dossing around waiting for our email and internet to start working properly again. It sort of works, but the internet takes 5 minutes to load any pages, and everything is just very slow and intermittent. So I am plumbing new depths of unproductivity today!

09 December 2008

Christmas Christmas Christmas

I have my work Christmas lunch tomorrow, I'm quite looking forward to it. Last year it got quite messy, and I'm hoping this one will be equally entertaining.

It's a little dangerous I think to have the Christmas lunch on a Wednesday when lots of us have got to come in and have meetings and things on Thursday, but it also makes it quite amusing because you get to see what state everyone is in. We're quite lucky here that the university pays for the lunch too, and we get the afternoon off to go to it. In my previous jobs although you might get the afternoon off you always had to pay for it yourself.

I'm hoping also that the meal might get me a bit more in the Christmas mood, I'm not really feeling it yet. This is despite having put up a Christmas tree last week and having done almost all my Christmas shopping.

Last year we had a nice meal out, and then about half of us went to the pub for a couple of drinks afterwards. Having started drinking with cocktails at 1pm though, it was inevitable that we would peak quite early, and by 8 o'clock I was flagging. This ended up being entirely fortuitous though, because about 20 minutes after I went home the rest of our group got thrown out for being 'drunk and aggressive'. So hurrah, I was spared the ignominy of being ejected from a pub by someone half my age when it was still only early evening.

I shall record on here any highlights of our excursion, including any instances of arrest, incontinence or emesis. We're such a highclass bunch...

04 December 2008

The End of Mr Y

I've just finished reading The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas, and I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd write a little something about it.

I only read it because a friend brought it into work and then asked if I wanted to borrow it; otherwise I don't think I would have ever heard of it. I quite like it when that happens though, when you end up reading something you would otherwise have missed out on and then you really enjoy it.

When she offered to lend it to me, I asked what it was about, and (reading off the back) she told me it was an "engaging story that makes you rethink the nature of existence and the true structure of the world". Hmm, I thought, that doesn't sound very exciting... I had a look at it myself though and found that further down it also said "a thrilling adventure of love, sex, death and time-travel", which had me hooked straight away! Clearly marketing is not my friend's forté.

Anyway, the book is very good, and it does indeed live up to both of those quotes. The story is about a young academic called Ariel who comes across a copy of an exceedingly rare novel. Supposedly, the novel is cursed, and anyone who reads it ends up dying. Of course she has to read it, and she gets drawn into a dangerous world she could never have imagined and has to re-evaluate everything she thought she knew.

Being a fan of fantasy and sci fi, the book really worked for me, although I felt it slowed down a little in the middle. It picked up pace a lot after that though and I read the second half in a single afternoon. In its entirety, it is very original, and a lot of thought has obviously gone into its construction. Lots of the ideas it weaves together aren't actually original though, and I recognised elements of lots of things I've seen before. Not wanting to give too much away, they included:

  • the Q continuum in Star Trek
  • the Matrix
  • Being John Malkovich
  • the Discworld theory of gods
  • the 'rare and dangerous book' theme from The Shadow of the Wind
  • and a little bit the Better Than Life game in Red Dwarf
If you know what all those things are, then the combination of them probably gives you a fair idea of what the book is about. And if you like all of those things (personally I hated Being John Malkovich, but it's only similar to the book in a minor way), then you're sure to enjoy it, so go read it.

03 December 2008


I really think that my parents' house must be built on an Indian burial ground; they have a ridiculous amount of bad luck. Obviously they don't live in America or anything, but maybe some Indians made a special trip over in order to bury their dead in East London or something.

Aside from the fact that Mum got ill several years ago and has remained officially disabled since then, and that Dad got made redundant from his job earlier this year (which in some ways was actually a good thing), they have myriad things that go wrong, things that break, things that cost money.

Take last Friday. It wasn't Friday the 13th or anything, God knows what else would have happened had it been, but still:
  • Mum got ill with flu. Not a big deal, but worse for her than some other people because she's ill generally anyway, and so could do without additional viruses. Also, she hardly leaves the house, so where did she get flu from? Anyway.
  • Dad didn't get paid. Some mess up at the bank and at his employer apparently, but no-one noticed until Mum checked their account to pay the start of the month bills and found there was no money in it.
  • OK those two things aren't too bad, annoyances but not disasters, for some people the money thing would be a big problem, but they've got savings. But then what else happened? Dad was driving home from work, stationary at some lights, and someone crashed into the back of him! "Oh sorry, I didn't see you". What??
So obviously Mum gets stressed at the drop of a hat anyway, she stresses if she can't find the right pair of glasses (she has about 4 for different types of looking at things), so the combination of feeling ill, having no money, and the car being smashed up at the back sent her into a tailspin. They can sort it out obviously, most of it's fixed now - Mum's feeling a bit better, the bank gave Dad his money yesterday, and the car is going to the garage today to be fixed on the other guy's insurance. But still, quite a bad day I think you'll agree!

And it's not just last Friday, it's every other week with them. They have new radiators put in, and they start leaking within a week and the carpets are all soaked. Their hi fi reaches the end of its one year warranty, and the CD player and radio both pack up on it at the same time. The cat got a mouth tumour and had to have an expensive operation. Dad had someone make an insurance claim against him for a car accident on a road he's never been on. The list goes on, and those are all fairly recent!

So anyway, I think they need to be exorcised or something. And of course I'm the one who gets Mum in a flap needing calming down on the phone whenever any of it happens. I might have to start hiding horseshoes and lucky rabbits feet around their house, just to try to even out the bad karma.