29 May 2009

Me in the sun

Sitting on sunny Brighton beach

27 May 2009

Horrific but entirely accurate

A well-meaning friend introduced me to Wordle yesterday by showing me the word-cloud it creates from my blog feed. Essentially it goes through all the text and then picks out the most common words, attributing greater size to those used more frequently.

Take a look at the result:

How horrifying is that? Look how big the 'Mum' is! It's MASSIVE! And you can hardly even see Chris on there, he's tiny and under Mum.

I was absolutely appalled. I'm so sorry to have bored you all by going on and on and on about my mother. Although I don't feel like she dominates that much of my life, she clearly dominates a fair bit of what I think about and a lot of what I write about. It's not healthy really; I'd much rather my word cloud featured a few more positive words like 'fun' and 'enjoyed'. But no, they're not even in there I don't think. How sad.

I resolve therefore to try to write a bit less about my mother, to think about her perhaps a bit less (fat chance, she rang me twice yesterday and she's already texted me this morning), and to allocate more of my attention to pleasant and enjoyable activities. I shall then review my Wordle in a few weeks and see if it looks a bit more positive.

I'll fail of course. It's in my nature to be negative, but I can try.

UPDATE: Oo oo, 'enjoyed' is on there actually! It's very small and on the far left. Let's see if we can't nurture it to a more decent size.

26 May 2009

Wedding mission complete, disaster rating 6/10

I haven't had time to blog about the wedding until now, so I've had to set aside some time this evening (yes, in my *own time*) to do it.

Overall it went OK, and despite things with Mum being more difficult than average, there were no disasters, so I suppose I should just be grateful for that. It's done now anyway, so that's a relief, and I was able to enjoy a fair portion of it.

The coldy virus thing I had at the end of the week had abated enough by Saturday for it not to give me too much trouble, and so I set off on time in the car up to Tunbridge Wells. I got checked in at the hotel (quite nice for a Travelodge), and then went to meet Mum and Dad who had already arrived at the wedding venue. We were there good and early so Mum had time to rest before the ceremony, and so she could get installed in the room she was to be using for her rest periods.

Basically things went slightly downhill from there, and continued in that trend until Mum and Dad went home. It became apparent to me fairly quickly that Dave and Janine had made choices and organised things in a way that was somewhat incompatible with Mum's needs, and this made things more difficult than they otherwise might have been. I choose the word incompatible carefully, because after all why shouldn't they choose what they want first and foremost for their wedding? It's not unreasonable. It's just that it exacerbated an already difficult situation.

Take this room Mum was to rest in: we were told it was a dressing room, attached to the function suite, where she could be out of the way and rest quietly. In fact it was a small attic room up five flights of stairs, with no lift access, and with no furnishings other than a table and chair. Given that Mum can't walk that far, can't exert herself etc., this was not ideal. She ended up 'resting' with a blanket on the floor.

Janine arrived on time, by steam train which was quite novel, and looked very nice in her dress. The ceremony was nice, a fairly typical civil ceremony really, but the room was too hot which added to Mum's progressively crosser expression.

Then the plan was to get photos with Mum done quickly so she could go and rest again, while the main body of photos would take quite a bit longer. She had practically to be dragged across a lawn to where the photos would be (it was 'too far'), at which point the photographer's camera jammed. So after five minutes of hanging around, Mum complaining that she "can't stand like this for long", Janine barely able to mask her fury at Mum diverting attention towards herself, and the photographer getting stressed, photos with her had to be abandoned and NO official photos with Mum in were taken. Disaster! So off she went in a foul mood, basically delirious with fatigue, and Dad and I had to do our best to sort her out.

Thankfully, the camera became unjammed after that so Dave and Janine still got the rest of their photos done. I missed the bucks fizz of course because I was sorting Mum out, but managed to get back for most of the photos and the ones I needed to be in, and took quite a few nice ones myself.

Then there was the meal, which Mum didn't really attend any of, and the speeches which she was there for but which were 'too loud', and through which she sat looking like she was about to pass out while poor Dad looked confused and embarrassed. And then they went home by 7pm.

So it wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either. Thankfully I was able to relax after that. My Grandad pushed off at 8pm, around the time Chris arrived, and after that I was fine. We watched their first dance (well executed - Janine used to ballroom dance competitively), we had quite a few drinks, we chatted nicely with other guests, and we danced quite a bit ourselves. It was fun, and I think Dave and Janine enjoyed it, which is the main thing.

I'm glad that it is over as I found the build up and the thought of what could happen quite tense. I've already had Mum on the phone twice today though, in tears at one point, at how ill she now feels following the wedding, how it'll take her probably two months to recover from it (that's not an exaggeration), and how no-one understands. So that was thoroughly depressing and made me think "can't I get a minute's peace??". But she'll be OK I should think, and at least the day wasn't spoilt. I only give it a disaster rating of 6/10 from a personal point of view; hopefully Dave and Janine weren't aware of all the stress that went on and were able to enjoy their wedding undistracted.

How sad it is though that almost my entire blog post about my brother's wedding is about my mother. Chris will read this at some point and think "yes, because you let her rule your life, exactly like she wants you to", and he'll be right. Ho hum.

21 May 2009

Ill-timed illness

As I suspected, I'm ill. My sore throat has turned into a proper stuffed up cold, and I feel really run down. It's so inconvenient! I have to be well on Saturday, I've got to drive myself to Tunbridge Wells and then be on my feet and sociable for pretty much the whole day. So I've taken today off work anyway, and I'm hoping if I just watch property programmes on TV and think happy thoughts then my body will heal itself before the weekend.

I've just checked back on where I'd got to on the 'Days healthy' counter I started after the last time I was ill. I didn't maintain it on every post because I couldn't be bothered, but if I had I would have reached the grand total of 91 days by today. That's not even a hundred! I thought it was going to be longer than that, but apparently not. So I managed to be more or less healthy for 3 months before succumbing to yet another virus. I suppose that's not too bad, I just hope I can get rid of it fairly quickly.

I have taken the executive decision not to inform Mum that I'm not well, because she'll only a) freak out that I won't be well enough to come to the wedding; and b) say "but I can't afford to catch a cold from you", in her usual it's-all-about-me way.

Which is stupid anyway, because of COURSE I'm going to go to my brother's wedding, even if I have got a cold. I'll just dose myself up on paracetamol, gun through it with a fixed smile on my face, and then feel like crap the next day. It's not going to come to that anyway because I will be better by Saturday (happy thoughts happy thoughts).

Right, I'm off to eat hula hoops now and see if Sophie Allsop has managed to turn a run-down three bed apartment into a trendy cottage in the Lake District.

20 May 2009

Rush rush rush

I haven't had much time for blogging since last week, which is unusual for me and now I feel I've got behind with it.

We had our Eurovision party at the weekend, which of course was another triumph. We had scoresheets, miniature flags, posters, and a lovely Eurocake:

I enjoyed the show, but was a bit disappointed that the winner was Norway. Their song was OK, not great, and the fact that it was the bookies' favourite and that it was such a complete runaway winner made it a bit boring. After a quarter of the votes were in you could tell no-one was going to catch them. And also, he had weird eyebrows.

I thought Jade did really well to finish fifth considering how poorly we've done in the last few years. She sang very well and was obviously much stronger than lots of the other contestants, so fifth is quite respectable. I didn't think that the jury voting really made that much difference though, there was still lots of unjustified awarding of 12 points to neighbouring countries by some of the Eastern and Scandinavian nations.

Sunday was a little bit of a write off, as I had drunk a combination of white wine, rosé wine, champagne, and Moscow Mules (careful Eurovision linkage there) so I had a bit of a headache. And then this week just seems to be flying by with no time to do anything.

Dave's wedding is this Saturday, and after a mini-meltdown last week (including the glib fiasco) Mum seems to have plateaued at "there's nothing I can do about it now, I'll just have to hope for the best". Which is better than insane stress attacks I suppose.

I wish I could look forward to it more, but I won't be able to relax until Mum and Dad head off home and Chris has arrived safely after his epic two hour bus and taxi journey from Brighton. Just to make things a bit more of a pain, I feel like I'm coming down with something today, which I could obviously do without. I've had a sore throat since yesterday and this morning I felt completely run down as soon as I got up. If I'm going to get a virus I'd rather get it now, deal with it on Thursday and Friday, and then hopefully be better on Saturday. I'll have to see how I go anyway.

I'll need to check back to my 'Days healthy' counter I started on here after Christmas to see how long I lasted before getting ill AGAIN. I don't think I did too badly, it must be at least a hundred days!

My next blog post may very well be after the wedding. Wish me luck!

13 May 2009

Stupid MP's expenses drivel

Oh my god, I can't believe how much they're going on about the MP's expenses 'scandal' and how every party leader is bandwagonning and ordering people to repay the money.

Why are people surprised that in a system with very loose rules, people took advantage and claimed as much as they thought they could get away with? They didn't break the rules, and everyone around them was doing the same thing, so of course they did it too. I think everyone would! And yes it wasn't a very good use of tax payers money, but the system was flawed in the first place and was obviously set up as a convenient way of bumping up MP's salaries without changing the headline figure.

And what annoys me is that there is actually much more important work that politicians need to be doing at the moment, like oh I don't know fixing the economy maybe? Repairing the housing market? Improving healthcare? No, not interested in any of those? No, because those are much more difficult than making a stupid speech condemning a practice that they all knew was going on but which now has become public knowledge.

A few weeks ago bankers' bonuses was the flavour of the month, so they all pledged to re-regulate and take bonuses back and anything else that they thought would sound good in the Daily Mail. But now the public have lost interest in that, so they've found another topic of fairly modest import that will allow them to avoid tackling the real issues.

It's rubbish, politicians are rubbish. And they wonder why people are disillusioned and can't be bothered to vote. Yeah fine, fix the expenses system, it clearly needs fixing. But then stop going on about it and do some actual work.

12 May 2009

Jay Brannan and a dodgy bush

We went to see Jay Brannan play on Saturday - he was so good! And terribly sweet and cute, as usual.

Chris was meant to be at university during the day, but he reprehensibly bunked off, which meant that we could go up to London a bit earlier. The concert (gig? concert?) was in Shepherd's Bush, and for some reason I'd got it into my head that Shepherd's Bush would be quite trendy and nice. I think it must have been because it's in West London not far from Kensington. It's not anyway, it was actually a bit rank. The high street was just lots and lots of takeaways and cafés where groups of 40-year old men were watching television together rather than go home to their wives.

We had decided to have some dinner up there anyway, and went to Nando's. It was my first Nando's experience, and the food was actually quite nice despite the noticeably pikey clientele. I suppose that's what you get for eating somewhere where the main course costs £5. It was also conveniently located about three doors down from Bush Hall though, where the concert was going to be.

When we came out of the restaurant a bit before 7, I was surprised to find there was already a queue of people at the venue, even though the doors weren't opening for another half an hour. We didn't really want to queue for all that time so we went for a short walk, before deciding Shepherd's Bush definitely wasn't that nice and going back to queue instead. It was quite good anyway because you could hear Jay warming up or doing a sound check or something through the fire doors next to us, and the queue was decidedly homotastic, and once the doors opened we were all in quite quickly.

Bush Hall was nice, it's an old sort of building with cornices and mouldings and things. It was an all-standing gig so there were no seats, just a big room with a stage at one end. But as the support act wasn't going to be on for an hour everyone just sat on the floor, thereby staking out good positions near the stage and saving our feet. Apart from a few rude people who actually thought they'd stand near the front, in front of lots of people sitting down so they couldn't see anything, until someone shouted "SIT DOWN" at them.

The support act was a guy called Arthur Delaney, who was quite good just as an act on his own and very watchable. He did kind of fast guitar playing and singing, and was accompanied by a not unattractive young man who was also quite good but apparently not good enough to get a mention alongside Arthur Delaney.

And then it was time for Jay, who came out on stage to an almighty amount of applause and promptly said "You guys are going to be so disappointed..."

Jay Brannan with teabagsWe weren't anyway, he was really good. It was just him on his own, which I always think is brave of anyone up on a stage, and he brought his own water and things out in a little Morrisons bag (so sweet!). He had also brought crumpets which, in an odd twist of logic, were "in case anyone throws crumpets at me, because you're British". We didn't anyway, but someone did throw a box of Earl Grey tea, which he seemed to appreciate.

He played songs mostly from his album Goddamned, but also quite a few that weren't, which was nice because there were a few things I hadn't heard before. And he just chatted in between and made us laugh, a bit like Lisa Loeb did when I saw her.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy it and I'm definitely glad I went to see him. A lady also threw her bra at him at the end, which seemed to bemuse him slightly, even more so when she said she'd want it back.

He was only doing one gig in the UK before going on to Paris the next day (where he's doing five gigs, SO not fair). It can't be that much fun travelling around on your own with your guitar on your back, but to his credit he sold out a performance in London and five performances in Paris, and he was doing a couple of others in Dublin and Tel Aviv, so he must be doing pretty well for himself.

I would go and see him again certainly, although maybe not in Shepherd's Bush.

If you don't know who he is (in which case you may not have read through all this), you can check him out on YouTube www.youtube.com/jaybrannan

08 May 2009


I'm really fed up with my Mum at the moment. Which is unusual, because I normally put up with a lot from her and don't complain all that much. But yesterday she accused me of being glib about her illness. Me! Glib!! After all the fucking sympathy I give her and the amount of crap I put up with.

Basically, she had a whole hoo ha paddy over the weekend about my brother's wedding. She suddenly found out that my Grandad was going to want a lift back with her and Dad, and Dad hadn't told him that that wasn't possible, and Mum refused point blank to give him a lift back because she "won't be able to deal with someone else in the car". So she had a massive go at Dad for not refusing to drive his own father home, and slagged him off to me saying he had no backbone. I told her not to talk to me like that about him, which brought her up short a bit because people don't answer her back often.

Anyway, in the end my brother had to do some phoning around, and has arranged a cab to take my Grandad home (85 fucking quid!), and so it was all sorted after three days of stress.

And is she pleased? No. She rings me up at work and bleats on about how she "could really do without the stress of it all". Yes but it's done now, I say, so don't worry about it any more. "No you're not listening, I feel really ill and worn out by it all now". "YES, but it's done now, so stop thinking about it and concentrate on feeling better. Just put it behind you."

And then I'm called glib. Glib is such a little word, it slips out so easily, but I've had TEN YEARS of fucking crap off of her, I've been her main source of support and sympathy, even more than my Dad or brother who "don't understand", and she dares to call ME glib? How much fucking more does she want?

So anyway, I'm pissed off with her now. The thing about her illness, the really fucking convenient thing, is that any kind of stress or disruption makes her feel ill. So that means essentially that everything has to happen exactly the way she wants it to, and you can't do or say anything that she doesn't like, because otherwise you're inconsiderately inflicting suffering on a disabled woman. Isn't that a bit fucking convenient for a woman who has always been demanding and has always insisted that everything is about her? And isn't it just the tiniest bit open to abuse? How easy it must be to say she's feeling ill if she doesn't like something. How tempting.

Fucking glib. It makes me sick.

06 May 2009

Over-eating, over-drinking, and simulating cage sex in a cowboy hat

I had a very good birthday weekend in the end, and feel that my 28th birthday was adequately celebrated.

A couple of our friends came down on Saturday to stay, and we had a nice meal out at Café Rouge. I don't go there very often, but the food was very good and it was made all the sweeter by our triumphant production of money-off vouchers that knocked about 25% off the bill at the end. I always feel like you look a little bit cheap when you say you've got a voucher, but it's unlikely we would have eaten there without them so they should be grateful damn it.

Then we did a little bar hopping on Saturday night, just to a few places like Dr Brightons, the Bulldog, Vavoom and R-Bar. Oh and a new one as well, the Kings Arms, which is a new bear-type pub. R-Bar had their music up ridiculously loud, to the point where it actually hurt my ears, so they are in my bad books now because I just don't see the need for it. You couldn't talk to anyone, you had to just sit there and wait for your ears to bleed.

On Sunday we wandered around the shops, Chris made us a yummy lasagne for dinner, and then we got all dressed up for the Wild Fruit Sex Saloon. We enjoy dressing up, it makes the night more fun, and when you're in costume strangers seem to assume that you're a confident and fun type of person so they talk to you more (regardless of whether you actually are confident or fun. I am neither).

Wild Fruit was really good. It was very busy, as usual, and there are always lots of pretty boys there. The music in the pop room was really, really good, so we pretty much just danced in there all night. It's always a bit quiet in the pop room, most people tend to stay in the dancy main room, but they do have an enjoyable cage type podium where you can practice your pole dancing and take stupid photos of yourself pretending to bum your friends or hanging upside. Chris does the hanging upside down rather than me, he's considerably more athletic and I'm not prepared to risk a broken neck for a photo.

We stayed until the end, and must have still been quite hyped up because we decided to go back to Vavoom for a bit afterwards just to make sure we really had drunk as much as we could. It was 5am and the sun was coming up by the time we went to bed, and I have to admit that seeing the sun come up before I'd been to sleep did make me feel slightly hysterical. It's unlike me to be out that late without fainting, throwing up, or falling asleep in a corner. I bet it was part of some subconscious need to prove that "I've still got it" and can party until 5am despite being 28.

Monday was, unsurprisingly, a little more subdued, and I had a slightly green tint to my not-so-youthful complexion until about 3 o'clock. We did manage another lunch out though (I must have consumed about 40,000 calories over the weekend) before our friends headed off home. They got caught in the stupid protester twattiness unfortunately (see previous post), but eventually made it out of the city after several diversions to avoid the imbeciles.

So it was an excellent weekend all in all. I'm only just today getting over my tiredness, I don't bounce back like I used to when I was 19, but I've had a quiet couple of days at work at least, and if you can't wear yourself out celebrating your birthday then I don't know when you can.

04 May 2009

Selfish children take to the streets and get in my bloody way

Brighton has been taken over today by lots of idiotic children with no respect for other people. The ‘protesters' have decided it would be a good idea to disrupt the lives of innocent (and uninterested) people by blocking roads, hurling missiles, letting off flares, smashing light bulbs, and dancing on a café roof.

And what was all this in aid of? Well it was fairly vague actually. The ‘protest' was advertised as being "against war and greed". What, just war and greed in general? How ridiculous. You can't protest against greed in general, it's an emotion. It's like protesting against feeling a bit grumpy. And who were they directing their protest at anyway? What power do the residents of Brighton have to prevent war and greed? As far as I'm aware, the city isn't at war with anyone at the moment, nor is it in charge of any multinational banks. If you really don't like Israeli foreign policy, go and protest outside the Israeli embassy. At least then it'd be vaguely relevant. Or even better, go to Gaza, and hopefully step on a landmine while you're there.

They were protesting in part about the presence of an ‘arms factory' in Brighton (which they say sells bomb-dropping equipment to Israel). Which is fine if you really want to protest about it, but the factory is on the edge of the city so why didn't they just sod off up there? Why are you protesting at the PIER??

It's just ridiculous. I hate stupid left-wing children who basically don't like "the establishment", despite the fact that they probably would have died from cholera without it years ago. Their protests end up not really being about anything (because they have no real argument), and they just do it for the sake of it, like a tantrum. And then they bleat on about their right to peaceful protest, before completely disregarding the peaceful part and inflicting wanton criminal damage on a city that really couldn't give a toss. Why attack a café? Why?? What's that got to do with it? Why block up the traffic?

I really don't get it. If people care about the cause of their protest they would already be attending it; if they don't, then getting in their way is just going to make them hate you and hate your cause by association. I now feel compelled to campaign for the presence of the arms factory in Brighton just because I'm so cross.

I feel really sorry for the police who have had to deal with it all day, having objects thrown at them and people shouting in their faces. The police haven't got anything to do with war or greed anyway, they're a domestic public organisation, and yet they have to bear the brunt of this idiotic behaviour.

The protesters should count themselves lucky they don't live in a country where they break out the water cannons and tear gas at the first sign of trouble. Their violent, antisocial, pathetic behaviour is more than deserving of a high-pressure hose in the face.