Thursday, 26 May 2005

taking a holiday ...

We are off camping for a week tomorrow, so I may not get a chance to post until I come back on the third.

Last year we went to Ma's farm with R and Dani and their kids for a few days - despite the rain it was fun, so we thought we'd give it another go.

We get to pitch our tents in her field, the boys can dig a fire-pit to cook on and kids can run wild.

A plus for me is that I get to spend quality time with my parents without actually being trapped in their space all the time.

Ma has become engaged with the process. She likes having the kids visiting (And us, of course. I hope.) and she has also employed a plumber to come and fix the outside toilet. I've tried to contribute financially, but she won't accept, because she says that she was going to have it done anyway for the fruit-pickers to use in the summer.

Apparently the process has involved:

  1. Contacting plumber
  2. Non-arrival of plumber, three times
  3. Recommendation by plumber of his oppo, trainee plumber
  4. Visit and estimate by trainee plumber - leather-wearing, Harley-riding lady called Tamsin, who is a nurse for two days a week and a plumber for the rest
  5. Plan of attack concoted by Ma, Tamsin and Supervising Plumber, involving leaving the 1920's cistern in place and welding new pipes in
  6. 1920's cistern leaking copiously from crack in back when connected
  7. Toilet pan leaking copiously from crack in back when flushed
  8. Hairline crack being discovered in basin once it was re-plumbed
  9. Liberal application of
    1. cement to pan
    2. mastic to sink
  10. Replacement of cistern
  11. Realisation that drain was blocked
  12. Fixing of drain
  13. Triumphal departure of plumber and motorbike, with promise to return once cement has set to see whether pan still leaks, as Ma refused to touch it, in case she broke it.
The nations waits.

If all else fails, we can use the facilities in the house.

Thankfully.

fly away, go free

I have finally finished taking the anti-depressants. I took the last one a week ago. It's taken six weeks to cut myself down gradually and it's been quite hard; I came to the conclusion that taking a half or a quarter tablet each day caused far fewer fluctuations in my mood than taking one tablet every two or three days and gradually spacing them out further.

I have been irritable as hell - I still am, really - and B has been a saint. R hasn't been bad, either, as I've been letting my irritability creep in to the office. I feel like there is all this swirly anger swilling round inside me, looking for something to latch on to and it's very difficult sometimes to remember that it's just a chemical thing, without a cause. It IS gradually subsiding though. I think. I hope.

The Plan now is to trundle along for a couple of weeks and see how I am. And at the end of that time, if all is well, decide which adoption agency we want to proceed with and see if they will have us.

We are also considering the possibility of fostering, instead, with the same criteria: sibling groups of two or three, under the age of seven.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005

odd odours

Des, who's husband is the gamekeeper, has been helping Ma out with the heavy work on the farm whilst 'the boy, Edwin' who normally does it is having his second hip replacement and his hernia looked at.

She keeps bringing the puppies bones.

Not nice, sanitised Walt-Disney-type bones that you might get from a pet shop, but acutal bits of pig's legs - I believe that pigs knees are known as knuckles.

Bones apparently taste best when they have been buried somewhere for a few days. And if you dig them up and then rebury them in various different places, that adds to the flavour.

And the smell.

Ma spent about a week wondering what the odd odour was in her bedroom.

Eventually, she was getting dressed one morning and Moss enthusiastically un-earthed a bone buried underneath her bedside rug.

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

and also ...

Today is (to borrow from the ever eloquent Ms.Mac) the twelfth anniversary of my twenty third birthday and I am now going to the pub for an enormous steak sandwich and a 'chocolate pot'. Which as you would expect from the description, is a pot, that is full of chocolate.

I may be some time.

getting it off my chest

This is long and possibly boring, but I need to get it out of my system.

Did you ever have a friend at school who you though you'd be friends with for ever?

Someone who continued to be one of your closest friends all though your twenties? Who you felt you could rely on, turn to when you needed help and who you would in turn provide unconditional support for, whatever, whenever?

Who, if you were honest, you were probably a little bit in love with all that time?

Who you offered a place to stay when you were both thirty and she'd left her long-term boyfriend and needed somewhere for a few months?

Who suddenly started treating you differently?

It's been going on for four years now, which is co-incidently pretty much the time since I split with Crazy Tom. She and Crazy Tom and another friend all went to Glastonbury together six months before he and I split up. He was different when he came back. So was she.

Just after that, she started going out with a mutual friend of ours, who I'd dated aeons ago and was still friendly with.

Since then, we have had no meaningful communications of any kind - the 'sharing your life' kind of chats that you have with a good friend. On the one occasion we did get together, with a third friend, she asked me whether I'd be prepared to have an affair with her boyfriend and seemed startled when I was taken aback at her. She hasn't responded to any of my attempts to communicate, apart from occasional christmas and birthday cards. When I respond to a card with a friendly email, nothing happens. The boyfriend hasn't been in touch either, and I would have said that we were reasonably good platonic friends too.

B and I started dating three and a half years ago and got married two years ago. We invited them both to the wedding. He couldn't come, but she did, and was really prickly and edgy.

They got married a year ago. They invited us to the wedding but we couldn't go as we were on holiday abroad. I felt uncomfortable going to her hen-night because of the prickly-edginess and also because it was one of those 'weekend away' events that I couldn't really afford, so I piked.

Last week I got an email saying she was pregnant.

I responded with an email saying congratulations, that we'd been trying for a while, nothing was happening and we were thinking about adopting.

No response.

Then towards the end of the week she sent out another email. An invitation to a weekend get-together, with a couple of other friends who we were at school with, both of whom I see quite frequently.

I've thought about it over the weekend and I just can't go.

I can't walk in to her space - and she has asked us all to go to her house - and either pretend that there is nothing different or put up with her being prickly and competitive at me, which is her modus operandi, particularly when she feels uncomfortable.

So I've taken the honest option, emailed the other two friends and said I don't feel comfortable enough to meet up and then emailed her, saying the same, telling her that I felt that there was a 'coolness' between us. And saying that if she wanted to contact me to talk it through then that would be fine, but otherwise, wishing her all the best.

I didn't expect a response, but I've got one.

She doesn't see that there is anything wrong, as friendships naturally ebb and flow according to circumstances and if I am giving the impression of being cool with you, then please be assured that this is entirely accidental. If you are feeling cool with me,then I must be very dense as I do not understand why.

Friendships DO naturally ebb and flow. But it's gradual. They don't suddenly come to an end like this one has with no stated reason. You don't suddenly stop communicating with someone you have a fifteen year deep friendship with, without having a reason, whether or not it's one that you're actually prepared to state.

The friendship has been over for some time and I no longer really miss her. But I am angry, because I don't like dishonesty and what a Swedish friend of a friend calls "English Bullshit". I find people really difficult to interact with sometimes and I don't think I deal with situations involving them very well. Computers and animals are much simpler.

Long, boring post, but it's off my chest. I will post something funny about farming tomorrow :).

ways to stop a dinner party conversation

Odd how people have such a sanitised view of country living.

Things my in-laws think happen on Ma's farm that are entertaining:

  • things involving cute furry animals behaving in cute, furry ways
  • chicken stories (not involving cockerel execution)
  • stories about wresting vegetables from the land against all odds

Things I have made a mental note not to mention again, however much I am pressed for 'real stories':

  • how Des, Ma's helper, also works at the Duck Unit - Involved ambience-altering explanation of how the Duck Unit is not actually a place where ducks gambol around in the healthy outdoors, but a place where they are killed, gutted and beheaded, plucked and put in plastic wrapping ready for sale.
  • how Des brings bags of duck gizzards for Ma's dogs and how Ma doesn't like preparing them as dog-food, as this involves slicing them open, emptying them and then boiling them up - I rather absentmindedly forgot that some people were eating duck that particular evening.
  • any stories involving excrement, of any kind - Trust me, you'd rather not know.
  • humerous castration stories - Made all males around table squirm. May use in future, if pressed.

It's actually a relief to have defined some guidelines.

Monday, 23 May 2005

bathing with animals

Bathing with animals #1
Last time we visited Ma's, B decided he'd take a bath. After a while I thought I'd go in and have a chat to him while he soaked. As I opened the door, Meg the sheepdog puppy rushed in past me, and launched herself at him with maximum possible excitement at finding him. She executed an emergency stop as she realised he was lying in a bath full of water, but ended up with her front legs over the side of the bath thoroughly licking his face.

Then she realised she was stuck, so she started to scrabble around a bit.

I was laughing too much to help her and B was attempting not to get dog-clawmarks all over his manly chest. The only reason that she didn't end up in the bath with him was that, as she was scrabbling, she caught sight of his boy-bits, floating around happily Down There, and did a comic double-take that involved being struck still as a statue in admiration, for long enough for me to get hold of her and eject her.

When I mentioned this in passing to Ma she commented "Well dear, she IS in season at the moment".

B didn't think this was funny.


Bathing with animals #2
Singing in the bath is less fun if there is a cat sat outside the bathroom door, harmonising with you. It makes you very self-conscious, particularly if you are singing non-conformist hymns; I always think that if felines went to church they'd attend somewhere with a more traditional service, and perhaps incense.

Sunday, 22 May 2005

today i will mostly be ... ranting about politics, grumpily

What is going on here? Two articles from today's Observer - the first about how ASBOs are being used against children with autistic spectrum disorders such as Aspergers Syndrome.

Secondly an article about the increasing tendency to classify all children as 'yobs'. To quote the article:

'We use the word "yob" without distinguishing between very young children - who haven't chosen their parents, their neighbourhoods or their circumstances and can't walk away from them - and young adults,' he said. 'I don't think the word "yob" should ever be used in relation to young children.'
Professor Rob Morgan, Chairman of the Youth Justice Board.
It seems to me that there is an increasing tendency in our society to demonise and exclude those who make us examine ourselves and our attitudes.

It is easier to blame people for things than it is to help them address their situation: from petty crime, drugs and alcohol dependence and too-young motherhood, to children hanging out on the street corner in the evening because they have no-where else to go.

I am not saying that people should expect hand-outs, help and a 'oh, poor you' attitude regardless of what they have done and whether or not they are prepared to help themselves. And I am not saying that individuals are not responsible for their own actions.

But I am saying that this attitude that their issues can be dealt with by sticking an ASBO on them and hoping they will go away is ridiculous, short-sighted and excluding. And when they are only children, it is double disgraceful.

That's my rant for the week. And while I'm at it, if you feel anything less that apathetic about Electoral Reform, and the fact that the UK now has a government that was voted for by only 22% of the electorate, go and sign The Independent's online petition.


{grumbles off to have a nice cup of tea and a soothing lie-down under some wet newspaper}

kibble

Today, I have a list of things to do, as B is working in Manchester:

  • put together the IKEA furniture we got yesterday so that we have a cupboard for the towels in the bathroom again
  • put up the curtains we got from IKEA yesterday
  • wash the kitchen floor
  • take up my trousers so they don't drag along the ground as I walk
  • put the washing away
  • do some more washing
  • hoover
  • dust the book shelves (I know that Quintin Crisp used to say that if you leave it, dust doesn't get any worse after five years. But we wouldn't actually be able to breath in the lounge if I did {sigh})

Things I am going to do today:

  • write some stuff I've got in my head that needs to come out on to a page
  • watch a weepy movie (yes, Christine, 'Mrs Miniver' makes me cry every time I watch it. And don't even GO down the 'Brief Encounter' route ...)
  • have a(nother) long, hot bath
  • potter in the garden with my bedding plants
  • make vegetable soup

Er, did I mention that we went to IKEA yesterday? B has a theory that whatever one goes there for, one can never leave without spending at least a hundred quid more than one planned to, on kibble; for example, zebedee-things to go in to the top of your wine bottles.

I won't bore you with what we actually bought.

But he was right.

Bang goes the budget we've been putting back to buy decking for the garden ... . But we do have red curtains! And a new duvet cover! And some zebedee-like things to go in the top of our wine bottles! Yay!

Friday, 20 May 2005

comments policy

Up until recently, I have an unstated policy here of not deleting ANY on-topic comments, as I feel that if I'm prepared to write stuff, I should be prepared to take on the chin what people think about it, and allow other people to discuss it in an open forum.

Having said that, I feel that if someone is prepared to comment, then they should be prepared to put their name to their opinion.

So after a spate of recent abusive comments, I have decided that I will not allow Anonymous comments, nice or snippy ... if you are not a Blogger member, I would be grateful if you would please leave at least a name, if not a URL or email address.

Thank you, and please comment away!

movie meme

On a more cheery note, Cheryl over at Mad Baggage Rambling has tagged me for a Movie Meme:

Total number of films I own on DVD/Video:
Lots of videos - probably about four dozen that I've gathered over the years. Fewer DVDs, as I've been flogging them all off on Ebay to pay off some of my credit card :). Also, we've just joined this online DVD rental, which I suspect will mean that I buy fewer myself in the future.

The last film I bought:
Gone With The Wind

The last film I watched: Mrs Miniver

Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me:
This Happy Breed; Brief Encounter; Pride and Prejudice; To Have and to Have Not; Persuasion. I watch them loads while B is away, of course with the obligatory glass of red wine; particularly This Happy Breed. Who needs the real world when you can bask in the sanitised past?

Tag five people and have them put this in their journal:
This is the bit I hate, what if it makes people feel all stressed and under pressure to perform? Or if they think you're an iggerant meme-propagator? :). I tag Rhys, Sazzle, Adrian, Aurelius (who posted a couple of weeks ago about how he *hates* memes, so I will be very surprised if he takes it up) and She Weevil

I have just spent ten minutes linking all the films to the IMDB; however, blogger ate it, and I REALLY have to go and do some work now ... .

change in commenting policy

Ok 'Anonymous', you have pissed me off.

I have an unstated policy here of not deleting on-topic comments, as I feel that if I'm prepared to write stuff, I should be prepared to take on the chin what people think about it, and allow other people to discuss it in an open forum.

HOWEVER, if you feel so strongly about your response to what I've written that you are prepared to be abusive - and you have been - you should be prepared to put your name on what you write.

I am not even going to reply to your comments, as you have so missed the point of my post.

And I think that you will find that you actually spell 'pedophiles' "P A E D O P H I L E S".

I am sorry folks, but from now on, I am going to delete Anonymous comments, of any kind - if you are not a Blogger member, please leave at least a name, if not a URL or email address.

Tuesday, 17 May 2005

counting your chickens

B and I had a conversation last night about a progamme he'd heard on the radio, discussing the wellbeing of free-range hens.

Apparently someone has done a study on the psychological health of the large numbers hens kept under commercial 'free range' conditions - ie. when there are thousands of them in one field.

The scientist-guy concluded that chickens kept in huge numbers were happier than small flocks of chickens, because they didn't have good enough recognition skills to differentiate between all the different chickens they lived with. So no 'pecking order' appears.

This led B and I on to a discussion about chicken counting. How many other chickens does a hen have to live with before they run out of the processing power to recognise them all? And how do chickens count?

"That chicken, that chicken, that chicken and that chicken equals THOSE chickens"?
I think it could catch on.

Wednesday, 11 May 2005

canter and siegel

Marketing smells of poo.

I am harvesting email addresses from various entertainment and event industry sources and putting them in to Thunderbird so that we can send out a blatant marketing email to try to drum up some more clients.

I did four hundred yesterday.

I have become a spammer.

I deserve to be locked up in a brightly lit room, with rabid door-to-door salesmen on amphetemines telling me about their drunken holidays in Ibiza, until my ears bleed.

We need more clients. So we have to sell ourselves.

My issue with this is that I think that all advertising is unethical. So I have formulated an email, with what I hope is a refreshingly direct approach:

"Hi, this is who we are and what we do. Have a look at our website. If you think you might be able to use us, give us a call. If you don't want us to contact you again, please let us know and we won't bother you again."
I am hoping that this will attract the kind of clients that we enjoy working with - ie, ones that don't muck about too much.

This has all come out of Friday's job - it was hard.

It involved getting on site in Manchester at 7am. We worked through for 24 hours, arriving home at 7am on Saturday morning. The get-in and get-out at the venue is horrible beyond belief. It involves pushing the flight cases along a metal walkway, up a bridge and down again the other side, and then executing a ninty-degree angled turn through a very narrow fire-door that won't stay open on its own and isn't wide enough to get the flight cases through if you wedge it.

However, that wasn't the problem.

Neither was it a huge problem that I started having acute abdominal pains that made us briefly think I might be having some sort of gynaecological related emergency about lunchtime, and had to dose myself up to the eyeballs with painkillers and go and lie down until the get-out started at 1am.

The problem was the client.

She likes to play what B calls 'The Downhill Arse Kicking Competition'. She never forgets anything - it is always her staff who forget to pass information on, or us who forget to write it down.

In this case, she had apparently discussed with B having the gobos (the silouettes that get projected on to the walls from the lamps) on a 'Hollywood' theme. Which none of us this end had any recollection or record of.

And about an hour before the show started, she suddenly asked us to pin-spot the tables - shine a little light on each one. This looks pretty but is a pain in the neck as you can't really do it until the tables are in place. But once the table-guys get the tables in place they want to get the chairs round them. And once they get the chairs round them, you can't get the ladders in to focus the lights. It needs to be planned in so that we can organise it with the other people involved.

It was very frustrating, particularly as afterwards, despite the fact that the end-client was raving about the lighting, she told B that the colour scheme hadn't fitted in with her personal 'company standards' and that the person she got to do it last year did it for five hundred pounds less and with two fewer crew.

She has given us quite a lot of work over the last year or so, but it is becoming increasingly tempting to tell her to go back to using the other guy if he is so cheap and so great ...

Hence me turning in to a spammer.

I am going to go and scrub myself clean now.

Monday, 9 May 2005

the chosen

We have Chosen Our Bath.

People who commented on the original bath-post, has none of you really ever test-driven a bath before? It seems the most obvious thing in the world to me :). And the lady in the bath shop was very understanding about it. B and I climbed in to several different ones to try them out, some of them in the shop window.

We have decided on one that is 1800 by 900 centimeters. It is enormous.

We now have to find a plumber. This seems to be the equivalent of searching for hens teeth in a haystack. We have had one extortionate quote and have another chap coming tomorrow who is also able to do loft-conversions.

In the meantime, the lodger has moved out and we are fielding enquiries from a number of Polish students who want summer accommodation and don't seem too put off my brutually honest description of the sanitary facilities, or the fact that we have a small bath (for the smaller bathroom, obviously, courtesty of ebay) in the middle of the lounge.

helping hand

I have been wondering what to post today, and feeling as if my creativity glands have been removed; and then I came across this post from Mad Baggage Rambling.

It's a request for a very small paypal donation - the cost of a 'get well soon' card - for someone who needs it very badly. Not Mrs Mad Baggage, herself, but someone she knows.

Read her post and see what you think.

Thursday, 5 May 2005

miscellany

We went on a site-visit to a venue in London yesterday. It involved a four hour drive each way, with the production management duo then going to a fairly brief meeting with the client to finalise what they needed, while we sussed out the room and decided where we were going to put the lights.

Or so we thought.

Their meeting went on for three hours and had twenty two members from the company attending. No decisions had been made about what they were aiming for as a whole, and it was three hours of discussion that the clients should have had before involving the production team.

They weren't able to actually divulge what budget they were working to, and there were things that they said they needed - like a blacked out room - that they couldn't reveal the purpose of, which made it very difficult to work out the best way to sort it for them.

We came home, ran the bath, sat in it, drank a slug of whisky each and climbed in to bed, exhaused by thinking.

We are now going to vote and then visit Kate and Vic to sit in their bath to ascertain whether we want to get a similar size one.

Vic has requested that we remove our body piercings before we do so:

  1. I don't have any
  2. Should your father-in-law say that kind of thing to you?

Monday, 2 May 2005

what would you have done?

Last Thursday, I texted four couples that we hang out with quite a lot, inviting them round for a meal and beers tonight. The two couples that we see most of responded before the weekend, saying yes, they'd like to come.

I didn't hear anything from the others until after midday today, when we came home to find that each of the chaps had left a message on my phone. One left a text saying yes they'd definitely be up for it, and the other left a verbal ramble which made it difficult to ascertain whether he was saying they'd like to come but realised they'd left it late, or that they couldn't make it.

Options:

  1. pretend I never got the messages
  2. tell them they're too late, they're rude so-and-so's and they'll never get an invite from us again
  3. say yes, of course they can come, and try to make the food stretch from six to ten
  4. say yes, of course they can come, and rush out and buy more food and get generally stressed
  5. tell them they've left it too late for food, but they're welcome to come round for drinks after we've eaten

What would Miss Manners do?

I have gone for option (5) and just sent them both a text, using the phrase 'slack bastards' and saying that if they want to come round for a drink later in the evening they are all welcome, but that we've already prepped food for six, rather than ten.

I feel a bit undervalued, but I am not foaming at the mouth any more.

Time for a drink whilst cooking, I think ...

in memoriam

I have just had a phone call from my Ma.

Apparently Brutus the cockerel has met his end ... at the teeth of a fox.

Edwin (the boy who does the heavy work on the farm - he's 76 and just had his second hip replacement) heard the chickens cackling at something, went out to see what was going on and scared a fox off ... it was doing its best to drag Brutus' corpse away, but was struggling because he was so enormous.

Edwin chased the fox away and collected up Brutus' mortal remains.

He is now hanging up by his feet in the coal-cellar, waiting to be plucked and boiled up for the dogs.

Ma and Natalie are quite upset, despite planning his demise themselves.

tired of this

I keep seeing myself bending down and picking up a toddler.

He's not a toddler I know. I think he's my child.

It's not a dream. But I see the picture when I'm waking up, when I'm falling asleep.

I wish it would stop.

Or happen.