Friday, 21 February 2014


    Curses. I am massively annoyed. Except that, actually, I’m not. I appear to have lost my blogging mojo. Except that I haven’t.

     For those poor bastards who follow me on twitter, you may already be aware that we had a house guest (aka The Guest) staying with us recently. For nearly four weeks. They’re a lovely person to have around, we are massively indebted to them, they get on well with all of us. The Guest was not a problem. But it was A Problem.  Without wanting to sound massively precious and ‘Oh, my valuable thoughts and words!’ about it, I find it really hard to write when I know there are other people in the house. My shoulders become hunched up, because I know, with absolute certainty, that at some crucial point, just as I’m really hitting my stride, I’ll get interrupted repeatedly, until I am at the teeth gritted, hissing stage of ‘Didn’t you hear what I just said I am trying to write why must you insist on interrupting me all the time for christ’s sake is it so hard to understand…’. Fairly childish, I know, but it happens.

     So effectively, if I’m going to get anything done, I need the house to myself. But whilst The Guest was here, that was not really an option. So that’s a month written off. And now we’re approaching the end of half term. Or, as it is also known ‘The week when The Blondies are with you all day, every day.’ Or also ‘The week when you can escape company for no more than ten minutes, and only then if you contrive an excuse to go to the shop in the evening.’ So not a lot has got done this week either.

     It’s not for want of bloody trying. My tiny diary is filled with random scribblings and asterisked words that have occurred to me as I’ve dragged myself around the house, delivering food, hefting washing, and cooking enough food to feed twenty teenage boys, only to see it vanish before the locust-like appetites of The Blondies. Or thinking ‘Actually, I could probably write about warring middle class tribes tonight’ only for Alistair to decide to stay up later than usual, watching some very LOUD war film very LOUDLY in the living room in a LOUD way that has me retreating to the radio in the kitchen. I might not be getting any writing done, but I’m probably saving myself from tinnitus in later life, so there is a positive to be taken from it.

     But really, that’s a load of bollocks. I know what’s stopping me from blogging. It’s a niggle. I think I’ve got about four or five things I want to blog about at the moment. None of them really fully realised, just sort of vague ideas and things I’ve seen or overheard. That’s fine. Once we’re back into term time and usual routines, they’ll resolve themselves, probably just as I’m blogging about them. Or will they? They might, were it not for...

     The niggle. You know how, sometimes, you read or hear something, and it makes sense, but there’s something more to it? Something that eludes you, but you know that it’s important, and you can’t reach out to fully grasp it? It started last Friday, and since then, I’ve been too preoccupied with it to really give much else any thought. One or two things have occurred to me that have made the mists around the niggle stir themselves a little and let in a  little more daylight onto it, but aaarrrggghh. It is driving me MAD. Like trying to remember the surname of the girl you sat next to in Yr5 maths, or the first line of the second verse of an Ocean Colour Scene song from 1996. Knowing that the young of a hare is not a ‘harelet but… gah, begins with an ‘l’… ‘larelet’? No… ‘Begins with ‘I’, has an ‘r’ in it…’ Two days later, standing in the queue at Boots ‘LEVERETT!’ There’s nothing quite as euphoric as remembering or realising something you’ve been frustrated by for days. And there is nothing quite so aggravatingly mindfrying as knowing with absolute certainty that you can make a bloody sodding link between things you already know, if you could only think clearly enough to stop obsessing over it. But of course, you can’t, because it’s annoying you. And when things are annoying you, they don’t stop being an irritating little bastard overnight. You don’t wake up and think ‘I’ll never remember the name of that girl from Year 5 maths. Oh well’, shrug, and carry on with your life. No, you devote ever longer hours to trying to remember just what her bloody name was (Amelia Harrison. She was very nice, but quite quiet).

     And in this case, it’s not a fact or a name, or a song lyric. It’s a hunch. A feeling. Stupid gut instinct that is very much overstaying its welcome. It has beaten me down to the point that I am writing things down as they occur to me, because it's such a slippery little bastard of an idea. It makes absolutely no difference to my life or anyone elses if I could just make the sodding connection between the things I know and the things I think, but right now, it’s not happening. And so nothing else is getting written about either, because no sooner am I thinking about 'socially crunchy schools' than I think about school toilets, ghosts, folk memory, unwritten history... I'm bloody doing it again right now!

     Drums fingers, looks for something to kick… In the absence of clear and logical thought, I might have to make do with gin instead. Curses.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Strange Week.

     I woke up and my first thought was 'Fuck. I’m still alive. Fuck.'

     This is my strange week. Not as in ‘ooh, I’m so strange and weird, aren’t I?' week. No. This is the week when I start to look back over the last twelve months. And reflect that had things turned out as I’d planned, then this Friday would have been the fourth anniversary of my death.

     I’m normally very matter of fact about that, but just writing those words has made me shiver. The anniversary seems to be hitting me harder this year. Maybe because in previous years, it was simply a marker, a milestone that I’d moved further away from that awful and empty place where it seemed the best thing was to disappear, to cease to be. There wasn’t much joy in it, just a further stretching of the elastic of life, moving on, plodding.

     This year seems different. It’s been a bloody odd year since last February, and a lot has changed. I’ve changed. This blog has changed. Or rather, this blog has changed me. Except that it hasn’t. I think I’ve just become more myself. When I started writing this little corner of ramblings last April, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to get out of it. I’m still not sure what I hope to achieve with it. But I do know that having this blog has made a huge difference to me and how I feel about the future.

     This time four years ago, almost to the minute, I was sitting in a meeting with Big Important Home Office civil servants, and I was planning my death. Four years later, I can’t say I’m leaping towards the future, waving at the birds and flowers (fucking hell, anti-depressants help, but they can only do so much with someone as sour as me), but I’m not dead. And I’m glad of that.

Monday, 3 February 2014

People are strange

     I am frequently told that I am a bit ‘weird’. I really don’t think I am, but apparently this is how people see me. Meh. I’m not really bothered. What does bother me is people trying to be weird.

     I see it all the time. People on facebook, twitter, in real life, trying so hard to be thought of as ‘zany’ or ‘wacky’. And it really fucks me right off. Especially when you know that they really aren’t all that weird, they just think it’s cool to be thought of as being a bit different.

     Example: Posting about ‘Ooh, I’m wearing this really quirky skirt today!’. They are usually then witless enough to post a photo of themselves taken by some poor, longsuffering other half, of the writer posing moodily against a tree, holding out the hem of their skirt. And just at a glance you can see it’s from fucking Dorothy Perkins, so really couldn’t be much more mumsy and mainstream if it tried. I have nothing against mumsy and mainstream if that’s what floats your boat, but don’t try to claim to be a one off when you’re not.

     Example: ‘I love my Cath Kidston flower bag! Does that make me a bit strange? Oh well!’ Here’s a clue: Cath Kidston has infected the nation with girly wirly cutesiness. She has catalogues and shops. An actual abomination of a shop near the castle in Norwich (The Boy shouts MURRRRDARRR at it when he sees it, his mother’s heart bursts with pride). It’s not odd for people to like her stuff. In some places, including the school playground, not liking Cath Kidston is a bit odd. Again, if you like Cath Kidston, that’s fine. But don’t try claim to be a bit strange when you’re not.

     Example: People who make a statement and then say ‘But that’s just me. I’m just a bit odd!’ No you’re not. You’re really not. You want to be thought of as weird and interesting, so you’re throwing the thought out there, hoping to get a clamour of voices piping up to confirm that yes, you’re so unusual, you’re so different, gosh, you’re even a bit weird! If you are a bit odd, that’s fine. But don’t try to claim oddness for yourself. Other people will assign whether you are different to the norm or not.

     Boden really, really gets on my wick. It’s not just the stupid pissing questions for the models (seriously, who gives a gnat’s chuff about what Selena likes to wear in bed?), or the aspirational sodding lifestyle portrayed, it’s the stupid fucking names. A dress doesn’t suddenly become quirky because you call it ‘Ella’s Sunny Day Dress’. It’s bloody mass-produced, therefore it cannot be fucking quirky, or kooky. It’s made by the thousands and worn all over the UK by women who like to think they’re a bit different. Like an army of clones in some places (hint, try the school playground and North Norfolk at weekends). It’s personality and character for people with neither, who lack the clarity of thought to realise that personal kinks and ticks are personal, not something you can buy via a ‘Flippy Flower Skirt’. It’s desperately dull, and screams try-hard. You can’t pick up a personality from a company who are exploiting your insecurity about just how dull and bland you actually are.

     Manufactured quirkiness really, really narks me right off, in case you hadn’t noticed. There is a person I know who deliberately tries to cultivate an aura of eccentricity and kookiness. The type of person who would wear their hair in a ponytail, then deliberately ram a pencil into it, hoping that people would notice and ask her about it. She would then feign surprise and say ‘Oh! I’m just so scatty! But then, I am a bit odd.’ Yes, she is that contrived, truly. And it really, really, really winds me up. Why would you want to be thought of as weird? I just don’t get it! If you are weird, then just BE weird. It’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of weirdness, apart from THAT thing. Y’know. Yeah, THAT. We all have our weirdnesses, it's what makes us who are.

     Individuality isn’t a commodity, it’s not something that can be applied and instantly make someone a more interesting person to be around. It comes from the little things, the tiny fragments that make up a person. We all have our little idiosyncracies, it’s just that some people are more comfortable with being honest about them. Trying to adopt the habits or style of someone you perceive to be ‘weird’ is only covering up your real personality, which is almost certainly as weird and wonderful as the next person. So stop it. Stop it now. Or prepare to be outweirded. Yes, I just WENT there.