Monday, August 29, 2011

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Ladies and Gentlemen, my apologies for my absence in Blogland for the past few days. I expect you've been wondering where I've got to, since I'm normally lurking on here 24/7. My Staycation has been filled with doing Not A Lot. I've spent time on my sofa, wandering around the world of Oblivion, sleeping, eating and seeing people briefly. Yes, I really should have done this a few weeks ago. It's been overdue.

Earlier in the week, Boy's girlfriend's Mum (are you keeping up?) hailed me on FB and asked if I would like to go to the Voewood Literary Festival with her friend and work colleague (single), who won 2 tickets. None of his friends was up for it. I certainly was. We agreed that it wouldn't be a blind-date, fix-my-single-friends-up situation. So, off to Holt I went Saturday morning.

I had a blast. Somehow, I had all of my favourite things delivered in one day: literature, steam trains, the seaside, olives and live music. Mutual friend was brilliant company: witty, intelligent, generous. He didn't raise an eyebrow as I jumped up and down about steam trains. He was interested in the talks going on, he knew interesting people there.

I didn't know what to expect. I had a brief look at the programme and none of it stuck. I just rocked up with an open mind. It was great. I went to talks, drank coffee and soaked up the atmosphere at the gorgeous setting. People were wandering around and I kept thinking 'I should know you, you look like you're big in your field'.

Yesterday, I only went for the day sessions. It was like a Creative Writing reunion, two of my old tutors were there as well as the two stars of our course. What really surprised and moved me, was how warmly I was welcomed by all. I've been absent from that world for a good 18 months after my work with Unthank Books finished and I've not been doing anything creative since. Not only that, I sniffed out some freelance editing work through one of the talks I attended. One of the things which has come out of my time this week, is that I really need to be on firmer financial ground.

I love my job. I love the people I work with and I love working with words, even just writing copy. But I do need to be kept in the manner to which I have become accustomed. There are coffees and sparklies to buy. Fortunately, this does not lead to any heart-breaking decisions. I'm employed four days a week. I have at least another two to be filled. Therefore, doing the NLP professionally and going after creative writing opportunities makes complete sense. I am a woman who wants to have her cake and eat it. It is all possible, with a big enough bit of cake.

Yesterday afternoon, with a great deal of reluctance I left Voewood. The Great Ursus and his Lovely invited me to the cinema to see Conan the Barbarian. I've neglected them of late and going to the cinema with them is always good fun. It was originally to be the 3 of us, then Gee wanted to come along, her Number 2 Son rang me up and said he wanted to come. Boy decided he wanted to come out when he heard what was happening. So, we all bundled into my shiny car and off we went.

We go to the Hollywood Cinema in Anglia Square. The best that can be said about it is that it's a flea pit. However, the tickets are about half the price that the big shiny cinemas charge. The staff are friendly and are always up for a laugh and you don't need a small loan to buy popcorn and a drink.

Going to see a movie with the Great Ursus et all, is always an adventure. The Great Ursus has an odd sense of humour. While I cower at scary or gory bits, his great belly laugh echoes throughout. Not to mention the fact that we all have a very sarcastic movie critique-style. The more awful the film, the more fun we have with it.

Now Conan was never going to be Oscar material. I have fond memories of the original and Arnie, swinging his big sword around in the 80s. However, when one of the longest bits of dialogue Conan delivers is: I eat, I sleep, I slay. I am content. You know they didn't spend enough of the budget on script writers. We spotted the Lord of the Rings references, the orchestral score was diabolical and speaking of which, one scene had us all rolling around in the aisles laughing: the lurve scene. Well, actually, it was a scene not too far removed from a porn movie. It included bare breasts, different positions and a lot of thrusting. Some bright spark matched this with the most romantic and orchestral music which would have been more appropriate for a Chick-flick movie. Oh we how we laughed. There was gore, bare breated slave girls, limited plot and incest. Boy summed it up in one sentence: two men fighting over a girl. We all decided that it had been written by three, 15 year old boys. Given we're in the middle of an economic melt-down, I'm shocked this garbage got funding.

For this, I missed Adam Ant playing at Voewood. I tweeted about it late last night and this morning I was somewhat disconcerted to find @conanthemovie is now following me on twitter. I don't think he's going to be following me for long.

I'm still undecided as to whether I head out to Voewood this afternoon for the final night. My house is a pit, I have nothing to wear to work this week and my energy levels still aren't very good. I've got to be up bright and early tomorrow for my working week. I dread to think what I've got waiting for me. I think I'll put a couple of loads of laundry on, dig out my kitchen and see how I feel.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Staycation

I should have taken some time off 3 weeks ago. I didn't. I needed to take some time off 3 weeks ago. I started feeling physically bleugh and trying to write copy through the treacle my brain had become, was a task of extreme optimism. But hey, I made it here without too much drama.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am on Staycation! Oh yes, people. Not for me trooping half way across the world to lie on a sandy beach, emptying my bank account, stressing at the airport, killing my skin and liver cells. Nope. I am in the pink, fluffy dressing gown, drinking coffee, looking at the sunshine with a whole heap of nothing to do.

Actually, that's not quite true. I do have somethings I want to do this week. A few things to get back on track. I've got some books to read, some exercises to sweat over, not to mention naps to partake. This staycation isn't about rushing around, this staycation is about recharging batteries. Pottering about, getting things done.

Boy and I are getting rather excited. You will remember that we are big fans of the Elder Scrolls game called Oblivion. Well, Bethesda have finally got it together to release another one in the series, Skyrim. And it looks awesome. Truly, awesome. Unfortunately, we have to wait until November 11th for it's release. To pass the time, we've been revisiting Oblivion. I started on a new character, Boy continued with his Argonian. Somehow, Boy is going to have to do a serious balancing act. His Pretty will want to see him and while she has proven patient with him so far. I suspect she may find us very trying as we lose ourselves in the wonder of the world of the Elder Scrolls. We're just going to have to drag her in. Poor love. Mind you, if we do that, it means we'll have even longer to wait between turns. Damn. Hmm....leave it with me, I need to have a think about that.

I'm not baracading myself in, I am being sociable. I'm just not packing my diary out. I have things which can only be attended to outside of the house. And 103, still does the best frothy coffee in town. But I don't have to move any faster than I want to, and Ladies and Gentlemen, I can move at glacier pace. Staycation....joy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Can't Get No Sleep

Normally I don't mind Mondays. In fact, my least favourite day of the week is Tuesday. Monday, does what it says on the tin: it's the beginning of the week and a person can be forgiven for moaning a lot about it. Tuesday, however, is one sneaky mofo. You get Monday out the way, over and done with and then Tuesday is filled with twice the horrors of Monday. Don't ask me why. I haven't figured it out yet.

Today would have been better, had I been asleep when it kicked off. I wasn't. Not only was I wide awake, but I was awake for the first couple of hours of Monday. Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, it's been many, many years since I've endured the fug of sleep deprivation. Seventeen in fact. I remember I was ever so pleased with myself, having produced Boy, in a hazy, hallucinatory kind of way. I drifted from nap time to nap time, whenever Boy slept, I did. No, I wasn't proud. I didn't care if it was 11 o'clock in the morning or 3 in the afternoon. The minute his eyes shut, so did mine. In fact, the mother-son bond was so strong, I always woke up just before he did. He could be alseep in the other room, I'd wake up, listen to silence and in a couple of minutes time there would come the waaah that would announce his awakedness.

I digress. The point being, I don't do well without sleep, preferably a lot of it.

I have an amazing, reciprocal relationship with my bed. We are deeply in love. I see my bed and I start to smile. I sigh in the pleasure of the warm, fluffy duvet; my gorgeous V & A bedding, the fairy lights hung over my bed. Insomnia is a rare thing for me. It simply doesn't trouble me. Oh, I occasionally wake up at 3 am and don't go back to sleep for a couple of hours, it's just I don't mind being snuggled down, letting the thoughts ramble through my brain until I drop off again.

Last night, we watched Battle for Los Angeles, Boy and I. In terms of quality cinema, it was shit. But highly entertaining shit. They couldn't have squeezed any more macho, military bullshit in there if they tried. And let me tell you Ladies and Gentlemen, they tried very, very hard. However, I'm a big fan of watching macho men, exchanging derring-do banter, blowing the bejeezus out of things. For I am easily pleased (yes, that does explain quite a few of my previous relationships). The dvd finished late and by the time I finished pottering around, annoying Boy, annoying people on-line, it was later than anticipated.

One of the things guaranteed to ensure wide-awakedness is setting your alarm on one's phone and seeing you only have 6 hours and 45 mins before it's due to go off. That works no matter how sleepy or exhausted you are. I probably would have fared better if Boy hadn't wondered in at 4 am to announce he couldn't sleep. Or if I wasn't worried about getting up in time to leave the cheque for the milkman before he sent the bailiffs round. Or if I wasn't worried about being bright-eyed and bushy tailed to do the copywriting I knew was waiting for me at work.

Thus, Monday has been very Monday today. The reason for this rambling and pointless blogpost? Simples. 7.30 pm is too early for me to go to bed. Even for me.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Adventures with Mobile Phones

To say I had an 'interesting' day yesterday, is a bit like saying it was a bit damp during the biblical flood. It certainly had entertainment value. I certainly wasn't bored.

Now, I don't know if I've ever said: I don't work on Fridays. No, Fridays are not the Pagan equivalent of the Sabbath. They just pay me to do four days' work. Which is fine by me. It means on Friday morning, I don't have my alarm set, I can wander around in my pink fluffy dressing gown, get my braces adjusted, go see my dishy osteopath, have coffee and cakes with my friends. Working for a living is all very well, but working 5 days a week, doesn't half interfere with one's Life. I'm happy with this arrangement.

However, this week things have been a bit frantic at work, we've had staff holidays and illness to contend with. And while my manager has the energy of 3 toddlers with ADHD, even she's been hard pressed at times. Unfortunately, even she's not been able to squeeze more than 24 hours into a day. And trust me, it's not from the lack of her trying. So, I said I'd go in for half a day.

You know how they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions? Yeah, exactly. Work was fine. I got in and got everything that I wanted done, done. I kicked my To Do List's butt. Oh yes, for I take no prisoners people. The trouble started when I was supposed to leave work. I had to go do a flat inspection. I'd warned my tenant I was working, plus he's fully aware of my time-keeping - 'ish'. It's very 'ish'. Anyway, I wanted to have a comfort break before I headed off.

Ah, let me back-track slightly. When I work, I have my phone in my left back pocket, my iPod Touch in my right back pocket. I 'listen' to music as I work. I say 'listen' because the music is so familiar to me, it's background noise less distracting than the conversation round our open-plan office.

So, I take out my iPod, put it in my bag, ready to go off, go to the downstairs loo.

I unbuckle my trousers, bend slightly and then there is a loud 'plop' from behind.

Do you ever wish Life came with a [pause] and [rewind] button? At that moment, I would have given my firstborn for one.

I fished my phone out, dried the outside with paper towels and put my head in my hands (after washing them thoroughly). Now Ladies and Gentlemen, let me reassure you, the loos at work are cleaned to the highest of standards. I was confident when my hand went into the loo water, I wasn't going to end up with dysentery, my hand was still going to be attached to my arm. If it had been a public lav, darlings I would have just flushed that loo and walked away! I was very fond of my mobile phone. It was a very basic, but shiny silver phone that did everything I wanted it to. It sent texts, made calls and took the occasional picture. I was especially pleased with the Bluetooth facility that allowed it to 'talk' to my car, enabling me to make hands-free calls whilst I drive along.

It appeared to still work after the dunking, and then as I drove to see my tenant, it stopped working. When I did get home, I was advised to take it apart and dry it out. In the meantime, I went on-line to O2 to see what could be done. Now they do a fast-track contract renewal on-line. Which I tried to do. But for me to use this on-line facility, I'd have to put in a code which they text to my phone. Which wasn't working. I spoke to a 'virtual' advisor and then to a 'real' advisor, who made the suggestion that I see how the phone was in the morning, but I could go into a mobile phone shop and fast-track an upgrade if necessary. I kept my fingers crossed.

Now people IRL know that I have several quirks (I know, me quirks? Who'd have thought it), one of which is: I require things to work. If I get in my car I want to know 100% that when I turn my key, the damn thing will start first time. Not for me dodgy mechanics requiring WD40, duct tape and a hammer. Those kind of things really drive me nuts. Put it down to my complete lack of adventure. Personally, if I'm 3 feet from my mobile phone I feel uncomfortable, if it's 10 feet, I have to pick it up and carry it around. I need my mobile phone to take the inevitable call from Boy 'can you pick me up from?' and 'Mum, I've hurt my leg' or 'Can you pick your son up, he's not very well today'. So this morning, while I was relieved my phone appeared no worse for wear, I was determined to replace it.

So that's what I did. Of course, Boy had to come with me. I insisted. If you want to talk techie, you take an expert to translate. Teenagers are techie machines. Me...not so much. I don't need to know the ins and outs of tech shit. Life is short and I'm not interested. It was fine. He talked tech with the phone salesman and steered me away from the shiny HTC phone. I am now the proud owner of a Nokia C3. Which is perfect. It pretends it's something special because it's shiny and has a touch-screen facility, but is actual for older people because it has big buttons and is idiot proof.

Of course, upgrading my phone meant I had to look at my tariff. Did I want 200 minutes and 500 free texts or did I want to go all out for 300 minutes and unlimited texts. I mean for heaven's sake it's not like anyone calls me on a regular basis. However, I'm an optimist. And I can text for England. So, I took the slightly more expensive option.

I spent 2 hours this afternoon, when I got home, getting my phone settings to my liking. These things are never fucking simple, are they? Ringtones, message tones, predictive texting, home screen layout, birthday information etc. Yes, it really did take me 2 hours to get it done so I was happy with it. All that effort and the trauma of having to go into the city centre on a Saturday morning, sent me to my bed for an afternoon nap. My proudest moment today was when I introduced my new phone to my car. Yes, it took me all of 15 minutes of continuous swearing, when the BMW salesman set it up in 2 (without swearing), but hell, I did it. I can now drive and make hands-free calls.

All I need now is someone to ring me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Message from KAZ's Kev

Hi Roses- you don't know me except that I am Kev as in Kaz and Kev. I'm not replying in response to your post (although you do all seem to be having fun here), but because -

Kaz/Carol (I always called her Cal, still do) always wanted the blog to be her secret, nothing threatening, just no need to justify herself to anyone, which was fine by me. But she did leave me the way to get in when she was gone so that I could let you all know, as I did.

The few posts I looked at then were absolutely her to a tee, and coming on six months after she went I thought I should try to preserve her work in some way. I'll consult my brother about doing it properly but in the mean time I've read the whole blog (skimming the comments) and taken pages of notes. The experience has been, well, very hard to describe, but definitely a little bit like having her back for a while.

Can you do me the favour of letting the whole bunch know how much you all meant to her - and I don't just mean towards the end, although that was magnificent. She loved her blog, and now I can fully understand why.

Keith aka Kev

ps Roses - I picked your name out of the list for a couple of reasons, the most obvious being the name of the place in Catalunya where we spent so much time together. I'll call back in a while. Adeu.

Hi Keith/Kev

Sorry, I still think of you as Kev. I so miss Kaz, though it must be much worse for you.

If you do something with Kaz's blog in any kind of format, please let us know. She meant the world to us too. Please do pop back here or on Infomaniac, where you will be more than welcome. Anytime you want to call in...

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Must Like Cats and Teenagers

I knew I was flirting this morning, when I started going through my Questionnaire. Yes, I have a Questionnaire that I interrogate all potentials with first or during the Getting-to-Know-You Stage, if I've done my usual 'jump first and ask questions later' routine.

I was indulging in breakfast at my favourite eatery, sitting next to a rather cute Chiropodist. We've met there in the past, he's on his own and is quite good company, recently divorced and finding his single feet. No, I don't have any serious designs on him (or anyone else for that matter). But as I'm still breathing, I flirt. I am not proud, I will flirt with anyone of any sex. Flirting lets people know we're alive and attractive and alls well in the world.

Anyway, I digress; during the course of our conversation, I realised I have a checklist to run through any potential amoures. Now, even though some of these are Yes/No answers, there isn't a wrong answer. And it's important to stress this, it just means there maybe some mitigation which needs to happen to ensure harmony prevails.

1. Are you a morning person? Obviously, I am not. A person waking up bright and chirpy next to me at an early part of the day, will need to exit bed promptly, and make me coffee. Proper coffee. And leave me alone to wake up.

2. Marmite? Or as someone recently put it, 'yeast infection in a jar'. Personally, I loathe it. However, I will make an exception and buy some, but brush your teeth after eating if you're expecting any mouth on mouth action with me.

3. Cat or Dog? I don't mind either, but obviously, I have the Cat. And by the way, she really doesn't like being picked up, so don't try and pick her up. You'll only irritate her and me. There are no exceptions to this rule.

4. Dark or Milk chocolate? I do occasionally like chocolate, but more often than not I can leave it. When I do have it; I like it dark. Very dark. So dark, you put a square in your mouth and you have no saliva, it's that dark.

5. Soft centers or Nuts? I like nuts [insert smutty or observational comment about my friends], I do not like soft centers. Any boxes of chocolates tends to have strawberry, orange, coffee, toffee creams left over. I do however, like truffles. Especially from Hotel Chocolat.

6. Olives, sun dried tomatoes, anchovies? I like to know whether I have to share beforehand. I can share. But it's far better to buy two lots, so you can have your own that I can help myself to, once I've finished mine.

7. Red or white wine? I drink only red. White wine gives me indigestion, to the point where it feels like a heart attack. I do however, keep a bottle of pale sherry in the fridge. Yes, I know it makes me seem like a little old lady. I don't care. I like a snifter every now and then. And that's how the Spanish drink it.

8. Rom Coms or Action films? You'll be going to a Rom Com by yourself, with your gay friends or with your best friend. You won't be going with me.

9. Rhubarb? Because it's all for you if you like that shit. I don't eat anything that requires me shaving my teeth after eating. Oh yeah, I'm not keen on okra either, but if it's curried to death in dry spices, I will eat it. After getting very drunk.

10. PJs or nekkid for bedtime? I get cold and tend to wrap myself around the nearest warm thing in bed. If you wear pjs, you might get a bit hot. Unless, it's mightily cold, I go au naturel. If it's cold, I have been known to wear a thermal vest, long johns and hiking socks to bed. I like being warm. Oh yeah, and my duvet is 13.5 tog, so you might not want the duvet at all. That's okay. I'll have it. And try and sleep wrapped round you.

11. Children? Unfortunately, that's not negotiable and is a deal breaker. I have taken steps to ensure I can't bear any more and a reversal ain't gonna happen in this life. However, should you have kids, that's not a problem. I quite like them, but I couldn't eat a whole one.

12. Neat and tidy or messy? If you're neat, then let's hope you're patient. I'm not. I am not domestically minded and I'm not interested in becoming so. I'm 41 years old and while I do acknowledge my need to see my bedroom floor occasionally, it's not a regular occurance. If you're messy, well, let's hope you're patient. I can't abide other peoples' mess in my own space. Hey, I never said I was reasonable or rational.
A relationship lasts not through love, or shared values or by arrangement, but by successfully both partners can resolve conflict. Therefore, by seeing where difficulties may lie beforehand, issues which require compromise can be identified and sorted out before any nasty or impatient words need to be had.

Do you have a similar list? Or is it a question of the right sex and breathing?

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Final Frontier

As the anniversary of my dad's death hurtles towards me, a post of lx's made me stop and think. Actually, not so much a think, as a reminder. I'm a great believer in being prepared. My first will was drafted when I was 27. My second will when I was 38.

I'm a control freak and I want things the way I want them. The great thing is, everything is paid for, so it'll be a doddle for the executors of my will to carry out my instructions. Thankfully, my executors are literate and they are my friends, so I have no particular worries about things being done.

But just in case:

I want to have an eco-friendly coffin, cardboard is fine, as I want to be cremated. My ashes, I would like sprinkled over The Rock, in Trinidad. My three parents had different final wishes. My mother wanted no fuss, no service, cremation, sprinkling on The Rock. Pops wanted a service to honour his sister's religious beliefs. My dad, not particularly bothered, wanted his ashes planted under a Royal Palm at my brother's estate (on the lee-side so my brother and nephew don't pee on him).

I think of the three, my dad's was the most awesome experience. An 'interesting' church service, he'd have enjoyed for all the wrong reasons and a brilliant wake. Really made me understand that the whole funeral thing isn't for the departed, it's for the living. It enables the living to get together remember, mourn and honour the deceased.

Though I will say, some funerals are better than others in terms of content and there are some funerals from which it's hard to come away with anything positive. I think of children and young people when I say this.

What amuses and amazes me is in my line of work is when people say they have not made a Will. Believe it or not, there are only two absolute certainties in Life: death and taxes. If you're alive now, one day you won't be. No getting away from it. Getting a Will sorted means when you do drop dead, everything is made clear about where you want your goods and chattels to go and if you're canny, the taxes part of the equation is mitigated. But talking to some people it's as if writing a Will is a death sentence.

I don't get that, but there you go. Apparently, it's just me being morbid.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Joy of Speed

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have had the pleasure of being driven around the Norfolk countryside this weekend. As you know, one of my favourite things to do is to drive around the Norfolk countryside. I will do so just because. I love getting lost, taking back roads, going in the general direction of....Sat Navs are for whimps and cowards. The places I've discovered because I took a wrong turning: babbling fords, gorgeous water meadows, fields and fields of poppies. Beautiful moments in a countryside like no other. Generally speaking, I don't make a terribly good passenger. That changed this weekend.

On Friday, I was driven around in a bright yellow, MR2...at speed. And I loved it! Damn, I want to learn how to drive that well (that noise you heard, was the sound of me adding to my To Do List). There is something about the singing of a performance engine as you move at speed round a corner. Now, as you may have figured out by now, I am a bit of a control freak. The gentleman who drove me, races bikes, amongst other things; he knows what he's doing. Whether on a bike or behind the wheel of a car. He's probably the only man human being in my acquaintance currently, I would let drive the Funmobile. That says a lot.

On Sunday, I was driven around in a green Rover 10 at a glorious 10mph. We were in top gear. I loved it! The wind in our faces as we rattled around, on the road. This car is 83 years old and has been lovingly looked after by Z's Sage. We went down the drive, up the road to the church and came round again. It was glorious. British engineering at it's finest. Nothing that can't be fixed with WD40, duct tape and a hammer.

As I missed The Wall Party (*sniff*) because I was in London being NLPd, when I got a whiff that there might be more party action at Casa del Z, I dropped a hint that Z was far too ladylike to deny. I finally got to meet Z's fabulous children and grandchildren, who are far cuter than described. How Z doesn't burst with maternal pride, I don't know.

And by the way, should you ever have the opportunity to go to a party hosted by Z, accept. Cancel any other arrangements happening on the day. You will not regret it; she and the Sage are marvellous hosts who know some truly fascinating people, not to mention have fantastic kids. Oh...and also...wear drawstring trousers.