take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Domestic matters 

The old dishwasher just wasn't doing the job. It was perfectly capable of doing it, but it chose not to perform on occasion.

The dishwasher I had when I lived alone was frightfully efficient and usually completed the job within an hour or so after the meal was done. Then, when I moved in with Big, the dishwasher he had was rather temperamental. Often, it just wouldn't work at all. When it did work, the dishes were done to a high quality, I couldn't argue with that, but the frequency with which it chose to work was not compatible with my expectations.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. Why didn't I just bring *my* dishwasher to Big's? In truth, I did. But the change in living arrangements meant that my dishwasher couldn't cope with the demand and refused to work under those conditions.

Up until yesterday, the dishwasher was still not up to scratch and frankly, it was getting me down. I'd come home to stacks of unwashed dishes and pans and would struggle to cook the dinner surrounded by the detritus of previous meals. There was only one solution - a new dishwasher. It came yesterday and washed its first load last night. It's German, cuboid in shape, mostly white but with silver accents.

The old one was also white, but made in England, with a small amount of silver trim, about 6'3" high, built like a (large) humanoid and answering to the name of "Big".

Whereas *my* old one was white beneath an outer layer of black, lots of silver embellishments, British made and about 5'10" high. With a huge arse. And hefty thighs. And small boobs.

Yes, the reign of terror of the crockery is over. I have acquired my very first, non-human dishwasher.

*strokes dishwasher*

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


It is customary, I believe, to apologise in advance for doing a meme, though I don't really subscribe to this kind of blog-snobbery . I see some memes as a useful springboard for writing something that perhaps you wouldn't have thought of writing, to reveal sides of yourself which you may not have otherwise revealed. Lazy blogging? Perhaps. But I'm still doing the writing, I've just been given a starting point and a vague structure. Apart from anything else, they can be quite fun too.

I saw this one over at Alan's.

1. A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.
2. A physiological or temperamental peculiarity.
3. An unusual individual reaction to food or a drug.

List five of your own idiosyncrasies and then tag five friends to do the same.

Idiosyncrasies - the things which make us unique and the things which bind us together. It is often quite difficult to identify one's own quirks because to us, they seem perfectly natural and logical. So I enlisted the help of the man who bears the brunt of my idiosyncrasies: Big. Here's what he came up with:

Fruit anxiety

I eat fresh fruit every day, apart from some weekends where I "forget" to eat properly - the blog meet being a prime example: as I got on the train home that evening, I realised that my nutritional intake up to that point had been a bowl of muesli, two potato wedges and two crisps. At work, though, as long as there is fruit on my desk, I will graze on it. There is a point in the evening, however, where the fruit "door" closes abruptly. I will not eat fresh fruit after about 9pm.

The reasons for this are twofold. Firstly, I just find it all a bit too "tart" for my *ahem* delicate palate at that time of the evening. Secondly, I've read up on food combining and, whilst I am generally opposed to eating fads, I do feel that there are some interesting points made in this philosophy of eating, one of which is that it is not recommended to eat fruit after a large meal. Apparently, fruit is digested quite quickly, whereas other foods require more work. By eating fruit after a meal, you risk rushing the other food through the system before it has a chance to be digested properly. The same applies to drinking water with meals. I don't know if there's any truth in this, but it sounds sensible.

For someone like Big, though, who will eat any food at any time of day (Scotch eggs for breakfast - euw!), my "fruit rule" is incomprehensible.

Poo anxiety- those who suffer from an aversion to "too much information" may be advised to skip this one

Well, after eating all that fruit, the inevitable happens. But, for me, the task cannot be performed just anywhere. The conditions must be just so. Being almost irritatingly "regular", the "deed" is normally done when I get home from work. But if I'm going for a run straight from work - which I have been doing recently to prepare for the 10 miler in a couple of weeks' time - as Paula Radcliffe will tell you, it's best to have a bit of a purge beforehand. So I've been "performing" at work, where the conditions are not ideal.

Firstly, there is no opening window in the cubicle (tantalisingly, there is a window, but the window lock key is nowhere to be found). I hate bathrooms with no window - an unfortunate fact of life for some flats and for many so-called luxury en-suite bathrooms. Secondly, working in a mostly male environment, we ladies have only one cubicle between us. It's a disabled toilet, which means that it has one large door which opens directly onto the "foyer" of our office building. This scenario always makes me uneasy. I have a morbid fear of the door "failing" in some way, opening of its own accord and revealing a tableau of my good self, resplendent on my porcelain throne, to the unsuspecting passer-by. Then there's the "aroma anxiety". With only one door between defecation and civilisation, steps must be taken. Luckily, despite the absence of fresh air, there is at least an air freshener...

Parking anxiety

Section 224 of the Highway code states:

Cars, goods vehicles not exceeding 1525kg unladen, invalid carriages and motorcycles may be parked without lights on a road (or lay-by) with a speed limit of 30 mph or less if they are at least 10 metres (32 feet) away from any junction, close to the kerb and facing in the direction of the traffic flow

I am an absolute stickler for this, to the extent that I will drive a fair distance out of my way to ensure that I get myself on the "right" side of the road. Not only is it rude to your passengers to park in such a way that they would have to get out on the road side, it also makes pulling away a more hazardous manoeuvre if you're on the "wrong" side of the road.

There is a lot of selfishness in the way people park. Most parking restrictions exist for road safety reasons or to ensure that traffic can flow. People are too concerned with their own convenience, without thinking about the consequences on other people. We have to share this world, people!

Dessert anarchy

I like desserts (see below). But after a big meal at a restaurant, I can't usually manage a huge slab of cake or a mountain of ice cream. If only they'd make desserts which were small - I just want a mouthful. Instead of which, I proclaim that I shan't have a dessert and then am forced to furtively purloin spoonfuls of Big's, brandishing my implement when his back is turned. This, understandably, causes him no end of annoyance.

Salad anxiety

In the Anxious world, a side salad must contain:

Absence of any one of these may result in tutting, rolling of the eyes or glaring.
It must not contain:

Any such items will be removed from the salad and placed on Big's plate forthwith (or maybe "forkwith"?).

*watches already miniscule readership back away slowly*

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Chocolate anxiety 

Why Big both should and shouldn't be left in charge of the grocery shopping...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


It's as if I'd triggered a switch. A switch that couldn't be reset, like the proverbial big red button which triggers a nuclear explosion, meaning that nothing can ever be the same again. No going back.

Probably around three years ago, I got to the stage in my "career" where I realised that what I was doing was completely and utterly futile. That I could just stop doing what I had been doing for most of my waking hours and no-one would notice any discernible difference. Not even within the blinkered confines of the "corporation". What seems strange to me now is that, up until then, this idea had never occurred to me at all. I had bumbled along for years quite happily going through the corporate motions, pocketing the corporate cash and getting on with corporate things - like millions of corporate people do.

I'm trying to identify the point at which I'd decided that this just wasn't good enough for me any more. It wasn't an epiphany, there was no sudden event which made everything click into its current alignment, it was a gradual realisation, a coming together of a collection of tiny cog wheels which, when finally aligned, set something else in motion.

It's this "something else" which I find so hard to define. But it's this "something else" which lies in wait deep inside, reminding me every so often of its existence, bubbling up like a volcano and bringing tears to my eyes as I drive home from work after another meaningless day wondering when, just when, I will look forward to going to work again. It's the "something else" which brings on the regular, uncontrollable sobbing in Big's arms as I contemplate how little I have progressed, how I am no clearer about my direction now than I was then, how the only thing I'm clear on is the negative assertion: "I can't do this kind of work any more".

If I could just switch off this knot of anxiety, this rumble of discontent, this nagging fear that I'll still be doing this in another five years. Just keep it at bay until the "something else" is clear to me, both tangible and achievable. Just keep it together until then...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Girl on a train? 

Note: this post was typed into a Nokia 7200 on September 17 2005 on the 18:05 London Paddington to Penzance...

I sit here on the train, having discovered that paying a supplement to sit in first class provides no guarantee of a pleasant journey free from drunken sports fans and other undesirable characters. On the outward journey, I was hemmed in by a group of guys on their way to Queen's Park Rangers, one of whom managed to get through three cans of Strongbow during the two hour trip. The thought of sharing my return journey with a similar crowd a few hours (and a number of beers) later was not a welcome one... Even though one of them asked me if I was on my way to a modelling assignment (yeah, right...) which made me feel momentarily and girlishly gleeful, before I reminded myself that he was a bit of a plonker.

Incidentally, I say "sports fans" rather than "football fans" because I am privileged enough to have also experienced the new breed of cricket fan on a train journey from Birmingham after the Ashes test at Edgbaston. I was in the so-called quiet coach. The fans were in the corridor outside the so-called quiet coach. I think you can probably guess why the prefix 'so-called' is relevant here.

On that occasion, I was 'armed' with my weapon against irritating fellow passengers - which arguably and somewhat ironically made me an irritating passenger myself. Unfortunately, having left the aforementioned weapon in my car this morning with no time to go back and get it, I am unarmed and must listen to the inane drivel of those around me.

There is a couple in my eye line who, I suspect, were hoping that the first class carriage would be empty enough for them to... erm... what's the train equivalent of the mile high club? Sadly, their really-quite-frantic-under-the-circumstances fumbling is hard to miss from my vantage point, but if I were to move to face in the other direction, I would be blinded by the setting sun.

Despite (or indeed, in spite of) my surroundings, I sit here feeling rather serene. I went all the way to London on my own to meet some people today. Some of whom (well, one actually) I'd known before I started blogging (or "clogging", as my predictive text would have me believe), some I'd met before through blogging, some I'd been reading for a while and looking forward to meeting while others were off my "blog-dar" but I enjoyed meeting them anyway.

My fears were unfounded. As so many of you had predicted.

After the initial wave of nerves had died down, I flitted about, introducing myself sometimes to blank faces, sometimes to vague nods and "ahhhh"s and sometimes, just sometimes, not needing to introduce myself at all.

It sure is a funny old hobby we share, but you're a good bunch y'know.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ask a silly question... 

I walked right into these:

Big waltzes into the bathroom. (He was going to foxtrot, but after recent fox-related antics, thought better of it.) He is naked.

Anxious: "Why are you naked?"
Big: "Because I took all of my clothes off..."

Big and Anxious are in a restaurant, enjoying their anniversary meal. Anxious notices Big's jacket hanging on the back of his chair.

Anxious: "Why is there a Bristol A-Z in your jacket pocket?"
Big: "Because I left it in there..."

Random conversation.

Anxious: "I wonder how laser hair removal treatment works..."
Big: "I imagine it works by using lasers to remove hair..."

Well, you can't fault him on his logic.

Pick o' the pod, take one

Eagle - Abba

The first album bought for me was Abba's "The Album". This is the first track from that album. Every note, every harmony, every word of that song is utterly familiar to me. It has a dream-like, haunting quality about it and whilst the synthesized sound is rather dated, I still find it completely captivating.

While singing along to it in my car this morning, tears were welling up in my eyes. I'm not sure whether this was due to the recalled memories of Sunday mornings, my mum doing the hoovering or operating the old manual washing machine (complete with mangle) in the kitchen while we played our records on the record player in the living room, or whether it was because my voice just wasn't up to the task of matching Agnetha's high notes. Either way, once the song finished, I reached for the "back" button and played it all over again. Best 79p I spent in a long time - thanks iTunes music store.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Foxy lady 

Picture the scene

Anxious is preparing dinner. Something hoves into view. In fact, it might be more appropriate to say: "something hovers into view", the something in question being a crane fly, whose sole purpose in life is to hover annoyingly. I've seen its job description, I know this to be true.

Now, I have a very special technique for dealing with such intruders.

Firstly, take a deep breath, but not so deep as to suck the errant invertebrate into the mouth - this will not help matters. Using the air recently inhaled, expel it again using a moderate amount of force through the vocal chords which you will have taken care to vibrate. This should allow a sound to be emitted from your mouth. The sound can be altered at will by changing the vibrations of the vocal chords. I find that an extremely loud and shrill noise such as a shriek is the most suitable for the circumstances.

You should try it, it really "helps" - if putting the fear of God into your significant other and waking the dead could be classified as "helpful" activities.

Such was my "helpfulness", that the significant other in question informed me that I sounded like: "a fox, shagging".

I was puzzled by this. A lone fox, shagging? Shagging what? I challenged him.

*significant other pauses for thought*

"Alright then, you sound like a fox, having a wank"

So there you have it.

Pick o' the pod, take two

  1. Free - Stevie Wonder
    I first heard this song as part of the soundtrack to this film, a film which features Kristin Scott-Thomas in a French-speaking role. I heard the song again when I was in Lyon in 2000 and decided I had to own it, there and then. I bought the album from the Virgin Megastore in Lyon's city centre, but only ever listen to that track. I think I'd like this to be played at my funeral, but as a "heathen" I'd feel uneasy about the line: "Till I feel my father God has called".

  2. In my life - Beatles
    Again, first heard as part of a film soundtrack, but I'm darned if I can remember the name of the film or indeed any of the actors or actresses. I think it was about a divorce. It made me cry.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

It's a hard knock life... 

No-one seemed to appreciate just how hard it was for the cat.

Not only did he have to "patrol" the back gardens of the neighbourhood, but he was also responsible for tending to the needs of not one but two sets of humans: his rightful owners and the foster family who had moved into his old house.

He would sometimes humour them on his way through the house to the front window, where he was required on sentinel duty. They would want him to lie down on the sofa and show them affection, but he didn't have time, he had so many chores to attend to, like:

Unfortunately, these lazy humans had no idea of the complexity of a cat's life, so accustomed were they to eating, sleeping and generally lazing around.

He was fascinated to know what went on in their tiny minds.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Two-wheeled anxiety 

I have discovered that cycling brings with it a whole host of opportunities for anxiety.

Cycling was very much part of my childhood. My siblings and I would ride for hours around the southern tip of Epping Forest which was on our doorstep. Gradually, though, we outgrew our bikes and moved on to other pursuits. It was a good 15 years before these sturdy buttocks of mine perched themselves on a bike again.

Of course, in between times, they had embellished the rather more girthy pillion seat of a Suzuki DR 600, a Honda CBR 1000F and a Suzuki GSX R750 during my "biker chick" phase (I really enjoyed removing that crash helmet and shaking my long hair out, just like the girl off the Zovirax advert), but in pillion riding, the main thing to concentrate on is clinging on for dear life, keeping as still as you can and, on the longer journeys (Lyon to Brussels, for example), attempting to block out the constant, dull ache in your buttocks and trying not to care about the fact that you’re wearing a balaclava and bright red, waterproof dungarees.

So after only a couple of shaky bicycle rides around the bridleways of the New Forest about 5 years ago, I set off on our work jaunt this weekend with some trepidation and a plethora of anxieties.

The "does my bum look big in this?" anxiety
If there’s anything which will *ensure* that your bum looks big, it’s perching it on the saddle of a pushbike.

The "how do I actually start moving this contraption without wobbling?" anxiety
Eventually, I accepted the inevitability of wobbling

The "my toes only just touch the floor" anxiety
Meaning that the emergency "footbrake" option is not really viable. The alternative, of course, was to have my knees virtually brushing my cheeks at each revolution...

The "however gently I brake, I always stop with a jolt" anxiety
Less an anxiety, more of a "fact". I need to perfect the "tip the bike sideways and put a foot on the floor just at the right time" manoeuvre.

The "going down a steep hill" anxiety
Just walking down a steep hill is enough of an issue for me; I usually end up turning sideways and "tottering". I haven't yet worked out the cycling equivalent of "tottering", but I'm working on it.

The "will everyone laugh at me because they’re all outdoorsy types and cycle on a regular basis and they look all professional with their Camel Packs?" anxiety
This proved to be largely unfounded. They laughed with me rather than at me and didn’t mind being slowed down by an inept amateur such as myself.

I’m just glad that the traffic-free route through the Devon countryside meant that I didn’t have to suffer the main cycling anxiety:

The "I’m going to be knocked off the bike by a motorist and die" anxiety
One which prevents me from taking to the roads, much to my own chagrin, given my greenish tendencies...

*glances at date*

Oooh, I've been blogging for two years!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Melons and philosophy 

This advert, as well as amusing me on the rare occasions that I see it, also gets me thinking. My favourite bit is the wizened old man on the donkey at the end, who says in a rather pathetic tone: "I just want to buy a melon..."

His exasperation at an apparently simple request that cannot be fulfilled is somewhat symbolic of how we have complicated our world and our lives with an ever-increasing array of choices which purport to enrich our life experience but which actually end up bewildering us, making us feel inadequate, forcing us to constantly question our choices or, on the flip side, condemning us to a stalemate of indecision.

Sometimes I crave simplicity.

Sometimes I just want to "buy a melon".

Hmmm, maybe I'm reading too much into this...

*slaps self*

Pick o' the pod, take two
  1. Show me love - Robin S
    A bassline that's sure to distort and is so deep that it's almost off note, yelling vocals and the obliviously cheerful, bubbly keyboards make this a shining example of the "old school". A real tune. In my humble opinion.
  2. Mad world - Tears for Fears
    Much prefer this eighties classic version to its recent, lugubrious cover by Gary Jules which only really made sense to me in the context of Donnie Darko.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Disturbed sleep 

The phone rings at 4am

First problem: It's 4am
Second problem: The phone is ringing
Third problem: I'm upstairs, the phone is downstairs.
Fourth problem: I've just woken up. I don't know who I am or what I'm doing.

The phone continues to ring as my brain cogs start to engage and turn. I sit up, slowly.

Big wakes up. "Uh? Is that the phone?"

"Mmmm. I know who it'll be..."
Big rolls his eyes, reaches out a consolatory hand to my shoulder and then settles back to sleep.

The phone stops ringing - the answerphone will get it. I wonder if they'll try my mobile. I toy with the idea of ignoring it.

After a long moment of immobile, blank staring - the kind of staring which often accompanies an early, lone breakfast, I slowly and begrudgingly heave my warm, sleepy body from the comfort of the bed (a difficult enough task at any hour of the day), put on my dressing gown and make my way to the bathroom.

The phone starts ringing again. "Okay, okay, I'm coming" I mutter under my breath, not wanting to disturb Big any more than necessary.

I check the message on the answerphone and sigh to myself, not entirely thrilled to know that I was right about who it was.

I call them back.
"Hi, it's anxious"
"Ahhh yes, thanks for calling back, we've got a problem with that software you changed yesterday"
"I didn't change any software yesterday"
"Oh, I thought you did"
"No, I carried out some testing, but this bypassed the software completely. The software is exactly the same as it has been for 2 months"
"Well, it seems like a bit of a coincidence. It's affecting production, can you have a look please?"
"Okay, I'll dial in"

One hour was spent sitting in the hallway with a cup of tea, meticulously checking hexadecimal data via the laptop, a task not ideally suited to this ungodly hour.

I call them again
"The data is correct, it's not the software. It must be the network connection or the hardware"
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure. The software hasn't changed. The data it sends is the same"

At 5am, I return to my bed. My 6am run is now out of the question which could be argued to be a good thing.

The next few days are spent playing a game of "blame tennis".

"Ahhh, but because of [bogus reason x], we reckon it must be the software"
"Ahhh, but because of [genuine reason y], it *can't* be the software. You need to reconfigure the printers"

Repeat ad nauseam

It was no surprise, or comfort, for to me to learn, several days later, that the problem was fixed by correcting the hardware configuration.

I love my job.

Pick o' the pod, take two
  1. Stan - Eminem
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven - Sonata in F minor, Opus 57 'Appassionata' - Allegro ma non troppo

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Pick o' the pod, take two

  1. To Zion - Lauryn Hill
    Had to skip over the classroom drivel at the end, though.
  2. Move on - Abba
    Whilst I hadn't heard this song for probably two decades, I knew all the words...