Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend...

“Ingratitude is treason to mankind.” James Thomson

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Couple-friends: pros and cons.

Quick question off the top of my head: if you are one half of a couple, and you socialise with other couples, what's your take on the dynamic? Is there a love-me-love-my-dog aspect? Beloved dear friend and barely tolerated boor of a partner? Is there an element of marital drama, or perhaps political debate, for which you provide a convenient audience? The lovely man and I have few couple-friends, and when we have dipped our toes into the couple-friend water, we have found it not always agreeable.

We frequently chuckle about the evening we enjoyed a spontaneous takeaway with one of the lovely man's friends and his wife and they bickered all night, culminating in Mrs berating Mr at the table for always ordering too much food. "Oh X! You always order too much food!" she cried, as he decanted all the various dregs of tins and boxes into one container. (In my head, after she leaves the room, he takes an appreciative glance at it all and says, "There! That was just enough," before he puts it in the bin, but maybe I'm imagining that.) Frequently, a satisfying takeaway chez nous is completed with one of us accusing the other of ordering too much, just for the fun of it. I know, it's all quite madcap here.

Memorably, there was the time when we were invited for dinner at the home of (other) friends of the lovely man,* and the conversation turned to the fact that they were no longer having sex. By which, I mean that the husband shared that with us during dinner. I will add that 1) this was the first time I had met either of them and 2) for four of us, they had served no more than a single bottle of wine (while the two bottles we brought remained unopened); it's safe to say I wasn't ready in any way for that level of disclosure, or the manner in which it was achieved.

I'm a little gunshy now.

* Hmm, perhaps a theme is emerging.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Stuff I thought about on the way to the post office.

I'm pretty sure there was one of these in my window when I was a kid.
Image via

Apparently they are no longer de rigueur as people don't want perverts to know where their kids sleep.
Were there fewer perverts in the 70s? Or maybe not, but people weren't as frightened of them?
I can't think of a time when children were known in the general vernacular as 'tots.'

Monday, 10 January 2011

Some listy oversharing of a domestic nature

1) I have never cleaned my laptop keyboard. N.e.v.e.r.

2) I had "friends" round for Thanksgiving a few years ago, and, as dinner wasn't ready until *nightmare* 10pm, my "guests" filled the drunken hours by pounding Champagne and carrying my computer around iChatting to their friends and family in the States, and in gormlessly holding it aloft onehandedly, "someone" put their thumb through the keyboard. I had it replaced. I don't think that counts as cleaning it.

3) Even so, when I'm using the computer, I always make sure I wash my hands before handling food. Except when I a) forget and b) am too lazy.

4) I have also never cleaned the screen.

5) When it came back from having the keyboard replaced, someone had cleaned the screen.

6) There are multiple jars of peanut butter in the cupboard. Some of them are supposed to be used exclusively for filling the Kong. The rest have NOT FOR DOGS written on them with permanent marker. Every so often, I get suspicious that someone (you know who you are) might have used the wrong jar, and - even worse - double dipped the knife. I then move the suspect jar onto the top shelf, where it sits with other half-jars of suspect pb, some of which have NOT FOR DOGS written on the lids. Then I buy a new jar, write NOT FOR DOGS, and the cycle begins again.

7) I am kind of a toilet fascist. I badger the lovely man endlessly about stuff to do with the toilet. Basically, I want it to be like no one has ever used the toilet. If he must insist on using the toilet, I want him to leave no indication that anyone was ever there. In the loo, I want the illusion that I live alone.

8) Once a week, I wash the whole loo - walls, skirting board, floor, door, sink, toilet and bath where applicable - with bleach. I feel guilty for refusing to reuse cloths - kitchen roll only please - but I cannot be doing with the way a cloth just moves dust and dog hair and schmutz around. If there is *urk* hair or any such thing, it is not clean. And I must know that the only cloths used on the toilet are not used on other stuff, and then they have to be washed on their own and putting a cloth through the wash on its own is hardly green, so... No.

9) If the toilets and sheets are clean, and my cupboards are tidy, I'm golden. I can tolerate, and I positively radiate, all other kinds of disorder and chaos. This trait is crazymaking for anyone who has ever had to live with me.

10) I don't mind washing up, but I quite dislike loading and unloading the dishwasher.


Thursday, 6 January 2011

That's why the carpet is red. article rticle here.

I read that as 'head injury.' Happens all the time.

It seems less newsworthy now.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Being yourself.

I've just had the really odd experience of seeing my memories in a stranger's photos online. Isn't Flickr weird? You Google a random phrase and up pops someone's completely unprotected personal photo album for everyone to see.

I'm not sure this is of any interest to anyone but me, so I won't link to them (well, not more than one or two) because it's just weird, isn't it? What's the protocol for using someone's personal photos for your own vain benefit? (I actually pored over some of these pictures in close-up mode to see if I was in any. I'm still not sure. Freaky.)

What was of interest to me were snaps of a marvellously filthy club I frequented when I was younger and tireless in my pursuit of drink and squalid amusement in the wee small hours, where the crowd and the evening were corralled, agitated, thrilled, provoked and exploited like so many circus animals by the peerless siren of individuality, Mx Justin Vivian Bond.

I've never been very confident about being myself, but there are some inspiring individuals who execute the maneuver beautifully.

Elegant, awkward, crude, glamorous, funny, thoughtful and poignant, glib and profound in equal measures, Justin exudes a compelling aura of strength and vulnerability. 

Justin is welcome at my table any time (though a phone call beforehand would be helpful).

(More thoughtful and comprehensive posts here and here.)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

No, that's vomit.

When the boy dog first joined us, he, uh, vomited a lot. A lot. Like every day. I think it might have been stress-induced. And also, he ate - eats - a lot of random stuff, stuff you don't even know you should keep from him, like dog poo, or a wodge of crumpled up masking tape, or the splintered plastic coating on the steering wheel lock.

Soon after he arrived, I discovered that he quite likes squeaky toys. He didn't do much aside from barking, biting and pissing on the garden door, so it was kind of a joy to see him so het up about something. I dug out the box of toys which the girl dog had studiously ignored for many years, and found one shaped like a Christmas cracker. I enjoyed his ecstatic reaction for a moment, and then when I left the room, he ate it. What I mean is that he tore bits off and ate them and by the time I returned maybe five minutes later there was only about a third of it left.

Then he vomited a lot too, on top of his already pretty taxing vomiting schedule. So despite all the scrubbing and shampooing and enzyming, our carpet is... unlovley. And for some reason it makes me uneasy that people might thing that the dogs had been, I think the word is toileting, on the carpet. As though that would be worse. I have to stop myself saying to the electrician or dinner guests "I know the carpet is pretty grotty, but that's not because the dogs go to the toilet on the carpet. Those are vomit stains." Because that's better, um, how? And also, I don't think you should go around using the word 'vomit' in general conversation.


Okay, that's it. Enough alfuckingready. I'm declaring war on fatigue, and sleeplessness and the pervasive condition of being so tired as to be completely inactive all day and then lying in bed at night unable to drop off. Regardless of how I sleep, I have to get up with the dogs once or twice in the very early morning. Then when the day starts a bit later I am hallucinating with exhaustion as I did this morning when I could see trippy iridescent colours radiating from what looked like a magic feather on the floor but turned out to be a small, torn piece of green plastic.

All the unpleasant fallout from this schedule? It must end. I am throwing down the gauntlet.

(Out of the blue and apropos of nothing except the title of this post, I was thinking earlier today about the women's studies professor I had in college who advised me to read some book about archetypes because I was so angry and maybe I would gain some insight about myself via the archetype of the woman warrior. I really liked her and wanted her approval, so I read it, but just ended up feeling confused and a little hurt. That was a long time ago when I was a tender young lass; now that I'm old and bitter, I feel confident that if you are a feminist and you aren't angry ur doin it rong.

There's your insight right there.)

Let battle commence with valerian tea. (Officially the lamest hippie trash talk ever. By the bye, did you see the episode of The Sopranos where valerian tea was revealed to be a gateway drug? If you don't hear from me for a few days, I'm probably shooting heroin between my toes. Oh dear god at least I would get some sleep.)

If that doesn't do the trick, I'm taking a pill of some description. Antihistamines, or a little something something my mother left here when she was last visiting. The senior citizens get all the best drugs.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

I'm a hypocrite.

Wouldn't you know it: I ridiculed all that Princess Diana hysteria, and it came back and bit me in the arse when John Peel died and I discovered I was just as capable of mourning a sleb I'd never met and completely imagined I knew. Poetic justice and that.

Via the joyful chaos of the intertubes, I stumbled on this transcript quite by accident this morning and even though it was hurting my eyes to read it, it wasn't the migrainous white-on-black text that made me cry.

Coincidentally, my marvellous friend Kelly asked me this morning to choose three people (in time-honoured fashion, they can be living or dead) who I'd invite to dinner, and all I could think of was that last time I had a stranger at my dinner table I practically had a nervous breakdown,* but when I made myself get into the spirit of the thing, I decided on Patti Smith, John Peel and Justin Bond, with John Cooper Clarke** stopping by later.***


*I'm not sure what I would cook. I think I'd be entitled to order a take-away on this occasion. John Peel famously enjoyed a curry.
**Kelly posed the question but then felt free to invite four people, so rather than sticking to the rules like the nitpicker-crybaby I am, I opted for four guests too. Even though that's breaking the rules.
***He doesn't look like he eats.
****I love an asterisk.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

HNY, etc.

Despite the pestilence, some beautiful food has been cooked and eaten here over the Christmas period: pheasant with stuffing, roast potatoes and cranberry sauce; chicken, leek and ham pie with spiced red cabbage and watercress; beef hailing directly from a field behind the Dorset home of the parents of the lovely man; and an enormous almond and orange cake. There was also a bûche de nöel, which was easy and gorgeous and very moreish. Behold the blurry phone-camera goodness! (Feel free to make ooh and aah noises. I'll wait.)

It is gone. Would it be wrong to eat make another one? Now?

Why is it that swiss roll recipes (let's just call it a swiss roll, shall we? I'm not French or very affected) want you to separate six eggs, beat the whites and yolks separately and at some later stage, fold them back together again? I chose, cleverly some might say, to make the one recipe I found that began, "beat eggs for five minutes." I am nothing if not lazy. I deliberately choose recipes with a skewed effort to reward ratio. (Like the easiest ganache ever. Meringue mushrooms? Made in the microwave. Applause.)

(Lazy has a lot to recommend it, but I do envy this.)

In unrelated news, the boy dog (aka the devil dog) had been taking an unusual interest in my bedside tray of sickness paraphernalia, which I attributed to some cough syrup residue, but which turned out to be all about the box of wax earplugs he ate yesterday. He left behind bits of the box and the small enclosed instructional leaflet. (I guess he didn't need the latter; it doesn't tell you how to eat them.) In the past 24 hours, I've also had to wrestle from his steel-trap mouth a chicken bone, a humane mousetrap, a bin of used tissues and a tyre off a Lego combine harvester.

And on the subject of dogs, I also found myself, thick-headed with flu, discussing canine gynaecology with the (male) vet and his (male) veterinary student sidekick. I'm now super-well informed and can swab a dog vulva with the best of them*. Fun!

So just by the bye and to wrap up the flu talk, have you heard that, in addition the usual fever, chills, aches and snottiness, it can make you feel chronically crap and exhausted for three weeks, leave you with a sinus infection and lingering cough for another week (and counting) and then, to top it all off, make you bawl uncontrollably?

It's the darndest thing. About a week before Christmas, before I was aware of being ill, I accosted the lovely man with tales of my persistent weltschmerz* and wept and wept late into the night. (I should add that I was also premenstrual, thanks to my propensity to menstruate at the onset of birthdays, holidays and special occasions.*) A couple of days later, after we had both succumbed, we were watching what should have been perfect sickbed telly, which made us both burst into tears simultaneously and repeatedly, and there was one day when it was absolutely ridiculous, where every news bulletin and tv advert got one or both of us going. I'm not sure what was going on, but I feel it was related to the flu. I'd be very interested to know if this has happened to anyone else.

*Happy Christmas!