Wednesday, August 30, 2006


My fears of an early death were borne out!

On the M6, somewhere between Eckaslike and Didheeckaslike we stared death in the face.
I had wandered to the back of the van to roll something to ease the boredom of motorway passengership…
The back tyre of the van blew out. Just as we overtook a huge lorry.
I looked out of the back window to see the lorry bearing down on us. It was like a scene from ‘Duel’! As my Dad would say, ‘My ring dropped so low you could’ve cut 12 washers off it’.. Such a way with words that man.
The van was literally wrestled to the hard-shoulder. After a brief visit to all three lanes.
The RAC man was called and we waited.
We filled our time Blackberry picking. (There are hundreds at the side of the Motorway!) So check out future Police Camera Action shows, I guarantee we are on there!

Our campsite seemed to be the camp for serious walkers and kids. Neither, a favourite of mine.
Walkers with Ballet tights, huge boots and fucking SKI POLES! What’s that all about? All rosy cheeked and terminally cheerful. Bastards!.
About half an hour in to our walk I realised I had made a dreadful mistake agreeing to go.
It was 8 miles long, a round trip to Aira Force.
At the top of the first steep incline my lungs were screaming for mercy. (Bemoaning their 20 a day habit). My heart was trying to burst it’s way out through my throat and surprisingly, my ears!
My ‘bad back’, which in my head has a voice like Eyeore, was saying;
‘Do you think this is wise?’
My sheer ‘bloody mind’ was yelling like a drill Sergeant,
‘Don’t you fucking dare give up!’
At the four mile marker I wanted to be carried and at 7 I was close to tears. At 7 ½ miles I was overcome with the tiredness that usually comes after crying for several hours and just wanted to curl up in long grass.

There is another breed of walker, this tribe wear shorts and trousers with hundreds of bulging pockets. They have plastic wallets on string to protect their OS maps! This lot, I feel, fall into the Beardy Weirdy category.
They have backpacks with fucking straws in them! If they turn their heads and suck, they get a drink. Some sort of high energy shite, no doubt. Essence of Parsnips with Chick pea extract.
Made me want to push them straight off the path..

I don’t think that being incredibly under whelmed by Aira Force helped.
In the campsite handout they bigged it right up!
“If you only do ONE walk it should be this one….”
Aira Force is allegedly some sort of ‘waterfall’ (Aaaah, Pretty I hear you say, NO!)
To be perfectly frank I’ve had more spectacular ‘leaky’ guttering. The worse bit was when after this anti climax, there was another 3 miles to get ‘home’.
Back at the van I got my poor feet out of my boots. Huge blisters. HUGE.
It was suggested to me that my ‘little legs and low centre of gravity’ would have been a boon in this Hilly/Mountainous terrain. Which given the Scottish part of my ancestry, is not unreasonable. Indeed, there did seem to be some ‘genetic memory’ to my legs….
Scots didn’t get a lot of practise running back UP mountains as the English had usually slaughtered them before the homeward journey.

We were told by the nice Scottish people on the pitch next to us that there is a social hierarchy to camping. The people in Caravans and Campers don’t talk to the people in the tents. Weird.
You have tents that appear out from trailers dragged behind 4x4’s. I call those the ‘Just add water’’ tents. They, like some Greek God, spring fully formed from their detached womb!
They are inhabited by loud upper middle class people with kids called Artemis and Apollo, whom they talk to as if they were 46 & 48, instead of 6 and 8...
“Do be careful Artemis, you know you have a cut on your hand and if any of this Northern mud gets in it, not even Roedean will save your vowels”…
Apollo, of course can roll around in any kind of nasty disease bearing medium because he is a boy and will be going to *Eton, Harrow, Marlborough (*delete as appropriate) and anything like that will not hold him back, as long as he is ‘Sporty’… Rugby preferably! These people have carpeting, Fucking carpeting in their tents. I expected hanging baskets with one lot.

Then there are the ‘Lone Rangers’ they reside in tents that a regular sized 8 yr old would find cramped. These are usually militant walkers, ballet tighted AND pocketed. Their sleeping bags have hoods and when they pack up EVERYTHING fits in a rucksack. Mentalists!
These are followed by sprawling affairs with separate rooms and annexes. These are usually Family deals with clusters appearing together with Grans, Uncles and at least 20 kids.
50% of them will be wearing an England Football shirts, the rest will be sporting the shirt of their chosen Premiership team.
Beer is the first thing to be unpacked, the men then stand around a couple of Bar-B-Ques while the women smear unguents on the children and send them off. At any given time one of these children will be crying.

The trip home was uneventful. Fortunately. Found a place on the map south of Birmingham called Lickey End! This amused me all the way to Oxford.

Sorry it’s long.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Cumbria Bound

Today I read an article on MSN World that made me think about funeral practises.
The Chinese government have decided to clamp down on the tradition of having strippers at funerals.
Yep, you read that correctly. Strippers!! For the Chinese, the more people you have at the funeral the more the dead person is honoured. The strippers are used in rural areas to ‘allure viewers’.

For me, the first death that had any impact was that of my Nan. My sister and I were brought up with the Grandparents so this was a real blow. But I also found great humour in it.
My Grandfather wanted her body home and a space was cleared in the Dining Room for the coffin. The family sombrely collected at the front door and waited as the undertakers brought her up the path.
Then my uncle looked at me and whispered,
“Do you know what? She’d kill him for bringing a corpse in the house”.
Since then I have never been able to take it seriously.
My Grandfather’s was no better. I decided to get really stoned (lessens the impact of ATM on my Chi) before going and viewing his body. My Mum was already in the room. I looked down into the coffin and at his face, to discover they had overdone the mouth packing. In death, my Granddad looked like Marlon Brando as the Godfather.
Mum, then lifted his arm and said,
“Feel him”..
In my head I was screaming, “Fucking feel him? Are you mental?”.
His arm was flopping about and all I had in my head was the scene from “A weekend at Bernie’s”, where they attach his arm to a pulley system.

The Irish seem to have a very healthy attitude about death and funerals.
One of my favourite moments was being overtaken by a hearse on the N17 near Tuum! We were doing 80mph and this thing shot past! All the flowers were in the back and we caught a glimpse of the word “Nanna” done in red roses.
On Radio Mayo, just after the Angelus (’and the Angel declared unto Mary…’ blah blah blah) they have what I call ‘Death Watch’. Someone with a real strong accent reads out a list of the people who have died in the county, or those who have died in Dublin and are been brought back ’down country’ Probably at 90mph! Cracking! They even say things like,
“You can view the body at St Columba’s until Wednesday”, but in that cheesy radio, “sale ends soon, everything must go”, voice.

I don’t know why I’m thinking of funerals. Subconsciously, it might have something to do with a long drive in a camper van this evening.
When we took delivery of the van last Sunday it looked like a palace. I swear I could hear the ‘Duff Man’ music as it came up the road. The nearer we get to the departure time the more it looks like a death trap.
I’m also stressing as to what to pack. Schnee’s friend furnished me with a great check list but I’m still stressing.
I have a litre and a half of the finest Waitrose vodka, my ipod and charger (15 hour battery? MY ARSE) 200 hundred ciggies, rizlas, ‘herbals’, my camera and flip flops. The flip flops are because I have a morbid fear of Verruca’s. It’s a start. Seven years ago, three of us watched the total eclipse in France with only a tent, sleeping bags and a bottle opener. This should be a piece of piss by comparison!

The van is loaded and ready to go. I remembered toilet roll at the last minute, how that could have slipped my mind is beyond me!

We are aiming for Nottingham tonight. Wish us luck.

Just for the record, if we happen to die in the ‘Shed on Wheels’ I would like Donnie Elbert’s version of ‘I can’t help myself’ played at my funeral. I don’t want to be on display in any dining room, unless the coffin is up on bricks! If there is a possibility of an open casket, I would like my face painted as a cat by one of the people who do school fetes.

Well, we are off.. That’s the last post for a few days..

For those of you who have a Bank Holiday weekend, Enjoy!
For those of you who don't, in the words of Chris....

Get your grin on!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rages from the smallest room

The first Toilet Roll Murders may well be perpetrated by me.
Maybe someone has done it before and has just been too embarrassed and said voices made them do it.
I have no such shame.

This particular gripe began a couple a weeks ago but this mornings events have sent me raging.
What is the point of leaving one sheet, ONE fucking sheet, on the roll?
Not even a slightly useful sheet, no, the one stuck to the cardboard! That even Grissom and the whole CSI team couldn’t tease from the roll.

I share a house with four others and for the most part we rub along quite well. We’re a good mix, Male and Female, Straight and Gay (and ambiguous!), short and tall, fat and thin, introvert and extrovert, Christian and Non Christian. Irish, Greek, Welsh, Polish, Scottish and Caribbean blood are all represented through our assorted families so we are a little bit multi-cultural. Job wise, we have three representatives from ‘Education’ and two from ‘Medical’. We all have a university education. Sounds quite good put like that doesn’t it? NO!!
I refer you back to the toilet paper issue. I will expand.

Is there anything more annoying than the sound of someone else’s alarm clock going on and on and on, until YOU have to get out of bed and shout at the person to wake them up?… Possibly.
Or coming home to the question, “You know there is a difference between heat and temperature, don’t you?” before been shown the huge burn on the carpet?
Or Random, unidentifiable hairs in the bathroom?
Or slices of processed cheese in the fridge? That stuff the colour of dandelions..
Or how when the fridge has a smell, people open it up and say, “Oh, the fridge smells!” Then close it.
The smell doesn’t disappear people!! It stays in there! Uck out the 6 jars of redcurrant jelly (all opened), the month old brie, the endless half used slabs of lard (and whoever is buying that?, STOP! We have some!), the stuff that used to be coleslaw from Ken’s Kebabs. Find what smells, and CLEAN it!
All of those I can now deal with because of the Toilet Roll Issue!

Have spent the afternoon with Chris The Carpet Burner! AKA Captain Chaos, King of Dyspraxics. We have drunk afternoon tea from Raffles Hotel in Singapore, courtesy of Sarah Down The Road. (A gift for feeding her cats while she was away) We have smoked ‘greenery’ and laughed a lot. As if to prove my point, he suggested that the carpet could do with another clean.
“I’m not stopping you, knock yourself out”, says I. He regarded me with such a look of abject horror you’d have thought I’d asked him to take up Morris dancing.
Then to compound it, while making tea he opened the fridge got the milk, remarked on the smell and closed the door.. (On this occasion it happened to be the bin!)

But with that out of my system, I can say they are brilliant to live with. We have slipped into an easy comfort with each others ‘little ways‘, foibles and prejudices.
We laugh, we cry, we get outraged for each others hurts, we cook for each other, we shout and bawl. There is someone to talk to if you want and they know when to piss off when you don’t. We also have our ‘Part Timers’, they don’t live here but so easily could and would fit perfectly.

Community living has to be worked at. Hard. You have to negotiate and re-negotiate terms constantly, sometimes on a daily basis!

And yet……….. The Toilet Roll Issue has left me feeling murderous and spiteful, the same person who looks at the news and the war and suffering and says,
“Why can’t people just get along?”… Because we JUST can’t!... It’s human nature.

I’m ready to go to war over toilet roll. Who’s with me?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My insomnia is now out of control. I went to bed at 6am and was up a 9am. Had 5 hours yesterday and 4 the day before.
My whole life has taken on a really ethereal quality accompanied by mild hallucinations! Not seeing dead relatives in mirrors or anything like that, (although, my good friend Schnee, would have Derek Accorah at my door in an instant if I did!) just catching glimpses of the non existent cat at the corner of my eye! Really annoying when it IS one of my actual cats, as that scares the shit outta me! Then there are the ‘spiders’ that seem to creep over the arms of my chair coupled with the weird noises my house makes when it thinks nobody is around. I like to think it stretches a bit, decides which light bulb is going to randomly blow next and hides door keys. If it had an accent, it would sound like Parker from the Thunderbirds.

There are also the looks of those around you. Pitying, with just a hint of insincerity. The truth is, nobody really cares if you are sleeping or not as long as they ARE!
I have been like this ever since I can remember. At 3 I was given a drug called Paraldehyde, which is an anti epileptic barbiturate. I have had every label beginning with, “just a naughty child” followed by hyperactive, sociopath, ADD, ADHD and High Functioning Autism… Personally, I like them all! Sociopath, having a special place as I was 6 at the time of that diagnosis!
But to me?… I just don’t need a lot of sleep!

From the very beginning my Mother (henceforth, ATM, Attila The Mum) took my insomnia very, very personally. As if this baby was deliberately keeping her up. This later led to ATM’s flirtation with infanticide but as I was over a year old she wouldn’t have got away with it, so didn’t bother! Which I have always taken as, ’She couldn’t be bothered to kill me’.. I was ’legally’ drugged into submission for the next 19 years. I have spent the last 17 self medicating in all the wonderful ways nature and chemistry allow!

I rant and rave A LOT.. Most things and most people piss me off.

So there it is.. The general gist of what may turn up on these pages.

And …… Schnee.. Happy now? Hehehe!