In Praise of Shitty Weather

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Friday was ridiculously hot. It was Zone 1 London in the summer hot, with that intimation of hosepipe bans and the feel that it could be one of those summers where fans sell out and people start whining about it being TOO HOT.

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I don’t like to be a curmudgeon, and while my mind is of a cloudy turn, my body certainly behaves better in the warm, but now that we’ve moved house a fair few things have changed in the daily routine. On the Tottenham Riviera we were on the ground floor, it  was Zone 3, and on a river, and I didn’t have to have Pops on the lead for most of any outing. Here, we are in the microclimate of the centre of town, up four flights, and the parks are often FULL at the first sight of sunshine. Full, that is, of HAZARDS.

By ‘hazards’ I mean children, people eating, people trying to have some alone time lying down quietly, that sort of thing. All things a Bobbins likes to either actually disturb or threaten to disturb, which amounts to the same thing in terms of having to police her.

In the shitty weather we doggy types get the park to ourselves.

On Friday it was extremely hot and Poppet did her new thing of having to have several lie downs all the way home as well as a couple in the stair. And that was for the morning play. By the afternoon it was baking so hard and the park was so populous that there was no chance of play, and even without it she still played ‘old dog’ all the way home.

When I first got her she was estimated by All Dogs Matter as being about a year old, and thought to have been made to mate on her first season, the beginnings of her white muzzle being thought to have been caused by the shock of this too early breeding. By the time we were on the Riviera and we had a vet appointment she was nominally about four, and he said there was no way she was under seven. Usually if people ask her age I tell them I don’t know, that she was adopted, and I give them the parameters, but if I can’t be bothered or if I think they are really not interested (a lot of people ask a dog’s age, it’s a ‘thing’) then I’ve just been saying “seven” for the past couple of years. Despite her greying muzzle, I’ve continued to argue her youth, but now she’s doing the lying down thing I’ve revised it upward. Her age of convenience is now firmly ten.

Anyway, the weather didn’t do as threatened, and we are now back to the shitty weather we also complain about. However, today it didn’t take a moment to get her out and running about, and we had the park pretty much to ourselves and yesterday was the same, even though this is the weekend. I don’t begrudge the sun seekers their pleasures, but I am going to have to figure out a way around them with the dog.

I was going to write this yesterday but we got waylaid by a chap called Roland and his dog Crunchie. I’m shit at remembering names, but Roland is my brother’s name, and Crunchie is an excellent name for a dog. She was crunching on a stick when we met her. We also know a Harry and Barry, but I have no idea which is the man and which the dog, so knowing their names doesn’t help at all.

Swans for Breakfast

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Sunday on the Riviera. Mid March, I suppose by now we’d be calling it spring. But, you know, there wasn’t a proper winter, so it’s sort of snuck up on us. And now, if it isn’t raining or cloud covered it’s blasting sunshine.

For the first time in a long time I took the dog up Tottenham Marshes, or at least just beyond the allotments and had a sit in the sunshine.

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I hesitate to say I was meditating, but I certainly found my sitting bones and sat quietly while the dog snoofled around.

During whatever goes on in winter we always get a few more people on a weekend up here, but if it is sunny it will get really busy, and there are hazards in the park with the dog, so although we played early this morning the afternoon walk had to be somewhere less populous. I was feeling a little fragile, not really up to totally policing the entire situation so was fully intending on short changing the dog and just going to the shops and back. However, on the way there we passed the entrance to the marshes, the one that doesn’t go along the canal, and I thought it would be safe enough to go a baby walk there.

What you can see in the photo are a series of fences and that orange dot at the top is a post for a life saving ring. Between the fences are the canal and a run off/river then beyond that bank, reservoirs.

Despite all the water we have been safe from floods this winter. I’ve kept an eye on it. I was registered with the Environment Agency for flood warnings but had to unsubscribe from warnings because I got fed up hearing from them and then looking out the window and seeing the water being a bit more choppy or more or less the same as usual. If there had been any risk it would have been from the sewers, and happily they know this, and there was a fleet of Dyno Rod vans who came for a visit a few months back.

Poppet was in her element. Lots of men in high vis hanging around in the street just waiting to say hello to her.

Good Morning, Sunshine!

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Apparently this has been the wettest winter in 200 years. I’ve certainly been migraining more or less solidly since the August Bank Holiday, and the past couple of days of sunshine have been a welcome respite.

When I surface I take a look around at what is going on and hope to God there’s nothing I need to have done, need to be doing, should have done, ought to have done…

Yesterday I did a bit of paperwork. Not very exciting, but also, pleasingly, nothing too terrifying came to light.

In homing pigeon news, you may remember I’ve been trying to swap flats for the past several months. I fancied a move to Brighton, but it is so hard to get a bite. I tried to juggle a three way swap or two, but it really wasn’t happening, so I’ve gone back to my roots (or, you know, one of my roots) with a swap to Old St.

Home again, home again… jiggity jig.

As they say in Blade Runner.

It’s good because the location has a precise set of qualities. It’s not in the crazy of Hoxton etc, but it is walking distance to it, it’s central, but being just north of City, also quiet, and AND and it’s about 100 yards to the nearest swimming pool, the famous, and infamous, Ironmonger Row baths.

It is not an utter done deal, but both my swapee and I have filled in our respective forms and handed them in to our local authorities. Now we have to wait. They will want to come round and inspect, but there’s nothing for them to see in either flat, so unless something unforeseen happens, I will be moving early/mid April.

It’s not the same as Brighton, but it’s not a bad second best. And if and when I want to turn around again I will have a good bargaining chip of a flat. I’d have thought the Tottenham Riviera would be a good swap for a person from not London who needs to live in London but doesn’t want to be in it… but it seems that’s not how it works. When people move to London they largely want central.

So be it.

But in the meantime, my plan is to get swimming and lose the astounding TEN KILOS I have put on since moving here. And recover some aerobic fitness. Aerobic fitness is kind of shit value because you have to keep it up, but living five floors up without a lift ought to do that on it’s own, so that’s a bargain right there.

Poppet, of course, won’t have the wonderland of bread to eat – the buffet laid out by the bird feeding public on the towpath – so she should become more svelte as well.

Only thing is, I want to get on with it now. I am itching to start filling boxes.

A Walk in the Paddock

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The Paddock

Took the dog out to the Paddock yesterday. Sounds fancy, but until I learned it was named that I used to call it “The Scruffy Bit”.

Things have changed over the past couple of weeks.

Dead on the Vine

The blackberries are nearly all gone.

These were hanging high up. For the birds.

Zoom but don’t touch

Blackberry bush die back

Rose Hips

And these rose hips are everywhere.

I love Virginia Creeper this time of year.

Autumnal

Virginia Creeper

And ‘Swinger’s Delight’ – Pampas Grass is a bit of random suburban gardening in what is mainly a small nature reserve.

Ooer, Missus!

Here Comes the Rain Again

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August bank holiday, generally scorchio, as appropriate for the Notting Hill Carnival, and we’ve dived straight into autumn without a thought for due process.

Rainy grey light on the Lea.

Some people don’t care either way.

And what have I been doing since last we met? Well, the usual lot of nothing. I’ve been experimenting with coming off medication, eating my body weight in blackberries, and not getting my Have A Word thing written…

I’ve been picking a few blackers most days when I’ve been out with the dog. It’s always amazing how different really fresh things taste to – well, less fresh things.

Blackberries.

It’s been hot, and I am chronically underslept. The rain brings a certain quiet, but also makes me creaky, so it’s swings and roundabouts health wise.

Have A Word is a thing m’friend Ellis has been doing in Brighton for the past few months – there’s no website as such, just a rolling series of HAW fb pages. It’s a monthly spoken word evening in aid of Sussex Beacon and it’s just gone into profit. Ellis is one of those people who ‘just does’ things. A couple of years ago he picked up a camera and within a few weeks had an exhibition – still showing regularly now. Similarly, he ‘just’ decided to host a spoken word event, and now he ‘just’ does.  I love that. Inspirational!

So, of course, without really thinking about possible consequences I asked if I could do a spot, and now I have fifteen minutes to fill on September 11th. I have *something* written, but not 15 minutes worth of something, and I’ve been quietly panicking away here. I had a couple of false starts, but have settled upon doing a sort of jazzy noodle version of a ‘book report’. It’s not a book review – I am barely talking about the book that kicked me off at all, but I quite like calling it a ‘book report’ because that’s what we did at school. And I was quite good at it. But it’s not really one, it’s just me starting off with some of the elements of a book and noodling off with it. The book in question is Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. My ‘report’ features blackberries quite heavily, which the novel does not. And fashion branding, which the novel does.

In other news I have been looking at swapping flats again… not sure whether it will happen or not, but I’ve seen a few now, and am narrowing down my focus – I’m not in a fit state to be moving just for the sake of it, and the Riviera has it’s plusses. But sometimes I start ‘shopping’ and contact a whole slew of people and then some of them get back to me and I think – did I really think I could move to Kilburn? Was that a thing?

Two current front runners involve a flat just off Brick Lane and one just north of Victoria Park – so, areas I’ve lived in before and not just mad night time digital ramblings. Now I have to write to someone and tell her I was QUITE MAD to think I could move so far away from ‘everything’.

And finally, here’s a GPOY of Pops.

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Down the Sofa of Memory, an Unhappy Birthday, and ALL THE PRESENTS

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Good morrow, my friends! It has been some time since my last confession/blog post due to the rolling migraine situation here at l’hermitage. Which is annoying, because I have so much to tell you about, and I’m sure lots of BRILLIANT ideas will have been lost down the sofa of my piss poor memory. Obviously, I have been doing very little, but I have been thinking a lottle about what I want to do for Have A Word in October… It’s in a proper theatre so there’s the opportunity for projections, props, what have you. It’s nice to consider all these things before probably opting to write something down then, er, read it out.

Never mind! Lets live for today and search the camera for the yesterdays…

First of all, there’s a little catch up from foreign travels before they become too old timey to comment on. It was hard to edit down all the stuff from Paris, and this is a shot I didn’t take until I was already home. It’s from the ‘in flight’ magazine they give you on Eurostar. Well, I don’t think they mean you to take them, but at least I took a whole one, whereas the woman next to me tore pages out, which may or may not have been disappointing for the next traveller. These magazines are kind of meh. But there were a couple of things I wanted to refer to. Here’s one about what the French call a Brazilian.

ticket de metro

What you may need to know is that the Paris Metro ticket’s metallic strip is rather more elegant than the London Tube’s. Not judging, mind. Don’t have one for you to see because modern travellers on the Tube use Oyster cards which don’t have a strip. They have a COMPUTER which is sending INFORMATION about you to the GOVERNMENT (this sentence is dedicated to Amy’s Dad. Click on the side bar and look at virtually any Lucy’s Football post and you’ll see what I mean.) Pictured is the back of a Metro ticket, which I have kept, in the spirit of throwing a coin in a fountain, as a promise of return. Though without genital waxing, thankingyou.

My other thing from down the back of the sofa of time is this little rig featuring a mozzie repellent from Spain. What you may not know is that European plugs are different from UK ones, although, confusingly, we do use adaptors for electric shavers though not much else, so I had one lying around. But it goes uppy downy so I had to find an adaptor that would make it go sidey ways.

con fused

We were eaten ALIVE every night by mozzies and it was only on the eve of the last night that we thought of buying a repellent. This one is basically just citronelle presumably gently warmed up – seems to work here just fine, which is good because we do get the odd mozzie on the Tottenham Costa and I’ve never seen these gizmos on sale. Damned if I was going to leave it behind, though I did miss a trick leaving the garlic. Frankly, it didn’t take me long to wish I had thrown out all my clothes and just stuffed my suitcase with garlic and cheese.

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Then there was my birthday. Being a monday, and last year having been a proper celebration, perhaps it was always going to be a non event at best, so things were surprisingly festive when Angie Nutt turned up with her balloons on birthday eve…

squeaky bouquet. note ten’s hand ready to restrain poppet from any inquiring bites

On the day lots of people sent me good wishes on the interwebs, and I even got some actual cards, and in the case of the Kirsties presents. One baked good being a hat, and one being a knitted pie.

the pie in question being a fairly accurate rendition of a mason’s pie, traditionally to be found in a scottish chip shop. my mum and her sister used to take them to the swimming pool and put them on the pipes for afterwards, calling them a ‘shivery bite’

the day started off well enough, with strawberries and cream for second breakfast. that’s last year’s present from phillip renshaw in the frame.

However, this perkiness did not last. I got a call from a friend who I chatted happily enough with for a bit, but then he started telling me what I “should” be doing about disability benefits and what I “should” be doing for myself. He meant well, but I started really spiralling while he was talking to me, and ended up saying that I couldn’t cope with the conversation and hanging up. I then went into the bedroom and had a proper howling cry, something which I know flares migraine, but which, for once, I indulged. A visit in the afternoon from Hazel and BJ who bore cake barely lifted me from the gutter, however, and what was worse was that the next morning I woke with the cold toad of depression squatting on my chest.

i saw this in the river and thought it summarised the downfall of my birthday rather well

Lets all sing along with Morrissey…

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One nice thing that has happened is that I requested a CSI Helsingborg t shirt from my friend Mark whose band it is (of course it’s a BAND, did you think the POLIS are likely to give away their merch?) AND he sent me not one but TWO!

merch from sweden. i am well connected

Naturally, I had to attempt to take a slightly POLIS type photo – but in my half baked style you will just have to imagine a police badge instead of a camera, and while you’re at it de-domesticate the background, oh, and flip reverse the photo so you can read the T shirt. Thanks.

not photoshopped


HEY, YOU, GET OFFA MY CLOUD!

Not to be outdone, Poppet has been acquiring presents, too. Neighbour Paul let her have his dear departed doggy’s toys. Buster had clearly kept his presents nice, but you can see in the picture that Poppet has made a start on ripping the face off one of these already…

not the face!

And lastly in Tales of the Riverbank, we had squatted moorings! Yes. All the excitement here on the Ferry Lane Estate. Obviously, Poppet had to go have a little investigate and made friends with them, and I ended up giving one of them a pair of flip flops. I guessed her shoe size – 5 1/2 – which might sound weird, but that is also my size, so no, I am not about to reveal a foot fetish or a past working in a shoe shop.

squat – tastic

So, that will have to do in the way of a catch up. In the meantime, if that’s still not enough, here’s a tumblr collection for your further edification “elaine4queen.tumblr.com/day/2013/7/05

Crying is the New Black

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There was a point at which one wag declared “Comedy is the New Rock and Roll”. This was on the back of decades of “[colour name] is the New Black” in fashion, so it wasn’t that novel, i suppose, but it did confirm that construction in my mind, and I used variations of it often, and it occasioned my coining of the phrase “Crying is the New Black”, which is something I texted to a friend who I saw from a bus one day in Barmy Park. She was having a cry before getting on the tube, and she reported back that her shrink had approved the saying, so I repeat it here for your benefit.

this is a reconstruction of the text i sent. i am just like “crimewatch” except the original text was sent from the top of a bus and this is clearly just my phone on top of my duvet. sorry.

As a migraineur, I don’t like to have “a good cry”. A “good cry” for me just means guaranteed physical pain, which I get enough of already, so I avoid it. Also, I’ve been on a “mood elevator” for just over a year. I won’t bore you with the details, the whys, wherefores, and contingencies, but I came off it recently. Inevitably, there’s anxiety waiting to meet you after your SSRI/SNRI sojourn, which doesn’t happen on day one, but it’s there. Waiting to FREAK YOU THE FUCK OUT. But when you know what it is you can say – well, this might be the horror of me returning, or else it might be that thing that happens when you stop these drugs and it will pass. Whatever it is it hooks onto, as long as you know it’s not really ‘about’ that thing it can be dealt with. A bit like PMT – don’t make any major decisions when in it’s grip and ride it out. The way it manifested for me was waking up feeling terribly anxious about the possible moving house scenario that’s cooking up chez moi. Once I worked out what was going on I just used my ninja buddha skills and spent the first 20 minutes/half hour of the day doing a breath meditation instead, and that seemed to be enough to see off the worst of it.

The other thing, though, is the crying. I’m not wailing and crying, I’m not heartbroken, I can still maintain my stance on the whole crying thing, but I am finding myself rather more moved by stuff lately. And that is certainly a good thing. Whether a video about a dog being rescued, or something frankly schmaltzy, a little slug of tear will creep down my face, unbidden, but not unwelcome.

here is a brave weed growing out of a wall. *sobs*

I expect the little weeps will dry up sooner or later, me being the equanimous  type that I routinely am, but I am welcoming them for the time being. I have seen enough people go on and off these drugs to know that with the tears come all sorts of other feelings, along with the desire to create stuff, usually dampened for the duration. Happily, for me, I continued to blog, but I do know people whose entire online life has gone the way of all things while medicated, and for me that’s most of my friendships as well as some writing and pictures. So, here I am, welcome back, me, whoever I am.

Mostly about me, and a bit about Ganesh

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In this interregnum I can only dream.

i rather think i would be better off dreaming poppet’s dreams. my actual dreams tend to be rather anxious, which i don’t think hers are. hers are about snoofling about and chasing things.

The trouble with expecting to be well soon, but not being well now is that there is very little I can actually do. I am walking the dog, eating, pottering about, and spending ridiculous amounts of time on the internet looking on Homeswapper for possible swaps. You’d think that I  would have had enough of moving house after all the horror of last time, and it is a BIT stupid to try and second guess how well I am going to be and what I am going to be doing with all the wellness.

It started with the usual thing of going to Brighton and thinking I must go back on Homeswapper and move here, when, in reality, I think I really just like visiting. Just like lots of other people do. Visiting, and catching up with friends, looking at the sea, thinking how nice it would be to live at the seaside, and then going home again. To my home, which, incidentally is something like 10 meters from a river. A perfectly good river. Anyroads. Anyroads, instead of mooning around searching Brighton, I have been looking within London, and mainly within 5 miles of Shoreditch, which I think we can agree *is* the centre of London now.

The other thing is, though, is that there are quite a few people looking to downsize. I don’t know if this has been spurred by the bedroom tax or not, but there are a good few two, and even three, bedroom properties on. Listen to me! “Properties” like I was an estate agent or something. Anyway, what with the possibility/probability of a PhD in the offing I am becoming rather aware that this flat hasn’t got quite enough elbow room for my liking. The big compromise would be giving up the garden, and even more than that, probably, the river.

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ganesh. never saw a shrink for what happened to his head

You know Ganesh? Well, did you know how he got his head? I didn’t. I assumed that he just came that way, because Hindu stuff is kind of magicky and a god with an elephant’s head seems just as reasonable as all the rest of it. Anyway, it turns out he wasn’t born that way. Probably to the relief of his mother.

When I went to the British Museum the other week, and went on a short tour of discovering just how exquisite my back pain can be, we stopped off at Ganesh and the chap who was giving us the tour told us how he came to be the way he is. It turns out that Shiva had been away for a really long time. And I mean a REALLY long time. His wife probably could have stepped out on him, I mean I guess she had to be pretty special to be married to a top god like that, so she probably could have had as many flings as she liked. And he was away a LONG time. So he comes back and sees this fit young lad hanging around. Rather assuming he was being cuckolded he cut the lad’s head off with a sword. Turns out that he was in fact DRN DRN DRRRRRN!!!!! his own son!

Being a god, he could probably have just put the head back on and everything would have been fine. But in his grief he apparently decided it would be best if the next creature he saw would provide the new head. Happily, considering what other creatures there are in the world, the first sentient being he came across was an elephant. So there you are! Ganesh always had something to talk about at dinner parties. How’s that for a teenage angst story?

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So, back to me. Thursday I get botoxed again, so I can start attacking the massive list of stuff I have to do. Not least of which is to do some reading and rewriting for the PhD application. And then what? I don’t know. I mean, I have plenty of short term tasks to do, but I am not used to being able to have plans, so this thing about wanting to move again could just be part of wanting control over my life in some way, or it could be the sensible next step, if I am really going to write. I do know that I need a great deal of focus and quite a lot of space to write. I don’t write in a very linear way – I get all my ideas down then I print them off and look at them on the floor and rearrange them like that before editing. One time I gave a paper at a conference which was literally a scroll of sellotaped together sections – but I’d done a rewrite after printing and didn’t have another chance to tidy things up before the conference, so I went in with a piece of paper several feet long.

It is nice having a garden, though. Oh, I don’t know…

Princesses, Films, Dogs, and Shopping

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So, here’s me and Poppet snuggled up ready to watch The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

many pillows in the viewing pit

Ten said I looked like a princess, so I let him take the photos. Although we all know who is the real princess in this house. Poppet is the young pretender. But she will have to wait, much like Prince Charles does.

all about the regal

And this is what it looks like OUTside the window…

the tottenham riviera

That’s at best, actually. Most of the time it’s been pissing it down. Poppet has had to get wet most walks, which means drying off, which she doesn’t like. It’s her own doing a lot of the time, since she actively walks into puddles and the day we found the dog she went into a really big one up to her middle. Of course, stray dog one upped her by falling in the canal, but in reality, it was Poppet who nudged her in. They were scampering about playing and stray dog was quite jumpy and lithe, and Poppet is a clumsy tank. It was bound to happen. Just lucky the little blighter didn’t drown.

Christmas is now over, with minimum fuss, and we still have The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest to watch today so I’m calling it a good one and will be ready to move on to the new year PDQ.

We are now bickering about lunch, and one of the options is salad and the other is Caribbean curry, so I think we are done with the Chinese theme of Jews Go to the Cinema Day even if we’re not finished with the viewing.

Ten and I both have TASKS to get on with, but I’m not sure we will get onto them today since we still have the trilogy to tidy up. All Dogs Matter phoned this morning, and it looks like we are going to be getting a foster dog after all. Or at least, we are going to try a dog with Poppet. She’s a pretty good hostess in general, but we’re narrowing the field to a calm male staffie type dog, just for optimization. ADM get a lot of staffies, so it’s not going to be a case of waiting for one to come along. I don’t know if we are cut out for fostering, but I’m quite into giving it a go.

My mum gave me a Kobo for xmas, which I asked for. It’s pocket sized. I don’t carry bags, so was quite drawn to the pocket-ness. My brother gave me money which, naturally, I have already spent. So now I am waiting for a parcel from Brand Alley. They do discounted stuff from a whole slew of brands, and this one is a fancy Danish one, so I will be appropriately attired when Borgen comes back on the telly.

I looked up the brand name DAY Birger Et Mikkelsen on Yelp and the two reviews were in Norwegian. I had google translate them for me and they were both really grumpy, not just complaining about the prices but also the snooty shop assistants. Ah, the joys of shopping online!