Monday, 31 December 2007

Things I have done and not done.

Things I have done today:
  • Finished my book. I need to read it again before I can be sure, but the ending is sad.
  • Ordered a taxi to take us to the pub tonight and one to pick us up from my friend's house
  • Swapped a shift around.
  • Ran D a bath. May not sound like much, but it was an apology for leaving the bath taps on 'shower' rather than 'tap' (we have a shower over the bath too; I'm not sure why but D wanted both) as a result of which D sprayed water all round the bathroom. He was not impressed.
  • Done a tiny, tiny amount of work.
  • Brain training on my DS.
  • Received an email from a friend that I very rudely dumped just before our wedding and who I emailed not expecting a response about ten days ago. I am so happy to have heard from her again. I saw her outside a concert in Manchester earlier this year and suddenly realised how much I'd missed her and I'm really glad she replied. I hope she has forgiven me.
Things I have not done today:
  • A proper amount of work
  • Tidied the house
  • Called D's mum (or got him to) to see when we are giving the car back.
  • Texted my friend to say thank you for a favour she did us. On Friday.
  • The first draft of my next Tutor Marked Assignment, due very soon, for which I have an extention for having been ill but that is also getting very close.
I have been off work now for a long time after being ill and on leave. I wanted to have all this stuff done, dammit.

Ah well. At least we have tomorrow, still. I am about to drop my food and drink round at my friend's house for tonight. After that I will have some hours to get some work done. I will do it, I will do it, I will do it....

Happy New Year everyone.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Good things from Christmas.

My shiny new Nintendo DS, complete with brain training and sight training. Whenever I've seen the ads for months, now, I've said 'I want one of those... no I don't'. D decided to ignore the rational half of my brain kicking in and just got me one of the damn things to shut me up. I love it. My brain age has dropped from 60 to 24 in 5 days (the ideal is 20). My eyes on the other hand have gone from 'in their 40s' to 34. I fully intend to get both down to 20, even if they don't stay there.

Fudge from the Fudge Kitchen. I just about died of pleasure.

The Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I loved We Need To Talk About Kevin, although 'loved' is possibly a bad word; it's an incredibly disturbing book, and one I had to reread quite slowly. I've not finished The Post Birthday World yet; part of me wants to just sit down and read and read but it's too rich, like the fudge. I have no idea how it can possibly end, but I'm going with it. Even though this is only the second book of hers that I've read, I trust her.

Popcorn. It's the new packaging in Lush's mail order and gift boxes. Genius. I did think about eating it, but apparently the essential oils make it taste bad. Shame.

The use of a car from Christmas Eve til sometime in the next day or two. Not great from an environmental point of view, but it made it a damned sight easier to visit our respective families.

Spending time with D. Impossible to overrate.

Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas.

Monday, 24 December 2007

A post to say...

Merry Chrimble.

I hope Santa brings everything you wanted.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

frosty

It hasn't been quite so cold the last few days. I've still been wearing layers and layers of tops, jumpers, coats, but I've been a little warmer.

It's gone cold again tonight, though. I've never seen a frost quite like it. It sparkles against the black tarmac in the street lights as though the pavement and road are coated in silver-white glitter. It's pretty, but impractical for walking, kind of like spiky stilettos for a girl who's more used to trainers. The air stings on your face; not at first, it takes a minute or two to register, but as the cold filters through the top layers of skin you really start to notice it.

The moon is full, or near enough to bring the werewolves out if you buy into the Buffy mythology. It's bright against the dark blue sky.

Shortest day was yesterday. I normally love solstices and equinoxes; they make me unreasonably happy. This year, I am completely sick of the dark, the cold. The days can't lengthen quickly enough as far as I'm concerned.

----

I'm listening to Suede's Singles collection at the minute. I never really cared about Suede for a long time, but D loves them, and one day when he had the singles collection on I realised I'd been singing along to just about every song. I rarely choose to listen to them myself, but I've got myself into a bit of a music rut recently, consisting of Nine Inch Nails, Editors and Interpol, with only the occasional bit of Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and Placebo, and I think we can all agree that there's not much cheery listening in there. I keep going to the CD stand with every intention of listening to something else (and we do have some great CDs!), but then one of the first three seduces me and I end up listening to that again. I think D is getting the Bloc Party CD for christmas from someone, so maybe that will make me branch out a little.

Funny thing is, I keep hearing that Pepsi ad with the Black Eyed Peas (you know the one where they keep falling through the floor and yet luckily noone gets killed?!), and I love that track. So obviously my liking for other genres of music is still there. Even for bands I'm aware aren't very good. But I still can't make myself listen to anything that wasn't influenced by Joy Division*. I don't even like Joy Division.

Err, please don't anyone tell D I said that.

Friday, 21 December 2007

stuff to read

So seeing as I have nothing to write about (unless anyone actually wants to hear about the amount of phlegm and snot I'm producing at the minute) I thought I'd link some articles for you to read.

Firstly, no one wants to ban Christmas.

Secondly The Girl talks about consent. Highly recommended.

Thirdly, that myth about reading in the dark making you short sighted is finally debunked, along with some others. I knew four or five (I think I knew the reading in the dark thing was a myth, but I'm not sure) but didn't know about the water thing (...but seeing as my husband lives on four cups of coffee a day and maybe a fruit juice, it doesn't surprise me) and the turkey thing I was marginally surprised about for a millisecond - but being veggie I don't really care.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Ill.

I keep telling myself it's better to get viruses out of the way before christmas, but I don't really believe it.

Will probably be quiet round here til after Christmas, as my life at the minute consists of sitting in the house and not doing anything.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Cold

For days, now, the frost hasn't melted on our street. It's been constant. It's so thick now that it looks like a proper layer of snow. The air smells clean, of ice.

I have four Christmas meals this year. Old job, new job, Samaritans, friends. One of them was last night at the Assembly Rooms. Fab night, although the food wasn't as good as last year. We were in the Chandelier Room and the disco lights looked fantastic sparkling through the chandeliers. And I was right, pulling a cracker and eating a mince pie did make me feel more christmassy.

I drank too much wine. It took me til nearly 7pm to feel human again. I should have had more water when I got in.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Ways to start feeling christmassy, finally.

Catch a whiff of mince pies at lunchtime. I can't wait to eat my first one of the year.

Go to a carol service lit by a thousand candles and with a choir. Jesmond Parish Church is a really nice church, and lit purely by candlelight, the air shimmering with the heat of the candles, it was beautiful.

The christmassy feeling didn't appear til right near the end. The final verse of 'Oh Come All Ye Faithful', to be precise. Do I mean counterpoint? Where the choir start singing a complementary tune for the last verse? It set my spine shivering. And suddenly, I felt I might get excited about christmas again.

Other things I think might help:
  • mulled wine
  • finding some red baubles for the christmas tree, distressingly half finished at the minute
  • replacing the old fake tree with a little real one that smells of christmas
  • wrapping presents
  • pulling a cracker
I'll get there in the end.

fakeout

The last two mornings, when I've looked out of the window at 7am (or 7.20am if I'm honest), I've thought that it's snowed. But it's turned out to be just a layer of frost lying thick on the pavement.

You'd think I would learn after the first time.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

unchristmassy

In previous years, christmas displays have been up from mid November. Nothing new went up this late. There were hundreds of them, or at least it seemed like it; most were relatively subdued, but some were so ridiculously OTT that I couldn't help but stare open mouthed when going past. And not in a good way.

This year, there are fewer displays. The ones that are there are more subdued, mostly, and they went up later; some have even gone up in the last week. Strange thing is, I have no idea why this has changed. Is it environmental concern? Denial about the proximity to christmas? Just the fact that everyone's sick of life this year?

------

I am completely, hopelessly in denial about how close Christmas is. I enjoyed the christmas markets when i was away with my sister, but since i came back i've been miserable. i have about half my presents, but i can't seem to muster up any sense of urgency about getting the rest, and if i don't order them soon, they'll never arrive in time. i can't even make myself write the one single christmas card that i really need to (...my boss, due to a misunderstanding today about who the card i was handing her was from).

i don't want to tell anyone how sick of everything i am, because i'm heartily aware of how much worse some people have it. but this is backfiring because i don't feel able to say anything to anyone, because the words that are waiting to come out of my mouth are so full of misery.

and it's ridiculous, because things are not. that. bad. but because i won't tell anyone (except D who has been wonderful) they are feeling worse and worse.

so hopefully, now i've written it here, it will go away.

but i do hate how every so often i seem to have to post here about a panic i'm having. that isn't what i want this place to be. and i'm not asking for sympathy or advice or anything, although i won't bat it away. i just need to let this out.

i failed miserably at nanowrimo.

i am very far behind with my course.

i should have posted some work online for my course by saturday, and i still haven't done it. neither have i fed back on anyone else's.

i have a good theory that the lack of exercise recently is one of the major causes of all this. but still i'm too scared to just get out there and run or swim.

i know the answers. i'm just stopping myself from putting them into practice.

i am an idiot.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The bus

It took me a minute to realise that I was the only woman on the bus. And the only person under 55.

Usually there's quite a mix of people on that bus. But tonight it was just men coming back from the club. Bizarre.

I went out tonight with some friends for a christmas night out. We went to Treasure of the Orient on Stowell Street. The food was fab, but the other vegetarian and I only had one choice on the (large) menu. Vegetarians who don't like spicy food, be warned; it's not the best choice. Meat eaters, it's highly recommended.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Cobwebs, music and lights

I didn't really get out at lunchtime today; just over the road to pick up a packet of crisps (I am currently unable to go through a day in work without a packet of Salt and Vinegar Squares). By the time I left the office it was dark and the wind was strong. I made my way to the bus stop slowly, walking against the wind. By the time I got to the bus stop I was smiling. There were a few large drops of rain, stinging hard against my face with the ice on the breeze. Blowing the cobwebs away.

Interpol were fantastic the other night. They seem to have been forgiven by Newcastle for last time. Highlights were Paul going 'That was No I in Threesome... no idea what that was about' and Carlos, the one who was ill so it had to be called off last time, coming up to the mike when they came back for the encores, making the entire place be quiet, and saying 'I feel much better today'. All the vids on YouTube are pretty crappy, luckily for you, so I'll just suggest you go to their website if you've never listened to them before and listen to Evil, Mammoth and maybe NYC. And maybe just all the rest of them too. Fab night. Editors had more energy, but Interpol just have better songs, damn them. Their light show was also fabulous.

I got a t shirt that lists both Newcastle dates, just because it made me laugh.

I picked up a brochure of all the Winter Festival stuff that is going on in Newcatle and Gateshead at the mo at my hairdressers tonight.
Some of it looks fab, so I'll go and test some of it out for you in the next week or two. I'm nothing if not good to you, eh?!

(I finally got around to unpacking tonight. Three nights after I got home. That's how disorganised I am at the mo. I am also in complete denial over Christmas. I have no idea how I'm going to get sorted in time. Oh well!)

Monday, 3 December 2007

home again

My journey home took 12 hours 10 minutes (I did stop to have lunch with my mum and one of my sisters on the way back though) and involved the following means of transport, in the order given:
  • train
  • plane
  • car
  • train
  • metro
  • bus
So I'm rather exhausted, and about to collapse into bed. Thanks for all the comments on the various posts; I'll reply midweek as tomorrow I'm off to see Interpol. AKA Interpol. Let's hope tomorrow night works out for them, eh?!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Sensory assault

Monument is an assault to the senses right now. I smelled it before I saw or heard; the Continental Market is back. I could smell the smoke from the Bratwurst cooking, the scent of the Gluehwein. And then as I got closer to Monument, I could see it. All the stalls, selling so much stuff. Turkish delight. Croque monsieur. Clementines with big green leaves still attached. Kaki fruit (otherwise known as persimmon or sharon fruit). Marzipan. Handbags and soaps and all manner of meat.

The market was there last year too, just before Christmas. They had some amazing potato dish, fried with garlic. I shared some with my parents; it tasted fantastic. I hope that's back this year.

(My husband, allergic to garlic, loved us in the car journey back home.)

That market is on til 8th December. I'll have to take my camera in and have a proper explore before then. After that is a Winter Christmas market (... I'm not quite sure how that is different, but I'll report). There's a Fairtrade market in the Grainger Market on Saturday coming (unfortunately I'll be away) then Art and Craft Markets, again in the Grainger market, on Sat 8th, 15th and 22nd Dec.

Also, as I mentioned there, I'm away this weekend. Visiting one of my sisters who lives on the continent, as we say. Not strictly accurately; the UK is part of the continent of Europe, but we still say 'on the continent' for anywhere outside the UK. Not like we don't see ourselves as part of Europe or anything. D isn't going; he's working this weekend. So I can have some quality time with my sis. Yay!

Not sure if I'll be able to update again til I get back early next week, so my sudden burst of posting at the weekend earlier this week will just have to keep you going til then. See ya soon....

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

New Newcastle site

I am loving this site. Some fantastic photos of Newcastle. Well worth a look, and definitely well worth going back a month or two.

Two versions

Town is full of people. Getting under my feet; stopping at the top of escalators and walking straight out in front of me, chattering inanely. They are frowning, miserable; they only care about being the first to buy the Christmas presents they won't even need for another month. It's dark and the air is cold on my ears and neck; I can almost taste the ice on my tongue. The buildings are grey and imposing, pressing down on me, and the air smells stales and wintry. All I want to do is just buy what I need and get out of there.

Town is full of people, the hustle and bustle of a pre-Christmas Saturday. Excitement is in the air; people stopping to exclaim over shop windows, chatting with friends and relatives, checking their lists to see what they still need to buy. It's dark and gloomy, but the Christmas lights glow and sparkle, brightening people's faces, making them smile. I can taste ice on the wind, tickling my neck, and I look hopefully for snow. I can't wait for Christmas.

---

I've been looking at setting recently on my Creative Writing course. It's an important lesson for the writing, but it's also important for life. It's possible to choose how you look at things. And why choose to look on the dark and gloomy side?

Monday, 26 November 2007

I'd like to know whether I would have liked the 'It's beginning to look a lot like christmas' Argos ad quite so much if it wasn't based in Newcastle.

The first time D saw it, I wasn't really watching. 'Hey, isn't that Newcastle?' he said suddenly, and I turned around to see a shot that looked like it might have been Monument, but equally might not be. But it's hard to say from a split second shot. 'Maybe,' I said. 'We'll look next time.'

The next time I still misssed the beginning, but soon realised that it really was Newcastle. People running down Dean Street and Grey Street, a quick shot of the Crown Posada, a shot that's clearly taken from Monument when you see it properly. And I got really excited; it's nice to see a place you love on TV. And it's not a horribly over the top Christmas ad like most of them - it's gentle and funny, and I keep going around singing 'It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas' - the irony being that it's not yet, of course, and that I am completely unprepared for Christmas. (Oh, and the fact that I bloody hate Argos.) But this ad makes me feel like Christmas isn't such a bad thing.

One thing in the ad is funny for people who know Newcastle, though. All these people would never be running down Grey Street and Dean Street for their Christmas shopping. All the proper shops are up in the middle of the city, not down near the Quayside.

I just love the first shot at the beginning of the ad at the bottom of Dean Street, right near the Quayside. I think it's taken from the top of the Tyne Bridge. It always amazes me when I'm reminded quite how much of a slope Newcastle is on. The Tyne Bridge is actually below the level of the top of Newcastle, but you can see how much further down the ground slopes. This really is an amazing city.


Of course, there's also the fact that this was blatantly shot in summer. The lack of Christmas lights and the sunshine give that away pretty quickly, trees and Santa hats and coats and scarves notwithstanding. Heee.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

bus into town

I was listening to music on my walkman, but that didn't stop the lady I sat next to on the bus into town yesterday from talking to me. 'Cold, isn't it?'

I agreed; hard to do anything else at the minute. The snow was one thing; at least that went fairly quickly but the constant ice in the air is harder to deal with. Half the time my ears seem to be numb, and the wind rarely feels strong, but I often find my hood blown down in the wind. 'It really is. Did you see the snow yesterday?'

'Oh yes love, early for this time of year.'

She was quiet for a short while, but then started talking again. I put the volume on my walkman down, then switched it off entirely, not wanting to be rude.

She told me about her son, his trips to South America for work. His plans for Christmas with his family. Asked what I do, what my husband does. I'm not sure if she noticed the ring or if she just assumed I must be married. I told her about the trip I have planned to visit one of my sisters, where we all work. She told me about her friend who moved to Newbiggin by the Sea; said she doesn't understand why anyone would move away from the city - everything you need is close by, from the amenities to the seaside to the countryside. She told me about a distant relative who moved away to Norfolk, lived there for 30 years, visited with his family for the weekend and decided by the end of the weekend to put their house on the market and move back up here. That noone talks to you down south; people are friendlier up here. (I thought about arguing that point, but decided that on balance I agreed with her.) I told her that the first time I came up to Newcastle, I'd decided within ten minutes of getting off the train that this is the place for me.

She asked if I belonged here, and it was a hard question to answer. D does, without a doubt. He was born in the Princess Mary Maternity hospital that used to be in Jesmond; it's one of those things that makes you a 'real Geordie'. He's never lived more than about 50 miles away and even when he has lived further afield he's moved back quickly. I can't imagine him ever moving away. But me? Belong here? It's hard to say.

I told her the truth, that I was born on the other side of the country, that I've lived here six years, that my husband is Geordie, that I can't imagine we'll ever move away. She nods, satisfied with the answer. But I'm not.

I asked D before. Do I belong here? He asked if I want to stay. I do.

'Then you're a true Geordie lass. Gan canny, pet.'

That'll do for me.

rabbitwatch
Oh yes. I saw a single rabbit before, sitting nibbling grass at the side of the road while we were on the bus back from D's grandparents'. I'd missed the bunnies. I'm glad they're still out there.

Friday morning. On the way to work.

All I notice at first are the tiny damp marks on the front step as I lock the front door behind me. But as I turn to leave I see the first white specks whirring through the air and I'm so surprised that I actually ask out loud 'Why is it snowing?' I assume it's going to stop as sudddenly as it's started, but no; the flakes slowly get thicker as I walk to the bus stop.

It can't decide whether or not to stick, at first. The first couple of flakes half-melt as they hit the concrete, but the next stay cold and white. And the next. As the snow starts to fall faster, heavier, a thin smattering lies on the ground.

The bus arrives and we all clamber aboard, stamping our feet to shake off the snow as we move towards the seats. I watch, hypnotised by the whiteness outside.

But within a few seconds of reaching the main road the flakes have got smaller again. Turned to nothing. By the time I'm halfway into work it's just about stopped and when I finally reach my destination, my colleagues look at me blankly when I ask if it's been snowing here.

The first snow of the winter has fallen. I'm sure it won't be the last.

i meant to say...

There've been a few changes round here. Mostly superficial, so they shouldn't make a difference, but please let me know if anything isn't working.

Thanks!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Great North Run sponsorship update

This seems like an awfully long time ago now, but I've only sent my sponsor money in recently, so it's only a couple of days ago that I received my certificate to say thank you.

£423 I raised, officially; £443 including the incredibly generous pierre l's donation which wasn't through my official sponsorship channels but was still totally great. Thanks again pierre. Add in gift aid, and that's over £500. Amazing.

Thanks for all the moral support I had on here; that really helped me get through.

i've never tried this before

But what the hell. I can't stop listening to Nine Inch Nails and Editors at the mo. So here are the best songs.




Monday, 19 November 2007

excitement

I sewed a button on a shirt that has been missing said button for almost a year today.

That's the heady heights of excitement that are being reached around here at the mo.

I could tell you about managing to lock D out while I was drunk last night if you're interested?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Markets at Shields

North Shields wants a market. But South Shields is stopping it.

The problem is that South Shields has a charter from the 13th century enabling it to block anyone who wants to start a market within 'a day's donkey ride'. That's taken to be 6 2/3 miles. North Shields is right opposite South Shields on the mouth of the River Tyne, so whenever the idea is raised, they seem to wave their charter around (literally or figuratively, I've no idea) and put the stoppers on it.

Thing is, I really don't get what's going on. Sure, they're less than 6 2/3 miles away - as the crow flies. But you wouldn't get very far trying to ride a donkey across the river. And going around the long way is longer than that.

People are strange round here, that's for sure.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Drunk. Been round to a friend's house and drank far too much wine. I normally don't drink much, but the last week or two have been developing a tolerance. ie can drink 2xglass wine without getting tipsy and giggly. must stop now.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

oh, also?

It's freezing here. It was sleeting yesterday evening, and it looks like it might be starting again soon. I've had to dig my hat out, for chrissakes, because it's just too cold at the bus stop. I'm sure it was only a couple of days ago that I was nipping to the shop across the road from work without bothering to put my coat on. Now it's like an arctic mission; coat and scarf and gloves to be out of the building for all of 70 seconds.

The weather forecast on the BBC is claiming that it's currently somewhere between 0 and 3 degrees C outside, but it's a damned sight colder than that.

Lunchtime

My shopping came to £8.04. I looked at the woman on the checkout, a little confused. "Are you sure that's right? I added it up as I was going along and I thought it was more than that."

She looked at me like I was insane. "Yeah, that's right."

"Are you sure? OK," I said, still hovering, not giving her my money yet.

She nods and smiles, but she starts checking through the list on the till and suddenly exclaims. "You're right. Your wine didn't go through."

I pull it back out of the bag and pass it back and she scans it. But the wine comes up as £4.99, and I thought I picked up the £3.99 bottle. (Yes, I'm a cheapskate. Hi, I'm B! It's still nice wine though.) I asked her to check the price, sending apologetic smiles to the people queueing behind me, who make comments about how nice it is some people are still honest.

When the guy comes back and tells us the price is right, I smile even more apologetically and say I want the £3.99 bottle. The display is only feet away, so I ask if I can just nip over and pick one up, but the woman sends the price-checking guy out again. He goes over to the display, looks confused, then wanders off with the bottle. He's gone for a minute, who knows where, but finally returns with the correct bottle. The woman scans it. I pay, thrust the wine back in the bag, and apologise one more time to the people behind me.

This time they don't meet my eye.

As someone in my office pointed out when I got back, if I'd kept my mouth shut I could have enjoyed the £5 bottle of wine for free. Damn my conscience.

But then, if I had no conscience, I would never have discovered Co-Op Fair Trade wines. Highly recommended; good for your self respect and your palate!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Remembering

I got the bus into town today. I was aware it's Remembrance Sunday, but had forgotten until I got into town at a couple of minutes past eleven. I got off the bus near the Civic Centre, and Barras Bridge was completely blocked off. Hundreds of people were there, remembering the dead.

I had to go, I was late for somewhere I needed to be. But I took a minute first to stand, thinking of my grandad and others who risked their lives for us in wars, who would never really be the same again.

I'm a pacifist, but I still respect the sacrifice they made.

It was a beautiful day, and somehow that seemed right. Sunny and crisp.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

motivation, or the lack of it.

It just seems at the minute that things are piling up, both literally and figuratively, and I don't know how to do anything about it.

I miss posting here. I write posts in my head, but I can't be bothered to type them up. I'm driven insane by the piles of stuff lying everywhere, but they are so big I don't know where to start tackling them. I enjoy writing my NaNo, but I can't be bothered to sit down and do it. I am enjoying my course, and yet I've inexplicably stopped.

I can't be bothered to make the tasty, healthy food I normally make. I haven't run in ages. Work is mixed; half the week was good and half bad, with no real inbetween. I got a text message on Thursday that seemed to be asking if I wanted to meet up with some friends on the way home from work; I did, but it turned out they were asking if I wanted to go later. I could justify popping in on the way home, but didn't want to go out again later (too dark too cold too much time).

I don't know what's wrong with me. I wish I did, because right now I want to ask for help, but I have no idea what kind of help.

I don't know why I'm posting this here, but I think I just need to get it off my chest. This post may self destruct by the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

i know i promised a proper post

... and I actually have it drafted in my head, but I've been ill and I can't be bothered to type it up. So instead I will just say EIGHT NIL, EIGHT NIL, EIGHT NIL, EIGHT NIL...!

I wish I'd watched the match....

Monday, 5 November 2007

Soon.

Maybe tomorrow night for a new post?
Just been caught up in writing my OU assignment and nanowrimo.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

This is completely doing my head in. I see the dancer as clockwise. I REALLY need to be able to flip it over. Any tips from those who can do it are gratefully accepted.

And now, I return to work, leaving distractions alone.

Honest.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

what are the odds...

I went to the post office on the main road this morning to pick up a parcel that had been taken there during the week when D and I were at work.

While I was there (D had left early for work) the postman tried to deliver another parcel that was too big for the letterbox. That one has gone back to the depot that's exactly half way to the coast from here. Exactly the opposite direction from work. So I have to either be really early up one morning this week (and still be late into work), or pick it up next Saturday morning when there are constant huge queues.

Aaaaaaargh. Stupid parcels. I don't even know what the blasted thing is.

Still. After that, I went into town to meet up with a couple of people from my course. We had coffee (well, I had tea) at Starbucks. I was amazed how quiet town is at 10.30 on a Saturday morning. I'm never in town that early normally on a Saturday.

It was nice to meet up with them, realise that everyone really is going through the same traumas. I saw people last week at the day school, but that was really heavy so we didn't get much of a chance to chat. It was nice to just sit and chat about it as we watched the world go by.

weird

I turn around twice and haven't posted for a few days. Dammit. I'd got myself into a bit of a flow there....

My first deadline for my course is next Friday. Less than a week. Scary. I got the first bit done OK but the rest is being quite difficult. I really have to get it done this weekend so I have time to revise it later in the week. It's a crazy-hectic week though... going out for tea, an overnight at Samaritans, Sky being installed (just the really cheap package and only for the broadband, really! - oh and the £30 installation fee is being offset by getting £60 cashback from rpoints.com), the Turkish baths Thursday, and a rock night Friday. Saturday I'm at
Samaritans again, then have two different parties to go to afterwards.

So it may be a little quiet around here for the next week or so.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

darkness #2

I left work late today. It was 6.20pm when I got off the bus, and it was mostly dark.

I hate this.

But I'll shut up about it soon.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

in the style of facebook

B is very upset because she's lost her CD that has the 1812 overture and Night on a Bare Mountain on it and she really wants to listen to them.

darkness

It's unashamedly dark, now, when I wake up. I've not wanted to admit it before, but I can't get away from it now. I hate waking up and thinking it's the middle of the night - only for my alarm to go off two minutes later.

It's especially confusing when some days, the weather is beautifully warm during the day. On Saturday, the sun was glorious. The weather this year has been insane.

I don't like the darkness of winter. I can deal with the cold, the rain, the snow. But the blackness that seems to pervade everything is horrible. I don't officially suffer from SAD, but I think most people get it to some mild degree, and I'm one.

I haven't been out running more than once since the GNR. I don't think that helps much, either. My body is missing it, but my brain doesn't have the strength. I know it will help, though. Maybe tonight.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Morning detour

We turn to go down the slip road from the roundabout, but there is a problem. The traffic is backed up all the way to the dual carriageway. At first I think it's just the morning rush hour, worse than usual, but we don't seem to be getting any closer even with the cars ahead of us giving up and turning round. Then I spot the blue flashing lights. Two, three police cars. A fire engine. Two ambulances.

A car crash, and the whole road is blocked.

Noone seems to have taken charge yet; noone is here stopping the traffic from coming down the slip road, although most of the cars have turned round. The bus driver waits til they have gone, swings round, before reversing. Into the barriers behind.
There's a nasty crunch. I'm sitting on the back seat; it's a little scary. I look round to my left, and see a policeman wearing high viz vest walking up the slip road towards us as the bus swings around and hits the roadabout once more.

He doesn't do what I expect though and cut down to the parallel road. He takes the dual carriageway going the opposite direction, out towards the coast. Fair enough, I think; he can go out to the next exit and get back onto the main road into town. But I've forgotten - and I suspect the driver has, too - that there are no places to get onto the dual carriageway from this direction until you're halfway out to the coast.

Finally we're going the right direction into town. When we finally reach the point where the crash happened, I look out. A man, strapped onto a stretcher, being lifted into one of two ambulances. One car; no sign of another car or victim. It's hard to know whether anyone else was involved, what has happened.

When I get off the bus, I look back to see if there is any sign of damage where the bus hit the railings. Nothing. Just a small white mark in the paintwork.

I left home in time to get to work for 8.55. It would have been the first time I'd been in before 9.15 that week. In the end, I didn't arrive til 9.20am.

I check the local news sites when I get home that night. Nothing. It's like the accident didn't happen.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Further thoughts on a great night

When Interpol cancelled, Editors was like a consolation prize. Something that would be good, but not as good as Interpol would be.

Now, though. We have the Cure to look forward to, and the memory of an unbelievably good Editors gig. Interpol, great though they are, are going to have to pull off something fantastic to impress me.

I have to say, though, All Sparks was a bit disappointing. D pointed out that I've never been totally convinced by the song, but there are other songs that I wasn't overly keen on that were suddenly taken to a new level when heard live. I've been singing some of them today. All Sparks though followed the new single,
Banging Heads, and I think the problem was that that track was so fast and heavy and utterly great that All Sparks really suffered following directly after it. It seemed slow and plodding, and I think it would have been better placed somewhere else on the playlist.

I'm sure they water down the lager in the Academy. It didn't taste as strong as it should've, and I was stone cold sober when we got home. Even though I'm a lightweight and can't take my beer (cheap date!!). Even the lemonade tasted weak.

The woman sitting in the row in front of me drove me mad with waving arms and clapping over her head. If she'd done it more constantly I would have actually asked her not to (or at least to have kept her arms relatively still so I didn't have to constantly move to get a good view of the stage), but she stopped and started, so I didn't.

Still, though, at least she was enjoying herself. The woman sitting next to me had no interest in being there at all. She didn't move, speak or crack a smile all night. The guy she was with loved it, though. I would rather have gone on my own than know whoever I was there with was hating it so much.

As we climbed down the stairs to leave the venue, an Interpol song was playing over the loudspeakers, which
seemed a little tactless given the Interpol gig circumstances....

Still on a music high.

Review from the Chronicle. Not the greatest review in the world.

This is better, and includes a few moments I wish I hadn't missed. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

I didn't think they'd be that good

I mean, they're a good band and everything, so I didn't expect a bad night from Editors. I just didn't expect them to be utterly fantastic. And one of the best bands I have ever seen in my life. I mean, it wasn't even the first time I saw them live. They supported Franz Ferdinand when we saw them... Christ, must be almost two years ago now. Scary.

The music stayed with D after that gig, and we got the album in the sales of Christmas 05, but I've never really chosen to listen to them much myself. But when I saw they were playing, I knew D would want to go, and I booked us tickets. I think I did offer for him to take his uncle (who heavily influenced his taste in music when he was growing up), but he decided to take me instead.

I've been listening a bit more to the second album, An End has a Start - mainly because of the first single, Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors. But I still wasn't all that bothered about going.

Till we were there, and they came out onto the stage.

I have never seen a band with so much energy. Tom Smith could not keep still for a nanosecond. It was like the music could not be contained in his body, amazing to watch. Ed Lay kicked the complete crap out of his drumkit. I mean, normally I'm all about the bassists in bands (... I can't explain that) but here, it was all singer and drummer. Chris and Russell were fab too, don't get me wrong, but they were calmer.

The air cracked with the electricity flooding all round the place. The pure white strobe for Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors? Perfection. Utter perfection.

I love music. I can't imagine living without the shivers that certain chord combinations send down my whole back, centrered round my spine. You could tell that this band are the same.

I don't care how good the next single is, its B side utterly, totally, absolutely kicks its arse. I don't even know what it's called, but I need to own it, soon. (Wikipedia tells me it's called Banging Heads. I need it. It made me mosh, for the first time in years.)

If I was Edith Bowman, I would be paranoid about Tom. I think he's having an affair with his keyboard. He climbed all over it, leapt off... he owned the whole stage.

D summed it up when he said they sounded fresh. Like it was the first night they'd played, not the 18th night since the tour started with only a handful of nights off since. And they were so appreciative of the energy in the place.

I've never been to a gig with so much spontaneous clapping.

I'm kinda hoarse, and my hands are sore.

Worth. Every. Penny.

Anyone who doesn't like Editors needs to explain themselves in the comments. Like, right now.

I'll be mostly

Using the tickets on the bottom tonight. The Interpol gig has been rescheduled for 4th December.

Excited.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

driving in the dark

At first, it's the quiet that hits you. You don't notice the dark as much stood under a street lamp with the lights from a row of cottages lessening the gloom. But in the car, engine running, the quiet melts away and as the lights disappear behind you, you start to realise just how dark it is out here, not even starlight to brighten the gloom. The clouds that will bring rain later have already blocked out the moon.

The only light in front of us is from the headlights. Looking in the rear view mirror is like looking into a black hole. The only thing out there to see is the glow of the brake lights reflected on the white lines behind me when I slow down to turn a corner.

Belsay is sudden fluorescent yellow in the night, the glow of headlights reflected back at me by a sudden profusion of signs, so many that the only one I take in is the 30mph speed limit.

Back onto the dark road after the village. In the occasional break in the hedgerow Newcastle is a dull pink-orange glow. The hedges are hypnotic in their regularity, the white line the only brightness.

Blue flashing lights come over the top of a crest of a hill, sudden, pulsing from side to side and flickering. I slow as they head towards me and as they pass the light, too bright, burns onto my retina, causes a stab of pain in the front of my head. A few minutes later another passes; this time I pick out the word AMBULANCE picked out of the white light on top of the cab. I wonder how far they have come, how far they have still to go. What has happened. Whether the casualties will live or die.

Newcastle is more defined in front of me now; I can pick out individual street lights. It's like driving towards the glow of a fire, smoky orange taking over the sky in front, while behind me is still black.

We hit Ponteland and then the airport is upon us, brightly lit, vibrant. The speedometer pushes 70 as we hit dual carriageway before I slow down for the roundabout, taking the car out of gear and coasting up to the red light (there's nothing around), decelerating smoothly. I look at the speedo and realise we're still doing 30 and brake. 'After you've been driving at 70, 30 really is a crawl,' I say, and my voice is a shock. Neither of us have spoken in miles.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

what better thing to do January 1st...

Than get up and go do a 10k run at 11am.

*makes mental note to enter after pay day*

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Oh, Christ

I just signed up for National Novel Writing Month. On top of:
a) a full time job
b) Samaritans shifts that I'm pretty damned behind with this year
c) Christmas fast approaching (73 days, people)
d) and, and this is the kicker, a 60-point course in Creative Writing with the Open University. That I'm supposed to spend 16 hours a week on, at least. And when I did the 8 hours a week precursor I did more like 16 hours a week. So that adds up to pretty much two full time jobs. Plus, y'know, sleeping, and eating, and seeing D, and oh my GOD what am I thinking.

I have to learn to think these things through.

Still, I suppose I don't get publically shamed in the local media if I fail, eh?

Friday, 12 October 2007

the bad, the good

I was out running just before. A guy in a high viz jacket walked towards me; I went to catch his eye as I passed him (I find that most people are much more sociable to runners round here than follow pedestrians so I usually make eye contact and sometimes say hi) only to realise that he was staring in the general direction of my chest and smirking. Ew.

I wear a very supportive sp0rts br@, so it's not like they were bouncing or anything. Just Ew.

The better: in the next 6 months D and I are going to see the Editors, Interpol and the Cure. As he just pointed out, it's going to be a depressing winter.....!

(a short post today. i thought i'd give you a chance to catch up after all the long posts. i'm nothing if not considerate towards my readers, eh?!)

Thursday, 11 October 2007

journey home

The journey home started badly, at a junction where there are three lanes of traffic headed towards you. One carves off before it reaches you; the middle one heads south down the A19 to the outer ring road; the last effectively does a U turn towards the Inner Ring Road. I mistakenly took the middle lane first, but quickly realised my mistake and turned round, picked up the correct lane. But as I drove I started to wonder if I'd come the right way. I passed the station and the road was less familiar; still the same York Inner Ringroad but it somehow felt wrong. It took to the point I turned off the Inner Ringroad to work out why; namely that I'd gone the opposite way round than the way I used to go. I'd often driven to the station and that was where my instincts had taken me because at the place I'd picked up the inner ring road you could easily go either way. It wasn't wrong; it was just different, but unnerving.

The place names on the A19 home are fascinating, exotic. Raskelf, Birdforth, Borrowby, Helperby, Thormanby. Osmotherly. I have no idea where they come from but they sound Scandinavian to me and I imagined tribes of Vikings sitting round by campfires, undisturbed for centuries. They kept me interested as the stress of the last few weeks started to hit me. I had to stop for a can of Red Bull to keep me awake, which I'd never tried before. It would have been more sensible for D to drive, but he's not insured on that car, unfortunately. The caffeine worked though and I managed to drive safely, although I conked out after we got home.

Next: driving home in the dark. A trip to Hexham.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Watching York life

I used to live in York. It seems like it was only a couple of years ago, but I was amazed to count up when I was there that it's over 5 years now since I left. Five years? Time really does fly.

It hasn't really changed, though. The road systems are still the same. Most of the shops are still the same, in the same locations. It was almost as though time had stood still. It kind of does, in York.

We were there to meet up with my mum and dad. They're on holiday now, so we've borrowed dad's car; they drove to York and we got the train down to pick it up and have lunch with them. We stayed in the Quality Hotel. When I lived in York, we used to walk into town down Piccadilly, saw the hotel being built. I don't think I ever expected then that I would ever stay there. At the time, I had enough friends in York that I thought someone would always had a spare bed. But one by one they've moved away. This was our second stay at the Quality. Expensive, but worth it.

At D's request, we went to Toto's for tea. I'd taken him there once before, for his birthday; he'd enjoyed it. It's just outside the city walls, near where I used to live. It was great food, but two expensive starters and D choosing steak meant that it wasn't cheap even during happy hour. I smiled and gave them my credit card, thanking God my pay went up with my new job.

Afterwards we had a drink at the Victoria. It wasn't the closest pub to my old flat, but it was the one I used to frequent the most often. We had a couple of drinks in there before popping in to the York Beer Shop.

I used to live on the same road as the Beer shop and popped in there regularly for cigarettes, tortilla chips and whatever else I couldn't wait til the next day for. Half the time I wouldn't even stop to put on my shoes if it was dry outside. I even phoned the police the night it was ram-raided; the bang woke me up before the burglar alarm kicked in, but they'd got away before I realised what was going on. All they took was cigarettes, I think; I was horrified for the owners.

The beer and cheese counters were the same; the only difference was in the snacks on the counter, and that was neither here nor there. I chose a couple of bottles of stout to take home; I don't drink it often, but I enjoy it for a change every now and again.

Before going back to the hotel we popped in for a quick drink to the Postern Gate, a Wetherspoons pub opposite the Quality. It had opened before I left York but I'd never got around to going in. I like Wetherspoons pubs; when I go out for tea with my friends we almost always meet up at the Union Rooms. This was no exception, nothing special but nice enough to have a quick drink in.

Sunday was sunny and unseasonably warm. We had a delicious cooked breakfast back at the Postern Gate
(much cheaper than the Quality and just as nice) while dissecting articles from the Sunday Times.

We wandered into York centre, popping in and out of shops, before making our way to the Yorkshire Wheel. We'd passed it many times before on train journeys and I'd always wanted to go on it but we'd never found the time. The first rotation I found utterly terrifying, largely because we stopped right at the top of the rotation to let on more people. I never used to be scared of heights, but I am more and more these days. I don't think it helps that the land round York is incredibly flat - the only other tall thing on the horizon was the Minster, so you feel incredibly vulnerable at the top. But once I'd got used to it I enjoyed it a little more. It was too misty to see much, unfortunately, but I'm glad I did it.

I miss York. I never really settled there when I lived there, but it's still familiar. Almost somewhere I belong, but not quite. But I want to visit again soon.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

PSA

The Great North Run entry is now, finally, finished. Sorry for the delay in writing it; I've just been drained of all energy. It's started to come back now, even though I woke up in the middle of the night last night to throw up. I never expected that. I would guess that the chocolate stout on top of all the other crap I ate yesterday disagreed with me.

Still to come: our overnight trip to York, and the drive back from D's mum's house tonight. I like being on leave, although I wish it was for longer....

sounds, sights, sensations

From the minute I got out of the taxi to make my way to the Central Motorway, to the start of the race, the sound of helicopters overhead was the only constant. I kept looking up, keeping bearings on where they were.

I hadn't planned on getting a taxi; I'd left in time to get the bus into town, but it didn't show up. Twenty minutes later, ten minutes before the next one was due, I cracked and called a taxi. It showed up two minutes later and took me into town in half the time the bus would've. The later bus probably would still have left me enough time, but I just wanted to be there already. I couldn't stand the wait any longer.

I stopped into a coffee place to go to the loo on the way. I'd been drinking little and often, the way you're supposed to to keep yourself hydrated before a race. All very well but that mixed with the nerves left with me with a constant need to pee.

I made it to the Central Motorway for about 10.30am. The elite women had left half an hour before; they would be six miles in by that point, but I wasn't due to be crossing the line til 11.36am, nearly an hour after the race started. I couldn't stand to have to wait around for hours beforehand, so I got there later. As I walked down the sliproad to make my way back to my starting point, I noticed Sir Bobby Robson standing on a stage between the two carriageways and realised that this was it, the starting line of the race. Just a few minutes to go before the elite men and the masses started. I waited to see him fire the pistol. I was standing level with him as he did it. It was amazing.

I walked up the hard shoulder, further and further. I was nearly at the Cowgate junction by the time I found the entrance to my pen. It meant I had a mile or thereabouts to cover before the start of the race. A mile I'd already covered to join the pen. A half marathon is bad enough, but I think in total I covered about 16, even 17 miles that day. It's a long, long way.

I wasn't even over the start line when the Red Arrows did their fly past. I'd wondered what the sudden rumble of sound was and suddenly they appeared, were out of sight almost as quickly. In the event, it was 11.08am by my watch when I crossed the line. Paula Radcliffe and her nemesis Kara Goucher had already finished before I started.

Running over the Tyne Bridge was amazing. There aren't words. It's such an icon of Newcastle... to run over it in the blazing October sunshine (far hotter than it should ever have been) was more of a buzz than I can explain. From there to the roundabout where you turn left to Felling; at that roundabout one of the official bands was playing 'The Blaydon Races', the unofficial anthem of the North East. Another amazing moment in a day of amazing moments.

It was very hot out there. I didn't discover my sunburned shoulders til bedtime that day. I kept my fluid uptake before and during the race, but didn't really keep it up well enough afterwards. Bad B.

There were... lots of spectators around at the beginning of the race and on the Tyne Bridge. (Hundreds? I'm terribly at judging numbers like that.) The numbers tailed off a little going into Gateshead, but as the race went on into more residential areas the crowds really picked up again. Some of them must have been out there for hours, cheering everyone on. One man stood on top of a bus shelter with a hosepipe, spraying those who wanted cooling down. People stood out there with orange sections, cups of water, cups of juice. Biscuits, ice pops. And all that in addition to the official water stations. In all, hundreds and hundreds of people must have been involved in supporting runners on the day, to say nothing of all those working behind the scenes. Don't get me wrong; I realise it's a business and the Great Run people will get paid, but not all of them. One lady interviewed in the Chronicle had spent £75 of her own money on refreshments for us. People in the North East really love supporting their sportspeople.

I ran a good proportion of the beginning of the race, but as time went on and the weather got hotter and my legs got more exhausted, I ran less and walked more.
The Red Arrows started their display at 1.20pm. I was somewhere around mile 9 or 10, and they were just what I needed. Something to focus on other than how on earth I was going to keep going, how much my left leg had started to hurt (it was fine by the end of Monday), what on earth had possessed me to put myself through this torment, this abuse of my own body. They made me smile again, while looking at my watch, debating with myself whether I'd really be able to complete the race in less than 3 hours. I thought so, but I wasn't sure whether I'd still be able to keep pushing myself that far, that long.

As I reached the sea front I heard helicopters again, saw them hovering over the finish, a constant sound once more. But that just made me realise how close I was to the end, and I knew I had to run as much as I could of the last mile. I started as I passed the 12m sign, only to decide to conserve my energy. That last 1.1m is a killer, I'd heard. After what seemed like forever, I passed the 800m to go sign, started running, slowly, painfully. But then I saw how far away the 400m sign was I stopped, walked again til I reached that sign. And then I ran again. And I didn't stop til I crossed that line, ready to drop, but triumphant.

(I have seen my photos on marathon-photos.com. You can see in my face just what a struggle it was.)

I kept walking, knowing that it was still going to be a long time before I could stop moving. The pain on my face must have been evident to the marshall, because he said 'you can smile now, you did it!' as I walked past. And I smiled.

I managed to take my own timing chip off (there had been a note in the magazine to say there would be people to help if you weren't able to do it yourself), put it in the bag. Hobble to the stand for my goodie bag, medal and t shirt. Keep going til I'd found the loos (yet again) and made my way to the charity tent where my parents and D were waiting, prouder than I've ever seen them. (Possibly even on my wedding day. I mean, all I did then was stand up and pledge to spend my life with D. Amazing, but hardly a test of my physical ability.)
I texted friends and family; everyone was impressed. (Coming in under 3hours helps; that seems to be the cut off point for what people think of your achievement.)

I changed, drank, ate. Then had some chips. They were loaded with salt and the tastiest chips I've ever had, from outside a South Shields pub. We made it back to my dad's car and back home. I watched the coverage from that morning that D had taped for me, then switched over and saw the highlights on BBC 2. And D spotted me, waiting to cross the start line. God knows how he could see me; I'd had no idea I was there until he pointed me out on the screen.

The front of the Evening Chronicle the next day had a picture of the Red Arrows flying past hundreds of runners on the Tyne Bridge. I bought it, thinking 'I was there. I did it'.

Would I do it again?

If I can get my own place, rather than having to run for a charity?

You betcha.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Honestly, I'll be back soon. I'm just exhausted right now. It's all I can do to get to work and back.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

2hr 56min plus a little

You can't get much more Geordie than the Great North Run.

So far, it's just a blur of impressions of colour and sound and smells, mixed with amazement that I did it. There was a lot of walking involved (I've no real idea what proportion, but will guess I ran 2/3 of the way) but I did it. And I have the medal, the t shirt, the sunburned shoulders and the aching legs and knees to prove it.

It was funny, though. It took me ages to get through from the finish line to get my goodie bag, return my chip, find the toilets, get to the marquee for my charity and meet my parents and D and pick up my bag. After that we had to get to my dad's car, stopping off for chips on the way (best tasting chips I've EVER eaten) and queue up for ages to get out.

I was OK for all of that, but once I got back home and onto my sofa, it suddenly all hit me and I started shaking violently, freezing cold. But judicious use of the space blanket, a bedspread and my mum's cardi soon warmed me up again.

I was about 15 feet away from Bobby Robson when he started the race (albeit outside the barriers). It was a buzz.

I have completely fallen in love with the Red Arrows. Although I'd love to know what their carbon footprint is.

And next year? I'll only do it if I can get my own place rather than a charity one. And I swear I'll try better.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

....still, (very expensive) tickets to see the Cure at Wembly Arena will cheer me up anytime.

They'd just better not do an Interpol on us......

Friday, 28 September 2007

*is exhausted*

*needs a month off*

*will have to make do with a week off after the great north run and one more (tough) week in work*

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

note to self

When both mentally and physically exhausted by all that's going on, lunch with friends and a trip after work to the Turkish Baths will work wonders.

It was all I could do when I was leaving to pick my bag up. My muscles had relaxed so much that it was a real effort.

I feel much better after today.
I'm just going to sit in a corner panicking, OK? Great North Run on Sunday, new Open University course starts Saturday, house insurance quotes to look for, I need to phone the hell that is Orange customer services and argue with them to get a MAC out of them (what does MAC stand for? Is the C code? Cause I want to say a MAC code but as I may have mentioned before, I really hate redundant acronyms. Anyway.), I have tons to do in work and I'm not in the office Wednesday or Friday, I need to book train tickets (three sets of) before the prices go up, I have piles of stuff 'to do' everywhere and I don't know what's in them, and did I mention the Great North Run on Sunday? So I'm supposed to be resting?

The bit that really scares me isn't the bits I remember. It's the bits that I don't.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

morning

I wake up, not knowing what time it is, wanting to go back asleep if at all possible. I know it's morning, but I also know that I'm a) exhausted and b) not going to get a lie in tomorrow either.

I'm just drifting off when a high pitched whine starts, suddenly giving way to a horrible, horrible grinding noise before stopping just as suddenly. I closed my eyes optimistically, waiting for my heartrate to slow. But just as I begin to relax, it starts again. I go to the window, lean out to try and pinpoint where it's coming from. No idea.

I get back in bed, try to relax. No joy. In the end I look at my clock. 8.45 on Saturday morning. Can't they wait half an hour, even fifteen minutes?

It doesn't stop.

I can't stand it any more. I grab my dressing gown, storm out of the house and follow the noise down the road. A few houses down I find a couple of guys sawing bricks with some kind of circular... thing. (Saw? I have no idea.)

The noise is overwhelming this close. I shout to try and get their attention but they don't hear. I have to wait til one of them turns round and spots me, puts his hand out to stop his colleague. The noise slows and stops, blessedly.

'It's not even nine o'clock on Saturday morning! I'm exhausted. I'm busy in the morning so I won't get a lie in tomorrow. My husband's exhausted after a hard week. Can't you wait even another half hour?'

They look kind of afraid. I don't think they're often confronted by batty-looking women in dressing gowns. They agree, probably to get rid of the crazy lady off the end of their drive. I thank them, slightly calmer and go back home, slip back into bed. D stirs, turn over.

'They're going to stop sawing bricks for half an hour or so' I announce.

'What?' he murmurs groggily.

He's slept through the entire noise.

Bastard.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

eyes down

I'd never been to play bingo before this week. I wasn't convinced I wanted to at all, to be honest. But I hadn't been out with the girls for a while and they'd organised the date round me, cause I'm not free much at the minute. So I dashed home after work and ate a quick tea before one of them picked me up.

We went to Gala Bingo at the MetroCentre. I hate the place with a passion, generally. But this wasn't too bad - I got lifts there and back and I didn't have to actually go in any shops, so I can't complain.

We joined, paid and were given a sheaf of booklets and coloured dabbers. The session was supposed to start at 7.30, but by the time we paid it was 7.05 and all the people who had been milling round outside had disappeared. We made our way into the hall. The caller had started reading out numbers already so we tried not to make a noise as we looked for a table - it was surprisingly full and we couldn't all sit together. It amazed me that so many people could be so utterly silent, utterly fixated on the singsong voice of the caller.

Luckily two of us had been before. They managed to figure out where we were up to and pass it on to the rest of us so we could start marking off numbers.

For the first few cards, it was all I could do to mark down every other number, but I got into the routine surprisingly quickly. It still took me quite a few games before I would have even noticed if I had a line. After a while, though, and against all expectations, I found I was enjoying myself. It's almost relaxing, sitting in silence, focussing on your card, running the dabber down the column of numbers til you find the one you're looking for.

I was sitting with A whose family play quite a lot. She was telling me that in her local bingo hall some people get bored and play with their card upside down to add to the challenge. Sounds insane to me.

And because none of us won so much as a penny, it didn't even feel like gambling. Strange but true. Twice I was just waiting for two numbers for a full house, but mostly I was sitting with boards half-completed when people called. It really is the luck of the draw. A was surprised how calm I stayed, telling me how her mum starts kicking everyone in the vicinity if she's even five numbers away. I didn't really think I'd win though, or even if I did, that I'd manage to call before the next number was read out - if you call even a second too late, your call is invalid and you've lost.

There was a false call at one point. I joined in with the horrified sucking in of breath. It was quite amusing, really.

D used to play bingo when he was younger. He was telling me before I left about how addictive it was. I don't think I'd get addicted, not even me with the addictive personality, but I could see myself going again. We're going to try all the local bingo halls, see if our luck is better at any of the other ones.

My dabber's sitting on the table next to me, waiting for its next outing.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

student life

When I was a fresher, fresher's week was fun. Lots of finding out about what societies were out there, learning to look after yourself, going out and having fun. Nights out, sure, but lots of other stuff going on in the day.

There never used to be girls standing round in long sleeved t shirts and what can only be described as knickers at my freshers' week, trying to entice people into bars. But that's what I saw walking past Luckies yesterday lunchtime. Loud music blaring out of large speakers. I guess the students are back.

Outside Tiger Tiger there are girls on rollerskates, giving out vouchers for a free soft drink when you order from their £3 lunch menu.

I know Newcastle has a reputation as a party city, and that's OK. I don't mind people having fun; I like people having fun. But I hate the fun being all about the scantily clad women, the drink, the clothes. About how much money you have. About lecture theatres being full of people in designer clothing, talking about how much debt they're in.

I hate the fact that when I first lived here, there were no strip clubs and now there are at least two. I do like the fact that there's no red light district here, even though I'm sure that that doesn't cut the amount of prostitution out there.


I wish I thought I could change it. But I don't really think I can.

Things change. Hopefully at some point the pendulum will swing back.

northern rock

There was a man at the bus stop this morning who had on a Northern Rock t shirt.

At least, that's what I thought at first glance. Turned out when I looked back that he actually had on a Newcastle shirt that I hadn't seen before. Newcastle are sponsored by Northern Rock, so the words are emblazoned across the front of most of the shirts you see around town. Although I still miss the good old days of the Blue Star when the brewery used to sponsor the football team.

And that, to me, answers at least partly why the hysteria that has affected the rest of the UK hasn't really affected the north east. This morning on Breakfast News they were showing the queues elsewhere in the country - then they cut to a branch in Newcastle and there wasn't a soul in sight. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen Northumberland Street so quiet. They claimed there had been some people around a few minutes earlier, but I wasn't convinced.

I went into town at lunch, walked past the same branch. Noone queuing outside. I walked past another branch, just out of curiosity. Noone more or less than usual. According to this article it has happened, but I can't believe it's any more than usual. All the talk in my office is of confusion, not understanding the panic in the rest of the country. I even wish I'd had some spare cash to buy some shares yesterday when the price fell so badly.

In short: the country has gone mad.

I don't agree with everything BW has to say about the situation, but she sums it up pretty darned well. Worth a read if you haven't already.

Trauma

I opened my wallet as I got to the cashpoint in Virgin. But there was a big gaping hole where my credit card should have been.

I thrust the CD at the guy behind the counter. 'I'm coming back for that, but I've lost my credit card', I explained. He nodded but any reply he made I didn't register at all. I must have looked completely panic stricken.

I half-ran out of the shop, making my way back towards Lush where I'd just spent £6 I could justify on shampoo and £4.40 I wouldn't justify at all on bath products. I checked my wallet compulsively as I retraced my footsteps, not wanting to get in there only to find out I'd just put it in the wrong slot. But as I went back in, asking breathlessly whether I'd left my credit card, the girl with the pink hair saw me and got her colleague to pass the card on to me from where they'd safely stashed it behind the counter.

It could only have been five minutes from leaving my card to getting back and picking it up again, but it was a long five minutes. They told me that they'd looked out onto the street as soon as they realised, trying to see where I'd gone, but I walk fast at lunchtimes to keep them as short as I can.

So thanks to the staff of Lush Newcastle. I didn't thank them properly, so I'm going to write and tell them how grateful I am.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

minor frustration

I just went for a run. Came back, measured it on google earth. 9.94 kilometers.

Wish I'd measured it before I went out. I'm sure I could have managed an extra 60 metres.

I'm quite impressed with myself in one way, but terrified in another. The Great North Run is now less than 2 weeks away, and I should be able to go twice that distance. Oh well; things conspired against me. If I need to walk to get to the end, I'll walk. It's all in aid of a good cause.

Anyway, I always seem incapable of training properly before I do a new distance of race. It's only after I realise I'm physically capable of running it that I seem mentally capable of preparing properly. This is contradictory and not sensible, and I hope I can change it with time, but for the minute it just seems to be how I work. Strange, eh?

In other news, I appear to have turned blogger German. I would like to publicly apologise for any inconvenience that this has caused anyone and offer to translate (or, errrm, ask my sister to translate anything anything that's beyond my capabilities) for anyone who doesn't speak German.

Although I'm hoping that the public apology sorts it out.

Blogger? I didn't mean to laugh at my sister for turning German.
1) I don't believe the McCanns did it, which apparently puts me in a minority, compared to people who vote on these things on the internet. Most people I have actually spoken to, though, seem to agree with me. Good on Richard Branson giving them £100,000 to help clear their names.

2) I don't care about Keira Knightley. She was great in The Hole, but now I just want her to go away. I don't dislike her personally, I'm just sick of all the hype.

3) I don't understand all the panicking about Northern Rock (although fair enough to the guy that wanted to withdraw £250k - I wouldn't want to risk *that* amount of money). In the unlikely event it collapses, you should get most of your money back anyway.

4) Colin McRae is dead. So sad for his wife and daughter.

This pretty much random post was brought to you by a quick late-night trek round the Times website.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Aren't dandelions and daisies supposed to stop flowering by now? Because they're both flowering on our front lawn.

The weather this year has been really messed up.

--

Did I mention that I lost my digital camera? I searched and searched but it's not in the house. After I threw a load of stuff out, and gave a load more to charidee. I'd even rather it went to the charity shop than just ended up in landfill somewhere. So I'm back to the crappy really old camera. Not impressed. Not impressed at all.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

like huge confetti

I was walking along to the bus stop after work when I saw a sheet of A4 paper lying on the floor. I looked closer; it was the front page of a CV. I paused, wondering what to do. Pick it up, or walk on by?

I picked it up. I didn't like to think that if I managed to drop my CV somewhere people would just leave it lying, waiting for the next identity thief to walk by. But then I noticed the next two copies. And the next. Eleven copies lay on the floor, complete with date of birth and contact details - mobile number, address, email. I stopped and picked them all up, half wishing I'd never started, wondering what the people passing by were thinking, noticing the tyre marks and footprints on some of the pages, tiny pebbles ground into the paper.

How on earth it got there I have no idea, but I can't help but wonder. Dropped unnoticed from a folder? Blown out of a car window? Grabbed and strewn everywhere by school bullies? And I want to know whether anyone else would have picked it up if I hadn't happened to walk past. Whether they would have just been stuck in the bin somewhere, just as handy for identity thieves.

I've put them in my shredding pile, I'll deal with them later.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

standing at the station

I don't get the metro very often any more.

It used to be my easiest means of transport from A to pretty much any letter of the alphabet, but house and job moves have meant that it's not so helpful for me any more. I do believe it's a shame. If you look at the map showing the zones, you can see that the metro leaves great chunks of the Tyne and Wear area uncovered. I'm in one of those areas that the metro isn't much use to.

Today, though, I needed to make a journey easiest served by the metro. I changed at Monument (one of the underground stations - most stations in the metro system are above ground), waited at Platform 3. Monument is the only station in the metro system with four platforms; Platforms 3 and 4 are relatively close to the surface but 1 and 2 are deeper and standing on 3 you can hear the deep shudder of the trains passing by beneath your feet.

I used to spend a lot of time waiting at Platform 3. I remember when there used to be digital clocks glowing red at the front of each station, and when they took them away. I still can't understand why, except to think that without clocks it's less obvious when trains are late. Shocking reasoning, if so.

The trains passing through Platform 3 have come from St James. That's the end of the line (or the beginning, if you prefer); if you watch the signs in the tunnel at you approach St James you can see the sign light up to tell the driver which platform you're going to and go to the correct door, saving, ooooh, seconds on your way out of the station. The drivers walk to the other end, get into the other cab, go back to Monument. It's only a couple of minutes' journey.

The sign at Monument saying that the train is due doesn't light up til the train leaves St James. D used to say that you couldn't hear the train coming til after the sign had flashed up, but I could, on quiet days.

I used to know exactly where to stand on each station to be closest to the exit when I got off the train. Not at every station, of course; just those I alighted at most often. I went to the wrong end of the train today and had to walk the full length of the platform at Monument to get to the stairs to get to Platform 3. Strange how you forget these things, things you didn't even need to think about, when you don't need them any more.


PS Still ridiculously busy, but glad I found five minutes to post between appointments. I wrote a list of all the people I need to email to arrange to meet up with at lunchtime. It's long. I'm going to be busy til the end of October at this rate. All I want is a night off where I don't spend it thinking about all the things I should be doing, but again, that might be a while in coming.

Monday, 10 September 2007

randomness

I've been running again. It was really, really difficult while I was recovering from being ill, but it was easy again today. I ran this morning before work; it was great to get out and run gently, no stress. I've never done it before, but I plan to do it again. Of course, I'm waaaaaaay behind schedule for the Great North Run, but let's not worry about that eh? I'm doing it for charideeee, and I have to pay the money whether I do it or not, so if necessary I will walk the entire way. It'll be fiiiiiiine....

New job is still going well. It's a very different environment in some ways, but very similar in others. And I'm trusted to get on with what I'm doing, which is fabber than I can say.

I need to fit about another two or three days into each week. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to manipulate time and/or space for this to happen, please share in the comments. Getting desperate, but I don't have money to build any really complicated machinery to make this happen.

I'm going to go and visit my sister in Europe in December. Yay!

This week is ridiculously busy, what with running clubs, cinema trips to see Run Fatbay Run, training sessions, doctors appointments, dentists appointments, Samaritans shifts, possibly starting yoga as I can't find a pilates class I can fit in, and cups of tea with friends. I might not have time to post again til the weekend, so just talk amongst yourselves (or visit some of the lovely people linked on the right, or trawl through my kinja for new reads. I'll be back as soon as I can....

Thursday, 6 September 2007

termtime

Ways I can tell that the schools are back round here:
  • I arrived at the bus stop 5 minutes earlier than yesterday and arrived at work 5 minutes later. Take that, gods of logic!
  • The crowds of children at the bus stop, talking tough and comparing members of the opposite sex
  • The fact that someone seems to have turned up the volume at the bus stop.
I hate it when the schools go back. It seems an age since they broke up and I get spoiled over the summer, hardly any time to get into town and the bus stop is a quiet refuge. It's jarring when suddenly they're everywhere again, impossible to ignore and exploding drinks cartons filled with dyed red water all over the back of my WHITE JEANS.

Generally speaking, I don't mind them too much. I'd rather they got all the boisterous behavour out of the way before they get to school so they can concentrate while they're there. But stamping on their drink carton about three feet away from me so the splashes hit the back of my legs? That might have coloured my opinion against them slightly.

Little bastards.

Ahem. I will calm down soon. As soon as the stains come out....

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

PSA

This probably isn't the most useful place to say so, but if anyone is wondering where Clare Boob Pencil has gone, she's here. The purpleocity site is down indefinitely and I think she's feeling lonely, so why not pop in and say hi? Oh and she's got a nice spangly new literary agent, so say congrats too!

(And thanks to Pierre L for letting me know where to find her!)

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

changes aplenty

I started a new job a little while ago. Yes, it's goodbye to the view and the centre of town. I'm now working in Jesmond, just outside the city centre. It's a little nearer home, a nice chunk more pay and new responsibilities. More things to learn, more seniority, new people to meet, and a good move for me, I think.

Today I went for a little explore at lunch. It's possible to go into town at lunch, but it's a bit of a walk away so I'm not tending to go in unless I actually need to. Instead, I walked up the road to see what was there. I like to get away from my desk at lunch and there's nowhere really in the new building to eat away from your desk, so I'm making an effort to get out before I eat. Today was sunny and warm, a perfect day to explore.

I thought I knew Jesmond fairly well, but today I discovered a section hidden away behind the metro line. An exclusive accessories boutique. A small deli called County Whey that has pickled quails eggs along with the smoked salmon sandwiches. A post office that had no queue at 12.30 - that's unheard of in Newcastle, and I would guess most places these days.

The houses are well cared for and probably cost a fortune. The streets were clean. But at the end of the main road is a sign saying '
straight on: motorway traffic only' and if you don't turn off you find yourself on the Central Motorway, a very short section of motorway that is terrifying if you've never travelled on it before (and pretty damned scary even if you know it well).

It's a really bizarre little place.

Monday, 3 September 2007

long meetings and quick drinks with friends and being a trainer after work...

...equals a rather tired b.

i'm telling myself i can do it all, and i think i can, but i'm going to need to remember to just sit down and do nothing every so often. otherwise, i'll be making myself ill.

all i need is a secretary to come round to mine and sort out all my paperwork so i can keep on top of it in future and i'll be sorted. i've never been one of those 'i could use a cleaner' person. keeping clean isn't that difficult for me. it's the paperwork i drown in, every time.

i should just trust d enough to delegate some of it to him. but that would mean giving up some of my control freak tendencies, eh?

i'm working on it....