Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bless you

It's that horrible time of year again when you sneeze and you're sure that something of note came out but you can't see where it landed, leaving you with an uneasy feeling that you're walking around with green snot in your hair. Ho ho ho.

Evil Woman Who Lives In The Basement: Part II

Ten things about the Evil Woman Who Lives In The Basement:

  1. The Evil Woman invited us down for herbal tea and health cakes when we moved in.
  2. This turned out to be a ruse to trap us in her flat so she could moan about every slight noise we make in an apologetic and ingratiating voice. Be in no doubt, she is one of life’s victims and never forget it.
  3. Evil Woman gives Reiki massages for a living, but has grown allergic to massage oils.
  4. Evil Woman has insomnia and likes to sleep in till 8 every morning (good advert for the power of alternative therapy, no?). Our every slight movement wakes her up and although she only rents, she feels justified in telling us to get our floorboards soundproofed – going so far as to ask her friend to give us a quote for the work.
  5. Evil Woman didn’t stroke my cat on meeting him for the first time – she Reikied him.
  6. Evil Woman doesn’t have a television set and has that same superior attitude as every set-less householder.
  7. What Evil Woman doesn’t appreciate (along with every other set-less householder) is that not having a TV does not make you more interesting or better-informed than TV watchers. Ladies and Gentlemen in Jane Austen’s day – say – suffered crippling and near-constant ennui (when “taking a turn” about the room was the highlight of your evening) and would have loved nothing better than to watch a double bill of Crime Scene Investigation.
  8. Bereft of television, Evil Woman talks – honestly – NON-STOP all day (she must make a bomb doing Reiki because she works very little and is at home pretty much all the time). She speaks without pause or laughter. Although we can’t hear what she says, every word she utters is delivered with that same, pitiful, whining tone. Judging by experiences she’s telling her conversation partner (usually on the phone) how much better everything is in Poland.
  9. We recently flooded Evil Woman’s flat by accident. She whipped herself up into a shaking, and shuddering hysteria and made it sound so bad that we pulled up our floor to check for permanent damage. Turned out it was just a couple of bucketfuls of water that looked worse than it was and dried out in no time. We now have bare floorboards. I went down to her flat to check the damage and there was none at all so we pulled our floor up for nothing. Once down there, she took the opportunity to shut me in and go through all the minute sounds she can hear from our flat and what times of the day we especially annoy her. She also let me know that we “are never in bed before twelve”.
  10. Evil Woman is basically a decent human being, which makes me hate her even more. Milway calls her the Witchy Woman, which is about as rude as he gets about anyone.

Still haven't fathomed out what exactly was going on with those shagging window makers. I'm sure I heard her down there, which brings up the awful possibility of a threesome...

Friday, December 17, 2004

Home Alone

There are many many good things about working from home. Take today, for example. It's pissing it down, it's dark, it's cold. I spent the morning cocooned in my bed, wearing pyjamas, working on my laptop. When the rain stopped I had a leisurely bathe, dressed, strolled up the hill to the Triangle, went to a cafe for lunch, wandered idly round some shops before wandering idly back down the hill. This afternoon, as I have no deadlines, I chatted on the phone, I played with the Ponker, I read about 10 new blogs, I fantasised about the imminent return of Vanesita, and IMed my sister.

Super, you might say, and you'd be right. It truly is a much better way to live. Unfortunately, it has its downsides. For example, on Tuesday I realised that I hadn't left the flat for three days. That evening Milway was at his Christmas bash and it dawned on me that I would be alone and STILL in the flat. Attempting to rectify this, I decided to go late night shopping. Just as the bus arrived to whisk me towards the delights of Bromley, I realised I'd left my wallet. By the time I got in again I decided to give it up as a bad lot. I am now totally ill-equipped to deal with life. I was dozy before, but now I'm even worse - permanently with my mind on some drivelling inner monologue rather than the matter at hand.

Which leads me to my next point. Note how my solution to being alone in the flat was to go shopping. Alone. There was a party I could have gone to, but oh no - I couldn't face it. Six months ago I was someone who hated being alone. Proud as I am of my new-found independence, I am slowly turning into someone who hates being in company. I am losing social skills. I no longer remember how to communicate. Ask me a question and I stare, mute, unsure of what to do. And I've lost sight of what's interesting. After 2 long, crappy years of job misery, I am suddenly leading a whole new, fabulous life, and yet out with friends last night, the most interesting thing I could think to talk about was the fact that I'd just bought some new slippers, and I was mighty pleased with them, but I think my sister might buy me a pair for Christmas as well, but that's ok because you can never have too many pairs of slippers - and my feet get so cold in the flat all day long that they're like iceblocks ha ha ha!

And once I finally crank myself up to speak again, I can't shut up! Blahdeblahdeblah! I haven't heard the sound of my own voice for so long that I become almost hysterical with the joy of it. The inner monologues become outer, and, on reaction with the air, split and multiply at an alarming rate until, before long, I'm weaving in and out of digression after digression, unable to remember where I started or where I'm going or where it all ends.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Evil Woman Who Lives In the Basement

I can't decide if the Evil Woman Who Lives In The Basement (who I'm sure I'll tell you all about in long and arduous prose at some stage in the future) is crying...

or having sex.

ARGHGHGHGHGHHHHH! She's a blight on my existence.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Mistakes of youth

Firstly, just to note: it is cold. My feet are cold. I am sat huddled over my laptop with a rug over my lap, desperately trying to convince the cat to come and lie on me so I can steal his warmth. This is not the Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle I had imagined. I should be wearing nothing but a pair of men's underpants, manolos and a pensive frown - not a vest, two jumpers, bed socks and slippers (amongst other things of course - I'm not a crazy semi-naked cold person).

Album of the day on 6 Music today has been Pearl Jam's Best of Album. I might as well just come out and confess, but hear me out till the end before you abandon this blog altogether: I love Pearl Jam. There's no denying it. For years I tried to hide this huge error of my past. I was aware that liking PJ would not earn me the respect of fellow music fans and so I tried to delete it from my past and carry on with my life. But they wouldn’t go away. And over the past couple of years, I’ve come out to friends who didn’t know me when I wore a leather jacket and an armful of friendship bracelets. Some have mocked, some have agreed that they too like PJ, others have confessed the terrible secrets of their teenage kicks.

It’s only in recent months that I’ve decided it’s time to stop feeling ashamed. You can mock me, tell me time and time again that they were crap, naff, grumpy, unoriginal – whatever you fancy – but I just cannot hear it. All ability to listen with a critical ear has left me when it comes to that band. Why? Because when I was 14 they were the most important band in the world to me. I still shiver with excitement when I hear the beauteous Eddie Vedder’s deep voice, still know every yip, whoop and angst-ridden yeah, still harbour a secret desire to see them in concert and buy the new albums (I stopped at No Code). Still love the songs.

So, you can mock me all you like, and despise me for being a 14 year old unable to pick a truly great band as her defining musical influence, but I’m not going to shit on my memories any more. If I’d known then that in 10 years I’d be back-tracking and denying all knowledge and pretending I didn’t really spend hours in my room listening to the albums, watching Singles, staring at the posters, I’d be appalled. I’d despise me. And I can’t betray the younger me any more.

Because she’s much harder than me. And would kick my in the head with her DMs.

So fess up. What’s the shameful secret of your musical past that you still can’t bring yourself to hate? I promise not to tell. (Also, this girl is fantastic – she knits, she listens to Pearl Jam, she talks about herself in the third person, she's called her blog Purl Jam.)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Blogging about cats

I know that people who blog about their cats are at the very bottom rung of the blogging hierarchy but I’m going to launch into a cat story anyway. I probably reveal volumes about myself when I tell you that not only do I spend all day talking to my cat, I also crochet whilst watching TV.

Anyway, on with the cat anecdote. I’ll make it a quick one. My cat, nick-named the Ponker after he suffered a prolonged bout of diarrhoea when we first got him (from here), is a dopey, chatty, food obsessive (qualities I can relate to). He is also a very clean cat who is always careful in using his litter tray. However, once he’s done a poo, and if he thinks you’re not looking, he’ll slyly wipe his bum on the carpet like a dog with worms. We know when he’s had a dump because he charges round the house letting out triumphant “prrp” noises, so we usually catch him before he gets the chance. Despite this, he did once manage to drag himself top-speed across the floor right in front of my appalled eyes, leaving a sweeping arc of brown in his wake.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The customer is always an arsehole

There’re a couple of things in this world that get me so worked up, worked up beyond all proportion so that I could actually morph into an outraged middle Englander (or “dad” as he’s more affectionately known). The major one is my obsession with bad customer service. Sadly, within my peer group I’m not alone in this one. Errant male friend (gone travelling with errant female friend), Milway and I have all worked in enough crappy customer service jobs in our life for us to get really quite put out if we have a bad experience with someone being paid money to be polite to us. (Seriously, why do we put up with this shit? If you pay someone for a blow job you expect a blow job, pay someone for a nice meal in a restaurant you expect to be brought a nice meal by a nice waiter, pay for a taxi and you expect that person to drive you to your destination without moaning about it, taking you the wrong way and charging you the extra fare for their mistake).

So obsessed are we that whenever we meet up you can guarantee that we’ll all be swapping tales of self-righteous moral outrage within five minutes of seeing each other. And it’s not just that we share our tales of callous customer disservice, we also have to let each other know just how cool, calm and collected we were in dealing with the rude call centre worker/shop assistant/waiting staff. We’re all so bloody pompous with our “I don’t appreciate the way you’re speaking to me”s and our “please don’t interrupt me when I’m talking”s. Treating the customers like they’re morons is most likely the only thing that keeps them from dwelling on how much more they could have made of their lives/how much better they are than their crappy job now they’ve got a degree/how much more fun they could be having down the pub, and yet here we are speaking to them q.u.i.e.t.l.y and c.a.l.m.l.y like they’re small, angry children with ADD and a learning difficulty.

But do they deserve it? You bet your fucking backside they do. When I worked as a customer service helpline person for a part-baked bread company (ah, the memories! The glamour!) I spent the entire day taking calls from irate, inarticulate shop keepers bursting a blood vessel that their latest batch of bread rolls had turned up one roll short (who knew you could get so upset about flour-based foodstuffs) and I was never anything but charming and polite to them. We all know other people are fucking morons, but if you’re being paid to be nice to them, it’s the least you can do.

Which is why, bitch that I am, I just phoned a café manager on his mobile to complain about a member of his staff. I hope he sacks the useless foot-stamping, tantrum-throwing, pouting French brat.