Sunday, January 30, 2005

Belle of the balls

Looks like everyone's favourite internet hooker has been getting a sound drubbing in her book reviews. I shouldn't think that will stop it becoming a big hit (unless, like me, you came to your senses when, on flicking through, you realised that you’re basically being asked to fork out good money for a weblog that’s not had the benefit of a proper edit and that’s already free to read online), but what interests me more is the question of her identity. Not that I'm bothered from a personal point of view if she turns out to be a small, ugly man with a snaggle tooth and an over-active imagination. I am interested from a work perspective, however. I actually interviewed BdJ for one of my first pieces for a glossy. It was before she got the book deal. In internet terms she'd been famous for ages, but in the real world I managed to beat (I think) everyone to it and I cling to that imagined glory with a really rather tragic amount of pride. Unfortunately, she got the book deal pretty much as soon as my interview was published, leaving my small, inoffensive piece looking a rather backward and redundant. Not least because I was so delighted that she'd agreed to let me interview her that I didn't take the trouble to ask her if she was a) real b) a man.

In my defence I was doing the piece for a women's magazine and the interview was prefaced by an explanation of what this newfangled "blogging" malarky business is all about. Going into the already-established online obsession about her true identity seemed a bit of a waste of time if the audience didn't even know what a weblog was. Plus, assumed she’d give a similarly ridiculous and nonsensical reply as she gave in her FAQ ("A bored journaliste could probably fake this blog but I'm not that clever"), which, quite frankly, seemed like a waste of time for all of us.

When the hysterical articles started to appear in the papers, I felt mildly irked for not taking the opportunity to do a bit of wild speculation myself. Eurotrash's determination that BdJ is in fact a man caused me to question again why I didn't question her more. Ignoring my natural, nigh-on moronic tendency to take everything people say at face value, the fact is her replies to my queries just seemed to ring true, even after I’d put on my cynical face. Rachel Cooke in the New Statesmen says that “[it’s her] lack of embellishment that finally convinces you of the authenticity of her strangely banal document” and that’s what made me think that her interview was real. When I sent her the questions I was expecting long sparklingly witty replies. What I got was straight and simple answers without embellishment or anecdote.

That’s not to say that she didn’t come across as rather nice (nicer, in fact, than she seems on her weblog), but she didn’t seem to be aware of the tricks of short glossy interviews – that is, that you wibble on for as long as possible in the knowledge that they’ll edit you down into a pithy and polished slice of humanity. The finished interview came out pretty well in the end, but the answers just weren’t quite clued up enough to be the work of a pro (journalist, that is). A male? Maybe. A fake? Quite possibly. A “bored journaliste”? No way. There’s a chance, of course, that she was being deliberately novice in order to flummox me, but I seriously doubt there’s a professional writer in the UK with a small enough ego. If there’s even one out there able to resist the urge to unleash the full force of their wit and creativity to the world when given a sniff of a chance, I’m an internet hooker.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Bird watching

I've become a twitcher. Having moved my desk to the window and recently aquired some binoculars, I've found myself keeping abreast of the daily goings-on of the local birds when not peering through the windows of neighbouring houses. Today a large crow appeared to be devouring the bone marrow from a stripped human femur while a couple of magpies looked on in barely concealed jealousy. But before you make the mistake of thinking that Crystal Palace is blighted only by prolish carrion, I also witnessed a Woodpecker (lesser spotted I believe, although I may have made that up) tapping halfheartedly at the the tree in our garden before moving off to a more desirable location up the road in Dulwich.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Fidget Knickers

Delighted to see this Saturday's Guardian Fit supplement thing confirmed my belief that standing up on the tube and pacing up and down whilst on the phone do actually constitute exercise as I suspected. I can't seem to find it online, but the list also gave me permission to feel smug if I tie my shoelaces, brush my teeth using an old fashioned manual toothbrush, and set my muscles to work on tin armed only with a tin opener and a sense of purpose. It also gave me leave to ignore the continual complaints from friends about my constant fidgeting and urged me to feel smug that I'm incapable of leaving the house without having to walk back to fetch something at least once. Turns out my scattered brain is actually keeping me fit.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Up The Duff

Had my first yoga class of the year yesterday. My crazy Sri Lankan teacher told us that one of the advanced students (with teaching qualifications) is starting a pregnancy class in the next couple of weeks. "So if any of you are pregnant, or thinking of getting pregnant, I urge you to do it now. I'm encouraging you all to get pregnant." I told you I'd joined a cult.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Open the portcullis

On boxing day we drove up to Lancashire to stay at favourite sister’s (number 4*) boyfriend’s parents’ castle. Yes, you did read that right. Our curly cat, Milo woke up towards the end of the car ride and started miaowing so I let him out and he fell asleep on my lap. On arrival we were shown to the guest wing (everything I say about the castle makes me titter – there was a guest wing!) which was freezing cold (despite the central heating) and rather ancient looking. Our bathroom was down a brightly tiled, sloping and winding corridor. It was larger than our bedroom at home, stone floored and slightly decaying. So far, so Gormenghast. I was in heaven. The drawing room had been especially heated for Christmas – normally they use the Justice Room as their living room (again I titter) - and it was bigger than our entire flat here. Milo was in his element, charging about the place, trying to get into every nook and cranny, jumping on the grand piano (much to the cat-disliking parents’ horror.) We didn’t have to dress for dinner, but took a meal at the large kitchen table instead. The next night was a dressier event, but still not quite the full dinner wear event they have on Christmas day (yet more tittering).

We didn’t actually end up having a bath the whole of the 2 and a bit days we were there. The first morning the heater wouldn’t come on in the bathroom and we decided it was too freezing in there. We used the massive sink in our bedroom to have a wash (amazing what you can achieve with a low sink). The next day, definitely in need of a wash, I decided just to run a hot bath and jump in regardless of the ice cold room. The tap spat out flies, followed by a brown liquid that wouldn’t clear. Lovely. Having been provided with our own bathroom and wing, we didn't quite feel able to request use of someone else's bathroom in their wing.

No matter, being grubby made it easier to pretend I was a lady from mediaeval times, since they never bothered with washing (and having felt the coldness of the stones in a castle I can understand why). Fed up as he is by excited visitors to his country pile, we eventually cajoled Boyfriend 4 into taking us on a tour of the grounds. They don’t own loads of land, but there was a walled garden so I could pretend to be in the Secret Garden, and a sundial, so I could pretend to be in Moondial and lots of Ivy covered walls and decaying fountains and structures so I could pretend I was in The Children of Green Knowe. Climbing up the keep that had been built in King Harold’s day, was entirely knackering but ultimately rewarding. How they ever did that in full armour is beyond me. I took the opportunity to recreate the “I fart in your general direction” scene from The Holy Grail.

We lived in a castle for 2 and a bit days and it didn’t cease being surreal the entire time.

*I have a lot of sisters. Numbering them is the only way. It's what we all do. I'm number 5 in case you're wondering.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

There is life outside the internet after all

After two weeks of almost complete internet silence, I’m finally back in the land of the virtual living. It’s been good to have a break. I missed it less than I thought I would.

Christmas was spent for the first time in years, with my parents who don’t bother with decorations or a tree, or crap films or any enthusiasm for anything at all. I spent the day reading a The Long Way Round book tie-in book, listening to the clock ticking. At least I awoke with that man of mine who outdid himself by presenting me with a Love Kylie Bra and Pants set and the afore-mentioned book. This year, presents had a bit of a wool theme, since I made the mistake of telling people that I didn’t have enough wool for the blanket I’m crocheting (and still will be crocheting when I’m actually old enough to be caught crocheting without shame). I now have more wool than I thought it possible for one person to own.

Christmas Eve evening was spent in our local pub seeing the same old faces, slightly fatter now that proper salaries afford more than just draw and booze. In our local inbred town they’re pretty much gingers to a man. And boy do I like the gingers! Possibly the only female in the whole of existence to ever have said that, but I just can’t help it. Probably something to do with watching endless re-runs of Anne of Green Gables and wanting to be her. I also wanted to have a silent and faithful Gilbert Blythe character to be secretly in love with me. Unfortunately, when I got one (with a beautiful long auburn mane) it turned out not to be as much fun as I’d thought. It turns out people have these pesky feelings that get in the way of my novel-inspired fantasies. I tried to treat his affections with respect, but it’s not easy when you’re a natural prick tease, you go to an all-girl school and you're fifteen. Turning up out of the blue every now and then, to see him visibly shaken by my arrival has been a guilty pleasure of mine for too long. Being an evil female is something that comes naturally to me, but I do still have a conscience and this time I texted a warning a few days in advance so the long-suffering one could get ready for my arrival. Apart from an almost involuntary “aw, your hair is so soft” accompanying the initial hug, all signs of besotted and unrequited love seemed to have passed. Who will admire me from afar now?! Resisting the urge to begin attempts to re-ensnare the hapless chap, I decided it was time to stop pretending to be Scarlet O’Hara and let my old not-flame get on with his life (and to stop inflating a mild affection into mindless, consuming adoration in my imagination.) Face it, girl, he’s over you.