Saturday, 22 March 2014

Life Stories

Here I am, blogging again.

Recently I've been thinking, why bother?

It's been a weird few weeks, I didn't know if I should mention it on my blog as it's not happened to me, it happened to my friend. It feels like taking something from someone, but grief is such an awful thing that I'm sure she would want me to take it. My friend lost her younger brother, suddenly and shockingly. That's all I will say because that's where my understanding ends- how she is coping, how her family is feeling... that is beyond my understanding.

A few days later my brother called me to say our aunty in Liverpool had died- she was the partner of my dad's brother. They weren't married, but they'd been together for 25 years.

My brother's accent is a lot thicker than mine and over the phone it sounded like he was saying the name of one our half-brothers, but I couldn't understand him, so I was yelling at him: "WHO's died?? WHO's died??"

Nobody told me that our aunty had cancer; she was hospitalised a few months ago, but nobody actually said the c-word. My nana just told me she'd fallen into a coma and had had 'bits taken out of her'. I didn't realise she had cancer until she told me last week that we weren't having any flowers at the funeral:

"Flowers are a waste of money, we want everyone to make a donation to Marie Curie because that's who looked after her in the end."

I was so sad already- about my friend's brother- that I don't think I felt more sad. It was just ongoing sadness. I was in the flat a lot on my own that week and I did spend a few nights working myself up into hysterics, calling my mum and calling Amy. On the Friday of that week I finished work at 10pm and sat outside in my coat, drinking a gin and tonic one of the customers had bought me. I called Amy and Kayt and they told me I probably looked like the local Funny Lady, shuffling along, drinking outside pubs on my own, talking too loudly and swearing.

The night before the funeral I spoke to my nana on the phone. She told me she'd organised for me to get picked up at the train station by my uncle's ex-wife and her son- my cousin. I panicked a bit, as my aunty who passed away didn't have any kids, but my cousin was her step-son. Why would he want me in the car on the way to the funeral, when I haven't seen him for years and years?

I realised for the first time that the whole day would be really sad and awkward. I don't know my dad's family very well. The last time I saw my aunty who died was years ago. I've spoken to her on the phone sometimes, if I've been at my nana's when she called. She was lovely. I know everyone says that about people who have died but she was unusually lovely and kind.

In the end it was fine. My cousin recognised me as I was coming off the train and called my name. He was about 15 years older than I was expecting, but I remembered him from when he was at uni in Manchester and he used to babysit us sometimes.

His mum picked us up. I've never met her before, but luckily she was very chatty. She told me how my aunty had gone to the doctors again and again and again, each time being told she probably had a bladder infection, until one day she collapsed and went into a coma.

I love the NHS, but this happens a lot. My mum's friend Jane did not get diagnosed until it was too late and my friend's sister went to the doctor's many times about a mole that turned out to be the skin cancer that killed her.

I don't mean for this post to be really depressing, but the past few years so many of my family and friends have been affected by cancer. I never go to the doctors and if I did go and they told me I didn't need a scan, I'd be relieved because I'm so lazy. But really, everyone should demand a scan.

When we got to my uncle's house before the funeral, I didn't know what to say to my uncle so I just said hi, which is really fucking shit. But I really didn't know what to do or say. The house was, as you'd expect, clouded with sadness. My dad seemed drunk and was talking really loudly. His ex-girlfriend/girlfriend/mother of his other three kids was there, which was seen as a controversial move by some.

One of my uncles drove us to the funeral. He is the husband of my dad's sister (yes, my aunty, but if I keep calling everyone aunty you will get confused). He's really, really nice, in the same ridiculously-nice way that my aunty who died was. He always gives everyone lifts and goes out of his way to help you. He even offered to drive me to Paris, when I first moved there. I was living with them for a few months at the time. It's funny because I never see them and would never organise to see them, but when I do see my dad's sister and her husband we get on really well.

Anyway. When we walked into the funeral they played 'Heart of Gold' by Neil Young. I guess it's now one of those songs that nobody who was at the funeral will be able to listen to without crying.

On the way from the crematorium to the pub, there was a bit of a mix up with cars and I was put in a funeral car with my uncle. I didn't say two words to him the whole way, I kept thinking of things I could say but didn't manage to say anything. I realised that the whole day might go by without me saying two words to my uncle who had just lost his partner of 25 years.

At the pub we sat around large, circular tables. My nana, my dad's sister and my dad say down at one table so I sat down next to them. I'd been talking to my dad's girlfriend/ex-girlfriend/who the fuck knows so she sat down on the other side of me. My dad turned to me and said:

"Can I sit next to her? I've not seen her for ages."

I told him we could swap seats- meaning me and him, so he'd be sat in the middle. He said ok and then didn't move, assuming I would just move somewhere else! As I got up he said:

"Thanks, I can talk to you later."

I said: "I won't be fucking talking to you ."

I know he wasn't being horrible or anything, but it just made me realise that my dad is...

a crank.

During the evening, we spoke about my aunty a lot, which completely changed the mood of the day. I understand the importance of funerals now- you need to say goodbye and then celebrate a person's life.  I got chatting to a couple who were friends with my aunty. They kept calling me Queen, which is my favourite Scouse Phrase EVER.

"How old are you, queen?"
"What are you drinking, queen?"

My dad's girlfriend had to leave so she could drive back to the North East and she'd left her car at my dad's house. My super-nice uncle said he'd drive her back and my dad wanted to go with her.

"She needs a rest, before the long drive."

My uncle came back on his own and everyone wanted to know where my dad was. I think it's so rude and weird to LEAVE a funeral like that, for no reason. Did he not think his brother would wonder where he was?

We stayed for hours and hours. I spent a lot of time with the nice couple. The man started asking me about my dad, because he said he didn't see his daughter a lot and he wondered how that had affected her. He was saying, "You're fine, you're fine aren't you?"

Yes I am fine, but my dad is still a CRANK.

I know, my dad's alright really. His dad wasn't all that, apparently. My nana was making me laugh in the pub, because the nice couple who were friends with my aunty were asking her about her husband, who died when I was about four and my nana was indignant:

"Aw, I bet you miss him, don't you?"
"I fucking don't!"
"No, but really... I bet you miss him really, don't you?"
"No! I don't! You wouldn't believe the horrible life I had!"

She actually said 'horrible life' but trust me, it was funny when she said it, not dark. She's told me enought stories about her life that I know it wasn't all horrible, anyway. I don't think anyone else does, but I believe her when she says that she doesn't miss him. After he died she bought herself 29,000 air miles through Teletext and went round the world.

I always mean to blog some of her stories, but I think I'm the only person that loves them. Sometimes she tells me really dark, horrible stories about people dying- the whole family that died on her street in the air raid shelter, or the day her brother and her daughter died on the same day- but mostly she tells me really funny stories. My favourite stories are the ones from went she went travelling, because they don't have any point to them, they are just nice little vignettes that some up the pointlessness and mystery of life.

I know I'm going off-topic here, but my favourite story is when she went to Hong Kong and she kept seeing business men walking down the street carrying little cages with birds inside. So one day she followed one of these business men, to see where he was going with his bird. He went to the park and sat on a bench under a tree. He hung the bird cage on a branch and ate his lunch, then he stood up, unhooked the bird cage and went back to work.

HA.

Or another story is she was in Fiji and saw a family in a hut eating teeny tiny bananas, so she asked them if she could try one through the art of mime and they beckoned her to come inside and eat the teeny tiny bananas with them, which someone has since told her are called 'Lady Fingers'.

Anyway.

At the end of the evening I did speak to my uncle a bit, but not about my aunty dying. I can't remember what we were talking about now, everyone was a quite tipsy. He didn't look good. Me and my brother got back to my dad's house quite late and he showed us some paintings he has done.

As my dad spends most of his time doing fuck all, I wish he would spend some time doing art work. I was really surprised he had done some paintings- they're really good. They are just swirly black and white boards which sounds a bit shit, but they're really intricate. He can't afford enamel at the moment, but they kind of look like they've done with enamel.

I told him he should find arty cafes where they display paintings and put prices underneath, so that they can decorate their cafe with nice art in exchange for giving artists a place to exhibit. He said "Yeah yeah I will."

But he won't.

Just like I won't do any of the things I keep saying I will do. I haven't even cancelled my French phone contract and I left France eight months ago. They keep taking it out of my French bank account every month, but when I left France I cleared my bank account so it must be going minus minus minus every month.

As you can imagine I feel all warm and happy inside whenever I think about it.

But.

At the moment I really don't care. It sounds like something really old people say, but you shouldn't take your health for granted and I don't. At the moment I feel really, really lucky and I am just going to appreciate that.

With that in mind, I am leaving my flat soon. After my cousin left I debated leaving, but in the end found a new girl online who wanted to move in. The day before my aunty's funeral and incidentally the day before our rent went out, she told me she couldn't move in after all. I sent her a pretty curt message about how I didn't have time to discuss it and I think I guilt-tripped her into changing her mind.

She moved her stuff into day and she seems nice, but I want to move anyway. I've found a friend of a friend of a friend who wants a lodger, so I'm going to do that for a few weeks. My internship finishes in four weeks and I don't know what's going to happen afterwards. I'm not going to work in the pub full-time again. If I have to do bar work I may as well do it in Paris or Spain or somewhere else.

I am really trying to talk myself into being positive.

I know it seems a bit inappropriate after such a sad post, but I have just put some new music on to cheer me up and make me do some housework, so I'll share it:




Monday, 17 March 2014

Tok tok tok

I wasn't going to blog again, but I will just say one last thing.

Somebody has stolen my Dial-A-Tramp idea!!

 Tok tok tok.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Vodka and Pickled Onion Party

I want to blog about last weekend so I never forget it, because if I forget it then there's a chance I will repeat the same mistake again.

Jen and Claire- AKA my fellow Wedding Ruiners- asked me if I wanted to go to their Vodka and Pickled Onion Party on Saturday night. There would be vodka, pickled onions and just three guests. Fancy dress would be mandatory.

Claire needed a night in after losing her purse, iPhone and sleepover bag full of make-up on three consecutive drunken nights out. The idea was we would probably yell and drink a lot, then go to bed without losing anything and without having spent an excessive proportion of our rent money on drink and taxis.

Unfortunately, I was supposed to be babysitting for a family and as it would be the first time I'd ever babysat for them (and I'm hoping I can start working for them once a week and quit my pub job), I didn't want to let them down.

Then.

On Saturday morning the mum called me to say they weren't going out anymore because they are getting a divorce....

Sad for them.

Fun for me!

I have not been so excited for anything in literally weeks. Maybe it's because I don't go out anymore, but I just had a feeling it was going to be LOTS OF LAFFS and more, much more. It was the 'more' that was the problem, to be honest. The word 'more' has lost all meaning.

Straight away it was onto the face paint. As always I made a massive fat mess of trying to paint my own face (it can all be traced back to when we were at uni and I went out dressed as a burglar and painted a black mask over my eyes... I wish everybody would let me forget it but they will NEVER forget it) and had to wipe it all off. My 'abstract expression' squiggly lines and blobs all over my face looked bad, too bad even for a make-believe party of three, so I washed it off and just went for a white Geisha face.

My costume was Many Countries- my Japanese kimono, a Chinese dress, a sombrero and a Russian hat. Claire and Jen went for Many Sequins/Mexican Skeletons. As we got ready we nattered about all our fictional guests that would soon be arriving, in the way only ex-Drama  students or people with severe personality disorders can. Then we had an estatic moment when we realised there were no other guests coming and we could do what we wanted!!!

We wanted to do lifts, lots of lifts. Claire managed to do a no-hander while I was lifting her in the air with my feet and afterwards there was a lot of high-five-ing and calling each other LADS.

So, there was a LOT of lifting... I remember there was a brief kick about with a ball we found, which led to another five or ten minutes of calling each other LADs and high-five-ing... Then we built a den in the living room but none of us wanted to get in it because we were too hot.

We danced to Ursula from The Little Mermaid singing 'Poor Unfortunate Souls' approximately six times throughout the evening, our voluptuous octopus dancing getting more and more convincing each time. Another song we kept going back to was Tina Turner 'What's Love Got to Do With It.'

"WHO needs a HEART when a HEART can be BRO-KEN?????"

We clearly don't know how to behave in public anymore, so the only way we can enjoy ourselves in the privacy of our own homes and company. I thought we would be safe indoors, but somehow or other me and Claire ended up walking to the cash machine. Claire says she doesn't remember going but I do, because two guys in the queue behind us kept making jokes about our face paint and I got really annoyed because I'd forgotten we had any on. I just thought they were being weird when I suppose we were the ones stood in the street wearing pyjama bottoms and sombreros, faces smeared with white paint, eyes darting around like angry flies.

The night continued. We all ended up in the den. The next day I woke up and my left knee was all black and lumpy from when we were doing 'slides' across the living room floor. Unbelievably, I had to take my bashed-up brain and body all the way Posh Clare's a for a roast dinner because, guess what.

Amy is moving to Australia for a year.

I'll tell you more about it before she leaves, but for now it doesn't seem as if she's really going. I don't want to talk about it too much. She'd come to London, kind of as a goodbye, which is why I managed to heave myself out of bed so early and travel across London on replacement buses, back to my flat for Some Reason. I woke up on my couch around 1pm, my arms painted black and white to look like a skeleton.

I got a text from Claire.

"Why did you leave?"

From there was a lot of messages going back and forth, trying to decipher what exactly happened at the Vodka and Pickled Onion Party. Claire wanted to know why she had bruises on her chin- me and Jen reminded her it was because she banged it on the floor several times while she was doing the worm.

I myself have grazed both my elbows and seem to have misplaced quite a bit of skin from the top of foot, which is interesting, if not minging. My arms were hurting from all the lifts I'd been doing. Claire says she has a burn on her hip. I'm not sure about Jen but I remember her doing a lot of handstands, she must have sustained some pretty bad injuries.

Recently I have been very upset over all those NekNominate things in the news- young people dying for No Reason, this horrible culture of drinking to excess and ingesting as many toxic substances as you think your body can handle, just for the sake of it. I think it's a sign that the end of civilization is nigh, seriously.

Saying that.

I've since been informed of exactly how much disgusting-ness was consumed at the Vodka and Pickled Onion Party and I can't believe it. I thought my Dickhead Days were well and truly behind me, but Saturday just proved that there is always a Dickhead stirring inside me (how smutty) and all it needs is a little bit of help (vodka) and encouragement (Dolly Parton) to leap out of my mouth and start bouncing off the walls, screaming song lyrics and laughing at its own jokes.

Awful.

Clare's roast dinner was lovely, but there were a few too many people there for me to interact successfully with. I mostly sat in the corner, shoveling roast potatoes into my mouth with shaking hands. Glasgow Laura came as well, she's living in London but is really busy doing her social work training, working with people who live in unsanitary conditions and have mental health problems that make them hoard things, sometimes problematic things... It all makes me feel very selfish and greedy. (And also makes me want to Google 'hoarders'.)

After the roast, I went home and my cousin Chloe moved in. She had a bindhi on her head, a sleeping bag and not much else. She's just come back from India, where she did a yoga course. I was slightly concerned that she wouldn't be able to pay the rent, but I was still excited for her to move in.

Then last night she told me that there is no way she is going to be able to pay the rent, so she's moving out.

I understand.

But.

I was all on edge today, not knowing if I should look for somewhere else or try and get someone else in. I put the room up on spareroom.com and a girl messaged me almost straight away. She came round to look at the flat (I told her about the damp because I felt bad) and said she'd have to think about it. Then an hour later she said she wanted to move in. It all seems very easy, but suspiciously so...

I guess I have only seen her once, for ten minutes, but she seemed nice and it would be a lot of hassle for me to move.

I was looking at signing up for a guardian scheme (where you pay very little rent to live in buildings that would otherwise be squatted) or finding a house to lodge in, but in the end I think I moved around a lot when I first arrived in London and it might be better to just stay still for a while.

Hmm.

I hate making decisions.

I wish Clo could stay, but she just isn't sure if she wants to commit to paying such a high rent every month. This morning I was running really late for work, so I woke Chloe up and asked her to make me breakfast while I was in the shower and she did! She even made my lunch for me. Who else would do that for me?

Oh and guess what.

On Sunday night Claire called me, she'd lost her purse.

Seriously.

She found it hidden under some loo roll on Monday night, so we didn't learn our lesson which means Vodka and Pickled Onion Party could happen again. There is a Balkan Beats night I think we would have LOTS OF LAFFS at but Saturday night just served to highlight the sad fact that we should be banished indoors, for life or at least until we stop drinking and building dens stops being fun.

On a lighter note, on Saturday night me and Jen had to pull Claire away from a clothes maiden she was fighting in the kitchen. The next day Claire realised she had sent a photo round of the 'defeated' clothes maiden lying on the kitchen floor, to a couple of people she perhaps shouldn't have been sending nonsensical messages to...

LAD.




Saturday, 1 March 2014

Moons

Let's be honest...

This blog has gone to the dogs.

I would much rather it had gone to the cats, but it hasn't.

Tonight I finished working in the pub earlier than expected, so I thought I would use the time to do a quick blog post... Can't think of anything to write about apart from the cat.

I was right in thinking my eyebrow obsession was a substitute for the lack of feline company in my life; since we got Rushdie I have let my eyebrows out to pasture and rarely give them a second thought. Actually that's a lie, I think about them every day, but only when I am looking in the mirror. And sometimes when I am looking at other people's eyebrows. And sometimes for a few minutes before I go to sleep.

The other day I caught my eyebrows looking at the cat sulkily*. Then the next night, when I they thought I was asleep, I heard one of them whisper to the other**:

"Do you remember when it was us she used to stroke? Us she used to talk incessantly about to her friends and strangers in the Ladies loo? Us she used to blog about?"

I would feel mean, abandoning them to grow all tufty and undefined, but it's for their own good. I asked Lauren a few weeks ago (when we went to see that musical about the Perfumo Affair) to tell me honestly if my brows had crossed the line between 'bold' and 'bonkers' and she said I was in danger of teetering over the edge into Brian Blessed territory. She didn't actually say anything about Brian Blessed but the point is... I got scared. I thought I had let my eyebrows become bigger than myself, so I gave them a good slimming down and now I must suffer the consequences of my rashness:

Regrowth.

In cat news, there is a very sinister #CAT that has been hanging around, intimidating me, no doubt trying to size up our cat so he can batter him. He is so hard that he just sits on top of  a pole for hours and when I stared at him he stared straight back until I had to back away and hide in the bedroom for bit. Look how sinister he is:


Rushdie is not cut out to square up to any of the local #CATS. Look at the cat above again. Now look at Rushdie:


He is wearing one Natalie's necklace. He looks a lot like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's.

I keep calling him 'our cat' (even though he is really my friend Chloe's cat)... I will have to stop, because Natalie moved out this week!

It was really sad, the last morning I went to work and said goodbye to her. She came round the next day for tea, so it wasn't too sad, but then instead of going to sleep in her bedroom she had to leave and drive back to her mum's house. So weird.

My cousin Chloe moves in tomorrow. I was a bit worried as I haven't heard from her since she went to India a month ago... but she's back in the UK today and is coming round tomorrow. It took me a while to get used to living with other people again. When I first moved in I thought I had to go to bed when Nat went to bed. Oh I hate it when things change. Living with my cousin is going to be fun though and Natalie will come round all the time, to see me but also to put necklaces on our cat.

Let's see, anything else I want to say before I go to bed? I don't think I'll have time to blog again for a while...

Internship is going well in some ways, very bad in other ways. I really enjoy the work but today didn't speak to anyone all day, apart from to hand in my expenses form. I did try when I first got there but it wasn't as easy as I though to get into conversations with people and now it's kind of too late. There's a couple of people I speak to, but they weren't around today. I know it's me. I know I'm going about everything the wrong way but it's so awkward and because hours go by without me saying a word to anyone, when I finally have to go and speak to someone about something I get all worked up about it and panicky.

Also.

Nothing is happening on the date front.

I was a bit surprised at first that nothing came of it, especially after he brought me homemade soup round, but I guess soup counts for nothing these days.

NOTHING.

I know if I read this blog post back to myself I'll gain a better understanding of why no word came following our tea date (literally just finished reading Jane Eyre on the tube journey home, still in Victorian novel mode) but it might also make me delete the entire post... and I do so hate to leave you all (ha! you small number I mean) so long without a blog post, so I'm not going to read it back to myself.

I will just find a good song to finish on and then I will go to bed/look at my eyebrows in the mirror for half an hour.

I HAVEN'T BEEN RAVING FOR AGES AND IT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY.

This is the sort of dark techno I can imagine being played at The Crave- the Rave in a Cave- when I first went raving with TC and OJ and Matt and Natalie, before we ever guessed we'd be flatmates, many moons ago...



*I really did.
**Perhaps the bit about the whispering isn't 100% true, but I resent the fact that you don't believe me.