I don’t even know what all right means

1. Gozo was faaaaaabulous. I’d forgotten how very very much I love it there. It’s strange how much I love it, actually, considering how totally unsuited I am for that kind of climate. There’s pretty much an audible sizzle the second I step off the plane. On my first full day there I missed a spot near my collarbone when applying my SPF 1000 sunscreen and then went for a walk and came back with a fire-engine red triangle on my chest. You could even see the outline of the necklace I was wearing. Living in the British Isles was really the best choice I could make for my own survival.

My mom is basically a ninja when it comes to finding vacation rentals. We stayed in a little flat in Xlendi overlooking the bay. This was the view from the balcony:

Xlendi Bay, Gozo

LOOK AT THAT WATER. I didn’t get to swim as much as I’d hoped, though. On my second day I was splashing around when the lifeguard called me over and told me that they were advising people not to swim that week as there’d been an accident a few days earlier and SEWAGE had been dumped in the bay. GACK. I spent the rest of the day huddled Crying Game style in the shower. I’m still confused about how this could possibly have happened. It’s a tiny, tiny bay, with cliffs on two sides and no open pipes leading into the water. Almost the entire accessible waterfront is taken up with bars and restaurants, except for a tiny beach. Did some sewage-truck driver have a “fuck it” sort of day and just upend into the sea? (This is actually not implausible for Gozo. Health and safety regulations are viewed much more as optimistic suggestions.)

Apart from being rendered forever unclean, I had a wonderful time walking around and eating amazing food and doing very little else.

Inlet, Gozo

Bridge, Gozo

Sunset, Gozo

Door, Gozo

Bougainvillea, Gozo

Citadel, Gozo

2. My tattoo came out looking pretty damn cool:

Tattoo

Right? My tattoo bug has now been reawakened and I’m plotting all sorts of other things to put on my skin. I’m nearly forty, so I guess this qualifies as a mid-life crisis? Whatever. Bring it on.

3. Remember how I was sleeping so so badly and nothing at all seemed to help and I was exhausted all the time? I even went to the doctor and begged for sleeping pills, but the GP said that she “doesn’t like” prescribing a regular supply of sleeping pills because they can cause dependence (honestly I’d rather be dependent on sleeping pills than be a haggard insomnia zombie, but whatever). She gave me a grand total of FIVE (5) Zopiclone tablets, which didn’t seem to do much of anything anyway, and I was trying to resign myself to the fact that sleeping well was just not something I got to do anymore.

So. When I changed jobs at my company about a year and a half ago, I went from working 10am to 6pm to working 8am to 4pm. I’ve never been the best sleeper, but all this persistent really bad insomnia has been happening in the past year. In a last-ditch Hail Mary attempt to maybe get some fucking rest, I asked my boss about a month ago whether I could switch my hours to 9-5 to see if that extra hour in the morning would make any difference.

And lo…it did, apparently. All of a sudden I’m sleeping…well, not great, but OK. I’ve gone from waking up a minimum of 5-6 times a night back down to 2-3 times. I guess my brain just really really REALLY does not like waking up at 6am. I feel you, brain.

And came down on us like it had been rehearsed

1. September is turning out to be a big month for me. In two weeks I’m going to Gozo, hooray! …With my parents! …OK! My parents are pootling around in Paris at the moment, sending cute selfies from the Louvre and hopefully not being too inconvenienced by France being even more take-to-the-streets-y than usual this week. (I imagine that French poster paper manufacturers must drive around in gold-plated Rolls Royces.) They’re going to Provence next, then Malta for a few days, where I’ll meet them and we’ll catch the ferry to Gozo.

I haven’t been to Gozo in, what, eight years? and I can’t wait to see it again, even if the coolest bit has crumbled into the fucking sea. Fuck you, erosion! Anyway, as long as I get to swim, I’ll be happy. I haven’t been swimming since I went to BC last year, and swimming in the warm inky-blue Mediterranean is the best.

2. Also booked in for September: a new tattoo! Hell yeah! Totally normal and non-desperate behaviour for a 39-year-old woman! Yeah! I’m due, though. I haven’t had a new tattoo since before I left Canada, and that is a lot of years ago now. I came across a photo of this ornament from the Sutton Hoo ship burial recently and was like GET ON MY ARM:

The academic types who are supposed know about this shit don’t know with any certainty what the image represents (what do we pay you for, Poindexter?), but I’m choosing to believe that it’s Odin with his wolves, Geri and Freki, which is probably as good a guess as any, and anyway who cares it’s fucking cool. I adapted the design a bit, and I’m getting this guy to tattoo it for me. Photos to follow.

3. Speaking of Viking geekery, I finally went to the Jorvik Centre in York last month. It was a bit more for kids than I was expecting. The main attraction is a ride through a recreated Viking village, with life-size animatronic villagers moving endlessly and terrifyingly through their slow cyclical butter-churning purgatories; I’ve seen horror films, and that shit is seriously not going to end well. Then they have a collection of artefacts recovered from archaeological digs in York. I was expecting some full-on swords and helmets and elaborate jewellery, but it’s more like “this decrepit rusted-out hook was probably used to hold a cooking pot!” I was a tiny bit disappointed. I think after going to Uppsala and the touring Viking exhibit at the British Museum (FULL. SIZE. VIKING. LONGSHIP.) I’m a bit spoiled for Viking stuff. Still, it was fun and I’m glad I went.

And York is gorgeous, although I didn’t see as much as I’d have liked as it was sluicing down rain the entire day. Like being under a garden hose. So it was a lot of navigating winding cobblestone streets with wet feet while trying to avoid the biggest puddles and simultaneously dodge tourists’ umbrellas.

Hey, I knew what I was getting into when I moved to England.

4. Some recent time-wasting Photoshoppery:

I just couldn’t get ahead

1. An unusual number of idiomatic expressions are identical in French and English. I can’t figure out why this would be. English and French were pretty closely interrelated at one point, but they’ve been going their own ways for centuries now. Are the French adopting and translating English expressions because English is so internationally dominant? Here are a few I’ve come across so far:

    Le portrait craché – the spitting image
    Des bâtons dans les roues – stick in the spokes
    Dans les tuyeaux – in the pipeline
    Tout est bien qui finit bien – all’s well that ends well
    Au peigne fin – with a fine tooth comb
    Poigne de fer – iron fist
    Sonner creux – ringing hollow
    Souffler le chaud et le froid – blowing hot and cold
    Attrape-touristes – tourist trap
    Attraper la mort – catch your death
    Eu vent de – got wind of
    Profil bas – low profile
    Lune de miel – honeymoon
    Quand la poussière est retombée – when the dust settles
    Mordre la main qui nourrit – bite the hand that feeds you
    Marché aux puces – flea market

This seems weird to me. It’s weird, isn’t it? Fortunately there are still plenty of French idiomatic expressions that are pleasingly insane in English, like “gueule de bois” (“wooden face” – to have a hangover), “faire choux blanc” (“making white cabbage” – to come up empty or hit a dead end) and “tirez les vers du nez” (“pulling worms from the nose” – to get information out of someone).

2. About six months ago, my energy supplier increased my rates, so I went to a comparison website, found a quote for £20 less a month than what I’d been paying, and switched providers. BOOM. Get me, right? Like a proper thrifty grown-up!

Yeah. Last week my new energy providers asked for a meter reading, and then based on this reading decided they’d been CRAZY undercharging me and raised my bill by £100 a month. I’m not sure how this is possible since I live alone in a one-bedroom flat and don’t own a television or a stereo or a washing machine and haven’t been running a hydroponic growing operation on the sly. I’ve had to switch providers again because paying £146 for electricity every month would make it very difficult for me to also eat, but I’ll be stuck paying their exorbitant final bill and an extra fee to get out of contract. They got me pretty good there! Nice one guys! Hopefully this will teach me to read the small print in future, especially the bit where it says in tiny tiny letters “WE ARE GOING TO FUCK YOU”.

3. I’ve been reading a trashy true crime book called Blood on the Altar (insert heavy-metal guitar riff here). It is delightfully terrible. It’s about a murder that took place in Italy, and the author is a British guy who is such a slavish Italophile that you start feeling embarrassed for him. He goes on and on and on about the bravery and resilience and warmth of the people in this particular rural bit of Italy to the point where I get the feeling that these colourful rustic noble simple folk are probably rolling their eyes at him behind his back. He tries to tie the murder in with the overall history of the region, which I understand, as entrenched government corruption played a large part in botching the investigation and you’ve got to fill 200 pages somehow, but then he wanders off into just describing the local area, including cuisine and museums and landmarks. Certain parts of the book are a straight-up travel guide. Like, dude! Dead teenager, remember? Stop talking about salami and let’s try and focus here.

He also does that thing that true crime writers do where they try to convince us and themselves that they’re fulfilling some greater good instead of just pandering to bored women (hi!) who want to read gruesome details about murders. This dude apparently felt a “connection” with the murdered girl after seeing the news coverage and started feeling like he was “mourning her himself”. OK WOW, no you didn’t. This girl had parents, you presumptuous twat. You started feeling like you smelled a book deal.

When he does get around to talking about the murder and the investigation, he switches arbitrarily between past and present tense, sometimes in the same paragraph. I think this is meant to provide a sense of immediacy or to be artsy or some shit, but it comes across more like clumsy editing.

It’s truly, truly awful. I’m enjoying the fuck out of it.

4. I love it when The Kids in the Hall go Full Weird. I came across this sketch recently and scream-laughed all the way through.

WHAAAAAAAAT.

They tell us that we lost our tails

1. My job has changed. About six months ago my company launched a new DIY automated online system that has replaced our custom yearbook design service (robots stole my job!). There’s still some design work to be done, but after the system was rolled out I spent a good four months expecting to be handed my walking papers at any moment, which was fun. In the end they combined my design role with some administrative duties relating to the new system. This means I get to do less design work (boo!), but I still have a job (yay!), and they let me keep the word ‘designer’ in my job title for the sake of my CV. All in all, not the end of the world.

How-EVER, as part of the new role I’ve had to move away from my lovely quiet desk in the corner of the studio down to the other end of the building to sit with the sales and customer service team. I’ve gone from listening to headphones all day and talking to other human beings almost never to being bombarded with questions and surrounded by sales types making loud enthusiastic sales calls. For my introvert brain, this is the equivalent of being hit with a baseball bat all day. I hope the person who invented open-plan offices hasn’t died yet because I’d like the honour of murdering them in front of their children.

The worst part is that my new team are of the “make a round of tea for everyone” persuasion. I’ve resisted so far. I make tea for no man.

On the plus side, the canteen down this end of the building has a SOFA. La-di-da.

2. The Actual Human Male I was dating turned out to be an Actual Human Nightmare. When I broke up with him (for much better reasons than I usually break up with people), he actually slut-shamed me. How retro! That shit never gets any less depressing. (Not that it’s relevant, but his sexual history was way more extensive than mine. WHORE.) Back to Tinder, I guess, speaking of depressing. Bring on the snowboarding photos.

3. I’ve taken down my online shop and will be selling my collage sheets exclusively through Etsy from now on. The shop wasn’t making many sales (due entirely to my laziness) and I honestly have no idea how to even begin to comply with the new EU restrictions on selling digital items. Etsy does all that legal foofaraw for me, so I’m going to focus my attention there. My homepage currently looks like crap, but I’m working on polishing it up into more of a portfolio site.

4. Thanks to dooce for reminding me how appallingly cruel the dairy industry truly is (please go ahead and click – there’s no graphic content). I was vegan for a few years, quite happily, and only went back to eating vegetarian when I moved to the UK and my life exploded into chaos. I know that preaching about veganism usually has the opposite of the desired effect, but if I can gently prod you into eating less dairy for the sake of your health and the wellbeing of sweet innocent giant-eyed baby cows, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something. I’m going to commit to at least one dairy-free day a week. Could you manage the same? Look at those eyes! LOOK AT THEM!

Oh God the eyes

5. Here’s some art I made. These are the three Norns (or Fates) from Norse mythology, represented as religious icons using Victorian graphics in the style of Andy Warhol silkscreen pop art. Just because.

Norns

These chickens are fish in a barrel

1. I watch both Elementary and the BBC Sherlock and I enjoy them both, and I’m not usually one to make a huge fuss over straying from canon, but in both shows I could really do without all the wishy-washy stuff about how Holmes really loves Watson deep down but has trouble expressing his feelings. Rot. Conan Doyle made it very clear (minus the psycho-babble) that Holmes is a sort of high-functioning borderline sociopath who has no need or desire for intimacy. I want my Sherlock Holmeses to be amusing non-fuck-giving assholes who solve crimes in clever ways. That’s it. I’m sorry but I don’t care how Sherlock Holmes is feeling. More code-breaking! Less soul-baring!

2. I’m the only person I’ve ever met who never plays any sort of games at all. Not at any time ever. I hate all games. I don’t play video games or card games or board games or drinking games (Jesus WHAT IS THE POINT of drinking games I am perfectly capable of putting alcohol into my mouth without bouncing a ping-pong ball into a Solo cup first). And I’m sure it’s an absolute riot but no, I don’t want to play Cards Against Humanity. It’s not just a mild aversion, either – on the odd occasion I let myself be press-ganged into playing Scrabble or whatever I’m fine for about twenty minutes and then I start to feel angry and resentful and trapped. There are just a million things I would rather be doing than arranging tiles on a board for points. Especially at social gatherings. Can’t we all just talk and interact normally? Isn’t that the whole point of us being here? Instead I have to do that and and at the same time concentrate on performing some stupid arbitrary task? NO. WHY. People are weird.

3. I very randomly ended up at a gig in Shoreditch recently and I saw these guys and they were amazing. Like, amayyyyyyzing. (They were also very gracious when I told them so afterwards.) How are they not super-duper famous? Help me correct this injustice!

4. I recently said to an English person that they had “lucked out” and they weren’t sure what I meant. They thought “lucked out” sounded like it should be a bad thing. After all these years I’m still coming across expressions that haven’t made it over the pond, or subtle differences like “blowing someone off” vs “blowing someone out”. If I broke plans with someone, I would say I’d blown them off. British people think this sounds hilariously filthy.

5. If you are a heroine in a Victorian novel who has married the wrong person, don’t despair! He will inevitably die. Here is a very abridged list of Victorian heroines whose ne’er-do-well husbands have conveniently snuffed it:

– Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch
– Mercy Pecksniff in Martin Chuzzlewit
– Agnes Grey in Agnes Grey
– Gwendolen Harleth in Daniel Deronda
– Emily Wharton in The Prime Minister
– Bathsheba Everdene in Far From The Madding Crowd

Don’t mess with Victorian heroines is the moral here, I guess.

Everything’s gonna burn, we’ll all take turns

1. Imaginary boyfriend Marcus Parks is going to be devastated to learn that thanks to Tinder (thanks Tinder!) I’m now dating an actual real-life human male. Will wonders never cease. He’s from Essex, but I try not to hold that against him.

2. Since I’ve suddenly become a podcast person, I’ve become aware of the enormous range of podcasts on offer. Everyone has a podcast, although possibly not everyone should have a podcast. There’s a podcast where the hosts invite comedians to discuss scientific discoveries, because who better?? There’s a podcast entirely dedicated to masturbation. There’s a podcast where two guys who like wrestling try to convince another guy who doesn’t like wrestling that he should really like wrestling (I guess Guy 3 is going to have to hold out indefinitely, or it’ll just be three guys talking about how much they like wrestling, and that is a WHOLE DIFFERENT PODCAST).

Faced with this orgy of choice, I have expanded my listening repertoire somewhat, but it’s still at least 90% true crime. The best podcast in the world, though, is My Dad Wrote A Porno. It’s just what it sounds like. A dude’s dad has written an ‘erotic novel’ and he reads it out loud and takes this piss out of it with his friends. It is the best thing. The best thing.

3. The world is a goddamn dumpster fire right now. As bad as I imagined a Trump presidency would be, this is far, far worse. In all my life I have never hated another human being as much as I hate Donald Trump. I would pay up to five thousand pounds (I don’t have five thousand pounds but I would happily go into debt) for the chance to kick him once, really hard, in the nuts. I would train for that shit, too. There would be a full training montage where I practice my run-up in slow motion. And I’m pretty sure I still have some punk-rock steel-toed boots lying around. Oh man, I would kick that fucker so good.

4. On February 2nd, my Spanish colleague asked me “Today is Marmot Day, yes?” From now on it damn well is! Get Bill Murray on the phone!

5. On my walk to work I go through a major-ish junction where there’s a button you can push to activate the pedestrian crossing. Except that it doesn’t. The lights change and the walk signal comes on at exactly the same intervals whether you push the button or not. The button is a placebo. Is it even hooked up to anything? I don’t know. I guess it’s good of the traffic control engineer person to attempt to give me the illusion that I have some power to effect change. I’ll take that where I can get it right now.

6. I’ve been working on my graphic design CV (with a view to maybe one day getting a job where they pay me a living wage), and I think it looks pretty good. Fancy hiring me? I’m very reasonably priced.

Robin Camps CV 2017

She was writing his name in blood

1. Congratulate me! I’ve got a new imaginary boyfriend. We’re very happy together. Here he is:

Marcus Parks

LOOK AT THAT FACE. Don’t you want to squeeze him? That is Marcus Parks from The Last Podcast on the Left, which I’ve been listening to obsessively over the past couple of months (although…do I ever consume media non-obsessively? Not really. I’m a natural born binger). He’s the main researcher for the show and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of serial killers and cults and weird phenomena, which in itself is pretty hot. He has a slight Texas accent and a goofy laugh and I’m low-grade stalking him.

2. On my walk to work I take a shortcut up a disused access road, which cuts about five/ten minutes off the journey. In the lighter seasons it’s actually a nice, pretty, innocuous wooded area, but this time of year it’s dark and secluded as hell and I’m basically ignoring all the common-sense How Not To Get Rapemurdered rules that all women absorb from birth. I call it the Rapist Wonderland, and every night as I’m navigating through it using the torch on my phone like the opening scene of a horror movie, I sing a little song in my head to the tune of Winter Wonderland. Here’s what I have so far:

In the lane, a perv is lurking
Check it out…I think he’s jerking
He’s waving his dong
As I go along
Walking in a rapist wonderland!

It’s a work in progress.

3. I saw La Femme in Shepherds Bush last month. Being at the gig made me feel very old and very un-hip (and very poor: £5.60 for a plastic cup of crap lager? Seriously, suck a dick, London), but they put on an epic show and were very cute and very talented and very very French. (“Sank you Leundeun!”) Go listen to them and give them your money.

Of course I wore my leather jacket to try and look cool (end result was probably more like “formerly cool mom”). It was cold outside but I figured I’d be hopping from the train right onto the tube and then walking like fifty feet to the venue, so I decided to risk it. This would have been fine, but on the way home there was some sort of train cancellation issue (never explained. Why bother explaining these things to the hoi polloi? They can go where they’re herded!) which meant that I got stuck at Stevenage station for well over an hour. There was no heated indoor waiting area and it was COLD. I asked the very helpful station attendant if there was a warm place to wait, and he let me stand next to him under a mini-heater in his little station attendant area, which was awfully kind, but WOW, socially awkward in eighty different ways. I made some fumbling attempts at small talk but I’m rubbish at small talk and it was incredibly painful and if it wouldn’t have been even more awkward I would have gladly gone back outside and just got hypothermia. Hypothermia I can deal with. I’ve never been more relieved to see a train in my life.

4. Christmas occurred. It was not unpleasant. I hope yours was similar. And here’s to a better 2017, right? The world has been ALL WRONG since David Bowie died.

Everybody knows the good guys lost

1. So if you play an album on Spotify, after the album ends, Spotify will carry on playing tracks from other artists that I guess it thinks are similar and you might like. And you know what? Most of the time I like them plenty. Apparently my musical taste can be predicted by an algorithm.

2. Remember the guy I kept having to say hi to on my way to and from work? This got so annoying that I actually started getting up earlier, and believe me, it takes a LOT to make me get up any earlier than I absolutely have to. I now arrive at and leave work ten minutes early just so I can avoid the uncomfortable half-hearted greeting twice a day. I guess social awkwardness trumps sleepiness on my personal Maslow pyramid of irritations.

3. My last two online dates have been especially fun. Date number one was a conspiracy theorist. And not a casual, what-if, weekend conspiracy theorist: no, a full-on, hardcore true believer. (I asked if he believed in lizard people, expecting him to say “No, of course not, that’s ridiculous” but he said “Well…the lizard thing is a metaphor to describe how ruthless they are.” Of course! That makes sense.) I put up the usual “three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead” arguments and basically sat there with one eyebrow raised throughout the conversation, trying (and often failing) not to laugh in his face. He said that he used to be as skeptical as I was, but that he’d seen an incredibly reasonable and well presented documentary with one particular piece of evidence that he said went through him like an electrical shock and made him start shaking. Of course I asked him what this irrefutable lynchpin of evidence was, but he refused to tell me on the grounds that it had messed with his head so much that he’d nearly had a breakdown, and he didn’t want to be responsible for the same thing happening to me. What a gentleman. I guess I’ll have to stay in the Matrix. No red pill for me.

Date number two was a nice enough guy, if a bit dull, but he had some sort of unfortunate patchy skin condition and a VERY lazy eye. I spent the evening trying to avoid making eye contact because I wasn’t sure which one was looking at me. I mean, I like to think I’m not shallow about looks, and poor guy, but maybe use some clear and accurate profile photos? This is not a few extra pounds. You are goddamn crosseyed as a Siamese cat.

I’m starting to feel like my whole online dating experience is an elaborate prank.

4. Jidenna is weapons-grade cool. And doesn’t he look like he smells good? I bet he smells good.

And man, what a tune. It gets a lot done with very little (ditto the video, actually).

5. I’ve read Wuthering Heights at least three times, and every time I’m freshly amazed at how brutal it is. If you haven’t read it, it is not a sweet love story. I’m astonished it even got published back then. Here’s some of the more fucked-up shit Heathcliff does in Wuthering Heights:

  • Kidnaps a sixteen-year-old girl while her father is dying and forces her to marry her cousin
  • Pins a dude down and bashes his head against a stone floor until he’s unconscious
  • Hangs a dog
  • Beats seven shades of shit out of his wife, including throwing a knife at her head
  • Digs up Catherine’s grave and crawls into her coffin

If you haven’t seen the 2011 film version of Wuthering Heights, do. It’s primal. It’s like the raw, scraped bones of the story. It got right into my head, to the point where I had messed-up dreams afterwards.

6. So. I guess I have to mention Trump. (Do I have to, though? Can’t I just pretend none of this is happening?) I have honestly never been so glad that I don’t have children. I’m worried enough about everyone else’s kids. The leader of the free world is stacking his government with LITERAL FUCKING NAZIS. I know that every generation since the stone age has been convinced that the end is nigh, but for real, the end is extremely fucking nigh.

There’s a party up there all the time

1. A few months ago I had a falling-out with my only proper ‘ring them up and go for a pint’ friend in the local area. This was very much for the best, believe me, but since then, for a combination of reasons, I haven’t been going out in town at all. I socialise virtually never, and I take a weird pride in the fact that this degree of self-inflicted solitude would very likely cause mental health problems in a normal person. It’s interesting to know this about myself. If I wasn’t so insistent on being able to walk to the shops, I could be one of those forest rangers whose whole job is to spend six months sitting at the top of a tower looking for fires. Or a biologist at a research station in Antarctica with only penguins to talk to. Or JD Salinger.

2. I do still go on the odd date, of course, mostly for comic relief. My last date involved a heated argument about whether institutionalised sexism exists. Basically this dude thought that women experience no overall disadvantages at a social level, and that any suffering endured by women due to pervasive unrealistic beauty standards is our own fault because a) it’s mostly women writing for fashion magazines and b) it’s up to every individual woman to just rise above and ignore this stuff. Nothing I said even made a dent (why wouldn’t he know better than me about the lived experience of women, right?). In retrospect I’m not sure why I didn’t just get up and leave, but I have this stupid residual built-in female desire (which I’ve obviously just made up in my silly little head) not to be perceived as hysterical and overreacting. I wonder whether he tells black people that racism doesn’t exist. Anyway. There will not be a second date, but maybe I’ll send him a singing telegram from Germaine Greer. Or a PUNCHING telegram! Do those exist? If not it will be necessary to invent them.

I actually did make it to a second date with one guy who was funny and cute and smart and nice and who had great taste in music, but he turned out to be the worst kisser in the whole wide world. (It’s true! I found him later in the Guinness Book of World Records.) It was so bad that it triggered my fight-or-flight reflex like AUUGHHH WHAT ARE YOU DOING GET OFF ME. Damn shame. I might keep that one as a friend, though, since I’ve got a vacancy in the friend department and a very empty social schedule.

3. I may have officially given up on my French pen pal. Writing to her really was helping to improve my French, but she was just so, so awful. After Brexit she sent me a horrible schlocky pop song that she said expressed how she felt (sad, apparently!). She never pointed out any of my French errors, even though I asked her to and that was like the whole point of writing to a French person. She never responded to anything I said about myself or my life. Most of her messages seemed to consist of copied and pasted Wikipedia articles about France or Alsace (where she lives) or places she’d been on holiday. She never, not even once, NOT EVEN ONE TIME, made anything resembling a joke. That’s always the final nail in the coffin for me: we may have different views on religion or politics or life in general, or you may believe in chemtrails or think the moon landing never happened or that 50 Shades of Grey is a good book, but I will nevertheless attempt to carry on a polite conversation with you; but if you don’t make even the slightest attempt to take the piss? That’s it. I cannot relate. Go bother someone else, you weirdo.

4. Here are a couple of sample yearbook covers I did at work. I had fun making these.

Yearbook cover - neon sign

Yearbook cover - motel sign

Hit me with your flashbulb eyes

1. As I’m running out of true crime podcasts to listen to, I’ve subscribed to a couple of public-domain audiobooks. It turns out that when it comes to audiobooks, you get what you pay for. Awkward narration can really ruin a good book. I started listening to a recording of Oliver Twist read by an Irish guy who mystifyingly gave the characters Brummie accents instead of Cockney accents. Like…maybe he didn’t realise? Maybe he thought he was doing a Cockney accent? But a Brummie accent is very specific and hard to do. Inexplicable.

2. Here’s something I’m tired of reading on dating sites: “I’m tall enough for you to wear your heels.” News flash: women are allowed to be taller than men! My choice of footwear is not going to be affected by the worry that I am going to intimidate you or whatever!

Volkswagen even made an advert based on the whole “Uh oh! She’s taller than him! WAH-WAHHH!” bit. Remember this?

Ugh. I’ve developed my own personal version of the Bechdel test where I mentally swap the roles of the men and women in a given scenario. The more ridiculous the result, the bigger the fail.

3. True crime all the time! I’ve been watching a lot of Homicide Hunter. It is brilliant and has all the awkward reenactments you could ever wish for. Every episode starts the same way: first, the body is discovered (“April 4th, 1989. It’s a quiet morning in Colorado Springs, and Bob Jones is walking his dog in a scenic local park. Little does he know he’s about to make a gruesome discovery.” YESSSS). Then, every time, they say something like, “Meanwhile, across town, Lieutenant Joe Kenda is [catching up on paperwork/practicing at the firing range/giving a course on identification/attending an autopsy/at the zoo/having a wank/trying on ladies’ underwear/whatever] when the phone rings.” OK, this is like thirty years ago. There is no way you remember exactly what you were doing when you got called out to every single murder case you ever worked on, and even if you did, we really don’t need this information. Let’s just assume that Lieutenant Joe Kenda was somehow informed about the presence of a dead body and subsequently attended the scene.

4. Dear colleague: here’s the thing. I’m sorry you have allergies all day every single day. That must be no fun for you. But if you’re in an office in close proximity to other human beings, could you maybe leave the room before blowing your nose, rather than messily and wetly snonking into a Kleenex every five minutes while you’re sitting two feet from me? I’m worried my face is going to freeze like this…

…or that I’m going to damage my hearing by constantly turning my headphones wayyyyy up to drown that shit out*. Gross. GROSS.

*Incidentally, should you find yourself in a similar situation, I’ve found that Arcade Fire provides a nice solid wall of sound that covers up background noise very effectively.

Boy, nothing is good enough for me, is it? No wonder I’m single. How about I talk about something I liked for a change?

5. I was in Islington the other day and passed a sign for an estate agents’ called Hotblack Desatio. I assumed that the company was founded by someone who (like all rational human beings) really really loved Hitchhiker’s Guide, but it turns out that the estate agents’ came first and Douglas Adams stole the name (it is an undeniably cool name). I feel like I stumbled across a little piece of history there. This happens to me much more often in England than it ever did in Canada, funnily enough. (I stumbled across Abbey Road when I was living in Kilburn. I’d had no idea I was living like a mile away from it.)