Category Archives: Photos

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.

It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks

1. I’m actually done with summer now. I’m over it. For the first time in many years, I feel like I’ve had a proper summer. I went outside. I did summery things. Apart from one overcast day, the weather in BC was sunny and glorious for my entire holiday, and it’s been mostly sunny here in England since I got back, and I’m tired of sunny now. My eyes hurt from the glare and I’m sick of being coated in sunscreen. Can we return to our regularly scheduled gloomy British drizzle now please?

2. As previously stated, BC was spectacular, as it always is. Margaret Atwood (an Ontario native) once described British Columbia’s landscape as show-offy (but more eloquently than that, obvs), and if I wasn’t born there I’d probably feel the same way. Everything is so over-the-top, ridiculously beautiful. Riotously lush forests! Pow! Tumbling waterfalls! Bam! Soaring craggy mountain ranges! Whammo! Since I grew up around that shit, most other places now seem underwhelming in comparison. BC has spoiled me for, like, the rest of the world. (THANKS A LOT, BC.) While I was there I had my usual ‘why don’t I live here’ crisis. I’m finding it harder to come up with credible answers to that question.

3. I’ve started listening to true crime podcasts. And because I never do anything halfway, I’m listening to ALL the true crime podcasts. Don’t believe me? Behold my iTunes feed:

True crime podcasts

(OK, true crime and My Dad Wrote A Porno. You need to be listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno. Breasts are compared to pomegranates. You will laugh and cringe and laugh.)

(And before you even ask, yes obviously I’ve listened to Serial.)

If you fancy some true crime but don’t know where to start, never fear! I’m here for you.

Sword and Scale is the best by miles. The host’s narration style can be a bit dramatic for my tastes, but my tastes are extremely spartan in that department (BE MORE ROBOTIC), so please listen and judge for yourself. The content is interesting and varied and meticulously researched. There are hours and hours of recordings of 911 calls* and police interrogations and trial testimony. It is the Krispy Kreme of true crime podcasts. I binged all 70-plus episodes in less than a month, and felt slightly ill afterwards. People do some fucked-up shit.

Criminal and Detective are next in terms of quality and professionalism. Most Notorious is great if you like historical crime. Casefile and Felon focus mostly on crime in Australia (brace yourself before you listen to the Snowtown episode. Did I mention that people do some fucked-up shit?). The rest are all fine, except for True Crime Japan, which is sort of amateurish. I listen to it when I’m caught up on all the other ones.

*Man oh man, the more of these I hear, the more I realise that 911 operators just do not give a shit. You can be sobbing and screaming “OH GOD HE’S COMING FOR ME” and they will roll their eyes and be like “Can you speak more clearly please?”

4. As promised, here are some photos of BC showing off. Chill, BC.

2016-07 canada view
This was the view from my bedroom at my parents’ place.

2016-07 canada thetis 1

2016-08 canada thetis 2
Thetis Lake. This is within walking distance of my parents’ house (and within Victoria city limits). I swam here nearly every day.

2016-07 canada tsawwassen ferry
Tsawwassen ferry terminal in Vancouver (edited in Snapseed).

2016-07 canada victoria
Victoria harbour.

2016-07 canada chinatown
Chinatown, Victoria. I miss having a Chinatown around.

2016-08 canada kira
My niece, Kira. She scores pretty high on the cute-o-meter.

2016-08 canada sidney spit 3
Me and my crazy sister at Sidney Spit.

2016-08 canada mom
Trees grow pretty big on the island. Cute mom included for scale.

2016-07 canada wittys 6
The fam at Witty’s Lagoon.

2016-07 canada wittys 5
I love the Pacific. That blue…

2016-08 canada china beach
China Beach. A typical Vancouver Island beach. I love how the woods come right up to the water.

2016-07 canada wittys 1
Hey little crab dude!

2016-08 canada woods
I took about a hundred variations of this photo.

2016-07 canada wittys 4
Arbutus tree. These only grow in the Pacific Northwest.

2016-07 canada wittys 3

2016-08 canada sidney spit 2

2016-08 canada sidney spit 1

2016-08 canada sandcut beach 2

2016-07 canada wittys 2

There’s a shortcut to hell through the discotheque

1. My holiday was great, thanks.

Me and my dad

I was in Paris for an entire week and not a single person was rude to me. I want my money back. I did see many people walking down the street carrying baguettes, which made me happy, although I suspect they were hired by the tourism council.

We stayed in a flat in Montmartre, which is hilly and bohemian and lovely and where I can imagine myself living. This was the view from the rental flat:

Montmartre

One of the highlights of the trip was being treated by an old friend of my father’s to an extremely nice dinner on a boat tour down the Seine, featuring sights such as this thing you may recognise:

Some tower thingy

(Another photo of the Eiffel Tower! Just what the world needs!)

There was a pair of American couples at the table next to ours who I swear to God were straight out of the Sopranos: the blokes were thick-necked and thuggish in badly fitting suits and the women were all plunging décolletage and enormous shellacked hair. I was desperate to earwig on their conversation but the ambient noise in the boat was too loud. Probably just as well, since I might have heard something I shouldn’t and wound up sleeping with the French fishes.

I saw lots and lots of art. I went to the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Georges Pompidou, and the Louvre. It was my second time visiting the Louvre, and I decided to do the Northern School, the same wing I did last time. There are fewer famous pieces in that wing, but a) I give zero shits about the Mona Lisa, b) I love Dutch and Flemish art, and c) there is way less crowding than in the other wings. Some rooms were literally empty. In the LOUVRE.

The only real crowds were around Vermeer’s Lacemaker. I sat for a while and watched people troop in, look at the painting for about three seconds (ignoring the beautiful nearby paintings by Ruisdael and de Hooch), have their picture taken next to it, and troop back out again. People are dildos.

Here’s something awesome: leaving the Centre Georges Pompidou, I passed a church. The door was open, and this was inside:

Boat in a church

There was no explanation apparent – only a sign reading “Please do not touch the boat. It is sleeping.”

This is hands-down the best thing I saw in Paris, in one of the bathrooms in the Pompidou:

Vigilante proofreading

Vigilante proofreaders at work, in both English and French! I salute you, pedantic strangers!

Here, have some more photos.

Bridge over the Seine
Bridge over the Seine

Centre Georges Pompidou
View from the Centre Georges Pompidou

Paris rooftopsParis rooftops

2. My old landlord is having a final laugh at my expense, by doing absolutely nothing, as usual. My damage deposit is administered by an independent third party, but requires the landlord’s permission to release the funds. Predictably, he is simply ignoring all requests to do this. I’m going to have to go through the pain-in-the-ass process of filing a formal complaint. OH THAT GUY.

3. This is insane, extensive and highly addictive. It’s a sort of X-Files type wiki, with literally hundreds and hundreds of entries. You could lose months of your life down this rabbit hole. Some of the entries are creepy, some are hilarious, and some are mind-bendingly bizarre. Here’s one about a transdimensional entity resembling a Korean strawberry stuck to a piece of flypaper that communicates telepathically in both English and Slovak. The transcribed interviews of the entity attempting to explain its previous existence are worthy of Philip K Dick. (The ending could use some work, though.)

4. This, however, is the best thing I’ve ever read. It makes me misty-eyed with patriotism for my adopted country.

And yet: is there anything more English than a girl in a minidress – no coat, mascara dribbling down her face after a bad night at Yates’s – eating two sausage and bean melts in quick succession in the frigid October rain? She has spent her cab money on a box of Ribena. One of her mates is getting off with a lad even though she’s just been sick in a BT phonebox. Nothing makes me feel more at home.

It’s too late to be late again

1. The album I’ve been living in this week is Fresh Blood by Matthew E White. This song in particular blows me away. It makes my skin prickle when I listen to it loudly.

That HORN SECTION, my GOD.

2. By all accounts Child 44 is not very good, but serial killer + Soviet Russia + Tom Hardy…it’s like some boffin in a white coat working in a laboratory dedicated to getting Robin to watch stuff just shouted “Eureka!”

3. You know how my flat is the best? This is what the floor of my shower looks like these days:

Shower

Those are beetles. And some moths. Is this an omen? I’m pretty sure it’s an omen.

It’s like this, or worse, every morning. I have to wash all the bugs down the drain before I take a shower. I’m pretty sure they’re coming through the light fixture in the ceiling. I’ve reported it to the letting agency, who promised to call the landlord. So, in other words, this is my life now. I should probably start giving names to my new flatmates.

4. May is nice in England.

Great Ouse River

I wormed my way into the heart of the crowd

So I went to Berlin! How terribly exciting! The lovely-and-talented Emily (or LATE) was in Venice for a singing thing and offered to meet somewhere in Europe for a few days afterwards. We were initially going to go to Prague, but it turns out that getting to Prague from Venice is annoying and complicated and involves connecting flights (how is this possible? Europe is so little! Everything should just be like an hour from everything else!), so we picked Berlin pretty much at random. Berlin! Why not! David Bowie likes it, so that’s me sold. (I think he mentions Potsdamer Platz in a song. I went to Potsdamer Platz. It is…not songworthy.)

We rented a flat in Neukölln through AirBNB (dude, I love AirBNB! This is how I will be travelling from now on). I arrived a full day before Emily, figured out how to get around on the U-Bahn (difficulty rating: harder than the Tube, but much easier than the Metro) and was met at the flat by a towering, hunky Teuton named Anselm who was extremely sweet and helpful but who stared directly into my eyes a little too long in that intense Teutonic way. It was unsettling. Still, I’d have hit that.

The flat was enormous and rather eccentrically laid out and decorated. The ceiling (just the ceiling) in the bathroom was painted a vivid blue, and one section (just one section) of one wall was covered with ornate gold wallpaper in the style of Louis XIV by way of the disco era. Oh, and this calendar was hanging in the bedroom:

Berlin calendar 1

Berlin calendar 2

CARTOON PENIS WHAT.

It was great. The flat was easy walking distance from the U-Bahn and from the hip bits of Neukölln. Neukölln was traditionally Berlin’s Turkish district, and now seems to be about 30% gentrified hipster hangouts and 70% shisha bars and shopfronts like this:

Berlin shop 1
(I’m wearing that dress right now.)

Berlin shop 2

I had a bit of a shufti round central Berlin on the first day. I saw the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and the cathedral, and went to the DDR Museum, which was awesome*, although extremely full of loud French students with no concept of personal space. I bought my sister a snowglobe to add to her collection. (We’re a classy family.)

Berlin snowglobe

Emily’s flight was due to land at 7.30 that evening. This did not happen. Apparently there were some weather issues, and the flight was delayed by several hours. Oh and then they lost her luggage. Great work, Lufthansa! [Insert ‘German efficiency’ joke of your choice here.] We spent most of the remainder of the holiday trying to find a place to buy her some new clothes. Berlin is a major European capital, but man, have fun trying to buy stuff on Good Friday. Just because Jesus was having a rough time of it a few years back doesn’t mean that people don’t need clean underwear, BERLIN.

We had a really nice night out in Neukölln, which ended with possibly too much gin in a terribly hip bar containing a mural of Battersea Power Station, inexplicably. We may have stumbled out without paying for our drinks (I admit nothing). I am not used to running tabs in bars anymore.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars out of 5. Points docked for difficulty in underwear-buying and for having a snowstorm the first night I was there. Not cool.

*Side note: it seems to be a thing with museums that ‘interactive exhibits’ means ‘drawers with words inside’. It is not easy to open drawers in an extremely crowded space. Take note, museums.

Berlin Brandenburg Gate

Berlin statues

Berlin tunnel
Pedestrian tunnel under the Spree

Berlin DDR Museum
Model living room in the DDR Museum

I am the king of the divan

1. I think we can all agree that 2014 was a bit pants. So far 2015 hasn’t been much of an improvement, which is unsurprising considering that January 1st is a chronological designation chosen arbitrarily to mark the conclusion of a full solar orbit and not a magical life reset button. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

2. First on the list of things that are AWESOME so far this year is this bit of news about new EU VAT regulations concerning digital products. Long and painfully detailed story short, any seller of digital products (that’s me!) is now required to pay VAT in the country where the buyer is located, rather than in the country of sale. This means keeping track of the location of every purchaser, including obtaining and keeping two sources of evidence of the purchaser’s address (I have no idea how to do this). As well, and most pertinently, VAT exemption thresholds no longer apply. In other words, instead of being eligible to pay VAT only on earnings above £30,000 or so (my tiny earnings have been exempt until now), I now have to pay VAT on every penny I earn from EU purchasers, even on a single collage sheet worth £3.

(VAT thresholds continue to apply to other small businesses, by the way. Just not to digital sellers. If I was selling hard copies of my collage sheets and shipping them to Belgium or Spain, I would still be exempt from paying VAT, but because I’m sending files in digital format, I have to pay. SEEMS TOTALLY FAIR.)

HMRC have set up a ‘one-stop shop’ for small businesses to allow them to calculate their returns online in a single place, rather than having to figure out VAT rates and make individual payments in more than a dozen countries. I’ve registered for this, but I genuinely have no idea how I can meet the criteria for proof of a buyer’s location. A PayPal receipt is not enough. Etsy will be introducing ‘tools’ of some kind to help manage this process, but it’s down to me to account for this information for the Rowan Tree shop. I can’t imagine a way to do this that won’t make the purchasing process more complicated, which will obviously have an impact on my (already insignificant) sales.

This is a huge bummer. HUGE. I’m seriously considering packing it all in and focusing on my neglected Zazzle store instead. The administrative burden is just too much for the amount of money I actually make. I’m not an EU-naysayer, but THIS IS GAY, Y’ALL.

Please, please sign this petition to maintain the VAT exemption thresholds for small businesses. It will take you less than a minute:

https://www.change.org/p/vince-cable-mp-uphold-the-vat-exemption-threshold-for-businesses-supplying-digital-products

3. Topping today’s list of things that are making me grumpy, however, is my accommodation situation. I worry that this blog is turning into a diary of one woman’s descent into accommodation-induced madness. I’m still grateful every day that my walls aren’t covered in mould and that there’s no intermittent smell of sewage coming from under the sink. And I like the flat itself:

Flat

Flat 2

See? It’s nice enough. But it is cold. So very cold! Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night makes me feel like Captain Oates. My last flat was surrounded on three sides, so it stayed pretty toasty in winter, but this one is exposed on three sides, and I don’t think the walls are insulated, like, at all. Just bricks and then The Elements. The electric radiators do warm the place up pretty well, but they’re old and use a ton of electricity, and since I’m on a meter, I’m paying an absolute fortune to keep my fingers from falling off.

And my neighbours are the worst. Oh God, the WOOOOOOORST. The flat next door is like a clown car, except instead of clowns, it’s full of Polish people. Seriously, the entire population of Poland either lives or hangs out in this flat. They come and go constantly, at all hours, starting at about 6am, and every time they come or go, they SLAM the door so hard that my own doors rattle on their hinges. I’ve started jamming a rug under my front door to stop the vibrations, but it doesn’t make much of a difference.

And they SHOUT! Not one of the dozens of people regularly crammed into this tiny flat has ever encountered the concept of inside voices. I finally had enough the other day when it sounded like an actual fistfight was about to erupt. I asked them to please tone it down, and my hatchet-faced neighbour said “Sorry” and closed the door in my face. They were then slightly quieter than usual for about ten whole minutes, so hey! Diplomacy works.

The upstairs neighbours are less shouty and more stompy. I think they’re running a bowling alley up there. Or a tap-dancing school for elephants. I had to call in sick today because after finally getting to sleep at 2.30am (I always get a bit nocturnal over the hols), I was awakened at 5.30am by the sounds of a regimental march upstairs and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I am extremely, extremely crabby right now.

At around 8.30am, seven days a week, the Polish deli downstairs takes over the noise-making duties, banging doors and breaking down boxes and chucking pallets around with extreme prejudice right under my bedroom window.

I have a white noise app on my phone – every night I turn on ‘ocean waves’ at maximum volume and pretend like hell I’m on a beach far away, but it doesn’t help much.

The area under my bedroom window is a small courtyard, which opens to the flats and the back of the deli and has a set of double doors leading out to the street. Recently someone took it upon themselves to rip the doorknobs off these doors. They just pulled them right off! Why would someone do this, you ask? CHRIST KNOWS. Perhaps the doorknobs insulted their mother. Anyway, the end result is that the doors bang loudly all night if there’s the slightest bit of wind, and I have to sneak downstairs in my dressing gown under cover of darkness and prop them open with whatever’s lying around. If someone comes home after I do this, they usually un-prop the doors, and I have to do it again.

But wait! There’s MORE! Yesterday I went downstairs to find this:

Flat - courtyard

While it looks as though someone has simply vomited freely all over the floor, the truth is actually much worse. That is backed-up sewage! Someone (landlord? Shop owners?) left this note:

Courtyard - note

Yeah, so apparently my neighbours are backward yokels from Borat’s home village who don’t know what toilets are for. WHY ARE PEOPLE PUTTING FOOD AND NAPPIES DOWN THE TOILET. I shudder to imagine what they put in the sink. And now I’m going to be charged for the resulting mess! Except screw that. I have never put anything down the bog that wasn’t what God intended to be in there, and I ain’t paying a cent.

I so desperately wish I could afford to move again. Except then what would I write about?

Just the beer light to guide us

1. I have a new phone! It’s very slightly longer and thinner than the previous one, so that’s exciting. My old iPhone 4S was starting to get a bit glitchy and slow, and I initially wanted to update to the 6, so I shopped around but couldn’t find any package for less than £100 down and then £40 a month for two years. Then I had the bright idea to upgrade to the 5S, since I am really not a gadget fiend and don’t care about having the Latest Thing; I just wanted a working phone and maybe a slightly better camera. It is insane how much cheaper it is to upgrade to the next-newest model. Not only did I not have to put any money down, but I was able to switch to a cheaper plan, since I never used anywhere near the full amount of minutes or data included in my old plan. So I now have a brand-new phone, for no money down, and am paying less money every month. PLUS I sold the old phone online for £90, so I actually made a profit by upgrading. I am a genius.

In celebration of having a brand! new! phone! I got a brand! new! photo editing app! called VSCOcam and it is awesome. It’s a free app, and on top of the usual set of filters it lets you adjust fade, contrast, tint, exposure, vignetting, sharpness, grain AND MORE. You can also purchase add-on filters. I’ve been taking photos all over the place. (Well. In the three places I actually go.)

Church doorway

Church door

Autumn leaves

Bare branches

2. I’m still enjoying my new flat much, much more than my old flat (which isn’t saying a great deal). Sadly, landlords in general seem to be much of a muchness. This one is so laissez-faire I’m not actually sure he exists. For starters, I was never asked to sign an inventory when I moved in, which is a historical first for me. (I’m not sure if this will make it easier or harder for the letting agency to dick me out of my damage deposit. They’re gonna try one way or another, sure as eggs is eggs.) I’ve never had a flat inspection, either. I don’t mind any of this too much, but recently my hot water heater started leaking. I reported the problem to the letting agency, and they sent someone round fairly promptly to take a look and provide an estimate for repairs, but when they sent the estimate on to the landlord for approval, he just stopped answering their calls, and they can’t authorise any repairs without his permission. This was over a month ago. Which is SO GREAT.

It isn’t a serious leak (so far), but come on! The landlord can’t just NOT carry out repairs, can he? I’m trying very very hard to just put up with it and not make a fuss, since all my complaining got me kicked out of my last place. I’m a bit worried, though – my electric shower has started making funny noises (and only has two heat settings: ‘tepid’ and ‘magma’), and I’m afraid that if it goes kaput I’ll be having cold showers indefinitely.

3. I bought myself these Converse trainers, which I love, but the soles make that scrunch, scrunch ‘walking on fresh snow’ sound whenever I take a step, so I am now paralysed with self-consciousness every time I walk across the office. Not wearing them is not an option as all my other shoes are falling to pieces. Would insoles help I wonder?

4. Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs

I dig your barbequed lips

I have now seen Stewart Lee LIVE IN FRONT OF MY BRAIN. It was actually even better than I’d hoped it would be. He is so funny. SO FUNNY YOU GUYS. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I laughed so hard that I started doing that involuntary rocking-in-your-seat move. The guy is a pro. He didn’t split the audience this time – he just decided that Ipswich in general wasn’t up to much, and berated the group of us as a whole. (He made some mention of “Ipswich EDL members” and someone whooped and he said, “That was a criticism, not a shout-out.”) It was wonderful.

In one of the memorable lines from the show, he said that the Russell Brand/Jeremy Paxman interview “was like watching a monkey throw its own excrement at a foghorn”. HAAAAAAAAAA HA HA HA HA HA HA

Ipswich is…well. J compared it to Sarajevo at one point. There are a lot of deserted shopfronts and buildings that appear to have lost a fight with the Incredible Hulk. I kind of liked it though, probably for the same reason I like ugly, mangy old dogs with scars and missing teeth who look like they’ll rip your arm off as soon as look at you. I guess aesthetically I’m a masochist?

And there was a sea view from my hotel room, look!

The sea, the sea

2. ‘Olive’ is a pretty weird thing to name someone, if you think about it. In fact it’s the only food-based name that I can think of offhand (I’m not counting the herb names like Rosemary; herbs are more like condiments than actual food) (THESE HAIRS AIN’T GONNA SPLIT THEMSELVES), other than ‘Candy’ and ‘Cherry’, which are a bit more intuitively obvious as names but are somehow stripper names while ‘Olive’ is a stodgy old-lady name.

3. Here is something that exists despite all the laws of probability – a pilot for a sitcom called Heil Honey, I’m Home. Yep. It is exactly what you think it is.

Think about the number of people it requires to create a TV show: writers, producers, actors, network executives. ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE were like, “We are making a sitcom about Hitler and his zany Jewish neighbours! This is going to be huge!”

The thing is, it’s actually kind of charming.

4. Whoever it is, he’s doing a hell of a job of keeping a straight face.

5. Here’s a Valentine’s song for you, featuring the best worst guitar solo ever at the 1:45 mark. I dig YOU, Jon Spencer!

Be festive

1. Thanks to my friend who mentioned recently out that Die Hard is considered to be an example of a near-perfect script. Huh. This is interesting. I mean, everyone knows Die Hard is capital-a Awesome, but I didn’t know it was, you know, capital-a Art. I think it’ll be on my Christmas watch list this year. I might even do a Die Hard marathon. Yippee-ki-yay.

2. And thanks also to my friend J, who, when I said that I wished I could afford a Christmas tree, offered to bring over an unused artificial tree that he’d spotted lying around his office. I said hurrah, please do! and so he brought it round. And my God. This thing is a wonderful monstrosity. Fake snow, fake pinecones, fake berries, and COLOUR-CHANGING FIBEROPTIC LIGHTING. Oh yes.

Behold, and be festive.

Merry fucking Christmas

Do not mess with science

1. I went to Brighton, and lo, it was good. Though I’d forgotten how ultra-aggressively hip Brighton is. I stepped off the train and instantly felt very old, very straight, and terminally uncool. (One of the upsides of living in Huntingdon is that I could go out wearing a bin bag with holes cut in it and a flower pot on my head and still be the best dressed person in sight.) I took a stroll down the pier and watched the dramatic waves and saw someone venture a bit too far down the jetty and get head-to-toe drenched, which was pleasing.

Then I met my friend and we went to many pubs full of terrifyingly stylish people (lately I’ve been allowing myself a few drinks now and then, but I might stop again soon because holy shit hangovers OW) and talked talked talked and then hung out at his place and played Duelling Spotify and shouted about music (HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE DR FEELGOOD, ARE YOU INSANE) and it was nice. Here are some photos.

Brighton promenade

Brighton pier

2. In my continuing mission to watch The X-Files in its entirety, I am enjoying all the ‘before they were famous’ celebrity cameos (The X-Files must be second only to Law & Order in this regard). I’m about halfway through season 3, and the other day I spotted Giovanni Ribisi and Jack Black in the same episode (boy is struck by lightning; develops power to control machinery with his mind: SCIENCE!). Oh, AND I spotted none other than Hank Schrader from Breaking Bad, playing an FBI agent, naturally. I know Vince Gilligan cut his teeth on The X-Files, and I’m looking forward to Bryan Cranston’s cameo, whenever that is.

I also enjoyed Tony Shalhoub as the man who is bombarded by dark matter in a laboratory accident, causing his shadow to somehow start killing people. DO NOT MESS WITH SCIENCE.

3. Most Canadian couple ever indeed. I could not love these people more. PUT ON A JACKET, YOU MENTAL.