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

Damn your love, damn your lies

1. Some advice from me to you: when sending an R-rated text message, make sure you send it to the correct person. Ha ha ha ha ha yeah. I might have to move to Antarctica now. I am the Picasso of finding creative new ways to humiliate myself.

2. Things I’ve come across in Huntingdon market square recently:

One night I passed a guy rummaging around in one of the bins. Like, up to his armpit. Full rummage. I didn’t see his face, but he was wearing a blue shirt. Five minutes later I ran into a very drunk acquaintance of mine, who was wearing a blue shirt. “Were you just rummaging around in a bin?” I said.

“No,” he said.

“Really? Well, it was someone dressed just like you,” I said.

“…Yes,” he said, and turned and walked away.

(It turns out that he had drunkenly bought some chips from the local shitburger, then drunkenly decided he didn’t want them anymore and chucked the closed container into the bin, then drunkenly decided he DID still want them; hence the raccoon act.)

The following weekend, leaving the pub with a friend at a slightly unreasonable hour, we came across a girl passed out cold with a couple of dudes clustered round her. We stopped and asked if everything was OK – the dudes seemed nice enough, but none of them actually knew her, so we carried the chick back to the pub (closed by this time, but the landlord is a sympathetic sort with multiple daughters). The girl could sort of talk, but wasn’t making much sense. We found her phone and had to plug it in to charge it, then we managed to call her mum, who’d been expecting her home a few hours previously. We asked if she could come pick her drunk-ass daughter up, but she was disabled and didn’t drive. We called a taxi, which took over an hour to arrive, during which time I had to basically carry the girl to the toilets and pull her stockings up for her afterwards. (We did get some minor revenge by taking pictures with her phone of her passed out.) When the taxi arrived (which we paid for, by the way), she was still nowhere near compos mentis, so I had to go with her. The second she arrived at home, however, she jumped out of the taxi like a jackrabbit. It’s a miracle! Not a word of thanks, of course.

I was meant to take the taxi home, but I realised I’d left my phone charging in the pub, so I went back there and pounded on the door. No answer. I walked back to my place, knackered and sober, and found my friend waiting for me: he’d brought my phone and had intended to put it through my letterbox, but had put his own phone through instead. The sun was coming up by this point. Christ, what an agg. No good deed and all that.

3. I pass a certain guy every day on my walk to and from work. One day I saw him at the pub (source of all trouble in my life) and we recognised each other and ended up introducing ourselves. How I regret this. Now we have to say hello to each other every single morning and every single evening when we pass each other on the street. You can tell that neither of us are into it anymore – the greetings are getting less and less enthusiastic. I would honestly take another route to work, even if it was longer, but there’s only one road into town (no need for more in a one-horse town I guess). Minor social obligations will be the death of me.

4. I went to the dentist last week for the first time in six years. Good news: my teeth are fine. Bad news: my dentist is extremely hot. Like, you’d stare at him in the street kind of hot. Dentists’ visits are awkward and embarrassing enough without having to worry about dribbling on a goddamn Calvin Klein model, you know?

5. As of Wednesday, I’m going to be on Vancouver Island for two weeks visiting family. Well, I will say a perfunctory hello to my family anyway before running headlong into the Pacific Ocean and splashing around for two solid weeks like a much less cute otter. There will be many photos of water and mountains and mountains reflected in water. You have been warned.

Life was easy when it was boring

1. The stuff I used to do as a kid amazes me now. I climbed things. I jumped off things. I auditioned for things. I signed up for clubs and lessons. I skied and swam and did gymnastics. These days you wouldn’t catch me dead doing anything involving any sort of public performance, and a brisk walk is about as physically active as I get. Where did that fearlessness and enthusiasm go? Woe is me, for I am so crotchety and embittered.

2. FYI, reading Raymond Carver short stories is a terrible idea when you’re undergoing a Series of Romantic Misadventures. Happiness is transient! Connection is illusory! Life is a series of small tragedies! Pass the whisky!

3. I’m watching a show called Mafiosa. It isn’t great, but it’s French, and it’s hard to find stuff to watch in French, so. It’s about a Corsican crime family that is taken over by (gasp!) a woman, and the description of the show on ITV’s website is “Godfather meets Sex and the City“. What? The show is like 100% explosions and guns and vendettas and undercover agents. Literally the only resemblance I can see to Sex and the City is the fact that there is a female central character who sometimes wears high heels. Dear ITV blurb writer: get fucked.

4. La Femme are the most interesting band I’ve come across all year, and I’m itching to force them on people. Sometimes they’re all frantic electroclash, sometimes they’re sort of coolly retro-futuristic like Stereolab, then there are elements of twangy spooky surfy carnival-psychobilly…and of course they’re French, so add an automatic fifty cool points right there. Go listen to Psycho Tropical Berlin. Go now. I’ll wait. It’s all on YouTube, so you have no excuse. Start with these, though:

5. So. Fucking “Brexit”. (The fact of it having such an annoying name makes it worse.) I’ve never felt relieved before that I have the option of leaving this country. I’m ashamed of the UK right now. They’ve had to send round a mass email at my work because some fuckers have started harassing the Eastern European employees since the referendum results. This is LOATHSOME.

This tweet made me laugh and cry, which is a big ask for 140 characters or fewer:

The bells are ringing themselves

1. So, a couple of Saturdays ago I did not have the best day. Well, most of it was pretty good – I met some friends in Cambridge and spent the evening listening to live music at the incomparable Flying Pig. I caught the last bus back to Huntingdon, which is always busy on a Saturday, and a fairly good-looking guy ended up sitting next to me. I was mildly pissed, and cute guys on the bus to Huntingdon are not an everyday occurrence, so I thought hell with it and struck up a conversation. We got on extremely well! He laughed! I laughed! And then we arrived at his stop and I asked if he wanted to exchange numbers and he made an awkward face and went “Uhhhhhhh…” and I died of embarrassment. I’m dead now. Goodbye.

So THEN I decided to go to my local to have one more drink and lick my wounds. The doors were locked but the lights were on, and there’s usually a lock-in on offer at weekends for the select few, so I knocked. There was no response, but I could see people moving around through the frosted glass window in the door, so I knocked again and leaned in to peer through the glass. Right then the landlady opened the door quite quickly (it sticks, so you have to shove it) and it bonked me in the face and broke my glasses across my nose. I guess that’s what you’d call adding injury to insult. I’m having to make do with an old pair of glasses until I can afford new ones. Most expensive lock-in ever!

2. Hell is Other People, part one million: in Subway the other day, the woman behind me in the queue was RIGHT up in my personal space. Like wayyyyy too close. My fight-or-flight was at Defcon One, or whichever the worst Defcon is. I pointedly shifted away and hoisted my bag on my shoulder a few times so that it bumped her, but she didn’t even seem to notice. Then when it was her turn to order, she kept tapping on the glass barrier with her fingernail to show what she wanted. Ugh. People are the worst.

3. I’m not too bothered by most silly TV conventions – every phone number starting with 555, nobody saying goodbye before hanging up (“Hello? HELLO?”), ‘private’ conversations taking place at normal volume five feet from everyone else in the room, people shouting “STAY WITH ME” instead of calling an ambulance – but for some reason, exaggerated sound effects irritate me. Everything has to make a noise! I’ve never stabbed anyone (YET), but if I did, I don’t think it would make a loud metallic “shhhhink”-cum-squelching sound. And you know that sort of rattling noise that guns always make on TV? My American friend (an expert of course) informs me that if your gun makes that sound, there is something wrong with your gun. I’m watching Arrow right now (I don’t know why – it’s terrible, but not terrible enough to be funny), and every time one of the eponymous arrows hits someone it makes that shhink/squelch sound, and this combined with the terrible writing and terrible dialogue (“I’m not afraid to die.” “No…you’re afraid to live.”) and the endless, tedious discussions about people’s FEEEEEEEEEELINGS are getting right on my nut. I should probably stop watching Arrow. (But I’ve started now!)

4. Good luck getting these out of your head!

Animals strike curious poses

1. I was going through my GIF collection the other day (yeah I have a GIF collection. Do you not??) and found that it it includes
– 2 Carey Grant GIFs;
– 2 X-Files GIFs;
– 3 Stephen Fry GIFs;
– 3 Big Lebowski GIFs;
– 4 Star Trek GIFs;
– 8 GIFs of people rolling their eyes and/or giving the finger (for future use);
– and this masterpiece:

It gets funner the longer you look at it.

2. I’ve stopped going to Lidl and started shopping at Sainsbury’s again. Lidl is much cheaper, and it’s directly on my route home from work, whereas Sainsbury’s is a few minutes out of my way. Lidl, however, doesn’t have automated checkouts. Turns out I will gladly pay for the luxury of not having to interact with other humans. (At Sainsbury’s, if there is a queue at the automated checkouts and a human cashier standing there doing nothing, I’ll still go for the automated checkouts.)

3. As part of my Personal Improvement Project to learn the fuck out of French, I signed up for a French pen pal (keyboard pal?), and connected with a lady in Strasbourg called Sylvie. Writing in French really is improving my skills by forcing me to apply all the grammatical rules I learned in school way back when, but Sylvie…is terrible. She’s condescending, didactic and has no discernable sense of humour. She sent me a list of more than a dozen songs (unprompted) and instructed me to “listen carefully to the lyrics – these songs are very beautiful”. They were all unbearably schmaltzy. I made it through about four. Don’t believe me?

BLARRRGHH. (If you want to learn French by listening to music, start with Jacques Brel.)

She gave me an overview of France (again, unprompted) that included such gems as the following:

“Au niveau gastronomique la France est très riche. Les vins, les fromages et les plats raffinés et régionaux sont très développés.” (On a culinary level, France is very rich. The wines, cheeses, refined dishes and regional specialties are highly developed.)


All this is just me being a jerk, of course, but the clincher came when I asked her who her favourite authors were and she said she didn’t have any. Sorry, Sylvie – somehow I don’t think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

4. Best thing to say in a Scottish accent: murder
Best thing to say in a Geordie accent: Kawasaki
Best thing to say in an Australian accent: 1999

Italian mobster shoots a lobster

1. I’m back to sleeping in my bedroom. It’s amazing how luxurious it feels sleeping in a bed again after a couple of months of having to haul myself up off the floor every time I needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. My upstairs neighbour is still conducting rehearsals for Stomp every night between 10 and midnight, and then again bright and early at 6 AM (the man is dedicated to his craft), but I’ve discovered that if I play white noise very loudly and wear earplugs at the same time, I can actually sleep through the noise. Hallelujah.

I bought myself this white noise machine, which gets surprisingly loud, and I use these earplugs, which are surprisingly comfortable. Of course the past few years of neighbour-noise have very effectively trained my brain not to sleep, so I have to make sure a that whole host of other variables are carefully balanced in order to make it though the night without waking up ten times. I’ve cut out caffeine entirely during the week (man, life without tea is barely worth living), I don’t watch any TV or use my phone after 9.30, and I try to stay up a bit later than I’m naturally inclined to so that I’m properly tired. If I screw up any one of these elements, NO SLEEP FOR ME. I got a new laptop yesterday* and spent a little too much time in the evening faffing around setting it up, and hey presto! One shitty night’s sleep.

*It’s a PC laptop, which I bought solely for the purposes of downloading/streaming movies and TV. I’ve had it one day and already Windows is getting on my tits. What’s with the ‘app’ view that replaces the start menu in Windows 8? I hate this so much. If I want to go to Netflix, I will open my browser and go to Netflix. I don’t need to click a bunch of extra times to use the ‘app’ version, which is next to a bunch of useless crap like ‘finance’ and ‘health and fitness’ that I am never going to use. I’ve uninstalled about a hundred of these stupid things so far.

2. Sample spotting! (There should be a name for sample spotting, like ‘twitching’ for birdwatching.)

First, 14:40 by Olafur Arnalds (skip to the five minute mark):

…and now listen to Ray by Daughn Gibson:

Incidentally, I love how Ólafur Arnalds’s music sounds like the soundtrack to an art film where the characters spend a lot of time gazing mournfully out of windows.

3. Some delightful sadist at Channel 5 decided to show Watership Down on Easter Sunday. I love this so much. I wonder how many parents were like, “Oh look! An animated film about bunny rabbits. This’ll shut them up for a few hours” and will now be paying therapy bills for the next twenty years.

4. The 99p shop in Huntingdon is closing down and being replaced by a Poundland. Bloody inflation. This means that there will now be two Poundlands in Huntingdon within five minutes’ walk of each other. I would mock this, but if there’s any place in the world that has the demographics to support two Poundlands in close proximity, it’s Huntingdon.

5. In French, the game hide and seek is called ‘cache-cache’ (‘hide-hide’). This sounds much less fun.

6. I have a new colleague who is Spanish. He’s an absolute sweetheart and great to work with, but there’s a bit of a language barrier. I often can’t understand what he’s saying, and he has trouble understanding me too, and I spend a lot of time speaking slowly and clearly (and trying very hard not to speak loudly) and I keep inadvertently thinking about Fawlty Towers, and I’m worried that one day I’m going to call him Manuel.

Like battlefields where no one fights

1. So here is a thing that I have done several times. I have fruit and yoghurt for breakfast during the week. I buy frozen blueberries, because they’re cheaper. I put some frozen blueberries in my breakfast bowl (I own three bowls, and only one of them is the right size for breakfast. Yes, I am approaching forty and this is how I live) and put the bowl in in the microwave to defrost the berries. While the blueberries are defrosting, I chop up a banana. I then start searching around for my breakfast bowl to put the banana in, and search for an embarrassingly long time, getting more and more annoyed, before I realise that IT IS IN THE MICROWAVE, where I just put it less than a minute ago. Again: more than once, I have done this.

2. Dating is hell. I went on a date with a guy from Tinder recently. He seemed slightly pushy and odd in his messages, but I agreed to meet him because he was cute (will I never learn?). He was fairly charming in person, actually, and I kept in touch with him for a couple of days afterwards, during which he repeatedly asked me for naughty selfies and referred to his penis as “him”, so I gave him the brushoff. I told him that I was giving things another chance with someone I’d been seeing previously (possibly a slight exaggeration – I thought it would be nicer than saying “Your text messages make me want to bathe in bleach”). And WOO, BUTTHURT. It was a whole thing. He demanded to know if I’d contacted the guy first, and at one point he said he was “curious how a girl’s mind works”. I love having to point out that I am one female person and not necessarily representative of half the human race. When I reminded him of the fact that we had met ONE SINGLE TIME, he claimed he’d been “being ironic”. Hilarious! I said “Maybe you should work on your delivery,” and he said “Maybe you should work on your interpretation.” Will do! Bye-bye now!

3. Working on yearbooks is giving me retroactive school trip envy. Kids in England get to do things like go on educational visits to the Parthenon or go skiing in the French Alps. I did not get to do stuff like this. I did once go on a school trip to see the world’s largest Ukrainian Easter egg, though, and obviously that was pretty cool.

4. When Trump first announced that he was going to run for president, how I laughed! Ha ha ha! The man is a ludicrous windbag. I didn’t think there’d be a snowball’s chance in hell he’d get past the primaries. And now I have to face the fact that a huge chunk of America’s population wants this…creature to become one of the most powerful people on the planet.


Seriously, America: get your fucking shit together.

5. Here’s something I made: a vintage take on the Red Riding Hood fairy tale. Blank greeting card available now on Zazzle.

I’m a reasonable man, get off my case

1. Robert Plant’s lyrics are so bad they actually affect my enjoyment of Led Zeppelin. I love the music very very much but can’t stop rolling my eyes whenever Robert opens his mouth (and that endless hair-flipping thing he does on stage drives me insane). The ‘baby baby baby’ stuff is bad enough but when he starts in about Vikings, dear God. PLEASE STOP. My favourite Zeppelin songs tend to be the ones with less Robert and more Jimmy.

If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you
Mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me

Watch out, Lord Byron.

T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her

Let me just clarify here – you’re picking up girls in Mordor? And getting cock-blocked by Gollum? That is…unfortunate.

I’d give the yellow section a bigger share of the pie, but this is otherwise 100% scientifically accurate.

2. I’ve been dating up a storm recently. I’ve met some lovely people (and a few oddballs – one guy suggested meeting at Wetherspoons – !!! – and right after arriving at the pub, excused himself to go wash his hands. No explanation was offered) but so far no one that I’ve desperately wanted to see with their top off. I’m getting pretty bored of dating, to tell the truth. I’m sick to death of hearing my own anecdotes. It does give me plenty of fodder for my Twitter feed, though.

3. Another major plus point of my new job is the position of my desk. I’m still in a big open-plan office (for an introvert, working an open-plan office is basically like being waterboarded all day), but instead of sitting in the centre of the room with people constantly walking right past me and talking to me and around me, I’m now tucked away in a quiet corner. My new boss tends to keep to herself, and on average, I probably spend only about five minutes a day actually speaking to anyone. It’s not as nice as working from home, but I can’t complain. I’ve got my back to the window, so there is some glare on my computer screen when the sun is shining; fortunately for me, however, I live in England.

4. I designed this gig poster for fun. It is a real gig that you can go to, if you want to. Not to brag, but I posted it on the band’s Facebook page, and they said it was, AND I QUOTE, “rad”.

gig poster

5. Tunes for you!