Tag Archives: complaining

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

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

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.)

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:

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.

trump-a-dump

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.

He is whiter than white and cleaner than clean

1. I’ve been rewatching Star Trek Voyager over the past few months. I’m coming to the end of the final season, and I’m really going to miss it. I love the Star Trek universe. It’s so comforting. Humanity has overcome greed, pollution, discrimination and conflict, and is peacefully exploring space, rocking their unisex jumpsuits and showing the rest of the galaxy how to get shit done.

Here is the plot to every single episode of every Star Trek show, pretty much: a Starfleet starship answers a distress call (they never learn with these things). An initially friendly encounter with a new alien race (English-speaking humans with Silly Putty on their foreheads) turns hostile when the aliens exhibit unpleasant behaviour (usually a reductio ad absurdum of some characteristic of a historical or non-Western human culture), leading to some sort of crisis. The Starfleet crew are aghast but behave diplomatically, ultimately saving the day with their pluck and determination and teaching the aliens a lesson about cooperation or compassion or table manners or whatever.

(The other plot is when someone goes into the holodeck and either falls in love with one of the holo-characters or one of the holo-characters becomes sentient and turns off the safety parameters and goes on a rampage, or both. Why is it even possible to turn off the safety parameters in the holodeck? The thing is a death trap.)

I love it unreservedly. I’ve watched so much Star Trek: TNG, Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise (but not the first Star Trek series. Too camp) that I’m sort of half convinced that holodecks and photon torpedoes and Jefferies tubes and phasers and transporters and replicators are real, and I have this semi-serious longing to be a Starfleet officer. I can speak fluent Trek tech-speak, too:

Captain, we’re venting plasma from the starboard nacelle! If we modulate the phase variance of a gravimetric torpedo to emit a sustained tachyon burst, we may be able to disable their weapons array!

See? I’m qualified.

I’m beside myself with excitement about this, naturally.

2. My new landlord is the diametric opposite of my old landlord (I raised a dispute over my damage deposit more than a month ago, and still not a peep). I recently had some minor repairs that needed doing in my flat, but I put off reporting them to the landlord for ages because he tends to come straight round and do the repairs himself, providing a detailed running commentary the entire time. I really shouldn’t complain – it’s lovely that he’s so responsive – but I now know way more about toilet flushing mechanisms than I ever hoped to.

3. The new flat has a bathtub. My last flat did not have a bathtub. I have been making up for lost time, bath-wise. After 9.30 every evening I basically live in the tub. Since moving in I’ve gone through nearly two large bottles of bubblebath, and probably a hundred tea light candles (it’s not a proper bath without candles). My skin is getting really dry and itchy but I DON’T CARE. IT’S BATH TIME.

4. A thing that I hate is when some chat apps (Facebook, Whatsapp) change my text emoticons into graphic smileys. It took me ages to come round to using smileys at all. I’ve resigned myself because sometimes you need a smiley, especially if you are being nearly continuously sarcastic (I inadvertently insult people like all the time). I already feel undignified using them, but at least a text smiley has a modicum of minimalist dignity. When I type in a semicolon-bracket and it turns into a giant gurning yellow smiley face it makes me cringe.

5. As of now I’m off work for a week. I’ve treated myself to a bottle of wine, and I will now commence binge-watching season 3 of The Bridge. Every day in every way, I wish I was Saga Noren.

What you call love I call retribution

1. If I could make art like any one person in the world, it would be Chad Hagen. The geometric and surrealist elements, the colour palette, the lovely soft background textures…everything about his work is delicious to me.

2. Yeah, so I only tweeted the same* comment as BILL FREAKIN’ MURRAY, except six months earlier! Why am I not famous? It’s a mystery.

*Close enough. WHATEVER.

3. Online dating continues to make me ooze with warm-hearted affection for the whole human race.

I replied, “Try turning into a different person”, which didn’t put him off one bit, because he is the best. He accused me of “grumping” and went on to refer to me as “Canada Dry”. Oh the stories we’ll tell the grandkids!

4. Last Thursday night was incredibly windy, and the doorknob-less outside doors sounded like a cannon going off every five minutes and I had the rage of ten men! And so, around midnight, I went downstairs with my trusty Phillips-head screwdriver…

…and took the fuckers right off their hinges, because I am PROACTIVE. God knows what passers-by must have thought, but problem solved. I also hit my limit the other day with the stomp-stomp-stompiness upstairs at 5.00 in the morning and went up there in my dressing gown and slippers all Dudelike and dishevelled and asked them to PLEASE try to keep it down in the early hours. My neighbour speaks about three words of English but I made stompy hand gestures and probably appeared fairly deranged, so she said “OK” and they have been slightly quieter since then. They aren’t really doing anything wrong – it’s just that the building is flimsy and they work odd hours and, you know, ARE THIS GUY:

With regard to sewagegate, I think the landlord realised the unfeasibility of trying to charge the tenants for the damage, but all of us got a sternly worded letter saying that if the problem occurs again they will “investigate”, which, gosh, sure sounds fun for them.

And thus, my life continues to be almost – but not quite! – intolerable. Over and out.

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?

Alone above a raging sea

1. My job is insane these days. INSANE. Working in the funeral service industry (which I sort of do, tangentially) really brings home the fact that people die in the winter. They die and die and die! Funeral homes must be stacking corpses like firewood. On top of this (pile of corpses) I’m trying to train a new starter. I am terrible at this. I’m good at my job, but bad at giving coherent verbal instructions. Sorry, new guy. Anyway, MAN. I’m sleepy.

2. Reading eulogies all day makes me think of the many, many things that will not be said at my funeral. Here is a small sample:

– Selfless
– Generous
– Good-natured
– Cheerful
– Always a kind word
– Lived for others
– Never complained

My eulogy will have to be all tactful, like, “She had…definite opinions. And she always…kept the care home staff on their toes.” (Read: miserable old bitch.) If I was a different sort of person this knowledge might make me want to live a better life, or something. But I’m not. Get off my lawn.

3. At the moment I’m reading nothing but French detective novels in an attempt to put myself through a vocabulary crash course (so I can talk back to Radio France more fluently while I’m cooking supper, I guess?). Detective novels (called “polars” in French, oddly/charmingly) are good because they’re generally light going and it’s easy to get caught up in the story, which makes it easier to concentrate. However, the words I’m learning tend to be along the lines of “poignardé” (stabbed) and “objet contondant” (blunt object). I will probably end up speaking French like a forensic technician. Which obviously would be awesome.

4. Speaking of detectives, remember how I said there should be a show about the Pinkertons? It turns out there totally is one! It started just a couple of months ago. I’m not sure how well it’s doing – I can’t find it to download anywhere, and there aren’t even any photos on IMDB. That can’t be good, right? I will be so sad if it sucks.

5. Music time! First, some sinister, stripped-down techno from Shxcxchcxsh. Calling yourself ‘Shxcxchcxsh’ means that you give exactly zero shits about radio play or word-of-mouth publicity, and amuses the hell out of me. (When asked during an interview how the name is pronounced, they clarified that the Hs are silent.)

And thanks where thanks are owed for the introduction to The Clean, Kiwi psychedelic jangle indie lo-fi groundbreakers. I love them so much. And you’re about to.