Saturday, December 31, 2005

Barbara's Habits

Although Ms Smith makes out here that she is untidy, I happen to know that she brings a high level of organisation to everything she touches…

Right, lets see if I got this right - I have to list my top five weird (according to whom?) habits, pass them back to you and your list and pass it on to a new five... too...okay lets see...

  1. Interfering. No matter what my partner does, I am always convinced I can do it better. Whether it's driving or cooking, I can't keep my mouth shut and have to make some comment (usually not complimentary!), suggesting ways and methods of improving things!

  2. Compiling mental lists that are more tiring than actually doing the things... I do this every day and if I'm in a particularly bad mood, I can convince myself that there's little point in doing anything (especially in winter).

  3. Free floating imaginings prior to sleep/lucid dreaming. I used to be quite good at this when I was younger, but now I'm often so tired/stressed when I go to bed that I either pass out or can't quite slip into that alpha zone that is required.

  4. Picking up/out turns of phrase in other peoples speech. I love hearing a new way of putting things or a treasured 'family' expression for the first time. I rarely remember it consciously, but it may pop up again in either my own speech or in my writings at a later stage.

  5. Letting my own bedroom become so untidy that it requires mountain climbing gear to get in the door. I have done this since I was a little girl. I really enjoy having a good clear out and tidy up and keeping it all immaculate for about one-two weeks afterwards and then allowing things to accumulate slowly. That's not to say that I don't know where anything is - I do, much to the annoyance of children sent to find things for me. I think it has to do with having a mental compilation of the room like a mind map! (That's my excuse!)
PS. I thought I was the only one who enjoyed sitting in weird positions... not terribly good for the circulation - but I've always enjoyed 'pins and needles' afterwards and waiting for your leg to stop 'feeling funny' before it can be walked on again...

Friday, December 30, 2005


I’ve been surfing Arts & Letters Daily today and came across this interesting story from Times Online about girls and their dolls.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only little girl who did damage to her doll. According to the article, researchers have found that violence and torture against Barbie is quite common. Mind you, I never had a Barbie or a Sindy myself (my childhood was much too deprived) but only one doll, which was large and clumsy looking and had short curly hair. It was the one and only doll that my Mother ever bought me and, in my opinion, looked much better with a shorn head, its face adorned with black marker pen and minus a few limbs. It flew out of the bathroom window (where I had undertaken the Extreme Makeover) in a very satisfactory manner, I seem to recall.

I really can’t agree with all this over analysis of childhood behaviour though, there really wasn’t anything sinister about it – children are much more straightforward than that – I just didn’t like dolls.

Fascinating what disturbing images you'll find on flickr if you do a search for 'Barbie' - and I bet most of the photographers were adults - heh.


Okay, so I’ve been tagged by Autumn Verses to take part in this blog game and, always willing for a shilling, I’m taking part but I don’t know five other people with blogs so am sending it on to five of my OU pals to play by email – Mark B, Barbara, Eve, Karen and Helen.

The rules: The 1st player of this ‘game’ starts with the topic "5 weird habits of yourself" and people who get tagged need to write a blog entry (or email in my case) about their 5 weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged and list their names.

Here's my weird five:

  1. Repressing ridiculous anti-social urges. This one has always worried me because I’ve mentioned it to a number of people over the years as something that I believe everyone does, and they’ve all looked at me in a very strange way before patting my arm and moving to a safe distance. As an example of what I mean – I’m sat in a very quiet place, maybe a library or on a bus – and I notice something that annoys / intrigues / amuses me and begin to dwell on it. I’ll focus on it to the point where I want to do something (often to shout out something inappropriate) so badly that it takes all my self-control to stop myself from doing it. Now, what you have to understand is that whilst I am considering doing it and stopping myself from doing it, I know it is highly inappropriate / ridiculous / anti-social and find the idea of doing it just for these reasons alone, hilarious. I’ve never lost my self-control yet but I’m expecting to have a very colourful dotage.

  2. Making a low grunting noise in my throat. I don’t do this one anymore – used to do it incessantly as a child – usually whilst the family was gathered together watching TV in the evenings (I seem to remember doing it a lot during ‘The News’ so guess it was an attention seeking thing). It used to drive my mother to distraction but I couldn’t stop it.

  3. Making up rules and scenarios. This is one I still do and it has infinite variations. It can be rules or scenarios about anything in any situation – in its most simplistic form it’s not walking on the cracks on the pavement. The most interesting one though is the scenarios one – I like to model relations between things in my head by using numbers or words – a kind of ‘six degrees of separation’ thing. I’m not sure I can explain it any better than that – it’s just how my head works and I don’t consciously intend to do it, just find myself doing it. I used to think it was to help me remember things since I often do it with dates (for example – 1066 was the year of the Battle of Hastings and that adds up to 13, which adds up to 4, which came from 2 numbers added together and 2 4s are 8…) but it doesn’t help me remember anything – it is totally pointless and just, well, weird.

  4. I can’t sit in a chair without complicating it. I seem to be incapable of just sitting in a chair straight without crossing my legs, sitting on one leg, leaning one way or another or sitting sideways. Can’t keep still for long either (because the ways I sit are all so uncomfortable after a few minutes…).

  5. My life has a soundtrack. This one really annoys me. Snatches of phrases and lines from music, films, poetry, anything, often pop into my head according to situations or circumstances I’m in and it is often the cheesier stuff like Julie Andrews numbers or silly phrases from Star Trek. This usually happens when I’m bored – often in business meetings. Although it can be amusing at times, it is also rather distracting.
So that’s it, I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else has to say – maybe they will each of them let me post their responses to my blog…?

Thursday, December 29, 2005


It is truly amazing how little interest I’ve had in writing anything over the past month – not just creative stuff – even emails have required a major effort. Either I’ve had a mini burn-out or maybe I’m going through a phase? I like the idea of ‘going through a phase’ – makes me feel all young and unpredictable.

Yesterday, I sorted out my bookshelves (yup, young and unpredictable, that’s me) and feel better for bringing a bit of order to the chaos of the dining room walls. I’d already got rid of dozens of books to the charity shop before Christmas and have now bagged up dozens more – including all my OU course books. It’s so weird to think that I’ve finished the degree – that what I’ve put so much effort into for the last six years is complete. Then I got to thinking, maybe that’s why I seem to have lost my urge to write – I’m still hovering on the edge of some important decisions but now that one of my most solid points of reference is gone, I’m kind of flailing about and making no progress.

Of course, I know exactly how to set things straight (the degree study taught me that) – I need to apply a bit of discipline. So, yesterday, I ordered several poetry books that nobody bought off my Amazon wish list (by Pattiann Rogers and A. R. Ammons) and this morning, instead of just stopping by at PFFA for a quick look in the non-poetry forums, I read some poetry and critiques too. Then, I wrote this entry and who knows, maybe tomorrow I might even write another? Small steps…

Saturday, December 24, 2005


I love Christmas and am absolutely never grumpy.

Thanks to bokeh on Flickr for this fab photo.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Yup, that’s me – totally triumphal. Six years of hard work in my ‘spare time’ (hah!) and my degree is finished. Got my result for my final course this week and managed to get the highest mark I’ve ever had in an exam – 86 secured a distinction and a Pass 2 for the year overall – which means my 2:1 degree is secure. Phew – I kind of wondered for a while there…

Anyway, the result has managed to cheer me in parts other events haven’t been reaching for a few weeks, and I’ve also been delighted to hear about so many other friends who’ve done well this year. Now I feel like I want to go and have a major celebration, maybe build something really big…

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Doesn't Madonna still look great? She is one of those artists that I feel semi-embarrassed about liking but I’m not in the least embarrassed about admiring her. This week, I watched her new documentary, I’m Going to Tell You a Secret on Channel 4, and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the reviews I read about the show said that although Madonna might not be a good person, at least she was trying to be. That’s what came across to me too.

I tried to work out what it was about her Re-Invention show that I liked and it wasn’t only one thing – it was the whole package – the music, the set, the dancers, the direction. I found the dancers particularly fascinating – there is something so enthralling about people who are doing something they clearly love, with energy, at the peak of their abilities. Inspiring too; especially Daniel ‘Cloud’ Campos, the acrobatic b-boy dancer who had me gaping open-mouthed at the TV when he did ‘The Jackhammer’. It was also kind of ironic that their youth and vitality was what brought the show of an aging ‘star’ to life.

I think I might have found a subject for the sonnet I need to write for my poetry course…

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Well, I have a confirmed new job at a higher grade and met all my colleagues in the UK yesterday. It all sounds like I should be feeling enthusiastic but, they haven’t managed to convince me yet. We’ll have to wait and see – next week will bring lots more news and might clear the mist a bit.

This week has flown past and has been absolutely exhausting – hence the lack of posts here or at any of my usual on-line haunts. Hopefully I can summon up some energy to get round them all today and also try and catch up with the poetry course I am supposed to be doing! Mind you, I also have a huge stack of books to list for sale on eBay, and my new choice from PBS has arrived, and I’m reading Edith’s Wharton’s The House of Mirth, and Dickens' Bleak House is just waiting to be read and, Henry James' The American is calling me but must finish the last chapter of Roderick Hudson first and… M-u-s-t f-o-c-u-s!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


My mood is thoughtful, almost transcendental - like an angelic child sitting in an open field in the early evening sun, wondering what mischief to get involved in next.

Work yesterday was a very tedious. The heating didn't work, we had several power cuts, it was 16 degrees inside and about 2 degrees outside. Plus, I didn't have anything remotely interesting to do and even if I did, I didn't have any enthusiasm to do much anyway. I went to lunch at 10:30 - that's never a good sign. I wore my coat inside all day too - that's not a good sign either. Anyway, I woke up this morning and my heart sank at the thought of another day of tedium, so I decided to take a days holiday and veg out. I've watched some TV, slept, read and messed about on the computer - nice. At 4:55, I decided to check my voicemail to make sure I hadn't missed anything (fat chance!) and hey-presto, there's a message from my new boss. Of course I had to call him - I couldn't wait until tomorrow now, could I?

So, he made me an offer. O-k-a-y... that's good, right? Hmm. He seemed - well; pushy, impatient, uncommunicative, pushy and, really quite pushy. He rambled at top speed through the offer - same pay and conditions, new job at same location but no job profile or clue about what was involved - and he wanted me to accept there and then. I can't say exactly how it smelt but it had a whiff of desperation about it and I didn't feel like being pushed. Months and months in a holding pattern and not one telephone call from anyone making any decisions about my future and then they want to push me? No. I think not. We have a call booked for 11am tomorrow and a meeting in the City Friday - looking forward to an interesting rest of the week - when I've finished this daisy chain...

Sunday, November 20, 2005


I'm feeling kind of strange at the moment - like I'm hemmed in and waiting for something to happen that's taking its own sweet time. Strange.

This week, I should hear about what job (if any) my employer is going to offer me, after my current job was made redundant a week ago. Change has always been good for me, even when it was bad but, I don't like not being in control of the situation - maybe this is why I'm feeling so hemmed in.

The results from my last degree course are due out on 16th December so I still have something to wait for. I like having something to wait for - something that counts - something like an essay coming back from a tutor, or a submission from an editor, or a note from a friend. Perhaps I just enjoy creating expectation - wonder if everyone else does that?

So, if I create expectation on purpose for myself and enjoy it, why aren't I enjoying waiting to hear about my job? Hmm...

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Well, I've managed to surprise myself today whilst putting together a database of links for my new web site. I have so many interests and ways to soak up the hours, that I don't know how I find time to go to work!

My list of links so far includes writing, literature, history, fluff reading, films, TV, music, yoga, cooking, crochet and other assorted needlecrafts. This is gonna be one strange web site...

Friday, November 18, 2005


So, I’ve been thinking about starting up a blog for quite some time but until now, I couldn’t quite bring myself round to doing it. Being a logical type, I like to have a reason for doing everything, but the other thing that put me off was that I thought that the kind of people who have blogs, or ‘personal’ web sites, like the sound of their own voices too much. And then it hit me. I like the sound of my own voice too! I like to rabbit on about anything and everything that interests me, love a good rant, and what’s more, I seldom require an answer.

Anyway, having finished the last year of a 6-year commitment to study this October, and always wanting some kind of absorbing project to take my mind off paid work, I thought I’d give it a go.