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People say life is the thing, but I prefer reading*


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in life - we've not even got ours on the market yet and I wholeheartedly agree with this statement.

I've not posted anything for a few days as Fiance and I have been busy getting the flat ready to sell. We've found a lovely new place that we think we can just (by the skin of our teeth) afford, in a part of Edinburgh that we didn't think we could ever afford without both of us selling our bodies down at Leith Docks. So we want to get our flat sold ASAP, so that we can bid for the new one and be put out of our misery.

Unfortunately, for the 2 and a bit years we've lived in our current flat, we have been looking at all the various bits of painting/wallpapering/sanding etc and saying 'we really must do something about that'. But not actually DOING it. So, we had it all to do within one weekend. Thank god it's all done now and the place is pristine but I am absolutely knackered. We've got a surveyor coming round today (so help me she better turn up today or I'm going down to her office and dragging her round to the flat by her hair) to tell us how much we're gonna get for it.

I'm on tenterhooks because if we don't get a certain amount we can't afford the Beautiful New Flat In Corstorphine. I'm crossing all crossable parts of my anatomy, as is Fiance.

The Name Game

Friday, April 21, 2006

Since Fiance and I got engaged we have had ongoing discussions about whether I should or should not take his name. I'm thinking NOT - he obviously disagrees. I get the feeling that everyone thinks I'm stupid for not wanting to become Mrs Fiance but I disagree. I have valid reasons for my opinion, which I will set down here for the record (and so that I can use this as evidence to back up my argument when the time comes to make the decision):

1) Why should it be me that changes my whole identity? It's not 1900 any more - I'm not going from living on my father's money in my father's house to living on my husband's money in my husband's house. I work just as hard as he does, and pay a half share of mortgage, bills and upkeep. Just because we're getting married doesn't mean I'm becoming his property.

2) I don't want to lose the connection to my family (in particular my dad, who died last year). Again, I'm my own person and I feel quite strongly that I shouldn't have to change who I am just because I'm getting married. Plus, as there's only my sister and I we're the only ones who can continue the family name (my father has one sister and a childless brother), and when she gets married she will probably take her husband's name.

3) When I hear 'Mrs Fiance's-Surname' I think of his mother.

4) I have enough trouble getting my current name out without stumbling over it. His surname, while very nice, is three syllables long. My first name is also three syllables. So put the two together and that's SIX SYLLABLES I have to get my mouth round, one more than I have at the moment. It's all too much.

5) 'Mrs' will make me feel old, and the grey hairs I am finding in increasing numbers do that quite well enough on their own, thank you very much.

In spite of my outlining all this to anyone who enquires, I still get strange looks when they hear I don't want to change my name, and even people who disagree with my decision. But I'm determined not to bow to the pressure. Many women make this choice now and I don't think it's an unreasonable thing to ask for. After all, Fiance doesn't have to change his name - it's not even an issue for him*. He looked like a little hurt bunny when I told him my intention of being a 'Ms', and yet what do you think he would say if I asked him to take MY name?!?! My point exactly.

*And, as an aside, he will never have to expel eight pounds of baby from his nether regions, something which scares the bejesus out of me. For that reason along I think I should get to do whatever the hell I want with my name.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One of my many pet hates is having my personal space invaded. I cannot stand it when a stranger gets too close to me but it always seems to happen to me, particularly on public transport. I'm relatively short, and only a tiny bit overweight, and I always keep all parts of me and my belongings on MY side of the seat (unless it's particularly quiet and I can get a seat to myself).

Unfortunately this seems to attract larger or more statuesque persons to come and sit next to me - I can see them as they get on, looking for small people and eyeing up all the lovely space they can hog - and I end up crammed up against the window, unable to move my arms more than half an inch without touching some part of the Larger Person. This prohibits necessary morning distractions such as reading the Metro and fiddling with my iPod, unless I'm happy to have my elbows in between folds of someone else's fat. Which I am most definitely NOT.

I do stand by what I said the other day about enjoying taking the bus, but on this morning's journey I wanted to shout OH MY GOD KEEP YOUR FAT ARSE OVER ON YOUR SIDE WOMAN!

The Most Depressing View, EVER

Saturday, April 15, 2006

This is a picture (not mine) of the BP refinery at Grangemouth that you pass on the M9 from Edinburgh to Stirling, as I did today. It was a beautiful spring day, and as we rounded the corner we got a lovely glimpse of the hills in the distance and the sun sparkling on the Forth. And then this came into view:

I can't think of a more depresssing sight. But when I was searching for the above image, I came across this, which shows the same place in a completely different light. I always try not to look at Grangemouth as it makes me want to greet, but that picture makes it look almost beautiful. If they could only make it look like that permanently, it would be just fine.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

I like getting the bus, partly because I don't drive and it's the only way for me to get anyplace, but also because I crank up my iPod and either lose myself in a book or people-watch. Not in a creepy, touching-myself kind of way, but in an interested, people-are-weird sort of way. I was on the bus yesterday going to see my mum and, thanks to the horrendous Edinburgh rush-hour traffic, witnessed in it's entirety an incident that I would otherwise have missed.

The bus was caught in traffic just before a particularly busy roundabout in Corstorphine and there was a group of young lads walking along the pavement next to the bus, horsing around and generally having a laugh. One of them stuck his foot out to trip the guy in front of him, and there followed one of those moments that seem to happen in slow motion. The tripper caught his victim perfectly while he was mid-stride, and the poor bloke went flailing forward, taking those giant steps you take when you're desperately trying to recover and stop yourself falling. Unfortunately it didn't work and, after travelling a good five feet with his ginormous moon steps and flailing his arms (while his mates watched open-mouthed) he hit the deck, full length, in a muddy puddle (at which point of course the whole group erupted into gales of laughter). The tripper was mortified that he'd actually managed to make his mate fall over, and went rushing to help him up, but the dude looked like he was playing dead because he wasn't moving! He certainly couldn't have hurt himself as he didn't fall hard so maybe he was trying to teach the other guy a lesson...

I don't know what happened after that as the bus moved on, but there were a few chuckles from my fellow commuters - we were briefly united in watching the scene on the street, and shared a few smiles and laughs, but immediately went back to the usual 'not-looking at anyone else in case they're mad' thing that people do on public transport.

Blood money

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I won £10 in a sweepstake at my work for the Grand National - I picked Hedgehunter (which came second, for those of you who didn't watch). However I have decided that this is the last time I have anything to do with the Grand National. I've yet to decide what I will do with my blood money, perhaps I'll give it to a Rest Home for Horses.

I was never interested in the Grand National, in the slightest, until 2 or 3 years ago when the Fiance (who has a lot to answer for, by the way) asked me to pick a horse for him to bet on. I picked Hedgehunter cause I liked the name, and it went on to win, so every year since he has pestered me to pick a winner for him, despite my misgivings about the whole thing.

I watched it this year (because I couldn't motivate myself to get my arse off the seat to leave the room) and it was horrendous. I got twitchy every time the horses approached the fences, with their wee legs flailing, and their eyes popping in their efforts to jump the unnecessarily-high fence. And then hearing afterwards about all the poor injured horses having to be put down.

I don't care about the jockeys getting hurt, they get paid to do it. What do the horses get though eh?! Some oats if they're lucky, a broken leg or two and a syringe full of lethal drugs...

Anthropodermic bibliopegy

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Good lord. You wouldn't think human skin would be so hard-wearing! 300 years is a long time...

As both a bibliophile and logophile, this is just the kind of news story that catches my eye. I'd love to discover a book that can summon the devil or turn whoever reads it into stone or something. I also love that there's a term for the practice of binding books in human skin (see title), although it is a slightly disturbing thing to do. Unless of course the donor has specifically requested it. I guess if I never end up writing a book, I could have one bound in my skin. It would have to be a good one though, perhaps a classic like Jane Eyre or The Wind in the Willows.

It's one (albeit freakish and scary) way to achieve literary immortality.

Dani California

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I've just seen the new Red Hot Chili Peppers video as I missed the exclusive on CH4 last night (despite a reminder from my friend - thanks Stumpy!). I'm undecided whether I like it or not - it's a bit of a departure from their usual style in that it's a bit rockier (which I like), although at the same time they're doing a lot of the same things they've done in the past. It's a catchy chorus though and the video's fab. I just can't make up my mind, but the sight of Anthony Kiedis cavorting in the altogether (ok not in this video but fingers crossed for the next one) is enough to make anyone's head muddled. I'll have to get it on my iPod so I can listen to it a few more times.

UPDATE: I realised that I like the new song when I caught myself singing along to it whilst walking to work this morning. I don't recommend doing this in public places.

Meeting people

Monday, April 03, 2006

On my way to work this morning I was approached by a man asking me if I had any spare change. Within a split second I took in his appearance, brushed him off as I would a market researcher, Gouranga person or salesperson, and kept walking. He wasn't begging (by which I mean he was just walking along the street rather than sitting wrapped in a blanket with a sign and a dog on a piece of string), and although he looked a bit scruffy I didn't think he looked like he was homeless. He was wearing a pork-pie hat, a battered leather jacket and he had a scab on his nose, as if he'd fallen over and bashed it recently.

I'm now wondering if I should have dismissed him so quickly. If he'd been sitting on the pavement with a 'hungry and homeless' sign and cute dog I wouldn't have given it a second thought, and given him some change (I had plenty of it). Because he just walked up to me on the street I immediately dismissed him, probably as I felt a little threatened. But I now feel a bit guilty - he could genuinely have been in need of change, maybe he'd lost his wallet and couldn't get home. Or maybe he was indeed homeless and just wanted a cup of tea or some cigarettes. But I was immediately on my guard, even though the encounter took place on a busy street, surrounded by lots of other commuters. If I'm honest with myself his scabby, scruffy appearance probably played a major part in the way I treated him, but I hate to think that any of my loved ones or friends were treated badly or denied help, purely because of how they looked, and Pork-Pie Hat Man is someone's son/brother/friend.

In contrast, I met a lovely old lady on Saturday in the gift shop of the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. We jointly admired the jute shopping bags they were selling, I told her that my fiance and I were thinking of getting married in the Botanics and she told me that she'd been going there regularly for 80 years, since she was two. She was well dressed, clean, very polite and sweet - I didn't back away from her or brush her off like I did Pork-Pie Hat Man...

I am in line for some baaad karma.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

I'm not great at housework. I hate it when my flat's dirty or untidy (which is frequently is), but I hate housework. And yet, when I start, I sometimes go into a bit of a frenzy, and clean/tidy everything in sight, which I find weird.

I came home at 9pm tonight, intending to wash the dishes, clean the bathroom and retire to bed with my book, however it's 11.30pm, and I've just finished. I cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom, changed the cats' litter tray, folded and put away a load of washing, hung another load up to dry, ironed my clothes for tomorrow, and tidied my bedroom as the bed had begun to disappear under a pile of unwashed clothes.

I'm pooped.

*Logan Pearsall Smith

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