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

In the company of genius...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I went to the James Tait Black Prize Award Ceremony tonight.

I wanted to go because Ian McEwan won the Fiction prize for Saturday which I read not so long ago and was blown away by it (Sue Prideaux won the Biography prize for Edvard Munch: Behind The Scream). Saturday is one of the best books I've read in a long time and while it's always interesting seeing an author you like in person, sometimes you can be a bit disappointed that they're not as witty, erudite or good looking as you had pictured them to be (I'm joking about the last bit by the way).

Ian McEwan was not disappointing at all. He has a towering intellect and it was kind of awesome hearing him speak about a book I'd enjoyed SO much - seriously, if you've not read it, YOU SHOULD. Hearing McEwan's perspective on why he'd chosen to write that particular story, and his experiences while researching and writing it made me remember how much I enjoyed it and want to re-read it! It's always good hearing about the methodology of an author I like. I try to store these tips in my brain for when I sit down to write my own bestselling novel (which will be when hell gets a bit chilly).

I also got a surprise because Ian Rankin was presenting the awards, and then chairing a question and answer session with the two winning authors. As I'm an Edinburgh lass born and bred I'm quite ashamed to say that I've never read any of the Rebus books (for some reason I don't fancy them but once I read one, I'll probably end up having to buy em all!) but I try to follow Rankin's career and if I could ever be half as successful as him I would be delighted. He was a good host, very funny with no airs and graces and he managed to tease out some interesting questions, despite the reluctance of the audience. My sister is a fan of his, and was decidedly jealous that I had spent an hour in the same room as him. Admittedly it was quite a big room.

So I was a bit bedazzled by the company I was in - I fluctuated between feeling like a bit of an intellectual, and a bit of a fraud.

But then we went for a chippy on the way home, and I was conveyed from the dizzy heights of academia back to my heritage - a greasy fish supper on a tray in front of Eastenders.

In which the use of parentheses becomes ridiculous

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Although I'm excited about moving house I'm feeling a little jaded today. I'm not particularly enjoying my job and I feel a bit like a hamster in one of those plastic exercise wheels - running to keep up but not really getting anywhere.

I want a career that I enjoy (well, just a career would be nice), something that I can get enthusiastic about, and encourage me to get out of bed in the morning without feeling like pulling a sickie every day. I have a rough idea of what I'd like to do, but it's doing it that's the problem. Putting the whole aspiring-writer thing aside, I've always liked the thought of being a librarian or owning a book shop (unfortunately librarians are highly qualified people, not just lucky bibliophiles who know their alphabet really well, as I used to think) but either of these things involve a hefty financial commitment in order to get started.

As much as I'd love to go back to Uni and study Librarianship or English Lit (something that I am interested in instead of the meaningless mickey-mouse subject I did study) I couldn't afford the fees or the money I'd need to keep on top of my mortgage for my pretty new house. I don't think I qualify for any financial support. And even if I could afford it - what it if turned out I wasn't any good at that either? And I'm sure librarian jobs aren't exactly plentiful.

Of course, these are all excuses (apart from the money thing, that really is a problem) - if my dad were here he'd tell me to get my head out of my arse (although maybe not in those words exactly) and go for it.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Much as I would like today's post to be a triumphant 'hallelujah we're sorted', it's not I'm afraid. We have a possible flat on the outskirts of Edinburgh, but it's by no means definite yet. However, the landlord is happy for us to bring our cats and, although she has increased the rent because it's a short term let, she's happy to rent the place to us for the time we need it. I've not seen it yet so it could be a hell-hole, but quite frankly I'm at the point where I don't care. I just want to know that we definitely won't be homeless (or forced into staying with family*) come the end of July.

*Not that staying with family is such a bad thing. We'd be doing that for the whole two months if it wasn't for the cats - Fiance's mum has a black labrador (he would probably love the cats, but I don't think the feeling would be mutual. Roo would never recover, bless her), and my mum is highly allergic to the cats. Gah!

Stress#6 (yes we're back to that)

Monday, June 26, 2006

My inbox is full of emails that start 'dear teeny thanks for your enquiry but ...' No-one is prepared to rent me a flat because a) I only need it for two months, and b) I have cats.

This is SO annoying because I'm a really good tenant - I'm clean and tidy (the landlord of the last flat I rented complimented me on how clean the place was when we left), I don't have wild parties where people puke on carpets, I don't play loud music, and above all else I respect other people's property. I can see why people are reluctant to rent me a flat for the two reasons I've quoted above, but how on earth am I supposed to convey all this to someone who's only interested in squeezing as much money as they can out of their tenants, and whose basic criteria are so totally NOT in my favour. I think I've contacted just about every letting agency in Edinburgh and they are all absolutely f**ing useless.

Added to this, a colleague of mine has a flat for rent. I know because I saw her advert. She and I had a conversation about renting just last week, and she advised me to get my skates on and get a flat sorted because they're all filling up due to the Festival ('ooh hey thanks for that, I HADN'T NOTICED!').

She mentioned that she and her husband own flats that they rent out, but that they have tenants for all of them. She knows I'm struggling to find somewhere, as she's heard me on the phone to various landlords/letting agencies. And she's not mentioned a word. I understand if she doesn't want me as a tenant, but does she honestly think I'm not going to come across her ad, when I'm checking every website I can find?

Just call me Esmerelda

Friday, June 23, 2006

This week has just flown past.

I've emailed approx 300,000 letting agents and every single one has said they cannot help me. I've replied to countless ads offering short term accommodation and nearly every one of those either won't take pets, or wants at least a 6 month let. Now, call me stupid but 6 months isn't short term to me.

Fiance is now investigating the possibility of renting a caravan for 2 months.

Yes, you heard me...


16.36 - Optimum time for napping at work

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I read somewhere that productivity drops to it's lowest ebb at approx 4.15pm (I can't remember the exact time, and I don't have enough energy to find the article). I've had quite a busy day, and most of what I've been doing has actually been work, but at 4.36 I slumped in my chair, as the effort of staying upright just became too much for me. I also spent some time looking for a flat to rent today but I'm not having much luck, and I think it's sapped all my energy.

Most people won't accept pets (even two beautiful pedigree cats who poop in their tray and don't scratch the furniture), and if they do, they need a minimum six month let. I'm prepared to go out of Edinburgh if necessary, and I'm not at all fussy about the accommodation. You'd think I'd get SOMEWHERE wouldn't you? Well unfortunately, the one of the biggest arts festivals in the world is gearing up to take place right on my doorstep, and the canny Edinburgh residents realise that if they're prepared to vacate their homes for a month, they can make a FORTUNE. This is lovely for them (and I may well consider doing it myself if I'm ever short of cash), but by god it's making my life difficult. One girl I spoke to last night wanted £250 PER WEEK, for her one bedroom flat in Polwarth.

I love the Festival, I really do, but WHY OH WHY does it have to be on in August?

That Monday Feeling

Monday, June 19, 2006

I don't understand how it's Monday already. It seems like 5 minutes ago that I was gaily tripping out of my office into the sunshine, revelling in the Fridayness of the weather, my mood and the prospect of two whole days away from drudgery. But here I am again, sitting at my desk trying to keep my eyes from glazing over.

I had a fairly chilled out day on Saturday (shopping for walking boots! yes WALKING boots), and pottering around Princes Street and the Gardens.

Then it was Father's Day on Sunday. I went to the place where we scattered my dad's ashes and put down some flowers. I know Father's Day is an advertiser's dream and totally commercialised and so on and so forth, but it's still an opportunity to show your dad that you love him. I wish I'd made more of a big deal of him last year.

World Cup Statistics

Saturday, June 17, 2006

No of football games watched in this house since World Cup started:

Approx 400 million

No of people in this house who are inexplicably fascinated by the mindless idiocy of it all:


No of people who couldn't give a rat's ass:


No of World Cup related arguments so far:

Amazingly, only 2

Predicted argument per game ratio for the rest of the competition:


Likelihood of non-football fan moving in with her mother for the next 4 weeks:


Not in prison

Friday, June 16, 2006

I've just realised that I've not posted anything since Tuesday and consequently my huge readership (!) might think I'm in Cornton Vale.

I'm not.

I've just had a busy week and every time I have been in the house, the World Cup (known henceforth as the Instrument of Torture) has been on the TV in my spare room where the PC is, thereby preventing me from entering the room without screaming loudly to drown out the noise.

So, I have not committed any serious offences - my neighbour's car alarm stopped going off after what felt like three days, and I haven't seen the car for a few days. Poor Abandoned Dog has also been quiet all week, but he tends to be left out on a Friday night so I may be making that call to the RSPCA tonight...

*Update* Poor Abandoned Dog is back. It's currently 11.15pm and he's only been barking for 20 mins, but he sounds like he's just gearing up. Grrr!

ASBOS and Animal Protection

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I went home last night, anticipating a lovely quiet night in front of the TV watching the soaps* and drinking tea. Not much to ask, I didn't think. Unfortunately, I was denied this modest pleasure by my lovely neighbours.

One of the bastards (I don't know who, but I have an idea - Ginger Chav and Scary-Haired Blonde) insist on leaving their long-suffering dog out in their garden when they go out in the evening, and the poor thing barks and howls for all he's worth, until they come home again. I've considered grassing em up to the RSPCA but so far have held off (it's coming though...) All night last night this dog voiced his displeasure at being abandoned (for which I do not blame him - he's a dog and doing what dogs do - barking. And probably sniffing other dogs asses but I'm not talking about that particular aspect of canine behaviour right now), until about 11 o'clock when the owners came home and dealt with him.

All was quiet.

And then, THEN, the chap responsible for this post decided to get all up my face as well (Girlfriend! *snaps fingers*). His car alarm is broken. He needs to just accept it and get it fixed before I snap and beat him to death wiv his own shoes...

It started going off not long after Poor Abandoned Dog was either fed a juicy bone or shot in the head. And the first few times, Car Alarm Dude was good enough to get off his arse to switch it off. But then he must've gotten tired of doing this, and he left it. So it went off intermittently, every couple of minutes. ALL. NIGHT. LONG.

It was going off at 4.30 am when I woke up after a particularly nasty dream involving a spider the size of a dinner plate with a thirst for my blood.

It was still going off when I left for work this morning (and by god I had to summon all my willpower not to key the car on the way out).

If I don't post anything tomorrow, it may be because I'm in prison for murder.

*Oh yes! None of the soaps are on because of the MOTHERF***ING WORLD CUP. BECAUSE EVERYONE ON THE GODDAMN PLANET WANTS TO WATCH FOOTBALL, DON'T THEY??? Except in my house where 50% of the population wants to claw their own eyes out so they don't have to see GARY F***ING LINEKER one more time. Oh my god save me.

Not stressed #1

Monday, June 12, 2006

The survey came back ok, so we're definitely going for the new flat. It's sinking in now that we've actually bought a lovely new place, but every time I get excited I think about the misery of finding a rental property, and moving twice in 2 months, and I get kind of depressed :o(

I don't know why they had to put their beautifully decorated flat with the fancy kitchen and rhododendron bush on the market NOW, when they can't move till SEPTEMBER (and it's the 25th September so it might as well be effing OCTOBER) *shakes fist*

Still, it's got everything we wanted (bay window, nice kitchen, garden front and back, lovely fireplace, fancy postcode) and more (shrubs!), so I'm happy. Not ecstatic, but happy.

I'll be ecstatic on 26th September.

I was going to call this post Stress#5 but I'm not really stressed. YET.

Friday, June 09, 2006

We bought a new flat yesterday. After much time spent surfing the ESPC, we found one we liked, and yesterday they accepted our offer. It's subject to a satisfactory survey of course (which we're totally paranoid about after the last fiasco) so I'm not allowing myself to get excited.

I'm also not excited because I am a property tart. Now this may sound bad, but let me explain:

I'm quite impulsive, and as soon as I walk into a nice property I immediately picture myself living there - walking around in my knickers, happily chatting on the phone, watching the TV or erm, surfing the web (not that I'm sitting in my pants right now, but only cause I'm at work and I'd get funny looks). It doesn't matter whether I'm contemplating a long-term relationship, or just a one night stand, if I like the look of a property I get dangerously obsessed, and start to calculate just how much I would get for one of my kidneys - would it be enough to buy this house?

So we'd seen our new flat, liked it and decided we wanted to make an offer. Unfortunately, I then saw a lovely old terraced house in Corstorphine (exactly the area that we like). And here's the thing - IT WASN'T COMPLETELY OUT OF OUR PRICE RANGE. Cut to happy images of pant-wearing web-surfing again, except this time in a POSH HOUSE, and with only one kidney.

So that kind of ruined the flat a little bit for me. But only a little bit, because it was delusional to think we could ever afford the posh terraced house without actually having to sell all our belongings, and some major organs. Our solicitor has now confirmed that it's definitely out of our league, and we've had our offer accepted on the nice flat (again, in Corstorphine) with a bay window and a garden front and back. Ooh, and a rhododendron bush! How exciting! I'm going to have to learn how to garden.

The only drawback (and it's a fairly big drawback) is that we can't get into the house until the 25th September (and we're homeless as of 28th July), so we're going to have to rent for two months, with our TWO CATS.

We may end up living in a tent this summer.

(Anyone reading this who can recommend a landlord in Edinburgh looking for a short term lease, and is happy to allow two very well behaved cats, please leave a comment.)

New look

Monday, June 05, 2006

I found some fab blog templates at Miss Zoot, and I felt like a change, so ... ta-da!! I've still got some work to do to the site, as the links do not work (well they do, they just don't link TO anything), and I've only uploaded 6 photos to Flickr (and they're all cat-related) so that's not very exciting.

I'm hoping to do some more work to it soon, but I'm back at work today, for now anyway - my mouth was recovering well from my treatment, until this morning when I woke up with a horrible blistery-thing the size of a small family vehicle - my stitches are infected.


Medieval Torture

Friday, June 02, 2006

I've not posted anything for a while as I've been:

a) too lazy;
b) freaking out about my upcoming dental treatment;
c) recovering from said dental treatment;
d) having trouble with Blogger, grr!

But I'm back! All stitched up and ready to go! I went to the Edinburgh Dental Institute on Wednesday for my apicectomy. No, I don't know how to pronounce it either, and couldn't even if I did, as my mouth is too effing sore - root canal surgery, to you and me.

I was to be given a sedative, which did help to keep me relatively calm in the run-up to my appointment, but as soon as I got taken through into the Torture Chamber my heart was hammering away like a drum at the prospect of someone PEELING BACK MY GUM, drugs or no drugs.

The nurse took my blood pressure, weighed me (OMG how embarrassing that was! I need to lay off the chips for a while...), and then hooked me up to a wee doodah that filled the room with my booming, hypersonic pulse (as she had the volume up at max, the stupid tart). At this point the dental surgeon asked me, with a touch of irony, whether I was a little nervous... My answer, through chattering teeth, was 'Just gimme the drugs'.

She obliged - after poking me in the back of EACH HAND with a needle, presumably to find out which one elicited a better squawk from me - she injected the sedative into the wee tube, and watched me intently. After, oh, 30 seconds, I started to feel a little woozy and cross-eyed, much like I do after 2 units of alcohol. The next thing I remember (other than much pulling and pushing, and 'breathe, breathe' from the nurse) the surgeon was asking me if I was ok to stand up (at this point I was expecting them to hand me a small human, wrapped neatly in a blanket). I think she realised when she looked at me that the answer was a resounding 'nay!', as without waiting for an answer she and Nursey grabbed an arm each, and half carried me through to the recovery area.

After 5-10 mins sitting quietly with an ice pack on my face, I was asked to walk in a straight line. I did, but I had to concentrate REALLY hard. After that, I was free to go. I collapsed into bed as soon as I got home, and woke up four hours later with a face that looked like it had been hit by a bag of coins. Thankfully the swelling has now started to go down, and my face is slowly returning to it's normal size and shape.

Unfortunately, I now have ringworm on the palm of my hand, courtesy of The Fiance. After being infection free for approximately 13 hours, I think he thought I was missing playing host to tiny organisms, and donated some of his.

Um, thanks.

*Logan Pearsall Smith

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