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

The Digital Revolution

Saturday, December 30, 2006

There seems to be a peculiar electromagnetic field in this house that prevents electrical equipment from working correctly. Either that or all our gadgets are staging a revolt.

In the last couple of months, we have brought a games console, portable TV, and DVD recorder into the flat, in the hope that we would be able to use them for the activities intended by the manufacturer.

So far, the games console requires you to switch it off and back on again approximately 4 times, before it will load the disk you have inserted. The portable TV (which is new) doesn't work at all in the bedroom, but works perfectly in the kitchen. And the DVD recorder worked perfectly (by which I mean we plugged it in and a little light came on), until we tried to watch a DVD on it. At this point it decided it wasn't necessary to show us the pretty pictures, and that the soundtrack should be enough for us. I mean, pictures? Honestly, who needs to see Johnny Depp when you can hear his voice?!

So Fiance has spent the last couple of weeks switching things off and back on again, alternating cables, checking sockets, changing plugs, digging around for instruction manuals, searching geeky internet chatrooms for solutions, losing his temper and kicking things. We haven't watched any of the DVDs we got for Christmas yet, and I wasn't able to record Time Bandits this afternoon, godammit.

I think Fiance suspects I'm casting some kind of spell to turn him into a raving loony*.

*It's working - bwa-hahaha! He's developed an eye twitch, and shudders whenever you mention the word 'xbox'.

Ahh, Christmas!



Friday, December 29, 2006

I've recently discovered the wonder that is SiteMeter, and I check it on an embarrassingly regular basis. Occasionally when someone Googles some random phrase, they (inadvertently I'm sure) get directed to my blog. SiteMeter shows you the search terms and these are quite telling, and in some cases, worrying.

A selection:
  • 'Fiance trouble' (errrr, Cam? Don't go delving into the archives, kay?!)
  • 'Putting a buster collar on my cat' (My advice? Don't even bother trying)
  • 'Mic Martin' (my weird crush, which I now wish I hadn't disclosed on my blog)
  • 'Two cats making banging noises' (What. The. Fuck?!)
  • 'Keeping us warm in the night pooh' (Again, WTF?!)
  • 'Ian McEwan bookworm' (ok, I get this one, but the previous two?!)
  • 'Take my fiance's name' (I'm saving further discussion on this topic for the New Year)
  • 'Minky Dusting Dog' (courtesy of Sarah)

And my personal favourite (and by far the highest in the rankings):

  • 'Big schlong' (I have nothing further to add)

So the themes seem to be the Fiance, cats, books, obsessive cleaning, and just plain weirdness. Sounds about right.

Maybe I need to branch out.


Christmas Round Up

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some Christmas statistics:

Number of presents under our tree by 10am on Christmas morning:

Approx four hundred million.

Extravagant presents from Fiance, for me, in addition to books, perfume and a jacket:

One, in the shape of a mini LCD TV for our bedroom. Love. That. Boy. But damn him for spending too much, when I stuck to budget.

Guilt Presents bought for Fiance, by me, on Boxing Day:


Small black bunnies with white socks and a rambunctious personality in my stocking:

Zero (waah!).

Rashers of bacon burnt to carbon by me whilst cooking breakfast:


Burnt rashers of bacon consumed by me in the kitchen when no-one was looking:


F-words uttered by sister's drunk boyfriend in the presence of both mums and an aunt:

Twenty three before I lost count.

Naps taken by sister's drunk boyfriend on Christmas Night:

One nap. Enforced by mortified sister.

Christmas quizzes won by the author and her mum:

One. Whee!

Christmas Traditions established:

One. 'Cam's Christmas Quiz' was a riotous success (despite accusations of match fixing, because the Quizmaster's Fiance and future Mother-in-Law won), and next year's is already in the planning stage.

Like last year, there were great gaping holes where our fathers should have been but there always will be, so we just have to make the best of things. Fiance's mum has two foster children staying with her, and their story (taken away from their parents and staying with strangers over Christmas) made us all feel a little luckier in what we still have.

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Tis the season to be ... pooped

Monday, December 25, 2006

My plan today was to get all the shit done that I needed to get done (much wrapping of presents, MUCH housework and MUCH MUCH tidying up of our piles of crap) EARLY, so that I could have a nice relaxing Christmas Eve for a change. Every year I'm full of grand aspirations to sit down to dinner in a clean and tidy house, with a pile of beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, but no matter what I do I end up battling with ribbons and bows and glittery paper into the wee small hours. I'm just incapable of being organised for Christmas. As with so many of my plans before, today's got royally fucked as well, and I have only now (at 00.14, Christmas Day) sat down, for the first time since approx 11am Christmas Eve morning. I look and feel like Quasimodo, as I've been hunched over wrapping presents for the last 3 hours, and was hunched over scrubbing everything in sight for the three hours before that.


Anyway, everything got done in the end, and I'm just heading off to bed with a cup of tea and my book, so all is well.

Merry Christmas everyone!


The Christmas Miracle, and my new man

Friday, December 22, 2006

Fiance and I made it round Tesco, including the toilet brush section, without arguing with each other or being rammed by any trollies. And he let me buy the £7.99 toilet brush, instead of the 48p Tesco Value one.

But before we went to Tesco last night, I fell in love.

He's black, with beautiful big brown eyes, and he's very laid back. He also has big feet and floppy ears... I was in the pet shop buying cat food and a Christmas present for the cats - Fiance was late meeting me so, very unwisely, I was then left to wander around the pet shop myself, where I was chatted up by a rabbit.

I had already bought the stuff I went in for and Fiance was still on his way, so I was standing watching the guinea pigs and rabbits in their run. This little black rabbit with the floppy ears was running around the cage, munching on hay and jumping on the other rabbits, but every so often he would stand up on his hind legs and peer at me, twitching his little nose. He did this about four or five times, and by the fifth I had fallen in love with him. He then fell asleep on his back with his legs in the air. It was at this point that I decided he would fit right in in my house, and that I was taking him home.

Unfortunately, Fiance turned up just as I was about to ask the assistant to box Peter up (yes I'd already named him), and put his foot down. So poor little Peter is still in the pet shop, where he will stay, over Christmas, unless I can persuade Fiance to let me have him.

I'm not holding out much hope; my Fiance has a Heart Of Stone when it comes to my rash impulses. This isn't always a bad thing as I do tend to get ideas in my head (especially when it comes to fluffy animals) but still, I hope he reads this and feels terribly guilty.

Poor little Peter.



Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tonight I have to brave the terrifying world of Tesco. We're going to stock up on bacon, sausages, coffee, croissants, and a toilet brush (I don't care what he says) in preparation for our Christmas Breakfast.


It doesn't matter what time you go to our local Tesco (and it's a big one, so it's open 24 hours), it's heaving. I've been there at 11pm before and still had to queue for a good 10 minutes at the check-out. It also seems to turn even the sweetest, most polite people into rude, obnoxious bastards who WILL ram you with their trolley to get the last bag of parsnips before you. God only knows what it's going to be like this close to Christmas.

I'm sure the Christmas Spirit will be in short supply...

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The hell with substance! Let's talk clothes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In a fit of bodaciousness a couple of months ago I bought a pair of skinny jeans. I never got round to wearing them because I couldn't find anything to wear with the bastards, top or bottom, that didn't make my arse look like the back end of a bus.

Nearing desperation, and with Fiance's voice ringing in my ears ('But WHY haven't you worn those expensive new jeans yet?') I submitted a question to Amalah's Advice Smackdown*, not really expecting to get an answer. So I was thrilled to have my question answered a couple of weeks ago, and I have since worn the skinnies, outside. To my Christmas party at work, no less. When I got home from the party I was a little squiffy, and decided to obtain some photographic evidence of my sartorial triumph. Scroll down if you think you can handle some close-up shots of my lower thigh.

*Having bought Philosophy's Purity Made Simple cleanser on her recommendation and LOVING. IT.

Note my bargain £10 shoes, working well with the skinnies:

Coco: 'Not a good angle for you darling - lift your leg so your thigh doesn't look so enormous'

Teeny: 'Nnnrrrgh!'

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One of those days...

I'm a bit out of sorts today. I had a bad start this morning (nothing worth writing about, just the usual morning-from-hell where nothing goes right) so I'm feeling a bit ... meh. I also feel quite overwhelmed by the festive season (despite my holiday cheer last week - I think I peaked early), and certain things in my life are kind of stressing me out. I may write about these things sometime but today isn't the day for it.

I've been finding it quite hard to keep coming up with light-hearted things to write about. My blog has never been an outlet for any of my deepest darkest feelings - when I started writing it it was mainly an avenue for writing stupid observations and jokes, but increasingly I've been feeling that I need to write something with a bit more substance. Maybe this is the start of the long-awaited BWN (Booker Winning Novel), or maybe it's a sign that I could do with some counselling too. Either way, it's got to be good for me.

Anyway, I've written and deleted four posts about various things, and it turns out I can't get my head together enough to write anything coherent enough to publish, so I'm not even going to try.

Weird crush of the week:

Mic Martin, the scary trainer from my new favourite programme: Dog Borstal on BBC3.

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Bits and bobs

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I've written about the Metro and it's less than serious reporting before, but today I thought they were winding me up. I was reading a story about the benefits of male circumcision in relation to contracting HIV/AIDS and actually snorted out loud with laughter, prompting strange looks from my fellow passengers. Obviously AIDS isn't something to laugh about, what made me publicly embarrass myself on the bus was this:

"'It [male circumcision] has the potential to prevent many tens of thousands and perhaps millions of infections over the coming years,' Dr Kevin de Cock of the WHO said."

#double take#

I'm sorry... what? Dr de Cock? Seriously?! Yes, seriously. The BBC don't lie.

I certainly needed cheering up after my disastrous day off yesterday. Fiance and I had both taken a holiday to do some shopping and various other things and it turned into the kind of holiday that makes you wish you were back at work. We had an appointment to meet our wedding photographer in the morning, which was fine, but we came out of his studio to find that we'd been given a parking ticket. Now, Fiance is very careful with his money and it enrages him no end when he has to pay out money unnecessarily so he did not take this news well. Especially given the fact that we had bought a ticket from the machine across the road (the one that said 'Parking Tickets Here') and parked next to LOTS of other cars, none of whom seemed to have been ticketed.

Things didn't get much better for the rest of the day - I had an appointment with our new GP at 3pm, so we had to come home from town in the middle of our [decidedly unsuccessful] Christmas shopping expedition. When I got there the receptionist told me that they didn't have me down for an appointment - the person I'd spoken to that morning hadn't booked me in. And they couldn't fit me in at all that day. So back into town we go, in the howling wind and lashing rain, where we wandered kind of aimlessly for the rest of the day, too disheartened to even argue with each other.

In other news, Fiance's birthday dinner was a success, although slightly marred by the strange behaviour of my little cat Coco. Coco is normally a very active, vocal and friendly cat, so when she sat in the same spot all night* without eating, drinking, climbing into anyone's lap or jumping on Roo, we started to get worried. She was also drooling, which can apparently be a sign of a sore mouth or throat. Just as I was starting to worry that she'd ingested a Christmas bauble (and envision an emergency trip to the v-e-t), she seemed to throw off whatever was making her feel bad, and by the time I went to bed last night she was back to her old self, thankfully. Roo didn't seem quite so relieved however - I think she enjoyed the peace and quiet for the day and a bit that Coco was under the weather, and is now back to having her tail relentlessly pursued by a small, very determined, black Bombay cat.

*In the presence of both her grannies. This is unheard of.

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Happy Birthday Big Fella

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's my Boy's 27th birthday today. I forgot to say Happy Birthday to him this morning as I was still sleepy when he left for work, and I grunted at him when he kissed me goodbye.

I'm cooking tonight for us and our mums - I'm doing chicken fillets poached in white wine, with potatoes/parsnips/carrots roasted with rosemary and garlic, and tenderstem broccoli and caramelised shallots. Wow, that sounds like I actually know how to cook doesn't it?*

This means I have to fly home - via the shops as I forgot to buy fresh rosemary - and get peeling the mountains of veg. Then I have to clean the bathroom, hoover up the copious amounts of fur that my cats shed (you could stuff a pillow with it all, I don't know how they're not bald), cook the rest of dinner, make myself look halfway decent and then be the hostess with the mostest for the rest of the evening.

But - much like the lady in the L'Oreal ad - he's worth it.

* I don't - this (and the odd lasagne) is about the extent of my repertoire.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

We bought a Christmas tree yesterday, so I'm feeling rather festive today. We braved the weekend crowds and atrocious weather at a garden centre near Stirling and managed NOT to kill each other or anyone else. I think this deserves some kind of award because the people in that garden centre were not displaying any of the goodwill towards their fellow man that you might expect at this time of year.

The new tree is not real unfortunately (I love the smell of a real tree) because our cats would probably eat the needles and get sick, because I hate hoovering and because real trees are a bit more high maintenance than the fake kind. But all the same, it's lovely - it has twinkly little white lights all over it, and I bought some fancy new red and silver decorations for it. I'll upload a picture tonight if I can get a good one. Coco was verrry interested in the big green thing that suddenly appeared in the living room. Unfortunately she seemed to think the best way to investigate it was to chew the ends of the branches (where the twinkly little lights are wired on) so I spent most of last night chasing her away from it with the Dustbuster, which is the only thing that she's scared of.

Every Christmas for as long as I can remember (and, I'm reliably informed, before that as well) I spent at my mum and dad's house. Until last year, when everything in my life changed irrevocably. None of us could face a Christmas at home because my dad died in November 2005, so we all went up to my sister's. It was lovely (my sister and her boyfriend put on a good spread), but different in so many ways to the last 24 Christmases I'd had. And this year it's going to be different again. My sister and her boyfriend are coming down to Edinburgh, and everyone is coming to OUR house for Christmas Breakfast* and present-opening and then we're going to my future Mother-in-Law's house for dinner.

I'm actually really excited to be having everyone round - we're so happy in the new house it's not going to be a chore at all. We're going to work really hard to get it looking lovely, make lots of lovely breakfast food, and spend the morning in our new house with our VIP's (our mums, my sister and her boyfriend and my wee cats).

I was dreading it last year, so it's nice to be looking forward to Christmas Day again.

*Because a) although we'd like to we don't have the room to facilitate Christmas Dinner and b) the thought of dealing with giblets makes me want to vomit.

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The Trials of a Skint Book Worm

Friday, December 08, 2006

This weekend Fiance and I are planning to sort out the flat once and for all. When we moved in we unpacked in a kind of haphazard, 'fling-that-in-there-for-now' kind of way, but we've never gotten around to sorting stuff out properly. ConsequentlyI feel that we've not properly settled, because our stuff is just kind of strewn about the place and nothing really has it's own place. But what's really bothering me is the state of my books (I know - I bet you weren't expecting that). Like everything else they just got turfed onto the nearest bookshelf in any old order, which is in direct contract to my previous, strict alphabetical-by-author-surname system. And don't even get me started on my Excel spreadsheet - I've not updated it since July so I have no idea what my current total is, or even which books I can score off my Amazon wishlist before Christmas. As a person who buys a book (or two, or five) every couple of weeks, this means my spreadsheet is now dramatically out of date. But these things are all easily rectified.

Our lack of adequate storage for said books is a bit more problematic.

We own 3 and a half bookshelves, which isn't nearly enough as they're all full to the gunnels, and I have to dedicate one shelf to my fancy books as I can't bear to squish them in with all the scraggy old paperbacks. But we don't have any more spare WALLS on which to place additional bookshelves, so there are always stacks of books lying around (there's currently a pile of em on my kitchen table, for instance). This doesn't bother me but Fiance grumbles about it on a regular basis - he keeps saying that we're going to end up surrounded by the things, sitting on them, sleeping on them, using them for pillows and plates, and for keeping us warm at night.

Fiance and I differ slightly in our approach to resolving this - his solution? Stop buying books. At least until I've read all the ones I own. Whenever he says this I proclaim loudly and dramatically that I simply cannot stop expanding my library as this would be like his stopping following football (at which point he casts his eyes heavenward). It is true that I haven't read all the books I own, but I see this as a good thing - I will never be bored or stuck for something to read, and neither will he (he loves reading too, although it may not sound like it). My solution to the book storage problem is to call in a professional.*

I think the only way we're going to be able to store all the books we currently own, AND have room for all the ones I plan on buying in the future, is to have someone come and build us one he-uge bookshelf, and give the Ikea ones the old heave-ho. This sounds like paradise to me, living in a house lined with books. Unfortunately Men With Hammers cost money, and at the moment we have other things to spend our hard-earned on so it will have to wait. But I refuse to curb my bookishness, especially when there are so many bargains around (just the other day I bought Moby Dick by Herman Melville and Amsterdam by Ian McEwan in the charity shop for £3).

Fiance will just have to make his peace with it.

*And not a mental health professional to address my addiction, despite Fiance's opinion on the matter.

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Dream a little dream of... death, injury, sadness...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I had a nightmare last night, and woke up at 5.30 in a cold sweat and breathing like I'd just run for the bus. I used to have a recurring dream that disturbed me quite a lot* but I don't often have nightmares (other than strange wedding-related ones about getting married in jeans and a dirty t-shirt - they'll stop once I actually ORGANISE my wedding).

But the dream I had last night was horrible, as I froze to death after getting locked outside overnight and became a ghost. I was see-through and white, and I couldn't see or talk to my family (I watched them all having dinner in a nice restaurant, having a lovely time without me - aiee!) and I had to live in a creepy old haunted house with lots of other ghosts who all had terrible injuries and afflictions. Strangely, the thing I was most upset about was that I couldn't cuddle my cats. I was crying hysterically because I was watching Fiance cuddling Coco and I wanted to give her a cuddle too but couldn't.

I'm quite baffled as to what it could mean though, other than that I'm far too attached to my cats. I suppose the obvious meaning is a fear of losing my family (which I guess isn't surprising given the events of the last couple of years), but that's nothing new - I've always been a worrier and when I was younger I used to lie awake at night thinking about what would happen if I ever lost one of my parents.

Then again, maybe it's better not to think about what it means - it'll probably just give me other things to worry about!

*About being in a forest clearing with my mum and lots of giant pink spiders crawling all over me. Completely inexplicable...

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Lurgy, amongst other things

Monday, December 04, 2006

I woke up on Saturday morning with a sore scratchy throat, and a thumping headache. Although all I wanted to do was stay in bed with my teddy bea... err... hot water bottle and lots of hot drinks, I went to visit my granny. Which I'm afraid to say wasn't much fun.

My grandmother is 93, and in the last couple of years has become (and I'm being as diplomatic as I can here), slightly difficult. She's had a number of small strokes which has left her unable to speak very well. She has always been very independent and has never shied away from voicing her opinion, so being trapped in her frail little body without the ability to communicate is a complete nightmare for her. She now lives in a care home, but unfortunately she's not happy there, not at all. When I went to see her on Saturday, she told me that she won't be here for my wedding next year. Now she says this kind of thing on a regular basis (she has pronounced every Christmas for the last 10 years that this one will be her last), but she then went on to say 'they'll see to that' - by 'they' she meant the staff of the care home. Which was a pretty awful thing to say. I don't think the staff ARE mistreating her, I just think they're busy and it's another symptom of her unhappiness. So all of this, combined with feeling a bit wabbit, didn't make for a fun afternoon visiting.

On Sunday I still felt ill but Fiance and I had an appointment to see a wedding photographer, who was lovely. Then we went to The Supermarket Where All Civility Disappears and Fiance and I fell out over a toilet brush (yes, you heard me - a TOILET BRUSH). I wanted to buy a normal plasticky one because I bought this and it's shit.* He didn't see why we had to buy another toilet brush when I spent all that money** on a fancy gimmicky one. So we did the usual stomping round Tesco not speaking to each other unless absolutely necessary and forgot most of what we went in there for to begin with. In the evening we were supposed to be going to see a wedding band in a pub in Leith but Fiance and I agreed (for the first time that all day) that it wasn't going to happen - I was feeling rough, he couldn't be arsed and the weather was ATROCIOUS.

So all in all, the only good things about my weekend were Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night (sorry Elisabeth but I cannot deny my true feelings!) and meeting the lovely wee photographer on Sunday, who gave us each a 2007 diary with 'wedding!' already written in the 7th September. Bless.


**All that money = £3.97

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*Logan Pearsall Smith

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