Saturday, 28 August 2010

When my computer has a hiccup I have a kind of neurotic tremor rather like a nervous breakdown or an emotional earthquake.. And I do know it makes no sense but it doesn't stop me for a second, I telephone my love for my password - like she'd know! I talk to my web master in frantic tones, they - insensitive bastards - laugh. I am a three-year-old in full tantrum mode. I want to kill. Fortunately I have not done so yet but the spirit is definitely willing.

When my computer crashed some months ago, before I had found Twitter or Facebook, I went into huge gloom and wept real tears. Not for long but I was without a computer for more than a week during which time I became intimate with my nearest internet facility which has pictures of Tibetan horsemen galloping across the walls and a Babel of eastern European languages mixed with Arabic, Punjabi and Pashto. As I understand none of these languages they float over me quite pleasantly if noisily with a few Russian words that intrude into my consciousness from a couple of kids playing games. A guy sings along to some religious music and an African guy and myself pull faces at each other and grin. All this sounds attractive but it doesn't make for concentration and it was a big relief to get back to my normal nice isolation with the dog.

This time, with the added loss of Twitter I was even more destroyed. All that fractured energy while I read the odd dozen tweets from people I don't know at 2am. It has become a habit and I don't approve but I enjoy it anyway. In fact this time it was a mere upgrade - something I have resisted for years. I must have been feeling over adventurous this week and the computer is demanding an ancient password and bombarding me with news of how good this particular facility is, how it is protecting me. Protecting me from what? My own emails?

But I do worry about my reaction, which is totally out of proportion. I can only think that all my nascent lunacy has gathered itself into one vast screaming panic that gushes out wantonly as soon as somebody takes my toys. I know it smacks of a deeply sad person and saddest of all I have a sneaking feeling that my computer is doing it on purpose. That it is punishing me for my lack of careful file keeping, my untidy way of keeping eight files open simultaneously as well as the sneeze splattered screen that I forget to clean for months (I am a morning sneezer). And I haven't been backing up either.

So, I must conclude that rather than accept that these things are random - like life - I have some grim belief that I am being punished by my computer. That it is a spiteful entity that sits looking back at me with malice waiting for a time when I am feeling particularly pleased with myself and hits me a whammy. I worry about my mind.

Of course I don't believe this, not really, still I rush around bleating like a wet hen and I know hens don't bleat but my voice does and I hear myself tearful over the phone to my lovely Belfast voiced internet supplier. Shrieking at my friends because they can't help, abusing the poor old guy in the computer repair shop and rage and shame overcome me so I have to go and do an abject one later.

It's only a bloody computer after all. Isn't it?
And I know people who go off for weeks with no communication at all, and they tell me they enjoy it too! Clearly not for me but I must get out more!

Friday, 20 August 2010

When I travel it is a rather untidy business with my computer which is old and heavy in a trolley thing that is just a smidgeon too wide for the aisle in the train. Then my dog, who is usually a sweet natured girl and entirely biddable, being dragged along behind me and objecting by resisting with four paws on the deck. And my coffee wavering dangerously hot. So this particular evening it was hardly surprising that the good looking woman in the seat I chose objected. 'I'm sitting here.' she began.'On both seats?' I retorted into the challenge now. 'I don't want your dog next to me!' she said. 'And you won't get her, she sits on the floor!' I sat down, stuffed my trolley and Saffie under the table and glared, I thought for a moment she was going to whack me and I smiled ingratiating at the woman opposite who gave me a blank.
Not a good start to one of the most entertaining journeys I ever had on my way to Waterloo, which happens once a week.

This can be a variable trip. Often my dog gets a fan club, a sort of Border Terrier support group and we speak of the virtues of the breed, how adorable they are (only in Britain I hear you say!) This has its problems because then the dog takes up residence with them with me on the other end of the lead. Or we speak of their own dogs and stern business men go into excesses of sentiment and passion and we speak of all the dogs we have known and loved, which gets rather mawkish but fills the time nicely and we feel close, briefly. The great thing about dog talk is the fact that the only thing you need to have in common is a love of dogs. I once met a woman with a chocolate Labrador on my dog walks twice a week for months and we chatted happily together until election time when she told me that Mrs. Thatcher was the best thing that had ever happened. I was astounded and realised I had been consorting with the enemy, we carried on talking but I never quite got over this insight.
The female next to me was definitely not of this ilk. But, fortunately she loved to talk and so do I. I am also a great ear wigger but am not sure how she began, I was doing the easy crossword to prove my intellectual limitations or something. She was onto the fallibility of men, which would definitely be my specialist subject on Mastermind and I was impelled to put in my two pennorth. The woman opposite who looked formidably private was agreeing with her and soon we were all joyfully relating our own tales of deeply unsatisfactory men. The first woman turned out to have grown up in my street but her family had gone upmarket and her mother despaired of her finding 'a nice Indian man to marry'. This in spite of her not wanting anything of the sort. She told us she was forty, we assured her she didn't look it (though I don't know what forty looks like she looked young and so vivacious as to be ageless) she had had an arranged marriage when she was young, had escaped it with the support of her parents and enjoyed her freedom in a way that few women do. They spoke of the joys of the single woman and I spoke of the fun of being with a female partner.
This encounter with these two woman was a total joy and though it has taken me weeks to get around to it, I said I would celebrate it in a blog and here it is for Lydia and the fine independent woman on the train and thanks to you both!

There is some horrible old saying about strangers only being friends you haven't met yet. I wish to make it clear that I think this is nonsense. The vast majority of people hold no fascination for me of I for them. There are however delightful exceptions.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Cunt reclamation


There are words that I hate, not usually if ever the words that other people hate. I loath 'poorly' but am fond of 'cunt,' a nice friendly word, blunt and purposeful. I find the word vagina a bit yucky in the same way that 'bowel movement ' sounds far more disgusting than the plain word 'shit' which is nearly onomatopoeic in my opinion. At home nobody swore or used rude words and I remember being shocked when my friend's mum said fart, at home the family said 'breaking wind' which sounded rather dangerous and always made me snigger. I discovered the word 'bastard' in a book by Alexander Baron when I was about twelve and tried it out on my brother who grassed me up to mum who told dad and I got one of the few whacks of my childhood but no explanation of why I shouldn't use the word.

I understand that some people are shocked and distressed by various words and I suggest that they don't use them and I realise that this may militate against them reading some kinds of books - including mine. They must decide for themselves what is 'acceptable', In my turn I choose not to read books that I know are going to annoy me - unless I want to be annoyed and sometimes I do. But I don't expect anybody to limit my words for me.
I love words. Words fascinate me. Melancholy is quite beautiful and can induce a nice mellow sadness whereas the word 'basically' uttered in my presence can produce an inchoate rage when used more that twice in any conversation. I count the word and was at a meeting recently when the organiser used the word fifteen times in one evening. I am afraid that this means I hardly hear what he is talking about so busy am I counting and I do realise that this is a neuroses. I once wrote a poem: We speak jargonese with a consummate ease that has to be heard to be disbelieved is the first line and I wrote it so many years ago I can't remember the rest so it is a long term foible on my part. 'At the end of the day at this moment in time (where else would you find a moment eh?? In space?) See? I'm getting colicky even as I write so I will return to words I love.

I first heard 'motherfucking cocksucker' in the open air where the sound took off and gracefully landed in my ear. The fact that it was uttered by a delicious guy may have something to do with it and the fact that it became rather overused notwithstanding I adopted it for its resonance and varied it with Cocksucking motherfucker. The scene was a dice game on a pavement outside a club and the organiser did a runner which caused rather too many repetitions but it stuck as my favourite term of abuse forever, and the fact that I seldom get to use it only makes it more precious. It is quite a different proposition for a girl of eighteen to gob off (another good phrase) with such words but for an ancient bird it is absurd (but don't worry I am THINKING it HARD) The meaning is slightly absurd because a man performing both these acts is an unlikely character in my opinion - not impossible but unlikely and the phrase has the merit of aggravating as many people as it is possible to annoy with mere words!
'Mere' words?.
Words are powerful, entertaining and dangerous? Or are they? We do presumably choose our own words to use or not. I reckon that words should have an effect, make us question ourselves and above all shake us out of our apathy, not all the time of course and at breakfast if anybody used my favourite curse I would find it unacceptable but not nearly as unacceptable as 'basically'. We can have adventures with words and few words are sacred though some racist terms are off limits with good reason. I also think that 'swear words' should be used sparingly lest they lose their power. My partner of many years was a Belfast man who inserted 'fucking' into every sentence with such abandon that it ceased to mean anything. I also spent time with some West Indians who have a line in denigrating a woman's apparatus and menstrual cycle, which always seemed strange to me because they clearly were very fond of utilising the same. In fact it occurs to me that men are a little afraid of the cunt with all its power which is why they throw the word around in a derogatory way, but we don't have to accept their intention we can reclaim 'cunt' for ourselves - go girls go!
Enjoy your cunt in word and deed!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Another beautiful day, the sun is splitting the trees but definitely not splitting a brand new grim grey high rise that looks very close, too close for comfort. We see a floor mat on the grass, somebody's sunbathing apparatus? A fox has defecated accurately dead centre of it. The grass looks dead and brown, the traffic sounds from Blackheath hill, the river is just showing a gleam in the distance. I give a stretch or two, nothing too strenuous and I look forward to a day of writing and perhaps a walk by the river.

At precisely eight the intercom sounds and the builder arrives, a handsome young Russian accompanied by his mate and they are ready to start NOW! The kitchen and bathroom must be cleared and I see my lovely day disappearing in a cloud of dust and dishes and chopping boards and more equipment than I ever knew we had, then the bathroom full of stuff to be transferred to other rooms, I am in a bedroom with my dog surrounded by culinary equipment and bathroom appendages some of which I know not their usage.

I am guarded with builders, half matey grovel to prove I am no snob and half terrified victim with a smidgen of the autocrat as I watch them move my stuff. I see myself as a free spirit who doesn't care about worldly goods - in fact I am a protective acquisitive creature and very possessive of nearly my whole equipage even though most of it has no value at all. It's mine! My inner voice protests loudly.

But this time the builders are not in my territory but in my friends' so it shouldn't matter I should be able to retain a lot more rationality. It seems not, I still feel invaded - very possibly because they are inhabiting the bathroom full time.

My friend is authoritative with them - at least in part because she speaks some Russian. I have always had problems with authoritative and when I taught I found it hard to achieve. I veered from all understanding compassionate friend to sarky sneering critic in the space of one session. With builders I make tea and am friendly housefrau behind which lurks a furious malignant banshee ready to hop out at the least sign of insubordination. I think I may be over-territorial or deeply insecure, probably both.

These are superior type builders these Russians they show up on time, work like beavers engrossed in a new dam, are grateful for tea but don't stop work to drink it, have no fag breaks and absolutely no badinage. They are courteous and charming. Still they fill the flat with their presence and the bits that they don't fill are stuffed full of a million dishes. It took me an hour to find the loo roll this morning and by the time I found it the impulse was gone and Stanislav back in the bathroom anyway.

One of my consolations in times of stress is food but the kitchen is stripped and occupied too. I can't find cheese or bread then remember tucking into a midnight snack when we lurched in last night, I expect it is eaten. We go out to lunch again, the hidden expense of the invasion. Later I notice a white emulsion fingerprint on my computer. I expect mother Russia has been contacted.

I have had hideous experiences with builders one of whom would arrive promptly enough, with his two sons stay for half an hour then disappear. After a few days I chased them down the road and discovered them busily grafting at a new job. I was incensed enough to grab the small builder and shake him vigorously, he slithered away and promised to finish my job. In fact, shortly after this incident he disappeared along with his tools leaving a vast pile of rubbish outside that grew daily as people came from miles around to dump their pruck. We would sit watching TV and hear thunks followed by a car driving off and go out to look at our new acquistions on the pile. People dump remarkable stuff and other people would come along to look it over. When it reached the length of five houses and was seriously incommoding parking the council stepped in and demanded that I remove it. the dispute went on for weeks meanwhile it increased in size and grew its own vegetation, I wrote a piece aboutit which I flogged to the Guardian. In the end the council removed it and sent the bill to the builder who also ran up a bill in my name at a local builder's merchant and left me with no windows. It took months of aggravation to get part of my money back. It seems he was and probably still is a gambler well known to the building inspector though nobody thought to mention this.

Compared to him and to many builders I have known these guys are pearls and in fact they finished on time in good order and cleaned up after themselves. I got a number for them too - for a price!