Genetics Schmenetics!

Before I start my tangent-ridden ramble, I thought I better put your mind at rest.  There’s that one question, isn’t there? The one you want to ask. The fangéd elephant in the room…

Can someone be turned into a vampire?

Actually, the real question is, if we were to meet, would I bite you? You just didn’t want to upset me by being that direct..? Well, we’re back to genetics again. It’s like anything, I suppose. It can live dormant in your cells and you may never ever know you are a carrier. Until of course, the right bite comes along. I guess in that respect, it’s a bit like a cold sore. A cold sore with benefits.

And, while we are at it, let’s get a few more stereotypes binned. No, I do not waft around brooding mysteriously. I am not lovesick for some mortal. In fact I am happily married, thank you very much.

I do not drink blood. I mean, imagine that: every meal, every day – yuck? Dull. In fact I can’t even eat red meats, or any meat -or any milk, even. I used to when I was a child, but then it started getting weird. I went from liking steak as a burnt offering (which was just as well, as my mum used to use the smoke alarm as a timer to tell her when dinner was done), to gradually preferring medium steak and then getting progressively rarer, until one day I found myself eating it raw. And craving it. That’s when I realised I had a problem and I stopped. It was making me ill.

No surf and turf for this baby.

So… no brooding, no blood, no real sparkling, no spontaneous combustion, no wafting around in gloriously Gothic garments while listening to Lacuna Coil. Okay… perhaps I’ll admit to that last one. But then, I am equally likely to be found listening to Imagine Dragons or AC/DC. I’m eclectic.

Oh, and of course, I don’t rip anybody’s throat out. But that doesn’t mean I’m not tempted to, on occasion. Let’s face it, who isn’t?!  That temptation is not unique to vampires! Generally, if anyone gets annoyed with me, I like to say ‘why don’t you bite my head off? It will make jumping down my throat so much easier.’

Garlic. Love it. It’s just the papery stuff on the outside that I can’t stand. Smells all dusty and shroudy plus it hurts like a bad ‘un if you get it stuck under your nails when you’re cleaning it. And I prefer to keep my nails short. I can’t stand long nails. Oh, we’re back to the talons again. But these beautiful girls you see with those long nails (Banksy should hire those nails out by the yard)…. How do they live? How do they wipe their bums? I guess they can toast marshmallows well. Unless of course that shellac stuff is flammable…

People’s views of my eating habits are wide and varied. My carnivore friends think I’m a vegetarian. My vegetarian friends think I am a vegan. My vegan friends think I am a raw vegan. I have never asked my raw vegan friends what they think I eat. I’m running out of links on the food chain.

I remember, one day, my mum catching me down in the cellar, licking my broken umbrella. It tasted deliciously metallic. The same day she had decided I was old enough to have my first cup of tea. That was a thing in my family. It was some kind of right-of-passage thing. Anyway. I was presented with this steamy cup of milky oblivion (milk? Really, Mother!) and was expected to drink it on front of this baited-breathed audience. The Roman Coliseum had nothing on this.

So I took a mouthful. Hmph. Not impressed. It had a metallic tang, but nothing as satisfying as my umbrella handle.

And that’s when I said it.

“I’d rather drink blood. “

Needless to say, I was never made to drink the stuff again. And my little TMI moment was never mentioned again. It was a relief, to be honest. At least they never sat me down as a self-conscious teen and gave me the “Have you tried not being a vampire?” routine.

I know my parents did blame themselves when they finally realised I wasn’t like my brothers and sisters. Still, I guess they have their own demons to deal with. Mine just happens to be me – if you listen to all the occult ‘experts’ and people who’ve watched way too many movies on Netflix.

But luckily for me, no one has staked me through the heart. Although you’d be surprised at just how many things that will kill. And no, I’m not counting that unfortunate time when I went to the Ideal Home Exhibition and got a cocktail stick stuck in my foot while wondering through the aperitifs bar. That was painful and, far worse: it was downright embarrassing. Imagine being slain by Buffet the Vampire Slayer… Oh! The shame! I still can’t look at mini sausages without wincing.

I didn’t answer your question, did I? The one about biting you?  Oh well…

 


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Bats, breakages and bodices

So! You’ve made it this far. Good. Welcome back.

About that bat-like vision I mentioned last time… It’s made me exceptionally clumsy… I walk into walls, I trip over my own feet (which is a talent in itself – I have teeny feet) and of course, stairs look flat to me. And escalators! Don’t get me started!

But then – clouds and silver linings… there is the advantage of advanced healing. No, wounds do not instantly close up like they do in the films. That would just be creepy. All righty… I’ll tell you more about this later but there are several incidents of this happening. When I wrecked my ankle and broke a finger. When I lacerated my face and broke a rib. And the first really notable event was in my teens, when I fell off the bike, hit a hedge, cracked my skull, lacerated my scalp (practically scalping myself) and broke a collarbone. Injuries heal up roughly 3 to 4 times faster than normal.

Funnily (Do I mean ‘funnily’?) enough, two of those three incidents happened because the sunlight was in my eyes and I couldn’t see. The other one happened because of the rain…

More about that another time.

You want gruesome details? You’ll have them, I promise.

Illnesses, viruses and the like, when they do catch up with me, are liable to either go unnoticed or have the impact of a mild chill. Heck, I even went to work with Swine Flu and carried on working. I didn’t even realise I had it… Bad. I just thought I was a bit coldy….

If you’re interested, I can share some of my secrets… things that anyone can do. But you’ll have to ask nicely.

Did I get picked on at school? Of course I did. I always stuck out from the crowd a little bit. Hey, even the nerds picked on me. I was too white, too blonde, I had crooked fingers, I had a big nose (“Concorde”, anyone?), I sounded funny, I had a weird accent, I spoke a strange guttural language (no, nothing outrageous, just Welsh), and of course the sensitivity to sunlight, coupled with those teeth.

But I think the thing that made me stand out more than anything else, and made me most ‘deserving’ of everyone’s suspicions and antipathy was the fact that I was more intelligent than the lot of them put together. Sorry if that sounds a bit arrogant. But that’s how it felt at the time. Reading at 3, writing sonnets at 4, reading (and understanding) Shakespeare when my classmates were still working out which end of the crayon was best for stabbing people with…

I was determined not to go to nursery school. I was holding out for Big School.   So, at the grand old age of 5 years and 2 months, I turned up: a poodle-haired moppet in sensible shoes and a coat 2 sizes too big. And a liberty bodice. Dang those things! They were supposed to be a comfortable, fleecy alternative to a vest that originally started off in the 19th century as an alternative to the corset. I’d have rather had the corset any day. Actually, I have something of a penchant for corsets. Oops, off on a tangent…

Anyway, this liberty bodice must have been made of inch-thick roofing felt which I was strapped into every day, like some kind of infant body armour. I was barely able to lower my arms due to its thickness. I had to walk around with this perpetual tough-guy gait, looking like I was looking for a fight.

Luckily for me, I found plenty!

 


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For the record…

I hope I didn’t put you off last time with my list of things I don’t do. That must have been a bit disappointing. Plus, it’s not an exhaustive list. Sorry. So this probably wouldn’t be a good time to discuss the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny…? I guess I should make it up to you… even the scores… whatever you wish to call it. Shall I tell you about the things I can do (that’s not an exhaustive list either, by the way)?

Reflexes? Like a cat. I remember once walking past some children playing hoopla. Sensing a saucer-sized ring of stinging flying rubber zooming at my head, I instinctively (and without looking) put my hand out and caught it. I’ve never seen a bunch of children’s mouths open so wide. It was tempting to toss the ring back into one of the gaping gobs. But I didn’t, so don’t panic.

I think it’s because of the way my brain works… It’s like a V12 engine… super-charged, super-powered and super-speed. When I need it to, it goes into overdrive and runs so fast that the world seems to run in slow motion. Mind you, it also goes into overdrive when I definitely don’t need it to. Like at 3 in the morning when I’m trying to sleep! You too? You see, we’re not so different, are we?

Sense of smell? I would give any bloodhound a run for his money. It can be quite creepy when working in all-female environments though. Work that one out for yourself. But once I know your smell, I can tell if you’ve been in a room in the past 30 minutes. These daft ‘designer perfumes’ do make life difficult, though. Are they all actually trying to smell the same? They seem to smell either of washing powder or a pick-and-mix counter…

Hearing? Well there was that incident when I had it tested and they had to stop the test after about half a minute because they didn’t have equipment good enough to test my hearing. It’s bat-like, apparently. Is that irony? I’m not sure, I have never been good with irony.

It can be a nuisance, as I live in the centre of town, right on the fight path to the local University. And no, that wasn’t a typo – try sleeping through their pugilistic meander back to their holes of residence at 3am on a week night.

Freshers’ week – or ‘Threshers’ month’ as we like to call it (after the local offie – sorry, off licence) – can be a particular torture. I was considering buying one of those high-pitched cat-annoying things, you know: it sends out a high-pitched signal which is supposed to annoy cats and teenagers, but that plan came a cropper when I realised that the only person who would hear it would be downstairs’ kitten… And me. It makes my ears itch like they’re being tickled by a bad joke in moon boots.

But of course, there has to be one downfall, eh?

Eyesight? Yes please. Now I’m not saying that my eyesight is bad, but I’ve got to the stage where my glasses have to be thinned down. It’s not a good look. And worse, if I want to read something close up, I have to take my glasses down and shut one eye and peer very closely. The only problem with this is that my dominant eye is not my ‘good’ one! Oh, you have no idea of the amusement this causes… For other people.

I don’t do detail, but boy, can I spot movement. The slightest flutter of a leaf and my eye is immediately drawn to it. Predator instinct, I suppose. Which would be great if I was a tomcat out on the prowl for a mouse.

So… hearing like a bat, eyesight like a bat, too.

Great.


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I know what’s coming next…

There’s questions… There’s always questions. So I have a choice. Three, actually (let me know if there are more)

1) I can answer the same old questions each time anybody and everybody asks, once they’ve twigged about me (or once I’ve just come straight out and told them – there are some people out there  who really aren’t that bright);

2) I can wait till someone asks those same old questions, at which point I whip my coat open to reveal a billboard carefully inscribed with all the answers. That way, I don’t have to go over it all again for the umpty-umpth time. However, it only takes one person to get the wrong idea about my intentions and I end up in a police cell charged with goodness knows what…

or

3) Er…. This.  Just keep reading…

So, was I born like this or was I turned? That’s what you wanted to ask, wasn’t it?  I mean, I’m obviously real, so…

I was born this way, obviously. Like the song says. It’s like anything else genetic, two people can be carriers of the certain gene or syndrome, but it’s only when they have a child that it comes to light. None of my older brothers and sisters are like this. I guess if I’d been the first one to pop out, I could well have been an only child!  So no, I don’t sparkle in the sunlight. I don’t turn into a bat and fly (although that would be handy when the trains are playing silly beggars). I don’t have excessively long fingers with talon like nails. In fact, I have pudgy hands with rather stubby fingers. Plus, I bite my nails. Well, I have to do something with my teeth don’t I?!

Ah, teeth. No, I do not have fangs, thank you very much. I had them fixed as a teenager. There are some school photos of me (pre-fix) that still make me cringe when I think about them. Come to think of it, I rarely smiled in photos at all when I was a child. And on those rare occasions when I did smile, I never, ever showed my teeth. Fangs for the memory. Ha… Ha… Ha…

In fact, I only have one photo of me wearing anything like a smile. I was four, riding my scooter in the park. My father said I stopped smiling when I started school. Apparently that’s when I started to bite my nails too… Anyway, teeth… They weren’t all completely fixed and there is still a slight hint of fanginess about my teeth on a bad day. Especially the lower ones. Dental technology has moved on…

As I said, I don’t sparkle in sunlight. I never have. I never will. Unless of course, I’m wearing full body glitter. Although, as I am allergic to most things (more about that at a later date), that would probably be a very bad idea. I might even burst into flames! No, just joking. I don’t burst into flames either. Well, unless you count that unfortunate incident trying to make home fireworks but then that could have happened to anybody. There was just a bunch of us daft teenagers mucking about one evening at a youth activity and… never mind.

But….. Before you stop reading in a total blast of disappointment: I don’t like sunlight. There. I’ve redeemed myself. Bright sunlight… hate hate hate. How do I handle it? Do I hiss and cover myself dramatically with my hands while I start to sizzle slightly like an over-dramatic Pop Tart? Hardly.

Well, either I don’t go out at all (but that would restrict my activities quite a bit)… Or I just cover up. That in itself does make me stand out a little bit: especially when you’re walking around in August, dressed extremely modestly, and everybody else is tottering around wearing a wide belt and two bits of string. I will be so grateful when it’s fashionable to wear clothes again…

Do I wear sunglasses to protect my delicate little eyes? I do! Well, not sunglasses as such. I’m not a complete poser. I will leave that kind of behaviour for the Wannabees. Or the genuine posers. I mean, who wears sunglasses on the London Underground in December for goodness sake?! But I do wear glasses that react to sunlight. Unfortunately, they don’t always react quick enough for my liking. But that’s another story.

 


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