Driving Me Round The Bend…

…is a very short journey at times. The past weeks I have been away in Wales. Travelling solo, which for me means – gahh – public transport. I had the opportunity to get my tickets way in advance which saved a lot of money (yes, even vampires have to count pennies) but did carry one small penalty, or as I like to call it, the ‘you’re-stuck-with-it’ clause. One seat to rule them all; one seat reservation to find it.

I found myself on the quiet carriage on train. For those not in the know, this is the carriage where men in suits are allowed to glare at you if you cough, before then receiving calls to which they reply “I can’t talk right now’, and then proceed to do precisely that.

Thank goodness for headphones. I decide to watch The World’s End on my iPad to kill some time, with my bag of boiled sweets at the ready for the ear-drum-wrenching Severn tunnel. Anyway, 90 odd minutes later, I look up, world saved, evil vanquished, to see a bilingual sign. Both I and my ears missed the tunnel altogether. I’m now in Wales.

And that’s where I spend a few delightful days, running errands and generally making as much mess as possible. Well, I introduce my father to the delights of fermented foods, such as water kefir and homemade sauerkraut – who knew you could fit an entire head of cabbage into one small jar???

And yes, I end up in the quiet coach again on the way back. With my lunch: vegetable crisps plus a nice crusty French bread sandwich wrapped in crinkly tin foil. It’s a very long train. I’m in coach A. The train ends at coach L. By the time I get to my seat, I’ve probably already crossed the city line. The cheap seats at the front. First class to the rear. If we crash, they’ll be fine. I’m living dangerously. Oh yeah.

The woman across the aisle is tearing bits of paper. Is she making a nest? I don’t want to fall asleep in case I wake up with my liver gone. The journey is once again alleviated by liberal application of Flixster and as the light fades, I find myself back in Reading, with 3 minutes to make my connection. Really? Naturally, I miss it. I go to find the next train. Pause for hollow laughter. Train? Don’t be silly. It’s that well-know British institution – the bus replacement service, which will get me back to my home village 90 minutes later than expected.

The bus is warm and cosy and dark, so I don’t mind it too much. I sit at the front, behind the driver. It’s all coccoony and comfy. Apart from when a four-by-four tries to play chicken with the bus. We’re abiding by the rules while the aforementioned four-by-four has a go at jumping a roundabout. The poor bus driver nearly gets concussion from my Hello Kitty bag zooming through the air as he slams on the brakes.

I snoozle, half conscious until someone gets on with a Chinese takeaway. My predator instinct starts to kick in. I want the takeaway, don’t worry! Black bean goodness… I eventually arrive home considerably later than planned, with the start of a really bad cough… That’s air conditioning for you. It develops into Bronchitis – I sound like the lovechild of the exorcist and a dragon.

So why don’t I just drive? Good question. It’s one of the downsides of the way I am. I did try. Honest. There was one occasion during a lesson where the instructor told me to take the next right. I saw it. I indicated. He asked me what I was doing. I restated the instruction.

“I’m taking a right up that hill.”

“What hill?”

“That hill.”

“Look again.”

Turns out I was not turning right up a hill. It was not a hill. It was a large grey house. Well, it looked like a hill to me! It’s like the stories I’ve heard about iguanas – on seeing a human being for the first time, they mistake them for a tree and climb up the unsuspecting person. So, hey, I’m doing my bit for road safety – by not driving!



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Donkeys and Bottoms

This isn’t about Midsummer Night’s Dream… And I’m getting in there quick because I just know what some people out there are like…

“Aaaaactually, as any idiot will tell you, it’s an ass…”

You said it, buddy.

But you…. you’re not like that. I know you’ve got more sense. I know you’ll be thinking, “Hmm, there’s an odd title. I wonder where she’s going with this…” And you’ll read on until that light bulb moment when it suddenly makes sense. I like that about you. Thanks.

However, there’s no avoiding the fact that people like you are few and far between, and it seems, sadly, that your numbers are dwindling day by day.

Remember ages ago, I said I wasn’t the bitey kind of vampire? Well, I’ll stand by that. And yes, I did admit that there are times when I’m tempted. People like the above “Actually” would be first in line. Although, ‘actually’, thinking about it… No.

A good example of a Mr Actually happened a while ago. And yes, like most of these instances, it happened online. Oh! The arrogance of online anonymity! I had made an innocent comment, stating an opinion about a subject that I happened to have several decades of knowledge/training/experience.

Mr Actually said, “You know, I’d never thought about it like that. That’s a very interesting point of view. Thank you for your thoughts. I always appreciate hearing a viewpoint that differs from my own.”

Only joking!

Of course he didn’t! Mr Actually went into full-on rant mode. He was like a terrier on a rat. His pages of diatribe and foul-mouthing I will tactfully condense into the following cute little couplet…

You’re wrong, I’m right.

You’re stupid, I’m bright.

I then went on to reply that, quite simply, this was my opinion. I didn’t bash him over the head with the whole knowledge/training/experience thing. None of it could be a match for his obvious expertise. Indeed, rather than accepting my statement, he behaved as though I had suggested that his mother had had a restraining order slapped on her by the local donkey sanctuary.

And the vitriol continued. I learned my lesson that day.

Pre-internet, I remember (decades ago) discussing a thesis of mine with someone who, miraculously, knew more about what I was doing than I did, even though he was hundreds of miles away. It also happened recently. Now, I know I’m technically a genius, but the intellect of these naysayers must reach such dizzying heights as to be beyond my simplistic understanding…

Anyway… My take on the matter now is this: You can disagree with me all you like: it doesn’t make me wrong. Or you right.

If you have to deal with people like this, may I politely suggest you try this out as a mantra? It’s actually quite invigorating.

Opinions, you see, are like, er, bottom-holes. Everybody’s got one.

The reason I would never succumb to temptation and bite is quite simple.

I would never eat something that disagrees with me.

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Walking Backwards

It’s a gloriously sunny day today. Great, and not so great. Great, because everything looks so much nicer in sunshine, and everyone’s happier. It’s proper sunshine too, not like those glary-cold days I remember from childhood. The ones where I tried to escape, even if only for a few minutes, out into the fresh air, only to be yanked back by Mother, with a comment of “I don’t care how sunny it is, you’re not going out there without a coat!” Dang it. She knew I wouldn’t want to put a coat on. I’d overheat within minutes. That was her trump card and she played it every time.

But sunshine… Ahhhh…. Even I love it. Oh yes! It makes people easier to be around. Not so much negative frequencies bouncing around. A small confession – I childishly love watching my shadow as I walk. Obviously I have to keep covered up (thinly – I’m a great believer in layers) because even cold sunshine will affect my skin (but I will risk it a bit for a spot of Vitamin D!) Plus, with the overall light being so bright, I tend to squint slightly (even with the special glasses working at almost full-on blackout setting), and that makes me look like I’m smiling. It cheers a lot of people up, who readily smile back.

Of course, there are the not so great things, like the people who pass me with my strange perma-smile and either suddenly take three steps out of the way or just recoil in horror. Either way, it’s great for getting through bustling crowds in town on market day (and you know how much I ‘love’ crowds… *sigh*). It speeds shopping up no end. Silver linings, and all that.

Naturally, on really, really, sunny days, even with the glasses, the light is extremely painful. Perma-smile quickly becomes grimace, especially when walking into the sun. So much so, that the other day, I had a couple of students accost me, because they thought I was grimacing at them. Egocentric, anybody? Oh yeah, boys, it’s all about you, isn’t it? This is on the top of my ‘to do’ list today: annoy you.

Here I am, clearly in a lot of pain, unable to see much of anything (my retinas have gone on strike by that point), desperately and delicately feeling my way along the wall to try and find my way home to recover and suddenly it’s all actually a personal slight against you.. Seriously, do some people spend their lives actively seeking out slights and persecution? You’d have loved the Spanish Inquisition…

Which nobody expects, of course. The Spanish Inquisition, that is.

Has anyone else found this? You regular humans, I mean? Hah, you see, I bet there’ll be somebody who’d get insulted by the phrase ‘regular human’! Let’s just set this out there, right now, on the record.

I mean no offence.

To anyone.


Oh well. I’ve been alive long enough to realise that if you go looking for offence, you’ll find it. It’s kind of like dust. Unless you clean or turn a blind eye, you will see it everywhere.



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Rising to the bait

Sorry I’m a bit late with this – blame the snot-fest.

I’ve been puzzling about linguistics recently…

Why do we ‘rise’ to the bait, but ‘lower ourselves’ to dignify a wind-up with a response? Where on earth is this insult pitched? No wonder we go through life seesawing between backhanded compliments and verbal confusions! Would world peace be achieved if we all spoke the same language? Never. You’d have to have a hive mind mentality set up before that happened. One mind, one meaning. To illustrate:

I hate crowds – too many thoughts rushing around. You see, another of my little  gifts is that I’m an empath. I’m not telepathic (or, as I jokingly call it – ‘telepathetic’), although I can pretty much gauge what a person is thinking based on things like facial expression and body language. No. An empath is something different. It’s not an observational thing, but the ability to know what someone else is feeling; or even to experience that feeling alongside them. The amount of times I’ve been having a great day and suddenly felt weird for no reason, before finding out that someone in the building is having the day from hell.

In fact, at one job I was at, I was warned to stay clear of the staff room because there’d been an argument in there half an hour previously…

So, anyway. Crowds equal bad news for me because I get exhausted by the maelstrom of emotions whirling around every corner.

Now a football match – that’s another thing altogether. I can happily, even peacefully sit and be perfectly relaxed. You see, there may be thousands of people there but they all share pretty much the same thought… Win. Win. Win. Generally, folks don’t go to a match to spend ninety minutes wondering if they turned the cooker off, or if the combats they’re wearing really do go with their t-shirt. And even if they did, chances are those thoughts/emotions would be swallowed up by the Win-win-winners.

Even speaking the same language causes misunderstandings… Take Mrs Malaprop, for instance – a humorous character whose verbal manglings gave rise to a whole brand of spoken shenanigans… An example:  “Illiterate him quite from your memory” (obliterate).

And yes, ok, I’ve made a few of my own, in various languages… I’ll give you a few examples, as long as you please remember that I’m not a one for bad language, it’s just the way some of them came out…

When I was about 4, I went with my sister to see one of her friends, who delighted in playing silly games with me. One day, she was playing “I’m The King Of The Castle” with me, which goes like this:

I’m The King Of The Castle

And you’re the dirty rascals.

Only, of course what came out of my mouth wasn’t ‘rascals’, and it began with ‘b’… My sister’s friend was somewhat taken aback. And no, I don’t know where I’d picked that word up from. Sometimes I don’t think I even do pick up words. I think I just mangle them until they sound like another word. Case in point… Once I was talking to Mother about a friend and called them a ‘rech mewn pot jam’ which, in Welsh means a ‘fart in a jam pot’. Only I didn’t use the word ‘rech’, I used a very similar sounding word which, unfortunately means, er… How do I put this… front bottom. Cue cranial bongo solo from Mother…

And here’s one I heard earlier.

I was in a supermarket the other day when I overheard a mother with her son and another boy who was clearly friend of son. They were choosing drinks before going into the nearby cinema. The boy got very excited at the range of drinks available and pointed one particular bottle out to his friend, asking him “Have you ever tried that drink? That ‘Knackered’ one?’ She cringed and corrected him – very promptly.

I don’t know what the mother was more embarrassed about: her son’s reading ability; whether he’d just used the word ‘knackered’, or the fact that she’d had to say ‘Naked’ very loudly in a public place!

Language is a funny old thing…

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