Don’t look now…

I’m being very good today.

I got up.

Hey, don’t I get brownie points for that?!

Things have been getting a bit weird around here. Oh, okay then … weirdER.

I recently realised that I’ve been living in this country a quarter of a century. Nearly ten years in my current location. And that’s way longer than I ever tend to spend anywhere. Normally, after about 5 or 6 years, people start noticing things, and life starts getting awkward.

Then I move on. In fact, it’s normally a lot less than that. But, I guess that’s a big city for you. Noise, smells and a whole big bundle of Couldn’t-Give-A-Toss. This is a place where people would prefer to barge into you and say ‘sorry‘ than say ‘excuse me‘ and go through all that lengthy hassle of waiting a whole two seconds for you to move out of their way.

Sorry, I put ‘move‘ in bold because when I looked up at the screen, I realised I’d typed ‘love‘ instead.

Freudian slip?

I’d like to think so.

Sounds better than ‘Omigosh, my typing sucks‘.

But I think I’ve seen you. You’re the person that always says ‘thank you’ when I stop to let you go past. You always seem concerned whenever you see someone who may be in distress, and you’re always the first to help when you find that they are, rather than pointedly staring at your phone instead.

Talking of which, I saw someone the other day, walking along a tempestuous pavement, glued to their phone screen. Oblivious to everything else. They say flying is simply throwing yourself at the ground and not hitting it… Well, this guy practically flew, in that case.

Foot + pavement-bump + diverted attention = Faceplant

Or so you’d think…

It was a spectacular save.

He fell.

He got about three quarters of the way down.

He righted himself.

He carried on walking, still glued to the phone.

Now that’s style.

I salute you, young sir.

At least folks like him aren’t the cause of my current predicament.

Ah yes, that.

They’ve found me again.

Well, I think they have. And no, I’m not entirely sure who ‘they’ are, exactly. But ‘they’ have an unerring knack in discovering creatures like myself and, er, encouraging us to be geographically adventurous. I’m sure there’s some kind of -ism or -phobic that covers this, but let’s face it, you’re  never going to get anybody out with placards protesting.

Well, you may do, but it’s going to have to be at night, so probably not much to be achieved there.

Dysons and glowsticks at dawn it is, then!


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You know you want to.

Tempus forgets

Oh boy…. I’ve just noticed the date.

What happened to the past few months? I mean, I know what I’ve been up to. At least, I think I do… Does anybody else do this thing where they intend to do something, and they keep telling themselves that they need to do it, and they tell themselves so frequently that they end up actually thinking they’ve done it?

And… they haven’t.

Well, that’s me.

I heard an interesting thing the other day. It’s to do with forgetting stuff…

Apparently if you walk from one room into another with the purpose of doing something, the very act of walking through the doorway draws a line under that thought. It wipes out the thought that you were bringing in with you.

Me: I will leave the living room and go to the kitchen to fetch a sandwich bag to put this assorted batch of pencils in.

My brain: And she’s left the living room! She made it into the kitchen without any injury. Good job, brain cells! Shut off any living room-based thoughts. Bin them. Let’s make space for incoming! Now let’s move onto all things related to ‘kitchen’!

Me: What the heck did I come in here for?

I once did a study of facial recognition/memory. And I found out something fascinating. Did you know your brain has a little database of useless information about each person you know? Well, chief amongst these is the location you usually see that person. In fact, it’s one of the first pieces  of information your brain scrabbles for. So…

Me: I know that person…

My brain: Hang on!  I’ll just check. (checks through a veritable Where’s Wally/Waldo of snapshots). Nope. I got nothing. Gahhh!

The other person then sees the stupid look of blank horror on your face and basically tells you their life story until you twig (usually at the point when they mention the actual place you know them from) who they are.

My brain: The library?! Omigosh! Of course! (grabs the picture of the library and does a lap of honour to the internal strains of the Hallelujah Chorus).

But, as I always say – it’s better to remember that you’ve forgotten than to forget that you’ve remembered…

 

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Where’ere thou art…

“Where’ere thou art, act well thy part.”

I have acted. Many people are surprised by this – that I can be on stage, watched by hundreds of people, being any one of a thousand possible characters, when offstage I find it difficult to make eye contact… It’s not so incredible, actually. I wear people like some folks hide behind make-up or loud clothes. You can go on holiday to escape home, work, family, friends, routine, but nowhere on earth will you ever escape yourself. 

That’s why I took to acting with such enthusiasm- the only way to escape yourself is to become (temporarily) someone else. 

I believe an actor has 100% to give. It is their choice how much of it they use on stage. The more you use off stage, the less you have to offer when the lights go down. I prefer to reserve my hundred percent for when I’m on stage. Although I do borrow from it from time to time to help me deal with the more awkward moments in life, like… Well, life really.

I was out the other day and heard such a wailing and caterwauling that I wasn’t sure if some disaster had happened. It turns out it was merely a local act-or out for a few moments of quiet reflection, as he hugged and ‘mwah-mwah-dahling’ed everyone within arm’s reach. And not all of them particularly wanted to be mwah-mwah’ed either.

Loudness of every kind appals me. It’s not snobbery. It hurts. Literally hurts. And when I say ‘literally’, I genuinely do mean literally. It causes me actual physical pain.

I’m sat on a train, escaping to the sea for the day to recharge the emotional batteries, when in swagger a gang of students. They swarm and mewl and raise the rafters to contain their wonderfulness. And I look at them, shutting off my ears and see their self-presumed omnipotence as nothing but a matrix of statistics: height, weight, age, IQ, EQ, life expectancy…

And each generation leapfrogs each other in outrage. One minute you’re one of the caterwaulers… The next, you’re disgruntled at the wailing and the next, you’re considering whether you should just report them to the police at 3am and finally get back to sleep. And of course, when I say ‘minute’, what I actually mean is ‘couple of decades’. That’s what time feels like to me. In a twinkling of an eye you go from the Angry Young Thing who’ll save the world with your Mixed Arts degree to being Outraged of Redhill.

Choose who you want to be. Change your choice every day if you have to. After all, you can always take holidays from yourself if need be.

And me? I’ll just keep away from Redhill for now…


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Fang you very much.

Here comes summer… There goes summer

Well, that’s about all I need to say, really.

‘Bye!

Joking.

Massive apologies for the absence. I’ve been cloud-chasing. An occupational necessity when you’re a vampire.  I’ve probably already mentioned this before, but sun doesn’t affect vampires the way you see in the movies. They don’t go ‘boof!’ into a readily cleaned up pile of dust when hit by the sun (any other vamps out there, please feel free to disagree. No, wait… you can’t…).

I’ll tell you want happens. The moment the sun hits you, you feel all your energy desert you. Ever picked a sponge up from a bucket of water and watched the water simply pour out of it? Sponge = me. Water = energy. Hand = er, not sure. Could be the sun… Okay. I’ll stop that analogy right there. And it was going so well too.

The turning into dust thing is just a very handy plot device so that Van Helsing / Buffy / Blade don’t have a landfill-worth of skewered bodies to explain to the local constabulary. Nothing more. Plus it gives the excuse for some really cool SFX.

Now, normally I’d still be gone, but I’m kind of stuck here at the moment, due to a little mishap with my travelling papers. Or, as you call them in this century, my passport. I blame the Referendum. Remember that? A couple of months back everyone in this country voted whether or not we still wanted to be part of the European Union (no, don’t worry, I don’t do politics). I think it might have been more of a bluff by one of the main politicians to prove to all his mates that the country loved him bestest and it kind of blew up in his face, and everyone ran around chewing the furniture and horribly over-reacting. Sadly, some people did get burned over the whole affair. Badly. I just don’t understand you humans sometimes.

And I ended up needing a new passport.

I went to the post office the day after and announced to the rather nervous young man behind the desk that I needed to replace my passport. The look on his face was one of “Oh $*[&! I really don’t want to get involved in this!”.  I imagine if his boss had asked him to perform a rectal exam on a diarrhetic camel and sorry, they’d run out of rubber gloves, the expression would have been pretty much the same. But I got my form, took it home and had the mandatory humiliatingly appalling photos taken (yes, I do show up in pictures and video).

I filled it in, got it checked, sent it off. A whole three weeks later (with about two to go before I needed to travel!), I got a form asking me why it needed replacing. Which begs two questions.

  1. If you knew you needed to know that, why didn’t you just put a question in the relevant section of the application form?
  2. Three weeks? Seriously? It took that long to ask? Three weeks?

All that done, I sat back and waited. And waited. Panic… Thankfully, the department that deals with such things has discovered the recent delights of text messaging, which wonderfully allayed my fears while I awaited my precious. Which turned out to be an extremely short time in the end. Bravo.

Then they delivered it. Special delivery. Oh yes.

And I wasn’t in.

Typical.

But they did leave a lovely little card.  And I can tell you, the delivery service was so fast, the card was actually dated the following day! That’s right. The card was delivered on the 4th, but dated the 5th. Now that’s speed for you. So I rearranged delivery. I was given the delightfully concise window of between 9am and 5pm on my chosen day. Because as a vampire, naturally I have nothing to do all day but stay indoors. Actually…

Anyway.

I was warned in the email that I would need to show identification. Luckily the lovely delivery guy didn’t press me for such stuff. Which was just as well, because the only possible i.d. I would have had was…

The passport.

So. To explain the young post office man’s apprehension. What did happen to my passport? I think he assumed my need was something to do with the Referendum result. It wasn’t.

Simply put, this is why I needed to replace my passport.

On the night of the Referendum, I decided to combine going to vote (yes, vampires can vote. We’re very modern like that) with a nice run. And it was raining. Even better. I love running in the rain. Having misplaced my voting card, I took my passport along as identification, should it be needed. It wasn’t. I got soaked. Soaked to the skin. Literally. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. got wet.

But that wasn’t what killed my passport. Oh no.

That happened when I got home.

And I decided to put my wringing wet running kit into the washing machine.

And switched it on.

Without checking my pockets.

If only the myths about us were true. Sometimes I think it’d actually be quite useful to turn into a bat. I bet bats don’t need passports…

 


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I mean, why not?

Missing the point(illism)

Bonfire night, scattered over a fortnight or so, is more or less officially done with now. It’s once more safe to go out. I’m surprised we still celebrate it, given the Politically Correct culture we now live in.

I was never allowed to attend these ritual burnings as a child. Mother would not allow it. I thought it desperately unfair. Of course, it’s only as an adult that I realise (with great annoyance) that she was correct. She had a very good reason – possibly two – for her forbidding my presence there.

It turns out I can’t be around fireworks or large fires. I found out the hard way. When I went to university, I made full use of being ‘off the leash’ and went to a bonfire party at the first opportunity that presented itself. The next few days were spent in asthmatic regret. Clearly, the smoke and fumes are some kind of vampiric Kryptonite.

Oh, the other reason? Well, you do know about how to kill a vampire? Perhaps she was concerned that, if anyone found out about me….

Anyway, let’s get back to the disgruntlement…

I have mentioned this before, that sometimes in life we are told things that are initially an affront to us. We stomp, we whine, we moan about how unfair it is on us. Of course, if it is a case of political correctness, we state how unfair it is on others.

Off at a tangent, I was once severely told off for laughing at a blonde joke (I am extremely blonde, as you may recall). Yes. Told off. That’s not funny, they said. That’s offensive, they said. Why aren’t you offended? they said. My reply was quite simple (and probably equally offensive) ‘Oh, I don’t need to be offended at blonde jokes. I have people who do that for me. They’re called brunettes.’

Anyway, back to my point. Pun not intended. Have you ever seen a Pointillist painting? Artists such as George Seurat (apparently people in art galleries get upset if you call him George Sewer-rat) created the most incredible works of art using, not brush strokes, but small dots of colour. This means one thing though: stand too close to any of his paintings and they just look like a mess of tiny splodges. But stand back…. and be prepared to be hit by the beauty and sense of his work. Yes, sense. Suddenly, it all becomes clear.

Yup. And that’s life for you, too.

Although, here’s the thing…. this happens on a couple of levels. Live long enough, and you’ll see the pattern emerge.

1) The conscious level. This is all those times someone (usually a parent, haha!) gives you advice/instructions that at the time annoy the bejabbers out of you, only to discover afterwards (sometimes years afterwards!) that they were in fact, correct.

2) The subconscious level. This is where the big pain and big changes often happen. This is where the ‘advisors’ themselves are actually unaware of what is taking place…

Who are they? Usually (but not always), they are people who pride themselves on their ability to manipulate people and circumstances and are so often totally unaware of the big picture. Of what is actually occurring. Of course, I speak only from my own past experience. It can also be a pleasant process, with pleasant people. But, more often than not, it isn’t. This is why it all seems so clouded and incomprehensible at the time.

Sometimes you will find someone who plays chess with people’s lives, moving them around like the useless or inconvenient pawns they presume them to be. Playing with them like a spiteful child would play with puppets.

What few realise is that it is they who are the puppets, with the Universe, some greater power using them as tools to force/enable us to move onto some greater purpose. And as they clap their hands and congratulate themselves with smug self-hugs on another life ruined, another face-that-doesn’t-fit gone from their tiny kingdom, little do they know they have in fact helped the caterpillar break (however painfully) out from their cocoon and take to the skies of their future. They are in fact being used to help you, not hurt you – ultimately. Though it’ll never feel like it at the time!

So many incredible things in life are achieved only through pain: birth, growing teeth, healing…  Think of how a horseshoe is made – no amount of pleasantries or cajoling will coax that straight piece of metal into its final shape. Try it. Okay, start with something feasible like a wire coat hanger. Tell it to become an egg whisk. You know, one of those curly ones. Talk to it nicely. Offer it treats, bribes, then ultimately reminders, particularly about ‘how disappointed’ you are. I’m guessing nothing much will happen until you forcibly twist and twirgle it into shape. Ouch.

Think something doesn’t make sense? Step back.

 

 


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Sometimes the best things in life are free!

Life is pants.

“Never sweat the petty things, and never pet the sweaty things.”

Good advice.

I also like “Never sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff.” I’m not sure about the link between perspiration and good advice, but I’m sure someone out there is clever enough to come up with a syllogism for that too. There is so much advice out telling us what not to do for a happier, healthier life, in the form of books, videos, cute little memes (yes, them again!). But say we’re fortunate/determined enough to give up over-thinking, over-analysing, over-indulging, over-anything-else-ing, with what exactly do we fill the void?

Over the decades, I’ve seen so many parents barking ‘don’t ‘s at their kids: don’t run, don’t talk back, don’t put that in your mouth, you don’t know where it’s been (bonus points on that one!), without offering an alternative… I would just once like a toddler, on being told not to run, reply “But mother, I’m only three years old, it’s in my programming to run everywhere. I’ve only recently perfected this technique of movement, and I wish to maximise my newly acquired skill. Give me an alternative, mother, and I will gladly comply.”

Or, more simply put – “Don’t run? What else am I supposed to do?”

So, here’s my two penn’orth: always have an alternative option to hand. Want someone to stop doing something (and that includes you!)? Then give them an alternative or two to try out. In sort, have a Plan B (C, D, and so on). Have a escape route. You always have a choice.

I like to do swapsies… Swap horrors for delights. And make the most of those delights, even if they are only tiny ones. Find yourself a list of simple pleasures. Make these the things you dwell on as you fall asleep at night, rather than visualising the person who hurrumphed at you in that queue, or who took your last Jaffa cake…

There are a few simple pleasures in life which can’t be beaten. Not in the schadenfreude kind of way, you know, where you derive deep pleasure from seeing the person who cut you up on the road get stuck behind a horsebox. No, I mean the true, pure innocent pleasures of life.

Here are some of mine…

  1. Moonwalking (literally) out of a pair of socks after a long day.

  2. Duvet Arms. This is when you snuggle down under the covers after sitting up in bed with bare arms. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

  3. Climbing into bed with fresh sheets, especially after a shower.

  4. Radiator Pants. On a cold day, leaving your clothes on a radiator overnight and donning deliciously warm undies the next morning.

  5. Sitting down on the sofa and finding that the cushion fits your back perfectly, without any need to shuffle it around first.

What five things will make your list?

 


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…because no good story ever started with a salad.

Sole Mates

Let’s get this contentious issue out of the way immediately…

There is no such practical thing as ‘finding’ a soulmate.  (I’ve probably lost half of you straight away)

It comes from Greek myth.

According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”

― PlatoThe Symposium

From the people who brought you the woman who turns men to stone with one look, and the man with a bull’s head… Funny how we don’t hold those stories quite so dear as a lifestyle choice...

Soulmates do exist, yes, but finding one? Practical thinking now, people. Measure it up against the other myths.

No, folks, narcissists don’t turn into flowers; ferrymen do get paid, and let’s not even talk about Oedipus! And yet folks are happy to believe there’s that one perfect person who will magically appear.

One?! Just one?! I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy those odds! And if you never find them? Well, that makes you responsible for ruining the life of someone out there…

And what if you find the wrong person? You’re depriving someone of their soulmate, thereby ruining the lives of three people.

You make the person you choose your soulmate. And they in turn make you theirs.

Okay, so let’s buy into this for a moment… say that –

YOU’VE FOUND HIM/HER – WHAT NEXT?

Prince Charming farts, Belle has to sort out Beast’s ingrown chin hairs, and Rapunzel’s prince picks his teeth at the dinner table.

The fairy tale is there, but sometimes the world gets in the way. Take as simple a thing as your prince waking you up in the morning…

The Hollywood:

He kissed her gently on her forehead. She stretched languorously, sighing as she slowly awakened. Peeling back the covers, she slipped gracefully from the bed and, with her hair slightly tousled and her make-up still intact, she smiled gorgeously at him as she slinked off to the bathroom.

The reality:

He kissed her gently on her forehead. She stretched awkwardly through the tangle of bedclothes, letting rip a terrifying fart and a satisfied groan as something clicked in her back. Ignoring the look of gassed-out horror on his face, she tumbled gracelessly from the bed, releasing such odours as would make her beloved’s face crease in disbelief as she lumped her way to the bathroom, tripping over last night’s bed socks as she went.

 While describing the stories of fairytale heroines, a wise man once said: “Sandwiched between their ‘once upon a time’ and ‘happily ever after‘, they all had to experience great adversity.”

The fairy tale can continue – particularly if you look at it from an eternal perspective – you just have to accept that while you are living in this world, worldly things will sneak in and kill the moment. A lot. It would be wonderful, for example, to spend forever staring into each other’s eyes, but you must eat, or your human body will die. To eat, you must cook.

To cook, you must have food.

To have food, you must shop.

To shop, you must have money.

To have money, you must work.

To work, you must rest.

To rest, you must have a safe place, a home.

To have a home, you must –

You get the idea. And don’t even get me started on the washing up (no, literally – don’t!)!

And, of course, the going to the bathroom. I’ve never seen a fairy tale princess sat on the bog – have you? So unromantic and yet so unavoidable.

Life cannot be 100% fairy tale – you’d be dead within a month – see above. But neither can life be 100% the human necessities. So…

If you can just accept that these icky human details must and will be attended to, you will be able to enjoy the fairy tale moments much more.

So, dance on the beach in the moonlight, kiss under the stars… Just remember – that toilet won’t clean itself.

And then we’ll all live happy ever after.

 

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Ah… that’s better.