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 the 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 what 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?

As good a day as any….

31st October

Well, today is Halloween. Seems like an appropriate day to start a blog, I suppose…

It all started last week, in a shop selling chintzy (do I mean ‘kitschy’?) Halloween items. A little boy was complaining to his mother (do little boys do anything else in shops?) about being a vampire “again”. He was whining about how he didn’t want to have to wear those teeth again. Why did he always have to be a vampire? Why did he have to wear ‘those‘ teeth? I was surreptitiously listening to all this of course, and wanted to go up to the little boy and say “Excuse me, but what is wrong with being a vampire? Don’t you think that’s a little bit insulting to vampires?”

But I didn’t, for a number of reasons:

a) the mum would probably flatten me for talking to her little precious (stranger danger!);

b) it was really not my business;

c) I didn’t want to give myself away;

d) actually, I don’t have anything else for this one.

This politically correct nonsense has got to stop somewhere!

So, I kept quiet. I find it easier that way.

I suppose I better introduce myself. It’ll take a while.  There’s much to tell. I won’t tell you my name, so I guess I’m not really entirely introducing myself, but never mind. Identity theft, that sort of thing. I don’t know. Modern living, eh? So please bear with me.

I am a vampire.

Yes, it’s easy to say that these days. Nobody gives a fig. “I am a vampire.” Nobody really cares about that sort of thing any more. It’s just more everyday tabloid fluff. The kind of statement you find in magazines in railway station newsagents when your train is 20 minutes late…  It’s up there with “aliens stole my baby”; “I travelled through time and became my own father”; “Woman of 120 looks 30 on a diet of couscous and pears!”… I guess in these days of freedom of speech, everyone is allowed a little crazy from time to time. Admit to being a creature of the night, nobody bats an eyelid; use the wrong spelling of ‘your’ on the internet and we might as well have a wake for you right now.

Let’s just say I’m glad people don’t have pitchforks and flaming torches anymore. Although I can’t imagine being chased out of the village by people waving glow sticks and Dysons.

And no, I am not 120. I am… Well, let’s just say I will never see 50 again. However, nobody believes this. They’re all horrified that I could be anything older than mid 30s.

I am an everyday kind of vampire.

 


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Just coz…

One Meme Mama

****WARNING****

This is another of those posts which are unsuitable for anyone of an oversensitive disposition, and may contain opinions which differ from yours.

Okay, those of you that know me will get that the above is largely tongue-in-cheek. Having said that, I am unapologetic for being me, as I have had very little offstage practice at being anyone else.

I do feel that, as I’m on my soapbox today, you do at least deserve to be forewarned in order to prepare your nerves for one of my inevitable rants. Perhaps ‘rant’ is a strong word, but certainly these days, anything spoken about with passion or conviction is pigeonholed as either ranting or rousing – depending on where you stand via-à-vis the issue in question.

Yesterday, I saw a meme on one of the many available social networks. It was a beautiful selection of pastel swirls, decorated with a suitably heroic font and almost perfect grammar.

Only a mother can love and protect a child.

At first I wanted to reach for a bucket at the emotive saccharine. That quickly changed to a little hurt and outrage as it (I felt) sought to over-spiritualise those that do, and marginalise those who don’t have children.

So, let’s burst that elitist bubble right now. I have charge of a small group of darling little humans once a week. I teach them about being alive; they teach me about being human. I would happily die for any one of that little group. Or kill for them. I know which option sounds more fun…

No, I don’t have kids ‘of my own‘ (like you could ‘own‘ them anyway!). No doubt something else to do with my crazy vampire genes.

I’m going to throw out a few generalisations at you. Fellow vampires (if there are any) – please feel free to back me up here…. we don’t feel comfortable at baby showers. We’re grateful for the invite, to know you are including us but when we go, it does feel like we’re the only gluten-intolerant at a coffee morning…

Look, we know you can’t have cake, but you’re welcome to watch us eat some. Ooh! Here’s a Victoria Sponge for you to hold.

(the little devil sat on my shoulder tells me I should know my place as an inferior specimen and to hold my envious tongue. He then kicks me in the ear for good measure).

Ok, so no, I have never given birth. But then, neither have a lot of adoptive mums who will switch just as quickly to mamma bear mode when needed. I’ve never been catapulted into the heart of a sun, but I still know to put sunblock on if it’s a sunny day.

But here’s a thought that’ll fry your pancakes.

Everything happens for a reason, right?

What if….

What if the reason that some of us don’t have kids is not what we think?

I’m talking big, philosophical reasons here, people. Two, at least.

Bear with me: this applies to humans too.

Number One

I believe there is literally more to life than what we have in this physical body. what if it all plays out on a longer time scale as a result?

To clarify – consider the way we could never have all those things we wanted as a child (remember saying “when I grow up, I’m going to…”?), but we were able to do/have/be those very things when we became adults…

What if, in the grand scheme of things, this life is only the childhood section of an eternal life track..? Trust me, I’ve had long enough to contemplate eternity!

Number Two

And this is the possibility which I find particularly makes sense to me :

They say (I’ve still to discover who ‘they‘ are) that life/God/the universe only gives you the lessons you need to learn. Notice how certain things keep happening to you, until you learn to get past them? A good teacher will never set a task that the pupil has already succeeded at. What a waste of time that would be! When I went to school, my first teacher did not teach me how to go to the toilet successfully – that had already been accomplished (the same went for reading and writing, incidentally).

So what if…

What if the reason some people remain childless is because the skills and talents needed be a parent are already in place in these individuals? What if it’s actually a box we’ve already got ticked?

Lesson learned, move on.

What if we don’t have kids because we simply don’t need to practice being parents? (oh, you’re just trying to justify your failure to accomplish a fundamental human function, says the little shoulder devil again. Well, he can do one, for a start) Look around at the people you know that don’t have kids. I’m betting a fair few of them are actually pretty good around the little ankle-biters. How did they get to be so good with kids if they don’t have any in what must be their empty, unfulfilled, incomplete little lives (yes, I’ve had all those adjectives levelled at me at various points in my ’empty’ life!)?

But, in the meantime, we have to live in a worldly world that wants everyone (humans and vampires alike) to feel pained over what they don’t have. To focus on that pain until they – we – feel like utter failures.

I can’t ride a bike, said the fish. I’m a failure.

I can’t fly, said the elephant. I’m a failure.

Stuff this, said the earthworm. I’m outta here.

Excuse me, I have an imaginary shoulder devil to throttle. Please feel to give your own a darn good talking to as well.

 


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(((hugs)))

Coldsore salad

Pardon the gross title. Heh heh heh…

Aaand I’m back! Happy autumn, everyone! I’ve been away, in hiding/hibernation/cold storage. I have to do this every year, just in case we have a decent summer here in Britain. It’s yet to happen, but I would hate to get caught out!

So, here I am, with more raves, rants, and seriously random health tips…

And I’m not the only one that’s back. The students have started reappearing in their case-dragging masses. Which means one thing: very, very late loud nights. Now, this really shouldn’t bother me, what with my being a nocturnal animal and all that. Sadly, just like humans, I still have bills, and those bills say that I have to be a diurnal animal (luckily, I love my job!). This means that (like a lot of humans) I have to sleep during the night.

This is made extremely difficult because I’m constantly being distracted by my animal loving side hearing what sounds like a hundred cats being strangled outside. Of course, it isn’t a hundred cats being strangled at all: it’s just a hundred drunken teenagers let off the leash for possibly the first time in their lives.

But you really know when the students are back when you’re in a supermarket and it takes six people to buy one chocolate bar. And then the following conversation ensues at the till:

A: I’ve only got 47p I need 79p. B, can you lend me the rest? I’ll pay you back later.

B: I’ve only got 20p on me but I still owe you £1.50 from last night so if I give you the 20p would that do for now?

C: I tell you what, B owes me £1.70 for that bottle of water, so if I give you the money, she can owe me.

A: Great, thank you!

C: Oh, but I only have a 50 pence coin on me at the moment… I know, if-

Just buy the wretched chocolate!!!

Then, to add to the externally imposed sleep deprivation, there’s the meteorologically based skin problems…

Sunburn: no problem. Eat loads of tomatoes; cover up, aloe vera for the unlucky bits.

And then there’s the real villain: cold sores. Now, I know most people get these during winter, but for me, when I get them, they’re triggered by sunlight. But here’s a little secret that the pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know about: Lysine.

Here comes the science bit…

Our DNA is made up of strands of four chemicals (called base pairs) holding hands: Adenine with Thymine, and Cytosine with Guanine. The only time they let go is when your body’s cells split to make new cells. Viruses like cold sores have their own twisty-windy thing called RNA, which is basically a cheap knock-off, using the pairs Adenine/Uracil and Guanine/Cytosine. Viruses con your body into replicating them instead of your own cells. So when your DNA unzips itself, ready to get all jiggy and replicatey, the viral string of RNA slips up in there and tricks your cells into making another one of it, rather than another body cell. Rather like when you go to make a cuppa and your lazy toad friend says “Hey, make me one while you’re there!”

So, in steps Lysine. It interrupts the process, acting in much the same way as a vet in the same room as a male dog and a big pair of scissors. Take this and it will stop them in their tracks. Until of course, you catch the next one!

Okay, so I’ve probably just lost any readers who are biologists with my simplifying and Everyday-ifying this. Oh well.

Just…. Trust me on this.

It’s good to be back.

 


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It’ll be fun. Honest.

Whenever, Wear-ever

Time to rattle the odd cage, I guess. Let’s play a game of “Let’s-see-who-reads-things-properly-and-doesn’t-go-off-in-a-huff-after-one-sentence”…

Okay, so we finally got some nice weather and people are digging out their summer clothes. Now, do not expect me to bang on about what people should or shouldn’t wear. Obviously, I have to cover up from the sun but that’s my issue. So, do I choose to wear tiny shorts and spaghetti strap tops? No, I don’t, and true, for me, it is as much about modesty as it is about keeping evil sunshine off me… But does that mean I’m going to rail against anybody who does choose to wear that? No! Let me get on with my thing, I’ll let you get on with yours. End of story – no backlash required, thank you!

I don’t know why everyone gets so worked up about clothes… And by that, I mean how they are the perennial excuse for treating someone in a certain way, based on what they’re wearing in one snapshot of time when we see them. I always remember a colleague asking the circumstances of a family we both knew. Her comment was: “Well, I’d hate to think that someone was needy if they’re actually just badly dressed.”

But there is an alarming aspect about this, which is an issue (shocker!) with women, rarely with men. There is the old thing about dressing for safety. You know what I mean… ‘Oh look what she’s wearing’.

I’m afraid that defence doesn’t wash and funny how that only seemingly applies to women.

So for argument’s sake, let’s say a bloke decided to walk around wearing a T-shirt with a target on the front and on the back it said: ‘please shoot me’… I think we’ve all been brought up to know that responding to that message and acting upon it would not be a good idea.

I mean, does anybody put on a T-shirt like that thinking “Oh, I think I’ll put on my target T-shirt. I wonder if anybody will shoot me today?!”

No, they probably put it on because it’s a cute top and it’s comfy et cetera.

However, there is a dark side to this. Chances are that somewhere in the hundreds/thousands of people that person may meet/bump into today, there will be that one person who doesn’t get the joke. For them, the message is real, and they have their own interpretation. And they will act upon it.

Does that mean he can never ever wear that top again? No, of course not. But he just needs to be aware (if you need to be aware at all) that in those thousands, there might be that one sicko who’ll misinterpret the message of what he’s wearing. And act upon it.

And of course don’t forget the power of the fashion industry image: telling him that he should wear that ‘inflammatory’ top because it’s the thing to wear this month.

After all, how often have you seen someone in the middle of a heatwave wearing tiny shorts, a tiny top and them big, massive furry boots..?

Or tottering around in a tiny, tiny skirt and an even tinier top without a coat on, in the middle of December and complaining about the cold?

Or…

All the guys who wear jeans that seem to be permanently heading for the knees, and as they walk along, they’re constantly fighting with gravity? Clue, guys: gravity will always win. Sadly that also applies to girls. Eventually.

I mean, I’ve seen guys and girls wearing shirts saying “Bite  Me”. Tempting, but no thank you. Thankfully, I have the good sense to understand that they decided to wear that top because it’s cute/comfy/funny. They’re not wearing it as an open invitation to all vampires.

And I’m not going to treat it as such!

 


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Smart move.

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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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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Smoke and Mirrors part 1

Did I ever mention mirrors?

I think I did. Please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong (said no woman, ever).

I saw this thing the other day. It was a blog telling you how to pretend to be a vampire. It was adorable! It had these really cute pictures and lots of great tips. How did I come across it? I did something that everybody does at some point: I typed my name into Google to see what would come up. Well, not my real name, just my nom d’internet, so to speak. Who hasn’t googled themselves from time to time? You can’t beat a good self-Google, I say.

Anyway, as I said, I came across this gorgeous blog. Written by an enthusiastic teenager, I imagine; given the references to ‘school mates’ and ‘classes’. It was beautifully done – that blogger has a great future ahead of them as a graphic designer. The tips were really sweet, like – always wear sunglasses… well, that’s a one-way ticket to A&E, if you ask me… And things like – never let your friends see you drink; or if you must, make sure you’re drinking tomato juice (you know my view on tomato juice!).

Oh, and of course…

don’t have any mirrors in your home

which I have to agree with. I have one mirror in my home. That’s it. That’s for necessity’s sake. Shaving. I mean, my husband and shaving. Not me! I’m a vampire, not a werewolf!

The reason I don’t have any mirrors is because I have a phobia of them. It stemmed from (as so many phobias do) an incident that happened to me as a small child. This whole thing about vampires and mirrors… you know, the whole ‘a vampire casts no reflection’ thing; although that depends on whatever twist the latest trend is using. Sometimes we have a reflection, sometimes we don’t… The consensus of opinion was always that a vampire doesn’t have a reflection because ‘it’ doesn’t have a soul. (‘it’!! Pffft!)

When you realise that this stuff dates back hundreds of years consider this: mirrors then were not like they are now. They probably weren’t made that well. Whether metal or glass, they almost certainly weren’t flat so only gave you a straight image if you stood right in front of the thing. Therefore, if you stood at an angle, you wouldn’t be seen. Possibly all that would be seen would be the other side of the room. That’s how that one could have started, quite easily! How many times have you seen that little moment in a vampire film? Someone stands in front of a mirror, brushing their hair or whatever, sees nothing but themself, then they turn around and – boom – the vampire is standing there. Cue tense music, flapping of cape and baring of fangs, with obligatory screaming.

However… the person brushing their hair or shaving can see the brush or the razor, and I’m pretty sure brushes and razors don’t have souls either! I just have this image in my head that when we die and go to heaven, we’ll be sat there on our fluffy clouds, playing the harp while surrounded by little hair care accessories with wings…

This also dates back to the days of smudging. I’m all for smudging, if you know what it is, though not for the reason you think, if you knew what smudging was… Er… Anyway… in ye olden days, what they (whoever ‘they’ were) used to do was to take a tied-up bunch of herbs, usually Rosemary or Sage and burn it (a bit like an incense stick).

You have to be careful with Rosemary – it’s very oily and will go up like a rocket if you’re not paying attention! However, accepting for the moment that you’ve got it right, and it’s smouldering away beautifully, you then wave it around doors, windows, and the fireplace – basically, any of the house’s ‘orifices’.

The idea was that smudging – as part of your spring clean – would keep out the evil spirits. How did you know if it had worked? Well, nobody got sick because as everyone knows (or, in those days, knew), sickness is caused by evil spirits. And Rosemary was this magical herb that had the power to ward off these disease-causing evil spirits.

Just goes to show how things change, doesn’t it? Fast forward a few decades/centuries, and it’s discovered that Rosemary is actually a powerful antiseptic. Of course people weren’t being sick. They were disinfecting their house against germs, rather than cheesing off any malevolent spirits with a grudge against the family! So there you go. It’s all a bit of the ‘flat earth’ technology, you know, we’re sure as sure can be of something and then new facts emerge…

What was I talking about? Oh yes, mirrors. The wretched tale of how this vampire became terrified of them….

Oops.


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