Cry havoc…

.

…and let slip the dogs of walkies!

Ahh…

A new year.

Mini tourist season is over until the next big holiday.

*sigh of relief*

As I was picking up my groceries the other day, a rather fiercesome human barged past me and announced to his equally clueless family in an accent that was clearly anything but local: “Is this it? They’ve not got much here, have they?“ Well, bog off to Brighton if it’s shopping you’re after, mate!

How on earth did this man choose this as the perfect destination of his Christmas break? Stick a pin in the map?

(In case you’re wondering, I had a lovely Christmas, surrounded by family. We did everything from scratch and we planned everything meticulously a long while previously. It was our Christmas, we made it, nobody else had to)

 

And of course, with tourists comes that other delight. The tourists’ dog. You know the one that they’ve had since a puppy and in all that time they’ve not trained it to do anything more than sit, stay or possibly a cute “rollover “trick? You know the types. The dog that has never been trained to come back when it’s called… 

 

The dog that, when it runs off and starts picking fights with other dogs, promptly ignores its owner screaming its name repeatedly. Because, yeah, you scream my name like that, I’m gonna come back to you, I don’t think. I’m outta here, you two-legged sucker!

 

Free to roam.

Free to… well, do other stuff.

How many times have I heard the owner of a free-range pooch exclaim “I don’t know what’s wrong with Mister Woofles this morning; we’ve been out for over an hour and he still hasn’t done his business yet!

 

Oh yes, he has. Mister Woofles unloaded the minute you let him off the lead.

Mister Woofles has in fact left such a huge deposit that it has its own postcode. Whole generations of dung beetles have moved in and are celebrating with a ticker-tape parade. Their appeals to the dung beetle deity have been heard and answered. Mister Woofles’s contribution to the environment has ushered in a new Golden Age of dung beetle prosperity.

And then I saw this yesterday…

What sort of dog owner puts a sticker on the back of their 4×4 saying

Beware of the dog. It bites. You have been warned

 

and then lets them roam free – without muzzles – on a beach popular with dog walkers during doggy rush hour?!

If you’re going to do that, my dears, please make sure that the dogs are muzzled and please include yourself in that number.

 

So… you’re acknowledging liability for your animal being potentially dangerous, but if it bites me, it’s my fault?

 

Huh?

 

But you can’t say anything, can you? Nothing freaks out the passive-aggressive more…

 

Which reminds me…

 

Don’t you just love passive aggressive people calling other supposedly passive aggressive people out for being passive aggressive by using passive aggressive means to complain about the passive aggressive behaviour?

 

As with that now practically traditional Social Media post of “if u got a problem with me tell me 2 my face“ There are two problems with this…

 

Number one: tell you to your face? Which one?

Number two: could you be a little bit more identity-specific please?

 

And there’s always some sucker (who is probably completely innocent of any charges) who rises to the bait, bites and replies, asking if they are the target of this barblessly barbed comment. To which the reply is invariably “if the shoe fits, wear it.”

 

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, except…

 

Those kind of statements aren’t shoes, are they?

 

They’re flipping flipflops.

 

Designed to fit everybody. Guaranteed to make everyone uncomfortable.

 

Always remember, folks… Flip before you flop.

 

 

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It’s Good To Be Back!

Well, hello there!

How was your summer? Did you know that uploading your holiday photos on your screensaver at work (if you’re allowed to) is a great way of dealing with those horrible down-in-the-dumps feelings you get when you have to go back to work?

And boom! Straight in there with some useful info. Ah, I’m glad to be back home. Since we last spoke, I’ve got myself a new office. Very light, very spacious.

Light? I hear you say… Light?

But you’re a vampire.

You don’t do light.

Bright light, I don’t do.

Glaring sunshine, I don’t do.

But I also don’t do trying to write in the pitch black. I’m not an earthworm. Have you ever tried typing in the dark? Admittedly it’d be doable on a tablet or smartphone…

So here I am, dealing with a digital mountain of work that has built up in my absence. Where I was staying is infamous for having no phone signal, and wifi that couldn’t be accessed, even with multiple sacrifices to the gods of technology. Not that we bothered. It was actually really nice to shut off from the world… You know what I mean.

And here I am. Home. The furbaby’s gaze is boring into the back of my head. She wants to play. Oh, yes, she has a sofa in here with me. We got a new sofa, you see, so this one got moved in here. She thinks it’s hers anyway, so it made sense.

And here comes autumn. The evenings are that little bit cooler, the sea that little bit wilder, the atmosphere that little bit easier. I’m looking forward to getting back to these chats with you.

And… relax.

Tech your time

Just a short rant today as I seem to have run out of time for some reason. Which is highly ironic, if you read on.

Go on.

Read on.

I betcha didn’t think that vampires are heavily into their technology…

Nah, thanks Hollywood. I do like my old stuff, yes. But I limit it to things like clothes, furniture, music, books etc. For instance, next to my desk is a 70s style shelf with a 1920s phone and one of this Echo thingies sat on it.

So: creature comforts – retro; labour-saving devices – as modern as I can get them.

I know I’ve also told you about my attention span being appalling. A classic example is today when my phone went off to remind me to come back to the human world for a little while.

Ah! That’s where I was going with this.

I have a multitude of reminders on my phone. I jokingly call it the other half of my brain – the working half. And this is another vampire thing. To you, a week is a week, to me – it’s nothing. It goes by in a flash. I remember being asked once whether or not I had seen any of my former classmates from grammar school… I said that I’d seen Bob a couple of weeks previously.

Wrong, apparently.

It seems Bob had moved to New Zealand eighteen months previously.

Oops.

So…

Now I have those reminders and alarms that help me keep track of time as you humans perceive it.

And I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I spoke to you last. I swear it was only a couple of days ago that I told you that I had no intention of storing any of your information.

And when the beeping noise went off this morning, I was all set to shout at my phone (’cause that’ll help) in a fit of righteous indignation (is there any other kind?) until I checked and yes, it really has been a fortnight.

Random question – how do you talk about your Echo device in front of her without her butting into the conversation? I can’t even say words like ‘relax’ or ‘taxis’ in her presence without her chirping up with ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know that one.’ or blasting me with some completely unrelated thrash metal (Why?!).

Another random question – what’s the weirdest alarm you have on your phone?

That’s a rhetorical question, I assure you!

Summer’s here! No it isn’t… Well…

People always joke that you can tell it’s Christmas because Easter eggs are in the shop. Well, we’ve just done with Easter (there are still loads of eggs in the shop, mind you) so, one could be forgiven for thinking that it must be summer now. Is it just me that gets confused by this, or do you humans have a problem with it too?

True, it rains all the time here, so it could very well be summer and nobody has told me. But the rain slamming down on the conservatory roof feels at odds wth the flip flops and picnic paraphernalia I saw half an hour ago in the shops.

The clocks have gone back. The body clock however is having slightly more difficulty adjusting. I’d hate to wake up late one morning and realise that I’d missed summer. It is, after all, the best day of the year. Yes, I know. I don’t like sunshine. It hates me back. But a summer’s day is delightful, if confusing in the wardrobe department.

Sunhat and wellies?

Scarf and sandals?

Waders and sunglasses?

Oh, the combinations are endless.

The furball continues to take me on long walks (she’s currently mapping the local area in her little doggy brain, and enjoys knitting places together in the oddest combinations). She also continues to try to drag me into the sea after her. And all the while, she still refuses to stick her nose out of the door if it’s raining. Consequently, she’s in the conservatory, surveying her kingdom from the warm, dry safety of her sofa. And while she’s out there doing her ‘Mistress-of-all-she-surveys’ routine, it’ll hopefully give me the opportunity to squeeze in some yoga without her

a) giving me an impromptu face wash

b) mistaking my ‘downward dog’ for me wanting to play with her (that often ends up with a rope toy swung into my face)

c) showing me up with how weirdly bendy she is

Our earlier walk was, surprise surprise, on the beach, which this past week has been increasingly populated by tourists with their free-range mutts. Next week, she’s got a shock in store. I’m starting running again. And she’s coming with me.

Ah! I know what the giveaway thing is. I’ve remembered why I keep thinking summer might be on its way.

Endless holiday adverts and people bashing on about being “beach body ready”

Huh?

The beach is ten minutes down the road.

I have a body.

Boom.

Job done.

Oh! You mean the body has got to be perfect?

And by that, you mean so skinny that I could snap in half if caught in a high wind?

Well, that’s going to take a bit longer.

Because I refuse to be told what to look like.

Because even if I did, the vox populi (which thanks heavens, is not vox dei) would still find something to binch about.

Because I prefer to be strong than skinny.

And because, in order to fulfil this impossible and fake ideal, I’d probably have to give up chocolate.

And I’m no quitter.

 

There’s no business…

…like snow business.

First of all, I hope everyone is keeping well and warm. I don’t have a problem with the cold weather. One of the advantages of my vampire metabolism. I don’t feel the cold the same way that you do.

I have to admit, the only problem I do have is that when I’m writing, my hands have a tendency to get a bit chilly, but that’s about it. I think they move so fast over the keyboard that the blood gets confused and doesn’t know where it’s supposed to be… Still, it’s a great excuse to have lots of hot drinks.

Here’s my current favourite: turmeric latte. Get your spices mixed… 3 parts turmeric, 2 parts cinnamon and 1 part each nutmeg & ginger. Throw in a pinch of finely ground black pepper (helps absorption). Keep it in a cute jar. Heat up a mug of milk, stir in 1/2 teaspoon and sweeten. All those lovely spices will warm you up and just taste downright naughty. Obviously, I use non-dairy milk (coconut works best with this), because, well, vampire metabolism… Can’t touch most animal-based stuff. Ironic really.

The furbaby is refusing to leave the house. While other people are posting photos and videos online of their doggies leaping around like joyful loons in the snow, mine has turned into a teenager.

She’s staring at me, sandwiched between two (yes, two!) duvets.

“You need to go outside.”

Silence.

“Food?”

Flicker of interest.

“Walk?”

Death stare.

Last night, just after midnight, she leapt up and decided she had to go out. Now. Right now. Now! Come on, hoomin!

You have got to be kidding me, pup.

So she darted out, neatly dodging the knee-high drift at the back door. She hared around, did what she needed to do, and threw herself back inside, in much the same style as a stunt man in an action movie.

And, pretty much like a stunt man, she decided to make use of available props…

Like the snow drift.

Cue internal explosion of snow. A wall of cold froth boomed its way into the conservatory (the same one she’d been sunning herself in only a couple of days previously).

Result? Snow on the floor. Snow on the walls, the windows, the ceiling (what the-?!), and one snow-coated vampire. Head to foot.

So while she thunders her way back upstairs (probably nicking my space in the bed), I’m stood there picking potential snowballs out of my ears, mouth, nose…

We’ve gone from action movie to comedy in ten seconds flat.

Thanks.

Stay warm. Stay safe. And if you can help anyone else to, please do.

Take care.

Re:Fuel

Serious post time.

Bullying.

Harassment.

Call it what you will. It takes many forms. I’ve been reading up on all this a lot recently – surprise, surprise and while there’s a lot of stuff out there on bullying, it’s still mostly school-oriented. I observe it everywhere. I may be a recluse, but I still like to sneak out and people-watch. The problem is, it doesn’t stop when you leave school. There is no age limitation on being a bully. Or on being bullied. There is still very little is about bullying in the workplace or within families – even with recent events. ‘Straightforward’ harassment / abuse, yes, but not much else.

So, what have I gleaned from my research and my own observations? It’s like that story of the three people in the dark room with an elephant… One feels the leg, thinks it’s a tree. One feels the trunk, thinks it’s a snake (he may have been the one who ran screaming to find the light switch), while one feels the tail and thinks it’s a rope.

I’ve realised that all these little snippets of information form a cycle. I suppose it’s also relevant to continued bullying in general. All of these little snippets feel like platitudes until you link them all up…

1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

2) The bully mistakes this for weakness.

3) The bully tries to control you (and hopefully fails).

4) The bully realises they can’t (hopefully).

5) Then follows abuse, lies, misrepresentation, manipulation of how others see you.

6) There’s a break.

7) Reconciliation of some sort.

8/1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

AND OFF WE GO AGAIN

And that’s only if you’re lucky. Sometimes the process ‘succeeds’ (for the bully) at step 3). Usually the target cracks at that step. If they’re lucky /strong / have support, the targeted person may get to step 4). If you don’t have support, then please, please, please find some.

The difference being that hopefully the bullied person learns and either stops the cycle at 6) or changes themselves before they re-enter the fray because, let’s face it, the bully will never learn. They’ve been way too successful for way too long to stop using a winning formula. Plus, if an outsider calls them out on their behaviour, all it takes is a few crocodile tears and they’re safe again.

Sadly, for my own part, I realise that most of the major changes in my life have come about as a result of being bullied… Leaving my home country (twice), becoming a first-time homebuyer, leaving a profession (the same one – twice)…

And why does it keep happening? Because of step 1). Does that mean we take it out of the equation? No. Let’s face it – bullies won’t change. I mean, why would they? They’ve got a winning formula.

So…

You say to yourself…

If the bully/harasser isn’t going to change what they are or what they do, then I’m not going to change what I am (let’s face it, I personally wouldn’t be able to). But I do need to change what I do.

So stop the process at 6). Don’t go to 7). Let them try doing a little of 1) for a change. But it’s quite safe, because we all know they won’t. They won’t ‘lower’ themselves to ‘your level’. They’re too proud / powerful. They have too many people already in their pocket to make it worthwhile. And you can always tell who those people are – they’re the ones who say things like:

“Surely it’s not as bad as that?”

“I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

“I think you’re overreacting.”

“Well, you’re not exactly perfect, you know.”

“Ignore them, they’ll soon get bored.”

“Well, I’ve never found X to be like that at all.”

“Some christian you are. Aren’t you supposed to forgive /l ove everyone / turn the other cheek?”

“It takes two to tango.”

But, whatever you do…

DON’T STAY SILENT.

Does it take guts? Undoubtedly.

But is it possible? Heck, yeah.

Domus Melis Domus

Yeah, I know.

Worst Latin ever.

I did learn Latin as a child. Before you ask – no, I’m not a native speaker of that as well. How old do you think I am?! I know I said I was old right at the very beginning of all this, but I ain’t that old! And no, I don’t remember the dinosaurs either!

I do remember things like:

  • humans landing on the moon
  • if you missed you favourite television programme, tough – no video recorders, no cable, plus only having three television channels
  • colour televisions being a luxury, not a basic life staple (as were cars)
  • Non-decimal money, often referred to as L.S.D. No, nothing to do with lysergic acid, but back to good old Latin again… Librae, Soldi, Denarii. Don’t know if it was some kind of joke (and why would I have cared anyway?), but it was meant to be the Roman equivalent of pounds, shillings, pence
  • BYO carrier bags
  • encyclopaedias, not Wikipedia
  • ‘Burger’ being something you muttered (quickly) under your breath when something went wrong

Oh. Massively off track as ever.

Focus!

So, it’s been nearly six months in our new little safe haven.

People are lovely here, and no one has a clue what I am.

So far, so good.

Long may it remain like that! One of the good things about living here is that it’s not an area exactly known for its sunny weather, so that in itself is a blessing!

With the differential in house prices in the two areas being what it is, we have moved from a one bedroom flat (no kids or dogs allowed) to a simply huge four bedroom house with a massive garden that one can get lost in! And dogs!

Well, we already have the dog, as you no doubt remember from the previous post

Like me, the house is something of a mongrel.

It had been in the same family (not mine) since Victorian times (when it was built) and each generation has added something to it particular to their lifetime. It’s a live-in Museum in its own right. You can walk around the house playing “spot the era”. There are things here from the 20s, 30s, and so on and so forth. The 70s were a particularly active time in this house’s DIY history… Heaven help us…

A lot has been added to it. And when I say a lot I mean a lot. It had a patio, that became a conservatory that became a workshop, that became a kitchen. Well, the kind of kitchen that Dr Frankenstein would wake up in the night having the shakes over. Every time we prepared a meal, the uppermost thought in our minds wasn’t “Now, what drink would go well with this?”

No.

The uppermost thought was “Will I survive long enough to actually eat this?”

But it’s now a kitchen, a proper one!

A proper bathroom was added on. As was a utility room (that’s actually quite utile), which is about the only part of the house that doesn’t need something doing to it. Thankfully, It’s all cosmetic. But it’s a level of ‘cosmetic’ that would have Max Factor running for the hills.

But we love our conservatory. As does the dog. She can often be found in there, sat on the sofa, surveying her kingdom. When we want to get into the garden, sometimes we’re too lazy too unlock the back door, so we just go through the conservatory windows instead. I was born by Caesarean, so I have absolutely no problem with this.

There’s a lot to do.

And doing it is a cross between Pass The Parcel and Russian Roulette. While channeling Heath Robinson, who I believe may well have been the inspiration for much of the original alterations…

So here I go, paintbrush in hand.

Wish me luck.