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?

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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…

Smoke and Mirrors part 2

The mirror incident came about because of something I forgot to tell you. You know how (in modern films at least), how vampires have a low body temperature? Well, this is actually true. I mean, it’s not massively low: they always exaggerate everything in films. I suppose it’s to make us sound more impressive than we already are. Haha. It’s a matter of a few degrees (about 4 or 5 degrees), but it is enough to make a difference physiologically.

I don’t feel the cold that much, but I am very sensitive to heat. And yet, for some reason, I’m like a little human radiator. I never need to wear gloves – even in the snow. In fact, in snowman building season, I’m always the one people come to when they want to get their (gloved) hands warmed up! They just grab hold of my little furnace-like mitts and thaw them out.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? It was a real nuisance when I was a child, because of course when I was feeling ill, I could have a roaring temperature and the thermometer would say…. Normal. Steam would be practically coming off my eyeballs and Mother would take my temperature and say, “No, you’re fine. Absolutely normal. You can go to school.”

Er, excuse me… I’m standing here with eyes like poached eggs, and you’re telling me that’s normal?

So, as you can imagine, I quickly gained a rather warped view of what constitutes ‘normal’. In the end I had to learn how to fake various illnesses if I really wanted to be treated as ill. That’s another story for another day.

And now, back to the mirrors. Because of the area and time I lived in as a child, we had to be checked for lead poisoning, due to how the water pipes were made in our area (I told you I was old!). Their interesting way of checking us for lead poisoning was to x-ray us. This will make sense in a minute. The temperature thing… This was the problem: if my temperature got too high, I was in trouble. As you can imagine, (high temperature) plus (sensitivity to heat) plus (V12 engine brain) equals… convulsions. Bad ones. I would just have a major neural freakout. This happened every time my temperature went too high. But of course, according to the thermometer, I was perfectly normal. So nobody could quite work out was going on with me. Hence the suspicion of lead poisoning.

This resulted in endless rounds of tests, on top of the lead thing. Everything had to be checked: liver, kidneys, blood, brain… It also led to me having these most horrific eye drops put in which made my eyeballs feel like they were being scrubbed with wire wool (I’m not exactly sure why this was done). They also made my pupils expand so much that my irises would appear to vanish. I have quite large eyes. Not Disney Princess large, but still big enough to give folks a start when I take my glasses off. I guess this is one of the reasons I have light sensitivity.

So where does this tie in with mirrors? One day, on the way back from one such eye-drop test, my father had been asked to go into the butchers and buy some sausages (Mother was always very good at killing as many birds as possible with as few stones as necessary). In this butchers shop hung the most incredibly beautiful mirror I had ever seen. It was full-length (well, full-length to a short 5-year-old) and had the most exquisite frame. It had mermaids and dolphins and seaweed all around it. At the top was that chap with the trident… Poseidon. That’s him. And there were little fish and crabs and waves and all manner of other encrustations. You’d have thought this sort of mirror would be more appropriate in a fishmonger’s, but I never really questioned it…

Anyway, I used to love this mirror and would spend ages staring at each little detail on it. However, on that fateful, post-eye-drop test day, I happened to catch sight of my reflection (yes, I do have one). More importantly, I caught sight of my eyes. Or lack of them, should I say. As I stared into the mirror, a pair of pitch-black animal eyes stared back at me. This caused me to have something of a meltdown, right there in the shop.

I don’t actually remember what happened after that, but apparently it took four men to carry me out of the shop. Even at that young age, I was immensely strong. I have been known to take doors off the hinges. In fact, the other day when I went for a run and stopped by a local bridge to stretch my calf muscles, I almost snapped the handrail of the steps leading up to it. It can be embarrassing.

So, ever since then, I’ve had a phobia of mirrors. Now, I guess that incident alone doesn’t seem enough to cause such an adverse reaction, but there is a little more to it. My big brothers used to make me sit down on a Friday night and watch films with them. Nice? No, not really. One of the TV channels (one of only 3 at the time!) would host a late night Friday creature feature, under the umbrella title of “Appointment With Fear”. Well, when I say ‘late night’, I of course mean it was on after the 10 o’clock news, but that’s really, really late for a little kid to be staying up!

It was the opening sequence that scared the living daylights out of me. There would be this strange and horrible noise in the background and a normal face would appear (turns out it was actually Bride of Frankenstein, but hey, what’s normal anyway?). The seemingly human face would then morph into a monster, and another, and another. It was – to me – far worse than anything in any of the films. (You can check this sequence out for yourself at http://youtu.be/24NiHts3fvU -it’s only the first 15 seconds or so). And then of course, I’d get the standard comment of “That’s you, that is!”

For years afterwards I had a recurring nightmare where I was at a party and when the clock struck midnight, the other guests would force me to sit down in front of a dressing table mirror, and make me watch as I slowly turned into a monster. Very Freudian. No, not Freudian like that! I mean Freudian inasmuch as since then I have tried to lay low, in case people found out what I am. Perhaps this is what made me the Everyday Vampire.

You can probably guess how I got my phobia of spiders…!

 

 


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Genetics Schmenetics!

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

Can someone be turned into a vampire?

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

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

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

No surf and turf for this baby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s when I said it.

“I’d rather drink blood. “

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

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

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

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

 


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Bats, breakages and bodices

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

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

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

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

More about that another time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luckily for me, I found plenty!

 


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For the record…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great.


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