The Vamp Who Came In From The Cold

It’s cold.

It’s so cold, I can’t move my face.

This is what it must be like to have Botox.

Let me explain. I’m not too aware of the actual sensation of feeling cold, but I do tend to notice small things like having no sensation in my toes or fingers.

I remember back in school, many, many decades ago, we had a PE teacher who we called Witch Hazel for no apparent reason (but then I also got the nickname ‘Lily-Trot’ using similar logic).

It would be this time of year and hockey season was in full swing. Witch Hazel would be standing there in full North Pole gear, looking like the infernal offspring of a 1970s Football Manager and a Grizzly Bear. Sheepskin coat, wooly hat, fur-lined gloves etc.
Anyway, she’d be standing there with only her nose exposed to the elements (well, one element – ice!) and there was us in our shorts and T-shirts, icicles hanging off our ears.

Get moving!” she’d shout “You’ll soon warm up!

It was a lie.

And that’s when I discovered the existence of FOPs.

FOPs

Fluorescent Orange Patches.

The skin on my thighs would be so cold that these little bright, bright orange patches would appear. I have no idea why. I think it might have been some kind of protest march by my skin cells. Not quite sure either what my blood cells were up to. On the whole, they’re a bit like me  – they keep themselves to themselves. They were disconcerting, but they encouraged me to keep moving in case anyone decided to play join-the-dots with my legs…

And then there’s the human obsession with snow…

This confuses me…

I’ve heard “One swallow does not a summer make” but it seems one snowflake will a blizzard make.

Did that even make sense?

One flake, and everybody is going crazy. The scenes in supermarkets are like something you’d expect to see at the End Of Days. Yes, because when the end of the world comes, I want to make sure I have enough milk and bread to see me through Judgment Day.
And then there’s the other classic of confusion…

“It’s too cold to snow.”

TOO COLD?

Yup, the cold is so hardcore, even the snowflakes are too scared to come out.
But I’ll finish there with one useful rule of thumb.

You know it’s cold when washing your hands in hot water warms them up.
You know it’s really cold when you warm them up by washing them in cold water.

Stay warm, everyone.

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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.

 

 

Tumble crumbles

“Autumn falls, tumbling, crumbling down a dying hill of gold.”

…is a line that never made it into a book. I know. I read the manuscript. The original one. Funny how so much of what we plan ends up on the scrap heap. While this wasn’t the most eloquent piece of prose ever (probably why it never made the final cut), when I read the published book, I was quite surprised at how changed it was.

Life, eh?

If you hang around long enough, everything changes.

If you hang around a bit longer, everything changes back again.

So, autumn’s here. The clocks go back soon. Longer nights. Yippee!

And no, that wasn’t an ironic ‘yippee’ either.

Everything is quieter now.

Bliss.

Of course, it’ll get crazy at the end of the month (Halloween). And then next month everyone will be celebrating the ritual burning of a political scapegoat. I’ll be avoiding the firework fumes while dealing with a freaking-out furbaby. Bonfire night will no doubt be spent in the bathroom (her current hidey-hole) listening to Chopin. But as life goals go, that’s not such a bad one.

Ah. Life Goals.

You know how everyone does this whole ‘summer body’ obsession? Well, in our house we get ‘winter body‘ ready.

And no, that doesn’t mean we spend November eating celery so that Christmas Day can be spent repeatedly eating our own weight in mince pies and pigs-in-blankets. Who the heck came up with that name? Have you ever seen a pig, or indeed any farm animal, wrapped up in a blanket? Outside of a YouTube video, that is. I’m sure there must be some. Let me know if you find any.

And these days, why aren’t they called Heritage-breed-in-duvets..?

Stop rambling!

Right. Note to self, taken.

It’s all too easy to disappear in hibernation mode at this time of year. Vanish into the marshmallow-morass of duvet-days, hot chocolate, and comfort foods. The one episode of a favourite tv show becomes a binge-watch of the entire series.

You know what I mean.

It’s okay, I won’t tell.

So, the following plan has been put into play:

  • drink more water
  • go running more often
  • start eating more raw stuff
  • YOGA!!!!!
  • get more sleep

Okay, I had to stop after the last one. Combination of laughing too much to type, and the temptation to follow it up with ‘find where the unicorns live‘…

So, as it’s the 1st of October, I’ll close by saying:

White rabbits, everyone!

 

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.

Part 3 – Dumb and Dumber, Twit and Twitter

And no, I’m not referring to the wonderful gold nugget of Number Fiveness that I was talking about last time. That would just be rude, however funny I think it is. I just wanted a different title to this third and final part. I thought if I used the previous ‘5 People…’ title and simply added ‘part 3’ to it, there’s a danger some people (not you!) might think it’s just the same post again.

In fact, before I get to number five, I want to share a story with you that happened to a friend of mine.

Yes, I do have friends. Like I said previously, although my social skills aren’t amazing, I do have some!

Actually it was the suggestion of one of those friends that I’m using this title.

But let’s call this one…

Trolls: trip trap, trip trap…

My friend left a comment on a bird-influenced network. Out of the blue, she gets a vitriolic attack (from someone who doesn’t even follow her!) telling how she didn’t know anything because she’s female and that her place is in the… well, the food prep room of a house…

My first thought was… Flipping heck! How long were you talking to this… person?!

Cue her trying to defend herself aka throwing fuel on the fire. She was convinced that possibly his knowledge of one half of the human race may be limited to (oh, there’s so many things I could say) the animated variety.  She tried to placate him. He came right back at her with even more insults. I’m sure she’s not the only one.

I bet this has happened to you too?

Like I said, I think his experience of women may be a tad limited. Even with comebacks from others, he may not even have been burned at all – trolls just spew whatever vitriol will guarantee them the biggest reaction. They cold read. They just take the category and an adjective and flip the adjective. For instance, you’re an intelligent woman. So categorywomen. Adjectiveintelligent. Flip it and reverse – all women are stupid.

So… here’s an analogy and a possible way around it…

(All of the below is not my opinion on anything!)

Say he finds a discussion where a man is talking about cars. The man says how the Brandname Whatsacar is the most practical, smart-looking, easy to run car he’s come across…

Here’s the troll’s take…

“That’s the most stupid car ever.  You’re stupid if you think that. It’s totally useless. It’s ugly (add a ‘like you, mate’ if you’re feeling bored). It’s well known for having problems with its wondoozle. (because troll wants to show off knowledge he doesn’t have) And if you don’t know what a wondoozle is, you clearly know nothing about cars. Or anything (question the self-worth of the opponent and hope that they don’t actually know something about the topic). So you should shut up.”

(Ouch. Not nice.)

Continue by reinforcing your power by throwing in loads of made-up statistics.

Is your assumed authority being questioned? Confuse your opponent by throwing in loads of made up statistics. It’s 1 in the morning, who’s going to check? 95% hate that car. Which leaves only 13% who would ever buy it

This is a tried and tested formula! Hahaha!

Does he get his jollies?

Oh yeah! He’s following the formula. Calling you stupid was simply to egg you on!

You apologise, and he flips that too!

(Because, yes, it clearly is about one person’s experience – the person at the centre of the universe – HIM! Hahaha!)

So all women are idiots, eh? Like “wow! So you’ve met every woman in the world? I’m impressed. I’ve only come across a few thousand myself. Your travel expenses must be extortionate. As for me,  I’m planning a trip to the Trobriand Islands next month to prove all men leave the toilet seat up but I’m afraid I’ve still got a lot of the world to work my way through yet. You must let me know what strategies you have…”

Here’s a dare – next time you come across a troll, try watching him to see if he’s using the formula – it will make them very predictable and you can really have some fun with that!

Chances are people like that don’t believe half of what they post. They’re simply saying whatever will get a rise out of you. One thing they can’t stand is not having attention.

I’ve made a troll give up before now. That was also very satisfying. Yeah, I tried not answering one once, but he just kept posting things like ‘why aren’t you answering me?’ And ‘are u so stupid u cant think of anything 2 say?’. Actually, I think he was the one I put off in the end. He backed right off and left me alone. He just gave up.

Or it might have been the one that kept insulting me so I kept replying with lols and how I thought what he was saying was hilarious. He got cheesed off pretty quickly too…

One thing to do is just to type in “Searching for IP address”

Then

“IP address acquired”

And then (if they’re whatever enough to put their location on their profile)…

“IP address located in….”

I’ve never done this! But I’ve heard a few people saying stuff like that works for them – just don’t use it with trolls that appear to be tech savvy.

And even if you said ‘Hey, I think you’re an amazingly cool person’, I guarantee Troll would come back at you with some vitriolic nonsense.

And there’s always those people that follow you to get a followback, and as soon as you do follow them back, they unfollow you, making their numbers look better, Don’t let that get you down – it says more about them than it does about you. You’re obviously a genuine type – hence why you’re still reading!

Which brings us to number 5...

FANFARE, PLEASE!

The Real McCoy

That’s you, that is.

These are the people who are genuine. who follow and stay following. They don’t care about the numbers. Or if they do, they don’t use you as a pawn in their numerical manipulations. They react (politely) to what you post. They don’t mind if you reciprocate. They don’t mind if you don’t. They don’t play games. They are friendly. And all of that…

Thank you!

And now… It’s that time of the year.

Got my summer survival kit at the ready.

Time for me to disappear for a little while.

See you in September!

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.