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.
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.”
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.
Okay, so I know I went off on one but last time.
Vampires don’t exactly have anger issues (apart from those associated with the inherent ADHD) but sometimes humans do annoy us a little. I bet that’s a shock, isn’t it? I’d say I was pulling your leg, but you might worry I was going to pull it off and eat it, to misquote Butcher Beynon from Under Milk Wood (I’m surprised this didn’t AutoCorrect his name to Beyoncé!) As I’ve said before, I love to read.
Or have I said that before?
Oh well, my memory…
Anyway, last time I was complaining about somebody complaining. I will now try to redress the balance by saying something positive that I overheard. It was another family of tourists who had come to visit the universe’s favourite corner of the Earth (aka my hometown).
It was a comment that made me really appreciate the beauties of nature and my surroundings.
“Everything is so green here.” he said, with a note of awed wonder in his voice.
Of course it is. This is Wales. It’s constantly raining.
Well, perhaps not constantly but clearly enough to irrigate the spectacular greenness of the local area. I have a Weather app on my phone that tells me the percentage chance of it raining. I have discovered since moving here that anything over 5% in theory equates to 100% in reality.
Which brings me to one myth that I have never mentioned before. To wit, the myth about vampires hating running water. As with most myths, there is a nugget of truth in this as I shall explain.
Vampires like myself have a deep respect for nature. We know it’s not mucking about. Let’s face it, when you’ve been around long enough to see a house built in a field near the sea, watch the field turn into a cliff and then watch that house fall off the edge, then you have a pretty good idea.
It’s not like with humans who see a couple of talking lion cubs in a cartoon and think that lions are all cute little kitties. Cue disaster story on the news of person being eaten by hungry lion.
Fact: if water is running somewhere, then you can be pretty sure there’s going to be some other stuff going on at some point.
Fancy dicing with that?
Now, I’m lucky. I’m one of the few vampires that learnt to swim. You see, swimming lessons generally tend to be during the day. This can be problematic for some vampires.
Rivers deep enough to swim in tend to have undercurrents. The sea can be rough. Don’t listen to any singing lobsters.
In light of this, I just happen to be very good at holding my breath. I have the bullies at school to partly thank for that. As a side note, I’m also a whizz at pulling sink plugs out with my teeth. Yes, it comes back to the teeth again.
Also: if you’re stuck out at sea, there’s not a great deal of shade available out in the middle of the Atlantic, say.
So you see, if a vampire doesn’t like running water, there’s sure to be a good reason for it.
Ever seen a vampire on an Olympic swim team? Probably not.
Or have you????
Right, so last time I was ranting on about the fickleness of you humans (present company excepted, naturally!), and how it seems to be magnified exponentially by the use of social media.
Well, even if I didn’t say exactly that, that’s kind of where I was going with it.
Anyway, I’d started talking about the follow-for-follow types…
And isn’t it funny that the people who are quickest to follow/unfollow you are those in your own field? And no, I’m not referring in my own case to other vampires (or an actual field)! I wish I was! It’d be nice to know there are others out there… somewhere… No, I mean, in your field of work… Are they expecting some kind of solidarity? From a total stranger? That sounds harsh, we’re all in it (whatever this ‘it’ is) together. I know that. I have some social awareness!
What I’m referring to are those individuals who seem to think ‘Aha! A fellow blogger/writer/actor/musician etc; I’ll follow them! Surely they’ll reciprocate and help me increase my numbers!’ which is a little bit cheeky, but that’s not the issue. The issue is, they give you a window of about half an hour in which to follow them back before they strop off and take their precious follow with them. Sorry, I exaggerate (I do that – you’re used to it by now). It’s more like 35 minutes, possibly an hour.
Which leads me to…
2. I’m Following EVERYONE!
These seem to range from the ‘I’m a 12-year-old that’s just got an account‘ to the ‘please to follow me, click on link for fun‘ type. They’re like a hailstorm. They come, they annoy the hell out of you, they go. No-one is safe from their scattergun approach to following. And they rarely have a genuine photo. It’s either of someone older (Oi! Kid! Stop twooting and get your homework done!), someone younger, a celebrity or some random foliage plant. Or a very wobbly looking stock photo.
And that brings us to this one…
3. Creepy McCreep-creep
Face of an angel, hashtags of a serial killer. Okay, a bit extreme. But something is telling you that this person just isn’t the fresh-faced ingenue (or animé character) they claim to be in their profile photo. They like your every post (even the angry rants), and they reply to e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. within seconds of you posting.
How does someone manage to compose a 300-word reply post in 10 seconds?
These ones probably will never, ever unfollow you. Ever.
But after a while, they will go very quiet. Probably they’ve found someone else to repost/like about.
And then of course, there’s…
4. Ooh! A Single Post That I Like
You know how it is… You go out somewhere. You have what turns out to be a life-changing slice of chocolate cake (but aren’t they all life-changers?). You can’t resist sharing a picture of this revelatory piece of confectionery, Then this happens:
@ILoveCake222: Omigosh! someone who shares my passion for Black Forest Gateau *FOLLOW*
@CakesAreLife2301: This person just posted a picture of chocolate cake! Soulmate! *FOLLOW*
@GimmeCakes21: At last! Someone who gets me! I wonder what other cake they like..? *FOLLOW*
You get the idea.
And now, being that this is your own social media account, and you have a brain that you’re rather fond of using, something else catches your eye. Like your friend’s cute kitten that does something adorable (well, adorable for a cat – I’m more of a dog lover myself). You go ‘Awww!’. You take a picture. You post it. Probably with some cute pun like ‘Friends fur-ever’.
And this happens…
@ILoveCake222 / @CakesAreLife2301 / @GimmeCakes21: A CAT?! TRAITOR! This person clearly hates cakes! Oh, what have I been doing, following them?! She tricked me. I feel dirty now. Gah. Cake-hater.
@ILoveCats68: Aww! Cute picture! Someone else who obviously loves cats as much as I do! *FOLLOW*
And so on.
But occasionally, just occasionally, in amongst the rabid keyboard warriors and clickbait, there’s that little golden nugget that gives you hope for online humanity.
What is it?
I’ll tell you next time. (This post will be too long otherwise).
The answer will amaze you!
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.
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.
It seems Bob had moved to New Zealand eighteen months previously.
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!
Serious post time.
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.
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.
Or Rudolphing, or Dashing or Whatever.
Though I don’t think there was a reindeer called Whatever. But there should have been. He’d have been the world-weary one at the back who got the full brunt of the other reindeers’ dietary habits. He’d be the one with the peg on his nose. He’d be the one demanding emissions testing for reindeer and other magical flying animals.
So, yes, it’s that time of year again. And instead of everyone singing “I’m Dreaming Of A Wet Christmas” (just like the ones we always get), the weather is doing something very strange… It’s been snowing.
Yes, folks! It’s time for the Christmas Foxtrot!
Snow, snow, thick thick snow.
Well, hopefully. Hopefully?
Depends, I suppose. There can be winds. People simply complain about losing their dustbin lids. Never mind the roof tiles, bridges being shut down. There can be heatwaves. People simply whinge about it being too hot. Never mind the sunburn, dehydration and general dangers.
But one snowflake…
And people lose their freaking minds and turn into apocalypse preppers. Everything closes down and you can’t find toilet paper for love nor money. Because yes, when the end of the world comes, those extra rolls of double-soft quilted embossed will be so handy.
I don’t know if things are different from when I was little, or whether it was just because we didn’t have a car (long story) but I don’t remember all this end-of-days obsessive panic. Or perhaps it was just because I was a child and saw snow as lovely stuff that I could play with during – say it in hushed tones of reverence – snow days.
The grammar school I went to was surrounded by 6 foot high (2 metres) hedges and when a friend and I went out walking / mischief-making, we found ourselves walking well above the level of those hedges, and probably on top of a few abandoned cars too, unwittingly. There might have been a bit of ‘wittingly‘ about it had we known.
As we headed across the school playing field (with rugby posts poking apologetically out of all the white stuff), we saw a helicopter overhead. Being the ‘friendly’ sorts we were, we decided to wave to it. Oh yes… we waved and waved.
And it started descending onto the field.
I don’t know if there is a land speed record for ultra thick snow, but I think we may have broken it. We both charged back home and waited for the worst. What the heck had we done? We were both pretty sure it had been a military helicopter and our imaginations were running wild. We were praying we weren’t going to get into major trouble…
And that evening, our curiosity was rewarded, if not our panic. The news came on.
“And in local news…”
Which is what they used to say before the now ubiquitous ‘News Where You Are‘ (does nobody know what ‘local’ means anymore?)
It was a great story. A pregnant woman, living in a tiny village cut off by severe snow fall had gone into labour. No way in or out of the village was possible. A helicopter from the local airbase had been drafted in to get the woman out and off to the nearest hospital. But disaster had struck. The snow was so bad, the helicopter couldn’t see where to land.
And that was when the ‘miracle’ happened…
The crew of the helicopter suddenly saw two figures standing a few yards from the woman’s house, waving them down frantically, before disappearing into the drifts.
Yup. You guessed it. It was us. It was our village.
Anyway, hospital reached. Baby born. Everyone doing fine.
Stay safe everyone. And remember – getting your prayers answered is good, but sometimes it’s nice to be the answer to someone else’s prayer…
Keep your toilet rolls handy…
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