Don’t look now…

I’m being very good today.

I got up.

Hey, don’t I get brownie points for that?!

Things have been getting a bit weird around here. Oh, okay then … weirdER.

I recently realised that I’ve been living in this country a quarter of a century. Nearly ten years in my current location. And that’s way longer than I ever tend to spend anywhere. Normally, after about 5 or 6 years, people start noticing things, and life starts getting awkward.

Then I move on. In fact, it’s normally a lot less than that. But, I guess that’s a big city for you. Noise, smells and a whole big bundle of Couldn’t-Give-A-Toss. This is a place where people would prefer to barge into you and say ‘sorry‘ than say ‘excuse me‘ and go through all that lengthy hassle of waiting a whole two seconds for you to move out of their way.

Sorry, I put ‘move‘ in bold because when I looked up at the screen, I realised I’d typed ‘love‘ instead.

Freudian slip?

I’d like to think so.

Sounds better than ‘Omigosh, my typing sucks‘.

But I think I’ve seen you. You’re the person that always says ‘thank you’ when I stop to let you go past. You always seem concerned whenever you see someone who may be in distress, and you’re always the first to help when you find that they are, rather than pointedly staring at your phone instead.

Talking of which, I saw someone the other day, walking along a tempestuous pavement, glued to their phone screen. Oblivious to everything else. They say flying is simply throwing yourself at the ground and not hitting it… Well, this guy practically flew, in that case.

Foot + pavement-bump + diverted attention = Faceplant

Or so you’d think…

It was a spectacular save.

He fell.

He got about three quarters of the way down.

He righted himself.

He carried on walking, still glued to the phone.

Now that’s style.

I salute you, young sir.

At least folks like him aren’t the cause of my current predicament.

Ah yes, that.

They’ve found me again.

Well, I think they have. And no, I’m not entirely sure who ‘they’ are, exactly. But ‘they’ have an unerring knack in discovering creatures like myself and, er, encouraging us to be geographically adventurous. I’m sure there’s some kind of -ism or -phobic that covers this, but let’s face it, you’re  never going to get anybody out with placards protesting.

Well, you may do, but it’s going to have to be at night, so probably not much to be achieved there.

Dysons and glowsticks at dawn it is, then!


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You know you want to.

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Tempus forgets

Oh boy…. I’ve just noticed the date.

What happened to the past few months? I mean, I know what I’ve been up to. At least, I think I do… Does anybody else do this thing where they intend to do something, and they keep telling themselves that they need to do it, and they tell themselves so frequently that they end up actually thinking they’ve done it?

And… they haven’t.

Well, that’s me.

I heard an interesting thing the other day. It’s to do with forgetting stuff…

Apparently if you walk from one room into another with the purpose of doing something, the very act of walking through the doorway draws a line under that thought. It wipes out the thought that you were bringing in with you.

Me: I will leave the living room and go to the kitchen to fetch a sandwich bag to put this assorted batch of pencils in.

My brain: And she’s left the living room! She made it into the kitchen without any injury. Good job, brain cells! Shut off any living room-based thoughts. Bin them. Let’s make space for incoming! Now let’s move onto all things related to ‘kitchen’!

Me: What the heck did I come in here for?

I once did a study of facial recognition/memory. And I found out something fascinating. Did you know your brain has a little database of useless information about each person you know? Well, chief amongst these is the location you usually see that person. In fact, it’s one of the first pieces  of information your brain scrabbles for. So…

Me: I know that person…

My brain: Hang on!  I’ll just check. (checks through a veritable Where’s Wally/Waldo of snapshots). Nope. I got nothing. Gahhh!

The other person then sees the stupid look of blank horror on your face and basically tells you their life story until you twig (usually at the point when they mention the actual place you know them from) who they are.

My brain: The library?! Omigosh! Of course! (grabs the picture of the library and does a lap of honour to the internal strains of the Hallelujah Chorus).

But, as I always say – it’s better to remember that you’ve forgotten than to forget that you’ve remembered…

 

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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 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?

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)))

Nothing to fear but…

Fear itself?

What scares the scary?

What’s the longest time you’ve ever gone between starting watching a film and finishing watching a film? My record, as of today is 34 years. In 1981, back in the days of videos, there was about 3 video recorders in the entire village. There was this thing called the Video Club. Once a month, we would all gather expectantly around a little TV screen in a cold, damp musty hut to watch the latest video release. Sometimes they were brand-new films; sometimes they were ‘classics’. Once a month, someone would bring this hallowed piece of technology to share with us cave dwellers. Teasing us with a glimpse of the future.

On the night in question, it was a classic of sorts being shown. Certainly now it is considered to be a classic of the genre. Back in those days it was just before the heyday of the Video Nasty. It had been made about eight years before, back in the early 70s.

At the time of its release, I remember one of my brothers being obsessed with an album he’d bought called “Tubular Bells” He played it constantly, every waking hour. It drove us all to distraction. It was only when I heard that music over the (slightly less) tinny television speakers that the penny dropped. If you haven’t already guessed which film I mean, you should probably twig if I say “pea soup” and “Your mother cooks socks in Hell” (okay, I was paraphrasing wildly with that last one). Got it now?

I didn’t actually get through it all in one sitting. It got to said projectile pea soup scene and my nerve broke. I ran back home. And I mean ran. Bearing in mind that home was nearly 2 miles away up a 30 degree hill, and walking it usually took a good 25-30 minutes. I did it in 10.

I did not sleep that night.

At all.

All night.

In fact, I bizarrely decided to sit up and read through my copy of the New Testament, with anything to due with demons and exorcisms being duly noted and mentally filed away for future reference…

As you do.

What made matters worse – and more ominous – was that that night there was a particularly vicious storm that whipped up out of nowhere the moment I got home. There were foul gale force winds and rain that felt like lead shot against my bedroom windows. I wondered if old Nick was personally trying to tell me off. Let’s face it – I was scared. At one point the wind blasted a dustbin lid into my window and I think I may have had a teeny accident…

So, 34 years later, I decided to watch it, intending to make it through to the end this time. I sat there with my bag of popcorn, ready to be terrified all over again. My iPad to distract me from the more horrific moments. The Remote Control within easy reach just in case it got too much for me again. The ‘off’ button is always the last resort, isn’t it?

To my surprise, I had actually watched over half of it originally. My main memories of it were nothing like what I experienced this time around. If anything, it was quite tedious, and I had to resist the temptation to hit the Fast Forward button. I was willing to hurry up to get to the pea soup, and disappointed the spider walk scene never made the cut.

After two hours, I found myself thinking “Uh, is that it??” I had been prepared to be terrified all over again. I realise that, actually, it wasn’t scary at all. There could be a number of reasons why this was the case.

  • More than 30 years on, I’m older, more experienced, and life has taught me there are things worth being scared of. This wasn’t one of them.
  • Also, being older, I am more spiritually mature and can see this for the piece of fiction it is. Perhaps the Devil just doesn’t scare me any more.
  • Thanks to Special Effects and the increasingly warped imaginations of filmmakers, films are able to be a lot scarier now and they used to be. You can show a lot more now than you used to do back in the 70s.

I was so prepared to be frightened, and what frightened me back then probably does not frighten me now. Do we get frightened, or more frightened of being frightened? That’s why we don’t like walking in dark rooms, or putting our hands into feely bags. Think about this – how often have you seen a film in the cinema that was really scary at the time, and then you saw it again on DVD at home and wondered what the fuss had been? Or missed a film that everyone overhyped the horror of, and then you watched it at home, only to be bitterly disappointed? I know I’ve been to see films where camaraderie sprang up within the audience as we jumped and shrieked together and shared the jump moments together. Everyone feeds off each other’s fear.

Now who’s the vampire? Just saying…

 


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BOO! Made ya look…