Some things are left better unsaid…

…or conversation for the socially awkward.

Do you ever have days where you manage to stay sane; interact with lovely people or – better still – no people at all?

Do you often have days where you seem to run into every nutter going? Or as I like to call it – Wednesday.

I just seem to attract all forms of crazy and awkward- in the form of people, conversations and situations. Today was no exception.

I’m coming back from visiting someone and on the way back to the train station, I bump into one of their more verbose neighbours. So there I am, with 26 minutes to do a walk which a nearby signpost reminds me will take 17 minutes to do, with my darling furbaby in tow who is determined to sniff every. single. goldarn. blade of grass going and up pops Mrs Verbose, with clear plans to tell me her life story for the I’ve-forgottenth time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I did stop and talk. I know that much about humans.

I’m not rude but at the same time, I could almost hear the tick-tock countdown in my head. I spend about 10 painful minutes of nodding and making what I’ve learned are mollifying sounds. I’ve watched you humans carefully on this one. As long as I nod, and say things like ‘really? Oh, that’s good/bad’ (Note to self: do NOT mix those two up), I can go on auto-pilot while I plan my escape.

Long story short: even with the unexpected accompaniment of a lovely person who thought I was talking to her and not the furball, I actually managed to get on the train and get home before crumbling into a pile of introverted angst.

Awkward conversations…

Which, if you’re me, is pretty much any conversation.

awkward

I mean, we’ve all heard this one, or something similar, I’m told…

You know, this one.

Stranger: Where do you live?

Me: I live in south Wales.

Stranger: Ooh I know someone who lives in south Wales –  their name is Jones. Do you know them?

I think everybody’s had that one at some point or other but how about some of the other clangers?

Like, for instance, the person who doesn’t speak to you for ages and then when you do speak to them, they only seem to be interested in finding out how much money you earn. And they won’t let it go. And they keep coming back to it. Especially if you work in something unusual.

Does anyone else get this a lot?

And then there’s this one…

Something similar to the “Do you know the Joneses” is the person who rabidly insists on describing the other person’s character, appearance or domicile in great enough detail to browbeat you into admitting that yes, yes, you do know them… Now please make it stop…

This is the location variant…

It starts simply enough. You’ve answered the ‘Where do you live‘ question correctly. Then you get told that their cousin’s friend’s brother-in-law lives in the same area and do you know it? It’s just around the corner from you!

And as much as you’re trying to tell them no, they will not let it go. It’s right up there with the Mr ‘oh-I-know-someone-who-lives-about-30-miles-away-from-you-but-it’s-all-the-same-area-so-you-must-know-them‘. In this case, they give you all manner of landmarks that you don’t know and you keep telling them that but does that stop them?

Heck, no.

It’s like getting caught under a boulder rolling downhill.

They come up with things like ‘they live a couple of streets away from the butchers‘.

Butchers?

My eyes glaze over.

They still don’t take the hint. Yes, you know the butchers – the one that does the amazing sausages.

I’m vegan..?

But even that doesn’t stop them. They keep going but clearly haven’t picked up on the fact that you really have no interest where this complete stranger lives and you really don’t want to be bullied into admitting that you do know where such and such a place is. Even if you don’t. Which is more often the case.

Screenshot 2020-02-26 18.44.13

Of course, there is one risky prospect which, as long as you can stop yourself from gnawing your own elbow to stay conscious, does work. That is to get the other person talking about themselves.

And humans just love talking about themselves, don’t they?

So if you can keep your eyes open during their TED-worthy speech about the benefits of different densities of concrete, you’re onto a winner. But you have to remember to do the thing with the head and make the correct noises.

TIP: try to sound as genuine as possible. I can’t do it and apparently, I don’t do sarcasm either so I’m really onto a loser with that one.

Oh well.

 


Are you following me here yet?

I mean, in a non-creepy, follow-this-blog kind of way…

You know what I mean.

Do you?

Sheesh.

I hope so.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Now, although this is being posted on New Year’s Day, I severely doubt whether anyone will see it for a few days.

So – are you the first one to read this?

Ooh! A challenge!

As soon as you read this, why not leave a ‘hello’ in the comments and see who’s the first, and how long it takes!

I know how much you lovely humans love your challenges… Stoptober, Movember, Dry-whatsit. So let’s start as you mean to go on – Beganuary. ‘Cause once you begin the New Year with a challenge, why not carry on?

Cue quotes about always doing what you’ve always done; anecdotes about comfort zones, etc.

Resolutions or revolutions?

As I think I probably said before, New Years Resolutions were traditionally made on the Winter Solstice. Perhaps they lasted longer that way. Perhaps they should call this month Janu-wary, because we’re all a bit sceptical about anyone who announces a resolution and says ‘but this year, I’m sticking to it!’

7ED2A29C-95A7-49AA-8D03-9B9803144A0A.png

So how did this month get its name?

Well, blame it – not on the boogie – but on a Roman god called Janus. He was a two-faced god, with one face er, facing the past, and the other, the future. So in terms of reflecting on what’s gone before and looking ahead to new possibilities, he’s the perfect guy for the job. Well, perfect something. Essentially, a two-faced god of transitioning.

So be very Janu-wary if you catch anyone calling themselves a ‘god/goddess-in-training’ – they might be fashioning themselves after Janus!

What does the new year hold for you?

For me, it’s actually putting together everything I was half-heartedly doing last year. Getting more organised, planning stuff like fitness, and so on and so forth.

But looking on the bright side… I’ve always said that I have the hearing of a bat and the eyesight to match… this is the year that I get 2020 vision.

I’ll get my coat.

The 5 people who un/follow you on Social Media: er… part 1

I’ve been making a study of this thing you humans call ‘social media’.

Ha!

Got you thinking I’d gone all Mr Spock there for a moment…

No.

That’s not it at all, obviously.

But I have been spending time on Ye Olde Sociale Media… e

Anti-social media, more like.

I’ve stuck the part 1 bit on there, because I know what’ll happen. I’ll get started and before long the post will be so lengthy your grandchildren will have to finish off reading it.

As it’s coming up to the time of year that I usually head for un-sunnier climes, I’ve been spending more time on the internet. All these platforms (that is the right word, yes?) are great ways of self-advertising, screaming out for attention and generally alienating the rest of the world.

I’ve read that they’re actually great tools for communication, sharing and building a brand, but frankly, I’ve seen more of my definition. I’m sure the general intent is probably meant to be more in line with the official stand, though.

Anyway, I’ve been watching and learning, and definite patterns emerge very quickly. And you know how I love my patterns. And my bright colours. And shiny things. Don’t forget the shiny things.

Why am I doing this?

Well, I guess we’ve all had moments where we’re feeling a bit low, vulnerable, and what doesn’t help is you’ve put so much energy in building an online following, only to check it and find your numbers have plummeted. So, this is to let you know you’re not alone in that feeling of disappointment. There’s a lot of others out there who know exactly what you’re dealing with. Because it can actually affect you humans more than you realise.

So… those five.

Well, there’s more, but these few will do for now. So let’s get started.

  1. Follow for follow

I’ve seen any number of these. Like the flu, they seem to come in waves, subtly changing with each fresh batch.

And by subtle, I mean as subtle as a smack in the face with a wet cod. Because that’s the level we’re at now, since everyone has routinely started uploading their every sneeze for all the world to see. But you have to admire their tenacity.

The tagline is always the same – follow me and I’ll follow you back. Here, here’s a list of 30,000 people to follow. And they’ll all follow you back.

Er… No they won’t.

Dude (is that still a word?), you’re following about 60,000 people! Are you really saying that you went to that entire list to find me just so you could unfollow me?! I guess I should be touched.

It’s more annoying when you only followed them back out of politeness. Because oh yes, I actually do have a deep and abiding interest in a company that manufactures those funny angled staples that hold cardboard boxes together. Where have you been all my life?!

You have about ten minutes to like/follow them back. But don’t worry if you can’t – they’ll be gone within a few hours anyway.

I heard someone once say that a following on social media is like your weight when you’re middle-aged – tending to fluctuate.

Oh, if only.

I’d say it’s more like an investment – ‘the value of your investment may go down as well as up.’

Usually down.

So, let’s say, a following is more like the sea when the tide is changing. There. Poetic, and it works both ways.

May your tide be always be coming in…

*********************************************

Follow me on Twitter @EverydayVampire

You know you want to.

And while you’re at it, check out @PictPublishing

www.pictpublishing.com

 

 

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.

 

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.