Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Got nothing to say aint been said before

Soundtrack: Floodland by The Sisters of Mercy

The last week has been fairly painful, but I feel like I'm emerging from the wreckage.

I was expecting a mouthful of abuse over the telephone from Sister Number 2 in reaction to my missive. She used the phone to berate someone, but that someone was my mother. There are a number of possible reasons that this could have happened, but I feel it's likely that my letter touched a nerve, and, wanting to get the maximum effect from the smallest outlay, she called Mum. (And I suppose ringing Mum, who lives about 6 miles up the road, is cheaper than calling long-distance. That sounds a bit below the belt, I'm sure, but these things should be taken into consideration.)

Net result? Some more terrible things were said. It certainly goes around and around, this. My mother is upset and I feel guilty that my efforts backfired. On the plus side, the crazy text messages have stopped. It's almost like I've ceased to exist, now that it's clear that I'm not taking Number 2's side.

The Bank Holiday weekend passed by without incident. We went to see Nacho Libre, which was funny in places, but hardly as consistently funny/cute as the director's other work (Napoleon Dynamite). Worth a pop though, especially if you are interested in the world of Mexican wrestling. It did have a very good soundtrack (Esquivel, some good tropicalia).

Yesterday we went to Chenies Manor in Bucks, which is a really corking place with a beautiful garden, for a picnic with Vivi, Boot, R and Baby I. It was good to get out of town for a couple of hours.

[Sorry, not very exciting at the mo.]

Friday, August 25, 2006

I believe in getting into hot water, it keeps you clean

There comes a time when you have to get off the fence.

Two nights ago I received a text message that indicated I had been involved in the problems in Devon. Something has been said which has been repeated, and possibly embellished. The thing that has been said makes it seem like I have lied about something.

It is astonishing that I can have been involved in this when I am a) 150 miles away and b) haven't actually fallen out with anybody.

So, now that I've been thrown to the lions, I thought that I might as well say my piece, once and for all. All four of my sisters would have received a letter from me this morning. Not a text message - a letter, which is a sort of old-fashioned text message, with vowels and punctuation. The over-riding theme of these messages is: stop being childish and sort this out.

I have yet to deal with my mother. Quite what I say to her is really up to what sort of reaction my letters get.

We'll see.

Monday, August 14, 2006

You can never go home anymore

I have returned from my trip to the South West relatively unscathed. While there I noted a few things:

My mother is hanging in there, but she is looking increasingly worn. Her hearing has also all but vanished. Given that the hearing loss is a genetic problem, I might as well book myself onto a lip-reading course now.

Small Monkey 3 is coping with life well, now having the ability to crawl/slap himself along floors. This has earned him the nickname 'Slug'. I feel it is entirely correct that the mick-taking should begin as early as possible.

Niece number 4 and her fiance were well and seemed to enjoy their engagement party, despite the fact that it was almost ruined by gale-force winds. After realising it was far from wise to sit in a gazebo made of fabric, which may well have flown off over the Grand Western Canal at any point, I went inside to entertain the children - thereby minimising the possibility of dying of exposure.

I visited Sister number 2 with JJ. There was no mention of the family feud during the hour and a half we were there. Neither was there any mention of her eldest son, the One who the rest of the family has Disowned. Which was really just as well, considering I'd like to see his head on a pike right at this moment.

The South West really is the land that time forgot. On the journey home last night, I commented to JJ, 'Now can you understand why I don't ever want to move back?' and I think he is beginning to understand. There is much to commend that part of the world - lovely beaches, delicious scones, a relaxed way of life...However, that comes at a cost - the casual (as well as the overt) racism and suspicion of any lifestyle that isn't deemed normal or regular, primarily.

I shudder to think how my family would cope with meeting my friends - whom are a ragtag bunch of stoners, queers, drunken rakes and sluts. I mean this in the best possible way, and I am proud that this is the case, because I love you all: you have made the past 33 years worthwhile.

Much has been said by various commentators about networks of friends becoming surrogate families, so I'm not going to go into that. If that was actually the case (and given recent events), I would have deleted everyone's mobile numbers from my phone by now.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Through being cool

Soundtrack: Devo

It's my work summer do today. Compared to last year's highly tense affair (detailed in the blog about a year ago), this year should be enjoyable and worry-free.

Off to the South West this evening to attend Niece Number 4's engagement do, and to face TableGate in all it's ugly glory.

We'll see, eh.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Now that I'm out of touch with anger

Soundstrack: Magazine

Quite a melancholy soundtrack selection today.

I was listening to an Elvis Costello best of this morning on the train in, and the following lyrics made me smile like a lunatic...

'I want to bite the hand that feeds me
I want to bite that hand so badly
I want to make them wish they'd never saved me'

This seems particularly apt. One of the features of my commute today was to make a list of complaints to take to my manager, as we are due to have a meeting this afternoon. I am tired of being overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated. Now, I'm not foolish enough to think that the things I bring up in my meeting today will get fixed. The list exists purely as an aide memoire to me, one that I'll mentally file away, until the day comes when I leave my job, upon which I can present it to our HR department for their general amusement.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not angry. Far from it. It's more like a combination of disappointment and malaise.

JJ returned from his jaunt to the Big Chill with a Mr Scruff tea towel for me as a gift. It's one of the more unusual promotional items I've ever come across - well, since the Stereolab umbrella.

Friday, August 04, 2006

We're all normal when we want our freedom...

The legendary Arthur Lee of Love is dead - see story here.

This makes me very sad indeed. I regard him as one of the great figures of the 1960s, as well as a proper hero. He also had one of the warmest and most evocative voices in music. It is a great regret that he died before I got the chance to see him perform live.

Arthur was an enormously talented but troubled individual. His life is detailed here in a pretty up-to-date way. His comeback in recent years followed a low point, during which he'd been jailed for some time.

My favourite album of all time, bar none, is Forever Changes by Love. It is drenched in melancholy and no matter how many times I hear it, I still find something new.

Nothing says it quite as well (with regards to Arthur himself, and to life in general) as the final few verses of that album's final track, You Set the Scene.

'This is the time in life that I am living
And I face each day with a smile
Cos the time that I've been given's such a little while
And the things that I must do consist of more than style
There are places that I am going...

This is the only thing that I am sure of
And that's all that lives is gonna die
And there'll always be some people here to wonder why
And for every happy hello, there will be goodbye
There'll be time for you to put yourself on

Everything I've seen needs rearranging
And for anyone who thinks it's strange
Then you should be the first to want to make this change
And for everyone who thinks that life is just a game
Do you like the part you're playing?'

I'll dish the dirt and I'll show you the door

Soundtrack: The Delgados

'We spent our years dreaming, but our dreams were misleading, and now we're through'

It's amazing how evocative some records can be. The Great Eastern was my soundtrack at a very low point and it's astonishing how fast it can transport me back right back to that sad time.

However, if I could go back, I wouldn't change a thing.

I had a very nice evening out with DL, Merv, Neilski, Lambo and Lovely Morgano yesterday. The evening was dominated by conversations about the usual topics - music, films, comics. I didn't drink much, but still wound up with a hangover, which was rubbish.

I was tickled today by the story of Barney the Doberman, destroyer of £60k's worth of teddy bears. He just wanted to play...like all dogs do!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Me, I go from one extreme to another!

Soundtrack: ABC

The weekend was crammed full of things. As a result, I feel a little more alive than I did last Monday. There's a lesson there, I suppose.

Friday night we spent over at the Rhyming Couple's place looking after Baby R. He was mostly impeccably well-behaved, with a minor freak-out at about 10pm when he got his foot caught in the bars of his cot. The following morning we went to Tooting Bec Lido for a bit of a dip and I was reminded how out of condition I am.

On Saturday afternoon, I met up with Mrs. Matravers and her eldest son, up from the South West on a visit. It was nice to see her after a long time with no contact.

On Sunday we went to Worthing for the day just for something to do. It just so happened that there was an American custom car rally on, which was good fun. this meant lots of portly rockabillies wandering the town, as well as a DJ playing lots of excellent early 60s numbers. I had forgotten how good girl groups/Motown/early Elvis and Johnny Cash sounds over a huge PA...