Sunday, 22 September 2013

Another step

I had time to think on Friday night.

Waiting and thinking
By chance I'd caught the in between train so had half an hour sitting in Cambridge. And it was the perfect time to think. No fuckwitts or drunks. No bad weather. And even the loos weren't too awful.

Mostly what I thought about was talking. Specifically telling and explaining and how I would attempt to give a drama free explanation of what changes I'm going through and what they do and don't mean. The tricky bit was these would be my children and parents I had to talk with.


So I felt a little bit lost in thought as my mind raged with turmoil. And then I slept on it.

I talked a little bit on the Saturday with my lovely friend Sarah about how to approach my eldest. All very sound advice and as it matched my thoughts I felt deeply reassured.
It was simply a matter of timing.

Which I then lost. This morning I received a LinkedIn request. From my dad. Oh. I mean oh! It was time to talk.

Which scared me. I didn't know which way they would react and whilst I hoped all would be well I did have to mentally prepare for it not going so well.


Fortunately I had lots of time to think, I didn't want to do anything until I was safely home in Contrary Towers, I needed to be somewhere I felt both safe and comfortable.

And then we talked. And talked. And talked. It seemed to go okay, as my flatmate predicted, and I just hope things stay this way.

So not a terribly exciting post, but an important bridge to cross.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Magic in four colours.

Art is a funny old thing. Not just the actual art, but the art scene. Lots of beautiful people (and me) wandering in to tedious white rooms, be proffered wine and then largely ignoring the thing that they are meant to be there for. Well, except for me. The thing is I lost faith, the first night scene was feeling more like a chuffing cocktail party than a chance to have an early glimpse at some art.

Good for people watching though.

Anyway, as I say, I lost faith and stopped attending openings as, frankly, they were usually full of people who think Damien Hirst is actually a good thing. Idiots. Fast forward some time. Lots of time. Well, maybe not that much but I am dealing with the single biggest upheaval of my life at the same time.

Some months back I gained a new follower on twitter by the name of Matt Forster. From time to time he'd tweet images of watercolours he'd been working on and I liked what I saw, they had a certain something, a simplicity with depth.


Time passed a bit more and I saw that he had an exhibition about to start a little way from my office. Well that had to be a good thing. I at least knew I liked what I'd seen so far and was curious to see how it would measure up in reality. This was helped by the fact that the exhibition wasn't going to be in a white cube, but a coffee shop. In SW1. Crikey.

It was going to be a memorable evening. And not completely in a good way.

My plus one would be my bezzie, oddly this is only the second time I've dragged her kicking and screaming to an evening of art. And last time it was erotica. A bit different.

We started the evening in the Tom Cribb on Panton Street so we could cover the important business of the evening, namely love interests, in my case non-existent, obvs. And maybe have a little wine. Before we had more wine. Look, it never does to turn up on time and I never do!

Time passed...

...And then we wobbled off to Charles II Street to the Borough Barista which was to be the host for the evening reception and ensuing month long showing.

The interesting thing about this place was it seems to be downstairs so as you walk down said stairs you actually get a quick chance to view all of the art at once. Which I liked. I also like what I saw, especially one piece lurking in the corner, but more of that later.

As expected the beautiful people were out in force, which is quite tedious, but, unexpectedly, we were warmly greeted by Simon de Pinna of the Town and Country Gallery. Now this was nice, genuinely and does mean you know who to collar if you see something you like. Smart.

Artist holds head shocker...
So, there was just enough time for Simon to introduce us to the artist and have a very quick, yet detailed, chat about what we were here to see before it was abruptly halted for the inevitable speeches. Yep, we were that late. What I hadn't realised was this was the first proper exhibition that Simon and the T&C had put on, he went on to explain that he wanted somewhere different, a place that would make people feel comfortable.

It worked.

I was getting a little tetchy though. As Matt was explaining his technique and what it was that made his paintings so special the beautiful people were busy fannying about with their iBastards and not showing due interest.

Honestly people, you were being fed and wined. *whines*

After I may have said something quite rude about said beautiful people. We talked a bit more with Matt and worked our way along the wall of images until we reached the corner and the picture that had caught my eye on the way in.

It didn't have an orange dot.

Deep breaths

I made my excuses and went to look for Simon with the classic opening line, we need to talk. And we did.

The Lake Side was mine. *cackles*

Actual sheepish
After a short time secluded in the back room with nothing more than the gentle hum of a card machine to serenade me, we returned with the magic orange dot and marked the frame. Oh yes. The best thing was getting a brush by brush description of how Matt had carefully built up the image with just four colours and the order that he did it in. Utterly fascinating stuff, this is truly approaching magic in what is achieved. Needless to say the snippet of image above doesn't do it justice. Not even a little bit.

The funny thing is I know the technique well, it's an approach we took in the 90s to give new effects in videogames, though I strongly suspect this was far more painstaking and will be around long after some dodgy games are thankfully forgotten. I hope.

The pictures really do have a magical character and, which is a delight, the more you look at them the more you notice fabulous little nuances.

I'm starting to sound like an insane art luvvy. I'll stop.

Northerners. Pub. Naturally.
As the evening drew to a close we skipped back to the Tom Cribb for more of teh winez eventually being joined by the artist as we'd mentioned we were going there afterwards. What followed can't really be recalled with clarity as, well, you can guess, but did involved talking about life, art and avoiding tourists. As you do. It was the fab end to the evening that anyone would want, just such a shame it all went horribly wrong a little later when some thieving toerag decided that my bag looked fetching. But that's another story.

So, here I am, nearly two weeks later. A delightful latte in front of me, cool music playing in the background and a selection of business types holding meetings.

And my picture.

It's still glowering in the corner, the shadows giving a depth and intensity missing from the others. And you know what? Even given the trials and tribulations I suffered later that evening, I'm still overjoyed that I managed to secure such a lovely piece of art.

As for the Borough Barista, I can definitely say I like it, nicely quiet, easy on the eye staff who look like they give a monkeys and not too far from the office. I will definitely be back again soon.

The Matt Forster exhibition is showing at the Borough Barista until the 7th of October 2013, do go if you can. The coffee is pretty good too.

And don't forget to say hello to my picture!

Friday, 6 September 2013

When you reach the end of your tether...

...and it doesn't snap.

After my last posting I finally heard from the agent, though not without me prodding the company on Twitter first. Eventually after much mucking about they gave me a name and number so I reached for my pen to write it down...

Actual heartbreak.

Something as small and simple, insignificant even. But just too much. I feel sorry for my poor boss who walked in the room at that point to find me in full sobs and of course I couldn't explain what had happened because I couldn't talk properly and when I could it did sound a little on the stupidly irrational side.

But then I am stupidly irrational so that's alright.

Anway, within minutes of the exchange and just before I was to go and find a telephone to make a call the agent popped up and said I'd have to change the locks at my expense. Which is fair enough. But I haven't got a card at the moment. And no you can't have a contact number as I am without phone. You get the picture. More emails passed and eventually she relented, possibly because I really wanted to be able to actually go home and said a colleague would leave the management keys with the concierge at 2:30.


I found a problem that had just cropped up at work and then made a mad dash for the door and home.

Trouble was when I got there at 2:35... No keys. Instant panic. When I said though that the agent would be dropping them off the concierge realised the connection with the woman outside... So off I went.

Poor woman she had to deal with a very emotional me. Really, this was getting ridiculous. I still didn't have an entry fob, but hey, I don't come and go that often so the concierge got to let me in. I am always grateful and happy to get home but this time it was all a bit much.

The good news was that as I believed I'd managed to leave pennies in my old purse! I was actually grateful for being a ditz for once... Then I remembered I do have a spare phone which lives at the office so once my SIM arrives I will at least be back in the modern world.

I also had to call the people at Oyster central to get them to transfer the stuff from my stolen card to the new one. This really did show how I had lost all sense of normality, after passing various details he said "that's done for you", err, "don't you want my old card number?"... Of course he didn't. I'd sensibly registered the new card with my Norfolk address (same as the old one) and as there aren't that many people called Victoria Stamps it was an easy connection to make.

I didn't at all feel slightly stupid. Uh-uh, no sirreee.


Anyway. The diamond geezer of a locksmith was fairly helpful and I'll get to see him sometime tomorrow afternoon. Though getting a replacement fob will be a pain and I suspect I will have to call them again on Monday as, well, maybe I wasn't talking with the sharpest tool in the box.

So here I am, sitting looking out over the canal, in my home. I wasn't hurt, other than my pride and the biggest damage other than cost has been to my poor eyes that have been endlessly flowing. So now I just need to sit this out, wait for replacements and look at lessons learned. Whilst I did reach the end of my tether I didn't snap, which I guess is the point behind tears because they give such a release. I think that I can safely say...

I don't want to do this again.

When the going gets tough...

...the tough burst in to tears.

I'm not proud of that, more in a bit. I barely slept last night, it was the little things that got to me. The pen I was given for my 21st by the nearly-ex, a little mirror I've had for maybe 15 years, the tiny diary I track mine and my flatmate's cycles with, lip balm, but the worst of all is something that didn't even belong to me, a simple hair clip.

I feel so bad about that, words can't even begin to describe it.

Fortunately this morning the first person I spoke to was a female friend, who forced a coffee on me and then listened as I blubbed and explained, at least that got things out of the system to an extent as I was still shaking like an actual shaky leaf. She also explained to the boss that there had been an unexpected arrival in the night...

Still, I had my brolly, Nexus and a hairbrush so I could at least go out, contact people and make myself look marginally less scary. And my friend leant me a top and offered the contents of her make up bag so I could at least distract people from the obvious crying-all-night look I'd adopted. Having disrupted the peace I headed off to work with said boss having already emailing my apartment agents and calling the nearly-ex's work to pass on an out-of-touch message...

...and then realised I didn't have a fan. I suffer with hot flushes, I need a hand-fan. Oh lordy.

No email from the agent.


So I did a little work whilst also revoking app permissions and changing passwords for various things, so I have months of screaming at devices to come when I can't recall what I've set anything to. Also, fortunately, I have spare HRT pills and patches at the office, so I could stop my hormones spinning out of control.

Or so I thought.

By now, after blowing £8.80 on a day travelcard, I was down to £8.50 which I knew I'd need to get a new Oyster. So, off to Oxford Circus I went...

...and stood in a queue with frightful colonials wanting to buy 4 one day travelcards and other such frippery. Now I must have misread that I could get this done at the ticket office but you *can't* get your stuff transferred to a new card there. I'm sure I did this once before after losing a card in Farringdon, but that was two years ago so I guess things have changed. Okay, so £5 and, I was disgusted to learn, I had to fill in a form... Could I borrow a pen? *blank face*. At this point I went in to the full my bag was stolen last night I have neither a Oyster, phone, purse, telephone or indeed a pen. He sort of through one at me, though I suspect it was more to make me run away than to loan the pen.


Filling in the form was fun. Major shakes have settled in and, of course, my chuffing glasses were in the bag, so reading is a little tricky. Especially as my eyes were now filling again.

I just about managed to hold it together in the queue and, fortunately, ended up with a different ticket person who had just opened his window. Really fortunate as it turned out. So he took the details, did the bits, I waved the £5 at him and...
How much do you want it topped up? Minimum is £5
I looked at him. I looked at the little plastic bag that was now my purse. I looked at him. I looked at the bag. I had £3.50
I've only got £3.50, can't I just have it empty? 
No, sorry, against the rules. 
And I burst in to tears. FFS
My bag was stolen last night, not only do I not have my Oyster I don't have a phone, purse, cards, nothing. This is literally all I have on me and I have no way of getting any cash, which means my £1216 travelcard will remain out of my reach until I can get some and even then I'll have to try and get around, I really can't do a ten mile walk every day. Look I have the card number and everything can't you do something?
For maximum effect imagine that being said without any spaces as tears roll down my face and I was getting increasingly hysterical. And then pleading.

Not my finest moment.

But serendipity struck a second time and it turns out Harry from TFL was a good sort and broke the rules. I really hope he doesn't get in to trouble and if he happens to read this and he does then I hope he gets in touch so I can give TFL a PR headache. I can't call the helpline until about 3pm to get the stuff transferred.

So, with £3.50 left I shuffled out in to the rain to cry my way back to the office as things were rushing round my head once more.

Hence now I'm trying to get the right number to call from the agents, I really would like some keys as, well, things are difficult without them. Really difficult.

On the bright side I did hear back from my knight in shining dinner suit, well, wasn't shining, it was really nicely cut. His reply:

De Nada. The world isn't totally "dark"!

Pass the tissues someone. 

History burps

A couple of years ago some thieving scrote stole my bank card using a Lebanese loop. It was very upsetting, a pain and a massive inconvenience. And then in the gap between my card being list and replaced I met somebody, fell in love and had my heart broken.

A week can be a long time anywhere.

Which isn't why tonight I'm in a strange bed, feeling tearful but also grateful for being saved. As it were.

I'd been out, had a fabulous time with my bezzie and managed to be slightly irresponsible. Which is nice. Unfortunately at the end of the night I found my handbag... Gone.


The bag that held my keys, phone, purse, oyster, everything. Gone.


I mean really. Central London is not a cool place to be when you are suddenly without anything and have literally no place to go. My knight in shining armour was called Roy. A lovely chap who we'd invited to join our table. All I know of him is his email address and that he took £60 out of a cash machine so I could attempt to get somewhere to sleep.

Yep, no Hailo either.

The first taxi driver stopped then pulled off. Then stopped again owing to lights. When challenged he said he wouldn't pick me up because I was drunk. No I was fucking upset. Not the same thing.

The next was better. Lovely actually. Didn't mind that I sobbed for a couple of site miles before listing who I needed to call. Unfortunately I couldn't raise my first option, not totally surprising, but now £30 down. My options were limited, walk the streets or hail another cab and hope I could raise somebody at plan B.

And here I become tearfully grateful. Nobody wants to wake a friend at midnight, but having just been driven past my now inaccessible home I had no choice. Well, other than walking. A lot.

Fortunately I could remember the apartment number. Fortunately they answered the phone and fortunately they understood me through the unending tears.

So here I am. Grateful for being taken in.

I had fun on the phone to my bank (no, I don't have my sort code and account number my bag was stolen) and the phone company (no, my bag won't just turn up in an hour or two). Tomorrow I need to try and sort out some keys as I really am desperate to go home.

I'm also glad my mascara is waterproof.

It also means I have the joy of calling the nearly-ex to say I'm stranded. Again. That'll go well. Ironically their number was the only one I actually know, but pointless to call.

So when I head to W1, without my shiny oyster travelcard, I will look like I'm on a walk of shame. In yesterday's clothes.

I'm not.

History has not so much repeated itself as burped and brought up a little bile.

I am my dears, safe but beyond unhappy.

Monday, 12 August 2013


There is a blog post here that can never be written. Not even written but not published. Irrational?

Probably not.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


When you've cried for an hour it's impossible to go back. When you reach three you realise nobody noticed anyway so it doesn't really matter.

The pain of loneliness is crippling, but you hide in the shadows to save embarassing people near with painful red eyes. But it doesn't really matter.

You scream inside as you despair for the help that will never come, the same help you would offer in an instant. But then it doesn't really matter.

And as you finally crawl in to bed fully clothed because you can't admit even to yourself how you've wasted more time as you've wasted so much before. Yet it doesn't really matter.

Then at four in the morning, it starts again, tears pool and fall with each pain driven rend. You fear of what's next, what twist of life's knife. And all you know is it just doesn't really matter.

I'll be fine.

Monday, 5 August 2013


As I'm in a constant search for distractions, any distractions I brought a carton of Oven Pride back with me. Yep, it was time to clean the oven. It really had reached the point of being embarrassing.

So that's what I did on Sunday night and was the most fun I've had all weekend. But it gets better than that...

I had to clean it off this morning...

Anyway, must find another distraction, what with my phone switching itself off regularly and not wanting to go near Twitter for fear of (a) ranting and (b) seeing how smug people are.

Not that I begrudge that, I just don't want to be reminded about how empty life is.  And in the unlikely event that you read this and are offended that you chat with me regularly can I just point out that I'm fed up with talking with my finger.

I'll not ask the question, I know it's too much to ask.

At least I have five shiny days of work to distract and exhaust me.

Sunday, 4 August 2013


It's a dangerous place inside my head.

The urge to self destruct is massive and there is no release. No safety valve. No distraction.

Just relentless, interminable, growing hatred of myself. Hatred of mono-outcome decisions that lead to inevitable, crushing, loneliness. Hatred of how insular I'm becoming because I don't want to poison others. Hatred of the pain. Hatred of the unrequitable desire to touch and be held. Hatred of my inability to suppress the feelings and desires. Hatred of being unable to act.

It's a dangerous place inside my head.

I need comfort food...

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Moving forward

I've only truly been in love once. The trouble was it didn't appear until late in life and when it did I suddenly realised what an awful sham everything else had been.


Especially as (a) I was married to somebody that I couldn't think of a good reason to not be married to and (b) I was about to embark on a massive life change. It was a bit like the first time you hear a live performance and feel the music and know everything else was just a precursor at best.

So I put the change on hold as I knew that there was something more important.

Then there wasn't. The reality is I always knew this was never going to be more than just a glimpse of would could have been. I hoped, but was realistic.

And then, like Saint Elmo's fire, it was gone. It took time to adjust, to accept. A long time. And there was even one last moment of sublime humiliation before I could say...

It's time to change.

So I placed my heart in a box, tied memories with a ribbon and embraced my future. Whatever it would be.

I can't say it's ideal, I'm still in love for a start, but that's changed form, it's just deeply caring and hoping desperately for somebody else's happiness.

Surely that's the best way to be?

Ultimately I'm scared about my journey, but I also can't see a reason to go back.


Saturday, 27 July 2013

A cow is to Cowley

My dear friend Ryan has decided he'd like to learn a programming language. Now this has provoked much debate between the #boss and I. Actually, it's provoked no debate as both the languages initially on offer to the young chap are not the best place to start, though it's debatable what *is* the best place to start.


He commented that he'd just heard some beardy types in sandals asking "what's the difference, they've both got Java in?". Let me explain...

Firstly, as part of the day job I get to use both on occasions, Javascript for a little bit of front end work on webviews or webtools to offload some of the rendering from the server and, even more occasionally when working on applications for Android. I'm really not a fan, though I do like that I can keep things off the wire with Javascript. But the big differences are:
  • There is *no* common root between the languages, the (possibly urban legend) story is that Netscape came up with the name to make people think they were related as Java was the Next Big Thing™ at the time.
  • Java uses an implicit this scope for non-static methods as well as an implicit class scope. Javascript has an implicit global scope. The implications of this are pretty wide ;-)
  • Java is statically typed whereas Java is dynamically typed and this can be abused at will
  • Java is also strongly typed...
  • Java uses block based scoping (yay!) but Javascript uses function based scoping (there be dragons)
  • Java is class based but Javascript is prototype based. Which means more opportunity for abuse as you casually add new prototypes for a giggle
  • Java has constructors that can only be called on construction, Javascript constructors are just normal functions and can be a bit rock and roll in appearance.
  • Java demands all non-block statements to have semicolons at the end, Javascript will play merry and add some for you in certain circumstances.
  • Java can only be variadic if specifically defined, Javascript lets you run merrily through the code chucking daisies and roses abound one day, but doing nothing the next.
  • Java doesn't have real closures, they have to be faked, but Javascript is quite grown up and has them.
  • Java is tied to its class and can't be redefined at runtime, Javascript isn't and can be redefined at will
  • Java is usually compiled to byte code before distribution (no peaking at the source), Javascript is usually distributed in source form and interpreted on the fly. Which is nice as you can see how things are done.
Finally, other popular comparisons:
  • Java is to Javascript as a ham is to hamster
  • Java is to Javascript as a car is to carpet
And my personal view... Java looks like fun at first but becomes a pain the the proverbial and never goes back to being nice. Javascript though looks like a badgers interpretation of a Van Gogh but you learn to love and appreciate it once you learn the tricks.

Friday, 26 July 2013

A stitch in time...

And so the contrary holiday rumbled on. Traditionally on holidays one is awake until late then has a lazy lay in before rushing down to the hotel breakfast at the last minute. Not in my book. At 6am I was watering the garden and by 7am I'd breakfasted and started to lay out the pattern pieces I'd prepared the night before. A bit like germans doing the towel thing by the pool.

Only with scissors.

That all went swimmingly well though it did remind me that I really ought to get another cutting board and rotary cutter as it makes life an awful lot easier. The day though went swiftly and remarkably efficiently, my only break being a trip to the best shop on the planet for evening winez and a pack of hand sewing needles. Honestly, I was on an actual roll with only one mishap involving scissors and the bodice. Oops. Oh well, I really wanted to re-cut pieces and make again.

Or not.

By 5:30pm I was finished all bar the zip, strap placement and final hemming. Oh yes.

Which was why I started making pasta dough as I had both my bezzie and the boss coming round for food and wine. Which would be great except for the fact that the living room had bred actual contrary chaos with little bits of cloth and threads everywhere.

The vacuum cleaner has never been so busy so often!

This is okay. As everyone knows, making dough for lasagna sheets means you have to leave at least 30 minutes for the dough to rest which was when I ran round like a woman posessed trying to clear up the chaos. I was finished with literally moments to spend as first the bezzie and then the boss managed to breach security at the front gate and were literally buzzing my buzzer...

Any dreams of having at least started the ragu was completely lost. To make matters worse I also lost the garlic I was going to use.

Oops. Again.

See the trouble is I like to slow cook for intense flavour so it wasn't until around 8:15 that I was ready to roll the pasta sheets... Or come out with a stream of euphemisms and double-entendres to end all streams of euphemisms and double-entendres. You wouldn't think rolling pasta could be such a giggle.

Or an excuse for pervy behaviour.

Yep, the boss decided to video the process, or our cleavages and, being slightly tiddly, we might have done the whole Nigella thing. Shameless. Quite shameless.

And then it got worse.

Pasta making with #boss
picture by @PrincessOfVP
The boss decided that he would also like to try his hand at turning the roller and stepped in. Of course he then also had to unbutton his shirt to show his own (lack of) cleavage.

I don't think I'll be able to face him on Monday without giggling.

Which reminds me, I must tell my flatmate that we froze some of the resulting lasagne in case she needed to eat on her return. 45 minutes after the giggling we were ready to eat, I'd magically removed all the removed al the remaining chaos on the table so we could actually eat and the evening rolled on until eventually even I had to stop eating.

It really was a fab evening.

Contrary peas!
This morning was another early start. The big news is that we have peas! I'd not really noticed them yesterday but once I saw one I realised there were loads, very exciting. I was amazed at how fast they went from flowering to actual pea pods showing. Quite stunning.

The rest of the morning was almost a repeat of the day before, breakfast, sewing, looking at ducklings, but I did at least finish the second dress. Or at least finish for now as after wearing it for a couple of hours I decided I needed to shorten the straps a little to stop them falling off my shoulders (my hips hold the dress up) but for that I will get somebody, we'll call her my flatmate, to help by pinning them whilst I wear it.

I'm sure that won't hurt.

Finally though it was time for my little holiday to end so with a flurry of bin emptying and packing my
It fits!
weekend bag I scampered off in the general direction of Kings Cross and a trip to Norfolk.

But that's not quite where the story ends.

On the train to Cambridge a lady sat opposite me, I blurted “I've met you before”, as I had, maybe four years ago on the Cambridge to Norwich train. I think she was slightly taken aback that I remembered she was a biologist studying fruit fly fertility for her PhD. You see, I might not be able to remember names or what day of the week it is, but I do remember the story and detail of most things.

It was lovely to chat and catchup as the train roared its way to Cambridge and hence my journey beyond...

Until next time.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A very contrary holiday.

Much to the annoyance of my flatmate I've rather lost my way over the last few months, and I don't mean in the way her boyfriend is incapable of getting to the Tesco in Bow with less than four attempts. That's the trouble with big life changes, they have an impact and it's rather inevitable that my changes wouldn't bring a well of goodies.

So, with Clare escaping the insanity of Contrary Towers for lots of sun, sea and I presume wild sex, I also decided to actually take a few days off to see if I could get my mind to try and join up some of the unjoinable thoughts that are rattling around...

Yep, I took a holiday.

Admittedly not one that might be recognised my normal people. I kind of started on Friday night and did something I've not been able to do in ages, I went to the cinema alone. Really this was because I needed to see something silly and not have to think about things too much, so The World's End seemed the perfect solution. Inevitably I asked for opinions on Twitter and, well, only got one and that wasn't great, so I ignored it and, after popping in to Tesco for a box of Maltesers to pig my way through, went anyway.

It was good.

Not the most comprehensive review I'll grant you, but honestly if I was to explain why I thought it was really quite clever it would be an epic spoiler to end all spoilers. So, good one liners, some references back to the previous outings of Pegg et al and a bit of a rekindled bromance to suit. Oh, and a mint cornetto.

So film done I headed back east, changing at Bank as I didn't fancy Mile End, really, who could. Trouble was the DLR was going to be a seven minute wait. SEVEN MINUTES. I blame Boris.

I'd already been toying with walking so I decided this was a sign, left at Monument and wandered towards Tower Hill. As you do. Trouble was I still couldn't decide what to do. So I did what any sensible woman would do. I sat down and presented my options to Twitter: tube, DLR, taxi, Boris bike, Bus or walk...

First response from a good friend of mine was to walk as it was cool, so walk I did. It was certainly a lovely evening for it and I only thought "what the hell was I thinking" a few times as I walked through some of the more desolate parts of Wapping and Shadwell. After all, it was now getting dark.

The next morning I was up not as early as I wanted to be so I could spend the day in the office, things I wanted to clear up. I did have a deadline though as I intended to head to Brick Lane at some point in search of fabric. And a baegel.

Oh yes.

As I was determined to do things differently, or I couldn't face the hell known as the Central Line I found a comfortable number 25 omnibus, got out my book and settled down to read as it fought its way from Oxford Street to somewhere near Aldgate. It was really quite a pleasant journey and nicely set me up for my contrary holiday as I couldn't understand a single word that people were saying.

Fortunately the journey was swift and with a flourish - read: nigh on emergency stop - I hopped off and meandered on in search of a mad fabric. Which, naturally, I found.

Trouble with holidays is they have tourists.

Baegel. Nom.
And Brick Lane really has tourists. I don't like tourists. Meandering bastards blocking the pavements in random and unpredictable ways, couldn't they see I was a woman on a mission?! Eventually I made it to the 24 hour baegel place so I could indulge in a hot salt beef filled baegel and, of course, send a picture to annoy my flatmate. So I did...

Burgers were being promised back in Contrary Towers so back I crawled though I didn't expect to see people for long as the travellers had to be up at 3am. I've not had a burger in a while and these really were quite lovely.

Sunday dawned rather early, I was wide awake long before their alarm went off and enjoyed the delicate night sounds of Poplar, such as something that was very much like a pistol shot. Next noise, after the alarm, was Clare making an almighty clatter before texting to say she could never be stealthy. If I was mean I would have said I'd been woken by it...

Good job I'm not mean!

Baby carrotz
The only worry was that I was going to be held responsible for anything that happens to the Contrary Garden. Oh dear...

I was awake nice and early to water the garden before having a day of generally sorting bits and pieces out. I had intended to start cutting fabric for dress making, but, being a ditz, hadn't remembered to pre-shrink by washing so cutting and sewing would be delayed until Monday. I could live with that and, with a an maniacal diligence proceeded to do very little all day.

Chillie putting out...
Actually, I say very little, but that's not strictly true. I did some work, made some deductions, sent emails about deductions and... Buried a ghost. I'll not say any more about that to anyone other to Clare if she wants to know, some things really aren't for public consumption.

Oh, I also made a bag. As you do.

Monday. 5am. Awake. Not just awake, up, ready and resisting the urge to head for Mile End and ultimately W1. At 0701 I was in the Fortnum and Mason of Poplar (Lidl) to stock up on, well, everything. Turns out it was the grocery shop where we need all the really heavy stuff. What was worse was the probably alcoholic gentleman - he had a trolley with many loose bottles of lager - decided to flirt. *sighs*

Sew, a needle pulling thread.
Anyway, little trolley filled I struggled home, actually struggled, and collapsed in a heap. But not for long. I spent the day pattern making, watching cranes being erected, sewing, cleaning, vacuuming and generally being busy. I even found time to poke my legs out in the sun. It was really quite an eclectic way to spend the day.

Which was nice.

Happy Birthday Clare x
The evening saw a visit by my bezzie which mostly consisted of us chatting for England, drinking teh winez, eating lasgna (the last of my frozen batch) and toasting my flatmate on her big birthday.

Tuesday was a bit weird. I needed a few bits and pieces and vaguely thought that the Waitrose/John Lewis at Canary Wharf had a haberdashery. Turns out I was wrong. Pfft. So I scooted on the Jubilee Line to Bond Street and needed supplies. And went home.

Fortunately the effect of being abroad continued, I didn't hear another english accent or, indeed, speak with
*our* crane
anyone again including until now on Wednesday night. Uh oh. Now the irony is that when abroad I do speak, at least once I re-acclimatise myself to the relevant language, but here I just saw nobody.

But that's okay, I sewed and fiddled and thought and slowly but surely switched gears.

Which brings me to Wednesday. Another early start, more sewing and twiddling. More looking at cranes and wondering what the hell the builders actually do. And more watering the garden at 6am before the sun decides to be mean.

Checking it fits!
I did though finish my dress, or at least the first one. And made a matching tote bag. And I am in the middle of getting ready to cut fabric for the next dress. So that's good.

I've also cleaned, vacuumed, done washing and eaten probably too much. I know it's not most people's idea of a holiday but, really, this is progress for me. I still can't see myself going off to sunny climes and sit by a pool alone, but at least I managed a few days. And sure it would be nice to go off and spend time somewhere with someone but, well, I don't know anyone insane enough to do that with me.

So, I'll sew.

Chin-chin darlings.

The Costa del Contrary, complete with sun and authentic building site.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

A marathon forward

We do get up to some eclectic things here in Contrary Towers. And unpredictable. Clare's new found passion for growing things - and killing aphids- acts as a mirror to the existing interest in discovering new areas and challenging the status quo. In my case I am pushing to remember forgotten skills as I ease in to the comfort of simply being me. But more of this in a later blog.

A few weeks ago Clare managed to get herself invited to speak at an event entitled Hear I Am being organised by Nazmin Akthar of the Muslim Women's Network. Now I thought this fabulous, I've been saying for long enough that she needs to be heard more as her writing and poetry is far deeper than the airhead dittys I write. So she got writing and I got inviting my bezzie to act as the support team. And not hecklers. Oh no.

The bard...
There was a minor panic on my part as I had no idea what I would wear as, well, I don't get out much and the thing I vaguely had in mind maybe wouldn't fit owing to excessive pie consumption. Fortunately, it did! Suitably attired as all gathered in Contrary Towers and made Clare go and do a reading of her piece, it was the first time she would do a performance and really didn't want it to go wrong. She happily reported it took the required 5 minutes of reading aloud and was then cajoled, nay, nagged in to performing to all of us. It's really, really difficult to perform to a group of friends and loved ones so this had to help put her in a good frame of mind.


Fortunately, it was yes. Her reading was flawless and we could relax before being taxied by Clare's bf to a strange place called Stratford... Now the funny thing was whilst I'd never heard of the venue, actually, it's not that funny, I knew exactly where I was as I had a 911 break down right outside in the horrendous stationary traffic they used to get before the bypass was built. Which made it weird for me, I was finally going in to one of the buildings I'd stared at so patiently in the late eighties and early nineties on trips to London.

An odd place is memory lane.

Anyway, we got there. Furnished the driver with some pennies to get some, err, essential supplies for after the event, and waved him off nervously as, frankly, his ability to miss turnings has become the stuff of legend and great amusement here in Contrary Towers and we really didn't know if we'd see him again...

...and with that thought we parodied a classic bad joke as these three women walked in to a bar.

The welcome was warm. I know that is such a cliché of a phrase, but oh it truly was. We had a little indecision at first as, well, D'Gaf is dry and we, well, oh you've all read our blogs and know exactly what we're like... But it's lovely and the staff were fabulously friendly and said they'd bring our soft cocktails to wherever we happened to be sitting.

Best friends
One nice little touch was that those who'd bought tickets in advance got little glow bands, which were fab. Honestly, another trip down memory lane as the last time I had one of these on was when I was 15 and visiting Blackpool with friends - one of which I met up with recently - some 31 years ago! Another delightful trip down memory lane. So it was apt that it was with my two closest friends I would be wearing one again!

Now then, the evening: the idea was to support an anthology of poetry being put together by the Muslim Women's Network, hence why we were there as we do poetry and, obviously, have strong views on women's rights regardless of background.

Introducing the evening was, of course Nazim Akthar who, thankfully, had decided to talk rather than try to fob them off with me on the grounds that nobody knew what she looked like. I did explain earlier that other than sharing an accent people might just guess...

She was wonderful in a slightly manic - at times ditzy - way that can only be achieved from somebody of obvious deep intelligence. She introduced the idea behind the Muslim Women's Network, their priority areas and the anthology project before finally dedicating the evening to Cassandra Balchin who sadly died last year after losing her battle with cancer. It's strange to get a pang of utter regret that you will never be able to meet a woman who sounded like the very definition of amazing.

Opening the performance was Mizan The Poet with a powerful poem full of string imagery beautifully delivered. He was quickly followed by Sacha Wise who gave a moving, intensely personal view of her abuse. I was in tears. Actually, I think everyone was in tears. As it turned out they were the first of the many that would follow in the evening. And it gave me pause to reflect, any abuse I suffered was purely mental and whilst I'm still coming to terms with some of it - ok, all of it - I knew I had never been through anything as harrowing as this.

It did though throw my note taking out of kilter and I then stopped writing who was performing and just immersed myself in story after story of a lives I had never lived.

During the evening we found we were sitting opposite Rania Khan who, it transpired, is a Tower Hamlets councillor. As we chatted we found out about an event that we can see from our balcony actually was! There is a mini olympic sports and culture event, the program for today looks amazing! Anyway, it was fascinating talking with a local councillor.

As the evening wore on we broke for dinner, we'd settled on the vegetarian option, which, once it arrived, was stunning. But the delay was a marvellous glimpse of serendipity in action as we got to chat with Saleha Begum who would also be speaking that evening. If I do have a regret it's that I didn't have the cash on me to pick up a copy of her book Ruptures and Fragments.

The evening wore on wonderfully. A particular highlight was the performance by Zena Agha of her "Woolwich: Not In My Name" poem, this was simply amazing. To follow it up she gave a rendition of a very personal piece on what she wanted to say to some oaf in a nightclub. It gave an amazing insight in to the strength and clarity of mind that this eloquent young woman gained from her faith. Wonderful.

Eventually... It was Clare's turn to talk. It was her first performance and given that she was shaking with nerves it was beautifully delivered. And, I'm pleased to say, well received.

The evening closed with a video of street interviews by to ladies of the MWN to the men of East London. It was both engaging and fascinating to watch.

And I had my first experience of henna!

So what did I learn. Well, difficult to say, in advance of the evening I had refreshed my memory of what the five pillars of Islam are. I'd pondered how I would be received and, also wondered what I would ask as the chance came along. So what I learned was actually quite simple, the sorority of womanhood crosses many boundaries with people from a seemingly unlimited diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. I learned that regardless of what our backgrounds were we could easily come together and chat like old friends and be left wondering just what the hell the media keep wittering on about.

Which leaves me with the strange title. In Zena Agha's talk she used the line one step forward and a marathon back. But that was a specific event. For me this was, simply, a marathon forward.

My thanks to Nazmin and all those that were involved with the event, you are all utter, utter stars.

السلام عليكم

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Lazy like a Sunday Morning

Summer, my dears, has finally arrived at Contrary Towers. At least for a while. Which is why I'm sitting out on the balcony wearing as little as I can get away with without scaring the bejesus out of the French couple that live next to us. Or scandalising the local community with a flagrant display of leg.

If I go out I'd better change...

Anyway. As Clare's boyfriend said on Friday night, I've been a bit of a social butterfly this week. This was all unexpected but goodness has it been a giggle. The week started quietly enough, too quiet really. I was visiting chez Nearly-Ex to spend time with the children over a weekend that may or may not have included my age incrementing in the most frightful manner. Mostly I survived this and even - rather shockingly - managed to have a giggle. I know! Go me...

By the time I jumped on the train on Wednesday morning I'd definitely had enough and really needed to do something different. I had, after-all decided that being fed up was, frankly, becoming really quite tedious.

And that would never do.

Fortunately Wednesday was the last in the month and the Science Museum were doing one of their fabulous lates events. If you've never been you should go, all the fun of the museum with no children about, teh winez and interesting themes. This months being sex and sexuality. What could possibly go wrong?

Having roped in my friend Ray I promptly went for a nap, it was going to be a late evening and nappage was not so much a luxury as a singular requirement. Zzzzzzzzz. Incredibly, after a mad quick change and shower I managed to make it to Mile End on time to rendezvous. Unfortunately there had been a double presumption which lead to me sitting at one end of the platform with him some way away. At least I started off on time... Not that this was a problem, there was loads of time and my intention had been to get to South Kensington and quaff an iced latte. Which is what we did. Obvs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the queue at the Museum for the 18:45 opening was, well, impressive. Apparently sex and sexuality is an interesting topic.

Who knew?

The tone was set when we were offered bracelets to indicate sexual preference. Red if you liked girls, blue if you liked boys and green for both. I, being utterly contrary, was obviously green. Oh, there was also black, which I think meant you liked sheep.

Next stop was to see the thrusting connecting rod of a stationery engine that was obviously all steamed up. What I didn't know was there was a Science Museum photographer snapping pictures. And they managed to catch me and my poor compagnon dé soirée as we looked on. The first I knew of this was when Clare, squealed on Twitter that it was me! Such a fabulous memento of the evening.

The rest of the evening was filled with the delight of chatting about things we saw as we wandered the museum.

Mostly we didn't go to the organised events, though did stumble on Bingo, which was mad, and found the board where people could express something about who they were. At the end of the evening we found ourselves on the top floor and saw another talk was on. This time by a surgeon on some of the issues to do with being transgender, what the process is (in simplified terms) and how big a deal it is. I'll not go on about this too much, but all I will echo is something said by the surgeon and which I've said a thousand times.

It isn't a choice.

And with that the lates drew to a close and we headed out in to the cool evening air and headed back East. Via the Merchant of Bishopsgate in Liverpool Street. Call me Ms. Irresponsible. Two large vodkas later and  the evening was perfectly rounded off. Unsurprisingly I found Clare had tweeted that:

My #flatmate is a dirty stop out

But I could live with that, I was, after all, out late on a school night and being kicked out of a bar because they wanted to close. Oops. I would get my own back the next night...

Thursday was quiet, I managed to be only a little bit late for work having had to catch up with what's been going on, it had been quite a while since we'd been able to have a morning chat and I managed to ease myself through the day with a sense of aplomb that largely masked my wanting to crawl under the desk and snooze for England.

The evening was definitely quiet and, as I've previously written I decided steak was the only way to deal with getting back in to the Contrary lifestyle. And mash. Obvs.

It obviously worked. The next morning I looked almost bright eyed and bushy tailed! Which was good as I had (a) a lunch date and (b) an evening out to look forward to. Having not been out in a while I was a little worried about whether I would wilt with tiredness. I would cross that bridge when I got to it. Or slump in the back of a taxi sobbing about how awful it is to be 46. One or the other.

So I scrubbed up, crawled in to a favourite works-for-everything black dress and went bouncing off to W1 for a morning of looking like I'm moderately clever.

Astonishingly, again, I wasn't late. I got to Ping Pong in EC4 with ample time to spare and relaxed in to the lively chit chat that I'd been so looking forward to! And it was fab. I've not been before so was glad to be with an old hand. I loved the food, ate too much and relished the meandering conversation about food, life and even a little politics. I really can't wait to do this again. On top of this... The sun had come out. My optimism and returning joie de vivre was obviously enough to convince the sky fairy that it was about time to shine some warmth on this fair city. St Paul's churchyard was packed as office workers basked in a UVA induced delirium. How wonderful.

The afternoon passed quickly, I actually finished what I intended to do and, at the stroke of 5:30 the Boss and I headed off to the underground for the shortish journey to The Old Bank Of England, for that is where the evenings entertainment would take place. Now it's been a while saw all my friends together and it was wonderful, a really good evening. Even better the Boss had managed to secure a table outside when we arrived. Of course, as you might expect I semi-disgraced myself by becoming terribly tiddly, outrageously flirty (so my Clare told me the next morning) and throwing white wine over somebody (unintentionally). As the evening drew to an inevitable close I found there were just two of us left, so I stumbled out on to Fleet Street hailed a cab and we pootled to Contrary Towers for a late night cup of tea.

The next morning, other than finding a trail of clothes stretching from the door to my bedside, saw me leaping in to action to make bread. I say leaping but, really, it was a bit of a late start, not the usual dough mixing at 6am. Oh well.

As the day progressed we chatted, I painted my nails, Clare tended the plants in the Contrary Garden and generally all was well in the world. Knowing we were going out later I took the opportunity of her boyfriend turning up to slope off to bed for an emergency nap, otherwise I was in serious danger of passing out from lack of sleep.

The evenings entertainment was a dance preview at Richmix in Shoreditch. I've not been there before and was delighted to discover would entail a new bus journey! I really need to get out more. So we hopped on the 309 and made our way to Bethnal Green where - you'll not be surprised to learn - I proved what an airhead I am by exclaiming over there being a green. I know. With one more bus we arrived, collected tickets and went to wait for "Tempered Body Dance: It Goes Here Now" to start.

The dance itself was pretty spectacular, a fascinating way to try to express the science - and in a way folly - of genetic modification - using a very dynamic and physical medium. Do I sound pretentious or what?! What was truly fascinating was before the dance though...

We had arrived in a middle-class ghetto of pretentious twaddle.

It was a good job that we'd decided not to have a cocktail before going in, otherwise we would't have been able to contain the giggles at some of the things we heard going on around us. Anyway, fabulous dance and I hope to see it again when they do a full production.

Before we started on the serious matter of trying a new cocktail venue we headed to Brick Lane Beigel for munchies. And it was epic. I've heard of it before, but never been. The hot salt beef and mustard filled beigel was, simply, to die for. It was fabulous. And seriously filling. The place is something of a legend, open 24 hours and has a constant stream of people from all strata of society. If you're in the area and you've not been then go!

To finish the evening we headed to the Redchurch for cocktails. Neither of us had been there before, but what a find! Really, I loved it. It was just the right level of dark seediness that suggests a warm intense evening of debauchery, giggles and discovering new delights. We started the evening with both of the current specials, I have no idea what they actually were because the barman was stupidly good looking, perfectly toned and had my hot flush klaxon screeching at 11.


The night moved on a pace, a couple next to us were going for the world snogging record, much to the amusement of the staff and all onlookers. We moved on to dry martinis, which were beautifully smooth, now this is high praise indeed, I'm a huge fan of the Duke's Bar which does the best martinis anywhere and this was more than a perfect substitute and coupled with the raw and raunchy atmosphere I was more than happy. Next we went for something different, I just wish I could remember what the names were! By this time we'd moved on to having table service by the wonderful and bubbly young lady that was hovering and helping. This was good as by now the bar was heaving and it was much easier to be waited on then stand at the bar fanning myself over the sight of perfect forearms...

Our head mixer...
Finally, all good things come to an end and we were collected by Clare's boyfriend who had kindly volunteered to be out taxi home. For more cocktails...

The only problem is we were a bit short of the usual base drinks so - inevitably - we had to concoct. And this is what Contrary Towers does best...

With a lasagna we'd frozen from the last lasagna night slowly cooking in the oven the head mixer got to work... Oh my!

As ever Clare came up with some fabulous concoctions, this time created around sambucca, cointreau, cherry brandy and some other things. I really wasn't paying that much attention. And the newly planted mint plant discovered just how short life in Contrary Towers can be if you're edible!

It was a fine way to go.

It wasn't all flagrant consumption though. In the name of science a new tincture was developed that should cure most ills. Or at least make you not give a stuff about said ills. Or forget them.

I present Dr. Brown's Universal Tincture...

It was wonderful and I do hope Clare can remember what she put in it! Not to be outdone, said boyfriend decided to make us something. This may have been to stop me putting on the wax pot as I'd been threatening to do... *cackles*

Now I have to say this also needs to be written up, we really had no idea what he was making - the milk was a surprise - but oh my the results were, simply epic. A truly delicious and smooth drink...

He can come again.

Finally it was way past 2am and having invited somebody to come for fresh lasagna on Monday (though I doubt he will) we decided the dancing, giggling, chatting and generally saying how fab we all were had to come to an end... It was time for bed.

Inevitably there is an epilogue and here it is. This morning I managed to further sleeps before emerging at about 9am. A quick cup of tea and chat with Clare's boyfriend who was heading off and then time to consider what I would have for breakfast. Seriously, all I think about is food. The only thing to have after that much debauchery is eggs. Fried. And some of my perfect bread toasted.

Oh how healthy I am.

It's a quiet day in Contrary Towers, I'm yet to see my lovely flatmate, but I do know she's still alive. I do hope she gets to see some of this glorious sunshine.

And what about me? Well, I'm tired, which isn't a euphemism, and other than obviously looking very drained I think I have largely survived.

More importantly I've had a fabulous few days and truly enjoyed the company that I've been lucky enough to keep. It's always a joy to make new memories, but even more of a joy to know that there are more to come.

Time, my darlings, for lunch.

Saturday, 1 June 2013


So I ate half a cow on Thursday night, it was very nice and I felt today I ought to redress the balance. Especially as I had lunch with a dear friend of Dim Sum and wonderful conversation yesterday.

Shaped for the second proving...
Having done my usual Saturday morning bread bake, a little late this week owing to ebullient last night (apparently) I thought I could do something on toast.

And make use of what's left in our depleted fridge... I've not done the weekly shop yet. There will be trouble!


Baked bread. Obvs.
First bake your bread ;-)

Take a frying pan, add a lump of butter, thinly slice a leek and fry with the butter, cayenne pepper, soy sauce and slice red and green peppers for a few minutes until softened. Slice some bread and toast. Next add some shiitake mushrooms, throw in the pan and fry a bit longer. Turn the toast over. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, throw in a last bit of oregano and ground pepper.

Finally butter the toast, carefully portion the contents of the frying pan on to the toast and tear of some bits of mozzarella cheese.


A fab, quick and dirty lunch!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ne m'accusez pas...

A little earlier this evening I was shamefully accused of having a thing for bacon. Now don't get me wrong, I like bacon, but it's not a thing, it's a food and I talk about other things far more...

But how to prove it? You see, the problem is my friend Ray is obviously unhinged as he believes he's right when we all know it's *me* that's right. Or sometimes my flatmate. Actually she's usually right as well.

So I decided the best thing was download all 21,454 tweets to that point and do a little simple analysis.

First up, some code. Yep, the actual day job being used to settle a question of my wordy honour.

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;
use warnings;
use Text::CSV;

my $csv = Text::CSV->new ( { binary => 1 } ) or die "Cannot use CSV: ".Text::CSV->error_diag ();
open my $fh, "getline( $fh ) )
        my $t=$row->[7];
        my @w=split(/\s+/,lc($t));
        foreach (@w)
                $words{$_}=0 if !defined $words{$_};
$csv->eof or $csv->error_diag();close $fh;

foreach (sort { $words{$a} <=> $words{$b} } keys %words){X("$_: $words{$_}");}
sub X{print join(' ',@_,"\n");}

So if you happen to have a handy perl interpreter and your downloaded tweets you can do the same.
I ran the code
./ > r.txt
And then had a look for teh baconz...
victoria@victoriaDev:~/tweets# grep bacon r.txt
bacongate: 1
baconsandwich: 1
baconz: 23
bacon: 29
So let's add these up. 54. Yep, in 21,454 tweets I mentioned bacon 54 times. And some of those will be in the same tweets. Hmm. What other things did I mention 54 times, let me see now...

victoria@victoriaDev:~/tweets# grep ': 54\s$' r.txt
@seismicshed: 54
note: 54
wear: 54
called: 54
either: 54
possibly: 54
lady: 54
conversation: 54
needed: 54
room: 54

Well that wasn't very interesting. So here are some other things I'm known for:

  • Cocktails: 71
  • Champagne 102
  • Wine 124
  • Pie 64
  • Bread 175
  • Vodka 34
  • Tea 150
  • Boss 82 (I knowz!)
  • Knowz 35 ;-)
At the same time I've snorked 190 times, giggled 368 times and only been shocked 98 times.

But, and this is no shocker, I've written face 1,223 times. And a bit. Hold on a minute though, where does the accuser fit in? Well, it turns out, not badly: 806 times. Or, in my world, he's 15 times more "popular" than bacon. Though not as popular as my two best friends ;-)

So there we have it, bacon is not a thing. Got that?

Monday, 6 May 2013


Undulating thoughts
Twisted dreams
A chorus dawns
Not as it seems
Pulled together
Asunder, apart
Hopes foundered
Of a peaceful start.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

This shrew is not for taming

When I was at University I had a friend who made me look diligent. Really. She wasn't what you would call good at remembering to prepare for talks so, to avoid issues, she would find the nub of the expected response and, as a good contrarian should, argue the opposite. Who piece de resistance was arguing that the female character in The Taming of the Shrew was exactly opposite to the conventional view, i.e. Katherina wasn't tamed, she manipulated the situation to get exactly what she wanted. She used the patriarchal misogyny to her advantage. A fab view, though not as good as when she argued that Lady Macbeth was actually not as bad as people made out. I learned a lot from Louisa.

And most I haven't forgotten, why would I, it was a good, sound and interesting perspective on life.

Last week I had a bit of a technology collapse, which is why I'm writing today on a 1999 HP Jornada rather than either my beloved Galaxy SII or jail-broken Kindle keyboard (as they are now known, apparently). First the Galaxy died, quite horribly with a gasping rattle as it descended towards the river of Styx and its final journey to technology hell. This was a bit of a pain but I commandeered a phone from my elder offspring as they were visiting Contrary Towers, more of that in a bit. Then the Kindle died. It might be the battery. It might be that it didn't like being summarily abused and treated with the contempt that only e-readers deserve. Unlike real books, which are revered. Though are less convenient on long journeys. Bugger.

Back to the SII...

My life doesn't revolve around that device, but it does provide me with twitter, tethered interwebz access, alarms, note taking, music, books, texting and of course, phone calls. I did warn people that there was a chance that I may not have their numbers as I'd not recently backed up to the SIM. It happens. What I got next was the usual:

  • You should have got an iPhone
  • My iPhone backs numbers to the cloud
  • My iPhone just works
  • Blah, bloody, iPhone
  • Why don't you get an iPhone?

Not wanting to offend my boss, a good friend and even someone I might be meeting for coffee this week, though I doubt he will after me ranting a little. Anyway, as I said, not wanting to offend but seriously guys: Just no. I'm not ready to be a sheep. I'm not ready to follow the crowd. I'm not prepared to spend a small fortune on a piece of technology I will be forced to comply with rather than use.


I give Apple their due, they make pretty phones and goodness do they understand how to instil slavish, feverish and dogmatic devotion in their disciples. I mean customers. But seriously, and I'll say this one last time: They aren't that good.

Got that? Good.

I realise that there may have been a certain amount of poking the tiger's cage as it's well known how I feel about Cupertino Crap. Though it did amuse me that the week before the ethernet failed on my pretty little iMac, the one I lovingly call the iBastard. The look of disbelief that Apple devices actually conformed to the first rule of electronics was astounding... Everything fails eventually.

Whilst talking with my lovely flatmate a thought occurred: Every one of the people (let's call them men) that told me what to do was, wait for it... A libertarian. Err, so I'm being told what to think and do by people that think you should think and do what is right, not what others say.

The irony drippeth.

A couple of days later one of them retweeted a superb picture from tweeter_anita that really summed my thoughts up. It said simply

Spread anarchy
Don't tell me what to do!


Monday, 18 March 2013


Dark tendrils, melancholy black
Holding, tightening, gripping.
Their insidious embrace
Seeping the last vestiges of hope.
Soul, dessicated.
Cast alone in a dark maelstrom of torment.
The infinite depths of betrayal
Their clawing mists drawing the very essence of life.
A husk remains
A mere avatar to what once was.
A distorted reflection
A plaintive cry
A sense of nothing
A will. Lost.
Where am I?
Who am I?
What am I?

Thursday, 14 February 2013


Eyes rimmed red
Heart, stony blue
Romance, long dead
Bittersweet grew
Salient reminders
Of all that's gone
Seeking fresh hope
Finding none.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

My sullied valentine

Roses are red
Violets, blue
The cliches
Tedious, too
Commercial lust
Trapped in a rhyme
Not for me
Darling mine.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


Vapid thoughts
To dull a mind
Calm the ire
Lull repine
Seeking pools
Of blissful calm
That quench the thirst
Of emotive harm

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

2am eternal

The rain.

It's unrelenting, interminable and making quite a racket against my window. I mentioned this on Twitter and a friend of mine responded with a line from "I can't stand the rain".

It wasn't bringing back sweet memories, but it did at least inspire 140 characters of tea induced poetry. I love writing poems, I don't care that they aren't any good, they are just a chance to endow feelings with form. However contrived. I've not written much recently as the muse eludes my gaze.

I hope it returns.

With my thoughts
Of memories
From interminable
Deep hidden
Of what
Once was me
In tea

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Ohayo gozaimasu おはようございます

A long time ago, in another life, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to learn Japanese. The company paid for this and, every week, an ever decreasing set of people would trundle in to a meeting room for an evening of linguistic torture. I chose the title because, right rightly the first phrase I learned as ohayo gozaimasu, good morning, a greeting, part of the delightful formal exchange I would come to love deeply. I loved the logic of the language too. As a software person I appreciated the clarity of overloading phrases in a consistent matter, for instance o genki desu ka, essentially "are you well?" would lose the question and become a confirmation, genki desu, "I am well".


I enjoyed the times I went to Japan after I was taught a little, it suddenly became a less terrifying place. It's not the people or the place that brings terror, it's the lack of understanding of signs, they tended to be written in a combination of kanji, hiragana or katakana. I could just about translate hiragana, via romaji into to english, things became clear. I began to understand and feel comfortable with this country of deeply civilised people.

Which brings me to the present.

400 years ago this year an English ship landed in Japan and our trading relations creaked in to being, though it was a little tortured at first. However, an englishman was already in Japan, one William Adams. He'd arrived, drifted in really, in 1600. An astonishing tale. Fortunately for Adams he was open minded, keen to learn, explore, challenge and, ultimately, integrate. He is the sort of man that would have been welcome at an Elizabethan Contrary Towers, forsooth.

So what's the connection?

Well, I received a text on Friday from my lovely friend @Feinics11 asking if I'd like attend a matinee performance of Anjin: The Shogun and The English Samurai, being shown at Sadler's Wells. Did I want to go? Duh! As it happened I was double booked, so I had to initially decline. Fortunately though (actually unfortunately as I was looking forward to a meandering day with a friend) I became free so skipped to the DLR and headed for the scary, dark, delights of Islington...

I took garlic, a wooden stake and a silver bullet just in case.

The play was simply astonishing. I haven't enjoyed one quite so much in ages. Not only was it beautifully produced, but it also provided the intellectual challenge of seeing how much Japanese I could actually remember as whilst the English parts were in English, the Japanese were in full on, idiomatic, Japanese. I was in heaven.

This was no Tokugawa Shogunate 'allo 'allo.

Don't get me wrong, if you don't speak or understand a word of Japanese you should still go, it was so well acted you knew exactly what was going on without having to refer to the subtitle screens (Japanese for English, English for Japanese). The story unfolded with a measured, unrelenting throb of culture, politics and unlikely friendships. True there were parts that made me feel deeply uncomfortable as, yes, I believed my European forebears could have been that ignorant and arrogant. It was also interesting to see how the Jesuits were portrayed as they worked to convert the Japanese people to a Papist vision of Catholicism. Fabulous stuff.

Sadly, the play is only on until the 9th of February. If you can get to it then go! You really won't be disappointed.