I is for I Occasionally Wish for a Hardier Spine

It’s not a wish I indulge in that regularly, being the strong, independent and empowered woman that I am (I have no idea why I’m currently howling with laughter, there’s nothing remotely funny about that statement) but every now and again, I would like to be that little bit gutsier. Take, for example, an experience I had less than a week ago. Here’s something along the lines of what I would have liked to have said:

You’re clearly perfectly polite people, at least superficially so, given that you asked if it was ok before you sat down at the table I was occupying (not that there was any need to do so of course, I was on my own and it’s not as if I owned the table). Then you chatted at an acceptable volume – not so loud that it would disturb me but audibly enough that I could eavesdrop if I so wished, very considerate (as it turned out, I wasn’t particularly interested in your conversation but it’s always nice to have some options open) – as you shared a plate of whatever it was.

But then you got up and chose to leave your disposable plate. This isn’t exactly some classy establishment where people are paid to clean up after you, we aren’t even indoors. And there’s a bin less than six feet away, a big one, hard to miss. So while you are admittedly pleasant, you are simultaneously lazy, worthless and utterly deserving of my hatred. Because now I’m here staring at your rubbish, knowing full well that I’m going to have to clear it up or be guilty of hypocrisy (heaven forfend!).

Why should I (or anyone else for that fact) have to clean up after you? Do you see anyone else behaving in such an irresponsible manner? Alright, that wasn’t a good question to ask but that doesn’t mean it’s ok for you to do it. Oh fantastic, someone else has sat down. They might think that it’s my disgusting leftovers. You truly are despicable people. Forget all the other ills of the world, it’s obviously folk like you who are ruining things for the rest of us.

If only I’d felt able to say any of this at the time. I could have made everything marginally nicer.

H is for Hole in the Head

Is it just me (a terrible way to start, just having used it now means that it’s almost certainly just me and I’ll feel terribly alone by the end of this post. Such is life, I suppose. Or maybe you’ll disagree with me on that count too) or is the phrase miss you like a hole in the head open to interpretation? For such an apparently strong statement it is rather alarmingly easy to misconstrue the sentiment behind it.

Is the person in question trying to say that they would miss the particular person as if they were a hole in their head? If this was the case then it would be a forceful insult indeed, if you’d miss someone in the same way that you’d miss having a hole in your head then you really wouldn’t miss them at all (spelling things out in this way really fills up some space). On the other hand, you might mean that missing the person is like having a hole in the head, painful and intensely difficult to deal with, baffling for doctors and potentially life threatening. Of course there is another school of thought, on a completely different hand, like a foam finger or something, that says a hole in the head is far from a bad thing at all. There was an ancient practice known as trepanation (that I only know about thanks to the novel series His Dark Materials, who doesn’t love Phillip Pullman?) where they’d drill a hole in your head to let evil spirits out. There’s a more modern incarnation of bur holes, a useful technique in neurosurgery.

So I’m afraid that it’s just not clear enough, if you screech at someone that you’d miss them like a hole in the head they may not understand you and think that you’re under the impression that they are vital to your mental wellbeing and swear never to leave your side. Or they might just get their drill out (not a euphemism).

G is for Grand Old Lady

We’ve known each other for quite a while you and I. I probably ought to know a bit more about you, I might not have been paying all that much attention over the course of our acquaintance but then again you are an increasingly elderly and arthritic cat so it’s not surprising that you’ve never been that chatty.

I don’t know your name or how old you are. Although, considering that we moved in nearly twelve years ago and you’ve been around, not to mention fully grown, since then you must be getting on by now. As far as I can see, you’ve aged really quickly. Sorry, that came out wrong, it sounds fabulously insulting, I didn’t mean it like that. I’m concerned about you Puss (in lieu of anything more concrete, that’s what I’ve been calling you for over a decade, I hope you don’t object).

It’s only natural that I worry about you. It’s terribly morbid but I have to admit that every time that I notice you and you’re not moving, I think that you’ve died. Maybe it won’t be such a bad thing, you’re always yowling after all. I can hear you doing so as I write this. What do you want sweetie? In days gone by, you’d energetically bound over for a cuddle and a belly rub, you’d make your displeasure known with the occasional scratch but I’d forgive you in a heartbeat for that fantastic purr. Nowadays you’ll hobble over and we’ll feed you milk but you just don’t seem happy any more.

I understand that you’re a grand old lady now but it’s not exactly becoming on you. You’re so thin and there’s gunk around your eyes (I never said old age was dignified), I’d hate to accuse your owners of neglect (we’ve never exactly made the effort to get to know our neighbours so I don’t know them either) but it looks that way. Puss, if you’re reading this, get help. We love you.

F is for Folk Who Are Mildly Famous

I was at a festival this weekend. I have to lead with that fact otherwise it doesn’t sound very impressive as the festival in question happened to be Greenbelt which I of course love dearly but isn’t in quite the same league as Glastonbury or the Isle of Wight when it comes to cool points. For those not in the know, Greenbelt is a Christian festival with quite an emphasis on social justice and having arms that are as open as humanly possible.

So Greenbelt doesn’t exactly attract all the high flyers of the music industry or A list celebrities. However, there are plenty of people you might have heard of (the Proclaimers were there last year) who attend. And in my own misguidedly rebellious way, I recognise far more of the contributors at Greenbelt than I do conventional celebrities.

For example, when spending a day out in London a few months ago I managed to walk straight past Gary Lineker without really registering him. About halfway down the street, we did notice that there were people asking him for his autograph. My friend then mentioned something about Gary. I absolutely did honestly know who he was really. Of course I know who Gary Lineker is, everyone does, he’s the crisps man who used to do football. However, the only Gary that happened to spring to mind was Gary Rhodes and that was probably only because of the Mitchell and Webb sketch where Robert Webb played a fictionalised version of the TV chef because David Mitchell’s character didn’t know what he looked like. I knew that wasn’t right but my thought processes were refusing to cooperate.

You may be able to tell that I don’t have the most honed celebrity spotting credentials but I’m really quite good at spotting Simon Mayo at twenty paces. And I can pick Folk On out of a lineup. I don’t care if you’re not remotely moved by this talent, I was genuinely excited when I recognised Grace Petrie and her bass player leaving by car. It was very rock and roll.

E is for Equal Wrights

Kids are thick. Really thick. Thicker than mud combined with gravy granules and several increasingly short planks (which do admittedly make the concoction rather lumpy). Perhaps you’ll protest at the sweeping generalisation of this statement; children are sweet little individual snowflakes who need to blossom under gentle encouragement in an environment where they feel able to ask intelligent (or otherwise) questions. That’s the way it works, you come into the world as a helpless drooling baby and the path to becoming a wise drooling adult is paved with countless hours of learning. On the other hand, you might well agree with me that these chronologically challenged humans are a very long way away from being deemed bright. And I should know, I used to be a child.

As always, there is a method in my madness (well, there usually is, there generally has to be some reason behind whatever I’m doing or I probably wouldn’t be doing it now would I?), an inspiration for this post. I recently went back to school. I didn’t stay very long, I was only there because it was the location for a film shoot (I have to shoehorn in any hint of glamour, no matter how faint). But it gave me the opportunity (because I really didn’t have very much to do) to pry into some exercise books (I was really bored).

Their spelling is truly atrocious. But the terrible thing is that the teachers seem to be letting it slide. Now I know how disheartening the life of a teacher is, my dad was one until he took early retirement and he’s put me off the profession entirely but isn’t that basically their job? If they’re not going to take the time to correct the children every time they make even the slightest mistake who is? That wasn’t even the worst of it, the spelling errors sometimes even end up on the walls. Unless the project in question was about a particular very fair minded family rather than civil liberties.

D is for Distinctly Evil Dove

So at my church at home, they’ve got these decorations on the walls. I really want to call them tapestries but I know that’s not the right word for them. I think I shall have to plump for calling them banners. They’ve been up there for a while but they’re rotated according to season. I’m sure you know the sort of thing I mean; three bearded dudes around about Christmastime, a lamb with a crown of thorns during Easter and so on (Christianity really isn’t as weird as it sounds, honest. Just be careful where you go, some places can get a little too scary and enthusiastically wacky).

Normally, they aren’t particularly remarkable. However, there is a terribly notable exception. To represent Pentecost (celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit after the ascension of Jesus – I totally knew that, it’s just easier to get a proper internet definition), there’s a lovely new banner. And it’s deeply unsettling. There are the totally normal plumes of flame (I’ll be the first to admit that Pentecost is one of the weirder traditions in the regular yearly calendar of events. Even at the time, most people thought that those affected by the occurrences were certifiably nuts) but at the top there is a dove that is blatantly evil. You’re going to have to trust me on this, it’s flying downwards and its malicious intent is utterly plain in its black eyes.

What is it that the dove is plotting? What does it want from us or indeed to do to us? Just how precisely did it manage to get itself embroidered into such a seemingly benevolent banner? Is there some wider conspiracy at play here? Have agents infiltrated the operation, looking to subtly undermine the church and attendees faith in it as they have been instructed by one Richard Dawkins? Is the alleged dove making me paranoid? Oh so many yeses.

C is for Complete Change In Scene

Ok so I’ve gone back to Netflix to watch through another series of telly that I may or may not have already watched (alright I definitely have but if you’ll excuse me I think you’ll probably find that I’ve earned a bit of downtime. I work hard, sometimes up to as much as half an hour per day on this blog. I know, it’s exhausting simply having to hear about it, isn’t it?). This time, it’s Charmed, a show that I actually used to watch pretty obsessively. I’m even relatively sure that I’ve owned the DVDs for every episode at one point or another.

However, the show is disappointingly not quite as I remember it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I’ve overly romanticised it or anything, it hasn’t been all that long since I’ve watched it. The problem is the music. It’s all… differenty. It’s not just the theme tune which should be a cover of The Smiths’ How Soon is Now? but is instead some random instrumental. That in isolation would obviously go towards changing the feel of the show but it goes rather a lot further than that. There are scenes scattered throughout the course of the show where the music has been substituted. It completely changes the feel of the scene (because we all know quite how much we are manipulated by the soundtrack when we’re watching stuff, look at the X-factor).

So I’m left trying to remember how the original song for the scene went and to figure out why the whole thing feels that much flatter in comparison. Of course I understand why they do it, it’s all money stuff, duh. But it still sticks in my craw (do I have a craw, is that really how you spell it, shouldn’t I be more careful with my word selection?) and I’m left wondering why they couldn’t leave it how it was? Why do music people have to be so money grubby? It makes me lose faith in the world (not really, I’m terribly jaded).