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December 15, 2006

Premature new year's resolutions

It’s a bit early for these, but I’m diseased and bored and off work with little to do besides listen to the radio, read out-of-date newspapers and surf the internet…

My resolutions are:

  • To get to work before at least 9.30am every day.
  • To train for and run the London marathon (if I manage to get a charity place, having been rejected from the main ballot)
  • To make more of an effort to meet new people and socialise with old friends

December 09, 2006

Waiting to be rejected

Still not heard about the marathon, but my dad is the latest person not to get a place. I suspect my very own rejection letter is waiting for me up in Yorkshire, but unfortunately have no way of checking this fact as my mum and Stephen have gone away for the weekend.

So I’m still keeping my fingers crossed…

Battersea run 09 DecemberGot a bit lost on my weekend run today, which meant that yet again it was slightly longer than anticipated (7.5 miles according to mapmyrun, which took me an hour and 15 – not bad considering the number of times I had to pause to cross roads). If I carry on with this urban running malarkey, pretty soon I’m going to have a knowledge of London’s streets to rival that of any black cab driver. Today’s discovery was Battersea Park, which I have run through once before, but hadn’t appreciated what a truly lovely park it is.

When I came home I made spinach and potato soup (developing quite a thing for homemade soup), cleaned the bathroom, and now I’m about to reread next week’s bookclub book for the second time.

Seeing not just looking at the world

Writing about web page http://www.lambethcollege.ac.uk/courses/course_list.cfm?widCall1=customWidgets.courses_list_courseDetail&cit_id=508&cta_tax_id=483&showCourseKey=true

canonSo excited! Just applied for a beginners photography course at Lambeth college starting in January. I was actually looking online for British Sign Language courses (feeling suitably inspired by watching the BSL translators at the ODI conference on Thursday – signing looks like such a beautiful language) but then my artistic side got the better of me and I signed up for this instead!

December 03, 2006

More running…

Running is going very well atm – am keeping fingers crossed that I get a place in the London marathon. The chances of getting a place are slim, but then surely the fact I’ve been rejected 3 times already should boost the probability of getting a place (or not… it doesn’t work like that does it?)

Back in Yorkshire this weekend and had a wonderful, blustery run along the ridge on the opposite side of the valley to my mum’s house. Sunshine, great views, and cold crisp clean air. Even the hills didn’t phase me! I later realised this was because I was being pushed up them by the gale that was blustering away behind me, and the part of the run that should have been easiest (the flat run along the valley bottom back to Denby Dale) felt like running into a very violent wind tunnel. I had to walk the last mile into the village because I felt so worn down by the wind in my face.

Run 3 December 2006Anyway, considering this, I’m pleased with my time. MapMyRun.com reckons it was 7 miles, and I managed to get home in an hour and thirteen (just over 10 minute miles but I did walk for the last 13 minutes). And incidentally, for runners who haven’t heard of it, Map My Run is great stuff – clicking on the thumbnail on the right shows my route today (and it calculates speed / average time taken to cover a mile and calories expended).

Fingers crossed for the marathon…. I really want a place this time because the training is actually going really well at the moment!

November 26, 2006

Sunday late November

It’s that time of year and I’m determined not to get ill despite the best efforts of my fellow commuters to infect me with their lurgies. All the pretty autumnal leaves are turning to mulch on the commons and in the parks and everything is going earthy and heavy and saturated with squelchiness. I haven’t been for my weekend run yet and it’s going to get dark soon, plus I’m meeting a friend for coffee in 40 minutes so unless I want to power run at double my normal speed…

BunnyTired, so tired, feel like I’m on a conveyer belt and I have to keep running. Trying to be more positive (no more black clothes, I’m only 25) and do some voluntary work and make an effort to do things that scare me (like meeting new people).

Dreamed I was back in Taiwan the other night; I felt free.

I’m going back to Yorkshire next weekend. I want to breathe clean air and run in open spaces (not looping round and round the same circuits on Clapham Common stopping for traffic whenever I hit a road), and sleep in a quiet dark room where I don’t wake up the moment the neighbours upstairs slam a door.

I’ll just have to run with the gym bunnies this evening. Hop, hop, hop along bunnies. I’ll run into work on Wednesday morning too. 5 and a half miles. I hope I get a place in the London marathon this year…


mertonI went to Oxford last weekend, the first time I’ve gone back since I graduated (over 3 years since I finished finals and left, 2 years since graduation now). I was almost dreading it, apart from meeting up with Leonie, Thomas and Helen of course, as arriving in Oxford always used to provoke very strong feelings in me – mostly positive – but I thought that I would feel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when I returned.

So I got off at the train station along with a couple of Eton boys who were scoping out the potential of the place as a future abode. Walked towards the town centre. Past the puffa fish restaurant. Down George Street. Felt nothing (George Street still a bit of a dump). Saw the modern language faculty library from a distance. Down Broad Street (still feeling somewhat detached). Went into Blackwells to use the loo. Wandered round the modern language section. Same medieval French texts on the shelf (good old Chanson de Roland). Weirdly familiar but didn’t make me feel anything. Walked towards college. Came down Merton Street. Heard the Merton chapel bells ringing. Into college and round the gardens. All very pretty and lovely, but I didn’t particularly feel anything – it didn’t feel like a place where I used to live.

And Oxford is small. I think someone might have shrunk it, because I’m sure that when I was 18 it wasn’t that tiny. The buildings are all little (most of them no more than 3 stories high) and it only takes 10 minutes to walk across town. I blame Martin and his weirdy chemist ways.

Anyway, I had a lovely day in the end, but mostly because I met up with friends, went for lunch in Gino’s, found the (newly opened) Primark (largest one I’ve ever been in!) and went for coffee in Blackwells. Lovely. But I didn’t feel nostalgic and the magic I remember has gone as the people I cared for who lived there have moved on. Although it was nice to go there for the day, it is now just an ordinary place for me.

November 14, 2006

One of those days

The Nightmare, 1781, Henry FuseliJust wanted to curl up in bed today and cry / hide / sleep for a very long time. They need to install beds, duvets and bean bags in a nice quiet dark room somewhere in the basement where sleepy civil servants (i.e. me) can go and slumber until they feel better.

November 13, 2006

Bit of a mongrel?

mongrelTo fulfil my worrying growing addiction to reality TV (now I’m only snobby about property development shows, gardening programmes and Big Brother – basically any other gubbins goes after a day in the office), this evening I watched 100% English, a programme in which eight participants gave a DNA sample in order to ascertain their genetic geographical roots.

All the selected participants held strong convictions about national identity and what being English means. All of them were white, born and raised in England, and convinced that their genetic makeup would prove they were quintessentially English in origin.

Frankly, I’m not surprised that most of them turned out to be, in the words of one participant, “a bit of a mongrel”, but what really shocked me was most of their attitudes – first of all a militant conviction that in their veins must course “pure” anglo blood, secondly somewhat dubious remarks about race and national identity, and thirdly (most bizarre of all in my mind) passionate pride in the country in which they happened to be born.

I say bizarre, because I have never felt proud to be English, I don’t identify with England, and I have never understood what it means to be patriotic.

The only aspect of England that I actually like is its diversity, and maybe for the first time, since living in London, I am starting to feel that maybe it isn’t such a bad place after all. Obviously London is hardly representative of the rest of the country (when I go back home to Huddersfield sometimes I struggle to believe it’s the same country) – but the idea of a huge swirling melting pot of cultures, cuisines, languages, skin colours, art, music, traditions, religions, life itself… greatly appeals to the nomad in me, even though I know my romantic ideas to be illusions in themselves.

Personally I would be thoroughly disappointed if my DNA makeup were anything other than genetically diverse, but knowing my luck I’d probably come out as 98% northern European or something boring like that.

Unlike the “ethnic English campaigner” who threatened to sue the programme on learning about her possible Romany origins, I felt reassured by the comments of the 18-year old army recruit who had just discovered that his DNA originated from at least a quarter of the globe.

“For racists to find out that part of them may be what they have discriminated against for years, well that would certainly throw them off their game” he said.

As he looked at the miniature globe before him, you could see his sense of his own global horizons visibly expanding on camera.

October 23, 2006

Ugly Bug Ball

Ros as a ladybirdOnce a lonely caterpillar sat and cried
To a sympathetic beetle by his side
I’ve got nobody to hug
I’m such an ug-i-ly bug

Then a spider and a dragonfly replied
If you’re serious and want to win a bride
Come along with us, to the glorious annual ugly bug ball

Come on let’s crawl (gotta crawl gotta crawl)
To the ugly bug ball (to the ball to the ball)
Adam the bumblebeeAnd a happy time we’ll have there, one and all and the ugly bug ball

While the crickets click their cricky melodies
All the ants were fancy dancing with the fleas
Then up from under the ground
The worms came squirming around
Oh they danced until their legs were nearly lame
Every little crawling creature you could name
Everyone was glad
What a time they hade
They were so happy they came
Benedict the Spider
Come on let’s crawl (gotta crawl gotta crawl)
To the ugly bug ball (to the ball to the ball)
And a happy time we’ll have there, one and all and the ugly bug ball

The our caterpillar saw a pretty queen
She was beautiful and yellow black and green
He said would you care to dance
Their dancing lead to romance
Then she sat upon his caterpillar knee
And he gave his caterpillar queen a squeeze
Ug-i-ly bugsSoon they’ll honeymoon
Build a big cocoon
Thanks to the ugly bug ball

Come on let’s crawl (gotta crawl gotta crawl)
To the ugly bug ball (to the ball to the ball)
And a happy time we’ll have there, one and all and the ugly bug ball

October 17, 2006

My day in history

Writing about web page http://www.historymatters.org.uk/output/Page97.asp

My day in history isn’t very interesting, but hey, c’est la vie- c’est ma vie in fact. Woke up at 7am feeling like it should be Friday already, my boyfriend made me breakfast and I got ready to go to work. Walked (or rather limped) to Clapham South tube station, cursing the new shoes that I haven’t yet broken in properly.

The Northern Line wasn’t delayed this morning – a miracle, a fact worthy of posterity in itself – but I’d forgotten reading material so I spent most of the journey craning over people’s shoulders trying to read their papers (and getting annoyed when it was the Mail!). Got to Embankment and walked past the flower seller outside, through Embankment Gardens to my office. I currently work in the Office for Disability Issues (located within the Department for Work and Pensions), which is the focal point within government to coordinate disability policy across all departments.

I got into the office at 9.20, which is early for me (I work flexi time so usually straggle in just before 10 instead) but I had a meeting at 9.30am where I was deputising for my line manager. Another meeting at 10.30 to discuss big stakeholder event in December that the Office for Disability Issues is running to celebrate its first birthday – I’m representing our project on the working group.

I made it back to my desk for about 10 minutes, then some of my project team members arrived for a team lunch, something we do on alternate weeks when we don’t have team meetings. Went down to the manky canteen in the basement and chatted about the project we’re working on, the Independent Living Review, which is looking at how government and organisations can respond to the recommendations made in Chapter 4 of the “Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People” Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit report.

After some discussions about various ongoing work strands, I then went down to the car park with one of our team members to help advise on where the new disabled car parking spaces should be, as we’ve had some problems over the past few weeks obtaining sufficient spaces for visitors to the building.

By this point it was about 3pm, and I still hadn’t looked at my emails properly! However it’s my mum’s birthday tomorrow, so I had a mad sprint around Covent Garden trying to find a suitable present for her. I finally bought her an amber necklace from one of the stalls in the market. I also wrapped up some silly socks that I bought in Bosnia on holiday, took these things to the post office and posted them. Fingers crossed they’ll arrive tomorrow…

The final couple of hours in the office were spent writing emails and trying to move forward with the research that I’m doing into existing initiatives across government departments. I felt quite tired so I wasn’t at my most productive.

I left at a reasonable time this evening – just before 6 – and went for a quick drink with my boyfriend and a friend in Gordons wine bar at Embankment (was supposed to be going to the gym but wasn’t feeling too well). I stayed for a glass of wine but I was feeling really tired, so I came home instead. I usually try to cook something proper for dinner with fresh fish/chicken and vegetables, but again I’m feeling really tired, so I’m just going to have a vegetarian microwave meal then go to bed at about 9 o’clock!

September 28, 2006


Tomorrow night I am going to see Metamorphosis at the Lyric (free tickets and everything!) and on Saturday I am going to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the RSC’s The Tempest and Kneehigh Theatre’s Cymbeline.

Very excited about all of these productions. So excited that I threw my mobile phone into a cup of camomile tea in my sleep the other night, and it has only just started working again (albeit with bubble sound effects). It’s been a long long week.

September 24, 2006

Windsor 13.1 miles

Writing about web page http://www.runwindsor.com/

Me at the end of Windsor half marathonMade it to Windsor, made it to the end of the 13.1 mile course without stopping, made a time of 2:10:42 which I am very pleased with given my lack of training / the heat / the hills (no one warned me about hills!!!)

Am content – and it was nice to run alongside my dad for the first 7 miles before he dashed off into the distance.

My dad at the end of WindsorApparently my dad is planning to enter the next London marathon (after swearing never again at the end of the last one) having learned that he will be in a new age category (60+) next year and therefore might make a “good for age” time. This means that I have got to enter myself now. Arrrrgh!

So. The Windsor half marathon. The beginning of my London marathon training?

September 23, 2006

Worms, violins and half marathons

So. This time tomorrow I will be girding my loins (nasty expression) before setting off on 13.1 miles of hell for the third time this year. The difference this time round is that I am completely ill-prepared, and really should not be going anywhere near a half marathon course, were it not for the fact that my dad was extremely persuasive and talked me into treating it as “a little training run”. His idea of a training run is 9 minute miles though, so I don’t think I will be able to keep up with him for long.

My dad is down in London for a meeting today, so our training last night consisted of half a bottle of red wine each and a double vodka and tonic (me) in the Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury, which alarmingly has left me with an aching fuzzy head this morning.

I found a little wiggly worm in my salad over dinner, which caused great consternation amongst my dad’s colleagues and the hotel restaurant staff, who all started shrieking excitably and threatening to kill it and boil my salad alive to sterilise it (or something).

I calmly picked the little worm up, carried him through reception past a coachload of Japanese tourists who’d just arrived, and put him in a pot plant outside the door to let nature decide his fate. I’ve now realised that the pot plant was probably fake though. Poor thing.

The other night after work I walked across the river to Waterloo tube station, where I took part in play.orchestra, an interactive sound installation on the South Bank. I love the interactive stuff that has appeared here over the past year or so, but this is my favourite yet. It’s made up of 56 plastic cubes and 3 “hotspots”, and when you sit or stand on one of these, a musical instrument will sound. If you get enough people to join in, you hear a complete orchestral piece, but even if you don’t manage to find 59 willing tourists / commuters / children / couples to join in it still creates some interesting effects with snatches of melody and rhythmic bursts of sound. I sat in one of the violin seats, but it was giving me a headache so I moved to the triangle hotspot instead. I think I would make a good triangle player!

Today I am going to be very lazy – I might go for a little stroll – but then I’m going to Thomas and Helen’s for tea this afternoon, followed by dinner at my aunt’s this evening. Trying not to worry about tomorrow and Windsor.


September 11, 2006

Brcko in pictures (and a few words)

BrckoBrcko libraryPedestrianised street, BrckoBorder control in BrckoBrcko marketMain square, Brcko

People, socks and watermelons

Mark and our landladyMark and the sock womanPresenting Gordana with a melon
Sanja and MarkSanja and MarkIs he taking ME for a ride?SocksMark, me and Adam

Youth centre
Art in youth centreYouth centre - svitacIn the youth centreYouth centre

Doctor dolittle
Adam with dogMe and mats2MatsMe and mats

Atkins anyone?
Tricky to be a bosnian vegan

Rest of the Bosnia pictures are here

August 31, 2006

Lazy Ros

There’s no getting round it – I’ve turned into one of those people who pays too much money for gym membership and then doesn’t go, enters long distance runs and then doesn’t train, flobs around eating stuff pretending that it’s just “carb loading”, and still thinks she’s an “athlete”.

In short, I am Jade Goody.

Jade GoodyOr rather, I haven’t trained enough to do the Windsor half-marathon on 24th September, so I’m going to pull out despite the waste of £24, and accept that two half marathons will have to suffice for one year.

I will be there to support Anna, Leonie, Jamie (?) and my dad though – all of whom are more committed to the practice of gazelle imitation than I am.

March 06, 2006


Writing about web page http://www.heaventreepress.co.uk



Come and listen to some amazing poets read including:
Esther Morgan
Pascale Petit
Helen Ivory
Zoe Brigley
Kim Trusty
Jane Holland

Be there if you have a vague interest in anything literary!!!

June 01, 2005

going private

ok so here's the deal. The rest of my blogging life will only be available to my 'friends' list. I would love to add people to this-so if you want to read the rest of my blog please log in, post a comment and I'll add you.

January 11, 2005

I Heart Huckabees

Went to see this film today at the Warwick Arts Centre. I got in for free on the RaW gravy train.

It's written and directed by David O. Russell, the man behind Three Kings, that one about Gulf War I. This also has that man with the one facial expression, 'Marky' Mark Wahlberg, in. And Jude Law, Dustin Hoffman and Naomi Watts.

It's a comedy based around an environmental activist called Albert (Jason Schwartzman) who has a existential crisis so goes to an existential detective agency, run by Hoffman and his wife. It all gets a bit silly and Albert meets Marky, a fireman – sorry, firefighter – who is in a similar predicament and who rants about petroleum at every given opportunity.

You've also got Brad (Law) – who's a executive with Huckabees, a chain of supermarchés, and is also getting involved with Albert's environmental campaign. He takes over leadership of Albert's project so there's a big rivalry thing going on. Then there's his bird (Watts), who's a model with Huckabees. Very soon they all start questioning reality.

It's funny, in a quirky way. If you liked The Royal Tenenbaums, you'll like this. Probably more laugh-out-loud moments, actually.

As for the philosophical content, I was kinda let down. As a self-respecting intellectual, I'm fairly into my existentialism – have been since before The Matrix, have been since before I even knew what existentialism was. But this didn't really say much to make me think. You had rival existential detectives – Hoffman and his wife vs. this French bird. One reckoned that everything in the universe is connected; the other thought that nothing was. And that's about it. Didn't really like the special effects which came with the philosophising either.

So, on the whole: 7/10

January 08, 2005

Wife Beater

This is what I was referring to in the last one but Jesus! this is about as far away from comedy as you can get! However, the point is it works.

He'll only come home at night
If he hasn't been in a fight
Down at the pub, he's ready for his dinner
Watching and waiting
He's an hour late and his lamb chops won't get much colder

He's fumbling with his key
He doesn't sound very happy
Your husband is drunk, only two quid for a pint of Stella Artois
Something's the matter
Make a run for it now but you ain't gonna get too far

(Oh-oh, here he comes) Watch out girl he'll smack you up
(Oh-oh, here he comes) He's a wife beater
(Oh-oh, here he comes) Watch out girl he'll smack you up
(Oh-oh, here he comes) He's a wife beater

I wouldn't if I were you
You know what he can do
You've got a nasty black eye but he doesn't really care
Now give him his dinner
Sure, tell the police but he'll say that you fell down the stairs

(Oh-oh, here he comes) Watch out girl he'll smack you up
(Oh-oh, here he comes) He's a wife beater
(Oh-oh, here he comes) Watch out girl he'll smack you up
(Oh-oh, here he comes) He's a wife beater

Words: Daniel Wilson Craw. Music: Hall and Oates.

An Open Letter To Mark

Care to explain what the letter to Ally, which you plastered all over campus today, is all about? It's very sweet, I'm sure, but I think I speak for everyone at Warwick when I say we're baffled and are dying to know.

January 05, 2005

Sailor Boi

Another comedy version of a well-known song. This was written two years ago and is not as good as Fat But… but will do for now. If I get particularly bored in the next few weeks, there'll be a brand new one to watch out for.

He was a boy; she was a girl
Can I make it any more obvious?
He went to cadets; she did ballet
What more can I say?
He wanted her but she'd never tell
Secretly she wanted him as well
All of her friends weren't very warm
They had a problem with his uniform

He was a sailor boi she said c u l8r boi
He wasn't butch enough for her
She was quite pretty and her feet were on dry land
She needed to come smell the sea a-a-a-air

Five years from now, she sits at home
Feeding the budgie she's all alone
She turns on TV and guess who she sees
Sailor boi rocking up the navy
She calls up her friends they already know
And they've all enlisted; are set to go
She joins up too and stands in the crowd
Salutes the man that she turned dow-ee-own

He was a sailor boi she said see you later boi
He wasn't butch enough for her
Now he's rear admiral, today he's setting sail
This time you're the one who will get hurt

I'm afraid I didn't have the inspiration to rewrite the middle eight with a naval theme so I've omitted it - told you it wasn't very good

He's just a boi and I am one too
I don't think this is as obvious
We are in love, that's right, two blokes
And we rock each other's boa-oa-oats

I'm with the sailor boi, I said see you later boi
When we get our shore leave
I shall put on my thong then we'll sing the song
By that bint Avril Lavigne


Words: Daniel Wilson Craw and Avril Lavigne's songwriters. Music: Avril Lavigne's songwriters

January 04, 2005

Dan Returns to Leamington

The weirdo who sat next to me on the train journey this time was not only weird-looking, but wore an eyepatch. He only put the patch on after settling into his seat, allowing me time to have a look at his face. He had a lazy eye which I assume the piratey paraphernalia was there to correct. Shame: he looked like he would've made a good bo'sun.

My extended family failed to make it a Christmas and New Year double whammy: despite being with the British Antarctic Survey team, my cousin Katherine failed to get interviewed for the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures on the telly. Shucks.

And finally, the Start of Term List of Ailments:
– severe lethargy induced by three days of hibernation, mostly watching Family Guy
– a burnt tongue, cause unknown
– a UDI on my finger
– a mouth ulcer
– melancholy caused by muchos reading and Student PI recordage to do

January 02, 2005


If any of you were fortunate enough to see the above Channel 4 meta-programme today, you would have seen my cousin, Rod 'The Piper' Deans, teaching young Vernon Kaye how to play the bagpipes.

Yay my family.

January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

I blame the exceptionally strong White Russian.

No, I haven't had any run-ins with burly Eastern Europeans, of any colour; I'm talking about the cocktail of which I made a couple of pints to take to Max's house party last night. Drank it all by 2005. And was rather trolleyed. This New Year's was a change from last time, when I earned £100-odd waiting at the Marriott Hotel, so I suppose last night I was cashing in the capacity for Hogmanay booze I'd saved up.

It was all good – not especially legendary but saw people I hadn't seen for a while and other sentimental bollocks. Finally had an excuse to smoke the cigar I spent my last €2 on in Amsterdam Schipol five months ago. That probably explains the soreness of my throat this afternoon. There is nothing to explain the cut on my finger though.

I realised how drunk I was on the walk home at roughly 3am, when I was doing up my parka and said something to Jonny, letting the bottle of Budvar I'd been holding in my teeth fall and shatter on the pavement.

New Year is always an occasion for bit of boundary-breaking and this one was no exception. This year's boundary: no matter how paralytic I've been, I've always remembered to take out my contact lenses. So what did I do when I got in? I was very tired so I thought I'd have a bit of a lie down first – before I went to bed proper…I woke up at 9 with the light still on and, yes, my contact lenses still in. Fully clothed as well, though I've done that before. Of course I was still drunk, but went back to sleep for another 3 hours, sobering up and hanging over. Waking up drunk is one of nature's miracles, never to be turned down. Unfortunately I don't even feel an Anti-Hangover coming on. I do, however, have the Saturday Guardian to brighten the rest of my day.

Do I have any resolutions? Um, Get Fit I suppose, boring and clichéd as it is. As in healthy and doing exercise, of course – I'm fit enough already in other ways.

December 31, 2004

The Rubbishest Christmas Ever

Follow-up to México from Esprit de l'escalier

I should qualify the title of this blog by saying that the day in question was the rubbishest Christmas I have ever experienced, which isn't saying much, considering my family are a wholesome, loving and stable, albeit slightly eccentric bunch. For all you poor souls out there who didn't get the chance to go to Mexico and soak up the sun and Tequila and had much worse Christmas than I am about to describe, then all I can say is: 'bless'. All the same, please read on…

We spent Christmas in Merida, the capital of the state of Yucatan (sorry, pedants: I can't be arsed to use the accents today). Not your typical traditional British Christmas with the relatives, the drinks cabinet and the Great Escape, of which I am deeply fond. Rather, we were holed up in a crappy hotel way inland (so no beach to while the day away upon), with few presents to open and no Christmas meal to start preparing. On top of that, I had developed some kind of lockjaw ailment. Obviously, having not been bitten recently by anything bigger than a skeeter, it wasn't, but this did not make eating any less painful. Jake was also ill.

We were bored. Not even the weather was a winner. If it had been sunny, a dip in the hotel pool would have been something to do. But oh no. It went and bloody rained. In the middle of the dry season. All day. It wasn't even warm rain. It was cool. Possibly not as cool as you had it here, but it wasn't fun. If it had been as sweltering as was before, my Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now-style fit of existential ansgt while lying on my bed would have been pretty sweet. What a waste of a good mirror.

Luckily I had bought my Dad the Private Eye 2004 Annual, which gave me something to read. That and the closing chapters of Crime And Punishment. Festive! The telly offered little better than a dubbed Titanic and regular adverts. Despite early enthusiasm, the family procrastinated all day – quite typically, in fact – so that we missed Mass, which was quite hard to do in Merida seeing as there was one every hour.

My desire for turkey had peaked, as it usually does, at 3pm; when we got to one of the few restaurants that were serving it (out of the few restaurants which were actually open) it was nearer 9. I suppose the saving grace of this Christmas meal was that it was a darn sight more memorable than other ones. It was a coffee bar, with a tiny restaurant upstairs. The other group of people there were roughly my age, clearly having escaped their respective families to socialise. Music of the 1980s (Spandau Ballet, Queen and Phil Collins – my, do the Mexicans love The Collins?!) was drowning out what was left of our Christmas cheer. And the icing on the cake: for some reason they brought us our starters at the same time as the turkey, so after I finished my beautiful Sopa de Lima (look forward to lashings of it next term, mis housemates!), I ate cold turkey. Brilliant.

So that was my Christmas. How was yours?