All entries for December 2005

December 20, 2005

Things That Get My Goat: Fitt the First

It's nine o'clock tonight, the roads are getting a bit icy, visibility's a little poor and my tyre treads and my demisters on my dear little Clio are not exactly what you'd call state of the art. And I'm on a university campus 20mph road, with the odd pedestrian/bicycle that will suddenly loom out at you, and flashing lights everywhere telling you to go slow.

So what speed am I doing? Just ticking over 20 nicely thanks, Mr Arrogant Tosser Backing Up My Arse Honking His Horn Every Thirty Seconds.

Listen, if you want to play it risky, then just overtake me already. I'm not going to break the law because I'm not confident that if somebody did walk out in front of me in these conditions, I could stop in time, and just because you want to act like a bloody boy racer lording it round campus in your little souped up mini, there's no reason why I should have to endanger people too. You want to play it oh so fucking cool, you swing out round me and take your chances, and if you're not man (and please please don't fail to note the poisonous sarcasm in my voice here) enough to do it, then just stop honking your little horn and get over it.

December 18, 2005

Electric Heater Haiku

Follow-up to Ode to a Sickly Boiler from Fluff And Nonsense

And in the same vein...

darling little thing
so small and squat and yet so

NB: This goes some way to explaining why I don't and shouldn't 'do' poetry. Apart from as use as some sort of torture device to force people into giving me money and chocolate and things.

Oh, and thank you to Steve and his mother for providing me with this thing of beauty. Don't worry, once I'm warmed up there will be no more need for poetry, I promise.

Ode to a Sickly Boiler

I don't write poetry. Ever. But if I did, it would probably look a little something like this (kind of the same idea as those Carling adverts, but with fewer blokey blokes and very cold fingers).

Oh boiler dear, oh boiler mine,
You know we haven't got the time
To sit and talk your problems through
Or have a cosy meal for two.

You see, my love, the truth is plain.
I can read your manual again and again.
But that will not solve our crisis here –
You have ceased to warm me with your cheer.

I see my breath before me, frozen in time,
My fingers are chilled to the marrow.
And I weep sad tears as the church bells chime,
And hop up and down like a sparrow.

Oh why to me must you be so cold?
Why must you refuse to roar?
Is it that you're getting old?
Do I not turn you on any more?

Let us talk later, boiler, love,
In a sunnier, temperate hour,
But if you refuse to start up now,
I will appeal to some other power.

So, in the name of all that is holy, sacred and true,
Warm this bloody house up, before I smash you.

And you wonder why writers always ended up in garrets. Only hark at how the creative genius is aroused in adversity. Oh the torment of the bitter chill pervading the house, and the pain inflicted by the unflattering layers of knitwear!

Or something.

Sodding boiler.

December 17, 2005

The Austen Letters

My dear Miss Austen,

Please allow me to reiterate how charmed I was to make your delightful acquaintance these seven years past, when we two were introduced by my illustrious mother. Furthermore, allow me to take the liberty of supposing our relationship thus far to have been an enriching and enchanting one. Moreover, knowing you so has instilled great Wit and Wisdom in my life, and for that, I shall always be indebted to you.

However, my dear Jane (and might I not call you that, after all we two have shared?), recently our friendship has significantly altered, and I fear, alas, not for the better. You have become, oh dare I say this, an intrusive presence in my life. It seems as though you must always be upon my mind, and your ideas must fret me, and make my repose uneasy. I am compelled to question your Intent and your Emotions at every turn, and what is more, must even use Freud upon you, for which, dear Jane, you must forgive me.

Please believe, dear heart, that this is due to circumstances beyond my control. I have five thousand words weighing heavy upon me, and must needs find the Material with which to furnish them. I mean not that our beautiful relationship shoud be so marred by analysis and I can only pray that one day you might come to accept and forgive the actions of an increasingly desperate woman. Remember always that I love and respect you, and will do anything within my power to defend you from militant feminists and Freudian analysists, but I am only a weak and feeble undergraduate, and my much is little. Please be assured of my love for you, if nothing else, and let that stand as a Testament in the face of all that may come to pass before the Deadline is upon me.

Will you accord me the honour of a reply? You need not send me Token or Felicitations. All I ask is that you take up pen to communicate that you understand my actions, and can forgive me in time, and that after I have graduated, our relationship can resume the tranquillity and grace of those early years.

Always your loyal and devoted friend,
I remain your


December 13, 2005

Oh, the sweet smell of antifreeze in the morning!

Or How the Car Was Won and The Hubcap Was Lost

I have a new baby. By many happy coincidences, involving Australia, the AA and a backpacker brother, I have inherited a new companion. Her name is Coco the Clio, and she's small and white and positively purrs in fourth gear. And even though, alas, she lacks power steering, she does have a very cute bum.

Anyway, Coco and I are now firm friends. After three hours together on a motorway for the first time, we decided we were meant to be, and now are seldom apart. She accompanies me to campus, and the supermarket, and sulks reproachfully when I walk into town and leave her behind. It seems as if there was never a time when we two were not together. She is also beloved of my housemates, and we all co-exist in a peaceful two-door'd concord.

So imagine my feelings of maternal angst to return to her after a night on Radford Road and find her defiled. Yes, my darling was bereft of one of her precious hubcaps. There was nothing to do on the morrow but shake my chilly fist, scrape away her frosty tears and set off to Halfords with all possible haste (but keeping to 30mph, of course).

To cheer our weary spirits, I put on the radio, and serenaded her with Best Of You. Things were beginning to look brighter, and the mist was clearing from her windscreen, until we hit the industrial estate, and possibly the most confusing network of mini roundabouts I have ever seen.

For the record, I loathe mini roundabouts. They're so small that many people either don't appear to realise they're there, or think that lane priorities don't actually apply any more, because, hell, you're not on them for more than thirty seconds. If you'd like a detailed guide to How To Avoid All The Sodding Mini Roundabouts In Leamington Spa please send me an SAE and a big fat cheque. (Well, I do need petrol money to continue to fund this valuable public service). Other titles in the series include Routes With Only Left Turns, and Ways to Get Around Having To Trail A Bloody Pink Bus* All The Way To The A-Road.

Anyway, the other, more pertinent, reason I hate mini roundabouts is they are devoid of any logical signposting, particularly on the industrial estate where this adventure takes place. I found Halfords fairly quickly. Well, that is to say I could see its big pointless square tower designed to act as a beacon for all those who wish to improve their driving experience. So I took a turning off the mini roundabout in that general direction, only to find myself on another one of the things that didn't seem to go anywhere useful at all. I went round that one and picked a turning at random, only to find myself on my third mini roundabout of the day, with the Halfords sign taunting me from the middle distance, looming out of the morning mist. To make matters worse, the radio had stopped playing the Foos and had started blasting out Madonna bastardising Abba, and I had neither a free hand or free eye to remedy the situation. Hell is Madonna** on a mini roundabout system.

And of course, by then, I'd lost all sense of direction, and that's something that doesn't usually happen to me. The only other thing that will do that to me is being in Boots on a Saturday, when all I want is some cotton buds, and end up having to wander the aisles in no logical order through hair colours and tampax and plasters and face cream and hair colours again to just find them, and then repeat the whole process to get to the cash desk.

To cut a long story short, somehow I found myself outside Halfords, gagged Madonna, got some new hubcaps, and went once more into the breach, and when the mist had cleared, found myself driving along Tachbrook Road as if the whole adventure had never happened.

I still have the hubcaps though. However, seeing as I managed to gather a fairly big audience of South Leamites just by washing my car, I think the sight of me changing a hubcap might just excite them too much, and so I will leave the next stage of the hubcap adventure to be conducted in the driveway at home.


*But woo public transport… etc. It is a Good Thing, and I still value the pink monstrosities in term-time. My car is for safe late night transport, visits home, and bulk buying groceries.

**Late Madonna. Some of her early stuff is actually quite fun.

December 06, 2005

The Last Bastion of Youth

A terrible thing happened today.

No, not that. That was amazing. Even though it wasn't one of our novelty spectaculars, the sheer weight of chocolate in that cake was a wonder to behold.

It's more what that cake represents. Officially, after that mountain of chocolate had a knife sunk into it, I became the Last Twenty Year Old in the house. Everyone else has now risen to that higher plane of being that is twenty-one, and left me behind with the babysitter. They can drink in America, and teach somebody to drive. (The fact that we don't live in America and I have the only valid driving licence in the house is beside the point. It's the principle of the thing.)

And, in principle, I am now the proper baby of the house. When we pose for photographs in our graduation gowns, I will still have the smooth baby face of a twenty-year-old, whilst all about me the haggard twenty-one-ers show the lines and wrinkles of their maturity. And when I go to thirtieth birthday parties, I'll be the most annoying guest, as my mere presence will remind everyone of their woefully lost youth.

Though please don't stop inviting me to the parties. Anything but that.

P.S. Happy Birthday Steve!

December 04, 2005

The Contentious Fairy Lights and Other Tales of Festivity

Season's greetings to you all on this cold winter's eve. Are you sitting comfortably?

Good, then I'll begin.

Let me tell you a tale of a house divided. A tale of controversy and dirty looks entering a once amicable abode. A tale of events so shocking that they rendered a happy community a place of ill-cheer.

The reason? This:

See, I like fairy lights. I will even go so far as to admit to an abnormal passion for the things. But look at them. How could you not love them. They shine and twinkle and they're happy happy little things of joy… ahem. Anyway, I accept, strange as it may be, that there are some people who would rather not have them as an all-year round sort of event.

But t'is the season to be jolly, and so in an excess of goodwill and festive cheer two of us gaily strung up the lights one Sunday afternoon, to be met with scepticism and raised eyebrows from the other occupants. Tra-lalalala, indeed. Apparently they look tacky. But this is Christmas and tackiness is de rigeur, surely? Besides, we have the ugliest living room ceiling in the world (given that it is essentially corrugated plastic) and surely anything we can do to detract attention from the random nails and the kitchen paper stuffed up the slats to prevent leaks is good?

Or so you would think. But apparently not. Apparently some prefer our apparently untacky plastic ceiling and obviously classy gobs of sodden kitchen roll.

For a while, the feud wasn't too bad. Apart from the battle over the plug socket every evening (they're on, they're off, they're on again) for the most part, the fairy lights twinkled over happy faces, and in the multicoloured glow it was easy to avoid the pointed looks. But on the night of a howling storm, it almost turned ugly.

The rain battered, and the wind whistled, and the plastic roof wobbled. And leaked. Very near the fairy lights. And somehow, during the frantic distribution of vital supplies to survive this calamity, the suggestion was mooted that maybe the fairy lights should be taken down altogether.

And we stared at each other, and the wind howled about us, and the water dripped slowly between us. And we said nothing. And then the kitchen roll was raised again, and we continued to stuff the leaks, but we both knew that something had been changed by those words, and nothing, yes, nothing, would ever been the same again.

Coming soon in Other Tales of Festivity:

How The Car Was Won And The Hubcap was Lost, The Miracle Of Cream Cheese in a Mince Pie, The Wonders of Actually Enjoyable Gainful Employment, Why Reading Diana Wynne Jones Books is Course-Related, and Staying On: the Extraordinary Story of a Student Trapped by her Christmas Job who must Remain in Leamington after all her Friends have Gone.

December 2005

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