All 12 entries tagged House

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December 18, 2005

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 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.

November 18, 2005

What I wouldn't give for a Nose Cosy

I don't get cold easily. And even if I do, I have at my disposal an exciting range of gloves, scarves, woolly jumpers and hats in which to bedeck myself. I even have a poncho, for times when a jumper just isn't pretentious enough.

Therefore, normally, I am a happy warm bunny, even in the depths of November in our lovely airy student abode. Apart from one teeny tiny problem. There is one area of me that continues to feel the cold – my poor beleagured nose. There is no item of clothing (apart from a scary burglar balaclava) that is suitable for warming and cherishing it in the course of a normal winter day. And thus it goes unwarmed and uncherished, and gets very very cold.

Of course the truth is that I do cherish it, and would be very upset were it to shrivel and drop off from this seeming neglect. I would love to give it its very own little warming winter woolly to make it feel special. But seeing as no such garment exists, the problem seems insoluble. Unless I take to wearing a balaclava around the house, which would pose significant problems during mealtimes, mess up my hair, and probably cause my housemates to ring the police, my nose must go unloved.

So what can one do in the absence of an affordable, fashionable Nose CosyTM? One of my friends, when we were discussing this phenomenom last year, thought it was a good idea to share her cost-conscious solution: she gets her boyfriend to suck on her nose in chilly climes. Romance is alive and well, obviously. Just be glad you didn't witness the live demonstration later that evening.

Maybe I could knit my own. Start up a small business. Become one of those high-flying student entrepreneurs that turn up on the front pages of the business section looking smug in their designer jeans. Sue all the producers of the cheap tacky imitations that would appear on the market, and then retire to a mansion in the country with the profit, light my roaring log fires and crank up the central heating, and never need a Nose Cosy again.

November 16, 2005

My Evil Twin

Or possibly my good twin, depending on what you think of me and how much chocolate I've had in a particular day. Squinting at you funnily probably doesn't count as pure evilness, as I seem to do that a lot, even to those I adore. It usually means I'm away with the fairies thinking about something wonderful like my dinner, and haven't recognised you until there's no time to do anything else than grimace in a wicked stepmother kind of way. Hmm, I wonder if there's some sort of facial exercises I can do for a pleasanter disposition to the world at large? Or maybe some sort of smile/forehead brace arrangement?

Anyway… getting back to the actual title of this, if this was Ricki Lake, or Sally Jessy, or even Ms Trisha 'ooh I'm so successful and self-righteous they gave me a surname' Goddard, this title would be in bright yellow italics with some sort of exclamation running along the bottom of the screen, and I would be squirming round on one of those red conference centre chairs, crossing and recrossing my legs, with ridiculously bad hair and pancake make-up courtesy of the studio make-up team, and telling my story by nodding meekly at Sally/Trisha/Ricki whilst they went through the most salient points, and the studio audience thought of some extremely helpful advice for me. They would then announce a A SURPRISE GUEST! and I would of course be completely amazed at the arrival of my very own evil twin. Fancy that. And then it would all degenerate into a slanging match, and there would be tears, and stormings out, and then the eminent pop psychologist would swoop in to save the day, as positive proof that it was actually possible to get good hair and make up from the studio team. And there would be applause. Lots of applause.

But seeing as my hair is behaving itself tonight, I have no make up on, my chair is a rather fetching green swivel with the stuffing popping out, and there is no bossy woman shoving a mic in my face, I shall leave my title unadorned. Also, perhaps more importantly, the problem is that I don't know the identity of my evil twin so there would, alas, be no surprise guest.

All I know is she exists on campus, and on several occasions now has been mistaken for me. This is even more worrying in that today my housemate, who has seen me from all profiles in all weathers (including the almost unrecognisable early morning hair-stuck-to-face look), believed my mysterious doppelganger to be me, in the broad neon of the library.

Apparently, she even dresses like me. Which may even be an insult in itself. I'm not sure about that one yet. Anyway, she is definitely about, prowling campus, seeking to exploit my... erm... obvious... campus-based privileges, like, erm... my spot in the Arts Centre. Obviously.

So yes, if you know her, or you think you know me but you're a tad suspicious, then confront her. She needs to be told that this sort of thing is simply not on. After all, I'm an individual, don'tcha know?

(I know I've pretty much proved that this isn't a crappy talk show, but could I have some applause anyway? Just a teeny tiny whoop? It is Christmas soon, after all…)

November 11, 2005

A smidgen of an entry

I must be the only person whose housemates actually dance to the QI theme tune.

It all becomes clear. This is why I live with them.

October 23, 2005

Another Saturday, another sponge

People have to stop having 21st birthday parties. If they don't, my life will become nothing more than planning the next cake to outdo the last.

And this is no way to live life, I tell you. I must stop trying to render the world in sponge, and go outside beyond margarine and greaseproof paper. Ah well, 'tomorrow is another day'... as Gone With The Wind would have it (though I doubt Scarlett O'Hara ever had this problem. Mind you, I've never had to worry about keeping a large Southern estate from marauding Yankees either, so I suppose we're even.).

October 20, 2005

Cloudy, turning to fine later

I have a confession. I am in love with the Shipping Forecast.

No, not The Shipping News the book, as would make sense for a literature student, but the real shipping forecast, the actual full fifteen minutes of it at quarter to one every night on BBC Radio 4. My day is not complete without hearing the soft tones of one or other of the nice men tell me about the weather at all the offshore stations of which I don't even know the locations and will probably never visit, and then to wish me a good night's rest, and play me the national anthem as the station signs off for the night.

Sometimes, if Mr Shipping Forecast has pronounced 'patchy drizzle' with just the right burr and I'm feeling particularly affectionate towards him, I will even wish him a good night back. He deserves the respect. After all, he does a sterling job, does Mr SF, upholding one of the last bastions of Englishiosity. I picture him, sitting close to his microphone in the deserted Radio 4 studio, calmly reciting the forecast for the grizzled seafarers in their sou'westers, ensconced in their lighthouses in howling gales, and also the girl lying in her bedroom in the most landlocked town in the country.

Then he turns off his mic, removes his headphones, and strides from the studio into the dark night as the national anthem booms out behind him. He may even, if the evening's weather so demands, have a black handled umbrella and a caped raincoat. He's a mysterious one. Nobody knows where he goes, or what he does when he's not reaching out to the hearts of the millions of people who sit awake after midnight. Yet he is always there in time to do his duty by the lonely contingent of the British populace.

Come, let us raise our glasses and toast to the marvel that is the Shipping Forecast Man.

October 02, 2005

Guess what I did this weekend?

Read five Shakespeare plays?


Found part-time employment in order to save me from the vicious clutches of my overdraft?


Sorted out that whole business about telling the university I still exist and I'm studying certain modules?


All wrong. Layla and I built a house.

Okay, a cake house. But it's still pretty impressive, for your common or garden sponge. Admittedly, the second storey was a bit dodgy, we had problems getting the chimney straight, and there was some sort of subsistence problem going on that we cleverly disguised by shoring it up with chocolate fingers and relocating it to the freezer for a bit, but that's nothing more serious than the hazards of living in an average student house. In fact, this house is probably better built than ours, with a red front door, a solid roof, diamond paned windows, and flowers round a fetching porch structure that I am assured is south facing. Perfect for a young family or mature professionals, this house needs viewing to appreciate its full potential.

I'd be accepting offers over £100,000, except for the fact that owing to the carnage caused by a 21st birthday tea party, this house sadly is no more.

However, its tragic demise was greatly enjoyed by all, for which we must offer up our gratitude. (You may deduce from that last sentence that I did manage to get through my Jane Austen reading.)

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