Blog Links Just some of the great blogs I keep stumbling on. Go for an explore, and if you see any really good ones, let me know...
- the hottest blogger I know. - I hate knitting. However, I love this blog. Who'd have thought? - If you ask me, it's perpetual brilliance! - 'nuff said. Inspired - inspiring.
- ...into light. Xenouveau - Her from Sadisticland. All Geek To Me - Fun from Scout Finch.
Elven Sarah - Witty and weird, a bit like me (but witty). Sedgefield - A nice blog, which may have died from meme deficiency... - A great lady had a great blog. Hopefully it returns...
superphase - A stick hero for the masses...
Sadly, we have been given the cold Shoulder. - a great blog from the continent, nice and warm there. - Not indulgent any more.
She Speaks - The star-crossed lover is now silent.
Organic Feminism - A tremendous blog. Even though she calls me Scoots *shudder*
You can no longer get your soup fix from souplover.
It has been a particularly trying week.
The train inconvenience, coupled with the lack of any news about my college application, has brought me closer to sanity's precipice than safety permits. My nails are bitten down to the quick, my sleep is fitful and sparse, and my lungs have long since abandoned hope of ever receiving a fresh supply of oxygen.
I called the Institute on Wednesday. "I'm just calling to see whether I've been accepted on the course," I said. I expected the mantra, "Have you filled in an application form?" and knew to reply with the requisite "yes." After couple of minutes there was news. And not the news I'd been hoping for. Not even the news I'd been dreading. No.
"Are you sure you've sent one through? You're not in our records."
Ye Gods! Where are you in my hour of darkest peril? Am I forsaken?
I kept the tenuous hold on my sanity with white knuckles, and spoke softly and calmly, through gritted teeth. "I attended an interview 11 days ago. I was expecting a decision by now."
"Oh." The woman at the other end shrugged audibly. "Hold on a minute, please."
I could hear the cogs turning in my watch as the time leached almost imperceptibly away.
Over the course of a decade, another two minutes passed. "Hello? I've been in touch with the building where you had the interview, and they're sending the decision to us tomorrow. We'll call you then."
I breathed again.
Thursday passed. They didn't call.
By lunchtime on Friday, they had still not called.
A small part of me reasoned that they'd want to tell my quickly if I'd been declined, but the rest of me thought that the part in question was a damned fool, and they'd be ganging up on it later. Julian (my inner librarian) paused and cleaned his glasses (spectacles, thank you!). He looked at me, shook his head sadly, and carried on categorizing my memory in accordance with Dewey.
That was it. For better, or (as I suspected) worse, I must know. My left hand has had the shakes since the interview, and it took all my concentration to dial the number without inadvertently ordering a taxi. I asked, as calmly as I could, whether I'd been accepted on the course.
No mantra. Perhaps my slightly desperate tone alerted the receptionist that here was a man over the edge of reason, hanging from a twig which had snagged his jacket.
"Hang on, please". There was a clammy silence.
I could feel tectonic plates shifting beneath me. I was expecting the ground to open up and reclaim me.
"The letter went out yesterday, but-"
I interrupted. I couldn't bear it any longer. My entire nervous system closed down to minimise the damage. My sanity put its coat on and turned out the light by the exit.
I was dead for a split second. I no longer existed; there was only the voice, matter-of-fact and all consuming.
"The acceptance letter. But-"
My ears are almost directly connected to my brain. It is only secondary to my heart. Slowly the muscle contracted, as it started pushing blood around my body again. Eventually, somewhere around "second class post," the brain caught up.
"I've been accepted?"
Never before has a single word filled me with such elation.
"The letter was sent yesterday, but it was only second class post, so you should receive it around the middle of next week."
I thanked her profusely, and hung up. I couldn't decide whether to divert an asteroid on collision course with the Earth, mediate for world peace, or find a cure for cancer. I settled for a deeply unsatisfying attempt at clicking my heels instead.
A long time ago, I was accosted in the street by a missionary.
Dressed in Orange robes, he was easily identifiable as a follower of Krishna.
He handed me a hardback book about his faith. Out of habit (I was a student) I asked him "how much?". When he told me it was free I handed it back. I was in no mood to acquire a new faith, I was already behind with my course, adding religion would only have stolen more time from me.
There was also a twinge of guilt. Accepting this book and never reading it would have been an affront to my inner librarian, and also a waste of his printing costs.
(I have an inner librarian called Julian, like a voice of reason. He's constantly saying "Shh!" and chastising me for anything I do which isn't reverential to books. For example, when I see someone
turn down a page corner to mark their place, Julian gasps in horror. It was down to his influence that I was one of the student librarians at High School. He created himself after I left a library book in the rain at the age of 9 and had to buy it. I still have the book.)
I told him as much, and, unfazed by my polite refusal, he handed me a much smaller paperback. I felt bad for refusing his first offer, so I reluctantly accepted this one, and slung it into my holdall.
Skip forward a few weeks, and I find it nestled next to the 3 week old carton of goats milk.
(I was suspected of being allergic to cow's milk when I started college, so for the first year I was supplied with a free pint of goat's milk each day. Unfortunately it was supplied to the halls of residence canteen in bulk, so every morning I would be issued with a frozen block of goats milk. This would be unusable until lunchtime, so I used to pop it in my holdall till then. Of course, my memory being what it was (as I fail to recall), I once forgot it was there. For 3 weeks. I noticed a faint "off" sort of smell for a day or two, and then realised with horror that it was from the unopened carton in the side pocket. I headed for the nearest bathroom, whereupon I gingerly removed the bulging carton and emptied the stinky fluorescent green contents away. I never knew milk, even goats milk, could turn that colour. If I wasn't nauseated so much, I might have tried it again...)
It turns out that this book would have cost more than the other from a shop, so I decided I ought to read it. It was entitled "Travel to other Planets!", and eventually I ascertained it was referring to astral projection.
Astral projection is one of those ideas that really appeals. The ability to go somewhere without getting on a plane, or in a car. No pollution, no stress. If only it actually worked!
Imagine offices full of executives sat cross-legged while they have meetings on the other side of the world. Imagine NASA's interplanetary explorations, with one team setting foot on the new frontier while another team in Florida is also there to observe and advise. Imagine a top surgeon guiding the hand of someone thousands of miles away, saving life after life.
I know where I'd be right now, and I'm not telling...
Pierce Brosnan would have been proud. The coach was just about on time for me to catch the train this morning, although if I hadn't taken a running leap in through the doors I would have missed it.
It was just the same on the way back, too.
I'm hoping the line works don't overrun. Two weeks is bad enough, but if it carries on longer...
Good news! The rail replacement bus set off 5 minutes early today! I arrived at Stockport station 10 minutes before the 7:17 was due!
Bad News! The 7:17 is cancelled for the rest of the week! I had to wait for the 7:43, meaning I didn't get to work until 8:40!
Good News! Friday is the last day of disruption between Manchester and Stockport!
Bad News! Monday is the first day of disruption between Manchester and Stoke!
Good News! I can get the train to Wilmslow and change to the replacement bus service for Macclesfield!
Bad News! The half hour journey now takes an hour and a half, so I'll be setting off 5:30am, getting to work at 9-9:30, leaving at 5-5:30pm and getting home at 8:30-9pm!
The upshot is that I need to get a PDA if I want to blog, and then upload it whilst I'm eating my tea and getting ready for bed...
Well, I decided to stay off work last Tuesday. At least for a couple of days. I called in sick, and then inexplicably became sick! How lucky was that?
I'm feeling grumpy today, and here's why.
The travel situation has not improved. The coach driver took an extra 10 minutes for the short journey, meaning that I missed the only train for 40 minutes. Needless to say, I was very late for work, and I'll have to work it back now.
I forgot to clean out the bath. My sister is fastidious, bordering on obsessive compulsive disorder. She was extremely and vociferously unhappy.
I still haven't heard about my college application. It's starting to rub me up the wrong way. I HAVE to get on this course. My sanity depends on it.
Which reminds me, I've lost my student loan application form. It's due in on Friday, and I haven't seen it for a long time.
I've just typed out the whole entry over the space of an hour, switching between other programs, and it inexplicably disappeared, without even telling me.
There's more, but it's hard to type with my fists clenched...
I wrote a song about a washing machine the other week.
I was sat in the sunshine on a fold-up chair, strumming away, and two of my recent thoughts bounced headlong into each other, forming a new idea.
My sister was given a washing machine by her friend a year ago. "I've no room for it, so you can have it," she said. They went on a holiday, and my sister paid this friend's share of the hire car, £50. She thought, "that will cover the washing machine."
So, a few weeks ago, this friend called. "I want the washing machine back now." My sister was agog. This wasn't helped when the friend said, "I'll tell you what, give me £50 and you can keep it."
MY sister is prone to extreme indignation, as I found out this morning when I forgot to wipe down the bath before setting off to work. While she was telling me about the washing machine and the so-called "friend", she used a name for her that I'd never heard before.
"Indian Giver". I've looked into it, and the phrase dates back to the 19th century. Etymology
Well, this phrase lodged itself somewhere in the back of my mind, until the folk festival, where I was camping. It leapt out and mugged an unsuspecting phrase from Hamlet, and they both tumbled out. From there the song pretty much wrote itself. I've tweaked it and fine-tuned it, and now I'm very pleased with the results. I intend to record it as an mp3 and upload it for comments, so watch this space.
This weekend I went to another folk festival to try out the song on some musicians. I played three songs in total; American Pie, my own song, and Hallelujah.
Perhaps it was a subconscious thing, but I messed up the other songs (by my standards). he performance of my song was the best I've done so far. Afterwards the guy who'd been running the night came and told me I should play pubs and clubs to finance myself through college.
It took a while for my swollen head had returned to the correct size, I can tell you!
And then back down to earth with a bump on Sunday. I could do nothing right, none of my suggestions were heeded, and a song I'm trying to write continues to elude me, both the lyrics and tune.
I sulked myself to sleep. Eventually.
Well, it wouldn't do to get starstruck off the back of one song, would it?
You know that feeling when you've just missed a train. It's similar to the feeling you get when you make a perfect cuppa, and then spill it all over yourself. It takes the shine off the brew, and the train journey for that matter.
So I trudge onto the platform, taking in the sights. There's usually an array of attractive women for me to embarrass myself by gawping at, and this time is no different. In particular there's a lovely looking brunette, pink top, denim skirt, bare midrif, hauling a flight bag. I gawp as she passes, oblivious, and drag myself back to the matter at hand - finding out when the next train is due. As I wait for the information I glance up the platform. This vision is sitting on a bench up at the end of the platform.
Well, I'm feeling uncharacteristically confident, so I decide to sit by her, perhaps even break the habit of a lifetime and actually speak!
I discover that the next train, due in 30 minutes, will be ten minutes late. Oh well, I console myself, I can chat to this girl. I head for the bench, just to see her heading in the other direction. Cursing silently under my breath, I pass her and sit at the bench, singing to myself while I watch her disappear into the station.
I've been trying to learn the words for this particular song, so I get carried away. Singing quietly to myself, I don't notice until she sits back down. Make or break time. I need to talk. I can't. I keep singing softly, and give up on the crazy idea.
"Excuse me, do you know what time the train is?"
I'm startled out of my croon, and look at her. She is very pretty; slim, fresh-faced, lightly freckled. I'd place her in her early twenties, if I could concentrate on more than her smile.
I impart the information; she thanks me. And then something strange happens.
"Are you off on holiday?" I ask.
And we talk. We talk at length, about her current circumstances, about mine, about our aspirations, plans and hopes. We board the train together, still talking, standing in the vestibule, a collective curio amidst the silently suited businessmen. At the next station there's more room, so we find a couple of seats next to each other. We are alighting at the same station, and she hasn't been to that platform before, so I guide her to the taxi rank. We make our farewells and part.
I'm buoyed up by altogether wonderful experience.
So Kirsty, thanks for sharing your time. I hope the move to Portugal went smoothly, and your boyfriend problems are over.
Just when you thought it was safe to get on a train...
I had it all sorted out.
I catch the bus at 5:40, arrive at the bus depot at 5:50, catch the next bus at 6, arrive at the railway station at 6:45, hop on the train, arrive at my destination at 7:20, and wander into work at 7:45, nice and early all relaxed.
Today I arrived at the station to find that the much-threatened line works had already started. So I hopped on the coach, which took me on a whirlwind tour of the outlying regions before depositing me at the next station along, 20 minutes later. Only then could I hop on the original train. Of course, it arrived 20 minutes later than usual.
Fair enough, I still (just about) made it into work on time. But now I have a quandry.
My monthly rail pas is about to expire. I understand that the works are due to last for 2 weeks, but of course these things have a tendency to overrun.
So, do I buy another monthly train ticket, or find an alternative bus-only conduit...
I left early from work, and made an earlier train. Busy, as usual. I found 3 empty seats around a moustachioed gentleman. Two were taken, so I cajoled my way into the third. I offered moustache some maltesers, but there was something amiss with the packet, or more likely, the shop where I bought em. They were all white and bulging. They didn't taste too bad though.
As the train pulled off, the other two occupants returned. I offered them some of the dubious maltesers, and in returned they offered me some Jack. It sounded like a pretty good deal to me!
My sister picked me up from the bus station to drive to our parents' house. I slept for a few hours, and then stayed up for a couple. I slept for about 11 hours in total on Friday. I suppose this 5 hours sleep a day lifestyle catches up with you eventually.
The day of the interview. I woke up at 10, got ready, had breakfast, and my dad drove me to the computer logistics centre. I have a faulty network card, and the easiest method of returning it was to deliver it directly. Or so I thought. It appears that although people work there on a weekend, none of them work in reception, which was shut tighter than a drum. After ten minutes of frustration and knocking, I retreated with bruised knuckles, and we headed on to the interview. But wait, the head office was across the road, so I posted it there. With luck they'll have people walking back and forth, so my faulty part won't disappear forever...
And so to the interview. I headed into the college refectory and beamed at the greeter. "Hello there!" I said, dapper in my black single breasted suit, purple shirt and tie, pierre cardin shoes and styled hair. "I've come for my interview at 2pm."
"Oh," said the greeter. "She was going to leave at 1pm. I talked her out of it. We don't have anything down for her today."
I gulped. Needlessly, as it turned out. It seems she had forgotten, but the upshot was that I had an hour long interview that finshed an hour early.
I had my interview, it whirled by. I don't know how it went, but I'm cynically hopefull.
I slept again all afternoon, and again later.
I woke up late, played a bit of guitar, videotaped my parents hacking away at the back garden, helped a little myself, and then my sister returned us home.
Spartacus was not in. He hadn't been seen since Friday morning, and I was starting to fret. We mounted a search party, to no avail, and my glum disposition extended to a full melancholia.
And then I heard a noise, just on the edge of my hearing. I was mid -iron, so I called to sis; "quick! the door!"
In he comes, with £250 in cash, and a tattoo of a devil. He received an inordinate amount of affection, I can tell you...
I've written this for my interview tomorrow, I needed a review or something about a film. I watched Leon (The Professional), since it's one of my all time favourite films. I'd like some comments on this, in case I need to completely rewrite it this evening or tomorrow morning...
Léon, also known as The Professional, was released in 1994. Directed by Luc Besson, and starring Jean Reno, it also starred Gary Oldman, fresh from the success of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and featured Natalie Portman in her first major film role. A hit man (Reno) rescues 12 year-old Mathilda (Portman) from the murder of her family by corrupt DEA officers, led by Stansfield (Oldman). She persuades him to teach her the assassin’s craft, so that she may avenge her brother’s murder by killing Stansfield. Before long, Léon’s life becomes inextricably linked with Mathilda’s and Stansfield’s, until events reach their bloody conclusion.
On the surface, Léon is a tale of revenge, but there are underlying themes of justice, family, and belonging throughout.
From the outset, we see Léon in a position of power. He is remorseless, invulnerable. Even in the hotel room he occupies, he has a rigid routine: the care of his plant, the two quarts of milk per day, the catnapping with a pistol to hand.
Contrasted with Léon’s lifestyle is that of Mathilda; her father is a violent drug dealer and her stepfamily is animalistic and hostile. It is only her younger brother who shows any affection, and Mathilda cherishes this. She dangles over the stairwell, and teeters on the edge of this doomed family. It is only through her friendship with Léon that she escapes their fate.
As they begin to warm to each other, their routines change, approaching an unorthodox, yet happy, domestic scene. Mathilda craves this harmony, and grows to love Léon. She tells him, and he chokes. Here Besson has made a joke of the inevitable comparisons to Lolita (Stanley Kubrick - 1962), for it is a father/daughter relationship. Mathilda lies on the bed, arms outstretched, in a pose of divine rapture, and to show that her feelings are reciprocated, Léon mirrors this pose when he finally wreaks Mathilda’s revenge on Stansfield.
Léon and Mathilda spend the whole film on the move. They are nomadic, without roots, like Léon’s aglaonema. From one hotel to another, they have no home. It is only after Léon’s death that both of his charges, his plant and Mathilda, find some permanence.
Léon prophesises the changes to his life and his own demise right from the outset. He wrestles with his conscience over whether to answer the door to Mathilda, whether to allow himself to get involved. Besson makes effective use of lighting in this scene, bathing Mathilda in white light as Léon opens the door, as though from an angel. Later Léon decides to kill her, but he cannot; he already realises that he is doomed. Once he has become her father figure, he cares more for her than himself. This is demonstrated when he awakes suddenly in bed, unarmed. We know now that his life as an assassin is over. Like Hamlet, Léon is a tragedy in the classical sense. Those who have killed are destined to die themselves, to maintain a sense of fair play and justice. So Léon must kill Stansfield and his subordinates, and yet die himself so that Mathilda, the true innocent, may survive.