16 June 2006

anywhere but here

Some places I'd rather be right now. Not that here's bad. It's just not terribly good at the moment. In fact, it really kind of sucks.

On a ferry to Mull
The back of Naughton
West Sands
Dog Beach, Key West

week's end

This weekend I shall mostly be writing. Which is good, because writing is free. I shall also be drinking tea, which is not free but has already been paid for. I'll watch DVDs that I already own, run, walk and just sit around. If glasses are raised, they will be raised at home and not in pubs and filled with liquid pre-purchased. I already own quite a lot of wine, so I may just dip into that.

If I sing a world cup song, it will be this one. But I'm not likely to sing a world cup song.

This flurry of excitement means little chance of chat over the weekend. Unless I get attacked by another toad.

In which case you'll all be the first to know.

15 June 2006

mole, ratty and badger were nowhere to be seen

Heading out to the Belfry this evening to finish my scribbles of the day and get some shut eye for the the scribbles of tomorrow and I get the fright of my life. Well, maybe not my life, but certainly of the evening - and that's topping a pretty intense episode of House. So I close and lock the door of the conservatory and I feel something cold, clammy and hopefully alive - or possibly undead - land on my big toe (a drawback of flip-flops). So I, big girl's blouse that I am, let out a yelp. Sort of a winded, hollow yelp, which is good because if it had volume it would have been a ninny-like shriek. And, of course, it is not the grasping hand of an undead corpse rising from our lawn but a toad. Quite a fat one at that, but in a rush as it leapt away sharpish. Once my heart crept back down my throat I decided that having a toad land on your toe in London was quite a cool thing. Not in a trend-setting way, of course, though I could see 'toad on your toe' become the name of an ultra-chic cocktail. Or maybe a shooter.

My goodness I'm talking rubbish.

And I've almost got used to the water. Twelve years of clean, fresh and pure Scottish water and almost used to London water and it's disgusting, nigh-undrinkable, overly-chlorinated, oestrogen rampant rubbish. I may need to leave sooner rather than later.

a little less conversation

Me: Where have you been?

Little Nagging Voice: Dude, your mom's home, what do you need me for?

Me: I need you now more than ever.

LNV: You mean you want more nagging?

Me: No, I want the right nagging.

LNV: Ah.

Me: What do you mean, 'ah'?

LNV: Well, up til now, everytime we've spoken you've told me to shut the fuck up. So that was a bit of a self-satisfied-because-I-told-you-so 'ah'.

Me: Ah. That was the oh-christ-what-a-wanker 'ah'.

LNV: I am a facet of you after all.

Me: Whatever. If you're a facet of me then where were you this morning? Not only did I not go for my run but I had pizza for breakfast.

LNV: So you missed a day. You'll be back out tomorrow. And pizza for breakfast tastes good.

Me: That's not very nagging.

LNV: Nope.

Me: I haven't updated my CV. Surely that calls for some snide comments.

LNV: That's not that urgent. Unless there's some fantastic job you're applying for and haven't even told the rest of your consciousness about it. And don't call me Shirley.

Me: Well what fucking good are you if you're not going to nag me about something?

LNV: What did you do yesterday?

Me: You must have read my whiney post.

LNV: Ah yes, fixing computers. And the day before?

Me: Helped mom with stuff - been doing some work for dad too.

LNV: Right.

Me: Right.

LNV: Very selfless.

Me: Thanks.

LNV: So, how's the writing going?

Me: OK, not great but ok.

LNV: How do you know?

Me: Well, you know, it feels good. I've had a lot on so I haven't been able to -

LNV: A lot on what? What's more important to the course of your life than writing this book?

Me: Nothing - but family commitments, friends -

LNV: You want to be a successful novelist, not a jobless daydreamer who can help with the odd IT problem.

Me: Fuck you man - I need to help the people I care about.

LNV: The people you care about care about you and want you, more than anything, to be happy and successful and that's not going to happen if you don't get a bit more fucking selfish. Do you think your mom would be lamenting your lack of job and questioning your goals if you'd, instead of jumping at the chance to help her out at Sainsbury's, told her to fuck off because you were writing?

Me: Ah.

LNV: I know that 'ah' - that's a you-know-I'm-fucking-right 'ah'. So I'm going to ask you again - how do you know the writing's going ok?

Me: I just sort of feel I'm on the right track.

LNV: But you've had no feedback?

Me: I haven't - I don't - I haven't shown it to anyone yet.

LNV: You should've shown it to the squid months ago.

Me: I know. But it's hard - you just - the whole premise is so important that if she doesn't like it I don't know what I'll do - I'll just have been wasting 8 months of work.

LNV: She's your friend - if you can't show it to her then you won't be able to show it to anyone and you'll have wasted 8 months of work. Finish cleaning up the chapters and send them to her and finish the fucking novel. And start telling your family and friends to fuck off - you're busy. Then I can get back to nagging you.

Me: This wasn't nagging?

LNV: More ranting really. You're pissing me off. Just be selfish. This is for you. Live for you. And remember, chicks dig selfish guys.

Me: Really?

LNV: Dude, totally.

14 June 2006

Tenacious R

The bee and my bonnet - a tale of woe, long hours, glimmers of hope, lots of very small screwdrivers, lots of very small screws, 2 powerbooks, an ibook and some electrical tape.

I wasn't going to fix the laptops for awhile. There was no great rush and I've got a lot on at the moment. But I needed to back some stuff up, so I thought I'd get them ready for that. It's just 2 I was going to fix, when I got round to it. So, just back them up, burn some disks and that would be that. Chuck them in a corner until I had some time free to sort them out properly. Easy peas-y. That was at about 4 yesterday afternoon.

At 330 this morning I had successfully fixed the powerbook. In fact, it was running better than it had in years. The ibook, sadly, wouldn't even turn on after I'd reassembled it. I paused to regroup and sleep.

I'm not normally obsessive. In fact, that sort of behaviour in others freaks me out. It freaks me out more when it happens to me. But sometimes it happens. Sometimes I cannot rest properly until I've fixed/solved/finished/sorted whatever it may be. Occasionally it's something important, more often it's irrelevant and moronic. It's a single-minded tenacity that, were I able to sustain it, and apply it throughout all my endeavours, would no doubt lead to a fabulously successful life with absolutely zero enjoyment.

I slept terribly. I ran in hopes of burning off some of the doggedness. I started back on the ibook at 930 and hours disappeared as I disassembled and reassembled, losing screws, finding screws, and at one point stripping down a very old powerbook in search of spare parts. I got it turning on again but the monitor wouldn't work. Time to disassemble again.

Breaks would be spent fiddling with the resurrected powerbook, just giving it some use and making sure it wasn't going to give anyone any nasty surprises. I even cleaned it.

By 8 this evening I put the ibook back together for the last time. Still no screen, but keyboard response - it works but I can't see anything. The powerbook's been ticking along fine and I'm using it to IM a friend in New York. I pick it up and put it in my lap and adjust the screen and it just snaps in my hand.

At that point I decided it was time for pizza and beer. My tenacity and tear ducts snapped with the screen.

On a totally different and bizarre note, yesterday marked the 86th anniversary of the US Postal Service banning the mailing of humans, after a couple posted their child to his grandparents for 53 cents. I just thought that was a cool little fact.

Update at 1105pm. I managed to get both the ibook and the powerbook backed up. Over 24 hours later.

12 June 2006

melting and menageries

The Belfry is hot. So hot that I bought one of those vertical office fans in hopes of cooling down. It certainly moves the warm air around but I don't think it's actually lowering the temperature. Still, better the air to move than stagnate.

Nothing much stagnates around here at the moment. The garden is running wild, for instance, nearly cutting me off from the main house. The gardener 's been away due to roadworks. Thames Water replace the water mains, leading to a sort of barricade in front of the house, denying access to gardeners and the council recycling people. Why the rubbish men can get to the house and the recycling men can't is a mystery.

I nearly mowed the lawn today. I decided against it because the barricaded gardener is attempting his return tomorrow and he is a man of habit and protocol. He's expecting to mow the lawn. It was also too hot to mow the lawn.

The local food chain thrives on the heat. The Mall has quite a menagerie these days, an ecclectic mix of the domesticated, the undomesticated and those in the middle that humour their 'owners', the latter being the cats of the neighbourhood. We have no pets ourselves, but in my mind I adopt various cats who earn my admiration. The front steps have become disputed turf. The cats and the foxes each put their flag up (in their own way) and wait for the other side to challenge them. There's a blue cat, formerly quite a lithe and elegant beast, now somewhat battle scarred and uneven in the ears. He - or she, I haven't asked - watches the steps in the afternoon and early evening when he's relieved by a black and white tabby. The latter makes the journey from a house on the other side of the motorway - there are fewer foxes to fight over there. It's hard to gauge victory but I like to think the cats give the foxes a good kicking. I recently noted a young and vigorous marmelade cat with an adventurous nature examining his territory further to the west. There'll be nicks in his ears in no time, as no feline seems to go unscathed in these parts. The dogs have it lucky.

There are other signs pointing to the decline of the urban fox, or at least its relegation to a lower division. We have seven swans on our corner of the river - meaning that all of our local couple's cygnets have survived to maturity. This hasn't happened for quite awhile and the family's drawing quite a bit attention from passers by, none of whom seem to realise just how bloody vicious they can be. Just because they belong to the queen doesn't make them pets. In the past the foxes used to get a few cygnets, sometimes all of them. I'm guessing the thriving family this year points to particularly protective parents. Or maybe the cats have battered the foxes too much. It's odd to think of a vigilant feline population helping out the swans but stranger things have happened.

Yesterday I drove to Hertfordshire to watch my mate play polo. Picnic, sun, beer, Bentleys and horses - far more gentrified than Dundee and Perth Polo Club. I found myself missing the ramshackle blue clubhouse and precarious seating. I don't pretend to understand too much about the sport or the horses but it's fun to watch and there's a bit of social anthropology to enjoy as well. The haves, the have-mores, the have-but-still-not-that-cool, the wannabes, the Argentinian grooms who all look as though their having a joke at everyone else's expense, the friends who really are the only cool people there - it's as much a menagerie as the riverside, really. No cats to adopt though.