Last night I was watching a DVD and Penny (as always) had curled up on my lap to ‘watch’ it with me. There weren’t many films that both Penny and I liked, so generally she’d do this and then fall asleep. At the end I noticed that she wasn’t really responding to my making a fuss of her anymore. I put her on a soft cushion next to me, but it was soon clear that she wasn’t going to be waking up again. About three quarters of an hour later as I was gently stroking her, she quietly died. I wrapped her up in her favourite blanket with her favourite toy.
All day I’ve been realising how many little things I do in a certain way because of her, which now don’t matter anymore. I think it might be a while before I watch anymore DVDs, as since Penny came to live with me after my mum died, I don’t think I’ve watched a single one that she hasn’t sat and watched with me too. I will miss her a lot.
Right now I’m listening to nothing.
In much the same way as everyone (except the most optimistic or stupid) have sort of resigned themselves to never having it so good again as a result of the economic realities we presently face, the population of Cactus World has been much comforted recently by the safe return of Penny from her visit to the vet, but realises that this is, at best, more of a stay of execution than anything else. When a vet says, ‘well we could do some blood tests” but then doesn’t pursue the suggestion, it does give you the feeling that what she’s really saying is, “well we could do some blood tests, but actually she’s old, she’s not going to live much longer and if we do find anything more specific wrong with her there’s probably not much we can do about it anyway”.
Penny is having a lot of trouble walking now too, as her back legs don’t seem to be working very well and she can’t jump up onto anything either; she has tried a few times but never gets off the ground. This wasn’t a problem until the last few days, as she was able to walk okay when she went to see the vet. She doesn’t seem to be in pain though, thank goodness, just a bit confused by the lack of support at the back. When she sits down she looks okay from the front, but then you realise that her back legs aren’t quite in the right place. When she walks she’s very unsteady and sort of staggers a lot. She’s also taken to sitting in quite random places, locations where’s she’s never sat before, probably when she gets tired walking. I only just missed treading on her when I got up this morning, as she’d wrapped herself in my fleece on the floor; it was simply luck that prevented me from stepping on her as I didn’t notice she was there until I went back into the bedroom a few minutes later. Poor Penny.
Still, she did manage to embarrass me at the vets. After my explaining, at great length, in a miserable and pathetic voice, about how Penny had stopped eating, the vet went and got a bowl of food for her. Doing her best “I’ve a cruel and heartless master who hates all animals and starves me purely for his own pleasure and entertainment” impression, Penny proceeded to eat all the food offered to her and then have a go at the plastic bowl too, with more energy than I’ve seen her do anything for years. Seriously, if she was playing the part of starving cat in a movie, she’d be up for an Oscar. I’m probably being secretly tailed by the RSPCA now, in the hope of catching me carrying out some sort of heinous crime against all animal-kind. I ended buying six tins of this über expensive cat food from the vet, which Penny has shown, at best, a luke-warm appreciation of ever since returning home. However, she’s eating more now and is more ‘with it’ than she was before too; I have to heat her food up a bit in the microwave first, which seems to make quite bit difference to her enjoyment of it.
Right now I’m listening to “Rock Me In (Dub)” by the Thompson All Stars.
Penny isn’t well. She’s been eating less and less over the last week or so and tonight didn’t even finishing her dinner. Even the horrible, meaty cat foot that I give her (which she normally scoffs), along with her yummy vegan biscuits (which she begrudgingly eats, mostly as a favour to me I think), was hardly touched. She also wouldn’t eat the treats I tried to tempt her with. Over the past week she’s lost a lot of weight and has become less and less active. She doesn’t seem in pain and can jump up on the bed or futon if she wants to. It’s just that doing anything appears to be too much of an effort for her at the moment.
No one knows Penny’s exact age, but Cactus World’s best archaeologists and historians have researched all the available data and come to the conclusion that she’s about 18, which is pretty old for a cat. I’m going to take her to see our top vet tomorrow, but the general feeling on the streets of Cactus World is that its first citizen may not been returning home again. The weather outside may be improving, but a grey, damp drizzle has mentally enveloped the population, as it struggles with its feelings of helplessness and despair. Like myself, everyone is having difficulty contemplating any sort of future, should the worst happen. Penny is one of the defining features of Cactus World and has touched every citizen’s heart, providing unconditional love, affection and spiritual guidance for all, since she first arrived after my mum died three years ago. I think it might soon be time for them to be together again.
All in all, this is turning into one really, really crap week.
Right now I’m listening to “5 Years” by the Outcasts.
Cactus World is in shock today, with the news that one of my dinner plates has broken. A set of four, these have been with me for around ten years and were hand-made by some peasants in South America somewhere; (I’m sure they were fair-trade though, so probably middle-class peasants).
I discovered the plate myself, drying in the plate rack, with a chunk of one side broken off. (I’m sorry for being so explicit, but I can’t think of a gentler way to describe it.) Despite attempts at the scene to push the broken bit back into place, it was clear that the damage was permanent and the plate had been rendered entirely useless. The whereabouts of the broken plate is not presently known, but unsubstantiated reports from the scene suggest it was quickly placed in a blue carrier back, destined for the communal bins outside Cactus World, at the front of the car park.
Although the loss of the plate is not expected to cause significant, civic disturbances, the population has been warned that it may need to get accustomed to washing-up a bit more often, as there will only be three dinner-plates available in future.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for this cowardly act, although a number of rumours have been flying around, but a recurring theme is that one of the Star Trek mugs (which themselves have suffered two breakages over the past few years) was badly placed in the rack and fell on the plate. However, others have rejected this hypothesis, pointing out there’s no way the mug would have been heavy enough to break the plate in that way. One outlandish theory is that the local chemist sneaked across the border into Cactus World and broke the plate deliberately, before sneaking out again. Certainly, there’s a strong indication that he recently suggested that the population wouldn’t be so fat if it used smaller plates for meals. From what I’ve heard though, the authorities are not presently pursuing this line of enquiry. It may turn out that the plate was simply old. It was made from some sort of earthenware rather than pottery and as a result of this probably had a finite shelf-life. If this turns out to be the case, then this has serious implications for Cactus World, since the remaining three plates are all the same age.
Some people have been saying quite openly that I should just forget about these old plates and go to Ikea and buy some nice, new, colourful ones. Personally, I find this sort of thing really quite unacceptable, although what I’ll do if any of the others get broken I don’t know. It’s certainly the sort of nightmare scenario that I dread; a bit like the idea of a huge meteorite hitting the Earth, or nuclear war. I’m just relieved that Penny doesn’t seem to have been unduly affected by all this.
A number of pictures taken by bystanders that claim to be of the broken plate, have started to surface on the Internet. I wasn’t going to reproduce any of these here, but I think this one does seem to be authentic and at the moment I really feel I want to put it here. I’m sorry if this image upsets anyone.
Dating back to the time when I had some money, a partner and a life, the plates have become a focus for many of the population, who look on them as a tangible and physical connection with the past and Cactus World’s rich history. Others however, claim that they reflect Cactus World’s preoccupation with its glorious past and prevent it from moving forward; they describe the recent surfacing and playing of a number of Bert Kaempfert and James Last LPs, as other examples of this lack of vision and any sort of forward-looking policies.
Regardless of the longer-term implications, there is a very real sense of sadness in Cactus World at present. Dinner Plate, R.I.P.
In other news, I cleared out a cupboard today and discovered some instructions for a coffee-making machine that I don’t own and a sealed bag of coffee beans from 1990. Unfortunately, the instructions for the bread-making machine, which is what I started out looking for (before getting waylaid by the cupboard), have failed to materialise. (The coffee beans can best be described as “brittle” and have been disposed of.)
Right now I’m listening to “Dancing in the Dark” by Bert Kaempfert and His Orchestra.
I bought myself a new mouse and keyboard for my computer this afternoon; a Logitech MK320. It has now replaced the Microsoft Comfort 5000 I had been using. The latter’s keyboard was nice to use, but the mouse was pants. I don’t think it’s even two years old and it’s basically worn out; the rubbery bit around it is a mess and the scroll-wheel has totally fallen to bits and hasn’t worked for ages. It was really expensive too, around £60 I think. The new one was under £18. Not only that, but it ate batteries at an embarrassingly decadent and ostentatious rate; I felt like I was running a full-time battery recharging operation. Its outrageous energy consumption has probably done more to damage the planet’s climate and biodiversity than all the illegal loggers in the Amazon Jungle put together. Every time I moved it I’m sure the lights in my flat dimmed just a bit.
I cannot begin to describe the sad level of pleasure I’m currently experiencing, from having a mouse with a scroll-wheel that works properly. I keep looking for really long web pages, just so I can scroll up and down them. And another thing, since I uninstalled all the ‘special’ software the Microsoft mouse and keyboard insisted I use, nothing has crashed. Everything has worked perfectly for hours. If anyone out there knows a woman like the MK320, I’d like to meet her.
Penny also prefers the new keyboard and mouse too as they’re smaller than their predecessors, which leaves more room for her to sit on the table with me when I’m using the computer.
Right now I’m listening to Cerberus” by Scarlet’s Well”.
It’s a New Year! Hurray! Penny decided to help herself to the tea from my mug this morning, but I then forgot she had and went and made myself a new cup without cleaning it first. Then she was sick on the lounge carpet. (I’m not sure what this says about our relative hygiene levels.) Over Christmas she’s also developed an almost obsessive need to sit right next to me when I’m trying to work on the computer, sitting on the mouse and occasionally wondering around on the table and stamping all over the keyboard; I think she’s trying to tell me something. I hope there’s not some sort of “Rise of the Planet of the Cats” kind of thing going on. The bulb in my desk lamp has just stopped working too. Still, on the plus side it’s warm enough not to have to have the heating on at home. Welcome to 2012.
Right now I’m listening to “Boys of Summer” by Klubbheads.
Today was really hot and lovely and sunny outside, so I spent it all inside, trying to write a funding application. Just to make me feel extra cosy, a big lorry parked right outside the window next to my desk, which meant I had to put a desk lamp on as it was so dark; which is a bit ironic since it was probably the brightest September day in the history of the world, ever.
Despite being plunged into near darkness, I finished about 95% of the application. So I thought I’d go home and clear my head a bit, before re-reading it, tidying up any bits I wasn’t happy with and e-mailing it in tonight.
So I get home and find I’ve left the relevant file on my computer at work; swear a bit; go back to the office; pick up the hard drive with the file on it; get caught up in the rush hour; nearly run over a fucking cyclist weaving through the traffic, who has no understanding of the general give way to traffic on your right rule and then has the nerve to provide me with a gesture that should be pixellated before the watershed; get home again; get grief from Penny for being late feeding her; open the file to finish the application; find the file has become corrupted; swear some more; spend ages trying to open it, rename it, even delete it, but all to no avail; decide to retype it all from the draft version I’ve got a paper copy of; go to my e-mail to get the blank application form; find my e-mail programme (the entirely usless Thunderbird) has (yet again) fucked up and lost all my e-mails; swear even more; find the same e-mail programme has also managed not to put the attachment in the attachments folder where all attachments get put, (it must be related to the cyclist as it can’t follow basic instructions) so I can’t get it from there either; swear even more using worse words; realise I can’t get at the file that I need to get my e-mail working again as it’s on the server at work in the office (and I’m not going back there again today); realise that the closing date for the application is tomorrow afternoon and I have to leave home at 7:00am tomorrow to deliver a training course 100 miles away, so have no time to do anything about any of this; so will have to throw myself at the mercy of the funder and hope it will accept a late application on Monday, assuming I can sort out the problem then.
This has basically sent me insane. Oh, and if anyone is interested, the application is for funding to provide activities for people with mental distress; if it’s successful I’ll be right at the front of the queue…
Right now I’m listening to “Harvest Home by Big Country.
We don’t have forever on this Earth. Even if we don’t manage to wreck it totally in the next few years, most of us only have a finite amount of time here. Today I’m dealing with the guilt of having squandered 89 minutes of mine, watching possibly the worst film I’ve ever seen, Premier Désirs. This 1983 film from France is wrong on so, so many levels. In fact it’s probably wrong on every level. It was directed by David Hamilton, the famous photographer best known for his arty child porn; (sorry, I meant to say his classic studies of beautiful young women); not to be confused with DJ “Diddy” David Hamilton. So why is it so bad? Well…
It’s filmed in a stupid 1.66:1 aspect ratio. If you’re going to try to do widescreen, don’t piss about with “fat academy ratio”. It’s not funny and it’s not clever; it’s just stupid.
It’s got mono sound and it’s full of crackles and hisses. Clearly a film that claims to be so big on photogenics has conveniently forgotten about what it sounds like. I personally don’t enjoy listening to anything with a bowl of Rice Krispies and box of snakes attached to my head.
It’s dubbed into English. No French soundtrack or English subtitles were available on my DVD. Dubbing is the spawn of the Devil.
Now I could forgive its technical limitations if it actually had a good story, but sadly the story makes no sense at all. Trust me, it’s abysmal, inconsistent, stupid, unrealistic, nonsensical, irritating and encapsulates everything that’s bad and old-fashioned about France. It’s the sort of story only those who are entirely and utterly isolated from need, could ever hope to relate to. Every character is a caricature and nearly every scene is ridiculous, with the final big scene a horrifyingly tasteless one. It’s not so much it’s full of plot holes, it’s more that it’s all hole and no plot. I could feel myself dying just a little inside, second by second. It brings a whole new meaning to the film genera of torture porn!
I came in from the corner shop this afternoon and found Penny had decided to be sick on the carpet, and this film immediately popped into my head.
No, I didn’t like it very much.
Right now I’m listening to a live version of “This is Not a Love Song” by Public Image Limited.
You read about this sort of stuff on the Internet or see it on the TV, but you never think it will actually happen ‘here’. But it does. The last week has seen a pandemic sweep across Cactus Word, one that had infected every single one of its inhabitants with a terrible illness that even now, Cactus World’s best scientists and researchers have failed to identify, (because they’ve all been sick too silly). So for clarity, let’s just called it Skanking Flue, as it’s become known ‘on the streets’. It has what can only be described as ‘mild(ish), cold like symptoms’, but does in fact feels 1,000 times more intense to those suffering its effects. And let me point out right here, right now, that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the common cold, seasonal flu, or Man Flu, or any of those things. The resemblance is entirely superficial. However, the good news is that I feel as if I’m starting on the long road to recovery, but it was touch and go there for a while.
It’s strange how just one thing can virtually destroy a civilised society. Let me give an example. As a result of the pandemic there were huge food shortages in Cactus World. Supplies of rice, tofu, onions and garlic, along with most other foods, were entirely depleted within days; whilst the discovery of an almost full packet of pasta caused what I can only describe as a near riot in my kitchen, as I greedily grabbed it from the cupboard shelf, spilling much of its contents onto the floor, much to Penny’s disgust. What can I say? Starvation drives people to this sort of behaviour and I was desperate. International travel was banned too and I was forced to work from home for two days, to save myself the gruelling, long-distance trek into the office.
Last week, just prior the arrival of the pandemic, I went to not one, not two, but three ska/punk/reggae gigs. (And I’d like to point out that going to these and the sudden and mysterious arrival of Skanking Flue in Cactus World are entirely unrelated.) The first saw the truly wonderful Skints supporting the rather excellent Bedouin Soundclash at the Camden Koko (capacity 1410); whilst the following day saw the rather excellent Bedouin Soundclash supporting the truly wonderful Skints at Nambucca on the Holloway Road (capacity a somewhat overstated 300; I doubt the room with the music in it can take any more than 100). The third gig saw the even more awesome Dirty Revolution (which released 2010’s best album “Before the Fire” that you should go buy now) supporting the wondrous Slackers at the Islington Academy (capacity 800). Whatever your taste in music, it has to be said that bands like this are nearly always great live and thus worth going to see, even if you’ve never heard of them before. Comparing this sort of thing with the almost universally dreadful dirge that is modern indie rock and chart R&B, brings to mind a Borg Cube and a dead fruit fly.
In a not unrelated way, I have also been blessed by the availability on YouTube, of a brief shot of me attempting to dance at the recent King Blues gig at Koko. (It’s all just a bit too much like trying to maneuver an oil tanker for my liking.) Despite every gig I go to now seemingly being filmed by someone, somewhere, I rarely manage to see myself, as despite a claimed height of 6 feet and 1 inch, I’m always surrounded by people who are even taller than me. (As an aside to this, for a few seconds I thought my luck had changed at this gig, when I felt someone grab my hand. Sadly it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, as in the crowd she thought she’d got hold of her boyfriend’s hand. Oh well, back to reality.) Anyway, YouTube. I was, I have to say, rather disappointed to see not the suave, sophisticated dance-floor guru that I imagine myself to be, (the guy “women want to be with and men want to be” kind of person); the sort of cool dude who can combine the best of White indie/punk moves with the cool of Caribbean reggae and ska rhythms, in an entirely convincing and respectful way. Instead I got to see a rather bald, fat bloke in a black t-shirt being flung across the most pit and trying not to fall over, in an entirely undignified and dad-dancing way by, a person or persons unknown. Go check it out around the 2:05 mark.
Finally, my telly has been fixed! Well done Samsung. It can’t apparently make reliable TVs, but it’s great at getting them fixed when they do break down; I guess it gets a lot of practice.
Right now I’m listening to “Lonely Man of Spandau” by the Angelic Upstarts.
Right about now I’m wishing I owned a gas mask. Why? The Mother in Law’s Tongue on the window sill has decided to flower. This common indoor plant, hardy and innocuous enough, which we’re all used to seeing in offices and receptions areas etc, hides a dark secret within its soul. When the sun goes down, its flowers release a scent of hypnotic power. It draws all towards its sweet nectar, man and beast alike, as the heavy perfume overcomes all inhibitions, rational thought and self-determination, sending those who seek its wisdom in a sleep that lasts 1,000 years zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………
Well okay that’s not all entirely true. But it does however have a seriously powerful smell at night that quite frankly would give any air fresheners silly enough to challenge it a good slap. My entire flat stinks of it at the moment. It’s not that it’s got a bad smell or anything, but it does feel like I’ve got a can of Tesco Value air freshener and sprayed it directly up my nose. It’s serious quite overpowering and I am just a little worried that if I go to sleep I really will not wake up for 100 years, a bit like Sleeping Beauty; (although the similarity probably ends around about there). It’s also making my throat and nose feel weird. Penny’s in an odd mood tonight too; personally I think she’s been sniffing it a bit too much.
And here is a photo of the beast. Sorry about the slightly weird look of it, but I had to take it by hacking into a US spy satellite and borrowing its camera for a few minutes, as there’s no way I’m going to risk getting close enough to it to use a normal camera.
You think I’m exaggerating things? Ha! You have no idea what I’m dealing with here!
Anyway, I bet you’ve never even seen one with a flower before. It doesn’t happen very often. Then again, this is Cactus World, where nothing is ever quite like it seems; and, after all, I am the horticultural equivalent of Superman. (Please ignore all the rubbish you might have heard about these plants needing to be neglected to flower; that’s just rumours put about by jealous people who can’t manage the magic I can. In fact, you virtually have to agree to marry one before it will even consider flowering; and yes, that’s a bit of an awkward issue that I’m going to have to deal with later.)
Right now I’m listening to “buried alive” by Visqueen.
Despite evidence to the contrary, life for the population of Cactus World isn’t always doom and gloom. Yesterday, Cactus World was blessed with the appearance of a new cactus flower and one of its community minded citizens was on hand to record this momentous occasion.
Behold! The Flower:
Sadly, today it’s looking somewhat limp. (Please inset your own penis joke here). However, there are reports coming in of not one, not two, but three flower spikes on the Mother in Law’s Tounge approaching Cactus World. Stay tuned…
Meanwhile, Penny has faced her nemesis, The Puppy Shaped Door Stop! Again, one of Cactus World’s brave citizens was around to record this epic battle, which shows Penny heroically fighting a piece of string, which the cowardly Puppy Shaped Door Stop is apparently using as cover for it own nefarious plans, whatever they may be:
Right now I’m listening to “Underwear Goes Inside the Pants” by Lazyboy (or Lazy B if you prefer).
Don’t you just hate it when some pretentious person with zero emotional intelligence, wants to appear posher and cleverer than they really are, by using expressions like, “a smorgasbord” of something or other? I do. It’s stupid isn’t it? Who do they think they’re fooling? I just wanted to say that. Anyway, it’s been a while since I wrote anything here, so as a catch up on life in Cactus World, here’s a potpourri of what I’ve been up to…
Had a big row in the local Ford garage for 15 minutes, as I queried a bill of nearly £700 for work that didn’t solve the problem that the car was in there for in the first place. It’s justification? Well, the work needed doing anyway and they thought it would solve the problem. This was after it failed to ring me to discuss the issue last time I was there and raised the same concern. What’s even more annoying is the fact that when I’d first taken the car in with the problem (several visits previously) I’d told them what I thought it was, which is what it turned out to be in the end; a ten minute repair rather than three visits and a bill for around £1,000. But what do I know, I’m just an ignorant, moronic member of the public who knows nothing about cars? So anyway in the end, they suggested if I wasn’t happy I should write to them. Well done Fucking Ford’s, where customer service is clearly not a speciality; or indeed is a basic understanding of cars either. I will never, ever spend a penny with Ford again. Now officially classed as Spawn of the Devil. An interesting aside to this was that for the first time ever, when my car had been serviced (which is why it was there this time), I was rung up and told a driver would drop it off home for me. I can’t imagine this was for any other reason than they didn’t want me in the showroom again, pointing out their shabby lies.
In an effort to turn myself into the physical Adonis (that I really ought to be) and realising that over the past few months I’ve taken less exercise than I had been previously (and have consequently become a bit of a fat slob), I’ve started to walk into work again. (The horror of realising I’d spent £30 driving to and from home and work the previous month probably also had an impact too, as well as the guilt trip I get for adding to the size of my carbon footprint in this way.) We moved offices last October and the new one is further from where I live. So this fact, being very busy at work and the winter weather, had all colluded to ‘force’ me to drive in. So Monday last week, psyched up for the adventure ahead, I stepped out, alone, onto the streets of Reading. Nearly 50 minutes later a sweating, wheezing, half-dead husk of a man turned up at his office, barely recognisable as the person who had started the journey all those minutes ago. There wasn’t even a big welcome or a brass band waiting for me either, what a swizz. You know that film about that guy who has to cut his hand off to escape being trapped up a mountain, 127 Hours? Well, expect a similar effort about my epic journey, to be released around Summer 2013, entitled of course, 50 Minutes. To make matters worse, three men walked past me on my journey, leaving me to cough and splutter in the dust as they zoomed past me. Needless to say, this humiliation has had a profound effect on my mojo. Actually it wasn’t so bad and I did it again last Thursday too. It’s nearly a five-mile round trip. I went the wrong way coming home both times too; my sense of direction isn’t all that great…
Penny news. Penny is fine. I do have two bits of Penny cuteness to report though. Firstly, in a wilful act of physical vandalism associated with my walking to work, I decided I also ought to go back to doing some sit up and press ups too. In my first attempt for some time to do this, (when even getting on the floor took a great deal of effort), Penny came over and rolled around on the floor next to me. I thought that was very sweet. She was either trying to encourage me or (and this is more likely), thought it was some sort of new and rather incomprehensible cat friendly game that I was playing just for her benefit. Secondly, I was watching Red on DVD recently. (This is a film about a man who has his dog killed by some thugs and the consequences of his search for justice; it’s very good and well worth watching.) Anyway, at one point there’s a cute puppy on the screen. Penny likes to sit on my lap and watch films with me, although her taste in films isn’t apparently quite the same as mine so she generally goes to sleep. In this case however she saw the puppy and jumped onto the floor and started rolling around like a little kitten right in front of the TV. Now if anyone doesn’t think that’s extremely cute, then you are truly a heartless and unfeeling being.
I’ve had a leak in my bathroom. (By which I mean a leak in one of the walls from above, rather than a colloquialism for using the toilet.) Actually this is very boring. Anyway, it’s been fixed and the smell of damp dogs in my flat has slowly receded as it dries out. I await the redecorating being arranged by the building owners…
I’ve loved this hot weather recently. I’m a summer person and a morning person. There doesn’t seem to be a way to extend the mornings, but the recent good weather has been very welcome in Cactus World. I celebrated it by not going out into it over the two, long weekends we’ve had recently. But I can assure you, it looked lovely out of the window!
One of the most important highlights of life in Cactus World, is of course the flowering of a cactus. Last week saw two, huge, pink flowers make an appearance on my window sill. Sadly lacking an extra Bank Holiday to celebrate this momentous occasion, I was at work both days so came home to see just a rather collapsed version of them; (they only really last a day). So no photos I’m afraid, but it was a small, special highlight all the same.
I’m reliably informed by my electricity company that the average electricity bill for a one bedroomed flat is around £20-£25 per month. I work for an environmental charity, have low energy light bulbs everywhere and generally try my best not to consume too many resources. I don’t use the cooker every day, put the immersion heater on perhaps twice a week, don’t leave lights on all over the place and normally take showers rather than baths. I only heat one room in winter and I’m out most days at work. My monthly electricity bill is £63! I’ve just changed my tariff to one of those that comes with all this smart meter monitoring stuff, to see why this is the case. (Of course, I’m secretly hoping to discover that the bills have been wrong and will thus get a huge refund.) News to follow, as I investigate the crimes of the environmental criminal that I have apparently become. Guilty or innocent?
Finally, I’ve have been to a number of brilliant gigs recently. Fishbone and Random Hand at the Camden Underworld; Capdown, Random Hand and Dirty Revolution at the Camden Underworld; the Stranglers at the Hammersmith Apollo; the Undertones at the Islington Garage. Lots more too; it’s actually been a really good run of gigs, most satisfying, despite the many bruises and the partial black eye I managed to suffer. The Undertones at the Garage was probably the best. It’s the best I’ve seen the band since it reformed around ten years ago; the place was packed too. The good news is that it’s playing a gig in a pub called Powers in Kilburn in June; there’s only 100 tickets available. The bad news is that that’s exactly in the middle of the two weeks I’ve booked of annual leave, so I now have to rearrange my holiday to take this gig into account; but it’s worth it. One small downer about the Fishbone gig was that I managed to lose a credit card, a debit card, my Oyster Card, my Rail Card, my Rail Card Pass, my train ticket home and £45; which left me with about £2 in my pocket. I wouldn’t normally have all that lot with me either. By some miracle I managed to find my train ticket on the floor afterwards, so at least I could get home. That’s the first time I’ve done that at a gig. It was very annoying!
Right now I’m listening to “Let Me Go” by Rancid.
Watched Four Minutes on DVD last night. This is a 2006 German film (so that means subtitles for the Euro illiterate like me) about a young woman who’s in prison and also a great pianist. It’s the best film I’ve seen for months (and I watch a lot of films). It looks good, it sounds great, the story mixes up a lot of different subjects that you don’t normally get together really well and it has two actresses in it playing the main characters that’re totally awesome. It manages to include prisons, guns, punch-ups, decapitation, Nazis, lesbians, incest, pianos, really intense arguments and a psycho pianist! And it’s nothing like how I’ve just made it sound. It also has a great final scene (the four minutes of the title). It’s not a comedy and it’s actually quite a slow and serious film most of the time. You need to go and watch it. It’s certainly a new entry into the Top 50 Films of All Time in Cactus World. Penny hated it though, so not a great film to watch when you’ve got all the neighbourhood cats around.
Right now I’m listening to “Pathways” by the Frank and Walters.
Oh dear, the clocks went back last night, so it’s only going to be five o’clock today when yesterday it was six. (Well you know what I mean.) I’m now in for an Hour of Hell from Penny…
Oh, Ooh, I think it’s started already…
But worse than the claws, it’s the looks that really hurt…
Right now I’m listening to “Make Them Apologize” by Ani DiFranco.
How exciting, I just checked and discovered that I’d got my first bit of spam here! But really, does Penny look like the sort of cat that wants to see Russian bondage porn? (Well it was hardly aimed at me was it? It’s not like I’ve made a career out of regularly commenting on this specific topic, so I can only imagine Penny’s been using the computer when I’m out and signing up for a range of dodgy literature to be sent to her; we’ll be having words about it later.) But here’s a little tip anyway, to all those that make their living from sending out spam. If you’re going to send porn to cats, do at least make it feature young, naked, live mice, splattered with a thick layer of catnip juice, wrestling in the jelly from a can of extra meaty Whiskas Supermeat. Now that’s hardcore.
Right now I’m listening to “Coppers” by Rancid.
Well, Cactus World has survived its conversion from Live Spaces to WordPress, just. I’ve a lot of battle damage to repair over the next few weeks and I have a feeling that those of us that lived through it (so that’s Penny and I) will probably never be quite the same. It was touch and go at times, I really wasn’t sure we were going to make it through; it was very much a one-way trip and the idea of a one-way trip to nowhere didn’t exactly inspire me; I don’t especially like travelling at the best of times. The emotional scars are there on so many levels. It’s not something that I, or probably many people, could ever express in words; (and you can probably imagine how difficult it is for Penny, with only a few variations on meow to pick from). But I just know things will be different in future.
When I need to reflect on life, I tend to look for analogies from Star Trek, Thomas Hardy or punk; (and quite frankly, let us all face the truth, right here, right now; what else is there)? To reflect on this particular experience, I’ve decided that the following video sums it up pretty well. (For Xindi substitute WordPress and for Cactus World read Enterprise). Enjoy!
It really was exactly like that, over dramatic looks at one another, explosions, stuff falling out of the ceiling, Penny running about with a fire extinguisher. Whilst this Home Page may look okay now, everything else is still a bit of a shambles. We were ‘that’ close to going under. To be continued….
Right now I’m listening to “Underwear Goes Inside the Pants” by Lazyboy.
I’m sending this post from my secret underground bunker, so my apologies if it’s a bit of a mess as when I designed this place I forgot to include any lights, so it’s somewhat dark (well pitch black really) in here and I’m having to type from memory, never a popular option for me.
I’m in the bunker as I’m fighting a war against Them!. But let me start from the beginning. It’s hard to believe how hot it was just a few days ago, but, em, it was. So I decided to open my bedroom window to let some air into my flat. Penny loves the window being open too, as she can hang out on the window sill between the plants, smelling the air and generally watching what’s going on below. Unfortunately, unbeknown to me, ‘they’ had been spending the winter preparing their forces ready to invade my flat and take from me everything I hold dear. The open window and warm weather gave them their opportunity. Before I could work out how to pronounce “zcghrtjhewjg srdlrktl’s hzzwquft” they were in, ants, the size of people (probably). At one point during the ensuing battle there must have been nearly ten of them in my bedroom! It was horrible. One night I was even forced to retreat and sleep in the lounge, such was my worry that they’d take advantage of me in the night.
Now I have to remind people at this point that I’m vegan, although there’re three types of animal I have a pathological hatred of, wasps, sheep and ants. I don’t wish them ill but quite frankly the day someone lends me a time machine I’m going to go back in time and tinker a bit with evolution to ensure they never come into existence. Anyway, after a while I realised that The Ants were not taking my attempts at negotiation seriously; even my offer of a temporary summer home for them in one of the pot plants was rejected; I guess they thought they could take more by force. It became apparent to me by Day 2, that I wasn’t going to win this war through talking or conventional warfare, (keeping the window closed, flicking them outside when I found them, etc). They were just like the Borg. I was facing the ultimate fighting force, one that seemingly had an endless supply of troops that never lose morale; they also seemed to have perfected the ability to teleport into my room too, as I never did work out how the hell they were getting in; even with the window closed they still appeared, walked about and did there diobolical ‘ant stuff’ in my bedroom, whatever that is exactly. I even found one in my bed at one point, bloody pervert. I will probably never recover from the emotional turmoil of it all, but in the end I was forced to use the Nuclear Option. I had no choice. I reasoned that in the end it would shorten the war by perhaps many months and ultimately reduce the suffering of millions (well me anyway). It was a tough decision but that’s what I’m here for when it comes down to it. So I ordered the full deployment of a bottle of Dettol Anti-bacterial Mould and Mildew Remover (which I just happened to have in the bathroom) and a can of Johnson Raid Ant & Cockroach Killer “kills in seconds and last for weeks” (that I purchased from a local arms dealer, codename “the corner shop”). In fact they had to be deployed a number of times and I’m ashamed to say that the collateral damage was considerable, my hands smelt of bleach for days, two black t-shirts and some bedding were caught in the blast zone and now have brown bleach marks on them, whilst the window sill itself, the main combat zone, will probably never look the same again as the varnished wood surface has been partially destroyed. It was all pretty horrible and most annoyingly I felt really bad seeing these horrid little insects perish one by one. I feel like a mass murderer without a sociopathological shield to defend me from the emotional effects of what I’d done. I will probably need counselling now. However, as a means to an end it worked and my bedroom has been ant free for several days. Which makes me wonder, why am I still sitting in this bunker? Duh!
Writing this has actually made me itch all over. Eew.
Right now I’m listening to “Sad?” by the BMX Bandits.
I buy two tickets every week in the National Lottery. Winning the Jackpot is effectively my retirement plan and a whole lot simpler to sort out than all those pension scheme things you read about. Anyway, it’s been a long time since I won anything on it so I’d started to imagine it was saving up the biggie for me. So last week it was no real surprise when it finally happened, I won! I actually won. Now its happened though, I can’t really get my head around it. The money has already been transferred to my account so it’s definitely true. I must have ticked some ‘no publicity’ box at some point, as I’ve not been hassled about being involved in any of that sort of thing, which is good; I don’t want hundreds of begging letters from those in need as I’m a greedy, selfish slob who’s going to keep it all to himself. I can’t work out what to spend it on first; there is only so large a TV, stereo and computer you can actually buy. (I’ve no imagination okay?) I don’t want it to change my life, but I guess that’s going to be difficult considering what’s happened. I have thought I might go travelling, fly everywhere first class and fuck up the environment a bit; I’ve more than done my bit for it already so why shouldn’t I take advantage of it now? Penny is going to be a bit of a problem, as I obviously can’t take a cat with me, so I guess I’ll have to have her put down. She’s 16 anyway, so quite old. I haven’t told anyone at work yet that I’m leaving. Might buy them a cake or something as a good-bye present, not sure yet.
Actually I’ve just read that back to myself. It’s amazing how winning £10 has turned me into a complete shithead. I’m so shallow.
Right now I’m listening to “One Man’s Meat” by the Lurkers.
The summer has (sort of) arrived, finally. This is a good thing; I’m especially looking forward to hearing the first person this year moan that it’s too hot.
I don’t seem to have written that much here for a while. I’d say I’ve been suffering from Writer’s Block, but as I don’t write anything worth reading anyway, this seems highly unlikely. It would be interesting to be able to say that I’d been abducted by aliens, but as I’ve used this particular excuse more than once in the past, again it seems unlikely that it would have happened to me again. So I guess I’ll just have to say that the dog ate my homework. The fact that I don’t do homework or indeed have a dog either, isn’t that important right now; (geez, some people want every single little fact to add up in life.)/span>
Penny is fine; except with the onset of the warmer weather, every time I stroke her I’m left with what I can only describe as a tsunami of fur that engulfs my entire flat. Strangely this leaves Penny no less furry than before (although I’m sure I do detect just the slightest of smirks on her face whenever it happens), but results in several hours of housework on my part, as I fight my way through the chaos this seasonal phenomena causes. I’m sure I spotted a UN helicopter overhead at one point.
I watched Look this afternoon on DVD. This is a film that was made to look like all the action was recorded on various security cameras and just covers a few days in the lives of a number of people whose stories interact. Actually it’s pretty good and quite addictive.
Em, em, that’s it really. Well, I also had some pasta, (soya) yogurt and three bananas to eat today, had a shower, opened a new bar of soap, realised I’d left the immersion heater on overnight for no reason, did some washing up (mostly bowls and spoons), folded up and put away some washing (mainly t-shirts and socks), wrote a couple of work e-mails, did a few press ups (I used to be about to do 250 now I struggle to do 40), cleaned four wall tiles in the shower (well I clean four every time I have a shower), switched the small fridge up to 5 (as it’s not keeping things cool enough) and drunk several cups of tea (Fairtrade and organic). However, this is too banal even for me to record here; except that it’s apparently not.
Right now I’m listening to “Holding the Wire” by Echobelly.