Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Terrified House Owner reporting for Duty.

It is done! I am now the terrified owner of a house in the middle of nowhere, as of 2.30pm today. At the moment I'm not excited about it. Instead I'm wondering if I have made the worst mistake of my life and will be miserably unhappy there. You know how it is. You get the keys to this empty house and suddenly you see all the damp patches, the exposed pipework, the shell bath (yes, truly, there is a shell bath) in all it's glory and you think. What have I done??? I am hoping that over the next couple of days this feeling will be replaced with excitement.

I know that one of the reasons that I am not that excited yet is that I feel horribly displaced. My current hovel is a fort made of packing boxes with newspaper tumbleweed blowing down the stairs. All of it's Brambly Hedge charm has been packed away and it sounds, smells and feels like a different place. Equally the new house doesn't feel like mine yet either. Nowhere feels like mine.

This will change. It just may take time. I will take photos tomorrow of the new house for you and when I can get on line then you can see for yourselves whether you think I am a lunatic or an inspired interiors genius.

Now accepting that moving is in the top three most stressful things t do, it has been the icing on the cake that my idiotic broadband suppliers cut me off on Friday last week, instead of this coming Friday. Consequently, in between packing and a trip to Dorset and a trip to London, I have spent the last few days shouting and sobbing down premium rate phone lines at indifferent call centres. All to no avail though. It seems that cutting me off is easy, reconnecting me takes millenia. Growing crystals is faster. This is why I have been so quiet on the blogging front. I simply don't understand why it takes 'up to THIRTY FOUR DAYS' to connect me back onto broadband? What are they doing that takes that long? Weaving the lines out of spider silk? How do they expect small businesses to survive if this is their idea of speedy??? On Monday I really did break down on the phone, sobbing with frustration and fury and then slamming the phone down on them. On Tuesday I actually yelled with rage when I had to explain the situation for the SEVENTEENTH TIME. Honestly, the seventeenth. The whole thing has nearly killed me and it has certainly put me off moving ever again. I'd better learn to really love this house.

So, on top of giving up smoking I have had to give up blogging. It's too much to ask of a girl. The smoking quitting thing is going okayish I suppose. I have had the occasional cigarette break but we are talking one every four days, not one ever four minutes, so I am getting somewhere. I don't think the hypnotist can take that much credit for it though. I did have a return match there but left feeling no different (though no worse this time either).

There has been one lone ray of sunshine in the last few days though. On Saturday there dropped through my letterbox a jiffy bag filled to the brim with honest to goodness delicious chocolate. This was from Just Me (who has a link over there on the left) and who has now been elevated to a goddess in my world and is going to have a shrine built to her at the new house. I mean seriously. This is somebody who sent me chocolate because she wanted to cheer me up. Just Me - THANK YOU. You are a kind and lovely person who deserves better neighbours, the lottery numbers and your very own George Clooney. If Karma really works then all these things will be yours. You have been my silver lining this week.

So. I know this is another demented and incoherent rant from the mountainside. I blame moving and no nicotine. It fries the brain, drains the soul and leaves you a crumpled rag with no ability to be coherent. Bear with me - I promise that, Phoenix like, I shall emerge from the ashes a new and lucid Welsh Girl.

Oh BAUBLES! I've just realised I was supposed to organise a date with composer man last night and I forgot. Oops....

Monday, 20 April 2009

Return to the Hypnotist

As if I don't have enough on my plate with trying to move house (Completion date is set for the 29th April!!!!), I am now in a full scale battle with the hypnotist.

I rang him to tell him that the mind experiment seemed to have gone horribly awry and was rather taken aback to have him lecture me for ten minutes on how I was too stressed, bitter, angry and a miserable failure as a human being and that was why the whole thing hadn't worked. The fact that, right from the start, I had expressed doubts about whether I was a good hypnotism subject was irrelevant and any sense of culpability on his part was a ridiculous assertion and I should wash my mouth out with soap just for thinking it.

This is not good. The service he offers means that if the hypnotism fails then I have to go back for a rematch. That is to happen this afternoon. By now, I have so little trust in him that the idea of letting him hypnotise me is horrifying. So, I have a dilemma. Walk away from the £250 I spent, or go back and risk either being turned into a chicken or being done for murder most horrid when I stab the hypnotist in an infuriated rage as he lectures me on what a problem child I am.

All this on top of the fact that I am spending my morning speaking to all the varied customer service departments of the phone / insurers / broadband suppliers etc etc trying to get my house move sorted out.

So far I have managed woefully little, despite spending three hours on the telephone speaking to various people round the world. It turns out that moving house is a preposterous thing to do that involves mockery, dickensian paperwork and apparently no broadband access for the rest of my life. Not amusing. I now AM a bitter and angry person and am completely shocked at how wildly unhelpful the majority of the firms have been.

I know this is an incoherent rant but I'll be back when I have seen the hypnotist and will cluck away more coherently then.....

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Hypnotism sucks....

Ok, I must confess or all will be lost. I smoke. I know - I can hear you all recoiling back and gasping with horror. Smokers are after all the ultimate example of pariahs in our community. There is something horrible and repellent about them and I speak as a smoker. Non smokers despise smokers, ex smokers despise smokers, even smokers despise smokers. That said, I will defiantly admit that I enjoy smoking. I do - not all the time, but there are certain moments when it is blissful and lovely. Those are good moments. Despite this I do know that I need to stop. It's expensive, bad for you, isolating and pretty unattractive as well (despite all those glamorouse Marlene Dietrich posters suggesting otherwise).

If I could go back to the day I started smoking and NOT smoke I would, in a heartbeat. Sadly, David Tennant and his handy tardis seem to be elsewhere at them moment and even then he can get all persnickety about changing the past. So, I'm trying to give up the hard way.

I actually tried to give up the easy way. On Thursday afternoon I parted with a large chunk of my hard earned cash and went to see a hypnotist. A friend had done just this earlier in the year and had extolled his virtues. She has tried to give up several times over the years and with him she has succeeded and in a fairly relaxed way which didn't involve biting off her families heads and running screaming from the room every ten minutes. I was inspired because I have seen her try and quit before and it wasn't pretty. This was positively elysian in comparison.

The one thing I didn't want was another stress in my life but I do see the need to stop, on so many levels, finance being one of them. Running my own business in a recession whilst buying a house is stressful enough. The extra money that normally goes on cigarettes would make a difference. In addition I reasoned, what better than to start in the new house as a non smoker? What I needed was a calm and stress free way to quit and according to her, and him when I spoke to him, this was it. I made a booking and paid my deposit.

Now, whilst I do think hypnotism can work I have always been dubious about it's ability to work on me. I have a stubborn and recalcitrant mind that likes nothing more than to unpick rules and invert them as quickly as possible. It only takes someone telling me I can't do something for my evil subconscious to instantly start working on a plan to do the exact thing I have been forbidden to do. The garden of Eden wouldn't have lasted a minute if I had been Eve. (Maybe it would actually - that annoying snake telling me I 'had' to eat the apple might have made me determined not to....)

I explained this worry to the hypnotist and he insisted that there would be no problem. Anyone, he explained, can be hypnotised and nobody could make me do something I didn't want to do. I decided to believe him. He spent a lot of time telling me how hypnotism would be like 'waving a magic wand' and at the end of the session not only would I have stopped smoking, but I wouldn't want to smoke. The very idea of it would be repellent and laughable. I would be free. Not only this but I would not need to eat to replace smoking, or be grumpy or stressed. I would be free, healthy, balanced and happy.

This was seductive. I like the idea of being free and I love the idea of not missing smoking. I particuarly like the idea of not ending up eating everything in site rather than smoking. Hurrah, I thought, and lay back and thought of England.

"I will now count back from 20......" You can hear pretty much everything going on in a hypnotism session, though I was very tired, and the chair is very comfortable, and I did doze off for a bit. However, an hour later it was all over. I remember most of it quite clearly. I know that every morning I am supposed to wake and crave a glass of water, and that the colour red would reinforce my desire to not smoke. What else I remember is irrelevant because something went horribly wrong.

I drove home thinking to myself over and over again - "I am now a non smoker." It didn't feel as though this were the case but I thought I perhaps had to get used to the idea. That evening I ate supper twice in order to distract myself from the fact that I wasn't smoking. I went to bed an hour and a half earlier than usual just to avoid the pink elephant that was chain smoking in the corner. I looked forward to waking the next morning as a new, non smoking and relaxed me.

That night, for the first time ever I think, I dreamt about smoking. I actually woke in the middle of the night wanting a cigarette. I have never done this in my life before. Things did not get any better. When I woke the next morning, I didn't have a compulsive urge to drink a glass of water as I was supposed to. I had a compulsive urge to smoke. I have never smoked first thing in the morning. I don't know how people can, I think it's disgusting. Or I did until Friday morning when it became all I could think about.

In fact from the moment I woke until I went to bed that night ALL I could think about was smoking. Things I would never normally associate with smoking became inextricably tangled up with having a cigarette. I don't know how I made it through the day but if you had put fire ants in my pants I would have been more relaxed than I was (or still am for that matter). The weekend did not improve. I ended up going for long walks several times a day, going to bed at odd times, going to visit friends, eating everything in site and gritting my teeth and planning vile and vitriolic letters to the hypnotist. Anything to avoid smoking.

The bloody hypnotist has quite obviously broken me. Somehow during the session he persuaded my brain to connect everything to smoking, rather than to disconnect it. I can't stop thinking about it FOR A MINUTE - I kid you not. There is a permanent monologue going on in the back of my head about how I should be smoking, how I'll never be happy if I don't smoke, how smoking is the answer to world peace etc etc. You get the point. I can't get it to shut up for even a minute. It is the ultimate stuck record and it is giving me a headache.

I now face two difficulties. Firstly I am trying to give up on my own which is making me cranky, fat and cranky. Secondly I have to decide what to do about the charlatan hypnotist. I should get him to fix the problem that he has created, but the prospect is hardly comforting. What on earth might he do this time? I could come out of the room a crack addict, or an obsessive morris dancer, or clucking like a chicken, all the while still longing for a cigarette. That's too hideous to contemplate. Equally so is the prospect of wasting £250.00.....

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

This might be the best thing I've ever seen....

You have to watch this - it's faBAAAHlous and it'll make you laugh and go 'oooh' and 'aaaah' and it will make you realise all the mad and eccentric reasons why I live in Wales. Where else would you get a production like this?

P.S. Have the sound on if you can!

New Cyberman stomps onto the scene...

I have been seriously thinking about ditching the internet dating. I resent paying to be snubbed by men I haven't even met. I know men already who are all too happy to snub me for free. Besides so far in this dating malarkey, let's face it, there have not been any success stories. Remember Cravat Man? Pilot Man? Need I go on?

The latest cyberman is intriguing though. Let me introduce you to 'Composer Man'. A self confessed workaholic his photograph shows a fierce looking man with a tousle of dark hair and a large glass of wine. The wine is a good indication surely? The fierce look is a little intimidating but then I decided that it was a good thing that he didn't care that he looked all cross in his photograph. There are too many carefully posed photos of the cybermen out there which is always a little suspicious to my mind. My heart didn't go 'pitter patter' when I saw the photograph but then my heart rarely does that, and if it did I would suspect Angina rather than Love. Also, so far every one of the cybermen that I have met up with has looked like the second cousin to his own photo so they aren't that helpful as a judging aid.

Now I should warn you that composer man is not the world's greatest romantic. In fact he defines the classic repressed Englishman who has no tact and little concept of the effects of his conversation on those around him. Oh, you want proof of this do you? Ok, here goes. Here are just a couple of extracts from some of his e mails to me.

'I have to say I find the Welsh rather an odd bunch' This is always a good start to a blossoming relationship. Tell the welsh girl you think she comes from a nation of odd people!

'Your reply, within the limits of the English language , endears me to you.' Fabulously stilted and rather Georgian somehow. Actually this one got bonus points because he went on to say that I was a girl who 'transcends the ordinary'. So thumbs up for him on this one.

This one is my favourite 'I'm almost getting to like the sound of you.' I'm not sure what you are supposed to say to such an overwhelming compliment. Swoon gracefully away perhaps? The fact that he isn't getting to like me, but is almost getting there. Be still my beating heart. I think I'm having an angina attack....

Instead I took the plunge and suggested that we meet up. He has sent me his number and I have to be brave and ring him. I have no idea what to expect or what to say for that matter. 'Hello, I'm the odd welsh girl you almost like?' doesn't seem like the best opening ever. Any suggestions?

Monday, 6 April 2009

Do Not Leave Unsupervised with Children

Had an idyllic day at the hovel yesterday. Two sets of friends with their respective children agreed to risk their health and come for Sunday lunch. I was a paragon of efficiency and had everything organised with military precision. Well, until I decided to quickly try and do the general knowledge crossword and got distracted, forgot about the lamb and overcooked the potatoes.

The day was mild and sunny and the wind chill factor was only on the -3 mark, so T shirt weather really. The house was as tidy as I was going to make it, and I had warmed the plates and everything. Fine, the lamb wasn't as pink as I would have liked, and the leeks could have been cooked for a little longer, but the chocolate and chilli pudding was a work of art and I had all the ingredients for Bloody Mary's so everyone was happy.

The small boys had a bag full of dinosaurs to play with after lunch. Much roaring and shrieking accompanied this but they seemed pretty happy (or perhaps that was the sound of dismemberment, it can be hard to tell). The Loyal Hound did eat three of the dinosaurs, but they only found out about one and never noticed the other two were missing.

Small girl kept herself happily occupied playing shut the box, reading a book and helping to clear up the lunch by eroding the edges of the remaining hunk of pudding with her finger. It was all very M & S advertish.

After coffee, chocolates and more wine, we rose to the lure of the sunshine and went up to the pond. Mack and Mabel, the geese, have returned to their usual nest and we hauled the boat out for a tour of the island that their nest is on. Having loaded the three children into it we then kindly pushed in one of the fathers and let him row them round and round for half an hour. There were shrieks of 'ALLIGATOR' and 'CROCODILE' from the small boys who were torturing themselves by trailing their fingers in the water and then snatching them out at the prospect of primeval monsters surging up from the deep. Mack and Mabel took the gawping with good grace, though Mack did have to have strong words with one of the dogs who had also come visiting and misunderstood the territorial rights of a father goose. One chastened puppy retreated rapidly to the other side of the pond.

High entertainment was provided when small boys returned to the bank, and small girl insisted on learning to row. She sat in the middle, oars in hand and her father sat in the stern of the boat. The weight disparity between a small, sylph like child and a large man became instantly apparent. The bow of the boat was so far out of the water that the rest of us could see the keel. It looked like some sort of a Miami power boat. Small girl could scarcely reach the water with the oars she was so high up. Whilst we rolled about laughing they rowed, stately as a galleon, studiously ignoring our snorts and gasps.

Finally they returned to shore and the children's attention turned to the wildlife. It is toad shagging season and for anyone who lives near freshwater they will know that there is a week of Toad Porn going on. Everywhere you look there are clusters of toads busy ensuring the future of the species. It is not unusual to see some 40 or so toads at it in the sunshine in one small patch of water.

It didn't take the children long to spot the toads but due to their camouflage it is easy to see the small male but not the larger, drabber female beneath him. After prodding several of the beleagured things with reeds I finally agreed to sweep up a toad in a bucket so that they could study him at close quarters.

So busy were they that the toads scarcely seemed to notice their change of habitat, but the children noticed all too quickly that I had presented them with not one, but two toads, apparently giving each other piggy backs. That is of course a nice, straightforwards story that I could have used but did I? Did I heck. When asked what they were doing I absent mindedly said 'Oh, they are having sex'.

What the hell was I thinking? The boys are 3 and 4, small girl is 7. I think there are rules, inviolable rules about this sort of thing. Rules along the lines of 'don't mention sex to other people's children, even in the context of toads'. It was too late though. I had brought the topic up and was rewarded with an instant question from one of the small boys; 'what's sex?'. I will say that I recovered fast. I had realised the quicksand that I had leapt into and took steps to edge myself out. 'Sex' I replied 'is how frogspawn is made'. This was taken on board with disinterest and attention reverted to whether it would be possible to hold the copulating toads, keep them in a matchbox, or poke them with a reed. It seemed disaster was averted, but only by the skin of my teeth.

It is one thing to educate your own children, but involunatry education of other people's children is a whole other kettle of fish that I wish I had come nowhere near. I must remember to say nothing in front of children, ever again, before I accidentally mention STD's, alternatives to the Missionary position and the truth about Father Christmas to more of the little wretches.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Random Fact Friday

For your amusement here are some random facts that I have in the dustier corners of my brain. Naturally I have no idea if they are true, I just know that I know these things, and now, so do you.

* Sweden consumes more ketchup per head than any other country in the world.

* Humans share 98% of the same DNA as a banana. I know some people who possibly share more than this.

* Banana fact two - you can't take bananas onto a boat in the Whitsunday islands as they are considered horribly unlucky.

*France is the only country where you can legally marry a dead person. (Why? why would you - and who?)

* A pregnant woman can take a pee anywhere she wants in Britain. The rest of us must cross our legs or risk arrest.

* You can pay approx £1.20 for a bottle of Evian water Evian is NAIVE spelt backwards...

* You would have to count from one to a thousand before you have reach a number with the letter A in it.

* More people are killed by coconuts than sharks. In Thailand, if you are hit by a coconut people won't help you because it is said that only evil people are hit by coconuts.

* It is against the law to die inside the houses of parliament. Would you care though as you would, presumably, be dead?

* Ants can survive for two weeks underwater

* There is a law in Chicago that forbids you from eating in a place that is on fire. How good is the food there that people stay eating when the place is burning up around them?

I know that there is other totally random stuff jumbled up in the odd sock drawer that is my head but I can't sort them out right now. This is my token effort at a spring clean for my brain!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

I have Wii'd myself....

On Tuesday, work necessitated an overnight trip to London. Blah blah. All very unthrilling. Routine even. I was not even going to be there for 24 hours. I rang one of my endlessly patient friends to find out if I might stay and headed South.

Tuesday evening began innocuously enough. A glass of red wine, a quick catch up on events since we had last spoken. That is when the trouble flared up. The last time we had spoken had been her birthday and her boyfriend had given her a Wii machine thingummy.

She extolled its virtues to me. She suggested I try it. I viewed it askance. Such a thing was surely not for me? She started plugging things in and it seemed that it would be rude, churlish even, to refuse to play. In my innocence I imagined that five minutes or so would prove to be enough and I would then be able to return to my wine glass and the armchair. Fool. Fool. Fool. How little I knew.

It began innocently enough with a game of bowls. My kind hostess told me with glee that she thrashed her boyfriend at this on a regular basis, consequently I had no hopes for my own prowess. But then the seduction began - STRIKE!!! The sound of cheering crowds, scores in the hundreds. Best of three turned into best of five. I was winning. I was hooked.

It might have been during the last, hotly contested match that I strained a muscle in my bottom. I hadn't worried about this since I didn't think I had any muscles there but it turns out that I do, and it is a muscle required for bowling victory. Ouch. But like a true sportsman (ok, sportswoman) I persevered through the twinge and carried on.

When my friend stopped to answer the phone I started playing Baseball. Now that is hard and it turns out that there are a whole set of muscles in my shoulder blade that are required to play it, muscles I have not used for a long time. Muscles that are protesting.

It didn't end there. Exhausted after the fourth innings I switched to what I presumed would be a leisurely game of golf. Not that I have ever played golf in my life mind you. I hit a Birdie. I don't know what that is but it was very exciting. I also hit a tree and hit the ball straight down the fairway onto the green. I was 1 under par. NO idea whether that is good or bad but I was addicted.

After a brief stop for food we resumed and decided to take up skiing. We had downhill races, we slalomed. We swore at one another and we shouted at the screen in frustration. By the end I was exhausted. It would have been less tiring to do the real thing.

That was just the beginning of the end. This morning I can scarcely walk. Little old ladies with two walking sticks travel with more agility than I do. Entire muscle groups that I thought had retired for good have come out to play and cripple me in the process. I have Wii'd myself, and I'm paying the price.

God it was fun though.

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