28 November 2011


"He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it."

If only this was true. 

19 November 2011

"All change please, this train has reached its destination."

I have an extremely short attention span. So short l spend my 40 minute commute to work constantly switching between radio stations to avoid any chatter whilst eating toast and gawking at other bleary eyed drivers. All at 70mph. In the dark. It will therefore come as no surprise that my 17-odd year long driving history is littered with minor (and not quite so minor) accidents. I shall soon run out of insurance companies that are willing to insure me for less than a bar of gold.

I just get bored easily. Always have done. Hence the 3 month hiatus in writing. I have nothing new to say, bad or good. I could regale you with tales of learning to surf (more time was spent learning how to get sand out of various orifices), consumption of gin (walking into a glass door in the middle of a packed bar), and rugby injuries (a hand that turned entirely black for 2 weeks), but it would be nothing that l have not said before. In truth, my life is pleasant and l am happy, but l have never been content with the status quo.

When l felt like this as a child my mother thrust me into an overall, sent me out with my wellies on, and told me l was not allowed home until tea-time. I inevitably would end up late, covered in mud, periodically twitching from hours spent playing with electric fences.

As a teenager this boredom was alleviated by altering my appearance. Cutting my hair, dying it bright colours, getting a tattoo, piercing various parts of my anatomy until l got so desperate for change l shaved off all of my hair. I looked like a satanic Buddhist monk (?). My mother refused to acknowledge me for an entire week.

The changes were more drastic in my early twenties. When that familiar feeling of ennui settled on my shoulder I would quit my job, pack up my bag, grab a passport, and travel, seeking adventure and challenge in unfamiliar faces and landscapes. Until I ended up in Australia, bankrupt with no work permit, and having to crawl back to the UK with my tail between my legs.

Indeed, becoming a teacher was in no small part due to my need for constant stimulation (*snigger*) and challenge. But now my feet are beginning to itch again (metaphorically speaking. No fungal infections here thank you). My life lacks a specific direction, and l feel motionless. But I can smell change in the air, and l don't know what, where, or when, but l am ready for it.

It just won't be shaving off my hair.

11 August 2011

One Year On

Still I miss you

Still I think of you

Still I feel it

Still I wait

For the day

I will not

8 August 2011

The Field of Dreams

This morning l awoke to the loud barking of my phone. I was sweating copiously, my legs were cramped, my mouth as dry as a camel’s carcass, dribble crusted to my chin, and an unusually sharp and unfamiliar object poking me in my thigh.  A shopping trolley, as it disappointingly turns out. Completely disorientated, l could  feel  the sun beating through the window, no, four windows surrounding me, and l could just about make out muffled conversations and shuffling footsteps of crowds of people as they walked  right past me, totally unaware of my grimy, alcohol fumed existence. I groped for my phone, locating it in my jeans’ pocket. Clearly l had slept in my clothes last night. “We are up, are you coming for a cup of tea?” The question was met with a grunted response as l attempted a Houdini type escape from my sleeping bag. If Houdini had not had the use of one leg, one arm, and had had elephantitus in his remaining limbs. Eventually free and upright, the truth revealed itself – l had spent the night asleep in the backseat of a car. A fitting end to four days of debauchery that comprise a music festival, most of which had been conducted in the following manner:

7.30/8am : Awake to the sounds of teenage boys screaming obscenities to one another, and/or talking about enjoying sexual relations with each other’s mothers. Try and make sense of this as l was just about to kill a space-crocodile with my bare hands in my dream. Worry l have gone mad. Open one eye to reveal two friends in states of slumber, rolled up in sleeping bags, in my proximity. Roll over and promptly bounce off a half deflated air mattress and land on one of said friends. Receive insults and, as l crawl back onto my bed, wonder why my pillowcase is covered in neon pink smears. Crawl into tent porch in search of water to quench thirst. Can only find cider or warm flat diet coke. And a half eaten barbequed sausage. Gulp the coke. Hope the sausage is an illusion.

8.30/9am: Sunglasses hiding the hangover, stumble the half mile to the toilets and showers. Attempt to negotiate an obstacle course of guy ropes, tents, and empty beer cans. Silently curse the lively looking freaks who clearly have had a reasonable amount of alcohol and a full nights sleep, and who are leaping up the hill from the shower like new born lambs. Utter prayers to the God of Karma that they inadvertently step in a pile of teenage vomit and soil their shiny designer wellington boots.

9.10am: Armed with an armful of toilet paper, hold my breath as l tentatively enter one of the portable toilet blocks. Almost die. Close my eyes and try not to fall into the fetid cess-pit.

9.12am: Take deep heaving breaths as l cover my entire body in pink anti bacterial hand wash. Get some odd looks from passers by who clearly think l am having some drug induced hallucination. Wonder if this is how my pillow turned pink.

9.20am:  Stand naked in a dribbling shower amongst a variety of females in various states of undress. The pleasure of warm water and shampoo is close to heaven. Never want to leave. As l wash my face my hands come away covered in neon face paint. Mystery solved.

9.35am: Never underestimate the life giving qualities of clean pants and clean teeth.  I am reborn. For about 30 seconds.

10.30am: Make up applied (trowled), we trot to the breakfast tent. Free granola and yoghurt = 10 minutes of feeling the picture of health. Shoot disapproving looks to the male teenage colony to our left as they start supping beer and strutting around in their Batman pants.

11am: Open a can of cider.

11.30am: Open another can of cider.

11.50am: Illusion of health has rather dissipated. Reality of possible alcoholism and frightening reality.

12pm: Enter the main arena, all innocence. Maintain wide eyes as security pull two hip flasks of vodka from my wellington boots, and bladder of wine from my bra and two cans of cider from my pants. I claim that being from the West Country, smuggling is in my genes. They grab my shoulders and march me to the Samaritan tent.

1.30pm: Rejoin friends. Sit in sun and listen to music. Sup contraband cider.

1.45pm: Run into nearest tent as rain lashes the ground and God tries to make the point that cider drinking before 6pm is really not quite the thing.

3pm: Hunger strikes. Wander from stall to stall eyeing up organic, fresh, tasty morsels, drooling slightly. However, eat a bag of six doughnuts , freshly fried and rolled in sugar. Wash down with cider.

8pm: As night falls, so do the levels of illegal alcohol. Become the Ray Mears of festival survival by creating ever more flamboyant cocktails. Who knew sour Haribo could turn rose wine into a palatable drink?

11pm: Make lots of new friends in the dark. Slather them in neon face paint. Steal their rum. Drink it neat. Retch and contort as if someone is exorcising a demon from our cider-riddled bodies.

11.30pm: As the cold air seeps into bones, run to the most packed tent and squeeze into the middle of drug addled sweaty bodies. Shout unintelligibly to each other. Get tempted to buy a glow stick and a pair of furry boots. Wonder if this is appropriate attire for ladies post 30.

11.35pm: Jump about in furry boots, a tutu and wave my glow stick vigorously, as if trying to communicate to the DJ via semaphore.

12am: Evicted from dance tent by bouncers. Apparently climbing the struts and attempting to fly using giant helium balloons is one step too far.

12.05am: Silent disco. Dance to my own beat and sing at the top of my voice. Close my eyes and revel in the music.

12.10am: Open eyes and realise l have cleared the area.

3am: Stumble back up the hill. Lose own tent. Find many similar tents. Find lots of irate tent owners.
3.30am: Fall through tent door. Throw boots off and munch on the discarded sausage. Eat some toothpaste and pass out to the stomach rumbling beats of dub-step and the screams of teenagers.

And repeat.

Oh, and the car? Well....
3am (DAY 4): Find tent decimated by wind and/or hooligans. Poles broken. Resit temptation to beat the nearest teen with the tent pole and hand their carcass upon it as a warning to their peers. Instead use all Girl Guide knowledge to fix tent with neon face paint and empty cider cans. Fail, pick up car keys and spend an hour searching for car. Pass out in back seat.

Good times, good times.

28 July 2011

My Summer Project

To keep me from alcoholism this summer holiday, l though l would spend the next five and a half weeks creating some sort of online journal of my activities. Which will hopefully make me do more than just shuffle up to the local supermarket for more Gin. It may not. One can only hope. Of course, if l happen to be swept of my feet by some handsome local farmer then l will be spending my summer in the haybarn and not posting in a drunken haze. In the meantime, you can read more here.

You call it a kiss, l call it treason.

Now, after a lengthy absence (moving house, birthdays, blah blah) l was all ready to regale you with tales of DIY fails (four fingers attached to a tube of Superglue instead of two wardrobe doors attached to the wardrobe), end of term antics (passing out head first into a kitchen sink), romance (trying to seduce the rather young and ginger telephone engineer with tea and consequently spilling it down his trousers. Unintentionally, of course.), and other random nuggets of that my entertain you (discovering a remarkable likeness of myself as a slavering sabre toothed dinasour in one of my pupils' sketchbooks). However, having had a few days free from standing at the front of a classroom and postulating on the theory of evolution (or, How You Can Spin An Owl's Head Until It Flies Like A Helicopter) and the like, l am feeling the need to clamber onto my soapbox for a short while.

The thing is, over the past year l have begun to lose my faith in humanity.

Maybe l still hanker after fairytale romance, perhaps it is my Christian upbringing, or indeed a fundamental inherited morality, but l truly believe in fidelity. However, l am beginning to feel like a Victorian virgin clutching onto her iron chastity belt whilst all her friends are testing out vibrators on their noses at an Anne Summers party. Gay or straight, married, affianced, with child or not, it appears that all around me are indulging in some extra curricular entertainment of the sexual kind. Without guilt or remorse.

Now, don't get me wrong, l have not been in some kind of bubble for the past 30-odd years, imagining that celebrities and royals were the only ones caught with their toes in someone else's mouths. My parent's divorce was due to a dalliance on my mother's behalf, l myself have swapped saliva with another's boyfriend, and my recent heartbreak had everything to do with a drunken misdemeanour of the naked kind. However, in each of these cases both inanimate and animate objects (the cat) were thrown, curses of leprosy, plague, and boils invoked, and many tears of remorse and pleas for forgiveness uttered. Thus the infidels acknowledge that their actions are heinous, and become the villains of the story. I like this kind of logic.

Where my brain starts to have a slight meltdown, other than trying to install a printer driver 12 times onto my laptop which then informs me of a 'Fatal Error' 98% of the way through which results in a 'Fatal Error' of the hammer-through-the-keyboard-type, is the view amongst my peers and other acquaintances that infidelity is another badge to be collected and worn, albeit invisibly, on their chest. That it is is somehow an accepted course of action when one is a little bored, or had a little too much to drink. Something that is to be laughed off. Something that is as inconsequential as throwing all your clothes off and swimming across a river to 'rescue' a gnome from a garden on the other side. Maybe not the best analogy, but you get the point. It seems that while lip service is paid to faithfulness, in reality the majority of people are grabbing a handful of forbidden flesh in the broom closet.

So, l remain disappointed and disillusioned. Maybe l have missed an important Public Announcement at some point in my life. Did the Prime Minister suddenly issue a White Paper for polygamy? Are we all allowed several partners at once? With no comeback? Do we need to start rewriting the fairytales? Is Prince Charming about to be found knocking one off over Skype to one of the Ugly Sisters? If so, l have one hell of a lot of catching up to do. Starting with that BT Engineer.

26 June 2011

Behind the picket line.

There are many occasions in life that find me enthusiastically screaming and shouting until my voice is hoarse. But only one that is done so naked. The others tend to involve me hurling various obscenities from a muddy sideline and/or pub stool, drunkenly caterwauling my way through some rock anthem whilst holding onto a confused stranger for dear life, or attempting to get the attention of a long-fantasised-over rock star amid a crowd of several thousand knickerless ladies who have all had the same idea. Quite frankly, I embarrassingly lose any remaining self respect or inhibitions and throw myself full force (l nearly wrote full frontal, a Freudian slip if ever there was one) into the moment.

You would think, then, that political marches, tree-top living, oil-tanker ambushes and the like would be right up my street. All that banner waving, chanting and general raucous behaviour should really appeal to someone of my  antagonistic nature. But it doesn't. Not in any way. In fact, whenever I happen to chance upon a march of any sort I hot foot it in the other direction. Apart from the time when I ended up heading a procession in Seville. In a car. In 35 degree heat. Police were banging on the windows, protesters were attempting to tie banners onto the wipers, and, I, fearing for my life and attempting to mime a wrong turn, ended up half suffocated by a map. Not my finest moment.

My general antipathy towards protests, however, does not prevent me from joining the masses when l feel it is required. I just avoid the chanting, refuse to wave a banner, and generally get through the whole ordeal with a flask of whisky. Marching against the Iraq War - TICK. Marching against the hike in University Fees - TICK. Marching against the changes to Teacher's Pensions - I remain undecided.

School is currently a political hotbed, with groups of teachers huddled on the corners of every corridor, rumours of strikes, tactical union membership changes, and the possibility of school closure fuelling every heated whispered debate. The militant protesters are on the hunt for new recruits, and are zealously evangelical about the horrors of the coalition government, placing hand drawn posters of the Education Minister as Satan with the Prime Minister as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in everyone's desk. One such vigilante appeared in my classroom with fire in his eyes as he spouted the Law According to NUT. He left a couple of minutes later with posters staple-gunned to his nipples. Much to my pupils' amusement.

I think it may be the hours of my childhood that were spent listening intently as a preacher after preacher proclaimed the Word of the Lord, Death to all Sinners, and How Tambourine Playing Saves Your Soul. It could be that I was forced to spend my Saturdays performing badly choreographed dance routines in the street to entice more foul-souled shoppers to redeem themselves the following Sunday morning. Perhaps it is the days spent memorising whole sections of the Bible ( I still know Psalm 1 by heart, should it ever appear on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire), or that I spent a weekend hiking in horizontal rain carrying a chicken that subsequently caught pneumonia and whose neck l had to then attempt to break with a log, or that l frequently got my mouth washed out with soap if l so much as tapped my foot to 'Like a Virgin'. Whatever the cause, try to convert me and you will find that I stand there with my fingers stuck in my ears, shouting 'Anarchy in the UK' approximately 0.5cm from your eardrum. And a leaflet staple-gunned to an intimate part of your anatomy.

Instead, l prefer to come to my own conclusions. I like to know all the information, and take a balanced approach. So l have read a lot this weekend, formulating arguments, and deciding what my plan of action will be for the week ahead. As l delved into the labyrinthine tunnels of information that the internet holds, l stumbled across all the Bills that Parliament are currently debating. There are the usual suspects - Education, Welfare Reform, Asylum Seekers, but there are some anomalies. Ones that have not reached the headlines, for reasons that will become apparent.

1.) That the Royal Mint should produce commemorative coins for the Olympics that weigh 1 Kilogram. Is this a subtle ploy to win the war against obesity, to succeed where Jamie Oliver has failed by filling the pockets of the nation with overweight coinage? Nonsense. They need to produce commemorative coins that can only be used when you have collected all five parts from your box of cereal, and stuck them altogether with super glue.

2.) That people who have removed or attempted to remove snow from public places are immune from prosecution. I am not sure how clearing snow could be construed as a criminal offence, unless you had access to a snow plough and destroyed several neighbour's gardens and flattened a pet llama in the process, and l am not sure what unfortunate event would have led to an M.P realising that the law still existed. However, I, for one, am in favour. I suspect that being arrested and convicted for clearing a snow drift would hold no kudos in the prison system.

3.) That local bowling greens should be protected from local redevelopment. Obviously put forward by someone who enjoys spending an evening bleaching and starching white trousers to within an inch of their lives, and then donning them to roll a few balls about on a small piece of grass that has been trimmed with nail scissors by a member of the local OCD help group. Build a house on it.  Look at the French, all they need is a bit of gravel and a bottle of red wine to enjoy their ball rolling.

So there we have it. One one hand, our government are sailing our pensions down the river, on the other, they are saving our bowling greens. I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies. Now, where is that picket line again?