Happiest time of the year

 

 

 

summertime

 

Ah, Summer! As the sultry July days count down to August splendour, naturally I was overjoyed to receive my first charity Christmas catalogue in the post yesterday.

 

Bad enough there were cards in the shops even before the children had broken up from school. Bad enough that the restaurants are already advertising their special menus and group bookings for the December festivities. Bad enough one the shops I regularly buy clothing from sent me an Autumn/Winter clothing catalogue. I could just walk away, averting my gaze and muttering a Hail Mary under my breath like a lost monk in Soho.

 

This one mugged me though. This one was in an envelope promising other goodies. Sigoth and I recently signed up to be members of a particular charity and here was our shiny handbook, detailing places of interest to visit. Our dreams of weekends spent traipsing along cliff tops were rudely interrupted by the advent of, well, Advent. In July. In a heatwave. I do not live in the Southern hemisphere, so it was just wrong on every level.

 

Still, I don’t want to be all Scrooge about it. Who doesn’t like a jolly winter festival with feasting and frivolity and fat men stuck in chimneys? If I’m going to have repetitive tunez inflicted upon my eardrums in shops I would prefer Noddy Holder over some Lounge Lizard any day of the week, or indeed, week of the year.

 

So bring it on. After all, I make the cake in September so it can soak up the brandy goodness for a few months. Not long until September really.

 

With that in mind I’m starting my Christmas list, and I’m going to share it with you so you know what to get for my stocking.

 

  1. A chocolate orange. No stocking is complete without one of these in the toe end. The option of a genuine satsuma or clementine may be laudable, but let’s get real here. Chocolate is the way to go during the holiday season.
  2. A pair of black socks. Not those stupid socks with cartoon characters and dodgy slogans which you can’t wear to the office for fear of offending the receptionist. A decent pair of black socks which will actually be useful for the rest of the year. Otherwise I would feel bad for the slave labour that created them.
  3. A notepad and pen. Just in case I want to write down a phone message from someone who can’t work out how to use text or email. Because there are still lots of those people left in the world.
  4. Soap. Apparently there’s a rule at Christmas that says we all have to use our own soap instead of the perfectly serviceable soap in the bathroom.
  5. Chocolate liqueurs. See (1) above, but with added alcohol for the real meaning of Christmas.
  6. A magazine. This is a tricky item because I have to forswear magazines during November and December just in case someone gets me one I have already read. Alternatively you could get one of those rip-off Best of the Year style volumes, which just include all the stuff they already printed in a new issue. Because recycling is good, don’cha know?
  7. A small toy or novelty item, ideally as repulsive as possible. Christmas is about meaningless tat, so let’s start the day as we mean to go on. A sparkly vampire keyring, a furry dice or anything from a Pound Shop is ideal.
  8. A small gift the giver and the receiver both actually care about. This is the apology for most, if not all, of the above and says “I love you really.” Which I suppose is the essence of Christmas.

 

Have a marvellous summer.

 

Namaste.

Mash up

Yesterday’s post was bleak, so today I thought I would share a local news story with you for fun.

The A64 is the main road from York to Scarborough, passing near Malton on its way. Yesterday a lorry shed a load of instant mash all over the carriageway and chaos ensued. For reasons I do not fully understand I find this very funny.

http://m.yorkpress.co.uk/news/11293176.UPDATED_9_35pm__Instant_mash_spill_blocks_A64_in_both_directions/

You can also get a blow by blow account via the North Yorkshire Police twitter feed (@NYorksPolice) including many potato related puns

Happy Sunday

Namaste

The mind as an open book

Time to analyse the contorted brain that drives EBL. The Daily Post has suggested (and I am infinitely suggestible when I choose to be) that it might make an interesting post if a person is suffering from Bloggers’ Block to perform some pop-psycho-analysis based on the last five books I read. To be fair, Bloggers’ Block sounds like something fairly serious and I doubt even antibiotics would suffice, so I hope to make it to the end of this post and see you on the other side.

Most of my reading these days is based around your lovely blogs and the occasional foray into Facebook World to catch up on the memes, and occasionally some humans to whom I have linked. Otherwise I read knitting patterns, because they tell me what to do and make me feel better, or look at pictures. The pictures may be moving on a screen, or static in a magazine, and in either case, they transport me to other worlds far more absorbing than my own daily grind.

You are not about to get a series of book reviews. I have included Amazon links so you can look them up if you want to.

I would like to think I read an eclectic mix of material, and looking at my last five books was certainly a reasonably typical selection. My reading of choice tends to be science-fiction. It is a love affair that never grows old, in part thanks to the invention of time travel and a very special theory of relativity. In reverse order then….

1.Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”

I always say I like science fiction and not fantasy, but the first item on the list gives that the lie. Anything by Neil Gaiman is OK with me. I love his style, in pretty much every sense of the word.

What does this book tell you about me? It’s a fable. It involves demons and mythology and the human condition.

Conclusion: Likes fairy stories because she never grew up.

Defence: I would say grown ups need to read more fairy stories. We might remember that courage and kindness matter more than riches and fame, that you can’t judge someone by how they look, that dreams and promises are important, and that life is full of wonderful mystery,

Moving on.

2. “The Fifth Science Fiction Megapack”.

I keep this one on my Kindle for train journeys. It’s a collection, and I can start and stop easily which suits train journeys. Currently I am re-reading H Beam Piper’s “The Fuzzy Papers” in it. I loved H Beam Piper when I discovered him as a teenager. He was an antidote to the Cold War mentality and expressed joy in the possibilities of alien life and compassion in dealing with it.

Conclusion: Does too many train journeys, and likes to be prepared. Overly logical and structured at the expense of spontaneity.

Defence: reading something half way decent on a train journey is what keeps us civilised and prevents mass murder.

3. “The King in the North” by Max Adams

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will be aware that I like my Old English prose and verse, and I am interested in the period historically. Oswald was the real life king upon whom Tolkien based Aragorn and he is fascinating. The cult of St Oswald was a huge influence in early medieval Europe. The links to pagan mythology (the Silver Hand etc) are really intriguing, and he is an interesting blend of pagan and early Christian. Given that his conversion appears to have been genuinely based on his own belief and not a politically expedient move as in the case of many other rules of the period.

Conclusion: Likes to appear intellectual / lives in an ivory tower and is unfit for normal human interaction. Avoids intimacy.

Defence: Yes, indulge me. It makes me happy and hurts no one (except the tree which produced the paper). Intimacy is over-rated. As Linus (I think) says “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.”

4. “Rant” by Alfie Crow

Do I enjoy well-crafted sarcasm and a bit of murderous mayhem? Why, yes I do, thank you for asking. And this fits the bill. I came across it because Sigoth has very very clever friends, one of whom recently published her first novel. We were invited to the book launch and met some other first-time authors there, including Alfie Crow. He did a reading from his book and it was love at first hearing.

Conclusion: Not afraid of a bit of gore and indulges in dark humour, probably as a way of deflecting personal insecurities.

Defence: it’s a fair cop, guv. Does it surprise you that one of my favourite films (after “The Princess Bride”, which is the Best Film Ever, obviously) is “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”?  Vinnie Jones makes me laugh out loud. “Don’t effing swear in front of the effing kid!”

And finally, I am currently indulging myself at the end of the day with a bedtime story.

5. “The Inimitable Jeeves” by P G Wodehouse

When I was little I listened to Radio 4 every night after tea with my dad. At 6.30 after the boring news bit they have a comedy or quiz show for half an hour before The Archers. I grew up listening to Hancock’s Half Hour, ITMA, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, The Navy Lark, The Goon Show, Round the Horne and What Ho! Jeeves. I adored them all, even the ones I didn’t understand (honestly, I was quite shocked when I learned some actual Polari!). I thought Jeeves and Wooster were hilarious. I particularly liked the aunts. It was all very silly.

Conclusion: Both nostalgic and escapist while satirical and elitist. The perfect summary of all of the above.

Defence: Indeed.

Well, there you have it. A brief tour of the EBL bookshelves and mental apparatus. What have you learned? Do you read books? What were the last five?

Namaste

 

Shopping List

Today was not a work day, oh no it was not! It was a Saturday, as I am sure many of you will have spotted. It was a day for Getting Things Done at home.

Sigoth and I compiled the shopping list for a trip into town.

Shoppng List

1. Pay the newsagent.

We don’t have a daily paper ourselves but the demented mother likes to have one. It helps her keep track of the date at least, and she enjoys the pictures of puppies. I used to worry about the headlines because she likes a particular red-top with an undying devotion to that princess that was killed. Some of the front pages can be alarming if you happen to be the kind of person, like my mother, who thinks that newspapers carry actual stories about real life events with any degree of accuracy. Really these publications should be stocked on the Fiction shelves in the shop. Thankfully she now doesn’t take in what they say, so is no longer upset. Every cloud has its silver lining.

2. Drugs

3. Nails

4.Goat’s milk yoghurt

5. Paint brushes

I know, it’s an eclectic mix. In fact it made me think I was going on some kind of Outward Bound course with Sigoth where we would have to use the items listed to build a device for crossing the Atlantic as part of a team building exercise.

We talked it through and here is our plan:

First, take all the drugs to produce a creative mind set.

Then use the paint brushes to slap the yoghurt onto some rocks. We assume the course will take place on the Moors because why would you do this anywhere sane. Or warm.

Use the nails to make abstract patterns and leave them on the yoghurty rocks to rust. After a while the rocks will be covered in all kinds of beautiful lichen fed by the yoghurt and growing in psychedelic patterns traced by our drug-fuelled brains.

We will enter these into the Turner Prize or similar and win a large amount of money with which we will purchase luxury tickets to cross the Atlantic.

Job. Done.

Either that or I am just kidding and we are really going to make a bomb.

I hope you had an interesting day. Do tell me how it went.

Namaste.

 

 

Back to work blues

I haven’t exactly been singing “Hey Ho” as I trundle off to the mines, but today was my first day back to work since I had my operation, It’s been a good three weeks in total and I have still not had time to get bored at home.

Admittedly much time has been spent swinging my arms in circles because that’s what the very nice young man at physio told me. I’m a sucker for those baby blue eyes. We’ll see what new nonsense he comes up with on Thursday when I have my next follow up, but meanwhile my arms are now capable of rotating in three and possibly even four dimensions.

shoulders

I wasn’t keen on going back to work, but I have my duty. There are still mortgage payments to make after all, and if we lost the house it would be embarrassing having to leave the demented mother by the side of the road for the council to collect. Especially now they only come fortnightly.

Still, one of the most fantastic things about my job is that I am primarily home-based. In simple terms it means I can work in my pyjamas. I don’t. But I could.

What I did wear, though, to keep myself cheerful and my toes toasty, were my Christmas present slippers from an Offspring. Every time I felt a bit fed up today I wiggled my toes and when I looked down at my feet the slippers made me smile.

slippers

It wasn’t snowing at all today, but I still hummed a little hum and was glad my toes were warm.

The more it snows (Tiddely-Pom)

The more it goes  (Tiddely-Pom)

The more it goes on snowing  (Tiddely-Pom)

 

And nobody knows  (Tiddely-Pom)

How cold my toes (Tiddely-Pom)

How cold my toes are growing (Tiddely-Pom Tiddely-Pom Tiddely-Pom Tiddely-Pom)

http://pooh.wikia.com/wiki/The_More_It_Snows_(Tiddely-Pom)

I hope you are all warm and toasty – especially those of you caught in the terrible winter weather in various parts of the world. How do you keep warm and cheerful when all about you are conspiring to bring you low?

Namaste

 

Freestyle

royalty-free-vector-of-a-writing-feather-quill-and-scroll-logo-by-patrimonio-4785

Well my dears, you may have noticed that I have been a little more prolific than usual this week.

That is because I have been on holiday, trying to rest up from my shoulder operation and trying to recover from the stresses and strains of a hectic few weeks. I am amazed how tiring swinging my arms in circles has been. It may be doing wonders for the joints, but I am positively exhausted.

I wanted to try and get back into a writing routine while I was home, so I started doing the “Just 5 Minute” exercises in Joanne Klassen’s book. Today I did some freestyle writing.

“But, EBL!” I hear you cry. “Pretty much all your writing is freestyle writing!”

That is well-observed, my clever readers, but still not quite the same thing. It is true I tend to produce a stream-of-consciousness for the blog, but it is minimally edited for sense and spelling (mostly); meanwhile the freestyle writing was a timed exercise without hesitation, deviation or repetition. Well, maybe repetition.

What I find when I do freestyle exercises is that they are quite liberating. I can write what I want and know it is completely private. As a result it is possible that I express a thought that was not otherwise immediately obvious to my conscious brain.

Today my tremendous nugget of earth shattering consequence was simply that writing is my personal path to peace. Not all my writing, you will be relieved to learn, appears on this blog. Let me tell you, there are scribbled pages in notebooks and files in folders which will never go further, and that is as it should be. However, the strength of feeling I had about the value I place on being able to write most, if not every, day was a little unexpected. Really I should know by now!

So tell me, my dears, how does writing feed your soul? Does it soothe you, or energise you, or both, or neither. Is it your addiction or friend or demon in the night? Or all of them?

Namaste

 

Today I was a Rainbow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday I had to go into town. It’s not a simple job, as I rely on the bus and they only come once an hour, except for some which only come once every two hours. It’s a ticklish matter to get appointments lined up so you can make the round journey in less than half a day.

I had to go to the nurses’ to have a blood test and I had a half hour window to get the jab then back to the bus station, otherwise it was a two and a bit hour’s wait.

It is fair to say I was a little tense about timings. Being a little tense about catching buses is my only excuse. It’s not much but it’s all I’ve got and I’m sticking to it.

Because I went out dressed like a clown whose clothes have melted in the hot wash.

I hadn’t quite realised when I got dressed this morning what I was putting on. This is not unusual, and in fact may be indicative of my suitability for working in IT. In fact, let’s say it is, and not worry about stereo-typing. It is certainly why I like to wear a suit. No worrying about what to put with what. I just find a shirt to go with it, and as my suits are pretty much either black or grey I am rarely challenged.

I may also have mentioned before that I am a little poor at identifying colour. I only recently found out that orange is in fact red. God knows what this thing called “orange” is. It may be yellow, but that still leaves me with a problem.

Anyway…

Indoors was fine as I had my jade jeans with a purple t-shirt and pink jumper. It kind of works. Sigoth tells me so, and he is good at colour what with being artistic and all that. He can draw things people recognise, and make art and paint.

But then to go out I put on my purple DMs with yellow laces, my scarlet coat and orange scarf and hat. In such elegant attire I sauntered to the bus stop.

On the bus I noticed that I appeared to wearing every colour in the rainbow. Oh, right, except blue.

But it was OK because my socks had blue heels.

So today I was a rainbow, albeit in disguise because no one saw my socks.

And the best thing about being EBL is that I don’t actually care whether I clashed or was cool. (I suspect the former.)

I can assure you I am not a little ray of sunshine at the best of times, but at least I can make the world a brighter place in my own, slightly warped, way.

There was some offensive fund-raising campaign recently where women were sponsored not to wear make-up for a whole day It was supposed to be really daring. Obviously I couldn’t take part as I never wear the damn stuff. And in any case – how rude! There’s far too much concern about how women look and dress.

So I think I’ll be a rainbow more often, and if anyone says anything to me, I’ll explain to them about the glories of creation and the miracle of rods and cones. And they will back away slowly while keeping eye contact so as not to provoke the crazy Bag Lady.

Indeed.

Namaste.