Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Home to you

--Note: I initially wanted to write something a bit fun and silly, but apparently I wasn't feeling that way. Hope it's ok.--

It had been a long day. She had been tending the bar alone for almost three hours - admittedly during the day shift when there were frequently more staff than there were customers - but today a bus load of tourists had stopped in and stayed for almost two hours, eagerly peering out of the windows trying to spot any celebrities that might wander past.

They'd had several drinks among them and been free with the tips so she had done quite well out of it, but that didn't stop her feet aching or make her in any less need of a nice long bath.

Before she could pamper herself though, she had responsibilities. She walked over to the sofa and flomped down.  The TV went on, the feet went up and for three seconds she had a sofa all to herself before tiny feet jumped onto her belly. The cat, Harris, purred frantically down at her as she reached up to lazily scratch his ears. He spent a few minutes kneading her into his own idea of comfort before curling up over her heartbeat and settling down for a nap. Her left hand stayed in contact with him, while her right reached out to where the dog, Jake, sat patiently on the floor. Jake had much better manners than Harris and merely rested his head on the sofa cushions bringing his ears within easy scratching reach.

She reclined for a few minutes, gazing in the direction of the television without really being aware of it before suddenly falling asleep. Both animals, disturbed by the cessation of her petting, realised quite quickly. Harris demonstrated his approval by tucking his nose under a paw and continuing his nap while Jake first nuzzled the hand, then patrolled the room restlessly before returning to her side and curling up on the floor to join the unscheduled nap time.

An hour later Alan arrived home. The flat had darkened considerably in that time and the light from the TV flickered through the door of the lounge. Jake came padding silently through the doorway and greeted him enthusiastically but with no barking. Alan smiled and made a fuss of him quietly before going through to the lounge.

This was his favourite thing to come home to. Usually she was up and about - baking, cleaning or crafting something - but every so often this would happen. He looked down at her and smiled. Jake had returned to his position under her hand and Harris remained unmoving and thoroughly disinterested in his presence. She lay, utterly at peace yet conscious of both animals and their dependancy on her. Caring for the creatures around her was an automatic reaction and one she couldn't hide although he saw her occasionally try to look "less like a crazy thing" and avoid expressing her affection through one-sided conversations.

As he watched her sleep he imagined that she loved him with the same depth and sincerity that she felt for the animals lying beside her. He knew when she opened her eyes she would smile up at him with delight, and for a brief moment she would welcome him into her little family. But then the light would rapidly fade from her eyes and she would distance herself. Initially he had wondered if she thought he was someone else in those few moments, but last time he'd woken her she'd murmured his name and smiled before even opening her eyes.

Since she had moved in he'd smiled more than he could remember in his life before, but over the last month a dissatisfied frustration had been building within him. He hadn't understood it until he'd realised how jealous he felt of Harris - the damn cat! - every time he saw her greet it when she arrived home after a late shift. She always smiled and kissed Alan, but when she fussed Harris, she radiated a kind of warmth and love that she did not show to him. He wanted that off her and he had, over the last few weeks tried to understand what was missing. She certainly felt affection for him and the sex was great, but there was something lacking.

Finally, last night, he'd coaxed her into talking about her previous relationships. Her taste in men was apparently execrable. All three of her previous partners had, after six months together, cheated on her. Now she was with him, and she was terrified to trust him. He'd spent the morning at work flicking through project documentation, and looking busy while trying to come up with a solution. There was nothing he could do to prove that he was trustworthy, except to carry on being faithful to her. But that wasn't going to make her take that leap of faith immediately and, although he felt a little guilty about pressuring her, he wanted her trust right now.

At lunchtime he and three co-workers went to a nearby deli and had their weekly pig-out. Over his pastrami and rye he asked if any of them had difficulty trusting a new partner. One of the women laughed and said she had a failsafe - a guy was absolutely trustworthy if he had paid enough attention to buy her something she never admitted she loved. The others ribbed her for being easily bought, but Alan was intrigued. "Like what?"

She blushed slightly as she confessed: "When I was a little girl there were these crisps that absolutely stank. Seriously, when you opened the bag you'd clear the room, but I ate them with my grandad and they've been a bit of a guilty pleasure since. I wouldn't eat them in front of my boyfriend - I wouldn't even admit I liked them, in case he thought they were disgusting. You know? You don't want your boyfriend to associate you with smelly and disgusting. But this one time, Mark and I were supposed to go on a date and I had a really bad day at work, so I called to cancel. He asked if it was OK to come around and I said sure - I was a bit surprised, you know, but pleased that he still wanted to see me. Anyway, he arrived half an hour later and he'd stopped at a shop on the way. He'd brought a bottle of wine, my favourite ice cream and a sack of these crisps. I'd never told him, but he'd been interested in me enough to notice and to go out of his way to get some when I was down. That's a man you can trust."

That afternoon he'd cut work a couple of hours early and headed to a string of shops, thinking of her and what he could possibly buy her to show he'd noticed the small things. He started off in the high end, classy jewellers, but although some things caught his eye, he knew none of it would convince her to trust him. He walked past clothes shops, music stores, and food venues. He hesitated for a while at a book store, but everything seemed too shiny and new. She was drawn to old things - things with history, or things that had been abandoned or discarded and were ready to be loved.

With that in mind, he headed to the antiques dealers and flea markets, but was unable to find anything that was really about her. Feeling dispirited, he began ambling through the stores more casually, glancing around but no longer expecting to see anything. Every now and then he saw something that would suit her - he bought a scarf because it was the sort of thing she would wear and a bracelet in case she liked it, but he still saw nothing that would really catch her imagination.

However, he did recall that she'd mentioned she wanted some wrapping paper that looked like old maps - the large fantasy style ones to use as decoration under glass on the top of a coffee table. Wondering if he could get a large print book of maps, he headed for a second hand book store. Inside the store the books were piled haphazardly and he asked, optimistically, if there was a geography section. The guy behind the counter pointed him to the back right of the store, next to the history/ politics and kids sections.

It wasn't long before he found exactly what he wanted: an old book with large printed maps in colour, folded down to the size of a page. He smiled, knowing for sure that she wouldn't remove any of those maps from the book. As far as she was concerned it would be an act of desecration, but she would hopefully like it and possibly be able to photocopy one of the maps for her coffee table project. As he was heading back to the checkout he saw something else and, pretty sure she'd like it and bought that as well.

Now, as he looked down at her, he wondered how he'd know if she had something she secretly loved. If she'd kept it secret, it just wasn't possible to know.

He'd left the bracelet and scarf with his coat by the front door, but carried the books through with him. He bent over and kissed her and revelled in that brief light in her eyes. When she was fully awake he suggested they go out for dinner. she smiled, delighted, and asked how she should dress. After thinking it through he decided to really push the boat out and called a super-high class restaurant across town. Because it was Tuesday they had an empty table for two and he reserved it immediately. From his side of the conversation she knew immediately where they were going and the second he hung up she threw her arms around him and gave him an excited hug and kiss. As she was about to run to change he caught her hand: "Hang on, you've got a few minutes. I think I've found some maps for your table."


He handed her the bag and she drew out both books. The maps were on top and she looked at a few of them. She caressed them lovingly and sniffed a few of the pages before looking sheepishly up at him. "Sorry, you know that I'm a bit, well, fanatical, right?" He nodded and laughed.

"The other one isn't maps, but I thought you might like it too."

She looked at it and her jaw dropped. Her whole face froze for a few seconds, then her eyes slowly widened. She opened the front cover carefully and read the fly leaf with the publication details. She stood gazing at it for a few moments and then stared at him. Her eyes were filled with unshed tears and she reached out for him with one hand while the other held the book like it was the most precious thing she'd ever seen.

He suddenly realised he'd accidentally hit gold, but she hadn't kept it a secret like Sally had with the crisps - she'd told him months ago after a bottle of wine that she wanted to get the 1980s version of the Enid Blyton Circus of Adventure series to read to her own kids one day instead of the heavily edited versions that were available now.

"You said you'd read this version of them when you were a kid. I couldn't find them all, but I thought you might like this one to start your collection."

Her eyes lit up like fireworks and she kissed him. For a moment he wondered if he should let the dinner reservation go hang, but then decided that tonight might be a good night to have a bottle of champagne and broach the subject of having those kids so that she could start re-reading the books the way she wanted to. After all, the first thing he'd bought on his shopping spree today was an engagement ring...

Monday, 29 April 2013

Josh Groban should be glad

Dear Josh,

It is fairly well documented that I have a large, almost cumbersome, crush on you. It has been my sole1 topic of conversation for a few months now and my friends have recently demonstrated their conviction that I need to get a grip (I agree with them, but they are going to lengths I would never have credited).

While you reside in foreign climes, my friends know you are safe from my advances. Therefore, were you to hole yourself up in one of our many former colonies I would never trouble you. Sadly, your career not only precipitated this idiocy on my part, but it drives you around the globe along a route that is both predetermined and well publicised.

My sister has purchased a ticket for me to attend your concert in Manchester as a birthday present and as it is in the middle of the country (and roughly the start of your UK tour) it leaves me perfectly positioned - possibly precariously, depending on your point of view - to begin considering the possibility of hitch-hiking along behind you.

I did not mention this possibility to my friends.2

Nevertheless, whether from some deep rooted knowledge of the working of my imagination, a suspicion of fear that I may evolve, Pokemon-like, into a flame haired whirlwind of seductive force and lure you, all unwitting, to my den, or simply that I shall never find anything other than you to talk about and they've already had all they can take3, my friends have clubbed together to rescue you from my evil clutches.

They've taken a very simple and direct method of protecting you - immediately following your concert in Manchester I am being taken to the nearest airport and kicked out of the country for a week until you are safely lodged in Ireland.

I believe you owe them some very deep and sincere gratitude - a brave few are even accompanying me to Ibiza where I shall be kept on a secluded beach in their full care and heavily medicated with cocktails until such a time as they deem it safe for me to return. This is a very great sacrifice of their own lives and I feel it should be properly appreciated.

In case you are concerned about my movements prior to your Manchester concert, I am able to reassure you. I will be working on Friday, celebrating the beginning of my week off with an afternoon tea somewhere in Cheltenham (if I can afford it, I may treat myself to The Daffodil, if not it will be Druckers) on Saturday and packing on Sunday. I may go to the cinema on Saturday, but that is not confirmed. At any rate, I will remain firmly implanted in Gloucestershire.

I still recommend you hire a few extra security people for your Manchester concert. If you could arrange to have a couple of Spartan extras positioned near my seat I may even be able to get over you ;-)


1 This may be a fib
2 It is more accurate to state that I made it up to add drama to this part of the blog.
3 I should stop trying to make myself giggle before I lose the main thrust of this post altogether.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

A little bit of magic

Today I am mostly tired. Happy, but tired.

I saw "Olympus has Fallen" last night and I'm not sure if it was the explicitly romantic love story at the start, or the less obvious but still fanatically strong love stories told throughout that got me thinking about the things I want from life.

The truth is, I want magic.

I want a man who will make my life sparkle. Someone who will surprise me in little ways - for instance, showing up unexpectedly, lighting candles at dinner "just because", turning up with a posy of flowers, or my favourite chocolate bar, arranging a silly hunt around my flat for my birthday present, breakfast in bed, or a drink when I'm in the bath. Oh, and of course, someone who will buy me a pirate ship for my birthday :)

Sometimes I wonder if I'm being too demanding. Honestly, I don't think so. Possibly I just haven't been single for long enough to lower my standards to a reasonable level of expectation.

I want someone who isn't ashamed of themselves and isn't afraid to be who they are. If I end up not liking that person, that would suck - but isn't it better than lying? Faking it just to "purchase" a relationship?

One day I'm going to be alone and lost. I'm not being morbid, it's just an observation. At that time, I want, truly, desperately want, to be able to look over my life and know that if that moment is the culmination of all I have lived for then at least I had something magical.

Once upon a time I would have settled for being content. I think you can only ever be truly content when you have lived. By that time, you have the wisdom to celebrate every moment in the knowledge that each one is precious and yes, a little bit magic. When you have the experience to be content, you have the wisdom not to be.

That is what I want from my life. That, and afternoon tea and cake.


Monday, 22 April 2013


Harry and Bub were on guard. Bub wasn't much good at being a lookout because one of his eyes was hanging by a thread, so Harry did the looking. If he saw anyone dangerous, it was Bub's job to do the guarding while Harry ran and called for Dad.

Dad always said that Bub was the bravest bear he'd ever stood on guard with and Harry thought so too. Bub never got frightened, or tried to hide and he was the best at staying absolutely quiet and still so the monsters couldn't get him.

Harry copied him as much as possible but sometimes, when the whole world was dark and quiet, he was glad to know Dad was there to run to. Every time he ran to Dad, Dad said they should wait and let Bub fix the problems. After a few minutes they'd go to Harry's room together and, sure enough, Bub had fought off the bad guys again.

Tonight, Harry knew there were particularly bad guys out there because he'd seen them on the TV. He'd never known about Orks before, but they were big and really mean and he wasn't sure that Bub could handle them by himself. After all, Orks had kidnapped Sam and Frodo when adults were around, so how could Bub fight them off when he was even smaller than Harry?

Harry huddled protectively around Bub, holding one of his paws very tight and trying to look in all directions at once. There were dark corners everywhere and they kept getting bigger and bigger.

“Are you scared?” Harry whispered to Bub. “I'm not scared if you're not scared.”

Bub didn't say anything at all. He wasn't much of a conversationalist. Dad said that was because his ears were all torn up, so he couldn't hear anything Harry said. He could still be a strong protector though, even without ears and only one eye. Dad said that as long as Bub was loved, he'd have something worth fighting for and he'd keep Harry safe, so Harry loved Bub as much as he possibly could and Bub kept him safe every single night.

Harry was telling a little lie. He knew Bub wouldn't be scared because nothing would ever scare Bub. But Harry was a tiny bit scared. He snuggled as far down under the duvet as he could until only his eyes were peeping out into the shadows. He didn't dare close his eyes but he kept as still as possible. So still that the Orks couldn't even see him breathing.

He tried very hard to be absolutely still, but every now and then there was a noise that startled him. He would turn and look and then he had to start being still all over again.

Bub stared with his one eye into the darkness, as calm as ever. Harry and Bub had watched the TV together, but Bub hadn't been at all surprised to learn about the Orks, and they didn't seem to bother him now.

As Harry lay there he thought about how very old Bub was, at least as old as Dad, and how many bad guys he'd defeated. Maybe Bub wasn't scared because he'd already beaten the Orks before.

Harry had never beaten the Orks.

If he had a big sword, or arrows, or an axe, then maybe he could help Bub fight them off, but Dad said he didn't want weapons in the house. Even the pirate cutlasses had to be kept in the garage. He and Bub hadn't been pirates for a while because it was too cold to play outside. They had been ninjas quite a lot over the last few weeks and he was getting really good at sneaking through the house and attacking Dad.

Dad was getting faster as well. At first he hadn't been able to hear Harry and Bub at all, but nowadays he could hear them from the next room, and sometimes managed to duck out of the way. One time, he had even tickled Harry! But Harry was going to get him tomorrow. He had a plan. Bub was going to act as decoy and he would run behind the door and when Dad came through he would jump over the door and karate chop Dad.

And then he would teleport to the roof and he would be an alien ninja invader. And then he would, he would...

Bub gazed forward stoically with his one fixed eye, while the other twisted gently on its piece of thread. Harry was safe for another night.

Friday, 19 April 2013


John was halfway to Clare's home. He was nervous, excited and a little tense. He'd met Clare about three weeks ago and he'd been drawn to her immediately. She was vivacious, energetic, outgoing and seemed to bring a spark of life to everything she participated in. He was the moth to her flame. When he'd asked her out, he'd been shocked she agreed to go - there was nothing in his drab little life that could possibly appeal to her. Nevertheless, the first date had gone well enough that they'd followed it with a second and third.

At the end of the third date he'd had the courage to kiss her goodnight, but still felt he was being presumptuous to think of her as his anything. Clare, he felt, was too vivid to be pinned down like a butterfly on a display board, but he'd enjoy his time with her until she realised she could do better.

Last night had been their sixth date, and he had taken her for a picnic in a forest clearing. It was a popular spot with families and there were a number of children running around laughing. He'd apologised but confessed that he found it peaceful to be surrounded by family life. When he asked her what made her feel at peace she'd been quiet for a few minutes and, just as he was about to retract the question, she'd invited him to her home tonight.

And now he was here. She lived in a cottage overlooking a valley. Although her house was directly on what was referred to as "the main road" it was so quiet that it seemed isolated to John who lived in the city center, 20 minutes drive away. She welcomed him in and, after a light dinner during which she gradually became visibly more nervous, she invited him out for a walk.

As they walked they kept up a light, easy flow of chatter about their time together, common experiences and their day. Guessing that this walk had something to do with her feeling at peace, he scanned their surroundings eagerly. They had crossed the main road and were headed down into the valley along a narrow road. The largest thing on the landscape was a church and, as they passed the graveyard he noticed her reach out and run her hand along the wall for a few steps, but she passed by the gateway without a second glance. When they crossed the river at the bottom of the valley, she paused briefly to watch the water pass beneath and reached up occasionally to touch a flower, or a leaf.

Beyond the bridge the road turned into a car park for a pub, but a narrow strip continued up the other side of the valley. They walked up together. He couldn't help but watch her - the love she had for her surroundings was almost palpable. Occasionally he felt intrusive and returned his gaze to the scenery. Fresh from the city, everything seemed incredibly green to him. It was past eight in the evening, but the light was still clear and vivid although the heat of the day was dissipating slowly from the environment. The incline was generally gradual, but with the occasional steep section which left him panting self consciously. She was walking with the breezy, abstracted manner of someone who was accomplishing a regular task and he felt surprisingly unfit in comparison to her airy unconcern.

They passed two inquisitive horses on the right and a pig sty in the woods on the left. They came upon some houses scattered along the road, most with cars parked on tilted driveways, and passed several fields of sheep. The lambs were still easily distinguished from the sheep and occasionally gambolled carelessly towards them. Suddenly, John realised he could see the summit. After a forty minute walk, they had reached the end of the path: a gate marking the entrance to a reservoir.

Clare opened the gate and continued on to the reservoir wall. There she waited for him as he caught up after closing the gate and smiled up at him.

"Not long now."

She led him along the wall of the reservoir and turned right. The dirt path wound erratically along, but she only followed it for about twenty paces before stopping, laying her coat on the ground and sitting, facing the water. He sat gingerly beside her and saw that from this angle the sunset was reflected perfectly in the water.

"You like to watch the sun set?"

She shook her head, and looked at him for a moment before saying, with the solemnity of a confession: "No, I come here to listen."

He would have asked her more, but as he went to speak, she reached out and touched his hand in a plea he instinctively understood to be a request for silence. He slipped his hand over hers, interlocking their fingers, and looked out over the water again.

After a few moments of complete silence, he idly wondered what she was listening to. All he could hear was her breathing. He smiled as a sheep bleated, bringing back memory of the lambs. Then, after a few moments, he identified the rustling of the reeds in the reservoir below. He watched them for a little while, then heard the gentle sound of the water casually moving among them and lapping at the edge of the reservoir. A duck quacked and several insects cried intermittently, forcibly reminding him of troopers sounding off.

As the sun slipped lower, the sounds varied. Never very loud, but continuous. At one time he swore he heard a horse whinny, off in the distance. A dog barked nearby, and the ducks flew up out of the water, their wing beats rattling with the intensity of gunfire. A sploosh in the water sent ripples outward but he felt no need to watch it happen. Grass rustled behind him, and the ducks settled once again, quacking comfortably to each other. The sheep began sounding off all around, not just the fields they had passed on their way up and silent planes painted tail lines across the sky.

He didn't look at Clare once.

The sky had turned a peculiar shade of bruised when she sighed and stretched.

"We have to go." Her statement wasn't issued with any enthusiasm, but with the implacability of one who doesn't expect an argument. He stood up and offered her his hand. As she shook out her skirt he picked up the coat they had been seated on and asked why they had to leave now.

"The road isn't lit and, if we don't get past the houses before the sun sets, we'll have trouble seeing the way. The trees there are thicker than you'd think and not much light breaks through."

He nodded and they made the way back to what would become their home together in a peaceful silence.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

We aren't suited

You know when you're looking at something and you get a sensation of being punched in the gut while your brain screams "THIS! This is what you are looking for in your mate!"? I has that. More disturbingly, I had that when I saw a picture of a stuffed koala holding a piece of dried mango.

Yeah, I know.

However, and I can't believe I'm using my crush as an excuse (how did I get here?), I'd like to say that the context in this situation makes all the difference.

But this brings us to a deeper question. Is my brain right? Was that gut punch justified? Is Josh Groban what I am looking for in a mate? These questions and many more will be answered after this message from our sponsors1:

Everybody ought to know what they want. Here's what I want from my future partner2:

I must be interested in him
He must be 
  • interested in me
  • affectionate
  • caring
  • considerate
  • passionate
  • willing and able to compromise
  • doesn't put me down for enjoying stuff he doesn't like 
  • responsible
  • values family
  • understands when I need silence and company
  • committed to work
  • loyal
  • willing to communicate
  • someone with a sense of humour
  • at least as smart as I am
  • able to stand up to my parents
  • someone who values dates/ couple time and group events equally
Now, I'm not in a position to find out if Josh actually meets the requirements on my list but as the avowed and overarching goal of this blog is to find a flaw in the man that I can use to crush my crush, I'm going to be as negative as possible.

Josh is not interested in me. I can see straight away that we have no future together.

He does not understand anything about me! He has never even tried to. It would cause serious problems if we met and this state of affairs were to continue.


Sadly, every other point on that list, I either cannot prove against him or have evidence to support that he meets it.

The two points he fails on are entirely the result of never having met me. I concede that, had he met me, he could still fail but I am cursed with a need to be reasonable and darn it! I can't blame him for the fact that we have never met.

This was an exercise in futility. I'll revert to begging him to be a horrible human being.


1 DISCLAIMER: I don't have a sponsor.
2 Not necessarily Josh. I'm not *that* crazy.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Speedy Update

I intend to resume normal service next week - I already have some material including: Does Josh Groban actually meet any of the points on my list? (All ladies have one!)

However, I have to get Monty to the vet again tonight, so  I can't stay back after work to write this.

Therefore, in summation:
Amputation was successful - she's hopping around happily, apart from the cone of shame.
Weekend was quiet, lots of cat falling asleep on me, which was quite nice but did nothing to support my intention to exercise a bit.
I hung my first oil painting in my bathroom: that room used to be hideous but now I absolutely love it.
I'm still batty about Josh Groban who is currently being cute around marsupials (strictly speaking, I think he's probably asleep)
Watching all Studio Ghibli films before going on my holiday
Lost 1 pound so am celebrating with pudding and chocolate (I'm not fashionably skinny. However, I look fantastic in my bikini so I'm finding it difficult to care about any weight loss regime)
Reading The Siege, but wishing there were more cheerful novels in the world (Not sure if it's just bad luck, but the only things I've read recently which don't involve at least one scene of horror are targeted at under-10s.)
Planning my birthday celebrations (turning 29, I think I'm turning 29, I really think so!)

<insert something flippant here>


Monday, 8 April 2013

Holiday of my lifetime

Ordinarily at this time I would write something frivolous about my ongoing and ever-deepening crush on Josh Groban. However, I have to be in a positive frame of mind to do that. As I'm currently preparing for my beloved cat, Monty (full name Montague Tigg), to be taken for amputation on Friday, I'm feeling a bit disgruntled with the world and am inwardly railing at the injustice of it all. She doesn't deserve to lose a leg, but it is what is best for her.

I still want to keep up writing though, so I've decided to talk about my holiday. I earn about £20k a year, so fancy holidays aren't really within my budget (especially since my car insurance is £100 a month. As I only passed my test last August, the insurer is taking a chunk out of my hide :(). However, last July my grandmother booked a place for herself on a cruise and offered my sister the option to join her. Kate only needed to pay the extra cost for joining her instead of the full price. When my family found out I'd separated from my husband (6 weeks after the event - it wasn't a conversation I was eager to have) my Gran, bless her, invited me to join them. In keeping with her offer to Kate, I only needed to pay the extra for a third person.

Initially the cruise was in June, but since there weren't enough takers, we were transferred to a May trip so I have a 12 night cruise in the Baltic over my birthday for £360.

Isn't that amazing?

You know what else? Our ship is called the Marco Polo. This always makes me giggle partly due to this comic and partly because although I know there is a swimming pool based game called Marco Polo, I have no idea how you play.1

I will say this: I feel deeply sorry for my Gran. My sister is asthmatic and inherited my father's snoring. I was previously told I don't really snore, although I snuffle when I'm ill. However, more recently I've been informed that not only do I snore, but I really "go for it". This hasn't prevented my less than complimentary best friend from sharing a bed with me, but she snores too.2 I suspect my snoring is weight related, and if I can lose the stone and a half extra I am carrying that aren't strictly necessary, the snoring will also depart. However, as I sleep alone (except for Monty and the occasional trip with Gill) I don't really have much of an incentive.

My mum loaned me a sizable amount when she found out I'd broken with my ex and without it I have to say I couldn't have managed. I saved a chunk of it and was intending to spend it on this holiday, but instead, I'm cutting off Monty's leg. Because that's the kind of loving pet owner I am.3 The cruise includes all food and stuff, so apart from gratuities and maybe a cocktail on my birthday (or possibly a glass or two of prosecco - I've not decided which would feel more decadent) I don't have any additional costs unless I do excursions.

I have booked myself into three day trips in St Petersburg (The Hermitage, a bus tour of the city and a folkloric night4) which will be amazing, but other than that, I think I'm going to be happy staying on board. Let's face it - this is the only chance I'll get for a cruise, so spending time aboard isn't going to be a wasted holiday. I'll take my kindle and some sketchpads and see what I can do to keep myself occupied. The chances are I'll probably sleep a lot!

We leave on the 5th and St Petersburg is the 11th/12th. My birthday isn't until after that, so I'll have plenty of time to get my sea legs if I have any problems with sea sickness and I should thoroughly enjoy myself.

Back to the question of how I'm celebrating my birthday: I do like cocktails - they are the prettiest drinks imaginable. I sometimes wish I like a wider range of alcohol (as a general rule - to which I've already identified one exception - I'm OK with clear spirits but coloured ones are a no-go. I have the most spectacular whisky face you've ever seen) because then I could go to a bar and instruct the barman to make either the prettiest cocktail, or the most complicated one and I'd be sure I'd be able to drink it. However, I find only a martini can compete with the elegance I feel is inherent in drinking from a champagne flute, and these days a martini would probably have me on my ass. My days of being able to drink heavily are far behind me - I don't know when it happened precisely, but at some point my internal organs had a vote and decided they'd had enough. This is also why the cocktail/ prosecco is an either/ or scenario. I have strong doubts my dignity could survive imbibing both.

Earlier in the day, I have decided I will be making the most of whatever afternoon tea offerings there are. I shall eat as many varieties of cake as I feel I want and drink copious amounts of tea. My dinner shall be either lobster, prawns or steak, with a pudding of surpassing indulgence. And I'll consider a spa treatment or hair cut as a present to myself (I usually cut my hair around my birthday, so if it's not too expensive I should have the cash). It will be the first birthday that has been all about me for a long time and I intend to be as selfish as possible. It won't take much before the Catholic in me starts screaming guilty conscience, but I will resist as long as possible. After all, I've distanced myself as much as possible from the church, I should now be able to let go of the associated self inflicted pangs of unnecessary guilt, surely?

Re-reading those last two paragraphs, they sound utterly gluttonous. Damn Catholic indoctrination. I can't think of a day I would like more than waking late, breakfasting casually, swimming lazily, reading a book, sketching a bit and enjoying some sun (fingers crossed!) before dressing prettily for an afternoon tea and cake (possibly with a glass of prosecco), and then pampering in a spa before heading back to my cabin to dress for dinner and have an evening of good food, good company, posh drinks and entertainment. Well, I can't think of a day I'd like more with the resources at my disposal. :)

I'm very much looking forward to it.


1 Yeah, I know, the internet is right *there* and I could easily find out. However, I do like having gaps in my knowledge - particularly when it's something everyone else knows. Oh, and yes, I know of Marco Polo also.  You do very right to mention it ;)
2 Whenever we go on holiday together we end up sleeping together. It's ridiculous. Even when we specifically try to book a twin room something happens and we wind up with a double. Amusingly, at one hotel she and her new husband were given a twin, despite informing the hotel it was their honeymoon at the time of booking.
3 For clarity, Monty has nerve damage in her front left paw. She ran away immediately after I moved house in September and when she was found in November with the injury I contacted the insurer. It turns out the insurance was no longer valid as it was a) in my husband's name and so had ceased when he left our previous home in June b) had been cancelled without our awareness the week after she ran away due to a misunderstanding on the insurer's part and c) even if everything had happened the way my ex and I thought it had it would still not be valid due to the address on the policy not being the address the cat was resident at when she ran away. The operation (although I hoped she might recover use of the leg, it's become essential) will cost £600, which is about the amount I'd saved, so fortunately I won't have trouble paying it. I just have to hope and pray there are no other emergencies looming.
4 I couldn't not do the folkloric night - the alternatives were opera or ballet, either of which I would have loved (can you imagine, opera in St Petersburg? Or the ballet! Oh, my, that would be a fantasy. All told, I think I'd prefer the opera, but it's moot anyway - even if I had the money they are both in venues with an unreasonable amount of stairs and Gran just wasn't sure she could do it) but the description of this show was fabulous. I haven't got it here, so I can't describe it to you, but you'll hear in detail later on, I'm sure.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Think of the children...

Dear Josh

A few weeks ago I begged you to develop a flaw and, at the time, I promised you several months to do it in. I had calculated that my interest in you would possibly be constant, but more likely would wane, over the next month or so until I see your concert (at which point it would massively spike as these things do).

The situation is far more dire than that and I need you to step up to the plate immediately. Over the last few weeks I have been regularly reading your tweets and if they made up the content of a conversation I had in the pub, I would be giving that guy my number. The rather obvious outcome in terms of my crush is what can only be referred to as an escalation.

I'm terribly sorry and I am in full agreement with your security guys... this needs to stop. I absolutely must be deterred and since you haven't particularly been trying to help me eradicate my crush, I have concluded I simply need to give you more of a reason. To that end, I have a new plea: Think of the children.

Take a moment to really think about the offspring you want. And now, be aware of my genetic contribution.

Our children would be hairy. I understand you are something of a wookie. Well I, as you can see, am also fabulously hirsute.

Our children would be short. Google tells me you are 5'7". I am 5'4". Admittedly, a growth spurt at ten years old made me the tallest girl in school, but I haven't grown an inch since. Do you want your children to reach their vertical maximum before they are even teenaged?

Our children would be bespectacled. Always assuming your glasses aren't just for show - mine are very necessary. I'm -6.5 in both eyes according to my contact lens case and everyone in my family is similarly afflicted.

Our children will be short, hairy and squinty. I've inserted an illustration below (courtesy of this lovely chap here).

If this cannot convince you of the absolute necessity of killing off my interest in you, I can't think what will.

I trust you will now make a sincere effort to repulse me - I suggest you be obnoxious, infantile and something of a dullard.