Thursday, 20 September 2012

Epic dilemma

The Grapes of Wrath is done, and frankly less people died than I was expecting.  I was quite worried about Winfield for a while there.

There was a lot of interesting gender stuff which I can't be bothered to go on about.

There is now a hole in my commute, and I need to find something significant to make the hours go by.

I've been trying to decide between Moby Dick, Ulysses (James Joyce version) and War and Peace. Apparently Ulysses is about a man pissed and on drugs wittering about shit like everything he says is really interesting, and frankly I've humoured enough common or garden Jim Morrison impersonators in my lifetime already to bear much more of that politely (see also On the Road).

I'm thinking Moby Dick. I think I will spend most of the time reading it softly humming Mr Scruff's Shanty Town, but that's not such a bad thing.

In the epic battle of man vs whale I'll definitely be pro-whale.

I remember when I was a small girl (8?) we were all encouraged to take a song into school and play it to the class.  The girl who went first chose Sinead O'Connors Nothing Compares 2 U, and I had the privilege of being second in line.  I decided this was an opportunity to educate my classmates about saving the whales and mid-70s dad-folk and brought in Crosby and Nash's Wind on the Water.  Cue an entire classworth of What The Fuck faces staring back at me.

I'm sorry to say that I did not have the courage of my convictions to fly my freak-flag proudly, and in a tragically transparent display of peer-induced shame pretended I had misunderstood the purpose of the exercise, and had brought in a song I didn't like.

I haven't listened to it since.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Athletes Pooh!rade

If your life is like mine, the day upon which you go to The Mall in London and wave at the Team GB athletes going by is inevitably the day to forget to put on deodorant.

 It's probably also the day when you borrow a natural deoderant from a colleague, and therefore don't stop to buy a proper roll-on on your way to the parade, forgetting of course that deodorant is not the same as anti-perspirant, and that natural deodorants are about as effect as wearing a hat on your head to avoid pregnancy. They're probably homeopathic, and contain tiny particles, just the memory, of sweat itself, to trigger your body to respond by inhibiting sweat.

 It's probably the day when you learn to wave using only your lower arms, with the upper arm clamped to your sides as if you have flippers.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Peace and de-poopifying

A lot of hard work goes into being as stressed as I am.  It takes guts to be this undisciplined, knowing that the inevitable result will be more work, at the worst possible time ever, in a panic.

I cannot find my degree certificate and my annual leave form.  I know I haven't thrown them away. I've just put them somewhere VERY safe.

What a needlessly poo situation to be in.  Completely avoidable.  And it is like poo - why hold on to this stuff?  Why not deal with it when it needs dealt with? Why give yourself a health problem?

At times like these I feel I need a pithy, catchy statement to help me to change.  I think to myself it has to be the pithiest most catchiest of all statements - there's been so many that have come and gone.  But perhaps the time for pithy/catchy statements has passed and we need to bypass the lexical fineries and aim straight for semantics.

Consequently I have created a table which not only generates pithy statements, but as you can see, also allows you to go straight for the jugular.

I've subtly colour coded it, to tastefully imply where you will find the shit which needs dealt with. 

Friday, 7 September 2012


I'm reading The Grapes of Wrath.   I have never read it before.  I've been working my way through the small Classics section of my local WHSmith, and there's really only Steinbeck or Moby Dick left.

So far, it's very dusty.

Friday, 10 August 2012


I have comparatively little to deal with in my life and yet I am so busy and it all feels so mammoth.   Yeah. The modern condition.  No sooner had technology rid me of the drudgery of human existence than screens and keyboards became the yoke and the mangle.

One of the things I have noticed which is making life harder, and probably has led to me avoiding writing anything here, is that I spend too long pondering over composition, and proof reading after I have sent something.  This is a real problem in the age of email. Sometimes, and I can't think why, I find myself checking over emails I've sent five or six times.  Does it make sense? Might it offend anybody? Have I accidentally sent it to someone I ought not to have, and I'm going to get done in by Information Governance?

I am going to start a new rule at work.  Starting a new rule at work usually has the same optimistic joy soon to be followed by crushing cynicism of buying a new diet book, but this time it's something I can control.

Emails are a frenemy at work.  They have the look of efficiency but actually create more work for me, in virtual and literal terms.  Work is no longer composed of a list of tasks, it is a self-replicating organism which would happily colonise the world.  Like most people, I would need a full time job just to manage my emails at 100% responsiveness.  At lot of the time when I email it is because I want things written down as proof, not necessarily because I don't trust the recipient, but because I am so busy that I cannot trust myself, because I cannot hold in mind everything I need to do.  Then we drag each other down by doing the same thing - ccing in everybody and reply all to everything because we have to keep copies of every email and god help you if you end up with several reply threads from the same email.

From now on, I will be reading my emails at 4pm, and telling everybody that they can phone me if it's so urgent it cannot wait till 4pm.

Friday, 22 June 2012


(Don't get excited mother, I haven't converted.)

Atheism wasn't something I chose. When I came to realise that I could not ever convince myself about the resurrection, or hell, or heaven, or basically most of the core components of Christianity I began looking around for something else that might fit.

This was the mid nineties, and the UK was having a cherry-picking, Eastern influenced, poorly understood, New Age free for all. Crystals! Ley lines! Magick! Spiritual but not religious! Ohm Tattoo! Wear a bindi, it means something in India where the people are poor but happy!

I was interested in Sai Baba, but the ash and spitting gold lingums and Paul Daniels stuff put me off.  You can say what you like about the stories of the Apocryhpa about Jesus having magic bathwater and turning his people into animals, but at least he never did a cheap trick like produce a gold watch from his sleeve as proof of his divinity.

Mainly I was interested in Buddhism, but the 'charity drive' to pay for the giant and very costly, gold Buddha statue at the place where I took my meditation classes did something to my mindfulness of breath.  But ultimately I just couldn't accept individual reincarnation, or the idea that disability, poverty or ugliness is because of karma. That and I still don't believe in hell, and I am quite attached to having a sense of a self.  I don't actually like the idea of Nirvana, which seems terrifying and not like something I could want to achieve even if I could.  So I do not identify as a Buddhist, but I have learned a lot about good ways to live and to think, and (yes, I am going to go there,) be.

I would have liked to have been a Pagan.  But frankly if you're inclined to think monotheism is a bit fishy because of all the supernatural stuff then magic polytheism probably won't be for you.

I've often identified as an Atheist.  But there's something unpleasant about Atheism.  When you see people enjoying their faith it's like the twinge of envy you feel when you talk to children who still think Santa brings their presents.  They seem to be enjoying life a lot more, and the feeling of being 'correct' brings little comfort.  Plus with Atheism, or Humanism, comes a lot more responsibility, and sad realisations about the state of the world.

Rather than being immoral, Atheists and Humanists are arguably more moral, as they operate under no divine pressure to not shit on other people. Because if you did a bad thing, then it's because you did it.  Nobody else made you.  It was not part of a plan.  And if you want people to not live in suffering, then you need to sort that out now, because there is no future paradise. No one is going to punish you in the afterlife for doing a bad thing, so if there's a chance of getting away with it then what stops you is you, and your belief that people deserve better.

Really, I am a Pantheist, and I always have been. Sometimes more scientific, and sometimes more naturalist, (naturalist - don't misread that), but generally somewhere on the Pantheist spectrum.

My God has no beard, no gender, no personality, no grudges or special favourites, no hotline for prayers, no views on hair cuts, no disapproval for slutty behaviour, basically no views at all. My God does not know who I am or hear me. It's a thing, and a thing which I cannot comprehend. And yet I, every living thing and the universe exist, because of and through this thing. I'm not sure that God is the why, but it feels like the because.

Pantheists revere nature and existence, but if you really respect nature you cannot have a fluffy bunny fantasy about nature. When a lion slaughters its rivals' cubs, or when a bonobo chimp copulates with its family, this is no more or less natural than when a mummy duck nurtures her baby ducklings, or a rosebud bursts into bloom. But on balance, the whole show is pretty amazing. Bacteria are amazing and galaxies are amazing, and science is amazing and you don't even need a gold watch or a giant effigy or an afterlife or Christopher Lee in a dress.

Pantheists don't much go in for organised religion.  There isn't a Pantheist wedding ceremony.  Where do Pantheists get to go to enjoy musty smelling halls and weak tea?

I'm contemplating going to the Unitarian church to see what kind of weirdness goes on there. Wish me luck.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Musical intrusion

I was on my morning commute this week, completely squished with some woman's giant moo-skin handbag forcing me on to tippy-toes with my spine arched like a glamour model, when I decided to shuffle around so that I got to work without some kind of injury.

She did that funny thing people do when they're stabbing you with their bag and they feel their bag move as you buckle under its mass, and they shoot you suspicious glance.

At that moment an urge bubbled up in me to break into a hearty refrain of 'You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two' from the musical Oliver.

I didn't do it. That song is a bit racist.