Good evening, Internet, and a Happy New Year to you all.

I seem to have taken a break from blogging over the festive period. I didn’t mean to but it just worked out that way. I was brought up not to speak with my mouth full and as I have spent two weeks fattening myself up for Christmas (and New Year as it turns out), I simply haven’t had enough time between mouthfuls of roast potatoes and gin in which to put fingers to keyboard.

I did attempt a Christmas blog post, and I have included this after the jump. I could have posted it today instead of this missive but it’s the 2nd January and I couldn’t bring myself to do that for the sake of chronological integrity (I am nothing if not particular about chronology. Ask anyone).

Today is the 2nd of January (as previously stated (Clearly I am not particular about repetition (or parentheses))), and so as far as I am concerned it is the first day of 2012. I realise that this sounds contradictory given that I have just made a point of my own fastidious approach to the prevention of anachronism, but internally, this makes perfect sense. The 31st December/New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay (delete as applicable) is like walking to the end of a cliff and being tipped abruptly into the 1st January/New Year’s Day/Hangover Day (delete as applicable). This seems very bad planning. I like the idea of waking up at the bottom of that cliff bright, alert, ready to take stock of the new landscape with enthusiasm, planning my ascent up the next cliff face full of optimism. But to do this, you need a little time to brush yourself down, recuperate from the fall and blink the dust out of your eyes (or, to speak plainly, to down a few paracetamol and hide under the duvet until the vomiting abates – meh tomato tomato). My point is that you need a buffer day. So I suggest that the 2nd of January be considered the first day of the New Year from now on and we just write off January 1st for the wash out that it generally is.

So, time for a few resolutions:

  1. Start new year with a hacking cough – DONE (it’s always good for morale to tick off one resolution early.
  2. Finish PhD –pending
  3. Drink less (I am aiming to be a moderate drinker by this time next year).
  4. Go back to the psychiatrist and explain that the reason I never answered their letters was because of the ADHD they diagnosed and that this is proof of the pudding that is my need for my prescription to be resumed.
  5. Be less neurotic (take it from me, by the end of this year I’ll be updating my blog daily with, like, affirmations of my own positivity and going with the flow and just being generally so relaxed that I’ll maybe fall asleep on the keyboard thusly: nnnnnnnnnkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkllllllllll but hey, who cares, right? Zen.

Right I’m bored of making resolutions now. I will just resolve to try to have a nice day as many times as possible in the coming 365 (one day down but this year is a leap year so I think my sums are accurate). And not to die. I would quite like not to die too.

So continue reading after the jump if you want to see a back-up of my brain from  27th December, otherwise –

 

Many happy returns of the New Year!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Chorus:

Bloody hell, bloody hell, what a costly day, (HEY!)

Banking scam, what a sham, stole my cash away, (HEY!)

No win no fee. Apparently. What a load of poo…

Can’t believe I fell for that- too good to be true.

Verse:

Gullible that’s me; I’m a moron obviously,

Oh what fun it is to spend a whole day, practically,

On the phone to knobs, who are ‘just doing their jobs’

By lying through their fucking little vulture beaks to me.

(Oooh…)

Chorus:

“Litigate! Litigate: “claim back your PPI” (CRY)

WTF, no such luck, it’s all a big fat lie. (CRY)

Don’t be like me, don’t pay their fee, you’ll regret it if you do.

Christmas cheer? Not this year. “No Santa Claus? ….I’ll sue!”

And in other news….

December 9, 2011

Clearly my attempt at brevity resulted in my forgetting to include some things I wanted to include.

Christmas came early to wonderland last night with minature tree decorating turning into a 22hr vegan sweet binge, courtesy of M and his powers of online shopping:

 

Tree:

 

ADHD + this much sugar = ADHDADHDADHDHDHDHAAAAHDHDHDHHDADHD – SQUARK!

December? Already?

December 4, 2011

According to Chaucer, April is a fine month for a pilgrimage. According to T.S Eliot, April is the cruelest month. According to my calendar, it is also the longest:

 

So I was rather startled to find myself in December. Not feeling the Christmas cheer right now, Internet. In fact, all I want for Christmas is a completed PhD thesis. Sadly, it’s not the kinda thing you can put on a wishlist. Or is it?

Does it count as plagiarism if Santa writes your thesis?

 

 

Warning: this post is so full of burning hatred and fury that it could spontaneously combust at any moment.

Internet, I am angry. Very, very angry.

Why? This advert.

What the fuckety-fuck is this? I get more irate about this every time I see or hear it. And it seems to be bliddy everywhere at the moment (as you know, I recently started a new job and my office-mate has the radio on all day (ADHD post on this very topic is currently under construction (in fact it was going to be today’s post until Littlewoods’ gangrenous little advert took over my brain and irritation started pumping round my body where my blood should be)))* so I have heard this advert in its radio form at ten minute intervals for two consecutive days. And because I’m new to that office and want to make a good impression I can neither ask her to turn it off or sit there with blu-tac in my ears in an attempt to block out the noise. Honestly though, I would rather listen to foxes fuck all night than sit through another 41 seconds of this shit.

I mean, surely you can see why I find it so odious? Well, let me count the ways (in reverse order of their offensiveness):

  • Obviously, it’s far too early for Christmas adverts etc etc etc blah blah blah. Even I’m bored about people complaining about this every year so I’m just going to mention it for the sake of comprehensive analysis of the situation and then leave it there.
  • The tune is annoying and therefore sticks in your head and you’re on the tube and it’s in your head, and you’re having a bath and it’s in your head, and you’re waiting at the bar and it’s still there —‘my lovely, lovely mother’ — in your head and GAH!!
  • The children are extremely annoying. It’s not their fault. Probably. But, nevertheless, whether they’re just acting or really are that annoying, their ‘cuteness’ annoys me. I have no time for cutsey kids. Ick.
  • It reinforces gender stereotypes in a multitude of ways, from the gender-specific presents and costumes, to the clear assumption that only mothers bother buying presents. Fuck off, Littlewoods.

Now that leaves us with a whole bundle of reasons that it’s annoying, all of which would probably fit nice and snugly under a generalised heading such as: Objection to the Commercialisation of Christmas. But it’s not even just that. It’s a more complex repulsion than that, and if it were only that then it would be just as predictable an objection as point number one and I probably wouldn’t mention this either.  Christmas is commercial, it just is. I’m not saying it should be but it just is. And we’re used to it. We’re used to the adverts selling us products by carefully gift-wrapping them in sentimentality and festive nostalgia.

BUT, and I think this is what really gets me about this. There’s no pretence! None! Littlewoods do not even have enough shame to PRETEND that they’re not trying to boost sales in the midst of financial crisis by preying on the Christmas spirit of families who are already financing their whole lives on credit and probably ‘spreading the cost, interest free’ for everything wherever possible; buy now, pay later for life, not just for Christmas. This lack of shame is evidenced by the way they break the golden rule of Christmas advertising (where children are featured, all gifts usually come from Santa. (You could argue that at least Littlewoods are finally giving parents the credit for those Xboxes and Fidgets (what the fuck is a fidget anyway?) rather than Santa being falsely attributed  for his generosity every year but I am not feeling kindly towards Littlewoods right now so no, I will not grant them any defence at all.)  Littlewoods are just cutting Santa out of the equation completely).** You see, Littlewoods have no need for Santa. Santa is for adverts that don’t have a very clear message. And the message for all the mums out there is this: YOUR CHILDREN WILL LOVE YOU MORE IF YOU BUY THEM EXPENSIVE PRESENTS. YOU CAN AND SHOULD BUY THEIR LOVE. IF YOU DON’T BUY AN XBOX FOR YOUR FIVE YEAR OLD, THEN YOU ARE A SHIT MOTHER AND YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY TACKY LITTLEWOODS JEWELLERY IN PENANCE FOR YOUR SHITNESS. AND CHILDREN? IF YOU CELEBRATE AND MIMIC YOUR MOTHER’S MATERIALISTIC ATTITUDE SHE WILL LOOK UPON YOU WITH PRIDE. gaahhhhh!

Apart from anything else, I feel angered beyond belief that Littlewoods think the general public is so stupid that they will find this acceptable. NO. Glancing at the comments left under the YouTube video, I am pleased to see that apart from a few ‘Awww, how cute’ morons, most people share my view that this is an odious, offensive shitfest of fuckwittery.

But what am I going to do about it, apart from pour out my scorn and repulsion to you, dear Internet? Well, if this is Christmas then I want no part of it. I would just boycott Littlewoods but, honestly, who shops there anyway? Nope, my anger at this advert goes way beyond Littlewank.com. I am boycotting Christmas full stop unless a) my anger abates significantly (which will only happen if I can successfully eradicate any possibility of accidentally being subjected to this advert in the next seven weeks) or b) ….nope, can’t think of another way out. That’s it then. I am going to have to raid the stationary cupboard for a shed-load of blu-tac.

I am going to leave the final word to the bloody wonderful Tom Lehrer who, even after over fifty years, still captures the ‘true spirit’ of Christmas in a delightfully amusing song which I would like to propose as an antidote to anybody who, like me, is suffering from injuries inflicted by Littlewoods this year…

* I just had to close three sets of brackets there, Internet. Three! I really need to work on my brackets compulsion. Nobody should have this many parenthetical remarks. In fact, if remarks are so tangential that they warrant being embedded three brackets deep then they probably need culling at the draft stage.

** That there, Internet, was another three sets of brackets? What is wrong with me? It’s like the part of my brain responsible for punctuation is on speed.

And so this was Christmas…

December 31, 2009

Despite the lack of Christmas cheer I was experiencing at the time of my last post, I had a lovely christmas. I hope you all did too, and that those of you going through difficult times found some comfort from the people around you. That’s kind of what this post is about. A bit of a reflection about the people I spent Christmas with. I missed J lots, of course. He went to his dad’s over Christmas (next year we are hoping to spend christmas in the same part of the country although our flat is too small to entertain in and blah blah blah).

Anyway, I went home to the small Yorkshire village I grew up in, and although there are always a few ghosts of your sixteen year old self to contend with when you go home for christmas, I find that these days I can sit round the table with those ghosts in companiable silence. I no longer feel an uncomfortable ache of nostalgia for the person I used to be then. Well. Mostly.

And how can you fail to feel Christmassy driving home for Christmas in this?

Up North

Or waking up in your childhood bedroom on Christmas eve and looking out of the window at the snow.

The village hasn’t changed much. It still has one shop, two pubs, a chip van and, bizarrely, a football ground.

This is where I grew up. It’s beautiful -I just never realised that when I lived there.

I took this picture of the Emley Moor Television Mast on a boxing day walk with my mum. As always, Christmas was Christmas, in the end because I was with my family. Without wanting to sound too sentimental, (actually, fuck it- I don’t care if it sounds sentimental) this is what I liked best about my christmas -playing a family quiz with my parents and my brother; sitting in front of a coal fire with my mum, cats on our knees; my dad helping me take cuttings from some of his houseplants or making soup whilst listening to gardeners’ question time, festive edition.

Speaking of my parents, I snapped these sneaky shots to illustrate where the ADHD in our family comes from. The only real source of mutual chagrin for mum and dad is my dad’s ADHD tendencies – his mess, his compulsive bargain hunting, and his refusal to throw anything out. Ever. Most of the house is really very nice but my mum has to fight to keep it that way, constantly picking up old nails, random batteries, charity shop “finds,” not to mention the debris from hundreds of his “little projects” as she calls them. So the house becomes a battleground upon which my mum desperately tries to impose order onto chaos:

Mum's Order

Dad's Chaos (although he would probably argue that he is making omelets which requires a certain amount of eggs be broken)

You can see how the ADHD diagnosis made a lot of sense for us all. I love how different they are to each other, how they tease each other, how they understand each other and me, even when they pretend not to. I love my dad’s eccentricities, my mum’s tolerance and generosity. I owe my parents everything. I strive to be somebody they’ll be proud of even though I know that their pride and love is unconditional. They have taught me what family can be, what love should be, and I no matter how old I get, I will always grow towards them like plants grow towards the sun.

c.1984

I love you, mum and dad- thank you for another beautiful christmas x x x

Now you mention it, yes, there is something missing...

Warning! Readers of a sensitive disposition may find some passages depressing.

So, according to every major retailer (and also some of those less traditional staple Christmas gift go-to’s  – I’m looking at you, AbraViagra.com), each of whom emailed me this morning to remind me, there are now six days until Christmas. SIX DAYS!

And yet, despite several end-of-term social affairs, numerous glasses of mulled wine, and three (yes, count ’em, three) Christmas cards, I am still not feeling festive. Not in the slightest, not a tiny little bit. In fact, I feel something else entirely, a dull dragging ache. Not exactly dread, although it’s not far off. Just a sort of flatness, an emptyness, like I’m out of sync with the rest of the world, a sort of robot, mechanically wishing people a Merry Christmas whilst wondering with three fifths of my brain whether that grinding irritation in my upper abdomen possibly signals the need for a nuts and bolts check-up and using the other two fifths to try and remember where I put the WD40.

I just don’t get it. I mean, I’m not usually one of those relentlessly excited festive folk. You know, the type who deal with the banality of modern living by exclaiming, ‘Only two-hundred and thirty-eight sleeps ’till Christmas !!!!’ (yes, really. Indeed, the four instances of hyperbolic punctuation I have included here are, if anything, turning down the volume of this kind of exclamation). So I’ve never indulged in the ‘start-writing-xmas-cards-the-day-after-Easter’ kind of festive cheer but I’ve always had that modest little bubble of good-will and cosyness that often accompanies chilly noses, 3:30pm dusks, and the thought of my loved ones opening carefully chosen gifts with one hand while they sip pre-pre-pre dinner sherry out of little glasses that haven’t seen the light of day for a whole year and whose faint smell of dust only serves to highlight the significance of the big day.

Granted, it’s not the same as it used to be. I don’t think it’s possible to retrieve that magical, glowing excitement that the eight-year-old version of one’s self used to feel. And that’s probably the way it should be. I’m willing to admit that the psychiatrist would probably have more than ADHD and a touch of anxiety on his hands if I was still reciting ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ from the 15th onwards, ascribing the voice on the other end of the phone to Santa on Christmas Eve despite all evidence to the contrary (it was actually my uncle impersonating St Nick  – the Welsh accent should have been an immediate giveaway), planning a nutritious carrot-based meal for Rudolph and a somewhat more alcoholic refreshment for Santa (Rudolph totally draws the short straw there, no? But he has to do all the work really. Santa just navigates with a sweep of one brandy-leaden arm that is not dissimilar to the ‘fuck off’ gesture you get at last orders when you dare to suggest that if somebody is making no effort to put any distance between their shirt front and their own vomit, then they’ve probably had enough). *Sigh* Those were the days. Filled with wonder, love, and genuine excitement. I remember being so excited one Christmas Eve that I had to get up at 2am and do star-jumps in order to make myself sleepy (I know the logic there is a bit flawed, but I was only about six so I’ll let that one pass without a full analysis).

I accept that I’m never going to feel like that again and that, framed by nostalgia, there is no point me holding up the childhood Christmasses of twenty years ago as being  the model of Christmas cheer. I do know this. But I would settle for that gently simmering feeling of well-being, humming ‘Silent Night’ to myself as I contemplate whether I have enough Christmas paper left over for each of the presents in my Top Secret Stash of Christmas Gifts or whether I’ll have to resort to Birthday Wishes paper for the last few, or how pretty the tree will look blinking away like a proud hen atop its nest of clumsy yet lovingly wrapped parcels. Most years, once the shopping is done, the cat-sitter booked, and the logistics confirmed, I look forward to Christmas – to the over-eating, the family time, and (most of all perhaps) the legitimate time off from studying.

But this year? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Partly, I think, I am truly exhausted from the end of term. By the last day of term I felt as though I had no energy left for anything else, like I just wanted to press pause on the whole world and sleep until the will to live came back. But I couldn’t because I was already a month past the deadline I had agreed with my supervisor in a fit of optimism and had got to the point that I was no longer replying to her emails because I couldn’t bring myself to respond without attaching something that justified the wait. So I had to produce something but when I finally sent her 9000 words (desperation, apparently, makes me quite prolific), I felt even worse because that 9000 words was 90% utter crap. I waffled for 8000 words in that meandering, ‘if I keep writing I might work out what it is that I want to say’ kind of way, and then I ran out of time, energy, and patience all at the same time so I sent the bloody thing just to get it out of my sight. So now, far from experiencing the satisfaction of a job well done, I cringe every time I think of  her reading it and am dreading ever having to reopen the document. Bleugh.

So perhaps it’s just a case of it being difficult to change gears and go from ‘fucky fucky fuck, fuck – it –  y –  fuck’  to ‘fa la la la laa, la la la laa’ in three days with only some panic-fuelled Christmas shopping in between during which Slade’s hyper-festive wail of ‘It’s Chriiiistmaaaaas’ served as a soundtrack to the strangled silent scream of my hyper-anxious heart. What I need, I think, is a few good nights sleep. In the meantime, here are some things I am going to do in a last-ditch attempt to feel Christmassy:

1. Have a bath.

A long, long bath. With imaginary candles. Imaginary, because this time last year I forgot to switch the bath off and flooded the flat downstairs. Adding real candles into the equation is pushing the ADHD risk assessment too far into the danger zone. Nevertheless, a long, hot bath is in order. Not least because it has been several days (I seem to forget to bathe when I am writing), and I imagine I have some of those comic-book squiggles decorating my person like an unpleasant aura.

2. Decorate the flat.

I don’t have a Christmas tree. But remember that avocado plant I started growing last spring?

3. Make some mince pies.

If that doesn’t work, nothing will.

4. Have a girls’ night in on the mulled wine and the ‘festive spirits’.

Fortunately, I have just such an appointment arranged for tonight. Love those girls, love ’em.

I’ll let you know how I get on. Hopefully you’re all feeling exceedingly Christmassy and need no such encouragement from me.

And if all else fails? Get yourself down to Homebase. I hear they have seasonal offers on crockery, portable heating, and Christmas cheer…

Season’s greetings (of a sort) xx