Friday, October 29, 2004
All these years, I've been going through life thinking I was just an ordinary Witho, much like the hordes of other Withos one sees stumbling through life somewhat clumsily - with the occasional pink hair streak to add "interest" - leaving a trail of discarded cola bottles in their wake. But no, this Witho has a special power which was revealed via a magical "strap-on" loaned to me by someone calling themselves (somewhat enigmatically) "The Doctor" (a.k.a. "GP"). The photo below represents Witho modelling said "strap-on".
Note the stylish brown colour of the so-called "cuff" (Her Majesty's finest nylon, I assure you). Just visible, slung jauntily just above the hip, is the on-board super-computer which monitors my special-powers over a 24 hour period. The turquoise wallpaper, however, will not be discussed here... suffice it to say, it wasn't my choice - the house is rented, okay?
"But Witho, please expand on these so-called powers, we beg you!"
Patience, dear reader, patience! I'm coming to that, I assure you.
You see, these Doctors were accusing me of all sorts - notably, raising the mercury level on their ancient pressure gauges *way* above the norm. I told them it was a freak accident caused by the negative vibes in their surgeries and that it wouldn't happen again, but they wouldn't believe me and forced me to wear the above device all day at work, with only a pashmina to protect me from the cruel glare of onlookers. Every hour, on the hour, the device would start to hum (with a sound not unlike a sustained fart - the like of which the Big Fella can only dream about producing) and air would be forced into the nylon cuff until I thought I might explode. Whereupon, a series of mysterious numbers would appear on the Liquid Crystal Display with names such as "Systolic", "Diastolic", "Pulse" - very "sci-fi", I think you'll agree!
I was to deliver the device the following day for analysis and return to the surgery on Friday (that's today in old money) for the verdict - which I shall now present, for your edification.
I am [drum roll] "Adrenaline Girl"! See how my unusually high adrenaline levels cause my blood pressure to soar in stressful situations. In daily life, I am no more than the temp-secretary equivalent of a mild-mannered janitor, but present me with the "Kryptonite" of a Doctor's surgery or a job interview and watch that mercury go through the roof!
Yes, readers, as suspected I do *not* have high blood pressure, but suffer from "white coat syndrome". It's official, and I've seen the little graph that proves it! It took them 3 weeks to tell me what I told them 3 weeks ago - i.e. "I get nervous when I go to the doctor's. I don't normally feel like this..."
I dreamed I was watching football (a year or so ago, I didn't watch football - not league football anyway - let alone dream about it!). The teams were not specified. An attacker was making his way through the defence towards the penalty area from the right hand side (as I watched). He was pounding through the defence, leaving them floundering as he worked his way through to a striking position. Suddenly, he leapt into the air and, as he landed, he skidded along the ground and caught a defender with his boot in the shoulder. The defender was down, but the attacker continued on his way. On the screen, they focussed on something on the pitch and drew an "electronic" line around it. They then showed a replay of the collision between the attacker and defender. As the attacker struck, the defender's head had come off, and was lying several feet away on the pitch.
It was at this point that I woke up, my heart pounding, thinking "Wha???"...
Thursday, October 28, 2004
I'll put you out of your misery!
The images below are potential designs for bone china mugs. Y'see, my sister-in-law's mother is a bit of a fuss-pot. She'll only drink tea from bone china. I make no comment upon this, apart, of course, from "WTF????"...
With her birthday fast approaching, my sister-in-law asked for some bone china mugs with a contemporary design which would fit with her chosen colour scheme - i.e. chocolate/cream/coffee colours - with maybe an art deco twist (she lives in a 1930s house). I don't know if you've ever tried to buy bone china mugs, but most are printed with ornate flowers, kittens, puppies, ladies with bonnets or pastoral scenes. There are some modern ones available, but not in the colours/designs she is after.
So, being a resourceful soul, I managed to find a website which would print bone china mugs to my own design. You send them a jpg, they print it onto the mug. The images you see are my attempts at a home-grown design. Imagine a white, bone china mug with one of these patterns on it - has this made you change your mind?
A was the art deco inspired version, B, C and D are modern but with a hint of 70s retro. I think the colours may need adjusting (to my mind, D has the tones I like best), but this can be done easily.
I sent the designs to my brother (whose wife is my sister-in-law), and two sisters for their input. Helpfully, they all chose a different design as their favourite! The Big Fella won't be drawn into the debate, and I am generally incapable of making decisions - which is why, dear readers, I asked you. But apart from the wholesale rejection of design C (which was my first attempt), there is no clear winner... so it's back to me. I think it will be B or D...
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
...which one would you choose?
If you're good, I might even tell you what this is all about!
Monday, October 25, 2004
Jonesey said: "Can I have a picture of the the latest item of clothing you bought. This does not include shoes"
Now, the last shopping expedition I went on was to TK Maxx (there is one I can get to within an hour - phew, I can sleep at night once more). If you know Witho, you know that Witho + TK Maxx = Shopping Fest, so I bring you not one garment, but three. All "work-style" tops and all (as I later discovered) "hand wash cold, short spin, do not wring, dry flat, in fact, do not touch, EVER". Nothing that the wool cycle on the machine can't handle... I just live life on the edge, man!
So, from left to right:
- Black, fluffy angora V front and back jumper, with "holey" detail down the length of the sleeve (invisible in this photo). The V at the back causes the jumper to fall down the shoulder and reveal bra straps, but my hair mostly covers them up. It is *slightly* itchy, but overall nice and snuggly and I like it
- Bluey mauvey whitey silk jumper. Very non-Witho (i.e. not black), but I really like it on. The pattern somehow makes my boobs look bigger (a plus, in my case) and the silk feels wonderful against the skin. The shape is good - looks much better on.
- Black, cap sleeve viscose top with pink detail. The bottom half is kind of ribbed (again, invisible in this photo). A flattering shape and the fabric feels nice and silky.
So, what have you gleaned from this, dear reader?
If you want to know what this is all about, read this, and then put a comment on this post (my scrolly finger is getting tired now...)
While I consider Billy's photo request ("I would like to see what inaminate object in your home has the most sentimental value") which is, as predicted by the man himself, "doing my head in", I thought I'd take a break to consider some of the issues faced by an urban chicklet (that's me, by the way) trying to live in a small town in the West Country.
I've only ever lived in cities before now; mostly capital cities (London, Cardiff, Brussels) or as good as (Lyon - that's French for, say, Birmingham I guess!). Then there was Southampton - a fair bit smaller, but still very much an urban sprawl.
So now I find myself in Taunton, where I have a six-digit telephone number (wow!), where I can walk from one side of the town to the other in half an hour. If I walk 15 minutes due North from our house, I will find myself, essentially, in the countryside. The town is very compact and ends abruptly. Buses are few and far between. Train connections are surprisingly good though - we can travel to London in 2 hours and directly to many major destinations in England, Scotland and Wales.
One thing I find around here, which may or may not be related to the "small town" mentality, is that people cite their telephone numbers without giving the STD code. Ever since the London code was split (starting with 081/071 and two more changes since then), I've been quoting all telephone numbers in full. Even more so given the fact that many cities have changed their codes recently, plus mobile phones also require the full number to be dialled, regardless of whether the caller is within the same code area as the call-ee. Yet here, on a number of occasions, someone has cited a six-digit phone number and expected me to know firstly that they're in, say, Yeovil, and secondly that the code for Yeovil is... erm... whatever the code for Yeovil is. There are loads of different codes in use in quite a small area round here. Why not be clear and just give the whole number, then there can be no confusion?
The whole thing just feels so old fashioned. It reminds me of when I was growing up in the seventies, and my mum used to answer the (grey, standard issue BT) phone "Larkswood 4186" - Larkswood was the name of the local telephone exchange which gave rise to the first part of the telephone number. That seems like a long time ago...
I returned to the Doctor's surgery last Thursday for another (futile) blood pressure check. As if the result would be any different... it was (and I quote) "scarily high" again (thanks Doc, you really know how to make a girl feel at ease). This time they did an ECG as well, which proved at least that my heart beat is normal. So tomorrow, in an attempt to discover whether or not the hypertension is "white coat" (i.e. induced by my Doctor phobia) or sustained and indicative of something else (*shudder*) I shall be mostly wearing an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for 24 hours...
Friday, October 22, 2004
Elsie may remember that she requested a lookie into my cupboards (not my drawers, mind!) - specifically the cupboard immediately to the right of my fridge. In truth, to the right of my fridge there are two cupboards - one at eye level, the other below the worktop. I, being a generous soul, have provided both...
The "upper saloon" (to use double decker bus nomenclature) incorporates a selection of non-perishable foodstuffs, notably tinned kidney beans and chick peas, biscuits for cheese (TUC biscuits, NO-NO crackers, that kind of thing), golden syrup, tinned tuna and mackerel, rice (basmati and risotto), penne pasta (for emergencies - I prefer rigatoni and buy it by the kilo where possible, but this goes in a big storage jar), lasagne, bulgar wheat, cous-cous, some sauces (e.g. Worcestershire, brown - these were inherited from the Big Fella's flat), seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin?), pine kernels, more tuna, black olives, vegetable stock, sun dried tomatoes, green olives, black peppercorns.
The "lower saloon" is much less interesting, containing a selection of crockery and some wine glasses. I hate the fact that these are stored at below-worktop level, as I have to bend over to get them out, but there's nowhere else to put them...
Meanwhile, petite anglaise (one of my newly discovered blogs - she lives in France with a French bloke, a description which was true of me some years ago, until said French bloke dumped me rather unceremoniously - much subject matter for a future post, methinks! Hence, reading her blog brings back some bittersweet memories... I digress) wasn't interested in what was *next to* the fridge, she wanted a peek inside the thing itself!
I could talk you through the contents... but I won't. If you have any questions, do let me know!
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Minnow requested a photo of "a few of my favourite things..." The following photo incorporates three such items:
- The BF
- My bed
- The BF in my bed
This is a rare sight in our house - but quite genuine. You see, it's rare for BF to be in the bed while I'm out of it. Generally, we get up at the same time for work, except on Saturdays, when he goes to school and I have a lie-in. Yes, you heard right - he goes to school on Saturday mornings - this being the *major* hitch with him teaching in a sodding boarding school - it scuppers many a weekend plan, let me tell you! On Sundays, if we're at home, he normally gets up before me and brings me tea and crumpets, so the gist of all this is that I rarely get to observe him from an extra-bedular position.
Yesterday, though, I was greeted with this sight when I got home from work. It was the last day of half term for BF, and he'd come home exhausted and collapsed into bed. The first time I went upstairs, he was actually asleep. I crept downstairs to get the camera and remove my "rustly" jacket, by which time he'd woken up, but knowing that I was approaching, he pretended to be asleep (it's a thing we do, one pretends to be asleep, the other attempts to "scupper" them by making them laugh or - as I've just discovered - taking a photo of them!).
So, quite by accident, on observing this tableau, I realised that it captured 3 of my favourite things, in one fell swoop!
Meanwhile, Rad asked to see my favourite plant so, continuing the "favourite" theme, allow me to present Umberto:
I don't have many plants. You see, they don't like me. As soon as they spot a Witho, they just... erm... wither! Well, who wouldn't? I'll tell you who: Umberto - a plant which seems to thrive on neglect, to flourish in the face of famine, to blossom despite a barrage of abuse. Even Witho's skills are powerless against Umberto, the umbrella plant.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Legomen wanted to see all of my shoes. Now, I think that for a girl, this is quite modest... you may think otherwise!
Back row, from left:
Flame trainers, black pointy sexy boots, black non-pointy non-sexy boots (these were from Witho's "ancien régime"), running shoes (not pretty, but boy, are they comfy!), stupid black suede flip-flops which fall off all the time.
Middle row, from left:
Black flat work shoes (boring, but functional and I can walk in them), Acupuncture trainers (4 years old, so comfortable that I find it hard to chuck them out), "strawberry" canvas pumps, silly pink shoes (love 'em, but they rip my feet to shreds), flower sandals (they look better on).
Front row, from left (you're getting the idea now, aren't you?):
"Sports" flip-flops, pink shoes (worn once, for a wedding), tennis shoes (hardly worn - they give me blisters), black strappy pointy shoes (for special occasions).
I just love those long, black pointy boots at the back - some shoes just make you feel sexy, and I bought these at a time when I was just starting to feel sexy again... Trouble is, I don't wear them enough - they are *so* uncomfortable...
So, Leggy, what does that lot tell you?
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Elsie requested a photo of the contents of my handbag, so here it is, un-audited, when I got home from work today:
Ingredients, clockwise from left:
- A leaflet and application form for Taunton Film Society, given to me last week by a colleague. I haven't actually done anything with it, I just transport it around in my bag for the hell of it!
- A prescription re-order form from my old doctor in London. Fat lot of good that'll do me!
- Printout of an email describing how to fix the HTML error in my blog
- Envelope containing last week's time sheet
- On top of envelope, mobile phone - Nokia 7200
- Bunch of keys, containing house key and tennis club key. Fobs include black teddy bears with... erm... "anatomical details" (from a pair of Acupuncture trainers), heart shaped dog tag with "Witho" engraved on it (a gift from the BF) and heart shaped plastic keyring with mine and the BF's initials scratched on it. There is a story behind this - I once fashioned the BF a heart out of the red waxy stuff you get on a mini Babybel cheese and engraved our initials into it (How cheesy am I?). He then saw this keyring in Verona which reminded him of the aforementioned Babybel-based love token and decided to scratch our initials in it. Yes, probably the less said about this kind of behaviour, the better...
- Education Guardian (for job-hunting) and "Jobs West" - I love the strapline on this one: "Local jobs for local people"...
- Atop the newspapers, the wonderful "dog purse"
- Plastic bag, for conveying fruit products to and from work, and also used for "ad-hoc" shopping on the way home. I like to reuse...
- Dinky little hairbrush
- Packet of tissues
- Black "tampon case" (non-applicator) - yes, such a thing does exist
- Little Paperchase notebook, which used to come in very handy for writing down people's food orders when we went for a pub lunch and had to order at the bar (Tilesey, you should remember this...) When will this country wholeheartedly adopt table service? It's *so* much more civilised...
- Below this, packet of Trebor Extra Strong mints (I've been addicted to these for many years - my teeth keep "reminding" me that they're no good for me...)
- Lip balm
- Lip gloss
- Receipt for items purchased at the chemist for BF (Sudafed and throat lozenges)
- Doctor's appointment card (*shudder*)
- Scribbled instructions for enabling MMS on phone. These were to be used on receipt of the messages the operator was supposed to be sending to the phone. The messages never came. In the end, I worked it out myself, so didn't use these instructions after all... Of course, they remained in my bag, serving no good purpose
- Oh, and that black thing at the back? That's the bag. Before you ask - no, I do not use "Cat Bag" for work, unless it's "dress down day"...
Keep posting suggestions below, and I'll just do the ones I fancy! See, I've changed the rules already...
Here's a little idea I saw over at Billy's which I thought was quite interesting... though I'm not sure what I'm letting myself in for...
See that comment box down yonder page? Well, why don't you pop in there and name something from Witho's world that you'd like to see represented in photographic form on these 'ere pages? Then I shall perform some kind of ballot, where the most popular 3 choices are determined. And lo and behold, the photos will appear on the blog in the near future. Less of a "meme", more of a "youme", I would say.
However, being somewhat of a rule freak, there are rules at play here:
- I will not post photographs of people without their permission, and since only a limited number of people within my friend/family circle are aware of the blog, it's unlikely that your request will be fulfilled.
- I reserve the right to politely ignore any "inappropriate" suggestions.
- I do not have a scanner - this means that showing old (pre-digital) photos could prove to be difficult, although I could take a photo of the photo - with the understanding that quality is likely to suffer significantly.
- I reserve the right to make up additional rules as and when necessary!
Now, as Loyd Grossman would say: "David, it's over to you". Although in this case "David" = "My dear readership"...
Sunday, October 17, 2004
I've located my stash of Radius toothbrushes (they were going for £1.50 in Boots some time ago - normal price £5.99 - so I cleared the shelves of them - once you've used one of these beauties, it's hard to go back to a *normal* one). They are notoriously hard to get hold of and my current one is looking a bit sorry for itself. I knew I had a supply, but wasn't sure which (still as yet unpacked from Southampton - London move, let alone London - Taunton) box it was in...
The Bad News
We spent most of today at the mercy of a "Replacement Bus Service" while travelling back to Taunton from Sheffield. This was especially galling, because when we'd checked the train times on the internet late last week, we saw only:
- Depart Sheffield 11:48
- Arrive Taunton 15:15
- No changes
- Woo-hoo! (or words to that effect)
A more accurate portrayal would have been:
- Arrive at Sheffield station after a jolly nice weekend at a friend's wedding, thank you very much
- Make beeline for information screen
- Scan for 11:48 train, probably going to Plymouth or Penzance
- Blink several times
- Realise that the 11:48 shown on the screen only goes as far as Birmingham New Street
- Rub eyes
- Look again, to see that the information has not magically changed in the time it took to rub your eyes
- Go to ticket office, ask where the 11:48 to Plymouth (or Penzance) is
- "Oh, there's a problem with Virgin trains, you have to change at Birmingham"
- Think to self "that's not so bad, I can live with changing at Birmingham, even though we specifically aimed for this train because it was direct..."
- Board train
- Thanks to the "train manager's" (or whatever conductors call themselves these days) announcement on the approach to Birmingham, realise the horrible truth, that "change at Birmingham" actually meant "get off train at Birmingham, leave station, stand around outside watching coaches arrive, empty and drive off again (empty, as if to torture us), watch man with clipboard and fluorescent yellow "bib" unsuccessfully herd angry passengers around, assume that the Cheltenham bus is the one we need (Cheltenham's on "our line", we'll pick up a train from there), arrive Cheltenham to find that there are no trains there, discover that we have to actually go to Gloucester, watch BF "let off steam" (no, that's not a euphemism for farting, though farting may have been equally productive and infinitely more amusing...) at the station functionaries, realise that we had missed the Gloucester bus in the time it took us to realise that we had to get the Gloucester bus and the next one was an hour later...."
- Get taxi to Gloucester at considerable expense
- Board train claiming to be going to Plymouth (intriguingly, it said on the electronic information panel next to the door "Destination: Plymouth, Next stop: Alnmouth, via York" - now my geography's not too hot, but that's got to be a pretty circuitous route!)
- Arrive Taunton 17:15
How do I put a value on 2 hours of my life, wasted?
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Yesterday, I received a “final demand” from Green Flag for over £200.00. I hadn’t had the "initial” demand, nor any “interim” demands (if such things exist). Only a final demand. The thing is, you see, they’d addressed it to Witho, “x” Witho Road instead of “y” Witho Road (where x = y – 10). (I always like to express things in an algebraic fashion wherever possible). Only on the “final” occasion did someone decide to “try number y” (as per the scrawl on the envelope), and it’s handy that they did, otherwise I could have had some debt collectors on my doorstep.
So, there I am with this final demand. There was no indication as to what it was for, although I *knew*.
Exactly 2 months ago, on a bright summer’s day, someone nearly killed me and the BF on the A303 by driving on the wrong side of the road, about here. I still shudder when I think about it. When you’ve seen a car driving straight at you, at speed, and there’s nowhere to go because they’re on *your* side of the road, that picture takes a while to become erased from your memory. I haven’t yet replaced the (written-off) car – to a certain extent, I’ve lost my nerve on A roads. Soon after the accident, I drove the hire car (paid for by the other person’s insurance company) over to my sister’s house, via A roads, with BF in the passenger seat. The tension in that car was tangible. Before we'd even arrived at my sister’s, we’d decided that on the way back, we'd use the motorway...
When you’ve been through something like that, you need someone else to sort out all the paperwork, so that you can get on with your life. That’s what you pay your insurance premiums for, isn’t it? Well, isn’t it?
This final demand from Green Flag was the final straw in a long line of crap that I had to deal with after that accident. The problems began at the roadside, as I struggled to find anyone to help me.
Picture the scene. I’m standing beside my badly damaged car on the grassy verge with cars thundering past me. The BF has gone down to get the details of the other driver, who had stopped behind us and turned her car around to face in the right direction.
I’m in shock, I’ve never had a car accident before and I don’t know what I’m doing. First instinct – call the Police.
After claiming that they didn’t know where I was (I read out the name on the big green roundabout sign which was yards away and the operator said: "I’m sorry, I don’t know where you mean. Have you been through the Ilminster by-pass?" "I don’t know, I’m not from round here, I don't know the "local" names for things, I’m on the A303 in Somerset, heading East, there is a sign right in front of me that says 'Hayes End Roundabout', that’s where I am", "I’m sorry, I don’t where that is" – WTF???) the Police said they wouldn’t attend because no-one was injured and we had exchanged details. They advised me to contact my breakdown company to get the vehicle moved.
After going through the rigmarole of being told that the 0800 number I'd dialled wouldn't be free because I'd called from a mobile and therefore had to call again, omitting the initial zero (yeah, like I need that at a time like this...) the AA said they only come out for breakdowns, not accidents – you learn something new every day, don’t you?
Okay, I need to get onto the insurance company. In my confusion, I phoned the “Breakdown” number. They said I didn’t have breakdown cover. At this point I became virtually hysterical “I’ve just had an accident, no-one will help me, the Police won’t help, the AA won’t help, I can’t drive my car….” – luckily the breakdown guy realized that what I needed was to be put through to claims. By this time, the “third party” had driven off (we later found out that she was just moving her car to the nearby service station) and the police had turned up after spotting the scene as they drove by in the opposite direction – evidently, they (unlike the operator) felt that this did warrant Police intervention...
To cut a long story short, the final demand from Green Flag was the bill for recovering my vehicle from the side of the road on that day. It didn’t actually say that on the final demand, but that’s what it was for. It should have been sent to the insurance company, like so many other pieces of paper I was sent…
As far as I’m concerned, I pay my premiums to the insurance company. In the event of a claim, I believe I should only have to deal with them - they should be sorting everything out and act as a central point of contact.
Throughout this débacle, I had to deal with the following companies/organizations/crocks of shite* (*delete as applicable)
- My insurance company who, despite countless attempts to inform them, kept sending information to my old address in London
- The third party’s insurance company who, despite initially seeming to appear helpful and obliging, revealed themselves to be as cretinous and parasitic as my own insurance company when they accused me of delaying sending my paperwork back in when, in fact, this was caused by my insurance company sending the aforementioned paperwork to my old address
- A company employed by my insurance company to assess the damage to my car. They sent me a letter on headed paper with no contact name, address or telephone number and an illegible signature.
- A company employed by my insurance company as the legal consultants who, among other things, told me I probably wouldn’t be able to get a hire car because it was very difficult to apportion blame in a head-on collision. What, even if the person was on the wrong side of the road and admitted as much to the police and their own insurance company and even if I have a letter from their insurance company telling me that their policyholder has admitted responsibility? Will you listen to the facts before giving me your worthless opinion?
- The headquarters of a hire car company
- The local branch of a hire car company (interestingly, it was these people who were the most helpful)
- The DVLA, whose advice directly contradicted what the insurance company had told me to do with my Vehicle Registration Document
- The Police
- And finally, Green Flag. To whom the BF was overheard saying, calmly and assertively: "So, I can rip up this final demand then, can I?"
Well done, you've reached the end of a very long post - now go and have a sit down.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
My first love was T. He was the brother of my best friend B, who I'd known since senior high school.
Yes, I did say senior high school - we had a crazy system in my borough. From 11 - 14, you went to junior high school, then from 14 - 18, you went to senior high school. Except when I went through the system, they were changing it so that from 11 - 16 you went to "high" school and from 16 - 18 you went to sixth form college. So, between the ages of 11 and 18, through no fault of my own, I went to junior high school (11 - 14), senior high school (14 - 16) and sixth form college (16 - 18). Which makes my Friends Reunited entry look rather more voluminous than others; like the BF for example, who attended just one school between the ages of 11 and 18. Still, didn't seem to do me too much harm...
So, my friend B's brother T was my first real love. I'd known B first, and had spent many a long hour round her house after school, watching her make chapatis and curry (B's family are muslims, of Pakistani descent, like many families in Walthamstow, my home town). T would often appear briefly, sporting an oft-worn Marillion t-shirt, and nod hello discreetly. It was only when we were at sixth form college together that we began to get close. T was in the year above us at school, but his first attempt at A levels yielded grades which wouldn't get him to university, so he stayed at sixth form college and retook them. We were in the same maths class and would revise together. It was one of those relationships which started as a friendship, continued as companionship and then, when we both went off to different universities, we realised how integral to each other's lives we had become, and what a wrench it was to be apart. We were together for about two and a half years and, in all that time, his parents never knew about it...
Which is why, when I went to see the film "Ae Fond Kiss", the memories of this time of my life came flooding back. Aside from its title (which I wasn't sure how to pronounce - I think they should provide a phonetic guide so that when you ask for tickets, you know how to say it...) I think the film did an excellent job of capturing the struggles of such a relationship. Having to hide when together in certain parts of town in case one of his "cousins" spotted us, the looming threat of arranged marriage, the ever-present fear of his father's wrath, wondering if I would always come second to "family matters" (either that, or cricket!)...
It also captured the tremendous pressure on the so-called “second generation” of Asians in this country, who essentially find themselves living double lives to satisfy the needs of their family as well as their own aspirations in the Western world in which they were raised. I've seen it with B. In her parents' home, she is the dutiful muslim daughter, wearing shalwar kameez and headscarf, making a seemingly endless pile of chapatis, serving food to her father and brothers while she and her mother and sisters eat separately in the kitchen. While when she was living away from home, at university, she would go out drinking, smoking, fraternising with members of the opposite sex (*gasp*), wearing “Western” clothes and having her hair cut shorter. Once, to explain her shorter hair, she told her mother she had burnt it on the stove and *had* to have it cut – presumably, in her mother’s eyes, no *respectable* girl would have their hair cut that way by *choice*.
B is now married – yes, an arranged marriage – with one child. I wonder how she will bring up her son? How different will his upbringing be from hers? T is in a relationship with a white girl, with whom he also has a son. It took his mother a long time to forgive him when he rejected the marriage arranged for him. In fact, if his father were still alive, I wonder if they would even be in contact today...
Monday, October 11, 2004
Kindly refrain from "inadvertently" placing your forearm on a black inked stamp pad, and then proceeding to "stamp" the now inked forearm on your desk. You may think that a facsimile of a section of your forearm is a suitable adornment for a desk, but remind yourself that this is only a temporary post, and others may not share your enthusiasm for "anatomy stamping".
Thursday, October 07, 2004
... and I have a phobia.
You see, I don't have good genes, I don't come from good stock. Regular readers will know what I'm talking about. Suffice it to say, I worry about my health. I worry that one day someone's going to "find me out", someone's going to tell me that I'm really very ill indeed. Each time I visit the doctor, the anxiety attacks become more severe. They start in the waiting room. I try the deep breathing, I try to think about nice things: clouds, rainbows, herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain, that kind of thing. But I know I'm just not in control - my body is taking over, the shaking, the pulse racing, the reverberations of my pumping heart which can be felt throughout my body.
The light comes on next to my doctor's name plate, I struggle to hang my numbered disc on the hook next to his name because I'm shaking so hard. I make my way to the consultation room, just trying to remember what calm is like because I'm so far away from there right now. The doctor is friendly and smiling:
"So, Witho, what can I do for you today?"
"I've run out of pills, I need a prescription"
"Okay, I'll just take your blood pressure"
"It's going to be high"
"I'm phobic about doctors, I'm feeling very nervous right now, I'm guessing that this would affect my blood pressure"
"Yes, it would"
*takes blood pressure*
*it's very high*
"Hmm, yes that is very high"
"Yes, I told you. I'm not normally like this, it's because I'm in a doctor's surgery"
*doctor checks for various other signs of high blood pressure*
"The thing is, the pill is contra-indicated for people with high blood pressure"
"Yes, I know that"
"I need to know that your blood pressure is only high in this situation, and not all the time"
You see, here's where the problem lies. The only time I get my blood pressure taken is when I'm at a doctor's surgery, and when I'm at a doctor's surgery, I have an anxiety attack. Up until now, the reading has been within an acceptable margin and the doctor has "let it pass", but today, it went up a notch too far.
I don't blame the doctor, he's just doing his job. But I know that the "me" at the Doctor's surgery is not "me" at all. So how do I find out what my "normal" blood pressure is?
He has suggested an "ambulatory blood pressure pack" which you wear all day and it takes readings at random intervals. But it's not as if I wouldn't know when it was happening (Oh, there seems to be some kind of contraption inflating around my arm; hmmm, I wonder what that could be... *skips off, contentedly*) and I'm guessing I would go into panic mode in the usual way, with predictable results.
In some ways, I'd just rather not know if there was something really wrong. Let nature take its course - it'll have you in the end, anyway, as I know only too well...
Monday, October 04, 2004
Did you know that the French call Darth Vader: "Dark Vader" - presumably because they have a lot of difficulty pronouncing the "th" sound, though this is just my theory. They also have a problem with the letter "w", which means that the name "Witho" is virtually impossible for them to pronounce in a convincing way. Heh heh heh. But I digress...
Aside from imparting useless facts about the French, I'm actually here to discuss "The Trilogy". Like many others in Blogland, Biggie recently acquired his "pre-ordered" box set of Episodes IV, V and VI and he sat me down with him to watch them. You must understand that my experience of the Trilogy is limited to say the least. My abiding memory of Star Wars Episode IV (or simply "Star Wars" as it was known in those days!) was being forced to watch it on the television by my elder brother and responding by falling asleep within the first, say, half hour. Well, it was Christmas Day and I'd just eaten my own body weight in turkey - what's a gal to do? As for the other two films - my entire knowledge of them was gleaned from the film Clerks, when Dante and Randall argue over which was better. Yes, reader, I'd never seen either of these films. Now please get yourself up off the floor and listen!
What follows is a random collection of my thoughts on the three films - the thoughts of an "outsider" if you will. Caution! The views expressed below may be classed as blasphemous by those "believers" among the readership.
- The most wonderfully subtle character is surely R2D2 - so much is expressed by the range of bleeps and whirrs and the carefully timed movement of the "head" section. No, I'm serious!
- We never see R2D2 negotiating a staircase, though there *are* staircases in the film. How does he do it? I suspect he uses the central "foot", lengthening and shortening it using some kind of hydraulic system
- In the realm of Droid naming conventions, how come the human characters shorten R2D2's name to "R2", whereas "C3P0" becomes "3P0"? Where's the consistency that Witho craves?
- Han Solo and Chewbacca are like Laurel and Hardy, providing the slapstick moments on the one hand and the teasing which can only be brought about by the fondness of true friendship.
- The bit where Leia kisses Luke in front of Han, and Chewie does this strange "girlie" laughter, was the funniest bit in the entire trilogy as far as I was concerned
- C3P0 is just rubbish. As if any robot/droid (whatever) would mince about in that fashion
- AT-AT walkers are an extremely bad design. Their centre of gravity is far too high, meaning that their defeat was surely inevitable
- With the ending of "Return of the Jedi" being not unlike some kind of teddy-bears' picnic, I have to agree with Dante in his assertion that: "all Jedi had was a bunch of muppets!"