Saturday, 24 May 2014

If You Can't Write a Post Write a Poem

I haven't written on my blog since December 2012. I've written lots of drafts of things that I want to post on here eventually but I got it into my head that no one is bothered about the inner workings of my mind. However, the other day someone I never speak to commented on something I wrote on Facebook saying my 'posts are class' and that I 'should write a book or something', which meant so much more than if my mum or a close friend had said it, and it's given me the kick up the bum I needed. I had no plans this evening so I decided to come home after a long lunch with my ex roomy and write something.

I wanted to polish up some notes I'd written about bananas about 9 months ago but I couldn't find the scrap of paper I'd scribbled them on or the iPad note I thought I'd typed up. I'm sure you're devastated by the loss. Fortunately on my rummage I did come across some poems I wrote so I've decided to commit them to an eternity of internet dwellage. You're truly mourning those bananas now aren't you?

Here's the back story...

In April 2007, a month after starting a job at the shopping channel which I absolutely hated, I sought solace in a comedy course run by the wonderful Logan Murray despite the fact that:

a) I hated public speaking
b) I wasn't funny and didn't want to be a comedian
c) See a) and b)

After being persuaded by the formidible Hils, who founded Amused Moose, that not everyone does it to be a comedian, that I'd make some new friends and that I wouldn't have to take part in the showcase at the end, I entered the basement of a pub close to Chalk Farm and for the next few weeks a group of strangers, who soon became friends, and I were led in a series of exercises to get the creative juices flowing.

One of the exercises was to pretend we were part of the Haringey Poets Collective and to write a poem about something in the room.

Here is mine from 8th May 2007:

The orange juice taunteth me so
As it sits in its towering glass 
Over there on the oak smoked floor.
Exuberant and gleeful, gloating at my palid skin,
"The tanning lotion isn't working, you're not as orange as me!!"
That's what it says.

I sit here and think ill thoughts on the juice 
That is robbing me of my Tango-ey glow,
For it has ruined me.
I shall never be on Footballer's Wives now.
The orange juice that fills the glass so pintily 
Shall beat me to the role of Chardonnay.

I was quite pleased with that one. 

I tried to write another poem on my own time the following day but it turned into an outpouring of what appears to be an unconscious fear of being eaten alive by rodents...

Have you been hiding in my house?
Have you been hiding, little mouse?
Don't deny it, for I hear you nibbling on my walnuts
But do not feast upon my mind
For that is more important than the cheese
So I ask you, if you please,
To be so kind
As not to munch upon my mind.

Having bought Logan's book shortly after the course I used it to amuse myself when I was bored at work. In 2009 I wrote a poem to a sanitary bin whilst I was being paid to be a Tape Librarian. Exactly three years after starting Logan's course I was still writing the odd (in both senses of the word) poem whilst temping as a receptionist...

On the 8th April 2010 I wrote these:

A Love Poem to a Chair (in the Probation Service Waiting Room)

Dear Chair,
I see you there
Imagining me in my underwear
But for now you'll take me as I am,
Wearing this wondrously multicoloured kaftan.

You want me to straddle you
And ride you around
But instead you just sit there
And don't make a sound.
Say what you feel, Chair,
Do what you want to me,
If only you dare.

You think I'm too good for you
Because you've no wheels.
You think I want swivelling
Because I wear heels.
You wish you had the depth of a bog
So you could see my bare arse
And feel the warmth of my log.

But Chair, I love your stability
And your dirty blue cover.
I want to sit down on you,
I don't want another.

It must have been a slow day for murderers and paedophiles because then a random photograph of a dog on the reception desk caught my eye...

Overexposed Dog

Overexposed dog,
Looking at me from your glossy picture,
I don't know who you are
Or where you've been
Just that you stand in a concrete-slabbed garden
With only terracotta pots for company.

You have an elegant nose
And look like you know a thing or two.
You're too sophisticated to defecate it seems
As there is no sign of poo.

Overexposed dog,
You're overexposed because there's too much light in the camera lens
Not because you have your bits on show.
You're too cultured for that
And look like you should be wearing a top hat.

A couple of months later the receptionist I'd been covering returned from sick leave and it turned out the overexposed dog in the photograph was hers. One day I met Dylan and he was indeed as sophisticated in person (or should that be animal?).

I started to write this one about one of the offenders which was more than likely inspired by having read some unsavoury things in his file...

You look like such a nice man
But then so did Saddam Hussein
And look what he's done.

That's as far as I got but I think it says it all really.

If you've not had enough 'comedy' for one day here's my set from the showcase I didn't want to do...

Saturday, 22 December 2012

A Spot of Bother

As far as teenage skin goes mine was pretty clear save for the occasional lone spot making an appearance, usually right in the centre of my face. Around the time I turned 18 something changed and my skin broke out - if I was at home you could safely bet your life savings that I'd have Sudocrem smeared all over my face - always a good look when the fire alarm goes off in halls at three in the morning.

It got gradually worse as the years went on and unsightly lumps and scars squeezed the life out of my already dwindling confidence and I became uncharacteristically shy in front of a camera, covering my face with my hands, which is why I couldn't find many pictures where you can actually see how bad my skin was. I tried everything I could to clear up my skin from changing my diet and steaming my face to using different topical products - both doctor recommended and natural - and various medications.

December 2007 - Makeup doesn't even cover it.

February 2008 - Poster girl for 'revealer' & chocolate finger cakes.

May 2009 - Black and white doesn't cover it either.
In mid 2009, and seeing no improvement from the pill which had been prescribed specifically for my skin a few months earlier, my flatmate Laura came home to find me sat on the bed with orange peel on my face (something she likes to remind me of at regular intervals) because I'd read that vitamin C is good for your skin. I saw no results from my fruity remedy so, orange peel discarded, I went back to the doctors in tears and was told that I'd just have to accept that that's just the way my skin is. I told him that my skin hadn't always been like this so I wasn't going to take his patronising and lazy diagnosis. I asked to be referred to a dermatologist - I'd decided to go the hardcore Roacutane route - but before an appointment came through my skin started to clear up out of what seemed like nowhere and I couldn't believe my eyes. I'd read somewhere that acne can clear up of its own accord after seven years and this would be roughly the seven year mark. Or it could have been down to the anti-jowl experiment. Or the orange peel. Or having moved near the woods. Whatever it was I was delighted.

Not long after my skin started to clear up I moved home for two and a bit years - the scars from the endless squeezing started to fade and whenever I saw my friends in London they'd comment on how great my skin looked. I saved money, and time, no longer needing to use concealer and I started to forget what it felt like to have bad skin. I needn't have worried, I'd soon be reminded.

March 2010 - Makeup actually doing its job.
August 2010 - I have a 'tan' but no spots
September 2011 - Zero makeup, zero marks.
June 2012 - In London but my skin is still behaving
July 2012 - Me and mum just before I woke up from my good skin dream.
I moved back to London in April this year, in August my skin started to break out. I couldn't believe it. I thought my bad skin days were behind me and now they are looking back at me in the mirror. And it's not just a spot here and there - that I could handle - I'm getting them all over the lower part of my face and my jaw line on both sides keeps coming up with painful, itchy, under the skin, unsqueezable spots and just as they start to go down they come right back up again. Some days I don't want to leave the house because I feel so bad about myself and don't want people to look at me. I've fallen in love with plasters because I'd rather have people look at a plaster on my face than see their eyes constantly drawn to the mountains underneath. I've already got scarring even though I'm trying really hard not to squeeze or pick. And concealer does not do what it says on the tin - it should be called revealer.
December 2012 - What a mess.

The week before last I was starting to feel a bit better about my skin as it looked like it was calming down. I'd had a lovely evening at a sketch comedy night I'd been meaning to go to for ages and I was in a good mood. Sat on the tube on the way home my friend from the Gherkin looked at my face, eyes scanning the surface, and said, 'Have you been eating a lot of chocolate, your...' Before he could finish I cut him off and told him not to say anything and asked why he'd even go there, 'I've got eyes and a mirror, I don't need you to tell me that my skin is bad'. I nearly burst into tears and I kept willing the train to hurry the eff up so I could get away from him. The next few stops couldn't have gone slower and I just completely clammed up giving one word answers to his attempts at making conversation. When I changed tube lines I tried to read my book but I couldn't see the words through the water welling in my eyes. As I walked home I thought about the times people have mentioned my skin before and the insensitive comments have always been from men over the age of 30. My late Portuguese grandad asked a question as we dined outside one summer that my grandma had to translate for me, "Why do you have spots?" How the f**k ('scuse my language) would I know that and why are you asking me?! What would you actually be gaining by knowing the answer to that question? I stopped going to Portugal so often after that. My old boss Steve mentioned my skin once and learned that Shakespeare wasn't kidding when he said that hell hath no fury. I just don't understand how it is productive or anyone's business to point out or ask about an obviously upsetting condition. Would you ask a woman with an excessively hairy face if she's been using Regaine as moisturiser or a fat boy if he's eaten his mum? Why don't people put themselves in others' shoes and think, "Would I want someone to comment on that if I was them?"

I've been racking my brain for the cause of my skin problem and am actually quite enjoying the investigations - I feel like a scientist on the verge of a breakthrough. Here are the possibilities:
  • WORK/STRESS - When my skin started to get better towards the end of 2009 I'd been made redundant so I was a lady of leisure. When I moved back home I had a job but not full time hours. Things started getting stressful when I moved out of the flat I shared with my boyfriend and back down to London. I started a new temp job with full time hours, was looking for somewhere new to live for four months whilst staying with friends, broke up with my boyfriend of two years, moved into a new house, moved all my stuff down from up north, finished my temp contract and started looking for work again. It would be enough to cause an acne eruption, no?
  • POLLUTION - A lot of people have suggested it's the pollution of London that's causing my spots but I know that my skin started getting better before I left so it must just be a coincidence that it's been getting worse since my return.
  • LONDON TAP WATER - My friend's flatmate has been getting bad skin since moving to London and has pinpointed tap water as the culprit. She has been experimenting by only drinking bottled water and using it when making tea or boiling pasta. She has seen a real improvement in her skin. I haven't seen one in mine but then I haven't been using bottled water when boiling as I thought the high temperature would get rid of all the crap in the tap water. 
  • MILK/COFFEE/SUGAR - When I moved back down I went a bit mental and was having a Caffe Nero latte more or less every day. I read that milk is really bad for acne because of the hormones in it. Since I was a teenager I've drunk at least one pint of milk a day - I used to go to house parties and request a pint of milk - so this would explain a lot. I have since cut milk out altogether and haven't seen any improvements. I've read that coffee is also not great because it causes resistance to insulin so the body makes more to compensate and this has an inflammatory effect - apparently lattes and chai are twice as bad for this which is what I've been drinking. I love sugar. I try my hardest to avoid it and whilst I do eat healthily in general if you put a cake or a packet of biscuits in front of me that's it, game over. Whilst working at the Gherkin there were unlimited shortbread biscuits which I'd just eat one after the other without thinking and there were bakery breakfasts and afternoon teas galore. One day I ate AT LEAST (I lost count) eight lemon drizzle cakes which can't be normal behaviour. I now know that sugar causes hormonal issues (testosterone and insulin) but I am addicted to it, which people don't take seriously but that's a post for another day, so it's hard to stop. Whilst I've been writing this I've realised that it might be sugar that started this whole thing ten years ago. I used to eat mountains of sugary treats daily which would explain the depression, the exhaustion and eventually the bad skin. And perhaps the reason my skin doesn't seem to improve when I try not to have sugar is because the damage has been done and a longer period of time is needed for my body to adjust and my hormones to level out.
My heroin
  • OVARY ISSUES - For most of this year I've been having lower abdomen pain which I recently went to the doctor about. She sent me for an ultrasound which I had last week to see if there's a problem with my ovaries which could explain the bad skin.
  • HORMONE ISSUES - On looking through past posts to find links for this one I came across a little nugget of info that has completely thrown my seven year theory out of the window. I mention in the Project Back Rest post about going on the pill at a certain time. It would have been roughly five months after starting this pill that my skin improved and apparently that's about the right amount of time it takes to start seeing results. I can't believe how arrogant I was to assume that my skin had got better by itself.
  • TOO FEW POOS - I'm not as regular as I used to be which could be causing a reaction in my skin. I'd go sometimes twice a day and now I'm going every couple of days. It's very disappointing and worrying to have my poos hanging about inside when they're so much better off out in the world blocking toilets. But then I had bad skin when I was regular so this can't be the cause.
Plan of action:

It would be easy to go back on the pill again but I'm wondering if I should ride this out even if it means plastering my face in... plasters. I am going to start eating two carrots a day because vitamin A is apparently good in the battle against acne but this article tells me I must be careful to avoid raw carrot abuse (yes you read that correctly). My favourite quote: "the afflicted persons get hold of and consume carrots even in socially quite unacceptable situations." I can't think of a situation where eating a carrot would be socially unacceptable unless of course you're doing obscene things to it with your mouth. Once, at a friend's birthday night out, I ate a Petits Filous yoghurt without a spoon in the smoking area outside the bar - that was probably socially unacceptable but no one died (I don't think).

What are you Filouking at?

I'm also going to try my absolute hardest to stop eating refined sugar - I've decided to do this by imagining all baked goods to be filled with pubic hair. And, inspired by my friend Vic's homemade party food last weekend, I'm going to pop my own corn and sprinkle it with cinnamon, cocoa powder and honey if I need a sugar fix. Hopefully this will rid me of boy hormones and my witchy toad face.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Temporary Insanity

It has been an obscene amount of time since I last wrote but as I have quite a lot of time on my hands now that I've gone 'freelance' (free being the operative part of that word) I thought I should attempt to write something and may as well start where I left off in August 2011...

I know it was a bit of a ranty, woe-is-me post but, you know, sometimes things build up and if someone's not going to let you take a few hours off for a funeral then they deserve to be passive-aggressively talked about behind their backs.

A couple of months after I wrote it I left the temp agency, and the Probation Service, for a full time job in an art gallery, which sounded like a dream job in theory as I love art and it would involve looking at and talking about it all day. However it would also involve selling which is probably my greatest weakness - I couldn't sell a badge to a badger - and in my interview, when she let me get a word in edgeways, I informed my prospective boss of this important fact, which is why I was surprised when she offered me the job. The target for each month was £10,000 (EACH) which was ridiculous given on an average day a total of three people would come in but these were the days when I'd forgotten how to use my gut instinct so of course I signed the contract. Taking it would allow me to achieve my goal of no longer reading about and meeting peodophiles and murderers at the Probation Service and getting more hours.

My gut smugly gurgled "I told you so" when my boss turned out to be a megalomaniac with a penchant for put downs and picking rather than praise. In my first week she told me off for saying "Hello" when people walked in and that I should instead be saying "Good morning/afternoon"; later that day, and on several occasions after that, I heard her greet people with "Hello". In my first few days I watched with amazement at the way she spoke to her staff and knew I wouldn't be able to put up with it for long.  She would jump on people the minute they entered the building, supergluing their hands to the most expensive piece of art so they had no choice but to buy. It did not go down well the day I told her I didn't believe in pouncing on people as in my own personal experience being sold to is a complete turn off. If I want something I will buy it, I don't need to be held at gunpoint by a card machine. She would complain that her staff's sales weren't high enough yet many of her sales came from poaching customers we'd been slowly but surely warming up to a modestly priced painting. At my three week review she implied that if my sales didn't improve by the six week mark I wouldn't have a job anymore despite the fact I was meant to be on a reduced target for my first couple of months. I'm a carrot kind of girl so the stick was not appreciated, nor the moving of the goal posts. At that moment I decided I'd save her the job of firing me at six weeks and hand in my notice then instead. Without lining up a replacement job I politely told her I would rather live on the streets than spend another day in her company. Obviously I said nothing of the sort but I was still caught off guard by her reaction to my resignation - she spent a few days trying to persuade me to stay. I think this had more to do with her getting a track record for high staff turnover than my skills as an art salesperson but she did compliment my greatness in all other aspects of the role so who knows what her motivation was*.

So off I went at the end of November with no job and signed up to another temp agency despite my warning of August's post "NEVER EVER GET WORK (if they can get you any) THROUGH AN AGENCY!" and bloody hell was I proved wrong. Not only were they thoroughly understanding about the situation I found myself in at the gallery (yes I told them everything)  but they got me a job within a week, and it was at a school so came with the added bonus of school holidays. Hurray!!

I was only meant to be there for a few weeks but I ended up staying for a few months at which point I decided it was time to move back down to London. In preparation for the move I emailed a few temp agencies and wondered why none of them got back to me. A couple of weeks later I logged into my LinkedIn profile as it needed updating and then I saw it. A link to my blog. A link to my blog about poo. A link to my blog where the last post was slagging off temping agencies. Shit balls. I promptly deleted the link. What was I thinking directing people of the professional world to, yes, an example of my writing, but writing intertwined with toilet musings and the slagging off of a working organisation? If we were in a court of law I would have to claim temp-orary insanity (haha, sorry).

Thankfully not long after disposing of the link I heard from a couple of the agencies (I still haven't heard back from the others) and went with the London branch of the one I'd last used in Harrogate. A week later and I had a job on the top office floor of The Gherkin! You can't knock a temp agency that gets you a job in one of London's top landmarks and so I shall withdraw my slagging off of temp agencies (I was, of course, insane at the time) and say that if you need to go with one then Brook Street gets the job done.

*ridiculously high staff turnover statistics, definitely.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

'Holiday' Blues

Temp: Hello, I know this is really last minute but I only found out last thing last night... I have to go to a funeral on Tuesday - is there any way I can book it as holiday (4.5hrs)? Also whilst I'm here could I book the bank holiday off on 29th August (4.5hrs)? Sorry it's not 4 weeks in advance.

Agency: Apologies but we will be unable to process this request as we are up to maximum hours for the next four weeks. Should you require any holiday after this duration please let us know.

I've been temping for this agency for one and a half years and that whole time I have stayed at the first company they put me with; my hours have fluctuated due to the company's demands but I currently work about 29 hours a week (though I've made it clear to both parties that I need more full time hours which seems to fall on deaf ears). I get £6 an hour and know that for each £6 I get my agency gets at least £3. I don't get sick pay, I don't get automatic bank holiday pay and in May I was told that I now have to give four weeks notice of holiday rather than two. I sent an email today asking for just a few hours holiday on Tuesday but apparently compassionate leave, even when I'm asking to take it as holiday, isn't something they do either. 

Around this day nine years ago, when I went to pick up my A Level results, the Head of Sixth Form took me aside and tried to convince me to go to Brunel University instead of Buckinghamshire Chilterns because it had better prospects. I wonder had I taken his advice would I be where I am today?

My agency doesn't seem to think I'm capable of doing an admin job that I asked to apply for yet most of my time on reception is spent doing admin. And I do my job well - I've been told by the people I work with I'm the best receptionist they've ever had and whenever I go for interviews they tell me they hope I don't get the job because they don't want to lose me. I was 3% off a First in my degree, got good grades from school and have worked in television in extremely high pressure environments but, apart from giving me something to brag about, what does that actually mean?

Maybe I should have got that First rather than a 2:1. Maybe I should have continued to work at QVC, despite the bitchy atmosphere and the bullying I witnessed, because I actually saw what it was like to be paid more than £12k - something that's not happened since.

Oh, the Should 'a', Could 'a', Would 'a's are such easy songs to sing. I am crossing my fingers that the Operations Manager at ITV who gave me glowing feedback about my interview a few weeks ago can find a job for me (the girl who already works there got the job I'd applied for). I can tell you now that I won't let it go in a hurry.

What Happened Next:

My manager had arranged for cover but I had to call her to say not to worry about it and that I'd to have to come in around the funeral just to get a couple of hours pay because the agency wouldn't give me holiday. She said OK but was shocked they wouldn't give me the time off for it. A few minutes after hanging up she called me back and said because of what the company has put me through recently (changing my hours all over the place and back to split shifts) that she would pay for me to go to the funeral. That was really nice of her but what a bloody palava. 

Lesson: NEVER EVER GET WORK (if they can get you any) THROUGH AN AGENCY!

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Book Man

Where I work we have two different book companies that come in every few weeks with a selection of books and novelty gifts for us to peruse and (ideally) buy - last week there were Kate and William mugs and a learn-to-play-recorder set to name just a few of the treats on offer.

We refer to both of these companies collectively as 'The Book Man'.

Today TBM came to pick up the books, mugs, recorder etc. and it took me some time to get to the front door to let him in. He looked at me questioningly and I explained that I was a bit stiff and finding it hard to move as I'd done yoga twice at the weekend. He responded with a supportive, 'So you've overdone it a bit' - I nodded, proud of my sporadic attempt at exercise.

He went on to talk about how wonderful the weather's been and that yesterday he was in London...

It transpired he'd been doing the marathon. Only his 121st one. This guy must be in his late 50s and he was there talking to me holding a massive pile of books, not a hobble or suggestion of stiffness in sight. I felt embarrassed and ashamed to be half his age and rendered nearly incapacitated by two 40 minute yoga sessions when he was off running 26 miles on tarmac in the blistering heat. I'm really glad I hadn't told him that I'd also attempted a run this weekend, in a field and neighbouring wood, that had lasted a maximum of 20 minutes (I'm sure some of that time was spent walking/trying to alleviate a stitch) and had taken me 15 minutes to walk to because I get really painful shins if I attempt to run on concrete.

Off he hopped back out into the sun, mountain of books in hand, whilst I hobbled back to my desk to hang my head in shame.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Wheely Bad

Today at work I was asked to stay on all day. A 12 hour shift? Yes please.

I decided to go home at lunch to collect the soup Steven had so lovely-ly put out for me to take to work this morning but given I usually come home for the afternoon I decided to put it back in the fridge. So having left my lunch at home it's only natural they should ask me to stay on.

When working a full day we get half an hour for lunch. It takes me 15 minutes to get to/from work by foot. SO I thought a good plan would be to walk home, get the soup, get the bike out of the garage, that I inherited from my mum and step dad when they moved to Africa in February, and cycle straight back to work.

An excellent idea in theory - not so much in practice.

I've not ridden a bike for at least ten years and I hereby declare the definition of 'it's like riding a bike' to mean that something is bloody difficult, if not impossible.

I got on it and realised that the pedals have those cages on them so your feet can't come out. Do they not know me at all?! This is the girl who used to have to take her feet off her moped and place them millimeters off the ground when going round corners for fear of losing her balance. Cages on your feet is just asking for trouble.

I walked the bike a few wheel rotations (sorry distances aren't my thing) down the road and had a fiddle with the brakes. The front ones weren't working. I tried to figure out if I could get to work without catapulting myself over the handlebars. I decided I couldn't. Somehow the man in me figured out how to reattach the front brake. I had a stab at riding it a few wheel rotations and wondered how long it would take me to go back home, get into the house to get the garage key I'd posted back through the door, open the fiddly garage door, step over the ladder to get the bike in, close the fiddly garage door and walk back to work.

I thought it'd be quicker to try and ride/walk the bike to work.

I rode it about a quarter of the way down my road - getting off to get onto the pavement. (When I was about 14 I managed to fall off my bike attempting a road to pavement mount and was not going to relive it especially with vegetable soup swinging from the handlebars.) I walked it up the main road and got back on for a downhill side road. Pot holes + downhill speed = not doing that again. Three quarters of the way down the hill I decided enough was enough and wheeled that damn bike the rest of the way.

It was the start of the warm weather and I had a couple of hills to climb whilst pushing this bit of wheeled metal. You could say I was flustered when I got back to work.

The girl who's down with me on reception at the moment told me that the seat shouldn't move (I didn't mention that did I?... As you sit on it it points down - if the cross bar wasn't there you'd slide right off) and that it was a boys' bike which probably didn't help me not being able to ride it.

8.30pm came around and I forced myself to wheel the thing back. As I was making my way out of the building a staff member asked if I'd like the bike shed key for future use. I told her I'd have to learn to ride the bloody bike before I needed storage for it.

I thought I'd see if night time bike riding was a little easier but less than ten seconds into it decided I should stop before I ran over the man coming the other way (yes I was on the pavement). I stopped and pretended to be looking for something in my bag. I didn't want him to think I was cyclically challenged. I waited until he'd passed before I dismounted and wheeled the enemy home to a life of imprisonment and dust collection.

Scouring Pads and Piss Mist

On Saturday night, for a friend's birthday, we went to a restaurant in town where the lights are low both in brightness and length; the waiters kept hitting their heads on the lampshades whenever they placed anything on our table.

Whilst eating my £11 bite-sized pasta dish, which I'd chosen because it was one of the cheapest things on the menu, I found a piece of curly wire in my mouth which was, according to the manager, from a scouring pad. He apologised and took my food off the final bill. When it came to paying, our party split the bill equally. Parting with £27 for three glasses of wine is always a pleasure. I felt like I was in that episode of Friends but I was too much of a coward to say anything. Had I known in advance we'd be splitting the bill I'd have ordered a starter and a steak instead of scouring pad linguine.

Towards the end of the meal I needed a wee so I went off to the toilet. As I was urinating I was alarmed when up through the toilet bowl and out between my legs came swirling steam. This has happened to me before in nightclubs with metal toilet bowls and for some reason it made sense then - you know, warm wee on cold metal. It wasn't half as alarming as when it happened on that posh porcelain toilet in an expensive restaurant. Perhaps I expected the toilet bowl to be heated given they were charging extortionate amounts for child portion main courses.

Once back at the table I couldn't keep the steam situation to myself for long and explained what had happened to nine bemused people sat around the table. I implored them to go up to the loo to confirm that I was not a) mental and b) the holder of mutant bodily fluids. Before we left I managed to get a couple of takers for the experiment and stood outside each of their cubicles shouting through the door, 'Any steam yet?!' to which the replies were a resounding no. You could say I was left feeling like a bit of a freak.

I've just typed 'steam when urinating' into Google and it comes up with very few corresponding results. What's listed is mostly about cats or poodles pissing on carpets. Not only that but it also asks if I actually meant 'stream when urinating'. It is worrying that Google knows so little about my steaming problem that it feels the need to ask me if I'm actually searching for the correct thing.

On the second page of results there is this Urban Dictionary definition of 'piss mist'...

Delightful. I shall remember that next time I piss on a fire.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Just Browsing

In a bid to get thick and lustrous eyebrows I have been indulging in a bit of threading. This may seem like a blatant oxymoron but apparently, and this currently seems like an urban myth to me, there are ways of encouraging brow growth using this lovely hair-removal technique.

I've been a couple of times before and both times I came out with eyebrows way too thin (you could say I was left thread-bare hahaha) as I hadn't been engaged in any kind of consultation beforehand as to what I wanted from the brow grooming. If I were to describe them with punctuation I'd say I came out with brackets when all I wanted was quotation marks: a bit of size variation to spice up my face a smidge.

My eyebrows before all this threading business began. Looking at them, I think I actually preferred them. (Please excuse the eye makeup - I was going to a party dressed as a Christmas tree.)

Today I took matters into my own hands and drew the brows of my dreams in pencil on a Post-It note to show the brow people.

The Post-It Note of Dreams.
(It seems the Christmas tree eyebrows weren't far off. Why did a mirror not inform me of this?)

 The lady looked at the sketch and set to work. During the experience she intermittently took a pair of scissors and had a little snip here and there. Sat with my eyes closed and head back I started daydreaming that she was taking the scissors to my nostrils to begin snipping at not my nose hair but the skin where the nostril meets the main part of the nose. Thankfully I was consciously daydreaming otherwise there's a chance I may have screamed out accusations at the unsuspecting threading technician. That would have been a hair removal story to tell the grandkids. I still ended up coming out with eyebrows a bit thinner than I'd like but they're becoming a bit less bracketey and headed quotation-markward.

To get the shape I want I have to manipulate my forehead.


OK, OK, we get the message. You've got eyebrows.

And at least my nose is still in tact (not that you'd know it from these photos).

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Oh Crap

I'm on an evening shift, at a point where I've done all my work and can now peruse the internet whilst a Drink Impaired Driver's group plays out in one of the meeting rooms. My job now is to be here in case of an emergency. If that panic alarm goes off I have to go in there to assess the situation and decide whether the police/ambulance/fire brigade need calling (I'm probably not the best person to do this given my laid back approach to most things).

But as it happens I find myself in a bit of an emergency, in need of a plumber. I am currently on a break from flushing the toilet and waiting for the water level to go down. After nearly a year of inadequate bowel movements I have finally got my poo-jo back and have been blocking toilets here, there and everywhere. Mainly at work. The week before last I managed to do a turd so large I flushed five times to no avail. That day I was doing a split shift so I went home for a few hours and then came back. On visiting the toilet later that evening I saw my numerous flushes had made little impact on the brown torpedo and there is no doubt it had been used since my encounter with it. It took a further toilet brush attack and a few more flushes to get it down.

Tonight I have managed a similar feat. I went for a number two about but did not think to check if it had gone down. I had to go again at and on lifting the lid saw my extravagant use of toilet paper had not made it down an hour and a half before. I didn't think to flush it before attempting another evacuation so when flushing it afterwards I managed to cause an upsurge of water and the view of two poos too large for the meagre toilet bowl to take. A few flushes and toilet brushes have made no impact and after staring at the water level for a few minutes it looked like it wasn't going down. I thought perhaps it may be a case of a watched bog never unblocks so I came downstairs to give it some space to do its business.

I thought I may as well comment on the whole fiasco while I wait.

I shall now go and see if any progress has been made. (I also need another poo - I wonder if all the chocolate I've eaten today is causing this excessive amount of excrement)...

I have been defeated. Not only by the toilet refusing to unblock but also the fact it has been discovered by someone in the building who has taken the time to fashion a 'toilet blocked!' sign and found some sellotape to stick it up. (Sadly I have no camera phone to document this turn of events) The annoying thing is I didn't realise this staff member was still in the building and there's a chance he'll have heard me speeding my way up the stairs to cause the vandalism. I am crossing my fingers this doesn't encourage an email to be sent out to the entire building in the morning.

I just never learn do I? 

p.s. I used another toilet for my 3rd poo of the evening and managed not to block it. That's one less 'toilet blocked exclamation mark' sign that needs making.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Nose Roses

Yesterday I went on the hunt for a mini watering can – the kind that has a really thin spout but no shower head (I am quite certain it is not referred to as a shower head in the gardening world but let’s not nitpick). The reason for my search is that I came across a nasal cleansing technique on my travels across the internet, called Jala Neti, where you tip hot, salty water into one nostril and it comes out of the other one. Apparently it’s good for curing rhinitis which I’m sure I’ve got as I constantly have runny, irritated nasal passages and, forgive me but it’s getting right up my nose.

There is a special piece of equipment used in the process of Jala Neti called a neti pot but in the video tutorial I saw on Youtube they say it’s fine to use a waterbottle with a squeezy top or a mini showerheadless watering can instead. I tried the squirty water bottle version but I already have a fear of my nostrils stretching to Fern Cotton proportions due to constantly having my fingers, and thumbs, up there. (In my defence that’s because of the constant itchiness and also my nose always seems to house crusty bogeys.) I’m sure my enlarged nostrils won't be getting any smaller by sticking a water bottle up there so it was time to find the watering can option.

So I went into a hardware store around the corner from my work and asked the man if they sell them. He told me they used to but that no one really knew what to do with them so they stopped. He asked me what it was for and before I had time to answer he continued, "Watering roses or something?” Had he not suggested this I’d have definitely told him what I wanted it for but I’m not sure he could handle the truth so with my awkward, highly unskilled lying technique I looked to the side and nodded my head and said yes. Yes my dear fellow, it’s for the roses up my nose.

I went on to search a flower shop and TK MAXX but was unsuccessful in my mission. I would have gone to a garden centre but they’re all so far away! I did, however, purchase one of these amazing chopping boards (inspired by my friend Alex Berger who bought one for our cooking fanatic chum, Adam Detre) that fold inwards so you don’t lose any bits of onion when you tip it in the pan. Super! But still neti potless - the hunt continues…