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  • Archive for February, 2009

    Things I’ve learned today

    2009 - 02.25

    1. aerobics instructing is MUCH harder than it looks

    2. mirror reversing lefts and rights turns me inside out and upside down

    3. practicing aerobics until midnight in the VL will bring the person in the room below yours nervously to the door

    4. scientists actually don’t know all the answers, such as why a Shao Lin can beat the tar out of himself with an iron bar in front of us and sit back down looking a lot more comfortable about it than his stunned audience

    5. I *could* have been at Watchmen tomorrow. Life blows.

    Why so serious? 1: (I’m) Batman

    2009 - 02.23


    Week before last I dragged Ben along to the Imax for a Batman Begins/The Dark Knight double. I say ‘dragged’ not because he didn’t want to come, but because I suspect he, as would any sane man, was becoming somewhat embarrassed by my constant vocal/Facebooked declarations of ‘I’m Batman!’ and generous offer to allow him to be Commissioner Gordon (he had politely declined the mantle of Robin). However his cold had, by that time, left him with an impressive gravely tone and I soon gleefully switched to asking/begging/bribing/cajoling him into saying ‘I’m Batman’. This wasn’t an especially successful enterprise.

    5 glorious hours of 53 foot Batman and one frantic dash in high heels quite inappropriate for racing to the last tube in later, I maintain that Batman Begins is still the superior film, that The Dark Knight could have done with a whole lot more cutting and that introducing and knocking off Two Face in the same freaking film was a severe tactical mistake on Nolan’s part.


    Why so serious? 2: Friday

    2009 - 02.23

    Well, Friday started badly, and I think I can safely admit only a muppet would mix painkillers and sleeping tablets. Fool!  And as Gemma later pointed out to me, only a complete knob (my words, she’s always much more polite) would take sleeping pills at about midnight and then expect to still be able to get out of bed five and a half hours later. Sometimes I genuinely forget to think at all.

    So I fall out of bed about an hour late, make it to SB for a whole half hour before having to limp down to the doctor to find out the results of blood tests taken about forever to go to find out where I have dad’s haemochromatosis.

    Well, the doctor is running about half an hour later, which is pretty poor form by 8:20 in the morning, and doesn’t really know enough about the condition to be able to draw any conclusions from the results. So me, I have things I want looked at, I need a physio referral and to talk plumbing and ventolin prescriptions, but instead, he talks a whole lot about how he knows nothing for the whole appointment, refers me to not one but three specialists (the legendary efficiency of the NHS strikes again) and then tells me I’ll have to come back about my knees and ventolin.


    Why so serious? 3: Saturday

    2009 - 02.23

    With these words echoing in my ears, I travelled out to Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon to finally meet two friends from Sharpshooter, my online writing group. Adrian appeared sans the promised bag on head, which would have in any case been perfectly unnecessary, and I led Sally astray by texting her to say I was the girl by the door with the laptop – by the time she arrived, I was the girl who’d put her laptop away to talk at a mile a minute with Adrian, while poor Sally had gone to introduce herself to my literal clone – same age, same hair, even the same laptop, also sitting by the other door.  Oooops.

    Now aside from my writerly peeps thinking I was slightly strange: ‘You write every day? At 6:30 in the morning?  In Starbucks?’ ‘Well, yes, don’t you… oh, never mind…’ they were also excellent examples of real people (sometimes you forget about real life matters like rent, cars, tax bills, children etc living in a student house) with plenty more reason to be serious than I, feeling the fear and getting on with life anyway. I was inspired.


    May I put the needle in, please?

    2009 - 02.20

    asked the trainee blood donation nurse, with a nervous smile.

    “Go for your life,” I managed with mock bravado, trying to keep the anxiety from my voice. “Just make sure you stick it in the right place…”

    I loathe needles.  When a doctor tried to give me a tetanus shot some years  back, a broken jaw couldn’t stop me squarking on so vociferously that by the time I’d paused for breath, she had done the jab already. After the surgery, I refused any pain killers whatsoever upon sighting the size of the needle they were planning to administer the jolly things by.

    So as I am sure you can imagine, I do not approach my 16 week blood donations with any form of excitement whatsoever. I do them out of an unshakeable sense of social responsibility – after all, the list of omissions is so extensive it’s a genuine wonder that any of the sexually active adult population of the UK are able to donate at all – and deal with the lead-up to the event by not actually acknowledging the pointy implications of the appointments in any way, shape or form.  It’s like I trick myself into letting the needle come as a surprise.

    Which is why it was rather bad luck to have trainee Nicholas as my carer, because no nurse should ever, ever ask me permission to stick a damn needle in. I might have just as easily said “Actually, no, you can’t, is that the exit?” and done a runner there and then.  But I behaved – my foot is not broken, the universe has been relatively kind, I owe someone a pint of blood – and lay quietly while he performed the most painful donation insertion I’ve ever experienced. This coming after he first spent a good minute or so pushing and prodding gently at my veins (so, what, they’re hiding tonight? I’m wondering) and, having announced that he must disinfect my arm for thirty second, proceeding to do just that for precisely 31.  I know the rules probably say to swab for 30 seconds, but what nurse actually does it for more than one or two half-hearted wipes?

    So, ok, the needle is in. Getting to this point has already been, I should add, something of an adventure: I had clean forgotten to ask at the hospital whether there was any reason I should not be able to donate blood this evening. So I came clean at reception, admitting I’d taken pain killers (“What kind?” the weary nurse asked. “Um, white and pink ones.” Flat stare. “That all you can tell me?”) and been x-rayed. The duty nurse interrogated me at length, inspected the foot, asking did I feel faint? (No) Was I sure there was no chance of fracture? (Yes) Does pushing here hurt? (Yes!) Could I be internally bleeding? (No!) Had I been punctured or pierced in any way at the hospital? (No)  Had I been in contact with anyone who seemed significantly ill with an infectious disease? (What the… how should I know?)

    As I lay there, both legs twitching and both hands opening and closing convulsively, Nicholas turned his attention to a Lucy who clearly had less love of donating than even I. She made it through the poiltely mechanic greeting, 30 second swab and request to insert the needle without trauma, but suddenly asked whether the flow could be slowed. A moment later she caught herself, but it was too late – Nicholas was desperately anxious about her welfare, and she just as desperate to assure the poor trainee that all was well. After a few excuciating minutes of “Are you absolutely sure you’re ok?” “Yes, absolutely, I just had a fleeting moment, so sorry, nothing to worry about, no really,” throughout which she was making a fist so tight the knuckles whitened, Lucy tried to strategically route the stalemate with “So, why did you decide to become a blood donation nurse?”

    I don’t think Nicholas had ever been asked this – mind you, I don’t think he’d been a donation nurse for more than a few days – so he stammered out the truth: “I need a job.”

    “Oh,” Lucy managed. “That’s… that’s good. Very… good.”

    Turns out Nicholas is in fact an artist – although Lucy was clearly too distracted by the sight of the needle embedded in her arm to ask what type – and had just taken the job out of, well, desperation. He actually threw me – now unable to hide the smirk – a rather embarrassed look and hastened to add that he also wanted to Do Something Worthwhile. Contribute To Society, Etc.  Lucy laughed nervously and fell very quiet after that.

    By the time the courtesy nurse had let me finish off the cordial,  demolish a pack of chips and the last remaining apple and Bram had arrived to find us completely engrossed in a reality TV show in which a camera crew were trapped on a dog farm by an irate owner who had parked them in and was making all sorts of threatening gestures (this drama making a welcome relief from earlier scenes of wide eyed puppies being put down after ill treatment) Lucy had made her shakey way to the recovery lounge as well. We shared cheery farewells, we two brave soldiers, having survived the trainee and the big needle again for another 16 weeks.

    Someone to watch over me

    2009 - 02.20

    I’m having the weirdest week.

    And it’s only Thursday.

    Now I’m pretty well used to a mad old sort of life – kind of comes with the territory of being a hyperactive twenty-something living in a student house in London – but this week has actually lost even me.

    There was the weekend – built a website; said goodbye to a dear friend; found myself an in-house gymnastics teacher (cue limping around Sunday with a seriously sore neck declaring ‘this pain is awesome! Gymnastics! Yeah!’); had a series of heart-to-hearts that would have left a self-help guru exhausted; managed not to have the naked-mud-wrestling-girl-on-girl bout a couple of the boys in the house were trying to engineer (long and quite bizarre story, best left there); laughed unkindly at and then vaguely patched up one friend after being viciously attacked by a set of closing tube doors (I offered him ‘I was assaulted by Adele!’ as a plausible cover story, but it would seem that assault by tube is the more manly option); had a call from another friend while waiting in A&E to have his head stitched back together after being hit point-blank with a hockey ball – and he wanted to know if I was alright; caught up with a childhood friend from Oz, who made me (inadvertently of course) quite homesick; missed my mother’s 60th party (wrong country, couldn’t really be helped); played capoeira in the mud (softer landing) and was assured that I not only bounce around like a demented kangaroo but also box like a girl.  Oddly enough, boxing like a girl involved insufficient hip action. Apparently I need to develop more ‘swing’.

    Monday I received an email from Trudi telling me to get my hands on a copy The Times, to enter a mentorship competition ‘Someone to watch over me’ with author Adele Parks. Check it out here if you have want a shot at being mentored by a writer, producer, teacher, athlete or entrepreneur.  I immediately hit off what, in hindsight, was probably a frighteningly hyperactive email application. There’s a fine line, I suspect, between ‘bouncing off the page’ and coming across as a complete nutcase. Adele!  Don’t be frightened! Mentor me please!  We can be the ultimate A Team!

    By Tuesday I was brewing the annual Bad Mood with such ferocity that the girls in the office ordered me to go for a run to blow off some steam before we all went out for dinner. It seemed a good plan, despite the rain, and in a stroke of sheer luck, by being too sulky to do this until the very end of the day, I happened to be standing on my head in the gym at just the right time to bump into Capoeira Man Roland, who I met once in September and had (I imagined) managed to successfully avoid me every weekday since.

    The downside of bumping into Roland is that by Thursday I thought that I had broken my foot. It’s a cause and effect chain for which he bears no responsibility, but bear with me while I explain. We had agreed to meet again on Wednesday, a day that already bode badly after I found myself completely unable to drag myself out of bed for my morning writing session. I survived the morning based entirely on the big juicey carrot that is Wednesday lunchtime Combat. Combat, naturally, rocked, and by the time Roland came up to the studio I was Buffy, incarnate. What I failed to take into account is that I’m used to being Buffy wearing trainers and acting like a psychotic ninja in the Vic League garden, which is pretty soft to fall over on (as happens literally all the time). So moves which I can quite safely make a right stuff of in the garden should not necessarily be attempted with the same degree of force and enthusiasm in bare feet on a wooden studio floor.

    Thus as Roland taught me new moves, I got a little carried away being ‘Buffy’ and somehow, while technically attempting an (extremely poorly executed) capoeria back-flip, managed to land with my left knee crushing my right foot into the floorboards. Don’t even ask me how I achieved this ridiculous position, but I was certain I heard a terrible cracking noise.

    The paranoid part of me that knows I am reliably subjected to the vices of Sod’s Law immediately saw the supreme irony: as someone who does extremely silly things to her body every freaking day of the year (just ask anyone who knows me), how fitting that I would break my foot five days before beginning training for my glorious new career – as a fitness instructor.

    I RICE’d all afternoon and night, fretting away, praying it was just a case of serious bruising. But after waking around 2am to discover that getting to the bathroom was quite impossible without assistance, I decided that for my own sanity, x-rays were in order. And how lucky I am – unbreakable yet again!  After apologetically presenting at A&E and introducing myself as a complete muppet, I was handed a small cup of painkillers (what? All of them?  At once?  Ok, bottoms up!) and told to rest, elevate and pray for a rapid recovery.

    Now the upside of having some proper trauma in ones life is that it does tend to jog one out of being a jolly dull wet blanket, as I have been for the week to date. So hurrah for that! I’m not broken, I’ve had that delicious feeling all day that comes with being out and about on a school day (cue girlie giggle), I’m dosed to the eyeballs with high grade (and quite unnecessary) painkillers, I was a total, total genius writing in SB this morning (more on that later) and I’m giddy with relief at being able to run about like a madwoman again in about a week.

    Oh, and I have just mysteriously recieved the purple i-pod I’ve been eyeing off since the demise of my poor, ancient shuffle. I think I know who it was. Just about bought a fond mist to the eyes.

    The thank you note

    2009 - 02.20

    Credit must be given where it is due, and despite a hell of a fortnight and a cold from, indeed, hell, Ben Walker, digital artist and techno-nerd extraordinaire,  is the man of the hour. Not only did he patiently endure explaining every technicality in excruciating detail (Cyber-what? Come again? What’s that code for? What’s the difference between a Template and a Style? And what the freaking hell is wrong with K2 anyway?!) but I also forced him to sit through a dozen or so of my favortite online videos – from the truly brilliant ItsJustSomeRandomGuy – with me continually giggling hysterically before the punch lines. Must have been distracting.

    Many thanks.


    2009 - 02.14

    Delly Belly has a website!

    Now that the first miracle of making said website is achieved, I’d better get cracking with some content to stock it with.

    Bring It On.