Tuesday, December 24, 2002

"And I hate all that fucking Xmas food with bloody, ooh look, a sultana in it. Sultanas are fucking crap."
I have just received what is quite possibly the *best* home made present ever from Flatmate A: Draco Malfoy and the Girl Who Didn't Give a Shit. Fanfiction of the best kind, starring Draco Malfoy, me, a large quantity of alcohol, lots of bile and invective against Xmas and the Tube and a startlingly indepth knowledge of what I would be like if I was stuck in a pub in the wizarding world at Xmas with only Brandy Alexanders and a grumpy, snotty boy wizard for company. Choice quote from this wonderfully presented piece of fanfiction goodness:

Draco was beginning - against his will - to warm to this girl. She was so refreshingly rude."Cheers!" he said and raised his glass. H looked at him. He felt a burning sensation in the back of his head and realised she was trying to set fire to him with her eyes. Never had he seen such hatred incarnate in so small and attractive a form.

Not so much a hurt/comfort fic, more a "Lets hurt other people together in an effort to spread our misanthropic dislike for all things festive" fic. God bless her, lovely Flatmate A.

In other news, we had our extended family Xmas bash yesterday at my parents place and was scraping toddler-induced food spillages off the carpet all morning. Despite some intitial scenes of girl-toddler intimidating boy-toddler, it was delightful having the Little People there, and we all had a great time playing with them (and their toys). I think Xmas always works out better when you can enjoy it through kids, no? A Good Time was had by all - no Playstation/ dancing/ maracas this year (thankfully), and we held ourselves back and didn't drunkenly rip open our presents on receiving them as usual like the unrestrained gluttons my particular part of the family sometimes are... the 25 should see a smaller scale re-enactment of yesterday. I'm looking forward to it: repors to come - watch this space.

Friday, December 20, 2002

"One of the interesting initiatives we've taken in Washington, D.C, is we've got these vampire-busting devices. A vampire is a - a cell deal you can plug in the wall to charge your cell phone." - George W. Bush
Well, golly. That was an astonishing office secret Santa. The quote above is from the book More George W Bushisms which I have just received from an anonymous co-worker. Which I am really pleased to get. We all did quite well, considering this is the first Christmas most of will spend with the company. And hopefully not the last. We shall see the likelihood of this after the office party which is due to start... ooh, about now.

In other news, there really have been ensemble singalongs of the Muskehound themesong. And we are all currently taking the test so that we can start addressing each other by our correct names. From the first day back in the office, I insist on only being called "Milady." I always liked that cat - her black half-mask seemed pretty kinky to me even as a wee child. Meow.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

"...Milady, the Countess de Winter! Mistress of disguise and deception, poisoner, traitor, you always make sure you're on the winning side. Being gorgeous and female helps you soften up your foes for the kill. Meow!"
Oh, you just *have* to do the quiz and let me know: which Muskehound are you? Tuesday, I got everyone singing the squeaky song of the mice, "We will fix it, we will fix it," from Bagpuss by showing everyone my lunchtime Christmas shopping. Today, the office shall ring with the ensemble chorus of...

"One for all and all for one,
Muskehounds are alreadys ready,
One for all and all for one,
Helping everybody,
One for all and all for one,
It's a pretty story,
Sharing everything with fun,
That's the way to be..."
(for full lyrics, which I just can't be bothered to put here, have a look here.

In other news, I've just heard the most gut-wrenchingly bad kitchen health and safety rap on the radio. Hong Kong radio. ::hangs head in incredulous shame:: It's not exactly Eminem, y'know. But I have learnt that the Cantonese for "saucepan" rhymes quite nicely with the Cantonese for "knife." I told you it was educational.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

"Caga Tió, atmelles i torró, si no cagues bó, et donaré un cop de bastó."
Holy shit.

No wonder Prandial is only going out there *after* Christmas. There is only so much Yule log a boy can eat after all. (Thanks to MetaFilter - as always!)

In other news, I am going cottaging on the Berkshire borders for New Year. Aw, aint it pretty?

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

"Develop your own sense of humor. Maybe even take a class to learn how to be a better comic -- or at least a better joke-teller at that next party. Be funny every chance you get -- as long as it's not at someone else's expense!" - from How Laughter Works
Whatever teh guide says, I don't think I will be able to laugh off my current slump into ill health. But I will try! So here's a joke...

Far away in the tropical waters of the Caribbean, two prawns were swimming around in the sea - one called Justin and the other called Christian. The prawns were constantly being harassed and threatened by sharks that patrolled the area. Finally one day Justin said to Christian, "I'm bored and frustrated at being a prawn, I wish I was a shark, then I wouldn't have any worries about being eaten..."
As Justin had his mind firmly on becoming a predator, a mysterious cod appears and says, "Your wish is granted", and lo and behold, Justin turned into a shark. Horrified, Christian immediately swam away, afraid of being eaten by his old mate.
Time went on (as it invariably does...) and Justin found himself becoming bored and lonely as a shark. All his old mates simply swam away whenever he came close to them. Justin didn't realise that his new menacing appearance was the cause of his sad plight. While out swimming alone one day he sees the mysterious cod again and can't believe his luck.
Justin figured that the fish could change him back into a prawn. He begs the cod to change him back so, lo and behold, he is turned back into a prawn. With tears of joy in his tiny little eyes, Justin swam back to his friends and bought them all a cocktail. (The punch line does not involve a prawn cocktail - it's much worse).
Looking around the gathering at the reef, he searched for his old pal. "Where's Christian?" he asked. "He's at home, distraught that his best friend changed sides to the enemy and became a shark", came the reply.
Eager to put things right again and end the mutual pain and torture, he set off to Christian's house. As he opened the coral gate the memories came flooding back. He banged on the door and shouted, "It's me, Justin, your old friend, come out and see me again." Christian replied "No way man, you'll eat me. You're a shark, the enemy and I'll not be tricked."
Justin cried back "No, I'm not. That was the old me. I've changed......................"
"I've found Cod. I'm a prawn again Christian!!!"

My profuse apologies to anyone who got this far. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Monday, December 16, 2002

"your head come on is dead and gone
it might as well be said so long
it's suds and soda a brain decoder
and can i wait for my denoter"
- dEUS Suds and Soda from their gloriously nutty Belgian art-rock album Worst Case Scenario
My head is indeed quite dead: I have succumbed to illness again and am suffering some kind of dreadful ear, nose and throat infection which is very painful, messy and unpleasant. And of course, just in time for Christmas.

To halt this blog from turning into a flu diary once more (god, how fucking tragic to be doing that again so soon), let me recount a conversation I had on entering the office this morning:

"How are you?"
"Not very well. How are you?"
"I feel bloody awful. I was ill all of Saturday. How much did we drink on Friday?"
(Pause) "I don't know. Quite a lot I suppose. How long were we there for?"
"Till closing time I think. They kept asking us to leave."
"But... but I got home before 11pm."
"How did that happen?"
"I don't know. I did run for a bit, down the high street. I thought it was...funny. maybe i got home quicker that way. Did I fall over? I've got a bruise on my knee."
"Oh. I didn't see that. Did I get into a fight with that man?"
"What man? Did you have a fight?"
(pause) " Maybe we got kicked out."
(Pause)"Ah... that could be it."

Oh, those water cooler moments...

Friday, December 13, 2002

”We gonna lock ah-lound da crock to-niiight…” - Elvis Chan, Jailhouse Rock, The Garage circa. 1997
Well, to while away the lonely hours of catching up with admin on front desk, all by myself (yah, I know, boo hoo, poor me and so on) I’ve been listening to Hong Kong Radio and have somehow got everyone else listening to it too. We’ll be having Faye Wong tribute nights in the conference room soon and start bopping around the photocopier to godawful Cantonese boy bands. The music is feckin’ terrible – I’ve always hated the stereotype that Chinese people have no musical rhythm and now I hate that stereoptype even more: Chinese people actually have no musical taste. However, the talkie bits are training my ear to take in a bit more Cantonese than normal, especially trying to follow the news which is always read in a very different register than conversation. After speaking the language all my life, I may actually, eventually, become fluent...

In other news, I heard a very good song at Brave New Word last Sunday (as well as some pretty darned good poetry too…) and may be embarking on a slightly different Elvis tip from now on. Are there any Chinese Elvis Costello impersonators out there? If yes, I’d like to see that, oh yes, I would…

Thursday, December 12, 2002

"Sugar pretending to seduce an invisible man, begging him in a voice almost hysterical with lust. 'Oh, you must let me stroke your balls, they are so beautiful - like . . . like a dog turd. A dog turd nestling under your . . . ' Your what? Shush had such a good word for it. A word to make you wet yourself? But Caroline has forgotten the word, and now's not the time to ask." - Michel Faber, The Crimson Petal and the White
You know, I thought this *ahem* entry would win, or the one where the cries of "Chairman Mao!" ring out with orgasm. Yah, that one was pretty good too. However, neither attained this most respected and highly anticipated literary award.

In other news, I think I deserve a change of scenery. And I've decided that I need to do more when I say I want a change of scenery than swapping posters from one bedroom wall to another. So I may be in the countryside to see in the New Year, which will be very exciting as I've realised the only place I've been to this year, outside London, was a stressful afternoon in Leicester (see previous entry on that little excursion...) Hurrah for last minute plans!

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

"In between mugging little old ladies and joyriding, I once built my own crack den out of fuzzy felt. It was so nice... so warm... so fuzzy." - on comparing my childhood with others who had joined the Brownies and Girl Scouts, including one who was asked to leave because she sewed her bobble hat wrong.
And how did I have time to recall the days of my youth yesterday? And get some Christmas shopping done? And fall asleep on the sofa the second the Simpsons finished to wake only in time for dinner, after which I went back to sleep?

Well, it's all thanks to the totally unexpected and totally unexplained powercut we experienced in the office yesterday morning at about 11am. The place just...stopped. We took all the students across the road to the cafe and had a round of coffees in a hlaf-arsed effort to wait for the power to come back on but 1) it didn't come back on and 2) no-one was really in the mood to go back anyway since we followed security procedures and had locked up the whole place. So after an hour and a half at work, we all went our separate ways and I had a merry lunch and shopping trip with Mumsy. Who isn't aware I am Peter Pan, a boy in tights. Please don't tell her Big Brother!

I was horrified while shopping: I can't bear Christmas decorations - garish and tasteless and completely useless, they don't even manage to look good, which is surely the point of decorations. And the damn tinsel, baubles and frankly shite cuddly musical Santas disturbed me beyond my usual intolerance of bright useless objects that sit around the house looking crap.

Still, the Christmas spirit, if not the Christmas look, has entered my soul and I am looking forward to it all. I just have to let out the occasional "Humbug!". So...


Sunday, December 08, 2002

Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt, and cannot last: and for the most part, it makes a dissolute youth, and an age a little out of countenance: but yet certainly again, if it light well, it maketh virtues shine and vices blush. - Francis Bacon, 1597, Of Beauty
And to add to this discussion of beauty, I give you further pictures. Enjoy the sights before we are all corrupted like the soft, smooth, ripe, downy peach shrivelling in the heat of the sun...

In other news, the mince pie frenzy shows no sign of stopping anytime soon and we are progressing to savoury pie-making. The Christmas tree lights up every time we turn on the video and there is a suspiciously light bottle of cream liquer in the living room. My old stereo now resides happily in its retirement home on the shelf in the kitchen and is pouring seasonal choral music out at us at all times and I can see my breath when I go to bed, snuggling down under my blankets and counting the days until I am on holiday. Oh dear: there really is no escape now, is there?

Saturday, December 07, 2002

323. Travel abroad to find some supressed aspect of yourself on public display. - Life's Little Deconstruction Book, Andrew Boyd
Umm, though I've been a firm fan of this little book since my literary theory days at Uni, this particular entry recently caught my eye and has confirmed for me the fact that I am not a traveller and I never will be. Ugh, imagine bumping into my own sexual fantasies on a street corner somewhere abroad... it would be an environmental disaster, as well as psychologically scarring for all those public schoolboys, RAF pilots and members of Asian Dub Foundation... ::shudders::

In other news: Flatmate A has been making mince pies this morning and Flatmate B has been decorating our tree again! And I have been growling in a corner of the living room over the Saturday papers, drinking all the sherry and generally acting like a grumpy Saturday morning dad, a role which always seems to fall to me in our household. Must be my slippers, cardigan, pipe and constant dribble of whiskey and other spirits down my throat. Huh, talk about type-casting.

Friday, December 06, 2002

But who can live for long

In an euphoric dream;

Out of the mirror they stare,

Imperialism’s face

And the international wrong.
Since I started an Auden trip earlier this week, I’m revisiting some of my favourite poems by him and getting embroiled once more in this fascinating debate. The quote above is from September 1, 1939 and there are two lines later on that originally read “We must love one another or die.” After WWII, he changed the line to “We must love one another and die,” which sparks the literary debate of a writer’s right to edit, comment and reflect on history within existing work and whether or not a completed work can or should be changed and whether or not the altered work can replace the original or if it should exist as “the altered version” alongside it.

Personally, once I’ve written something, it stays exactly as it is, forever. Editing and tidying up some text is fine, but I rarely, if ever, make changes to the meaning and the intent: if I want to change meaning and intent, I’ll start from the top and write something new. I’d rather have fifty thousand versions of the same thing than just one which doesn’t hint at all at the processes, footnotes, change of heart and change of mind behind it.

Also, this poem has stuck in my mind since we did a class on it at Uni because of the heartbreaking sadness the change in the line suggested. At the outbreak of war – we must love one another or die trying, we must love one another or not have lived at all. But after the war, the notion has changed and we must love another and die anyway. How horrible to see Auden reneging on what was once a desperately hopeful idea and to know what he experienced to change his mind so drastically, so cynically, so pessimistically. I hope none of us ever have to make revisions such as this in our writing, in our thoughts, in our time.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

"The fact that we value money not for itself but for what it brings is one reason why even the most venal among us can declare truthfully, with hand on heart, that money is not so important. there are indeed a great many more things in life than money, and it is money that gives us access to most of them." - Terry Eagleton, The Gatekeeper
Very true words as usual from the great cultural theorist. But this is all free. Keep an eye out for these particular flyposters - they're art but you wouldn't know it, since we are bombarded with the inanity of the flyposter wherever we look in this blessed city. What is especially cool about this visual assault (all entirely free of charge, of course) is the contact number on the bottom of each poster: you get a text message with info on the artwork and designer. I've yet to try this since I've not actually spotted any of these due to my appalling eyesight and general inability to look around me as I walk along (hey- I grew up here; I keep my eyes down okay?). Watch out for lampposts!

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

“And motives like stowaways

Are found too late.” – W H Auden

So… after another fabulous monthly reunion with my pals of the YWP,I returned home to find the festering – oh, sorry, festivetree festooned with the overenthusiastic sparkly Christmas efforts of Flatmate A and B. Which was nice. And over a glass of totally unnecessary Amaretto which just about kept us tiddly girls topped up in terms of alcohol, I managed to keep up a pretty fucking deep and not particularly drunken conversation with Flatmate A.

In our surprisingly lucid discussion we covered:

The redundancy of the terms "winning" and "losing" in modern warfare.

How the age of irony, cynicism and intense self-reflection avoided its inevitable slide into hedonism then anarchy then self-annihilation with the occurrence of September 11.

How September 11 simultaneously helped us avoid a backlash against irony which would logically (but probably not practically) have seen us all becoming over-earnest and sentimental.

Whether or not the backlash against irony and self-reflection would in fact have been sentimentalism.

The quarter-life crisis being the new gap year.

Turning 30 being the new coming of age - and whether or not anything you do before 30 can be remembered as anything other than precociousness and mere media hype.

How feminism has failed if women don't fight on the frontline - and just how deeply ingrained are the double standards of post-feminism in the age of global terror and imminent hostile military action.

Whether it is wiser to give all you can in love and suffer for it, than to give what you think you can manage and always wonder if there is more to it.

The internet and new communications as a new global support system - and the unforeseeable consequences of treating it as such.

Whether or not we should have another or go to bed.

Yah, it was one of those nights.

Monday, December 02, 2002

"I'd probably be bisexual if I got out of the house more often."
Said to Flatmate A one very quiet evening.

In other news, we have a Christmas tree. I was not filled with Yuletide joy as I was introduced to it, for two reasons: 1) I am more Grinch than gleeful when it comes to this time of year and 2) I knew for a fact that it had been unearthed from a pile of discarded laminate flooring on a street corner near us. ::sigh:: Oh, how I long for the day when none of my home furnishing (Christmas or otherwise) has come from a feckin' skip. I'm too ladylike for it. ::pouts, picks nose and eats findings::