March 2008 Archives
The grandchildren are fighting. Again. It's getting louder each time. Strawberry is responsible for starting this.
*To see the news story generated by this post click here.
A storm in a teacup (or perhaps a tiny mug, as will become clear), but I feel that my rather pretentious "cultural commentator" tag gives me licence to open up a bit of a debate.
Tomorrow (that's Sunday, March 30 as I write this) at the mac there's an auction of hundreds of puppets which have been hidden away in a basement for 15 years. I've previewed it in an earlier blog and the Post has done the same in good old fashioned newsprint.
During the weeklong jubilee of creation, the great Googly Moogly must have stopped for a couple of pints midweek and got his wicked cap on.
On that afternoon, he engineered some of the more irksome things on the planet: the pubic louse, the common pigeon, the traffic warden and... the ticket tout.
These scum-sucking leaches were never designed to inherit the earth, but they will flog it on for five times its face value given half a chance.
There's something obscene to me, a lifelong music fan, in seeing the dozens of Sex Pistols tickets already for sale on eBay. Prices have already topped ÃÂ£100 and they'll go much higher in the week the auctions run.
These people are not Sex Pistols fans, they're chancers out to make a fast buck from those who weren't able to get through to the ticket lines or websites.
About five years ago I mistakenly took a job at a company where I didn't have the Internet, I was desperate, and I only lasted about a month. It didn't help that the job itself was deathly-dull (writing the manuals for insurance software), but not being able to check my emails all day was the real killer. This Easter I was away in Torquay, could get my emails and surf on my iPhone, but by Saturday morning the lack of full-screen internet was bugging me that much that I went and bought a 3G modem for my laptop.
In five years the level of online communication has increased and diversified for me to the extent that only the whole interweb will do, no portals, no walled gardens, not even the global instant-messaging of twitter via my mobile is enough constant information.
So, am I addicted to the internet?
I can't imagine what it was like before the internet - well I can. I used to gorge on magazines, fanzines, the music press especially. I'd do things like cut myself shaving because I'd have the NME propped up on the sink and my eyes on the latest thoughts from Ride (site is loud, beware) or These Animal Men.
In journalism, there's such a thing as an 'editor's must'. Meaning broadly that whatever the editor tells you to do, you do - and are grateful for the privilege.
As a seasoned (or at least partly pickled) journalist, I've got used to this over time. But in a personal first, this time I've actually been ordered to go down the pub. Being ordered to do something you were going to do anyway is a gratifying, but mildly unnerving experience. It's as if you were a squaddy woken up at reveille, to find your drill sergeant bellowing at you to stay in bed and have a bit of rest.
It's all research to a writer. We savour every experience, each observation, people, places, smells, sounds. They can all be filed away for possible use in some as yet unimagined and unimaginable piece.
Like the beige ceiling up there with its slightly crooked tiles made of what looks like old fashioned pinboard surrounding the blue-tinged neon strip lighting, the screaming children, the adults with eyes mimicking those snail head feelers, the cold wet sensation across my naked shoulders from the pimply tiles which contrasts with the warm streams of dark red blood flowing down my chest to clash strangely with the scarlet stripes on my swimming shorts.
And of course, the bloke with the very hairy chest and shoulders pinning me flat on my back and preventing me from getting up like one of those ancient black and white ATV wrestling bouts with commentary by Kent Walton.
I have no desire to wish away Arch's infant years, but sometimes I find myself thinking wistfully of the days when I could curl up on the sofa and read a book.
Whenever I attempt this at the moment, Arch, who is not yet two, snatches the book from my hands and pretends to read it himself before tearing it up.
That's why my heart sank when I saw a new book called Toddling to Ten: Your Common Parenting Problems Solved had been published.
Compiled by Hollie Smith, it offers advice ranging from matters like "living with loss" (how to help a child cope with bereavement) to "job done" (how to get your kids to do the things they don't want to do.)
"Very useful," I thought, "especially the stuff on eating and sleeping and sharing, but when am I going to find time to read it?"
Oh woe is me as I find myself living in a country devoid of Youtube. I never thought of myself as an internet dependent individual, but am in absolutely no denial about my addiction to British broadcasting. Namely, Eastenders.
You may think it's rather sad that despite the fact that I live in the most culturally rich country in the entire world, I still feel compelled to hear some cockney banter and watch sensationally far-fetched storylines. But what can I say, this was my reality touchstone, however unrealistic.
But now, it has been taken away from us in China.
When your boyfriend is a very busy Chinese businessman, you will find that very often your dates will be cancelled, and sometimes you wont see him for a few days when he has to attend business trips. My mum calls this suspicious, but i'm sure she wishes my Dad would take more business trips. However, I don't moan, because this kind of lifestyle suits me perfectly. I can't be bothered with all that living in each other's pockets malarky, and I don't like a guy to be too available, if that makes sense? It makes me like him more if he has an overly-active work and social life, because it shows that I must be important enough to him for him to want to fit me into his already chockablock schedule. I'm not talking myself up much here, am I..? Don't get me wrong, I love him dearly, but he's got his things going on, and I have mine. Anyway. I'm rambling. Last week was one of those particularly busy weeks for him, which meant that I was cancelled on in favour of business meetings three times in a row, so I didn't see him for three days. However, all was forgiven when Thursday (my only day off) came around and he introduced me to a place that, up until now, I had only dare dream really existed. This place is called the Top Yangyuantang Club, which obviously means nothing to you, but to me sounds like "take the day off", or "drinks are on the house", or some other great sentence that you rarely hear.
I'm not good in medical situations, I'm so nervous that it normally takes me three blood-pressure readings to calm down enough not to be admitted on the spot - even if I've gone in with a nasty paper-cut. Apparently this is called white coat syndrome, but considering you only go to the doctors when you're worried because there's something wrong with you I think taking blood pressure readings is fraught with inaccuracy. Maybe they should jump out, surprise you and take it while you're watching Only Fools and Horses on UK Gold.
My white coat situation this week was an appointment at the QE to see if I should have my wisdom teeth out, so I was even more stressed than normal with thoughts of agony to come.
It would be really effective in improving the whole medical experience if surgeries and hospitals could do something to calm you down a little. Recently, waiting rooms I've been in have had tellies to complement the dog-eared copies of People's Friend, but when that means - as it did this morning - To Buy Or Not To Buy I'm not sure that's the answer. It could be worse, Brum-produced TBONTB (as the cool kids are no doubt calling it) is one of the better examples of daytime TV, but the only thing it's likely to do is make you even more impatient to see the doctor.
It's not that I don't trust doctors, I just worry and no-one likes that much focus on them, but there was one thing that immediately gave me a sense of peace - when I saw the doctor had an iPhone.