Thursday, 5 June 2014

Have I stepped into a Western Film?

Boardwalk, train tracks, Town Square complete with gazebo, this is clearly a Western town.

Hello?  Is anybody there?  No?  Fine, I'll just address these queries to the ether then, shall I?  I'm assuming by your silence that you are not in charge of the madness here.  That could be a rash assumption, true, but what else am I to make of it?

Nevertheless I demand an explanation of some sort.

To start with I'd like to know how I ended up in this strange western film.  I don't remember auditioning.  I clearly remember packing my things up in London and traveling across the ocean and then the continent to arrive in California.  I remember that my visa was up and I had no choice but to return home.  I remember that California was drier and less green than I'd recalled.  And then, I remember waking up here in some sort of strange western film without John Wayne in it to lead the action.  I do NOT remember an audition.  When exactly was it that I was selected to play the heroine in a western film?

Again, train tracks, boardwalk, small house from Gold Rush days.  This feels like a film set.  It can't be my life, can it?

So you're choosing not to answer I see.  I am assuming by the protracted silence that you are denying such things are, or could ever be, true.  People do not just wake up in Western films you say with your decided lack of words.

In this dry western desert I struggle to grow any flowers.  Note the overwhelming amount of dry dust around.

And yet, here I am.  I live in an old farm house, parts of which date to the 1880's.  There are chickens running around in my yard and I have to worry about defending them from the coyotes.  I stamp my boots on the mat to get the dry brown desert dust off of them and I have found a hat indispensable in this hot sunny climate.  I had to chase a "bad guy" out of my house the other week as if this were a lawless town where help and the sheriff are several miles ride from here.  I stomped across a board-walk last weekend to listen to the community band play in the town park's gazebo.  And there are lots of little tumbleweeds growing in my yard.

Tumbleweed!!!  I am growing tumbleweed!

Two months ago I was living in London and now I'm chasing criminals out of my house and raising tumbleweed, dust and chickens.  I used to stroll down wrought-iron lined pavements and now I'm stamping along wooden board-walks.  Two months ago I neatly side-stepped inebriates on London's streets and now I listen for the howl of coyotes before I let my cat outside at night.

Sometimes it all feels like a terrible joke.  Except I'm not laughing people.  So, if you happen to be in charge of casting, or you're the director, or some such nonsense, I have a few things to discuss with you.  Firstly, I would like the bad guys to stop visiting my ranch and busting in through my door.  John Wayne isn't here to help out with the brawling and jailing of said nasty individuals.  Until he is I will not stand for any more intruders.  Secondly, I'm not sure why you cast me in a western, but I'd like the plot to change a little.  I'd like a little less madness if you don't mind.  Not to mention fire.  Why is there always fire in a western?  This southern California film has been no exception.  I'd like to request a cessation of fires as well.  And if you happen to throw in a few strokes of good fortune and maybe give me a job or money I won't complain either.

Well, that's about all for now.  I've got to go corral a few chickens and herd some tumbleweed before I sit peaceably on my front porch watching the sun as it sets over the desert hills.  And I need to ponder the acquisition of a horse.  If I'm to continue living in this western film I may need one.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Case of the Stranger at the Door and the Cowardly Cat

It was early, at least by my standards. Ok, fine, I admit it wasn't early. It was a little after eleven when I heard a loud knock at the door. It had to be loud for me to hear it because I was sound asleep at the time.

I had stayed up late reading and between seven and nine in the morning my cat had tried everything she could think of to make me get up.  She didn't need anything of course, she just enjoys an audience while she eats.  I, however, refuse to wake up so that she may dine a la russe.  So, I tried my best to ignore her and finally, after a two hour battle, (that involved her devilish tricks and muttered curses from my pillow) I convinced her to curl up at the end of the bed and sleep.

Russian blue cat
I don't know what you're talking about.  I'm totally innocent and all my desires are needs.
So, that's where the two of us were at eleven in the morning, both completely contented and asleep, when someone pounded at the door with enough force to startle us awake and get the blood going.  She looked about wildly while I checked the time.  Mother should still be at Bible study.  Perhaps it was a neighbor, but it was rather loud, much too loud for one of our friendly neighbors.  Wouldn't it be just my luck if the "bad guys" had come calling this morning I thought groggily.  No, it must just be someone here about the bathroom construction.  Maybe they have a quote for the house paint or the window.

I tore myself from my cozy bed to peer out the window and decide if I could reasonably ignore the person at the door or not.  I couldn't see anyone downstairs by the door and thought they'd given up and gone back to their car.  When I tiptoed to another window for a better view of the driveway and their little car I thought I heard another knock.  Clearly, with a normal little four door car instead of a truck this wasn't a construction person, and yet they didn't seem to be leaving either.

I put the nearest coat on over my pjs and resigned myself to greeting whatever neighbor or friend believed that eleven am wasn't too early for a social call.  They would be wrong about this of course, but there is just no stopping some people.  On the way down the stairs I called over my shoulder to the cat, asking if she was coming, since my presence downstairs had been her only goal for two hours that morning.  She was tiptoeing behind me.  That's odd I thought, still half asleep, normally she races down the stairs with me.  Then as I reached the bottom of the stairs I heard a sound that almost made my heart stop.

Who me?  I'm certainly not a coward and I wasn't tiptoeing either.  I was clearly stalking the criminal.  Yes, that's what I was doing two feet behind you.
I had heard this sound before, years earlier when we had a different cat.  Some said she was a devious cat.  I just said she was the devil.  She would wait until I was alone doing work in the kitchen after everyone else had gone to bed.  Then, and only then, would she approach the door from the outside, reach up, and jiggle the doorknob.  It scared me half to death every time she did it and she seemed to know that.  This time the noise was a little louder, but I knew without a doubt that the person who had knocked a few minutes ago was now jiggling the doorknob.  They were trying to get into my house!

I was afraid in that moment.  They clearly didn't know I was home as they had knocked to see if anyone answered and waited some time before trying the door.  I had taken my sweet time to decide if I could ignore them or not.  They had assumed nobody was home and were now trying to get in.  But subconsciously this thought kept my terror in check because I knew they were not trying to hurt me.

There was the briefest of pauses and then I heard the door give.  I knew that they had just shouldered my door open by force, and I had just heard the door jamb break.  The knocker was now inside my kitchen.

There was no doubt as to their intention now.  Thinking the house was empty the would be criminal intended to rob the place.  And yet the moment I heard the door give in I stopped being afraid and I stopped thinking.  I knew they were in my house and I knew with a ferocious certainty that I had to get them out.  I flew around the last corner with rage at their intrusion building in my chest and I shouted at the top of my lungs "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!".

Did she say intruder? Hide!
The intruder was a young man standing about my height (so not very tall) just on the kitchen rug, all of two feet inside my house, his eyes wide with shock as I came running at him, pj's flying, bed hair flying, with rage in my voice.  He immediately turned and with an "oh shit!" ran out of my kitchen and headed for his car.  As I reached my door I shouted "Get out of my house!" one more time before chasing after him across the porch.  He got safely in his car and began to leave before I could catch up to him, which is just as well because I don't know what I would have done with him if I had caught him.  Still full of adrenaline and rage I memorized his license plate numbers as he pulled away picking up hasty speed around my driveway and left my house.

Then I stood there as the adrenaline let-down started to make me shake and the shock of what might have happened set in.  I called mom to let her know I was safe but she insisted on leaving Bible study right away to come home.  The older ladies in the Bible study group were shocked and terrified that I would chase an intruder.  So worried in fact, that one of them drove by the house later to check on us and make sure we were ok because she couldn't get over the idea of me chasing out a robber.  I'm now infamous at church as the "battle daughter," my mother's new term for me, who chased away an intruder.

She is only fierce when she's pretending to be a lioness.
The next thing that had to be done was to call 911 to report the break in.  This led to a long morning of police statements and the dusting of our doorknob for prints.  The police officers were all very kind and offered suggestions and advice for home safety and personal safety.  None of these involved me chasing after criminals in the future I might add.  They assured me that the best thing to do was to trust my instincts.  If you think it's a "bad guy" then call 911 right away.  Don't wait til they break in and don't chase them.

And they are right of course.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to be aware of the potential repercussions of my actions.  I was lucky.  In future I'll be pleased to call in support before I need it.  It's far better to let the police chase away the intruders for me so I can stand aloof in the background with my cat while we wear identical expressions of dignified abhorrence.

And despite all my light-hearted joking about the matter, I am serious.  I know I have a rich imagination (evidence found here), but unfortunately this really happened.  My hands shook after the fact and it ruined my day.  And it has made me a bit more cautious.  And if it happens to you, do call the police.  I only joke about this because I am safe and it is over; and I think that often the only choice you have in these situations is whether to laugh or cry.  Personally, I refuse to let somebody else make me the victim.  So, I shall laugh at the comical image of my cowardly cat slinking behind me as I chase out a robber in my pj's.  It did ruin my day, but it will not make me subject to fear.  That's no way to live.  Ok, serious side all dealt with, I shall return to my farcical description of real events.

So, let this be a lesson for all people.  Some of us take our beauty sleep very seriously.  If you have the nerve to awaken me, and my fiendish cat, from our slumber I assure you that you will have awakened the sleeping dragon.  And if you are a would be thieving scum bag, the police will be more than happy to escort you to your new home. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Transplantation: in which I have been moved

This is a simple post.  It has only one purpose and that is, namely, to inform the unfortunate souls who have stumbled upon this blog of a single fact.  No, wait, that's not quite right.  If you had by some great misfortune stumbled upon this blog you probably wouldn't be reading this post.  Most people stumble into things by finding peculiar images, and I admit that they abound on this blog.  Or perhaps by finding unusually mad titles associated with some term they've just searched...

Sunset through the fruit tree

No.  If you're reading this post, it would seem likely that you are in fact a reader of more than one post.  And the only reason for that must be madness.  Why else would you be reading this?  Well, I suppose you could be here out of curiosity.  This blog is sort of an online zoo for madness.  All manner and types of madness are present here, expressed in my thoughts and the absurd things that always seem to happen to me...

But I digress.  Whatever the reason you are here, and I'm sorry you must have put up with so much already, I must inform you that I have in fact moved.

I am now situated amongst the rolling hills of southern California.  I no longer have the good fortune to live on the rainy and perpetually cold island known as Great Britain.  I do enjoy the sunshine here in southern California.

Hey, where did all the rain go?

But I miss the history and vibrancy of life in London and I really don't enjoy the constant fear of wild fires.  But my transition to life here is for another day.  I merely wanted to inform you, my poor unfortunate reader, that I am now living here rather than there.

Now that I have done so, you must excuse me.  I have things to unpack, mad tea parties to host, and chaos to involve myself in. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

An Ode to my Mother

I cannot even express how thankful I am for you and all you have done for me.  I hope that my brother and I were not too trying for you as children.

But to thank you for everything you have done for us, I am offering you this song.  I know it doesn't make up for the fact that I'm not there on your birthday.  But I hope it makes you smile.

I love you and I'm remembering all the fun we had growing up with you as our mother.

This is for you...

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Get a REAL job? Excuse me?

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, I am proud to invite you to the world's best showing of complete and utter MESS.  Tonight I present to you a thing of such pathetic and poor construction that it must be concluded that amoebas have better design, higher purpose and more dignity.  Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to present to you.... drumroll....


I know, I know.  It was in my last post that I made a decision to avoid people til I had calmed down and found some peace with myself and my fellow man.  However, I utterly failed.  I was not able to bring myself to publish this post til just recently, but you will not believe the disastrous timing I have.  One day I vow to calm down and avoid conversations about my state of unemployment, and then, on the very next day, this happens.

I went out to buy food.  A seemingly harmless pursuit, wouldn't you say?


I did not know it at the time but this very act of leaving my house for food caused me to fail in my resolution and left me not only speechless but also horrifically angry and depressed a mere handful of hours after the commencement of my noble and clever plan.

The journey to the shop started well, as with most things that go unaccountably and terribly sour.  It was a pleasant enough day and I began with a stroll to the post office.  Along the way I met a pleasant man and we shared a short conversation, near a particular (one might even say renowned) stretch of pavement, about how concerned and terribly saddened we were by the 2pm appearance of rowdy inebriates. We shook our heads, exchanged pleasantries, and wished each other a good day when we parted a few minutes later.  All in all a good journey so far.

The post office was found precisely as expected.  The queues were orderly, the stamps cheap, and the post satisfactorily sent on its way.  This letter was only a few days late in being sent because I am not always prompt at replying to letters and even less so at actually posting them.  That matter concluded, I admired some of the decaying grandeur of another age, mentally taking pictures of the pleasing architecture, even if it was covered over in peeling paint, and I made my unhurried way to the store in order to procure essentials.  Shampoo and laundry soap made it into my basket along with a few various chocolate consumables and the few "good-for-you" foods that completed my shop.

I was feeling productive and happy.  So far everything had gone as I had hoped.  Everything was uneventful.  I made the long walk home and was pleased that my troublesome elbow was not causing me too much pain on this day.  It was not long before I arrived at my corner of London.  I made it inside my building and then, I noticed the people.  The people waiting for the lift.   

Which people, you might wonder?  Well I hardly knew that I would be so violently opposed to them in a few minutes, but here they were.  A couple, slightly older, and a solitary gentleman, they waited with me silently at the door to the lift.  The couple had also been shopping and when the lift door opened we had a bit of bother fitting all four of us and our shopping bags into the lift comfortably.  It is a narrow lift and it is usually best for me to be at the back as I live on the highest floor, as did they apparently.  The solitary gentleman said nothing and exited on the second floor causing a bit of reshuffling and a comment from the older gentleman that it was a bit like Piccadilly Circus in our lift with all the bumping into people, coming and going, and never seeing the same person twice in the building.  I laughed politely and he decided to continue this conversation.

Glancing at his watch the older gentleman noted the time, then glancing at me and noting my age and shopping bags he ventured this comment "It's a bit early for you to be off work, isn't it?"

My mistake was in acknowledging this question and answering it politely "Yes, well I'm unemployed at the moment, unfortunately."

Had I learned nothing?  Did I not listen to my own rant and impassioned decision to avoid this situation and this conversation?  No, apparently I did not. (In my defense I did expect them to leave the lift any second and leave me in peace).

He replied "And what would you like to do?"

My second mistake was to answer again.  You see I have been raised to treat my elders with respect, which includes, in my book, being polite, truthful, and not refusing to engage in seemingly polite conversation. So I said this "Well, I would like to work in museums".

The grey haired man's tone changed at this and he practically sneered "What as a museum cleaner?"

I politely replied "No, more curatorial work"

At this point the older man turned towards the lift door as we were nearing the 19th floor where we both lived apparently and muttered something about people these days wanting all these fancy jobs.

The lift door opened and with excellent dramatic timing he wheeled his shopping trolley out of the lift and shouted, without even looking at me "Get a REAL job!" as he stomped towards his door.

Then the woman with him jostled past me, hitting me with her shopping as she said "This is the 19th floor" as if I would have forgotten when I also live there, making no apology for the rude comment just shouted at me, and left.

Speechless I exited the lift and stared at their backs as they entered their flat to the right of the lift while I fiddled with the keys to my flat located just to the left of the lift.

I entered my flat feeling horrible and angry.  He asked me what I wanted to do and then told me it wasn't a real job.  Not a real job?  Every curator across the world, who has studied for years, and then works for years, to preserve the history of the world for you to see would be truly thrilled to learn you do not view their jobs as real, I am sure.

He may have been excused for saying I should try to get a more entry-level position or a more basic job if I had waxed eloquent on the difficulties of finding museum work and whinged about this being the sole reason for my unemployment.  He certainly cannot be excused for such a comment when he asked me what I wanted to do.  A personal question about my preference or desire, my dreams and career aspirations should not be met with such judgement.  What right does he have to ask?  I should have told him it was none of his business in the first place.

How dare he ask me what I want to do and then assume I'm not trying to apply for anything else.  He asked what I wanted to do.  I told him.  He shouted at me.  I cannot imagine a scenario in which this is acceptable.

And what in his mind qualifies as a REAL job?  People who get paid are engaged in real jobs.  I could say that I want to be a professional cloud watcher and he could scoff that I should get a real job.  Nobody I know of gets paid to lie on a hill and watch clouds.  But that's not what he meant.

He clearly didn't think highly of cleaners with his little sneer.  And cleaning is a productive and taxing job, certainly real, and it contributes to society.  So, what does count?  Is it that no education is required for a cleaner that makes it a job to sneer at?  I'll have you know that to be a heavy objects handler in a museum, a manual job, you must have certificates in the use of forklifts.  I have two degrees and I am not qualified to do their job.  However, if education is the requirement, curators typically come with quite a bit of education.

Perhaps the real problem in his mind is the so called "fancy" nature of it.  I'm guessing he thinks I should get a job in retail because museums are too "fancy".  Or maybe he thinks that something in business is better.  However, it is typical for business jobs to require education too.

I think what he really means is that my goals are too lofty and I should settle for a more basic entry-level position and job.  But he has no idea what I've been applying to.  How dare he judge me that way based on an innocent answer to a question about my preferences.  And if I apply everywhere else what is wrong with admitting that I would prefer to work in museums?  Excuse me for having aspirations and dreams.  Pardon me for wishing to put my fancy education to a good use in a fancy job.  

I had to stand in the lift and the hallway with a man who thought it appropriate to pry into my life and then judge me without any knowledge of the particulars of my circumstance.

He might be pleased to know that I have accepted a retail position where I work full time babysitting books and customers you do not seem to understand alphabetical order.  I wonder if he thinks that working myself to the bone lifting, moving, organizing and selling books is a real job.  The reality is that I get paid and it is a real job, whatever he may choose to say on the subject.  And the truth is that I don't care.  Now that I'm not emotionally vulnerable, i.e. unemployed, I really don't care what he thinks.  Or what anyone else thinks.  It may not be my dream but it does pay for my chocolate habit.

And as for all those people who have anything to say about it.  I give you Roy from the IT Crowd...