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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Table Tennis and Turkey

How quickly things change. A year ago, I spent Christmas in a borrowed house in the Isle Of Wight with every member of my immediate family – even the usually absent Dad. He made a surprise guest appearance, arriving on Christmas Day in a wig, presumably so we wouldn’t know straight away who the 6ft4in man standing at our borrowed door with our Dad’s Honda behind him was. We did know, and Christmas was all the better for his attendance.

Every year we plead with him to come forth from his hideaway in Malaysia and spend Christmas with his family. And every year, for reason’s unclear to me, he declines. ‘Maybe next year,’ he mumbles. And every year, without fail, as he calls us on the day, he sounds lonely and sorry for himself. Promises next year will be different. It never is.

But every cloud has a silver lining. My lovely old Grandma passed away just a few weeks ago, bringing father back to these Albion shores. I was devastated to see her go, but that’s a story for another time. It’s Christmas and this is a blog of happiness. Dad found himself in England, but hastily booked his ticket back for the 23rd December. Bloody Scrooge. So I stamped my feet and huffed and puffed, and soon, his travel agent was making the necessary arrangements, for the decision had been made, he would be staying in the UK for the second Christmas in a row!

With my siblings in their long term relationships, they have for many years been alternating Christmas’s with that of their spouses. So this year, my mum, one sister and I had to decide where to be. Well where better than the newly acquired chapel? Nowhere. Nowhere is better than the newly acquired chapel, and that’s a sweeping statement covering a magnitude of questions, not just where to spend Christmas.

Gareth, envying my excellent idea, decided he too wanted Christmas in the chapel, and it wasn’t long before the Jones and Willis’s were preparing for a joint Christmas. Holy Camoly.

When I knew Dad would also be joining the party, I felt a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Would it all work out? Would Gareth’s parents find him odd? Would he behave? Would he remember their names? Would he be nice to Gareth?

That last worry had plenty of legs to stand on, Dad’s history with my boyfriends is not a smoothly sailed ship. He has hated every one of them and made no secret of it. On the rare occasion that I would let his path cross that of my boyfriends, he would rise up to every one his 6ft and 4 inches, and he would let them know just who was in charge. And god did they know it. They all cowered. They all understood. They weren’t good enough and that was that.

Men should fear their girlfriend's fathers. Keeps them in check. It was hard at the time, but I always had Mum to warmly welcome said boyfriend into the family home and let them know not all the Willis's were as stoic and cold shouldered as Dad. Dad kept the fear alive, Mum was kind and charming, until the day it was all over, and then she'd take my side, wipe my tears, and await the next rollercoaster ride.

But with Gareth, Dad was different. Almost too different. I did not need to have worried about him accepting the Jones’s. I should have worried that they weren’t prepared for the Willis’s. For Dad arrived with open arms and practically had his wedding speech printed and framed.

At one point Dad turned to Nigel, Gareth’s Dad, and brazened the question: ‘we think the world of your son. What do you think of our daughter?’ a question Nigel tactfully avoided answering.

Dad’s very keen on Gareth, he thinks he is a ‘great chap,’ which is a compliment of the highest order, considering some of the things he has said about some other people in my life, past and present.

Christmas went off without a hitch, we ate plenty, drank some and played lots of games. The latest attribute to the chapel arrived the day before Christmas in the shape of a table tennis table and it provided plenty of friendly competition. Where better than my blog to tell the world that in the first ever Wesleyan Chapel Table Tennis Competition, I came first. Ok, so we have no sitting room left, but we don’t need it anymore. We have table tennis, to love and to cherish, through sickness and health, until death do us part.

Or, more likely, until Gareth leaves me, taking his table with him, frustrated by the fact that I am the queen of the table tennis table, (mostly) undefeated, despite having no forehand and an inability to topspin. How very infuriating for my usually more skilled opponents.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dill and Moron

I was so excited when, two months ago, I booked the best seats available at the Colston Hall (Bristol’s answer to the Apollo) to see Ireland’s finest, Dylan Moran play his new gig ‘What It Is’.

It was to be an early birthday present for Gareth and I was very excited by the prospect of an excuse for dinner at the nearby Thai restaurant which we’ve frequented many times and at which I have never strayed far from the Thai green curry. Occasionally I push the boat out and ask for pineapple in my Thai green curry, but I’m not about to go wasting the opportunity to have Thai green curry on some sort of silly noodle dish.

Dinner was great. We quickly necked a bottle of wine, like the truly romantic couple that we are, and then raced over to the hall. Oh how exciting, the balcony, I gushed, looking at our tickets. Last time we came here, with my mum and sister, we were in the pits for Lee Evans, (my fault, I thought he was still funny) and I fell asleep. At least in the balcony we might have a better view.

How wrong I was.

The porter man guided us up to our seats. ‘Over there. Back row.’ Back row? BACK ROW? The wine had kicked in. Gareth waited patiently at the side while I tried to wager better seats at a sold out gig. But seriously, back row? I booked ‘best seats available’ bloody ages ago, how can the back row of the balcony EVER be the best seats? We could not have been further away from Dylan.

I eventually gave up on the porter and we took our seats. What are the odds of Gareth spotting someone on the same row who he knew…or thought he knew.

Hey, Tom! He shouts.

Tom shouts back.

How’s Sarah? How’s the baby? Gareth calls as he mimes a big baby bump.

‘Tom’ mimes the baby bump back, a frown upon his brow.

Baby? he asks.

Nevermind! smiles Gareth, slumping back in his seat.

Who was that? I ask.

I don’t know.

An amazing stroke of luck, although he’d got the wrong person, both of the people, the wrong person and the person he actually was, were called Tom, so he got away with that much. It was just the baby bit that scuppered his chances of walking away looking cool.

Dylan was about the size of a pencil from where we were sitting and too far away to see any of his mannerisms or gestures.

I had no choice but to fall asleep.

And on Gareth’s other side, a dreadlocked nutjob who was also a little sleepy. Except he’d clearly consumed some hallucinogenic drugs before coming, as he, according to Gareth, I was asleep at the time, kept trying to catch things in his sleep and awoke with a look of complete surprise and confusion on his face.

So the highlight of our evening was not the part we paid £50 for. And Dylan Moran has gone down in my estimations for being too far away. Not exactly his fault, but I realised I don’t like big comedy venues. I miss Ginglik, the cosiness, the intimacy. I miss being on the front row. I miss Simon Amstel grilling me about my career, Jimmy Carr taking the piss out of my friends, I miss the comedians being so close I could, and often did, touch them.

I was irate when my mum told me she was recently at Ginglik for the Lenny Henry night and who should pop along to warm the audience up but Robin Williams.

I’m almost certain I wouldn’t sleep through that. Almost.
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Simply The Best

Dad neglected to tell me it was still the rainy season here, perhaps because he feared I wouldn’t come if I knew.

It was never more apparent than today, when we decided to hop skip over to Thailand for some snorkeling. No sooner had we anchored the boat in a beautiful bay did the sky turn black and the rain descend. We sat in our waterproofs, although I’m not sure why as there was no place to hide, and watched as out boat was tossed and turned in the ocean like a cork. Great fun. Almost, somehow, more fun than snorkeling.

Battling the weather conditions, we headed in land for supper. The skies cleared and it all became rather pleasant. May I recommend Ko Li Pe island to anyone who’s a stranger – it was beautiful.

As we trudged through the mud, past the half-squished dying catapillar being eaten alive by ants, left at the end of the mosquito ridden path (wait while father investigates the generator system – there's four generators, one in use, just FYI) past the ant hill while giant flying ants erupting out of it only to meet their end by the army of gleefully patient birds awaiting their flying ant dinner, left again at the horribly misplaced mobile phone tower slap bang in the middle of a centuries old village, housing fishermen and naked, chocolate brown skinned children playing in the dust, and you will arrive at Pooh’s Bar.

A bar not so dissimilar from the one my sister and her partner would run if they gave up London life and escaped to warmer climes. Easy reggae greets us, there’s dim lighting and low seating. Even Dad enjoyed himself as we ‘chilled out’ (he had to check it was th right terminology) sipped cocktails and watched the afternoon turn to evening.

Real life seemed a million and one miles away as we ordered our thai green curries (well, when in Rome) and got stuck in.

Maybe something about the ambiance, the mosquito poison running though my veins or the sunstroke playing with my mind, but I think of the 945,672 thai green curries I have tried, it was simply the best.
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Weapons of Mass Destruction

So here I am in the epicenter of massage connoisseurs – the far East - Lang Kawi, Malaysia to be exact. You can ask for no better place to have a bad back or stiff limb.

Dad had found a masseuse so brilliant, he told me, that he now has her come direct to his flat. And so, slightly stiff from the flight and in need of a good rub down, we arranged for her to come. I expected the best.

I don’t like massages anymore. They are far too stressful.

She started with my feet. Ticklish. I could feel my whole body tense up as I tried to resist wriggling away.

She moved on to my calves, knees and thighs. Knees? Whoever decided the back of your knees needed massaging? Okay, so as my boyfriend regularly points out, I have very knobbly knees. Award winning, in fact. (Wootton County Primary end of term Knobbly Knee Competition – winner.) But there were times I thought she’d dislocate the poor buggers. I remained taut, my teeth clenched, my body rigid.

Finally, she moved onto my back – for about a minute. No point wasting time on my back when my ear lobes are clearly calling to her. Ear lobes? Really?

Then she started prodding my eyebrows and forehead, over and over again, prod prod prod went her stubbly little fingers. I’m thankful for my strong skull as there were times I thought she was trying to poke through my temples and unite her fingers inside my head.

Still tense.

She moves on to my arms. Write, to elbow, to armpit. All ticklish.

Finally it’s over and I’m more tense than before it began, only now I’m covered in oil and my temples hurt.

Still, it didn’t stop me going to another one when we got to Thailand.

This time it was a man doing me. Strong hands, no tickles. Much better. And he didn’t even touch my knees.

But then we made the almighty mistake of enjoying it so much we ordered another half an hour. Well, I don’t think he knew what to do with himself.

So he went for my temples. And my earlobes. And all his soothing, relaxing moves of the last hour were undone, prod by unnecessary prod.

A word to all masseuses out there – WHY? Why I ask you? Please refrain from touching the knee caps, temples and ear lobes ever again. It’s as necessary as mosquitoes and leaves me just as irate.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bible Bashing

What with only being in Bali for four days and Dad having to work most of them, I expected to have outings arranged for me. He does that kind of thing.

'Look here, meet so and so at 0700hrs, take a bus to this port and await instruction… '

So it was with my usual trepidation and longing to just be left alone in the sunshine with my notebook and my musings that I listened to my next itinerary. Be fooled for thinking you are on holiday, Kim, for you are under my command now.

To be fair to my pa, he’s always right. I can’t count the amount of times Dad has started a sentence with ‘and today you’ll be…’ and I’ve reverted to teenage angst and wallow, only to be surprised by an amazing day, usually accompanied with copious amounts of Moet and Chandon (they sponsor Dad’s boaty things) (and me) and dining in the company of kings. But that’s a story for another time.

This day was to start at the relatively late hour of 0800hrs (always military time with Bryan) whereupon I would have a breakfast it was too early for and be taken to meet some nieces of some men I did not know.

'I met them the other day,' Dad tells me, 'you’ll love them. Oh, just one thing. Don’t mention your religious stance. They are missionaries. '

Great. A day out with the god squad. Goodbye beach and my own investigations into local trappings and delicacies, hello bible class.

'So, you’re a writer?' Tina asks. 'People tell me I should write about what happened to me, she says. '

'Well, if it makes a good story, you should.'

'What is good?'

'Something people want to read,' I reply.

'Well,' she snaps, 'if you call a bus crash, eight of my friends dead, eight seriously injured and me unscratched because God saved me something people want to read, I guess it is a good story.'

Oh good, I’ve woken the beast.

Tina goes on to tell me at, as it so happens, the exact same time her bus crashed in South Africa, her sister in New Zealand felt an overwhelming desire to pray for her – thank goodness, or she would be as dead as her friends.

‘Are you sure it wasn’t the luck of where you were sitting?’ I hazard. In the crash, all the chairs had concertinaed, but Tina was on the back row.

‘No. It was God. But the doctor did say if I’d been one inch taller I’d have got a metal rod in my head.’

Right. Lucky God made you that height then.

‘God was trying to show me I didn’t need other humans. It could just be me and Him,’ she says confidently.

Crikey. He killed eight of your friends to get you all to himself?

‘I know’, she smiles, like someone ticking off their mischievous toddler, ‘I did ask if I could have at least one human in my life but he just wanted to know if I still believed in Him. I said, ‘Yes, God, I still believe in you, you old swine.’

It was clear she had quite a chummy, banterful relationship with God. She referred to any strayings from his path as being ‘led by the enemy.’ I know people who believe in God, quietly, but it was really quite baffling to meet someone my age, wearing the same kind of jewelry and clothes as I was, banging on so openly about their close relationship with religion.

There must be a level of solace and sanctuary in knowing that whatever you do, God is by your side. After some of these blogs, I know that even if there is a God, he is about as far from my side as He can possibly get. But I’ll still put a capital letter before God, Him and His, just in case he’s watching.
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Left to fester in Colchester

If ever I needed a sign from the gods that giving up my job, moving out of my home and away from great housemates Cordelia and Michael, and pesky cat Chairman Meow, and moving into a chapel with a man I didn’t even know a year ago today, then a week in Colchester was the clear as sky, smack in the face sign that they sent.

Colchester sucks. Or rather, it is as if someone has sucked the life right out of it. After one week working in the biggest business park I’d ever seen, living in the smallest Travel Lodge I’d ever seen, I was ready to tie my own noose.

When people hear that I work for the glossy women’s magazines they get so excited about the cloud of glamour they envisage me floating about on. Not so. Travel lodge, business park, Colchester. It doesn’t get much better.

Although, my room was en suite and I got my own kettle, which was most exciting. I set myself a challenege of spending as little as possible and so spent all week resisting the lures of the Little Chef next door (tempting thought it was) and instead being my own little chef with some noodles and sweet chilli sauce. It got boring. I missed the additions required to that recipe to make it a thai green curry.

I must save money – if I get invited out on some shindig I will recline, I promised myself. Needn’t have worried – the full time writers were obviously bored of the constant stream of shift workers passing through, like a one night stand, never sticking around long enough to learn their names, just in and out in a blink. So I was not invited anywhere and made it back to the lodge of my travels every evening in time for Paul O Grady – what a treat.

The highlight of my week was that Cesca, my long lost best friend now living in Sarf Afrikkka, called to tell me that Mike, my aforementioned former housemate, had proposed. About bloody time too. They’d been together so long I was beginning to wonder if I should nip in front of him and get to her first. I’m ever so excited. Oh! Just like the film – My Best Friend’s Wedding. Except I won’t be trying to woo the groom as - sorry Mike - Dermot Malhoney he ain’t.

So it was a week of highs and lows. High to hear of Cesca’s nuptials, low to live in Colchester. High to find inventive ways to make noodles less boring, low to live in Colchester. And so on and so on, my voice trailing off as you fall gently asleep, but don’t ever presume as sleep takes over that I am not still listing things that end with ‘low to live in Colchester’ because I am low to live in Colchester...
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Monday, September 29, 2008

The hunt is on

Have no fear, Gareth, you just so happen to be going out with the queen of house hunting, I assured him. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, I’ll do all the hunting, with pleasure.

And so began my hunt. By flat two, I was bored, frustrated and not at all enjoying myself as much as I had expected. How confusing. I’d done so much house hunting in my time, I was sure I loved it. I thought back… and back came the memories. Oh yes. House hunting with Mum is fun. House hunting with friends is fun. House hunting with Gareth might have been fun if I hadn’t relinquished him of his duties. Alone, it was boring, time consuming and uneventful.

With each new house, I tried desperately to imagine Gareth and I enjoying ourselves there. ‘It’s nice, but the kitchen is a bit tiny,’ I’d complain in my reports to Gareth. He didn’t really care. ‘As long as you’re happy,’ he said. Great. More pressure. He’ll happily move in somewhere rubbish as long as I tell him I’m happy, then I won’t be happy, then it’ll be all my fault for forcing an image of happiness upon myself and settling for a rubbish flat.

And so the hunt continued.

Then, late one evening, Gareth and I trudged through another estate agent’s website. Me, disgruntled and frustrated, him, keen and eager. Oh look, Gareth says, that’s an amazing flat. A converted chapel, and well below our price range.It’s a bit out of town, but let’s see it anyway, he suggests. So, we booked in for the next day and together – the first and only flat Gareth saw – we drove half way to Bath.

Oh. My. God. We found the one. Immediately in love with it before we’d even set foot inside just because the car parking spaces had head stones, I was jumping up and down in excitement as we waited for the agent. It just got better. The flat was beautiful. No, beautiful doesn’t do it justice. Charismatic, unusual, eccentric, each room is on a different floor, there is a walk-in wardrobe, there are beams (beams! I love beams!). There’s history. There’s huge church windows. There’s an immaculate kitchen and a bottle of champagne waiting for the winners. It’s the kind of flat that initiates conversation. The kind of flat we can show off. The kind of flat that featured in none other than Country Life. And anyone’s who’s anyone knows Country Life don’t feature anything but the most eccentric of abodes.

Gareth plays it cool, moseying from room to room and asking professional questions. Who cares about council tax, GIVE ME THIS FLAT! I want to hug the agent. We have found the flat. The One. I have never been so excited in all my life.

I’ve never wanted to live with a boyfriend before. I came close once, with my longest term boyfriend, Lewis. He wanted to within about a week of the relationship, or course, for I am a wonderful cook. But something held me back. ‘We’ll get a red colander,’ he promised. It wasn’t enough. I promised myself I wouldn’t live with just any old boyfriend, only a very special one. Only the One.

I’ve changed my stance now. I’ve realised you just don’t know who the One is. But I do know that Gareth is without a doubt the One Right Now (a less well known search) and that he’s going to be really fun to live with. Just as long as my moving-in present isn’t a red colander.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The mother of all protests.

Not so long ago my sister, Tammi, was hit with the news that seven years of blood, sweat and tears, turning a pokey snooker club into ''one of London’s coolest bars'' (Time Out) would be met by the council’s decision to fill her underground rhapsody of Bohemia with cement.

Determined not to go down without a fight, Tammi and Colin, her partner in crime and management, set about inviting every Tom, Dick and Harry to a 2 hour protest on top of their club.

A protest? Oh god. I hate that sort of thing. Will there be a lot of naked hippies with their boobs around their ankles? Do I have to chain myself to a tree? Come on Kim, this is your sister we’re talking about, you will chain yourself to whatever she wants and you will not be cynical or disparaging. For once.

Well, I should have known better. I should have known there would be no chains, no hippies (well, a few) and no chanting.

Instead there was ska music, there was Earl Orkin, there was free booze and free hotdogs. There was a warmth in the crowd which I’ve come to expect from any crowd associated with Ginglik. It’s a rather special place, you see. Through their charm and welcoming nature, Tammi and Colin have provided west London with more than just a bar. Once people stumble upon it, they never go back to the Walkabout. It’s a gem of a place, thrown in amongst the one-pound shops, dirt and grime of Shepherd’s Bush and I’m proud to know the owners.

More than proud. When I’m talking to people there I can’t wait to crowbar into the conversation that I’m Tammi’s sister. 'Are you?' they exclaim, showering Tammi, via me, with compliments about the wonder of Ginglik. The power of their words is explosive.

What is Ginglik? People ask me, is it because Colin is ginger? Does Tammi lick him? Tempting as it is to let people think this, I explain that it means Explosive Power. Then I tell them I’m Tammi’s sister and perhaps they should buy me a drink.

As my wonderful and slightly tipsy brother, Jae, and I took over the free bar, handing out beer and hotdogs to all and sundry, a disheveled, toothless man in an inside-out jumper stumbled over to me.

‘Is this a free bar?’ he slurs.

‘Sure, beer or wine?’ I ask cheerfully. His eyes widen in amazement.

‘And free food?’ he says, literally salivating.


He turns around, waves his arms frantically then turns back to me.

‘Well I’ll have a beer then!’ he says, all his dreams coming true at once. Within seconds his entourage of fellow homeless hobo’s have arrived to pillage all they can. What a lucky day for them. There they were, picking apple cores off the dirty streets of Shepherd’s Bush (probably) and drinking 12p lager from Tesco, when the sound of live ska lured them to the green. A free bar, free food…. Tammi looks on, her temper brewing. She doesn’t want that kind of riffraff in here. It’s not like they care about Ginglik.

How about a written test, I suggest to Jae. If they know what Ginglik is, and ten other difficult questions, they can stay.

My idea falls flat and instead, long after the protest has finished and all the middle class people have descended to the night club to start paying for their drinks, the hobo’s are still milling around, toasting hot dog buns (all we had left) on the BBQ and filling them with ketchup.

Oh well. I’ve seen Trading Places. Maybe one of them is a secret millionaire and our generosity will be repayed when he buys Hammersmith and Fulham council and reissues the Ginglik lease. Because, in the greater scheme of things, that’s all that matters.

Gareth told me that if I got a good enough shot of the evening, he’d put it out to the papers. ‘Get high,’ he said, not suggesting I have a sneaky spliff with the hobos, but suggesting I climb a tree to get my good shot. I dutifully climbed. I was so overwhelmed by the warmth of the crowd, dancing, waving placards, cheering and smiling in the evening sunshine, that I was almost moved to crowd surf over the permeating love.

So now I like protests. I think I’ll start protesting more things. Anyone got any trees that need saving? Chain me up. But please supply free beer. Me and the hobos would expect nothing less.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

A right royal knee's up

This blog is about Amy Rowland. It’s long overdue and I can only apologise to the lovely, big bosomed lady who sits three doors to my right, her chirpy northern chatter like a lullaby to my right ear, her peroxide blonde hair a twinkle in the peripheral vision of my right eye, her smile, wit and warmth a wonder to behold.

Ever since I started this blog-fest, this marathon of writing (and it’s more than one a month Gareth Jones) Amy has been a fan. I’d even boldly go so far as to say she loves it. But as she read each entry – one about Hannah and I buying shoes, one about Gareth and I camping, one about Skinner and I eating lunch – she had but one question. When, Kim Willis, will I be featured?

Amy began to question her merits. Was she not as fun as Hannah? Did our nights on the town mean nothing?

But the more she pined, the drier the sponge that is my brain became. Yes, she is – you are – incredibly fun. I love it when Amy gets the giggles, I don’t think anything makes me laugh more than when Amy gets the giggles. I love it when she inappropriately grabs her boobs in front of men and says ‘I’m good at chatting up men’. I love that she hates it when people cry in front of her, doesn’t know how to react, and yet reacts as any perfect friend would when I cry. I love that she has a sense of humour comparable only with a man – and that’s why I love men. Because to them, everything is funny, nothing is offensive. Men and Amy Rowland.

So what to write my Amy tribute blog about? There can only be one night to recount.

I love it when friends from different social groups get on. Remember that scene in Spaced when Tyres takes everyone to a club and they all have a jolly time and he assess the situation from the smoke-filled doorway and, palms together, says ‘my work here is done’ ? That’s how I feel. Bring the brilliant people together, that’s my job.

And so I invited Nicola Apples Appleton and Amy Lysette Rowland for dinner at my house, along with Michael Henry Wiper and Olly Big Eyes Not Sure What Your Surname Is.

Sun shining, we gathered in the garden for pre-dinner drinks. Everyone was getting on just dandy. Olly’s a funny old man. He was in a relationship for seven years or some ridiculous amount of time, and has just broken free. He appears to be rather taken aback by how the world has changed since he was 15. His eyes are always wide, none more so than if you say something shocking. I’m sure he just has big eyes, but his constant look of rabbit-in-the-headlines shocked leaves me wishing I was a librarian.

We’re all outside, wine flowing, guacamole gone. I feel like Tyres - everyone is bonding well.

Dinner done, we sat about eating cheese. I think. I forget what was eating because all I can remember is what happened next. There was a lull in conversation. Shock! Horror! These people don’t know each other, there can’t be a lull! Don’t you worry, Amy Rowland to the rescue.

‘Shall we see how many of my mates will send me a picture of their cocks?’ she asks, as calmly as if she’s asking the time.

Olly’s eyes widen.

Amy whips out her phone and sends a message to all the men out there – hey you, long time no speak, could you please send me a picture of your cock – or words to that effect.

We all have a good laugh about how wild our Amy is. There were probably a few dick jokes and the banter was certainly restored. Within a minute her text message was all but forgotten.

And then… beep beep. Beep beep. Beep beep. Not one, not two, but DOZENS of Amy’s male friends are apparently willing (and able – as in, in a place or situation where they CAN get their dicks out and take a picture) to send Amy a picture without question.

Olly’s eyes widen.

Amy gets the giggles.

We all gather round to judge the offerings.

And then – from one –the ultimate. Without even being asked, he sends more than just a picture. He sends a video, of him bringing himself to orgasm.

I think Olly slipped into a state of shock. I don’t think he knew girls like Amy existed.

Mike then proceeded to make a vagina out of his knee so that Amy had something to send back to the poor men. Most of them thought they were in, quickly texting back to find out if Amy was free and fancied a drink.

A lesson, to anyone lucky enough to be a man and in Amy’s phonebook, is never ever send her a picture of your penis upon request, because you never know what kind of lull she is trying to fill, how many of her friends she is going to show and how many of Mike’s knees she’ll borrow to make you think she thinks your penis is worth a picture of her fake knee-vagina.

I think you think she’ll think it’s your lucky day, but I know she knows you don’t know it’s just a hairy knee.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

On a wing and a prayer

People are always surprised when I say I’m not one for adrenalin.

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I charge around a lot and make noise when drunk. It makes people think I want to jump out of a plane. Maybe it’s because of my assertive nature. It makes people think I want to risk my life on some white water rapids.

Whatever the assumption, it’s wrong. I don’t want to jump out of a plane and I certainly don’t want to rapid any water, white or otherwise. I like my water serene, blue, with tropical fish swimming in it while I sunbathe nearby. I like my planes to take me to hot countries, not high into the sky only for me to plummet back down to earth. I’m sure my heart would think I was trying to kill myself and would have an attack before I got to the bottom anyway.

When I (rarely) go on rollercoaster rides I am too scared to scream. I just shut my eyes and pray to survive. Tammi and I once took our darling sister Pip, blind and epileptic, on a rollercoaster. I still shudder at the memory. It was at Legoland, and there were kids knee high to a grass hopper queing up, how scary could it be? But for Tammi and I, with sight, it was the scariest thing we’d ever done. Poor Pip was in tears in seconds, I thought she was going to have a seizure. The picture they take of you ‘having fun’ on the down bit just shows the three of us cowering in each other’s armpits while my then boyfriend cheered and whooped alone. Horrible.

This job doesn’t really help my confidence for adrenalin. Off the top of my head I can think of a dozen stories I have chased to fuel my fear: a girl on a rollercoaster who got flung off. Died. A guy who jumped out of a plane and his parachute didn’t open. Died. A couple who got lost on a mountain side and spent days battling the elements. Survived. Earned me £3000. Nice.

The point is, when my best friends present me with a birthday present of a gliding trip, I have to wonder how well they actually know me. One of the friends, Michael Henry Wiper, suffers a lot for his cause (of being my best friend). He once got me a bar of soap for Christmas. He hasn’t forgotten it because I remind him pretty much every day. ‘My distant relatives get me toiletries for Christmas, it’s because they don’t know me,’ I told him at the time, just before I ripped off the wrapping to find not a brand new coconut and lime soap (would at least have shown he knows what I like the smell of) but a used, still frothing bar, complete with a pube.

I think he thought he was being funny. I think that was the last year I spend £25 on him.

So as I tried to sound enthusiastic and grateful, my inner demons were drunk on the fear. Was I expected to fly a plane? Land the plane? Parachute out of the plane? Am I even in a plane or being dragged behind it?

The day neared and Mike and Cords (present givers) and Cesca (home for high jinks) and I set off for a beautiful summer’s day in Devizes.

Thank goodness Cesca was leading the driving convoy and got us lost in Bath for an hour. Stalling, stalling, I like it… Then she got stressed out and demanded we go to a pub first. Dutch courage, yes please, make mine a double.

Lunch was lovely and the last time I’ll see Cesca for probably two years. But it wasn’t as sad as last time she left, for some reason. Maybe because I’ve got used to the idea of her leaving. Maybe because I had other things on my mind, like my impending death.

We arrived at the airfield and a man with a big belly and a stupid hat proceeded to tell us that gliding is a sport (is that how he keeps so trim) and that not even a sip of alcohol is permitted in your system. My chance to opt out? Nah, the vodka sitting inside me gave me a new found confidence. Screw him and his rules! Hand me the plane, I’ll be fine.

As it was, I had nothing to worry about. It was a two man glider and my instructor, Dave, or Ben, or something, I don’t know, I wasn’t concentrating on his name, I was concentrating on the girth of his plane… was a lovely man who was clearly used to wimps like me. Off we went to snoop around the stately homes and swimming pools of the many gardens of the many little villages in Devizes. I think I even saw Cesca’s manor house. I definetly saw one of her horses. I think it was the little beauty who threw me off not so long ago.

At one point Dave Ben let me be in charge of the joy stick thing. I think he immediately regretted it as I didn’t have a tender enough touch for so delicate a manoeuvre as a nose dive and we probably almost died.

Once I’d got used to it, I could enjoy the view and the sunshine and the looking at houses from on top. I would even go so far, now I’m back on safe ground, as to say it was over too quickly. It was certainly better than soap.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bestival Festival

What really annoys me about muddy festivals is there is always one ‘crazy loon’ (twat) who thinks it’s really funny to slide around in the mud, laughing manically while smearing mud on their face, in their hair, over their tops. They are usually not one, actually, but a group of equally annoying ‘mad’ people all throwing mud at each other and having a really fun time.

As I watch them from the sanity, sanctity and sanctuary of my waterproofs, I can’t help thinking that they haven’t thought through their little game.

I mean, what are the practicalities of mud swimming? You get muddy, wet and cold very quickly. Then what? You go back to your tent where you don’t have a shower and you get changed into cold wet clothes that haven’t been hanging over a warm radiator.

Do they sleep like that? Doesn’t the mud dry on their faces?

Another thing that annoys me about festivals is the eternal question when you get back – what bands did you see. I didn’t see any bloody bands. Screw the bands!

Festivals are about getting drunk and talking to strangers. Festivals are about meeting people called Strider and drinking cider for breakfast. They are about realising your friends are so brilliant they could be in that Carling advert where all the great friends play cricket on the beach and DO NOT play in the mud. Something in the festival air made me love my friends very much indeed.

Ok, I think I did see the Bees, or at least was in ear shot of them. Apparently I was at Hot Chip. The one guy I did want to see, Scroobious Pip, changed his slot and played before his allocated time so we missed him. His loss.

The music guides were £6 which really annoyed me too as I’d already forked out £150 to bloody walk through the muddy gate. Surely that should be included in the price?

But I didn’t need a guide. I just needed to know where Cesca was at all times to ensure I was having optimum fun. And fun I did have. So much so that I think I have slipped into depression now.

I cried last night and even went so far as to doubt myself as a person which is ridiculous as I’m pretty bloody brilliant. If I remember correctly I cried because I asked Gareth to talk to me about some twaddle and he suggested we play table tennis. Tear-worthy stuff.

I think this Bestival was my third favourite festival. I don’t like to moan about the mud, much, but it is a challenge. But one that this year I think we conquered.

Last year at Glastonbury, the mud definitely won. But this year, we won. We didn’t talk to nearly enough strangers but without grass to run around on or sunshine to run around in, I think people were less inclined to entwine. I’ll never forget Strider and Guy but there should have been 400 of them, each night. Most of the time, I'd even go so far as to describe Laurence as quiet. Unheard of.

Next year, it’s going to be sunny. The Isle of Wight has it’s own weather system, you see. It’s not like the mainland. Doesn't generate clouds, I tell you.

Last weekend was just a hiccup in the ever sunny realm of summer that is the Isle of Wight, and next year we will return almighty and hearts will be touched once more. Even just thinking about it is bringing me out of my depression and into a much sunnier disposition. Anyone for table tennis?
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It's a cat's life

Having dumped all my Bestival stuff in my room and headed back out into my hectic social life last night, I returned this evening to the fragrant pong of drying mud, musty caravan and wet clothes. Nice. As I set about tidying up, Chairman Meow, our beloved cat, came to sit with me.

Two things you need to know about Chairman are: when he first arrived he singled my bed out as the only bed in the house to wee on. All the time. And the other is that Gareth is allergic to him and so I’ve promised him that I never let him in my room.

Chairman! How lovely of you to join me. Come, take a seat on my bed why don’t you. May I say how lovely it is that you no longer pee on my bed? And my, what a fine coat you have.

We chatted as I continued to throw everything I’d ever owned into the ‘wash’ pile, for it had all been contaminated with the smell of mud.

Then, as cats do, Chairman had had enough of my charm and was off. I looked back at where he had been, and rage slowly surged through me. CHAIRMAN! You’ve pissed on my bed again!

A wet patch just where he’d been. Why you little !!!!

I chased after him, he now having a morsel of food from his bowl downstairs. I know what to do when a cat pees on your bed. I'm an expert. You put their face in it and hit their nose. That learns them. So I did this, him whimpering and trying to get away. As I held him, I realised he was rather wet and it had been raining when I got home…

Oh no. Someone arrest me for cruelty to animals. I smelt the wet patch. I’d know if it was cat wee. It’s the most horrible smell in the world.

The duvet was odourless. I hugged Chairman tightly, apologising profusely.

You don’t understand what I’m saying but I’m so sorry Chairman, I thought you’d weed, you hadn’t….I’m forever sorry, I pleaded, nuzzling up to him. He wriggled from my grip and sauntered out, our friendship gone. Our secret bedroom meetings behind Gareth’s back, over.

Just as he left me, Gareth called. I was too upset to hide my emotions and told him everything.

Reminds me of that story your Grandma (always) tells us, Gareth laughs. You know, the one about the Welsh dog, Bedd Gelert, who was just trying to do a good thing and protect the baby. But his owner came in, saw him covered in blood and jumped to the conclusion that he’d tried to maul the baby, and shot him. Only later did he see the dead fox and realise the dog had protected the baby from the fox.

Great. So Chairman is likened to a hero baby saving dog by the very man who originally didn’t even like the bloody animal, and I feel even worse.

Think I’ll go open some tuna and buy back his love.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eye'll start a fight

My Telegraph Magazine (stolen from work) horoscope (read religiously) tells me change is afoot for Gemini's. ‘Do what you want for change,’ it reads. Hmm. I’m pretty sure I always do what I want and get in a strop if made to do otherwise. But I’ll take the advice and continue to do what I want, but with added vigor because now I know I am meant to do it, it’s in my signs.

Grimsby Telegraph, one of the local paper delights I sample on a daily basis, has another view. Their Russell Grant tells me to postpone chores, which I liked. Whatever you say Russell. But the Wolverhampton Express and Star told me Mars was taking charge of me and that I should dismiss doubts.

You might think these weird and varying takes on being a Gemini would put me off believing in all this stuff, but nope, it just makes me love it more. I don’t have to do chores, I can do whatever I want and take charge of my doubts. Or something. I’m not really reading it properly, just skim reading while I search for the complimentary bits and ignore the bits where it tells me I am sometimes neglectful of my loved ones. Pipe down Russel Grant! What do you know! If you haven't got anything constructive to say, don’t say it.

I do like being a Gemini though, it’s always worked well for me. We have two personalities, you see. That’s two people for the price of one. Bargain. We also have the gift of the gab, I was told once by a hippy with a joss stick. Went to school with a girl called Joss Stick. Nice girl, smelt a bit funny though.

In a nightclub around the time I wrote this entry in my beautiful notebook which my pesky nephew has since vandalised with his yobbish scrawlings, that is to say, a long time ago, (it takes me a long time to get the words from my notebook to the computer. It’s because I’m so busy with my dual personality. It’s tough being two people) Laurence managed to twat my eyeball with his dirty fingernail mid gesticulation. My contact lens flew out and my eye stung like a bee had bummed it. Or, I was to find out a month later, a flea had crawled inside it and biten me from under the lid. But that’s a story for another time. Right now, I was bleeding from my eye and running to the grotty loos with my contact lens on my tongue.

Evaluating the damage in the club loo, I was surprised to see Laurence had actually managed to draw blood from my eye ball. But even more shocking was the reaction I got from my new ‘homies’ in the loo. I think they were homies. Is there a new word for them since I left London and got a bit less street? My bitches. They were my bitches.

WHO HIT YOU? One screamed, puffing out her chest protectively, salivating at the thought of a good fight.

It all got a bit primeval then as the other girls, drawn by her shouts, gathered around me to assess the damage, plan revenge and offer me make up and tissues, for I may have been crying.

For extra attention.

No, it really did hurt.

A bit. I was drunk. I was getting a lot of attention.

Who was it? I’ll fucking have him! One shouts. She may have even punched her fist into her waiting, cupped hand, in anticipation.

You’re bleeding! I’ll deck him! She says.

Realising I was in the sort of nightclub where girls often ran into the loo in tears, blood dripping down their faces after another fight with a violent boyfriend, I realised I now had the power to get Laurence beaten up by a bunch of girls.

Now that would be funny.

It took a lot to resist describing him to my harem.

I would have done it, if Laurence wasn’t a fellow Gemini. That’s where my allegiance lies. With the Geminis. Sorry ladies.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Running through my mind

If I was paid to write a column, which is my Number One Dream Job ever ever ever in the whole world, surpassing being paid to shop, being paid to eat Thai food or even being paid to sunbathe (okay, maybe not. But it’s my number one dream job out of all the things that are actually jobs. Although I suppose someone somewhere is paid to do those things? Mystery shoppers – paid to shop. Those people in palaces that check the food before it’s served to royalty – paid to eat. Paris Hilton – paid to sunbathe. But I digress. I think I’ll close this bracket and get on with my original point.)

Then… (if you are still with me) Then I would have been fired.

When I was given this blog, I saw it as an excellent training ground for my eventual landing of said dream job. All I have to do is find something to talk about once a week, at the least, and post it up here for all to comment on.

But of late I’ve been slack, so slack I don’t deserve a column, the only thing I really want. But fret not, my loyal army of readers (my sister has subscribed and I know my mum reads it) for I am back with a vengeance. I am here today to talk about running.

Never been much of a fan. Think it’s stupid, actually. But then Apples, my new friend at work, not christened by that Coldplay knobber, but actually called Nicola Appleton, I call her Apples to differentiate her from the other Nicola in my life and also because I like Apples and I like Apples… Er…I’ve done it again. My digressions go on for so long I have to put a full stop and start the old sentence again.

But then Apples, my new friend at work, asked me if I wanted to go for a run with her.

Hell yeah! Bonding with new friend, sweating, new type of exercise.

Before I knew it, I’d paid £30 to sign up to the Bristol half marathon and was ‘in training’ three times a week. My five year old Nikes were beginning to look a little sorry for themselves so Hannah and I took a little diversion on our way to Wagamamas, finding ourselves in the most exciting experience of buying shoes either of us have ever had. And one of us was Hannah Doyle, the Sun Newspaper Shoe Horder of the Year.

Moti Running Shop (Whiteladies Road, Bristol, for those who want to experience this pleasure) lured us in with the scent of rubber soles, trendy running clothes and novel ‘you need this’ running equipment. £10 for a water bottle with a clever space for your key? Sold! £15 for (one pair of) socks with Achilles Heel protectors and extra padding for where your shoelaces apparently constantly rub? Sold!

But what really impressed us, more than the key holding water bottle and mini sachets of glucose for when you ‘hit the wall’ (running term, yar, running banter) was the fact they had a treadmill and each assistant was trained in telling you exactly what was right or wrong with your step and therefore what kind of insole you required.

So I hopped on the treadmill and did a little run, which the lady filmed.

Hannah had the very important role of protecting the screen from the early evening sunshine. Couldn’t have done it without her.

Then we watched the film of my run.

Do I step off to the left? Lean on the right? Land weird? No I bloody do not. According to the assistant, who Hannah was convinced was a lesbian, I had a perfect step. No insoles required.

Geed on by her compliments, it was at this stage that I splashed out on the water bottle, socks and sugar. I couldn’t help myself, my perfect step made me do it. Hannah and I both had our feet measured and Hannah had perfect size three feet. Not many people have identically sized feet, but Hannah did, because she is also perfect, we were told.

When I mentioned that my boyfriend was a bit cynical about the treadmill and the ‘diagnostic imaging’ of my step, the woman shot me a look of disgust, and it was at this stage that Hannah’s wonderment at her sexuality was secured. I’m sure she’s just protective of a job she loves and belivees in, I tell Hannah outside. No, she’s a lezzer, Hannah retorts.

High from the adrenalin of buying new shoes, we headed to Wags too giddy to even need a drink. I think we might have had carrot juice or something equally wholesome.

Four weeks later, and my back has packed in. I’ve given up running. Always thought it was rubbish anyway, just needed to spend £100 on shoes and gizmos to affirm this. Now I’m a swimmer. Bought a new swimming costume and goggles to reiterate to myself that I am now a swimmer.

Never did like swimming. Don’t like smelling of chlorine. I like coconuts. Coconuts and apples.
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grin and bear it

One of my favourite parts of the holiday was the hiring of a log cabin in the woods for a weekend. Rhianon and Christian left both their daughter and their dog with sitters and came for a weekend of drinking. I’m not one to rant and rave about my drinking exploits, but this was a hilarious weekend and one worth reciting.

Christian keenly packed a huge cool box for the weekend. What would one need for a weekend in the woods? Food? Water? Don’t be absurd. Beer and rum, that’s what.

Gareth and I went up to the mountains a day early to go mountain biking and tobogganing. To summarize, the biking was amazing: serene lakes, blissful sunshine and a lesson in bunny hopping (I was a natural. After that I wasn’t even scared to scale some bumps in the road that were AT LEAST a few inches big). The tobogganing was painfully slow, mosquito ridden, it rained on us and I was stuck within ear shot of the world’s worst family, painfully utilizing the world’s worst parenting skills, parenting the world’s most annoying brats. And it was expensive.

Nevermind, we got to the bottom and decided to make our way to the cabin before dinner so we knew where it was while we still had daylight on our side.

So we drove to the road in question without much ado. As we arrived at Covered Bridge Road, Gareth realised he’d left the instructions behind and we had no phone to contact the woman.

I think it was number 100 and something, he says confidently as we drive along. No, he says as we draw nearer, 400 and something. Definitely. As we approach the 400s, Gareth turns into every – single – driveway and declares that he has found our lodge.

It’s this one, it’s definitely this one, he says, jumping out of the car to go and find the key. The woman had told him she’d left the key under a chair on the porch. Every house in America has a chair on it’s porch, so you can imagine my despair as, in a country full of red necks with guns and a willingness to shoot, Gareth ran up to a dozen different houses and had a good nose about on their front porch.

Even if he found a key it wouldn’t mean we’d found our lodge and I can just picture us settling down to a nice hot cocoa as a surprised Jim Bob and his shotgun return home from a day of killing bears and eating beef jerky.

Luckily, the house we eventually settled upon did not seem to be occupied by a Jim Bob and the next day we were joined by Rhianon and Christian. Christian's got really big guns so I knew that once we were with him he could wrestle Jim Bob to the floor and we'd be declared victors of the lodge.

All too aware of the amount of booze Christian planned to consume, we set about playing an intrinsic drinking game commonly known as Cheat.

Each time you failed, you had to have a shot of Ameretto, until that ran out and we moved on to rum. I’d like to point out at this stage that Gareth and Christian were drinking Michelob LITE on the side of the shots, while Rhianon and I were on the rum.

Cheat came to an end and we tried 21 – a game where you go round in a circle counting up to 21. Sounds simple, until you add a torrent of ridiculous rules and a litre of rum.

Pretty soon, Christian was leaving a little something for the bears by throwing up everything he’d eaten for the last month in the back garden, Gareth was beating his sister up with a shoe and we were planning a walk in the woods to see if we could make the evening a little more memorable by having an encounter with some bears.

Gareth spent all the next day throwing up while Rhianon and I remained triumphant – not only did we drink more than the boys but we kept it down.

The next day we went for a walk in another strange town and found ourselves on a tour of a themed hotel. I desperately wanted to stay in the cinema suite (50ft plasma screen, watchable from a hot tub, private bar, giant bed, private bar, private bar, private bar) until Christian witnessed a guest complaining of getting tics in her neck while staying in the Camping suite and we realised a cheesy themed hotel probably wasn’t the most hygienic place to lay our heads. To be able to actually see all the seamen stains would be, as Gareth put it, a DNA inspector’s field day.

So we took a rain check, as they say over there, and drove home, via, just to make my weekend complete, a thai restaurant. Heaven. Heaven in a thai curry bowl.
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Mystic Meg

Strolling along the streets of BumMeQuick (or Umgunquik. Or something), arm in arm, the sun setting, we were a picture of romance… But as lovely as that sounds, it wasn’t enough for me. PALM READER! I screamed as I saw the overpriced gypsy waiting to rid me of my cash. See you later Gareth! I’m off to talk about me for half an hour!

Turned out mystic meg was actually a palm and face reader, much to my excitement. So for $30 I settled down for my reading.

Skeptical Gareth had been allowed in, she obviously didn’t sense his complete disbelief at her abilities, and sat beside me. I wanted him there so he could see how right she could be without even knowing me, and perhaps after this he could be a bit less cynical and a bit more into palm readings and things. Maybe.

Laying my hands in front of her, she got to work.

You like your job…but you sometimes hate it. Good work Sherlock. Carry on.

Sometimes, you are strong for others. Sometimes, you feel weak, she said, looking up at me for approval.

There is something holding you back from reaching your potential at work. You want to achieve great things but you aren’t in the right job yet.

So, I’m 25 and walked in here a bit drunk and therefore assertively – and somehow she’s concluded that I’m not in the right job yet but have the potential to do something– how the devil did she know?

I was beginning to lose faith. I could see Gareth was bored as hell and was already forming his barrage of criticism for when we left. I so didn’t want him to be right, I love this kind of thing, but the woman was ridiculous.

You are worried about one of your parents, she continued.

No, not at all, I replied. They’re alright.

Don’t worry about them. They are okay, and are good for each other, they have a strong relationship.

By this time I couldn’t be bothered to tell her that my parents were in fact no longer an item.

Your hands are telling me you have no faith, she says, looking at me with worry. Well, at least my hands have got something right. Yes, that’s right, the lines on my hands tell no lies – I don’t believe in god.

But, she stutters, where do you think we came from? Evolution, I say proudly.

EVOLUTION? She nearly faints. That’s it, I’ve done it now, I’ve insulted the reader of my future. Does she have the power to change my future too? Will she put a spell on me?

No. Instead she boots me out after five minutes of a reading, ushering words about how I have to find faith to find my way. As we shuffle out I, for the first time, see all the god paraphernalia adorning her walls. Whoops. Insulted the palm reader. Good job.

But you haven’t even looked at my face yet! I exclaimed as she began to pack away hurriedly.

You have a strong jaw line, she dismisses, clearly done with me. I didn’t think to ask for money money back, I just skedaddled, my tail between my legs.

Gareth just smiled. He didn’t have to say ‘you see, Kim? It’s all a load of rubbish and I told you it was and you just wasted $30 on it.’ He didn’t have to. His smile said it all.
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The Mile High Club

Oh dear. Why wasn’t I blessed with hand writing you can read the next day? Or the next week? As I stare at the many pages of notes I made on my holiday with a blank blink, I’m having trouble deciphering the codes and abbreviations which I no doubt at the time thought were ingenious and would be no bother to interpret at a later date. What the hell does z wiggle wiggle ts mean? Probably something like ‘and then we scaled the mountain, the clouds dense and the thunder close, unsure of our future we drove on into the eye of the storm, people screaming, crying, running in the opposite direction all around us, but we had no fear because our friend had recently met Jack Bauer himself and we had a lot to live up to…’ but who knows. Whatever sonorous marvels I may have penned is never to be known. It’s just z wiggle wiggle ts now and forever more.

I shall have to work from memory.

Gareth and I have just returned from America. It was wonderful. We did so much that I felt like we were away for months, and I wish we were. We really did climb a mountain, a mile-high mountain no less. (Ok, in a car. Our car climbed the mountain. We listened to the tour CD and looked out of the window) We visited all sorts of peculiar towns and beaches. We went to Canada. We ate in posh restaurants and a few not so posh. In one, you were encouraged to throw monkey nuts on the floor. We ate a lot of food. That’s basically all we did – eat. If Gareth and I moved to America I reckon it’d only take us a month to start looking like someone had stuck a pump in us and blown up the balloon. The special K diet was out the window, the eat-whatever-Gareth-does diet was passed through the window of every drive-by we drove by. It was great.

To my alarm, random strangers in America just start talking to each other while waiting for a train. Imagine! When I recognise people on my commute, I just pray we’ll all keep our eyes down and no one will speak because I don’t want to have to spend every morning speaking to people.

On our train ride into Boston a mother was telling her young son about her home town, York. A woman passing through turns in delight and says ‘I used to teach in York!’ to which the other woman engages enthusiastically about the Class of ’86 until they exhaust all similarities and the passing woman continues on her way. If that had happened to me, in England, I’d have given her a startled look for deeming herself worthy of joining in my conversation, mumbled a response and then slagged her off for her friendliness.

Everyone is so enthusiastic over here – the shoppers and shop keeps. It’s tiring. Rhianon, Gareth’s sister and my tour guide, poses the notion that it is all superficial and that if you ever try and get some real customer service, you’ll end up tearing your hair out.. which, a week or so later, we were to find out all too painfully… but to tell that story would be to jump to the end of the trip, which would not be at all chronological and would get me in all sorts of a muddle so for now I’ll just affirm that yes, the customer service was terrible and had Gareth on the phone to Continental airlines for over an hour, (I’ve got a new name for Continental Airlines…I’ll give you a clue, you just exchange the first vowel for another vowel) while he tried to alter our flight plan, to no avail.

I, in support, ate my dinner. But I felt his pain.

Whoops, just told the story. Nevermind, it wasn’t that exciting anyway. I’ll move on to something riveting now. Mile high mountains and bear wrestling, that sort of thing.
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Sunday, June 1, 2008

And the beat goes on

And the beat goes on…

Hows your special gay diet? My lunch buddy Nick asked today.

Together we had revolutionalised the office lunch. We’d made it worth eating. Salads have been given a make over, wraps were orgasmic and cous cous was actually worth looking forward to.

But I’ve dumped her in favour of cereal and she thinks I’m stupid. I am stupid. I am just doing it because Hannah said she was and I thought it sounded like a challenge.

Today I bought 3 new cereals and introduced Hannah to the wonders of soya milk. It’s better for you than milk, apparently. And it doesn’t taste like a cow’s bum.

I am enjoying the diet. I’m not getting as hungry as I thought I would. But tomorrow I’m out on the road and I’m a trifle scared that I’m going to have to eat real food and the Special K gods are going to strike down upon me with great vengeance and glorious anger.

I wrote the above on the 14th April. It is now the 27th May and I’m pleased to say the diet worked, I now like porridge.

It worked to make me more aware of what I ate, more boring about what I could eat, and more guilty if I sinned. It worked at making me lose my lunch buddy, destroy more rain forests with my consumption of soya milk and become boringly neurotic about calories.

It also worked to shave off a few pounds, but when you have lost your lunch buddy and there’s no trees left, who cares for pounds?

Hehehe. I do. I thinly do.

1st June – no more diet chat. My June resolution is to stop talking about food and public transport. It’s rubbish. From now on my blogs will be filled with the scrumptious stuff of summer, as it is summer now, I will write only about sunshine and hacky sac and holidays and how June is the best month in the whole calender of months because it means I get to have a birthday.
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Tally Ho

So I had a bright idea on Friday while I was busy counting down the hours till playtime. As I was about to embark on a 48 hour bender for Laurence’s birthday, I knew I’d be drinking enough to write home about. And so, rather than rant on about how a train was late or a ticket inspector dared to demand my ticket, I thought I would do a little observing of my drinking habits.

I’ve never monitored how much I drink when out on the lash, but I often wonder why I don’t stop drinking when drunk, why it just becomes automatic to keep going to the bar, and why, when I care so much about calories, I don’t care what I drink. (it’s liquid, how can it be fattening?)

So my brainwave was, to do a little tally in my notebook, like they do in prison, for every drink I consumed over the weekend. Not to try and control it, but to try and see how much I consume. I hear the government thinks three drinks and over is binge drinking, so they’ll be in for a treat when this tally adds up.

By the time Mike and I arrived for dinner at Laurence’s house on Friday night, I was already drunk. We’d had a few on the train and then bumped into a friend of ours on the walk to Lazza’s, (recognised by his bottom.) and as I had hardly eaten all day (hungover from the night before and couldn’t stomach anything…) the wine had gone straight to my head.

Arrived at Laurence’s, delicious tuna steak dinner, few more bottles of wine, relatively early night to save ourselves for the following, bigger, evening. Did I once remember to tally in my notebook? Did I hell. I’m guessing I managed two bottles of wine. Take that, Gordon Brown.

Saturday, Lazza had arranged for proceedings to kick off at the Sports Bar at 3pm. The idea of starting that early daunted me, and I knew I’d be the first to sleep if I did, so I went for lunch and shopping with my Ma and Sis first. Why not just drink soft drinks for the first few hours, suggested my sister. Er, no, it doesn’t really work like that, Tammi. Laurence would never allow it.

I would like the world to know, all at least, my five readers, that Busabi is the best restaurant in the whole world, and I get sad just thinking about how long it will be until I next get to eat there. I had monkfish thai green curry and it was so good I don't even see the point in other food. It is a sin that there are no Busabi's outside of London.

Arrived at the Sports Bar (the worst pub I’ve ever had to go in. Disgusting. Chicken wings and snake bite everywhere.) at 5pm and started with a cider. I was right, Laurence and his beer swilling, sexist, racist mates were already drunk and I was very pleased the infallible Mike was there for me to sit under the wing of.

And so the night went on. I decided I was bored of always drinking rose so drank high percentage cider all night, at the same speed I’d drink rose. I don’t remember much.

Tammi wouldn’t let me take my massive camera to the pub because she, for some reason, thought I’d get really pissed and mislay it. I don’t know what gave her that impression. As I complained this to Gareth, he pointed out that rather than having no pictures of the night, I'd have no pictures of the night AND no camera if I'd taken it. Stupid other people always being right with their clever suggestions and their smug rightness.

But being without a camera meant I had to try and remember the funny things that happened instead. And for some reason, I started remembering things as if they were photos. I have snapshots in my mind, hazy memories, of Mike doing terrible cartwheels down a cobbled street to try and impress a street performer who had just done 5 flips and a somersault. Bemused, the performer didn’t really get why Mike got a louder cheer. Laurence and Willy G impersonating Jack Bauer on the London Underground (it involves pretending your fingers are guns and doing a lot of roly poly’s while shouting ‘Jack Bauer’ a lot), Laurence wearing nothing but his boxer shorts and my dress (we were playing 4 Kings) Laurence’s balls falling out of his boxer shorts… I’m glad that’s just a mental picture and doesn’t have to be inflicted on anyone else’s eyes. They were very pink and I don’t think I’ve ever shut my eyes more quickly. Scarred for life.

My memory comes back in glimpses. I vaguely remember trying to do a citizen’s arrest on a policeman because he wouldn’t let me pee in his hat while pretending I was pregnant. (apparently that’s the law). We picked up a Polish girl on the Underground and Laurence brought her back to the flat. Brave girl. We started playing 4 kings, for which I was rubbish because my energy had been sapped by all the cider and I wanted to sleep. I guess when you are not trying to sleep with a Polish girl you don’t have the energy to sing Bruce Springsteen songs and down Vodka. Maybe I just don't like vodka. Maybe Laurence is an alcoholic. But I stayed up long enough to swap clothes with Laurence and watch Mike and Laurence kiss.

In the morning, Mike went to check on Roma, our new Polish friend. All I can say is, today could have gone very differently. It could have gone like this:

Well, officer, we met her on the tube, she was sober, she’d been at work. We took her back to the flat where she drank most of a bottle of vodka. No, we'd never met her before. Why is she wearing Mike’s trousers and a bra? It was a game, officer. She must have passed out. Now she’s dead. Choked on her own vomit. But we didn’t mean any harm, Laurence just likes bringing girls back to his flat in the hopes that they will sleep with him. Please can we go home now?

Luckily, although she had been sick in her sleep and the sick was down her bra, in her hair, on her face, and quickly seeping through the sheets, mattress protector and mattress, the girl was alive. Whoop whoop! The girl was alive.

She refused the offer of a shower as I think she knew Mike and I were leaving and she’d have to be alone with Laurence. So she came with us to the tube, sick still highly visible in her hair.

What a lovely weekend. I feel so enriched, so wholesome and so soulful. Did I remember to tally my drinks the second night either? Thank goodness, no. I don’t want to know. I don’t even like drinking anymore. Mike and I had a long discussion about how bored of it we are. I want to wake up without a headache, my skin having not aged ten years over night, the smell of kebab not still permeating the room. I want to rise, do something fun that I’ll remember with my day, and if I do spend money I want it to be on something I can still hold the next day, not something that makes me wake up with nothing to show for myself but a new set of bruises.

So I’m giving it all up and eloping. Aren’t we, Gareth?
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Monday, May 26, 2008

A hooligan’s game…

Watched by gentlemen. And now, me and Hannah.

Mr Hannah, aka Patrick Doyle, invited us to the live final of the Heineken Cup Final between Munster (Muuuunstar!) and Toolouse. I was pretty excited about charming Patrick with my opening line of ‘so Patrick, who do you think is going Toolouse?’ but I think I built it up in my head too much as it took two bottles of wine and half of the game (by which time they were, in fact, losing) for me to find the courage.

The last time I sat in a stadium this big and witnessed a spectacle this spectacular was the opening ceremony of the Olympics, Sydney 2000. Actually, I did see Pink Floyd play at Earl’s Court last year, but my brother had force fed me a very large and toxic marijuana cigarette beforehand so all I remember is being slightly sleepy and wondering why there were so many bright lights on the dark side of the moon. Couldn’t someone turn them down a bit so I could have a snooze?

But this, like the Olympics, was amazing. The atmosphere was warm and contagious. I can count the things I know about rugby on one hand but it didn’t matter. The important thing was how much fun Hannah and I had from start to finish.

Our train to Cardiff was packed and we ended up sitting with some OAP rugby fans who kindly told us where the best places were to go shopping. They all had lovely little Irish accents and to be sure, I wanted one too. Hannah thought the one I sat next to was a bit of a dish but he reminded me of that pregnant guy in America.

Settling down to watch the game, I watched as a medic ran on to massage a player’s upper thigh. With my eye sight, from my seat, it looked a bit like he was…you know… and so I said to Hannah. It seems to be my curse that I accidentally swear in front of my friend’s fathers, when all I really want to do is impress them.

‘What?’ asked Patrick after I’d pointed out the medic giving the player a hand job.


But lo! This father wasn’t schooled at the same stuffy Muslim school as my Switzerland friend’s, so when Hannah repeated my observation, he laughed whole heartedly and slapped his thigh. Phew. Still room to charm him. Still room for my Tooloose pun.

As our journey to Cardiff was so uneventful I thought I’d be able to write a blog where I don’t have to rant about the downfalls of our public transport system.

But then we tried to get home. Maybe, after a Cup Final, they hadn’t expected 40,000 people to try and get on one three-carriaged train. Maybe they're all just idiots. We stood outside the station for about 7 hours and when we were finally let on a train, it took us to the wrong station.

From there, we had to get a bus, as did 40,000 other people. But I managed to squeeze on to one bus and I saw Hannah being eclipsed by burlier, bigger people left behind.

I was one of the last people to board and I turned back to grab her from the sea of hands below. So did my nemesis, some pointless and annoying human being who decided she wanted to be the last to board too.

‘We’ve only got room for one more!’ shouted the driver. I felt like I was on the last safety boat for the Titanic. All those left behind will drown in a sea of doom! Only room for one more!

‘Let my girlfriend on! I’m not going without Hannah!’ I screamed.

‘Let my boyfriend on!’ shouted boring face. Only one of us can win a seat for our other half. She is bigger than me and the driver looks like he’s going to have a small heart attack.

I was just about to give up and step off the bus when I heard chanting coming from inside the bus.

No, not ‘We love Munster’ but ‘WE WANT HANNAH!’ over and over again. The bus wanted Hannah! In slow motion, the other girl was ousted from the steps as I leant forward and grabbed Hannah from the sea of desperates who’d have to wait for the next bus, to the whoops, roars and cheers of a bus full of people who’d decided Hannah was the Chosen One.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Don't get spooked

Having said a tearful goodbye to Garton, I arrived at Gareth's in tears. He took me under his wing and suggested a weekend in the country might be just what I needed. Our next Big Adventure. For Gazza and I are making quite a thing of going on adventures. Conveniently, this is also part of my big plan for moving into a new chapter. Less getting drunk with Cesca, more rambling, escaping, discovering and happy snapping with Gareth. Less getting drunk with Cesca, more reading. Less getting drunk with Cesca, more yoga. You get the idea, Kim MK 2008 is bloody wholesome.

So, I better find my passport, I'm off to Wales! Whoop whoop! Meeting some of Gareth's family as well. We took a tent so we could spend one night at one with nature and one night with Gareth's grandparents.

First night was lovely, I ate my body weight in sunflower oil, and it was great. I eat so many salads it was lovely to live by my Dad's rule 'don't reject anything given to you when you are a guest' - OK! Brilliant, I can eat all this fried food and it's just me being polite. It was heaven.

Avril, Gareth's nan, made me instantly at ease with her warm smile, soft Welsh accent and mammoth albums of Gareth before he got blessed with good looks. One picture in particular was worth considering thievery for - because the world of facebook needs to see it.

Next day we camped beside a lake, beneath the trees (fluttering and dancing in the breeze...). It was so beautiful, serene and perfect. Not another camper in sight. To work up an appetite, we decided to walk the perimeter of the lake.

Pretty sure, as we battled bog after bog, that it was Gareth's idea. After each bog had been crossed it was a toss up whether it was worse to carry on or go back, knowing how many were behind us and hoping there were none ahead.

What more could I have asked for to take my mind off losing my wing man, my Cesca, than the sight of my boyfriend chasing after and trying unsuccessfully to grab hold of a sheep's horns? It brought a little tear of happiness to my eyes.

Back at the tent I collected firewood in my bare feet while Gareth...I'm not entirely sure what he was doing. His hair? (I later found out he'd gone to clean his muddy shoes and had fallen in some brambles). As I collected the firewood I was taken back to my times with Dad, collecting and chopping firewood on the Isle of Wight, him teaching me the best way to use an axe, a spanner, a jack... and I missed him. I always miss him when I'm doing something he'd be proud of. I don't miss him when I'm in the pub because I know he hates that side of my life. But when I'm flexing my guns picking up massive logs, I know Dad would be proud.

Everything was going swimmingly - long walk, bbq, sunset, roaring fire.

Then, from nowhere, a man clad only in black appeared from nowhere, huge binoculars around his neck.

Just the two of you? he asked nervously as I jumped out of my skin.

Gareth kindly took it upon himself to tell the potential rapist that yes, it was just the two of us, and we had no reception on our mobiles and in case he needed to know how long he had to torture us before anyone noticed we were missing, we weren't getting picked up until the morning.

You can't have a fire here, he said. Ok, we'll put out the only sign from afar that we're here, then you can rape us in the dead of night. Yes? Yes, that's fine, you can stay, he says, walking away.

Don't get spooked, he says as he turns back. Lots of weirdos out tonight.

With our fire extinguished and my imagination running wild, we retreated into the tent.

'Funny how he didn't have a torch, Gareth points out. And he wanted to know if we were alone. And we told him we were. And that we had no reception. Brilliant!

Every rustle made me jump as every horror movie I'd ever watched amalgamated into one, fine, gruesome killing of me.

We tried to go to sleep but the tea towel I'd brought instead of a duvet and the napkin I'd brought instead of a mattress meant it was the most freezing and uncomfortable night I'd ever endured. Every time Gareth moved and I lost the warmth of the spoon, my temperature dropped a further five degrees and at times I wondered if we'd make it through.

So you can imagine my delight at waking up alive.

I came home smiling.

Yes, an era came to an end on Saturday. But the new one is going to be just as fun, as I become one of those adults who wakes up without a hangover on Saturdays. Ok, not every Saturday. But I would like to regularly wake up without a hangover. That's my new aim.

That and to get guns like Madonna.
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End of an era

Walking arm in arm with Cesca would usually guarantee some kind of wolf whistle or respectful request for us to 'get our kit off' from the gentlemen who frequent the outside of the Raymond pub.

But this time they refrained, perhaps because our skirts weren't short enough or we weren't showing our multi-tasking skills by balancing a baby on one hip while shooting up in the other arm. Or maybe it was because we were both in tears.

We were off to the park for our final goodbye. I adore Cesca. Since The Big Weekend in 2006, our friendship has grown into a spectacular bond that I didn't know could have existed. We laughed, we cried (well, I mostly cried) we drank and we occasionally stayed sober. We swapped clothes, we stormed into pubs, we gesticulated, we touched hearts.

Then one day 8 months ago Cesca put an ad on facebook. 'Cesca and Mikey need a housemate or two.' They got two responses. Mine, reading simply 'shotgun' and one from a then unknown to me but now only describable as bloody brilliant, Cordelia.

I'm sure if they had got 400 responses they still would have chosen us, (well that's what they tell us) but either way, we won and we moved in.

The fun began. The first few months were a heady cocktail of laughter, boozy dinners, late night discussions, massive amounts of cheese consumption, games and laughter. Oh and once or twice, we watched TV. But Mike had to draw us a diagram so we could turn it on when he wasn't there. I'm sure it helped him feel like the Man of the House, that and the fact he lived with three girls.

But we never talked about periods. (ok, once, but Mike got such a moan on we never dared again) We talked about wine and beer, pies and lives, careers and fears. Every night was a guaranteed funfest and I'll never forget it.

People warned me not to live with my friends. 'It'll ruin it,' they said. Er, no, in your face, it's made us closer and I wouldn't swap it for the world. The only thing I regret is that I didn't mop enough. I'm sorry Cesca, I should have mopped more, to show my respect for the house, but somehow the mop and I didn't get on so well. However I definitely beat Cords in the mopping department so 1-0 Kim.

I've never had a best mate like Cesca before. Mike, Lazza, brilliant. Even people from the past - Rory, Iszy, Swanny... amazing people though they were, they served to further confirm my theory that boys are more fun. (except Iszy, she's a fun girl) Boys have better banter, better wit, are not offended by anything and drink without worrying about calories.

Then along came Cesca and showed me a girl who can drink and swear any man under the table.

As she prepared to leave the country, I realised it was to be the end of a very fun era. We can tell ourselves it'll be back, but it won't. By the time Cesca gets back, if indeed she choses to come back, I will hopefully be writing a column in a hot country. By the time we're all back in the same country, we'll have pesky little children selfishly expecting us to change their dirty nappies instead of drink wine.

So here's to the era, Cesca, it's been a riot and I'll never forget a minute of it (that I haven't already).

But as my sister-in-law pointed out, the end of an era is followed by the start of a new one. And I've already got a list as long as my arm to make sure the next era is every bit as good, although importantly very different, from the last...
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Friday, April 25, 2008


It seems like all I do is rant about public transport but it’s only because I hate it more than celery and this is confirmed by every time I’m forced to use it something absolutely ridiculous and absurd happens to me, further cementing my hatred for the system and making me realise that maybe celery isn’t so bad after all.

Mike even put it in a risotto the other day and I didn’t notice.

First of all I’m annoyed I even have to take this journey. Bristol to Middlesbrough and back in 13 hours. The woman I’m going to interview has a heartbreaking story and I’m looking forward to delving, but it was raining as I walked to the station so my shoes and socks are soaked and my jeans are drenched from the hem to the knee.

How did I end up in England? I’m Dutch Polynesian! Which ancestor do I have to thank for deciding it was too hot and beautiful out there and grey, rainy England was a far better place for our kind?

On train, chai, Empire magazine, happy. Along comes the ticket inspector to ruin my day. I hand over my ticket and he asks for my Young Person Railcard.

Then it hits me. I booked the ticket days ago over the phone and not once since then has my tiny little memory thought it worth nudging me so I actually put the validation into my bag.

Er…it’s at home, I stammer.

So, Matt, Duty Manager, king of the gays, proceeds to tell me I can either pay £100 fine or get off at the next station and talk to the police. (the Transport Police. They aren’t real are they?)

Well, can’t you just take my details and I’ll bring it to the station tonight?

No, that’s against the rules. THE GODDAM RULES! They are the bane of my life.

I’m clearly not some 17 year old scaly trying to get one over on the system. Please, I beg him, I can’t get off at the next stop, I just can’t. But I can’t pay £100 either.

Tell that to the police at the next station, he says sharply.

Thanks Matt.

This is a work trip and I don’t want to be £100 out of pocket. It takes me two days to earn that.

‘Have a think about it and I’ll be back in a minute,’ he says, returning my ticket. I don’t know why he made me cry but he did. I’m annoyed with myself for forgetting it, for possibly costing myself £100 for a trip I didn’t even want to take. I hate my stupid memory, it lets me down so often.

I call my boyfriend. He’ll have an answer. Back when Dad lived in England, I’d call him expecting him to have the answer to my most trivial of problems. Dad, the toaster isn’t working. Dad, the lights don’t work. Dad, my car won’t start. Then Dad would calmy (but no doubt excitedly) talk me through the mechanics of a toaster, a fuse or an engine. We both loved it.

Now Daddy’s in far off distant lands, Gareth has taken his mantle so he better bloody have an answer or he’s dumped.

‘Just tell him it’s a genuine mistake and ask to pay the full fare instead of the fine. Then slip it through expenses.’

Magic! He’s a keeper.

Matt (said through gritted teeth because he’s on my hit list) returns half an hour later and takes the ticket of the new man sitting next to me. He doesn’t even look me in the eye and disappears.

Holy moly! I LOVE MATT! Off the hit list, onto the Christmas card list.

But then we get to Birmingham and a new manager boards.

‘Please have your tickets and railcards ready for inspection,’ comes the female voice.

Oh god, a woman. I’ll never win her over with my winning charm and bashful eyes. In she comes… lo! Her name tag reads ‘Kim – Manager’ She’s a Kim too!

Can I see your railcard? She asks. Er..no. Where is it? At home, I reply sheepishly.

I begin to explain myself, but Kim holds up a hand of protest. She has sensed my name is also Kim and, like a true trooper, butts in.

‘I’ll let you off,’ she smiles. Go Team Kim! She had no way of knowing my name, but us Kims, we know each other. I love her.

I know it’s all going to go tits up later and I’ll be charged full whack by some jobsworth, probably called Neil (I’m got no kinship with Neils) but for now I’m riding the wave of comradeship.


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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"I've been trying to die all day"

My incredibly old grandma has just been taken into hospital after possibly having a stroke, or a fall, she’s not quite sure. As her short term memory is now serving about as well as a goldfish, she has no idea why she’s in hospital or how she got there. She does remember a heavy handed attendant being too forceful with her and she brought that up about 15 times during our hour visit.

I’m sure he was just doing his job, I assure her. You can’t be too heavy handed with a 94 year old, surely, for fear of snapping her. Grandma doesn't hear my assurance, but there's no doubt the nurses down the hall hear every word of her complaint. Every time.

I read her medical notes. ‘Patient refused all assistance. Becoming very agitated.’

To them, she’s just another old person. To me, she’s my amazing grandmother who flew spitfires in the war and can recite about 43,000 different poems, limericks and proverbs. I want to shake the nurses and say HEY! That's Benedetta Willis you know! You ought to bow!

But as I sit on her bedside and survey the ward, I see dozens of old people, who I’m sure all have their own story to tell, their own wars lived through, their own battles battled. But to me, they are just more old people. I look at them in pity, hoping I never get that old. And I realise Grandma, Grand as she is, is just another old person. But as long as each old person is more than just another old person to someone, then that's all that really matters.

None of them are in bed, obviously not allowed at 2pm, so they sit besides their beds, wrinkly and old, awaiting their next visitor or meal. It’s a strange existence and makes me shudder. Not until we reach Grandma’s bed do I feel any kind of emotion other than fear. Then I see Grandma and I feel love and worry and I rush to her side.

As soon as she sees me, she holds out her old, wrinkly, soft hands to meet mine.

‘Darling,’ she says, ‘I keep trying to get them to kill me but they won’t.’

She’s had enough. She doesn’t know why she’s still alive, why she’s survived her husband, one of her sons and many of her friends. She doesn’t want to know, she just wants it to be over.

I love her dearly and selfishly want her to be around forever to tell me I need to find a good man and make sure I keep my kidney's warm. I want her to be around forever because she hasn't finished telling me about the man she would have married, had he not become a Japanese prisoner of war. I want her to be around forever because, at 94, she still has her wits about her and still knows when to whip put a shot of sarcasm. I want her to be around forever because I love her.

But I also understand her want to die. It's not that she doesn't love her loved ones. It's that the quality of life for a 94 year old must be rubbish. And this conjures up all my thoughts on euthanasia which I'm not going to go into now because my dinner is nearly ready and I can't be bothered. Suffice to say - I'm for it. If I want to die, I should be able to.

Her hearing is terrible and it makes her seem mad. I’m sure the nurses must think so. But she isn’t. She’s quite sane. She's just refusing to admit she can’t hear and so says something, anything, in return of your sentence, hoping it’ll fit into conversation, but it never does.

Are you ok Grandma? Do you remember what happened?

No, I haven’t had any pudding, comes the reply.

If I die, she says, don’t worry about me because I’ll be happy. Here, I can’t stop crying.

Grandma lives alone in the Isle of Wight, far from any of her loved ones, and the thought of her sitting alone, crying, asking to be taken from this life, sends tears down my cheeks in streams. It makes me want to give up my life and go and play scrabble with her until her dying day.

‘You don’t know what’s really going on in the world until you come to a place like this,’ Grandma says wisely. Hide all the old people in wards like this, we do, so we can think they don’t exist. But they do. They exist because we are desperate to keep everyone alive for as long as possible. Everyone in this ward is well past their sell by date, some look like they haven’t had a visitor since they arrived, and all over the country there are wards specifically for the old. The heroes of the second world war, slumped in wards, old, decrepit, dribbling and deaf.

Her arms shake as she reads the notes we’ve written her. We try the mammoth task of explaining power of attorney to her and that she understands. She might be about to die and we need to prepare ourselves. ‘Yes, your father should take control,’ she says, handing the paper back as she shakes like a leaf. I can see her desperately trying to tell her body to give up.

But she’s a tough old boot. She’s been saying she wants to die since before her 90th birthday. She’s a bit of an eeyore, you see. ‘Your father doesn’t even know I’m in here,’ she whimpers. Er, yes he does, Grandma, that’s how we know you're here. You spoke to him yesterday? Oh, did I? Well, that’s something, I suppose.

Her son, my Dad, Bryan, is by far her best child. He does everything for her and although he moved to Malaysia 5 years ago, always returns to her little bungalow to fix things and calls her all the time. He lived on the isle of wight for years but realised she wasn’t on her way out and he had to live his life for himself. But it made me realise what families of Alzheimer's go through. To think how worried he must be, thousands of miles away, and calling her constantly, and then she just mutters that he doesn’t remember her. Five minutes after we’d gone, she had probably forgotten that we’d been. So I guess we go to satisfy our own guilt. Guilt at only spending an hour with her as it was, and not an entire weekend. My family assure me she gets tired when we stay any longer but I can’t help feeling our fleeting visits aren’t enough. In other cultures, aren’t the old revered? Respected? They’d never chuck them all in a ward to be forgotten and hidden. The family looks after the old, just as they looked after you.

Marie Ann, my beloved other mother, came with us. Grandma asked her how her father was and Marie Ann had to break the news that he died a month ago.

‘I’ve been trying to die all day,’ Grandma retorts. I start getting worried that Pip must be getting freaked out by it all as she’s being very quiet. Grandma! I shout, You can’t say that! No, she replies, you can’t just try and die can you?

No, Pip comes in defiantly, because we love you too much.

It falls on deaf ears, literally, but I heard her, the little darling. Are you ok Pipsy? I say as we hug. I know hospitals are horrible. I’m starting to get worried she’ll have a fit and we’ll have to pull up another NHS trolley. No they’re not, they’re alright Kim. You’ll be alright, she says as she pulls my jumper down to protect my kidneys, as she always does.

I think I’m worrying about everyone too much. Grandma is happily tucking into the biscuits Tammi bought her, Pip is quietly sapping up all the information being spoken around her and no where near having a fit. Everything seems hunky dory.

So off we trot back to civilisation. Job done. Grandma attended to, left in the ward with all the other oldies. Each with their own story no one cares about any more. Each dying slowly.

Makes my special K diet all seem a bit frivolous and superfluous now. Although, let’s end this one on a light note, I’m bloody loving the new slim kim. Even my mum said I was looking skinny. Whoop whoop! It’s all about getting your mother to worry about your new gaunt physique. I’m going to try and get down to nine stone, just to see if I can, and then I’ll stop being the neurotic diet freak I’ve become over the last 2 weeks and return to normal. Although not quite return, as I would like to stay skinny forever. I haven’t been very good at the diet. The lack of proper food during the day means you are meant to have lots of vegetables in the evening and last week I ate: burger and chips, meatballs and spagetti and a pie. But I must be doing something (unhealthily) right.

This week I’m not going to drink until Friday, and I’m going to eat loads of vegetables. There…even talking about Special K has quite taken my mind of old age and death and misery. I think I can go to bed now and be assured I won’t dream I’m dying

(maybe of starvation).

** footnote 1 - The next day Marie Ann returned and asked Grandma who her biscuits were from. I don't know, she said, sounding surprised. They just appeared! Worth the visit then.

** footnote 2 - So much for not drinking till Friday. Got bloody drunk last night and had dinner with some lesbians who had their hands down each other's pants all night. It didn't annoy me because they were lesbians, it annoyed me full stop. Get a room lezzers! I hate overtly public displays of affection. I'm trying to have a conversation with lezzer one and lezzer two is groping her tits. Made me so annoyed I've decided never to become a lesbian.
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