Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Red Shoes

"They dance her out into the street, 
they dance her over the mountains and valleys"

For almost 4 years, I have worn red shoes. Red, everyday (bar one; mummy wouldn't let me be her bridesmaid in red shoes). Red flats, red heels, brogues, sneakers, boots, courts and (courtesy of a knitter friend) red slippers.

I suffer from bouts of depression. That makes it sound very simple, but it is not. My last fairly severe patch was about 4 and a half years ago. I stopped living. 

I got up, put on baggy jeans and whichever tee-shirt was cleanest, pulled my hair back with a scrunchie, went to uni, came home, and went to bed. I existed on a diet of cigarettes, Doritos and bad American reality TV, becasue I couldn't be arsed to shop or cook or change the channel. I graduated. I didn't get a job. I got a really shit job. I got a boyfriend who would rather be needed than wanted. I went to work, I came home, I smoked and I slept.
One day, a girl at work gave me a pair of red ballet pumps - she'd picked up the wrong size, and so, instead of taking them back to Primark, thought I might like them. I barely looked at them.

I came home from work, I slept, I went to work, I stood and nodded while people talked in my direction. I existed, just. I wore a hole in the sole of the pair of plimsolls I'd had on everyday for months. I spent the day with sodden feet, dirty London rainwater soaking my socks. The next day I put on the red ballet pumps.
I walked to work, looking down at the floor, but occasionally catching glimpses of red between the grey-ed out denim bottoms of my frayed jeans and the damp grey pavement. She was right, the girl at work, they were a nice colour. 
In the break room, alone, I sat in the green swivel chair, not doing anything - too bored to do anything, to boring to sit outside with the others.
Suddenly, I was doing something - I was sticking my legs straight out in front of me and spinning on the chair. Spinning, looking at my red shoes wizzing around. Spinning and laughing, laughing out loud, the first real laugh I had laughed in months, in my whole life maybe. Then crying. Face in my hands, red shoes dangling on the end of little girl legs not long enough to reach the floor, sobbing. 

I went to the bathroom and mopped myself up. 
But I remembered that I had laughed, and I suspected that I may have smiled without realising it, at those occasional glimpses of colour on grey paving slabs. I wore the red shoes again the next day. 

They were not a miracle cure, and did not herald an instantaneous turn around. But since that day my life has taken many steps, tiny, not so tiny, and occasionally backwards, towards knowing how to make myself be happy, how to make myself laugh and how to smile for no reason. All of those steps have been taken in red shoes. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Spectrums are Rainbows Too

Colin the Triceratops oversees my haul of NSS & RABCK gifts
Getting on the tube - the Northern Line, no less - during rush hour, with a suitcase, made me feel like a social pariah. Or a tourist. Uck. But needs must, and 3 episodes of Gilmore Girls (on train) 2 of the Forsyte Saga (on ferry. Am also reading books. Style envy central) and I'd got a birthday present made as well as arriving in Dublin. Hurrah all round.

First order of the day, of course, was ensuring that I was in no way involved in the ice breaker event. So I strategically positioned myself and my Non-BCer dinner companion (controversial. I am nothing if not a rebel) so that I wasn't obvious enough to be dragged in, but was obvious enough that less wiley people could spot me and, now knowing that escape was possible, come to say hello. People started drifting over (some of them muttering ominously about anagrams), and the real ice breaker (bitching about the planned ice breaker) got under way...
First up was everyone's favourite non-jazzing Belgian (he does like Avril Lavigne though, which is immeasurably worse), shortly followed by Bruce. Yes, the Bruce. Awed as I initially was, he made the cardinal sin of, having asked what I 'do' and listened to my reply, talking about the film, so has gone down in my book as being on a yellow card, coach trippers.
I was further honoured to not only meet, but actually be sort out and approached by Ardik. Both being a bit socially inept, we cracked a gag about social inept awkward silences to try to break the awkward silence, but it didn't really work and he spent the rest of the weekend avoiding me. Oh well. He did have lovely hair though, neatly sidestepping the usually repulsive 'IT guy with a ponytail' look by incorporating a sort of twist thing that rendered the whole thing very enjoyable as he walked away. 
Being sat with the Belgian (who, in a blatant and completely acceptable attempt to bribe me into giving his monopoly team bonus points, had brought me Biscuit Spread), lots of the German contingency came to join us, and talked German too fast for me to follow - which always makes me paranoid that they are talking about me*. It turned out that the paranoia was preferable to what came next - guilt. Guilt that I'm not a nice enough person to be consistently nice to people; they tried to rope me, as apparently a person of some standing in the BC world(?!?), into joining the volunteer support staff team. I think I'd enjoy it, but I can't be relied upon not to get grumpy with the obvious questions and answer with 'Are you actually retarded, or just really good at doing impressions?' becasue I've got PMT that day...

And so Friday evening progressed, and I was actually very sensible, didn't drink a lot and went to bed at a reasonable hour - I wasn't even the last man standing in the bar (but since it was the Irish, and on their own home turf, I let them take it).
So far proceedings had been spectrum free.... It couldn't last.

Saturday morning arose, and, given the completely responsible level of alcohol consumption the prior night, so did I. I was downstairs in time for breakfast and everything! (Mind you, I only really went as an excuse to show off my beautiful vintage dressing gown, since I never usually get a chance to air it in public and it makes me feel like a one of Bertie Wooster's fiancées). It was noon on convention day two before I took my first trip around the spectrum...
I was in the pool, which means I was pretty vulnerable becasue I had no excuse not to talk, plus I was wearing a latex hat. No weird situation is gonna be helped by bright yellow latex headwear. Then he got in. Mr Butterfluff man. Who, despite the pool only being 16 by 4 meters, tried to do Butterfly. Which would have been bad enough, but he clearly didn't actually know how Butterfly is supposed to progress, and instead just extended both arms sideways while flapping his hands about, and doing mermaid leg kicks. admittedly, hilarious, but rather prevented me from being about to swim without getting smacked in the face by a stray stroke.
So I ran away.

The afternoon consisted of our little band of rebels sitting at the back of the room working on our various craft projects**, being given teacher-ish looks when we occasionally burst into laughter while whispering to each other. So, for anyone who missed it becasue of our disturbances, the official talks in summery:
 - Bruce promised the same developments as when he spoke at Nottingham. They won't happen this time either. Still no word on the European Supply Store, even though it is now a year since they closed the UK one.
- The people organising Gothenburg 2013 like to show photos on OHPs. make of that what you will.
- Rachel didn't win the raffle, she missed out by a syllable. Gill did, woop woop. Fortunately for Rudi, I didn't win either, despite his entering me multiple times. The git.

Once the planned games and activities were done, our table of carefully selected normal people (Normal -ish, anyway. Despite the fondness for wool, buttons and embroidery hoops) started attracting attention from the oddballs and photographers alike, and it became obvious that our oasis was unsustainable. So we went to change for dinner.
Through a combination of carefully selecting which restaurant party to join, plus some political manoeuvring whilst taking seats, we manage to avoid  being too near to any of the more vocal spectrum folk (though loud joke lady from Nottingham was still too nearby for my taste. By which I mean she was in the same city). We discussed the weird German habit of passing books around for everyone to sign, did some hypothetical matchmaking, and drank a couple of bottles of wine....
Back at the hotel I had more than a couple of rum n cokes (Sea Dog, nice and dark).
Someone brought a couple of bottles of fizz (celebrating the finding of a previously lost wallet).
You can put the rest of the evening together for yourself

I felt somewhat rough this morning, and ducked out of the release walk. To be entirely honest, I doubt I'd have joined in anyway since it left at an ungodly hour (those are the ones with an AM after them). I'm fairly certain that it's only down to Janice & the BMI staff that I made it home in one piece.

Warning; it's about to get serious. And potentially sentimental:
Final thought for the day...
Please know that when I laugh at the spectrum folk, I do it in the full knowledge that I am one of them (I'm sure more than one person has looked at my ridiculous dresses and even more ridiculous shoes and immediately written me off). If I were a better person, I'd have the patience to ignore the spectrum and find the special, but I'm not a better person, I am a me. 
The fact is, the bookcrossing community is populated by incredible people; generous of time, spirit and energy (not to mention presents) with no expectation of return. They are, every last one of them, wonderful.
Especially the ones that give me dinosaur colouring in books :)

*Me, Self obsessesd?
Ich könnte keine GoG sein, ohne eine Egomanin zu sein...

** check out Rachel's blog, tis covered with awesomesauce and sparkley sprinkles 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


I have a confession. This may shock those of a more delicate disposition, so please look away now if you are feeling a bit sensitive:

I sometimes drink coffee.

It all started when I realised just how few of the modern high-street coffee shop type places can make a decent cup of tea*. So, I figured I may as well give coffee a whirl, and it was a downward spiral from there.
I have now come full circle, and can no longer bear to drink the sludge they serve in coffee shops.

Maybe I'm rationalising away my guilt, but I honestly don't think that tea minds; the two things fill different needs in my life. Tea is a necessity - a best friend; dependable and everyday, a love that can be thoughtless as well as vital. Coffee is an indulgence - a lover; dark, solitary, demanding dedicated time and self-restraint.
Coffee suits the sort of spring morning where the light is weak but the kitchen floor is not cold. I enjoy the time needed to prepare - grinding the beans is like foreplay, releasing the scent - there is something coldly aesthetic about cleaning and assembling the steel parts of the pot - and pouring black treacle into a short white cup, sullying it; defiling, dirty and delicious.  
Carrying it, like a procession of one, back to bed.
It suits a more solitary, darker mood - it goes better with cynicism. It goes better with Vonnegut, and with 30's Berlin, and with acerbic feminism.
It changes the hour after Boy leaves for work from something faintly lonely as I am reluctantly dragged into the day, into a luxurious hour of isolation, a well of all-to-myself selfishness before my attention is gathered by more necessary things.

Never, ever offer me a cup of Nescafe.

*Do not get me started. It should be so simple - yet what most of them serve could barely be classed as milky water. I blame the expensive tea-bags they insist on using; the leaves are cut large to avoid tannins, but they need several minutes to brew in a pot with piping hot water, they cannot be served into a cardboard cup with milk added immediately; you just won't get any strenght. In those circumstances you need good old PG Tips; small cut leaves for a quick brew in on the go situations. 

NB. As you can tell, this Mug rug n hug set do not express my feelings about coffee - They were for Mother's Day (hello mum!) and are here merely as an excuse to mention mes amours du jour (the other one being my new rivet press. A lot of crafting in my immediate future will suddenly require rivets)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Go on, all the cool kids are doing it...

I found a use for my craft crack.... and now I can start pushing it onto non-crafters in the form mini-quilts. Once the addicts are acclimatised to the mini-quilts, start riveting the edges and lacing them to loose leaf cartridge paper to make bookcovers. The next step is to fill said book with photos of lovely friends and happy times, thus really tugging on emotional ties, increasing the peer pressure and ensuring that they'll keep coming back for more. From there my evil homemade empire is set to take over the world.... *
My grasp of street lingo is getting better, I've been listening to the Coffee Break Brixtonian podcasts to help me pick up the accent, and when all else fails, there's always the talk like a pimp translator (definitely not powered by google)

Darling Dodos and Suspicious Smells

A quick shout out to awesome bookcrosser Wyando, who made this Dodo following my tutorial to use in his team's recent Bookcrossing Monopoly release. The bird and the book are both most excellent, and I shall let him explain in his own words;

The Story of Thursday Last (which used to be Thursday Next)
Team Wolf landed Lost on the Monopoly-Board 2012 for our first turn. So what do we do to pass the time? Get a Book. A Good Book. And before we knew it we were Lost in a Good Book. By accident, you think?

While being Lost in a Good Book, we watch the Adrian Lush Show on Network Toad. Team Wolf was sneaking around being very, very careful not to appear on the pages which were being read. And so, dodging about in the background we discovered a secret - (we don't know if SpecOps 27 already know about this) it seems that Adrian Lush, a fictional character, built an Empire in the real world under the name of "Lush Retail Ltd", as a cover operation to smuggle Welsh Cheese! All those Lush Shops have a very strong smell to cover up the smell of the Mynachlog-ddu Old Contemptible being traded from the back door...

Of course we can't tell anybody without giving ourselves away to the book readers. Hence we decided to release this book near a Lush Shop in Cologne, with some (very legal, all taxes paid) BabyBel to try to clue in the Cheese Enforcement Agency.
The release is scheduled for Thursday next, wish us luck....

P.S. Sorry about Vikwick, but you know how Dodos are, they always will be in the focus... (she is an early version 1.2)