Tag Archives: cats

And the Silk Inside a Chestnut Shell

Ah, I am taking a deep breath of the autumn air because it is my favourite time of the year and I want to savour every part of it. There are many things to enjoy about autumn, the toffee browns and burnt oranges of the foliage, squirrels mucking about in the trees and the triumphant return of the pear.

A woodland scene in autumn. Lovely stuff.

A woodland scene in autumn. Lovely stuff.

But autumn also marks the beginning of a period of social chaos, where conventional behaviour is disrupted and we have to deal with Strange Things for a while. It starts with Halloween, where children I have never met before knock on the door and request food. I prepare for this in advance and by purchasing sweets to appease them on Halloween night. When I answer the door they greet me with the traditional expression, Trick or Treat. They do not pose this as a question, simply a statement, and we both understand that I will offer them sweets and they will leave me alone. Except before this there is an agonising moment in which I feel like I should say a thing like, Ooh aren’t you scary! or Are you a vampire? The thing is I am not a person who is able to say such things without sounding Weird and Insincere. Instead I say, …………Here you go. And I try to pull my lips up so as to smile in a friendly way but I can feel that my eyes are not reflecting the same emotion as my mouth is.

This exchange is not even half as bad as what happens in December. In December a knock on the door makes my heart freeze up. For in December children knock the door to sing at me until I give them Something to make them go away. The problem with this is twofold:

  1. I do not know what is the correct thing to give them. I often panic and get some twenty-pees from my purse. But it doesn’t seem fair to give them my money because I do not want them there in the first place. Also, to be honest I think their singing is quite poor. If I have to give them something then why not food? It was good enough for them on Halloween.
  2. What is the appropriate amount of time to face them while they sing and pretend to enjoy it? I am not even sure if it is intended for me to enjoy in the first place. Seeming to enjoy it might get me labelled as some kind of neighbourhood creep. As I stand there facing these strange children, accidentally making eye contact, I get a crawling anxiety in my bones, as if I were the one knocking on people’s doors and singing at them like some kind of madwoman. Sometimes I forego the watching part. Seeing their shape through the moulded glass I preemptively grab my purse, open the door and do a smile, immediately look back down and root through my purse avoiding any further eye contact, then give them a token amount and say goodbye.
Autumn themed bedding.

Autumn themed bedding.

During November there is bonfire night for the whole month. During this time the neighbours like to set off small explosions and set fire to things in the garden. The smells are very nice but the noises are too often and too loud. If they planned it properly only one person would need to do the explosions and everyone else could watch safely from their own homes as all the action happens in the sky which we can all see by tilting our heads back thirty degrees.

Unfortunately the fun the part for most people seems to be the lighting of explosives which is something I cannot understand as school assemblies demonstrated that this is how people get their hands exploded off. Maybe they haven’t watched the same public safety videos as we did because I am sure they wouldn’t like it as much if they had.

Henry's colouring is on point this time of year.

Henry’s colouring is on point this time of year.

Photographs of aspirational bonfire parties show punch bowls full of hot cider and barbecue food like hot dogs but the weather is so cold this seems to be a trick they are playing on us to make us look silly. No, when it is dark it is best to go back inside and enjoy the great variety of high quality television programs that premiere in the autumn. It really is the best time of year and I think that is why everybody starts to act a little bit mad, because they are so happy and excited and it is okay to be a bit strange once in a while. I am happy and excited too and I won’t let it get me down when I am nervous sometimes because it is all in good fun and I will make my mouth go into a smile to let the world know I am Okay.


Hi-Ho

Lovely canteen in the workplace

Lovely canteen in the workplace

You can stop your incessant emails and comments, a new blog has arrived. It isn’t that I have forgotten about this but rather because I have recently re-entered the workforce and have been very busy.

Sometimes I stop and I think, This is absurd. I think this because of times like five-thirty a.m on a Saturday, which seems like such an unfair and unnatural time to be active. Also, moments where I catch my eye in the reflection of the computer screen and stop to consider for a while that I am in a place I do not want to be, where I can’t read a book or have something to eat until I’m told I am allowed.

There are good bits, like when I get paid and I can buy things. I’ve bought a lot of great things and also some great stuff so far and I look forward to buying more.

But it is still weird. In work, I had to have an unflattering photograph taken and now I have to wear it around my neck all day when I am there. If I was to do this outside of work I would be labelled eccentric or even a narcissist, but in work it is just normal.

This isn’t one of those jobs where you have to wear smart lady trousers with no pockets. Here you can wear whatever you want so long as it is appropriate. If you’re confused about what is appropriate and what is not I have an anecdote which will serve to illustrate the difference. So here is the anecdote then. (Please skip ahead if you feel confident with appropriate casual work attire.)

A woman who works with my mother once arrived at the office wearing a t-shirt that said, simply, DYKE, in rhinestone lettering. Though this sounds like a very nice t-shirt and shows she is comfortable with who she is (right on, sister!), it is actually inappropriate. It is not the rhinestones that are inappropriate – they may seem more suited to evening wear but it is actually acceptable to wear them on a casual t-shirt in the daytime – but the word DYKE. There are many other words you can have on your t-shirt if you want to make a statement, perhaps test these on friends and family if you are unsure.

Because of the loose guidelines I start every morning wondering if I am dressed too casually. See, it is important to me to feel as though I am wearing pyjamas, as this reminds me of being at home and watching TV. That is where I am happiest.

I miss this at work. I sit back and think of my cats, lying in rays of light on the carpet, half asleep. I miss them so much. After work I buy them gold tins of cat food with fancy names, Ocean Fish in a White Sauce with Spinach, because I love them and I can afford to now. At home I serve it to them like a waiter, saying the full title of the dish before placing it down. They do not leave a tip.

After a long period of unemployment, it is normal to become accustomed to your own company. Also, it is normal to become unaccustomed to other people’s company. You spend so many days talking only to yourself and your cats, doing a fart whenever you have to, that it can be difficult to re-assimilate with society.

A heron, free to spend his days however he wants.

A heron, free to spend his days however he wants.

It is strange to suddenly spend up to nine hours a day surrounded by people who are forced to be in your company. In many ways this is a good thing and you realise that despite our differences we are really All the Same. Except for people who are Just Awful, and you must spend time with these people too. You must smile and talk to them even if they have just slagged off all cats.

You must be nice because we are all a team and we are working toward a common goal. You may not care about the goal, it probably isn’t what you planned for in life. Your own personal goals might include being a best selling author and marrying Ryan Gosling when he stars in the adaptation, but while in work you must pretend you care about Their goal.

This is a good starting-off point for any working relationships, knowing and accepting you are all pretending to care about the same thing, you will always have this in common. If you need to engage with someone while you are waiting for your sports bottle to refill at the water cooler, try asking them about themselves. If they reciprocate, respond enthusiastically about their life! Not too enthusiastically because this can be frightening to more timid colleagues.

Several times a day you may ask yourself, Am I weird? because often you will say something and you will notice that your conversational partner has pinched their eyebrows together in a quizzical manner. Most of the time this will be about nothing and you will determine that you are not weird but everyone else is. But once in a while you will think you are weird and you will have to tell yourself to tone it down until you get home and you can fully be you again, talking to your cats and farting, happy in your DYKE t-shirt.


Kill the Poor

Who’s got two thumbs and watches tons of poornography? This guy! No, I haven’t made a typographical error, I meant to say that. What is it? It’s a word I made up to describe television shows including but not limited to: Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole, BritaIMG_3533in’s Benefits Tenants, Benefits Street and Benefits Estate. Others have called it Poverty Porn but I believe mine is better, even if it does require a little more explanation than Poverty Porn. To avoid confusion, emphasise the oo, Poooornography. I will let you practice saying it out loud a few times now so you can tell your friends about it later.

I watch a lot of poornography. There’s an influx of it lately because we are supposed to hate them for stealing all the money and living the Life of Riley while we all slug away on zero hour contracts for a pittance until we’re eighty years old. Well, you do anyway, as I am temporarily unemployed. I’m still allowed to feel superior, though, because I’m not Claiming Taxpayers’ Money. Only my mum’s. However, I don’t watch them to feel superior. I like to have the television on all the time, so there’s noise. It helps because sometimes, as you’re job hunting, you may think you value your happiness too much to apply for an outbound sales job in a call centre; but when you see the abject poverty in which some people live you feel like you should probably just do anything and be grateful for it and all.

I wonder why people think they’re living the Life of Riley when it always looks like they’re having a terrible time. It isn’t fun to not have a job. You look at things and you think, Ooh that’s nice, and that’s the part where you’d normally buy the thing but you can’t because you have to buy food instead. You apply for jobs and more often than not you don’t even hear anything back. It is a bit like screaming into an abyss, if you can find one. It is thankless. Interviews aren’t fun at all. And afterwards they tell you that you are the Reserve Candidate, Well done! But this is a bit rubbish to be honest and you think it would be good if the other person could get abducted by aliens or win the lottery. Then you think well if we’re wishing for people to win the lottery why don’t we wish to win it ourselves? You probably didn’t think that right away because your dreams have gone smaller because getting even an entry level office job seems so far away.

It is important to keep a routine. This is where many people will struggle. Do not sleep in, you must get out of bed and say, Today is going to be an Okay day! Remember that daytime television is a sinkhole. They will distract you with people who say Silly Things to get you wound up. Don’t let them derail you, instead look at all the jobs you could do. You might start to feel a bit, What is the point? and do a lot of big sighs, but try to hold yourself up like you are the person you always wanted to be because the Fuck Its aren’t conducive to job-getting.

When things seem unfair it is because they often are. If you think about it too much you might feel crushed by the weight of the unfairness and stay in your pyjamas all day eating biscuits, I wouldn’t blame you. Best not to think about it at all, if you can help it. Just put your head down and write another cover letter. Say, This could be the one! before you send it off and imagine yourself walking from the train station in the morning with a Brand Name coffee in your hand and a nice suit from Next. Try not to think about how Next won’t pay a living wage, it will depress you again.

Appreciate the things you’d miss if you were at work. Take an afternoon walk and say Hello to the other people on their afternoon walk. Pay attention to the way everything looks on a Tuesday afternoon so you can think of it when you can’t see it any more. Watch your cats sunbathing in the neighbour’s garden and break up a fight between two magpies on the street. Save a dog from running into the road and imagine your unemployment has a Purpose because you’ve watched too many films.

Do things you Love. Do writing. Do painting. Do exercise. You might forget what you like about yourself if you don’t. Try to imagine you are the beginning of your movie, the bit where everything is bad, and you have to have this bit so your character is Relatable. Then imagine the rest of your movie, when your book is published to much acclaim and your boyfriend Ryan Gosling is on about what an inspiration you are. Smile to yourself. He is handsome.