Archive for December, 2011

Drum roll, cue 2012

It’s nearly here. 2012 – A year most of us approach with mixed expectations. On one hand, it is the year of the additional Diamond Jubilee bank holiday (thank you Your Majesty for living long enough to allow us get an extra day off work); and the year the Olympics hits London town (how much should we bet that the tube workers will threaten to strike right in the middle of it?). On the other hand it is a predicted year of contracted growth for the UK (some say it will be even worse than the first year of the recession but let’s not depress ourselves with that for now) and more importantly, the year the world is supposed to end (if you believe the Mayan calendar).

So what does any of this mean? As always, the events of the coming year will impact on people in different ways because we can’t be expected to all accept things in the same way. But notice how the good news I mentioned are not predictions but facts (we ARE going to get that bank holiday and the Olympics WILL come to London – unless something awful happens and ruins it all) and the bad news are all forecasts. Why should 2012 be seen as any worse than any other year? Continue reading

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The One About Christmas (+ Short Story 13)

Alas, the season of joy and goodwill is upon us. In October when shop stereos start to churn out carols and festive lights are turned on in high streets, it always feels like the fateful day is eons away and we are in no danger of being caught out. I’m amongst the head shakers who frown at smiling shop assistants that are forced to wear Santa hats two months to December. I always want to yell “It’s not even Advent yet!” but bite my tongue and walk on, wondering what the hell I’m supposed to dream up as presents for my friends and family this year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and all its wonders but the over commercialisation of it has finally started to get to me. Before I digress and descend to a rant about the real meaning of Christmas, I’ll take a deep breath and point out that this is not why I’m writing this post. This is supposed to be a happy post.  I wasn’t going to blog about Christmas at all but as I walked home yesterday, I was overcome with an overwhelming need to burst out in song as I walked past a group of carollers in a shopping mall and once again as I walked past an elderly man playing “Jingle Bells” on a trumpet outside the station. I felt a need to share something (anything!) and as a writer, one way I can do this is to mark the occasion with a festive-esque short story.  So, this is Merry Christmas from me to all my readers out there. I hope you all have a lovely time whatever you do.

The Christmas Present

“What is this?”

“It’s a cat.”

“I know it’s a cat. Why are you giving me a cat?”

“Because it’s Christmas.”

“Lisa, a word please.”

Diane dragged her sister to the kitchen and glared at her without saying a word.

“What?” Lisa made no attempt to hide the smirk on her face.

“A cat? Are you trying to tell me something? Have I finally crossed into cat lady realm?”

“She really wanted to get you a cat and I couldn’t say no to a seven year old who thinks her aunt needs company, especially at Christmas. I suggested we get you a bracelet or something like that but she wouldn’t have any of it.”

“Lisa…” Continue reading

ID please!

Ah, the paradox of my childlike  face. I have always been pretty small and always looked young for my age, so over the years I’ve been asked a variety of silly questions that have both amused and irritated me. People look at me and make ludicrous assumptions, then voice their thoughts without thinking. At first it was funny but as the years have gone by and my frown lines have increased, I have become more and more fed up of the same old comments (some might say bitter but I’m yet to cross that line). After another series of recent oopsies, I decided to post a few of the most memorable comments I’ve received. I’m sure I’ll be adding a few more to these when I remember anymore.

– being asked by a lecturer on my first day of university as I sat in class with my course mates, “Little girl, are you looking for your sister? Come back after the lecture”. To be fair I was 16 at the time but still…

– being asked for my ID at a bar entrance when I was the oldest of the ten other people I was standing with. I was 25 at the time. Actually, let’s change that to being asked for my ID almost all the time at clubs and bars and supermarket checkout tills, but I’ve stopped taking offence these days so this one almost doesn’t count.

– being asked for my ID when I went to buy  teaspoons at a store. Apparently they don’t sell cutlery to people under the age of 16. I was 28 at the time. Continue reading

Short Story 12: Every Day

Today was going to be like any other day; he was going to make sure everything remained the same. As usual he stared morosely at his reflection in the bathroom mirror for a little too long before blinking rapidly to snap himself back to reality. The front door shut behind him with the same loud bang he had still not become accustomed to. He made a mental note to ask his landlady to do something about the defective door hinges but the thought left his mind the second he noticed his bus making its way down the street towards the empty bus stop he was supposed to be at. Six months on and he had almost perfected the unnecessary mad dash to catch the double-decker metal contraption that took him to his week day destination. Another mental note to try to get up early the next day was shoved to the back of his mind as he smiled at the stone faced driver who only worked the morning shift from Tuesdays to Thursdays. Some days she smiled back, but not today. That didn’t change anything. Today was still pretty much the same as any other day and it would remain so.

The bus ride took just over half an hour. He split the time between leafing through an abandoned daily paper and trying to read the tiny print of a nondescript thriller he had stashed away in his brown leather satchel.  The main feat here was trying not to catch the eye of any other passenger as he swapped from broadsheet to paperback. He didn’t take any notice of the passing scenery outside, there was really no point staring at the same buildings, trees and street signs he had quickly mastered on his first week travelling down this route. He kept track of where he was by the number of turn the bus made; left, left, right and one more left. Destination: Morris and Morris offices.

The temp at reception greeted him with a toothy smile which he acknowledged with his usual silent nod. She was chatty with some of the girls on his floor but had only ever spoken to him when she rang his extension to connect a call. No, that wasn’t entirely true. There had been that one day when he had walked in on her in the kitchen as she struggled to reach the plates which were always mischievously placed on a high shelf by the cleaners. He was at least a foot taller than she was and it would have been incredibly roguish to watch her carry on her pathetic attempt at stretching as far as her five foot two inches frame would let her reach, so he had reached over her and handed her a plate.  Her appreciation had been expressed with an embarrassed thank you which made him think that perhaps he should not have attempted to help her as he had only emphasised her disadvantaged height. Not that he thought that there was anything wrong with her height. She was a perfect portable size. Still, he felt that perhaps he should have asked her if she wanted help first before acting. Since then it had been the more comfortable exchange of a smile and a nod. He revelled in the comfort of that base level of communication. Continue reading

The Geek Squad

Recently I’ve been feeling a bit techy; not in the gadget techy sense but with regards to working out stuff at work. I’ve come up with answers to questions I didn’t realise I knew and I’m finally beginning to think that all those years of working on site based projects are paying off. Who knew? I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m a geek. Bespectacled and with a tendency to read almost anything put in front of me, I’ve known all along that I’m less the popular cheerleader type and more the awkward kid who sits back and takes in everything, hoping to regurgitate it all someday. And it must show. An ex-colleague once described me as “Geek Chic” which I took as a huge compliment (of course I completely ignored the geek part of his statement) and a friend constantly calls me Encyclopaedia or Google because he doesn’t bother going online to check for stuff. He just rings me up and for some strange reason eight out of ten times I tend to have the answers to his questions (and he’s no dullard). I’m not saying I know everything – far from it, my ignorance is exposed daily in humbling conversations with people much more enlightened than I am – but I think I can officially call myself Little Miss Geek.

We all use the word geek because of its modern-day social associations (think Revenge of the Nerds) but I’ve never tried to find out what being a geek actually mean. Gone are the days when being called a geek was solely an insult.  The word has been glamourised and so watered down that  we tend to forget the original meaning. Who are geeks and what makes us unique or different? Continue reading