Questions! Answers!

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‘The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.’

Albert Einstein

Word of the day: Ipseity – selfhood; state of being oneself

Decided to answer the questions I asked of everyone else last week, does that mean I am self-involved? Well, I have a whole blog all about my life, so probably yes.

These questions are open to anyone who wants to answer them. I’d love to hear your views.

What recurring dream do you have? Do you know why?

I’m driving a tractor at work and I have a series of realisations: I don’t know where I am; it’s night time; I’m not wearing boots; I’ve lost the keys to the tractor; I’m wearing pyjamas; my tractor has no steering wheel; my tractor is a bed; this is a dream.

Oh and one where I get accidentally locked into a tunnel at work, and realise I haven’t brought my keys.

Both due to general anxiety, I guess.

If you could choose any name for yourself, what would you choose?

My dad wanted to call me Tetra, which has the appeal of the name-not-quite-chosen. So maybe Supreme Ruler of the Universe, Tetra the Fabulous.

What’s the weirdest fact you know?

Lichen is made up of two organisms, algae and fungi, creating a new organism that looks nothing like either. Most people look unimpressed by this fact, but it blows my mind. So much weirder than a cat and a duck being friends.

What’s a secret about you that no one would ever guess?

The last time my IQ was tested, most of it was below 80 (about a year after my accident.) I’m assuming no would guess that specifically.

Do you prefer to stride or amble? Why?

I’m a strider mostly, it sets my imagination moving and makes me feel like flying should (where as flying just makes me dizzy)

Name a small thing that made you smile today?

Hamoudi trying and failing to balance a wooden spoon on his nose. It fell off an landed in his coffee, splashing it all over his shirt.

What made you want to write or keep a blog?

Originally, to get me writing stories. Now, to get me to pay attention to all the bizarre things in the world around me. Figuring things out, observing people and having adventures all make me happy, but without a reason to do them, I get lazy.

What was your best decision ever?

Moving to Mexico many years ago, with no real plan, little money and a guy I barely knew.

What could have gone wrong today, but didn’t? It can be as serious or ridiculous as you want.

I could have tried balancing a wooden spoon on my nose while drinking coffee, resulting in disaster, mockery and staining.

For a week you can have any job you want and be good and successful at it, what do you choose?

Marine biologist or surgeon. Or ninja. or a combination of all three.

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Air rescue!

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We were sitting on lunch today, Mike was catching me up on Love Island (I don’t watch it, but his descriptions are always funny) when we heard a huge wap-wap-wap sound, and a load of leaves blew in as if they were trying to escape from something.

‘It’s a helicopter!’ shouted Mateo. So we all ran out to the lawn where an ambulance helicopter was landing.

We gave it some space, figuring they had bigger things to worry about than curious gardeners, but then the managers ran out of the office and across the grass shouting ‘You don’t have a permit to park there!’

Moments later there were police banging at our front gate demanding to be let in, they all ran past in a group like the keystone cops. After a few moments they worked out that the injured person was somewhere else and all ran back out again, shouting ‘Sorry!’ as they went.

Apparently there was an accident on the road outside and traffic in London is so intense that they couldn’t get an ambulance through, so they parked in our park.

Anyway, the managers might have been unhappy, but we thought it was great, the wind from the blades cleared the last of the winter leaves from under the trees. Hopefully they got the injured person to hospital on time too (we always try to find out the outcome of accidents and emergency dramas, but never succeed.)

Otherwise a fairly routine day, drove around a bit, tried to fend off residents asking me impossible questions, had some ridiculous conversations with colleagues, dug up some weeds. How was your day?

Dicing with white death (spider)

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On candy stripe legs the Spiderman comes
Softly through the shadow of the evening sun

The Cure  – Lullaby

Word of the day: Hebenon – anything with poisonous juices

I found this attractive chap while I was weeding today. He didn’t like me shoving my phone in his face, so he reared his front legs up, I could almost hear the angry chatter of spider teeth.

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When a cockroach sheds its skin, its soft new hide is white until it darkens to red. I thought maybe it was the same with spiders, which also shed their skin. But no! This is actually a white spider. So there were two possibilities.

A white widow – deadly like the black widow, though sort of unlikely to be in this country.

A white death crab spider – It has venom, but its teeth aren’t strong enough to pierce human skin.

I was leaning strongly towards the white widow, but the actual evidence swung the other way. Still beautiful though, even if he couldn’t kill me.

Other events:

Barry the barrowman jumped out in front of me and started dancing around singing Singing in the Rain. I said a polite hello and carried on walking. It felt wrong to do that, but he’s not a good person and I’m not going to humour him anymore.

Back at base, Mike was ranting about bumble wasps, and how a million of them had taken over the tractor.

‘Look! Just look, they’ll attack! Millions of ’em.’

‘There aren’t any there, Mike,’ I explained.

‘Look!’ he shrieked and ran out into the rain as one solitary bumble bee drifted out of the ground.

The teddy bears of the insect world

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“First of all nothing will happen and a little later, nothing will happen again.”

Leonard Cohen

Word of the day: oose – furry dust that gathers under beds (from Scots)

There’s a bumble bee nest under our tractor, if you watch the ground for a while, bees will bumble in and out of a crack in the ground. I was too inept to get a good photo, so I took one of them on an Eryngium as well.

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And then it poured with rain, I got a headache and fell over in a puddle, so the bumble bees were definitely the highlight.

Sorry for the short blog today, here’s another Eryngium to make up for it.

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The curious incident of the cat in the fence

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The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.

― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Word of the day: Cynosureany – thing that attracts attention; object of interest

Was walking along one of our gardens when I came across a small face peering out. I let out a yelp of joy, which my boss interpreted as me getting hurt and she quickly hurried over.

‘What? What? Are you ok?’ she asked, frantically.

‘A cat!’ I said pointing to the fence, where a stone was nestled in the fence, a cat’s face painted on it.

‘Right,’ she said, giving me a look, she was not impressed.

On the back the cat says it wants me to record online where I found it, but I don’t want anyone knowing where I am – my paranoia has reasons. I think I’ll hide him somewhere else. Maybe to make up for it, I’ll add a few cat stones of my own. Or other animals, any ideas?

Oh and this evening when I got home, I discovered all the cutlery had gone and Hamoudi sitting in the kitchen looking desolate trying to eat some rice with the lid of a jam jar.

‘Jinjing says I’m not allowed to use cutlery until I stop drumming with it,’ he said.

‘What about me?’ I ask.

‘She says she’ll give you a spoon if you ask.’

Barry explodes!

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I’m not argumentative, it’s just that other people are so incredibly wrong that I have to point it out.

Word of the day: Kelpie – mischievous water spirit

Today was a day of rain and rain and rain. We stayed outside hoeing weeds off paths, and keeping our heads down, waiting for the minutes to inch past.

At break time we had fifteen minutes to try and dry off, even though it’s summer we all huddled around the radiator.

Then Barry (attention-seeking road sweeper who’s become increasingly unpleasant over the last few weeks) came stamping into the mess room. He was wet through and had decided that was our fault, specifically mine.

‘Well thank you very much!’ he shouted. We all looked at him blankly. He was waving his arms around, eyes bugging out.

‘I was out there all on my own and then the rain came down like a fucking bus on my head!’

‘Oh dear,’ we all mumble, ‘shame.’ It hadn’t occurred to him that we experienced the exact same rain.

‘But none of you came to check on me did you? None of you came to see I was ok!’ He was red-faced, slamming things in his locker, then taking them out so he could slam them in again. At this point I thought, bollocks, and sat down to read the paper. He had been building up to this tantrum with a series of minor tantrums, and my patience had worn away to nothing. The others in the room made awkward sympathetic noises, but I stayed quiet.

Now, in case you’re wondering, there’s no reason why we would check on him, we don’t work with him, we never know where he is, or even if he’s at work unless we happen to pass him. But in Barry’s mind (which I’m starting to think is the mind of the narcissist) this was an affront! An insult! How dare we!

His ranting carried on, but now I was obviously not listening, and this was a further insult, a sign of disrespect. And although he didn’t use my name, I could tell that each rage-filled comment was now directed at me, I could feel his bug eyes trying to burn a hole through my paper. Above the page, I could see him leaning over the table towards me.

‘No! Don’t worry about me! I’ll be fine! You just sit there like it doesn’t matter!’

So I did. And it didn’t.

‘I could have died out there! You wouldn’t even know!’ He slammed something in his locker again. ‘And look at me! I’m soaked! I’m not going to be able to dry off now,’ he snarled, I focused on my paper. ‘I’ll be wet all day!’

Eventually he ran out of words and I ran out of break. I got up and walked to the door, where I ran into Mike coming in.

‘Hi Inkbiotic, do you think you could help me do a service on the hedgecutters after break?’

‘Sure, Mike,’ I say.

From behind me, Barry sneered,

‘Oh she can speak! Now she talks.’

I didn’t say anything, because fuck this, and I carried on out the door. As I went back into the rain with relief, I heard Barry shouting after me,

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.’

But it’s too late. He’s a dickhead and I’ve had enough.

A Trundling Sunday

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It passed the time, but the time would have passed anyway

Word of the day: Cacoethes – insatiable desire or mania; bad habit

The odd incident at the house up the road has now been cleaned up, the rubble is gone, a nice new fence is where the old one got knocked down. But now a different car has a window that’s been smashed through, a side window this time. I shall be keeping an eye on that house, I suspect the drama isn’t over.

And the drum kit is gone. After a day of Hamoudi’s ‘Explorations in rhythm’ and ‘riding the beat to the dark side’, Jinjing phoned up the landlady threatening to set fire to the bass drum and throw the cymbal into a tree like a frisbee if she didn’t come and pick it up.

It may be too late though, I was just sitting with Hamoudi in the kitchen and he was playing his new solo on the table with some wooden spoons.

This is why going out is a bad idea

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‘Until all that’s left is the pounding of a solitary drum.’

And Now This, The End of Time

Word of the day: Carphology – fitful plucking movements as in delirium

I used to be able to watch the trees blowing in the wind from my window, but this weekend there are only stumps, so I went out to the park to see the trees shimmying around. A strong warm wind is always so melodramatic. While I was out I got a text from the landlady, a little passive aggression followed by more proof she sees our flat as her storage facility.

I thought you’d be in today. You usually r on a Sat. I didn’t have my key. I don’t have time to run around. Be careful of drum kit in hall, we’ll pick up later. Julie x.

Seriously? A drum kit? Got home to find Hamoudi happy as a crab in a bucket of snails, he had discovered the drum kit and was composing a drum solo.

‘I’ve watched a few videos and I think I’ve got the hang of them. Maybe I’ll join a band,’ he said battering the cymbal.

‘Have you played the drums before?’ I shouted.

‘No, but it’s fairly straightforward. It’s all about keeping time, you see?’ he said earnestly, taking a pause, and I nodded. So far he’s got the eyebrows and enthusiasm of animal from the muppets, all he needs now is the rhythm and he will go far.

Note: that may be the first time in my life I spelt rhythm correctly without help, the curse is finally lifted!

Sunshine questions for everybody!

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A wise man can learn more from a foolish question, than a fool can learn from a wise answer.

Bruce Lee

Land Manatee nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award and it’s always nice to have a bit of sunshine, so thank you Land Manatee! He writes highly entertaining blogs, so worth having a look if you fancy something to read.

I like the chance to answer and ask questions –  to an almost pathological degree – but I’m a bit wary of putting pressure on others, so I won’t nominate anyone else, I’ll just link to a few blogs I think are great. I’ll add some questions too, and anyone who feels like it can answer them.

That means YOU!

if you want…

My questions for you

  1. What recurring dream do you have? Do you know why?
  2. If you could choose any name for yourself, what would you choose?
  3. What’s the weirdest fact you know?
  4. What’s a secret about you that no one would ever guess?
  5. Do you prefer to stride or amble? Why?
  6. Name a small thing that made you smile today?
  7. What made you want to write or keep a blog?
  8. What was your best decision ever?
  9. What could have gone wrong today, but didn’t? It can be as serious or ridiculous as you want.
  10. For a week you can have any job you want and be good and successful at it, what do you choose?
  11. What’s the most inexplicable thing that’s ever happened to you?

Some of my favourite bloggers (although, certainly not all)

Darnell Cureton Fictionista – he’s always writing great stories and playing with ideas. His latest, about a psychic crime fighting squad, is great.

Boo Surviving this thing called life – a bitter sweet blog about losing the one you love and keeping hope

Colin McQueen Getting on – always funny, a master of the metaphor

Questions Land Manatee asked me to answer

What would your dream job be and why?

In the world of my head, my dream job would be something adventurous and dramatic, like plant hunting in the jungle or an investigative reporter uncovering corporate wrongdoing. In reality, I know I’d find those jobs stressful and exhausting and they’d give me no time to write or be with friends, so I’d end up hating them. Probably the best job for me is the one I do – gardening – it’s hard work, but rarely stressful (where I am now, anyway), gets me outside and the people are ace. It lets me spend hours daydreaming too, which is essential or I go strange.

How would you describe your perfect day?

In the jungle, photographing colourful birds, plants and insects.

What inspires or influences you as a writer or blogger?

Blogging – life. It’s filled with bizarre little details, funny people and odd mysteries.

Writing – the same as above, but with the chance to let my imagination do ridiculous things too.

If you decided to move to a new country or city, where would you want to live and why?

Iceland, maybe. I’m curious about the politics and people and I think the environment would be drastically different to what I’m used to, and I love that.

What famous person or celebrity at any point in history would you like to meet and what would you want to talk about or ask that person?

Someone who’s done something huge and terrible, Hitler, Pinochet or Pol Pot. I’d want to understand why they did what they did, if there is a specific course of events that shapes someone like that, and if there is any way to divert that course

In what fundamental way have you changed over the years?

I had a real life-changing event about fourteen years ago when I got brain damage and PTSD, and that changed everything in many ways. These days I’m a lot calmer, less confident, less manic, more aware of others than I was before the accident. I get on a lot better with people, but I worry a lot more if I don’t.

What do you like about your writing and what frustrates you?

When writing books, I like that my writing tends to be imaginative and unusual. However, my last book ended up kind of intense, and I really didn’t want that.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog or be a writer?

To start a blog – make sure you’re writing something that you’ll enjoy writing, so it isn’t a chore

Writing – get the ideas out, splurge; then be your own harsh editor. Create with abandon, select with care.

What is a pet peeve of yours?

In writing it’s stereotypes, when the writer hasn’t really thought about anyone beyond their own peers/gender/race and so bases all characters outside of that on characters they’ve read before.

What’s your favorite book, movie or TV show and why? (answer any of them you feel like)

Books – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, because it’s joyous, funny and ridiculous, but still has some profound ideas to it.

TV – Community, because it’s joyous, funny and ridiculous, but still has some profound ideas to it. And it also has a diverse cast that avoids insulting stereotypes.

If you were to be sent back in time — at least more than 75 years ago — when and where would you want to be sent to and why? Would you be an observer or a participant?

I’d go a few billion years, I want to see early life. The first forests, the bizarre sea creatures, to discover the climate. I definitely shouldn’t be a participant, I’ve seen that Simpson’s episode.

 

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Back to the landlady drama

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The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

Lewis Carroll

Word of the day: Barbastelle – a hairy lipped bat

For anyone not keeping track of all my nonsense, myself and my three flatmates recently discovered that the landlady, Julie, has been paying us little visits while we were out.

Having made it clear with our rental contract that we can’t stop her, she’s started popping round every few evenings and using our flat like some kind of storage facility. So far we’ve acquired a broken toaster, a vacuum cleaner that smokes when you turn it on, a bag of plastic spoons and two packs of doilies. Then this evening, Jinjing and Hamoudi were in the kitchen making falafel and I was hanging about hoping to either get some leftovers or summon up the energy to go and get popcorn, when  Julie showed up again. She poked her head round the door and said,

‘Ohhh, are you having a party? Alright for some.’ Then went back out into the hall. Hamoudi  watched her through the slightly open door, and gave whispered updates to us as to what Julie was doing. Apparently she was checking the paintwork, looking in the toilet and then she took a pile of notebooks out of her back and put them up in the cupboard in the hallway. Thoughtfully she took out Hamoudi’s bicycle pump and my spare towel first, before adding the notebooks and putting a padlock on the cupboard. Then she left. Hamoudi has spent the evening in the hall with a paperclip and YouTube trying to work out how to pick the lock.

‘I just want to know what’s in those notebooks. I’ll bet it’s all information she’s collected about us.’

‘Why would she keep it here then?’

Hamoudi looked at me with ferocious wide-eyes, a man pushed to the edge, I’m not sure what by.

‘To taunt us!’ he said.