Destiny? Or pseudo-mystical nonsense?


Word of the day: Athanor – an alchemist’s self-feeding digesting furnace

Weather: grey

Mood: ho hum

I woke up in a bad mood, and it has hung around me like a buzzy fly all day. I cornered Hamoudi, he-who-sees-dead-people, while he was eating cereal. I made no pretence of politeness.

‘So what did the mysterious woman say? In the café?’

He wiped the milk off his chin, leaned over our small kitchen table and said intensely,

‘She said all the strange things happening to me, weren’t happening by chance. That I was on a path and nothing could stop that journey.’ This sounded kind of cheesy and vague to me, but maybe I’m just jealous.

‘So why leave?’

‘Because it wasn’t a good path. She didn’t go into specifics, but she made it sound like I was heading into trouble. She said I had to be careful who I trusted. I’m no good at that! I trust everybody!’

‘But if it’s all true,’ I said, ‘surely coming to London is part of the path as well. You can’t abandon destiny by moving.’ He looked at me blankly, and then alarmed, so I changed the subject. We talked about the ongoing battle between Jinjing and Neville.

‘She won’t let it go,’ he said, ‘when she thinks someone’s wrong, she keeps at it. She’s like a terrier.’

Oh good, the drama continues then.

And I’ve thought about it, I’m definitely jealous. I want to be told I’m on a path by a mysterious stranger, even a bad path, rather than wandering aimlessly and ending up lost all the time. Does that make me naive?

More of Hamoudi’s story



Word of the day: kinkens – (scots) to give an evasive answer to an inquisitive child

Weather: larvely

Mood: driven mad by curiosity

Went out for a walk and came home to find Neville painting the hallway a new shade of green. Seems he’s decided to respond to Jinjing’s complaints by redecorating. I suggested that she’d prefer it if he cleaned the toilet, but he huffed at me and carried on. I guess he’s making a point, but I find making a point is as effective as leaving cleaning products around as a hint.

Joined Hamoudi and Jinjing in the garden. Our garden gets a patch of sun that moves across the grass, so they were making the most of it, shifting out of the shadows as they crept up, a slow game of chase. I asked the usual polite questions, before steering Hamoudi around to why he left Canada.

‘You said something happened, aside from seeing dead people, that is,’ I said, nonchalantly, hiding that I’ve been obsessing about this since he mentioned it last week. I picked a daisy for Jinjing, who was making a chain.

Hamoudi sighed, looked at the sun and sneezed.

‘It was weird, it was like there was a light on me, a flashing arrow above my head. Strangers kept coming up to me. At first it was small, a kid gave me a marble, this old lady patted me on the arm when we were waiting at the side of the road to cross. Stuff like that.’

‘Ah right,’ I said. Hamoudi shrugged, he’s a huge man, so he shrugs effectively, like a mountain lifting.

‘Then one night I couldn’t sleep, so I went out to this café and got myself a coffee. This woman came up and sat opposite me. I remember the café owner looked over with a look of You ok with this strange woman who just sat down with you in a deserted café? And then the woman started talking. She said, “You know what’s happening, don’t you?”’

At that point, the back door slammed and locked shut. I guess Neville had finished painting and wanted to make another point. It’s at times like that you learn you’re no good at picking locks. Eventually we got back inside (which involved kicking the door really hard, turns out it isn’t very secure), but by then the conversation was forgotten. So now I shall have to obsess again.


Friday night fight


Word of the day: nu tog fan bofinken (Swedish) – now that’s done it! Literally the devil took the chaffinch

Weather: beautiful

Mood: querulous

A gorgeous day at work, filled with sun and weeds. But when I got home I couldn’t go to my room because Jinjing and Neville were having a huge row in front of it. I hid in the kitchen, where Hamoudi was also hiding. We shared my popcorn and listened to the shouting. It seemed the argument had started when the cleaning products Jinjing had left outside Neville’s room had been moved to the side by Neville, with no attempt at using them. To be fair he might not have understood the message and thought they got left by accident.

However, once he knew that cleaning was the issue, he said that he saw no reason to do more housework, since he already did quite enough cleaning in the kitchen. When Jinjing asked him to specify what, it turned out he meant cleaning the burnt fat off the cooker after cooking bacon, sausages, burgers and assorted meat products. Jinjing said that didn’t count.

Then Jinjing called Neville a ‘spoilt little boy’ and Neville called Jinjing an ‘utter child’. And they both slammed their doors. Hamoudi and I shared out the last of the popcorn and I went to my room. I had to climb over the mop and bucket to get inside.

The best laid plans of mice…


‘Aw look at his little snuffly nose!’

‘Argh! Get it away from me! It’s a monster!’


Weather: grey skies later dissipating into a Simpson’s sky.

Mood: alright.

Word of the day: teratogenic – producing monsters or abnormal growth

Today the mice came out to play and were darting around under the benches in the smoking area. With much shouting, Mike climbed onto the bench and refused to put his feet down until it was time to leave. Mateo was throwing down a few crumbs left over from lunch. He thinks we should fatten the mice up and have a roast. I suggested we get a cat.

Back home Jinjing left a load of cleaning products outside Neville’s room, the mop, the bucket, floor cleaner. Hamoudi was standing about looking doleful. This feels like the beginning of a war. I made sure to stock up on snacks so I can stay in my room if need be. I’ve been hiding in my room since, Neville should be home soon.

My life is a kluge…

…cobbled together from broken bits of other lives.


Weather: perfect

Mood: sleepy

Word of the day: kluge – a workaround or quick-and-dirty solution that is clumsy, inelegant, inefficient, difficult to extend and hard to maintain.

We’ve got mice at work. We were sitting in the smoking area outside the mess room this morning when Mike went inside and let out a yelp. Apparently a mouse ran across the floor.

‘It was the size of a guinea pig!’ wailed Mike, ‘It was huge! With fangs!’ By lunchtime he was saying, ‘It was the size of a Yorkshire Terrier, and it had murder in its eyes!’ and by home-time it was getting on for the heft of a Great Dane.

Back at the flat, I was dashing for a packet of crisps I’d accidentally left in the kitchen, when I encountered Neville. Within a moment he’d blocked me in with a lighthearted series of complaints about the flat. From the flimsy floor that isn’t properly attached in the kitchen, to the shower that goes cold, to the stains on the lounge floor.

‘I grew up poor, I mean really poor, but I’ve never seen a kitchen floor you could cut with a pair of scissors before.’

So cats eat blossom?



bigger cat

These pictures show my neighbour’s ginger cat, sitting in a small tree, licking the blossom. He was up there for ages, shuffling about, slurping away. Very odd. Have any of you seen this before?

‘Sometimes even the wrong train takes you to the right station.’

The Lunchbox.

Weather: sunny

Mood: good

Word of the day: Cowcat – person whose function is to occupy space

Coming home tonight, all trains going my way were cancelled. So I just grabbed the first train leaving the station and tried to work out where it was going by looking it up on my phone. There were signs up – on the platform, in the train, but they all said different stops to each other, so that didn’t help. My phone stuttering in its connection wasn’t ideal. Then the tannoy announced ‘Ignore all the signs saying where this train is going. They’re all wrong! This train is going to mumble mumble mumble.’ So that didn’t help either. I made it home by sheer luck. You’d think that train companies would have learned how to deal with a crisis by now.

Jinjing and Hamoudi were in the kitchen cooking up soup. I made some toast, hoping that Hamoudi would elaborate on the dead people tales. Instead I listened to Jinjing slagging off Neville because he never cleans up after himself and leaves plates of meat lying around for days.

‘I mean, has he ever done any cleaning since he’s been here?’ asked Jinjing. Hamoudi nodded, keeping his head low as if he could duck beneath the anger. Anyway I got a bowl of soup out of it.

cat in tree

An owl and a pussycat and mushrooms



‘I’ve got wild staring eyes
And I’ve got a strong urge to fly
But I got nowhere to fly to.’

Comfortably Numb

Weather: blue skies

Mood: happy

Phrase of the day: nosom para oblake (Serbian) – conceited. Literally – ripping clouds with his nose


I decided to get out of the house today and take a trip into central London. I wandered around Waterloo station, I like to follow the train tracks to see what’s about. And I stumbled across this garden outside St John’s church. It was filled with mosaic covered ornaments and benches. It was like treasure buried in London.

Mosaics are always impressive to see, the sheer patience and staying power. It’s the kind of thing I see and think I’d like to do, but I know I’d get bored with in half an hour and end up with a few bits of broken plate on an old chair that I don’t want to throw away.


Back home I tried to talk to Hamoudi again, but he was trapped in the kitchen being talked at by Neville, who was listing the names of cloud formations. Normally I feel sympathy for someone whose social skills are lacking and doesn’t know that he’s boring people, but I genuinely don’t think that’s the case with Neville. I think he can read cues fine, and knows people want to leave the conversation, but carries on anyway. I think it makes him feel important. It sounded like Hamoudi got away by escaping out the back door of the kitchen onto the fire escape. He’s still in the garden now, pretending to look at the apple tree.


Finally! Talking to Hamoudi again. And eating salad.

 ‘I want to tell you my secret now…’

The Sixth Sense

Tricky to hold the plastic pry tool and the phone at the same time, so I apologise for the ineptness of this photo

Weather: grey.

Mood: hermit crab

Word of the day: yapness – hunger

The furniture shop/garden centre down my road has now become a ‘Lifestyle Café’ after only being a garden centre for a week. A fancy sign declares it so. There were quite a few guys hanging around chatting, but I’m pretty sure they are the guys that hung out there when it was a furniture shop, so I doubt they’re spending much money. There were also a few washing machines for sale.

I drifted over that way, thinking I could do with a lifestyle. I had a look at the sign, admired the plastic ivy they had winding up the frame of the café. Then the guys all noticed me and stared, their expressions clearly saying, This is no place for the likes of you! So I hurried away.

On the bright side, I managed to bump into Hamoudi in the kitchen. He was cheerfully making a complicated salad, and after all my popcorn and crackers, I got pretty jealous. I asked him how his job at the bar was going, whether he was missing home, all the questions you’re supposed to ask someone you don’t know well. Finally I blurted out,

‘So, you see dead people?’

His face dropped, he stopped dicing carrots and leaned on the counter. Then said, his voice heavy with sorrow,

‘Back home, yeah. It’s been ok here. So far.’

‘What people? People you knew?’

‘No, just in the street. Looking in the window, in trees sometimes. They’re everywhere. They get lonely.’

‘And they scared you? That’s why you left?’

‘No, they made me sad. Every day, all these sad faces. And when other stuff started happening too, I thought, I can’t stay, this place isn’t safe.’

‘What other stuff?’ I asked.

Hamoudi said nothing, but handed me a bowl of salad with a look of sorrow and then turned away. I crept out. I was pretty excited about my healthy food, but forgot a fork so I had to eat it with a plastic pry tool for the car. They’re surprisingly effective.

It’s Friday! And I’m wrecking things!

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”      

Pablo Picasso


Weather: somebody washed out the world and left it colourless

Mood: see above

Word of the day: POETS – learned this today, it means Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday. Mike is trying to introduce this to boss Jill as a concept, talking about it loudly when she’s around, asking her “Who’s your favourite POET, Jill?” Jill responds to most of Mike’s schemes with a weary sigh. She has the patience of a table.

I waited until everybody was out of the kitchen, then threw the hedgehog cake-face away. Couldn’t stand the decapitated cuteness anymore.

I was driving the van in our yard today, and had to do a 360 degree turn in a space that doesn’t really allow for it. I still haven’t figured how to know how close you are to things behind you, so I managed to back into a fence. Got the wire hooked into the back of the van, didn’t realise, drove forward and ripped it apart. No one was around, and it was a lazy day, so I spent it putting up a new fence. The one I damaged was pretty shoddy anyway, and I found a nice bit of hazel fencing out the back. For the rest of the day Mike was being all nice, saying,

“You see, you just saw that fence didn’t look good and sorted it out. That’s what you’re like, you’re a fixer. You always sort things out, don’t you?”

Which was a very sweet thing to say, so I didn’t mention that it was my fault the fence was wrecked. Think I got away with it.

I was hoping to see Hamoudi and hear more about the dead people he says he sees. Does he see them here too?

Instead the kitchen was filled with Jinjing and Neville. Neville was cooking up a roast. I don’t want to be judgemental, but he either eats a LOT of meat or he’s throwing it all away. Neville was lecturing Jinjing on Chinese history, listing the dates of all the dynasties. Luckily I’d bought some popcorn on the way home, so dinner is sorted.

I’m sorry, you said you see what?


Time to re-enter the world of other people? Or time to rearrange my sock drawer?

Word of the day: Bewray – to reveal; to betray; to divulge

Weather: nondescript

Mood: curious

The hedgehog cake face is still in the fridge at work. Every time somebody goes to get milk you hear a cry of dismay as they see the disembodied face staring back at them.

It’s been a few months now since I upended my life and shifted across town. Since then I’ve been in hiding. I work, and it’s healthy superficial fun. I go out exploring London and talk to strangers. But I’ve been careful not to make friends. I can’t go on like that forever though.

Thinking this inspired me to leave my room and spend time with my new flatmates. I met Hamoudi and Jinjing, two Canadians who travelled to England together. They were in the kitchen preparing food for some guests they had coming round.

‘We’re just friends,’ said Jinjing, ‘everyone thinks we must be sleeping together, but we’re just friends.’ Hamoudi looked at her adoringly while she said it. He looks like a huge friendly bear. I asked why they came to London, and their demeanour changed from perky to hollow.

Jinjing said intensely, ‘Sometimes you have to get out, you know? You just have to leave.’ Hamoudi nodded, his eyes haunted.

‘What happened?’ I asked.

‘Well, we worked together at the local Walmart, and we had this boss and she was a super bitch. I mean she was awful. She used to bully us, make us do all the horrible jobs, shout at us. We both used to hide in the stockroom so we didn’t have to deal with her. And that’s how we became friends. But there was a point where we said, “No, we have to get out of here”.’

Hamoudi nodded, ‘And I had started seeing dead people, anyway,’ he said.

‘What?’ I said, but the doorbell rang and it was their friends, so I went back to hiding in my room. But, dead people?