Ah look at all the lonely people tum te tum te tum te tum te tum te

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“I like to prowl ordinary places
and taste the people-
from a distance.”
― Charles Bukowski, Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit

Word of the day: Farrago – a confused mass of objects or people, any disordered mixture

I’ve been spending the week paying attention to my fellow passengers on the morning train. I only see for them for a short time each day, when at my most befuddled and slow, and when everyone is sitting silently, also befuddled and slow. But over the months, I’ve noticed little dramas play out and the fascinating oddballs become apparent (this isn’t an insult by the way, I am definitely an oddball, oddballs are my people.)

For example, there are the twins, two young men who aren’t twins, but travel together with the same hairstyle and clothes and rucksack. When one gets a haircut, the other gets the same a few days later; when one starts wearing shorts the other does the next day. They get off at the same station and walk side by side, hands in pockets, the same loping walk. But they never speak to each other. They don’t sit together or acknowledge each other in any way. My conclusion is that either: they are psychic, although I’d assume they’d start wearing the shorts on the same day. OR: one is stalking, following and copying the other who doesn’t know how to get rid of him. One day I’m expecting a punch up.

Then there’s the large, middle-aged woman who wears biker boots with spikes on them, a pink streak in her hair and huge colourful jackets. I love her. She’s my hero.

Then, sometimes, there is the angry staring man.

Pastimes of the urban cat-lady

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Collective nouns for cats: Clowder, Clutter, Pounce, Nuisance, Glorying, Glare

Some of you might remember I found a stone cat in the railing at work with a message on the back to contact Facebook and re-hide the cat. Well, I have now added a few new cats to the collection and I need to work out where to put them.

I’m thinking the story is that original cat has been missing for a week because she’s been playing around with other cats, and now she has a family of cats with her (her own babies? a cat cult? a Top Cat gang?) .

I’ve been trying to work out where to put them. Any ideas? It has to be somewhere secluded enough for me to not be noticed putting them out, but not so secluded no one finds them. Another park railing might be good or under a bush. Although neither is very inspired.

Oh and I found this important letter today, sadly no one was around to return it to, but I feel its message will resonate with younger sisters everywhere.

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Text:

Dear older sister

you are mean

your yonger sister

Stones and aliens, some answers and speculations

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‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’

Michelangelo

Word of the day: Dealate – insect divested of its wings

One mystery is solved! The encyclopedia of all important knowledge, Calmgrove, knew why buildings in the UK have so many stone babies and small children scattered around them. Here is his brilliant explanation.

‘Fat winged babies: these are called putti, Italian for ‘male children’. They were originally a pagan figure, a representation of Aphrodite’s child Eros, better known to us as Cupid, but substituted for cherubs in Christian iconography. Cherubs themselves derive from Hebrew cherubim, fearsome angelic beings but over time tamed down to podgy infants with ridiculously inadequate wings.
As to the St Paul’s putti, I suspect some of them are a reflection of London’s poor — the orphans, beggars, climbing boys, young pedlars — a reproach to passers-by and an encouragement to engage in some charitable work.’
I love the idea of pudgy infants with only vestigial wings so that they can no longer fly, dodo angels.
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The alien space tank on the roof of a building has not been so clearly explained. An air conditioning unit (thank you Boo) and overhead Gantry Crane (thank you Darnell) are two excellent suggestions. I’m not going to spin this into a drama, but all I’m saying is, keep an eye out for inexplicable alien space tanks appearing on top of buildings in your town.

London’s many stone babies

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Somehow, Hamoudi has now got Jinjing into the drumming. This morning they were emptying out all the kitchen cupboards trying to find makeshift maracas (rice in tupperware) drums of different sounds (buckets, saucepans and the bin) and cymbals (they hadn’t figured this one out, but mugs, metal spoons and a frying pan hanging on the wall were all possible candidates.)

This led to Neville being annoyed and slamming doors, playing his music loudly (Miley Cyrus???) and singing.

So I ran off to central London.

Wasn’t sure where I was going, but ended up at Bank, first spotting this weird doodah on top of a building. Couldn’t get any closer to work out what it is. A machine anteater? A caterpillar tank? An alien invasion happening very slowly – like Tripods, but not tripod shaped? Any ideas?

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I know this doesn’t help much. But, what the fuck?

Anyway, then St Paul’s appeared.

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One thing I love about London is there is no uniformity to the buildings. Shiny new chrome can be next to a dome over 1,400 years old.

St Paul’s, like many English buildings, is filled with statues of toddlers and babies, which suddenly occurred to me is a bit weird.

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Especially when so many don’t look very happy.

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The carvings below were especially disturbing to me, since they seem to show two winged babies being whispered to by evil ghost babies.

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Look!

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I know some of you (Calmgrove?) are knowledgeable about old buildings, so maybe someone can tell me a reason.

The din had calmed down by the time I got home. Hamoudi had a plan about going busking with their makeshift drum kit. I suggested they got Neville to sing with them and he was quite enthusiastic. Sorry London.

 

 

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.