Betrayed! No nomophiliac!

 

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“I find people confusing.”

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

Word of the day: Bionomics – study of organisms interacting in their environments

Ok, so today I was going to do it, I was going to talk to angry staring man. I spent the walk to the station psyching myself up, I had a shortlist of possible opening gambits. I was ready. But as I walked down the aisle, I saw him sitting bold as brass and looking at his phone!

He must have known that was a betrayal, we don’t look at our phones! That’s what everyone else does, but we’re the nomophiliacs! We’re different! But was looking at the screen very seriously, as if he was getting some news of a corporate takeover of the mafia. Or plans to replace the Queen with a clone. Definitely something with huge repercussions for society. So can I forgive him?

You may be thinking, If angry staring man is so important, why is he taking the train, wouldn’t he have a chauffeured car? But that’s because you’re wrong and don’t understand the ways of angry staring man.

Anyway, so I went and sat opposite fabulous woman. I tried to catch her eye again, but she had a careful not-catching-eye demeanour. Maybe she is a celebrity and she’s sick of plebs trying to talk to her. Maybe she’s a superhero and is worried if she gets distracted by petty conversations she won’t be ready for when the villain tries to flip the train into another dimension. There is a black stripe in the middle of her orange striped hair now. Tiger!

I haven’t given up yet, but I’m not good at this.

Bigger than you might think

 

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People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone

People are Strange  – The Doors

Phrase of the day: el semaforo de medianoche (Venezuelan Spanish) a pushover, literally ‘a traffic light at midnight’

Today a set of traffic lights was found lying in the road on the estate at my work. Weirdly there was no obvious place in the street missing a traffic light and it didn’t look like sabotage. We tried to work out where it came from using the No right turn and Park closed features, but there were too many options and we’re too easily distracted. The current theory is that some workmen replaced this one with a new set, but then forgot to take this away. I was surprised at how huge it was.

On the train this morning, fabulous woman had dyed a streak in her hair orange and had rings shaped like claws. I think she’s turning into a tiger. I tried to catch her eye, see if I could start a conversation, but she was in the world of her phone screen and didn’t notice me.

Here’s another one of the traffic lights. My muddy foot bottom left for scale.

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So close to sinister secrets

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Phrase of the day: Today I am all tick and no tock (great phrase, courtesy of Colin McQueen)

The angry staring man was on the train chewing gum today. Angrily. Hands on the single crease down his trouser legs. I’ll bet he not only owns an iron, but a travel iron. I really want to talk to him. I feel like his life is so far away from anything I know and vice versa, we could strike up an exceptional partnership. He’d tell me the murky secrets of working in an International bank, arranging coups and investing in stock things for corporate murderers and I’d explain how to get a broken mower started or how to prune a climbing rose.

I know what you’re thinking: he sounds evil, why do you want to talk to him? Well, because I never meet evil people. Everybody I know and work with is lovely, thoughtful and completely without any kind of power or money. And I have this fascination with worlds I can’t enter, with locked doors and hidden truths, however terrible those truths might be. Angry Staring Man has access to those locked doors, I’m sure of it.

Fabulous woman was there too, with lots of huge rings, a skull, a bull, an opal, they look like knuckledusters. I keep expecting the other passengers on the train to start dressing like her. I’m always on the look out for someone else wearing a new pair of fluffy boots or a tiara of spikes. Fabulous woman should be on the television.

Release the cats!

Cat

 

 

“I have lost my rhythm.
I can’t sleep.
I can’t eat.

I have been robbed of
my filth.”
― Charles Bukowski, Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit

Word of  the day: Cryptadia – things to be kept hidden

I didn’t really sleep last night, by four thirty am I’d given up completely. By seven I was on a bus going to Victoria – turns out TFL decided to switch off transport for my town today and a bus going to Victoria was the only way out. However, it was time to release the cats.

 

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I ended up at Westminster Cathedral. Inside was praying and sermons, outside were small crowds of the homeless.

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Anyone who’s been following will know that I recently found a stone cat in the gardens at work, and then I made a few of my own. Today I spread them out around the Cathedral, glad it was early before people were about wondering what the fuck I was doing.

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Mission complete.

Nature’s bubble wrap. And ants.

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“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise”

Word of the day: myrmecophilous – having a symbiotic relationship with ants

This morning my train got cancelled! Which means I ended up sitting in a carriage with all the wrong people, going from the wrong station. I’ll have to wait until Monday to see Angry Staring Man and the twins again.

Melianthus
Melianthus seed pods ready to be stamped on

 

However I did make two interesting discoveries today. One was that the seed head of Melianthus (pic above) makes a very satisfying popping sound when you squeeze it, far more delightful than bubble wrap. I showed some to Dan and his eyes grew wide as he began popping feverishly away, then I showed Jessica and she was soon jumping up and down on them. I reckon I could market them:

Melianthus bubblepop! The all natural way to relax.

Bubblepop, no plastic, no toxins, just soothing pops to ease your mood.

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The other discovery happened when I pulled back a dead leaf and discovered an ants’ nest underneath. They hadn’t even bothered burying their army in the ground. The swarms of flying and pedestrian ants quickly fled to hid under another leaf, but I got a  photo.

Oh AND the brilliant Calmgrove has been doubting the veracity of some of my words of the day and has challenged me to use them in a story. I’m not sure how that would prove anything, but I think it’s an excellent idea all the same. It won’t be easy, but I’ll see what I can do.

No nomophobia

 

 

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“I could see her fighting an internal battle, her face furrowed and fevered, her sentences trailing off as her concentration kept flicking time and time again. She was tethered by a choke chain to her cell and whenever she tried to pull away into the cafe where we sat, the chain yanked and she was checking for texts once more.”

Our Last Hurrah – Dorothea Wallick

Word of the day: Nomophobia – the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use your phone for some reason, such as the absence of a signal or running out of minutes or battery power.

Continuing on my people-watching on the morning train…

I’ve realised that one of the twins is slightly cooler than the other. He’s a bit bigger, walks with more of a strut and less of a hunch. I wonder if he knows, I wonder if he lords it over the other one, or if the other one is resentful. Could wind up as a Whatever Happened to baby Jane situation. Going to keep watching to figure out the dynamic.

Today biker boot lady is wearing earrings with lizards on them. But not dainty little silver lizards. These are the size and colour of actual lizards. And I’m sure I just saw one of them twitch.

Yesterday I mentioned angry staring man. He was there today, staring furiously.

Because I tend to spend the journey ambling around my thoughts, I don’t look at my phone or read. I stare out the window or watch my fellow passengers. But everybody else, everybody! is somehow engaged with their phone: playing games, watching TV, having a conversation. That rectangle of technology contains everything people want and reality does not.

The only other person on the train not looking at his phone, is angry staring man. He looks straight ahead, occasionally around, with a steely look of impatience. Sometimes chewing gum. He wears a smart suit with a silk lined jacket and shiny shoes. I’m aware when I’m sitting there in my mud streaked trousers, with my hair tied back in what has been kindly referred to as a ‘messy bun’ and my dirty nails, that me and angry staring man don’t have much in common. But it’s just me and him not snagged by our phones, which means we are the only two floating around real life while everybody else is asleep.

I know what I’m thinking about, but what about him? Unlike my vague wandering thoughts, his look is angry and filled with intent. He’s not in a morning fug, he is working things out. Important things.

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.