Am escaped!

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As soon as the huge bus trundled away through the streets heading out of London, and I could watch the world from up high in my comfy seat, I knew running away was right.

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Today I felt like I was abroad, with boats and buskers and infinity skies. Turning the corner in an ordinary back street to find an ornate church or colourful building like a gold tooth in a mouthful of stained yellow. Just exploring, getting lost, chatting to strangers.

I already feel like my head is clearing and I’m starting to understand what’s going on back at the flat. It’s so easy to get caught up in drama and feel like there’s no alternative.

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Mystery solved?

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The tube seat pattern

‘I guess, just be careful you don’t wear any negative shoes, or they might get lifted?’

Comment from A gorilla’s existential crisis

Well, it’s looking like the mystery of the black star has been solved. Although the answer itself may be a diversion, a trick to pacify us. Claims of Illuminati, black holes and aliens are still under consideration.

Weather: blazing!

Mood: chirpy

Word of the day: Hypogeal – underground

So the black star update:

The gorilla blogger, Matt Johnson (unusual name for a gorilla) did some searching around and came up with a theory to explain the star (for anyone who missed the beginning of this, there are stars on the ceiling of tube trains in London and NOBODY else appeared to have noticed them or knew what they were).

The website he linked to had this comment, which I didn’t read properly at the time.

And look out for the little star on the ceiling, that indicates the floor hatch for lifting Negative shoes.

Then after posting on a London underground forum, I got lead to another post, which led to some comments under an article about the underground, and this said basically the same as Matt’s research.

The blue stars are an indication of where the shoes are on the train, in case they need to be lifted. They were on all the old Victoria line trains and are on the baker loo as the trains are basically the same.

For anyone confused about negative shoes, this is the wiki description of shoes. Somebody had fun coming up with names for stuff.

Electric railways with third rails, or fourth rails, in tunnels carry collector shoes projecting laterally (sideways), or vertically, from their bogies. The contact shoe may slide on top of the third rail (top running), on the bottom (bottom running) or on the side (side running). The side running contact shoe is used against the guide bars on rubber-tired metros. A vertical contact shoe is used on ground-level power supply systems, stud contact systems and fourth rail systems.

I suspect it’s the vertical contact shoe that needs lifting and is marked by the star (which I still say is black.)

So I’m going to leave the mystery alone for now, but it won’t be forgotten. I suspect London is full of odd little mysteries, I’d like to connect some of them up. Any ideas how?

 

 

And the competition has begun!

 “Hot weather opens the skull of a city, exposing its white brain, and its heart of nerves, which sizzle like the wires inside a lightbulb. And there exudes a sour extra-human smell that makes the very stone seem flesh-alive, webbed and pulsing.”

―Truman Capote, Summer Crossing

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Weather: apparently it’s summer now

Mood: everything is great

Word of the day: Cuniculous – full of holes and tunnels; full of rabbits (not a relevant word, this one. Just great.)

Me and Dan were both wearing shorts today, so Mike declared we had now joined the competition.

‘And I’ve got a day on you, so whenever I stop wearing shorts, you have to wear them the next day too,’ he said.

‘Ok,’ said Dan, ‘it’s on!’

‘What? No it’s not,’ said I. ‘I’m just going to wear shorts until it’s cold again.’

‘No, you’ve got to be in the competition,’ said Mike.

‘I really haven’t,’ I explained. Mike looked at me sad and bewildered so I felt guilty. But not so guilty I’m going to freeze my knees for weeks on end.

When I got home Neville was in the kitchen, I wondered if I should mention the plate full of bacon STILL sitting on the counter, but he was being so cheery and nice, I didn’t want to hassle him. And I was sort of wary it would turn into a monologue about food storage, so I grabbed a bag of Doritos and hid in my room.

Annoyingly the tomato ketchup I keep in my room seems to have vanished, so I couldn’t have sauce on my crisps. Which is odd, isn’t it? How could I have lost a bottle of ketchup?

(Update on the star tomorrow!)

A failed attempt

 

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The ongoing mystery of the black star on the tube.

Weather: much sun, some cloud

Mood: vague

Word of the day: scintillometer – instrument measuring scintillation of star

I tried asking the information desk at the train station if she knew about the black star. She said ‘Oh maybe.’ And my heart leapt, she began searching through different message boards on her two phones. ‘I’m sure I saw something here,’ she said, flicking through. So I pulled out my phone to show her the photo I’d taken. Her expression went cold, ‘Oh no, I’ve never seen that before,’ she said.

So then I asked a young, efficient-looking guard in the tube station, his shirt said Happy to help, but he looked at me very oddly, ‘What star? Where? What tube?’ He was annoyed. Another, slightly older guard was walking past, so I asked him, he looked at me like I was mad.

So either I’m mad, or nobody but me is observant, or this is a huge conspiracy to hide the truth about the black star – presumably some secret organisation leaving its mark to watch over us. Any ideas? Of course if it’s the conspiracy explanation I have now warned officials of my presence.

 

Snubbing of chilli con tofu

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Image from Police sketch here

What terrors lurk in nightmares? And what if they escape?

Weather: happy

Mood: sunshine

Word of the day: maw wallop – a badly cooked mess of food

This evening I decided to brave cooking. Neville had left a large plate of cooked bacon on the counter, he hadn’t even covered it. Hasn’t he heard of botulism? I started making a big pot of chilli con tofu. Jinjing came in and sniffed around, so of course I offered her some, she’s given me plenty of food over the last few weeks. I don’t think my chilli was up to her standards though.

‘What are the orange bits?’ she asked.

‘Baked beans,’ I said.

‘What are the yellow bits?’

‘Peanuts,’ I said.

‘Oh,’ she said and sat down. My chilli had been snubbed.

‘You have any more weird dreams?’ I asked.

‘Yes! The same one as before. Just this man staring in my window. He was wearing a hoody and his face was really pale, his eyes were dark. I woke up terrified and I couldn’t get back to sleep for ages. It’s definitely an omen.’

My laptop is still hanging together, for those who are concerned, although I have to keep securing the electrical tape.

More trouble?

So just how did my laptop get broken then?

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Image from here

Weather: little fluffy clouds

Mood: little fluffy brain

Word of the day: mizmaze – labyrinth; bewilderment

Jinjing and Hamoudi were in the kitchen this morning and I needed to wash up the collection of crockery that’s been building up in my room, it’s beginning to totter. Jinjing looked slightly disapprovingly as I walked in with my pile of bowls and glasses, carefully balanced in a tower, but she was half-way through telling Hamoudi about a dream she had, so I got away with it. Our kitchen is small, and we had to do some shifting around so I could get to the sink.

Jinjing’s dream sounded disturbing, she dreamt someone was staring in the window at her. Just standing outside looking in, which is bad because we’re on the first floor. I suggested the BFG, and Hamoudi got excited about this.

‘He’s great! He can tell us stories!’ Then Hamoudi asked me how I was doing and I mentioned about my laptop being broken and how I wasn’t sure how that happened. Then Jinjing said, ‘I knew it! Didn’t I say I knew it?’ Hamoudi nodded, she had said that.

‘Knew what?’ I asked, feeling out of the loop.

‘Somebody’s been in my room, and now it sounds like someone’s been in yours,’ said Jinjing. ‘I’ll bet that’s why I had that dream, it’s a warning!’

‘Why do you think someone was in your room? Was something missing?’ I asked.

‘No, but I know. I’m very sensitive to these things. I know when someone’s been in my room.’

‘Ah,’ I said.

‘I bet it’s him,’ said Jinjing in a whisper, pointing her chin towards Neville’s room. ‘He’s a creep. I mean who cooks that much meat?’ I didn’t feel this was damning evidence, so I remained vague.

What is going on in this flat though?

Disaster! Thievery! It’s ok really.

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From here

“A tragedy is a tragedy, and at the bottom, all tragedies are stupid.”  Stephen King

Weather: mottled skies

Mood: good

Word of the day: La-li-loong – a thief. Originates mid 19th-20th century.

Tragedy is befalling me like I broke a mirror or hung a horseshoe upside down, but I don’t remember doing either of those things recently.

A few days ago I noticed my laptop was damaged, the casing of the screen was cracked so that it could no longer shut. It looked like I’d stepped on it, but surely I’d remember such a thing? I stuck a note along the top saying ‘DON’T SHUT’ (because I have a tendency to forget everything) and then tried to be really careful with it. It’ll hold out for a while longer, I told myself.

Then yesterday I needed to go to the kitchen to get some popcorn for dinner, put the laptop carefully on the rug, came back in my room and kicked it across the floor. Bollocks! The crack became a split and I could see the exposed wires and gleaming metal inside. Well I ate my popcorn (first things first) and then taped it up as best as I could, using an elastic band to hold it together. So that’s probably fine now. No problem.

Then yesterday evening I went out to the pub with my work mates and was having a really nice evening, lots of drunken rambling and laughter. I left my bag under a table for a while and then thought I better retrieve it, but it had gone! We looked everywhere.  Dan was annoying strangers at the pub by picking their bag up and shouting ‘Is it this one?’ to me. My boss was ranting about the evils of modern society.

I was feeling quite smug though. Earlier on when getting changed out of muddy work clothes I thought Shall I leave my keys and phone in my bag? No I’ll keep them in my pocket, just in case. So I did. And the thief is going to be super pissed off when they discover all they’ve got is an old ice cream tub with cucumber and cherry tomatoes in it, and some biros. So that’s also pretty fine too.

Phew!

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I mow like an idiot while Mike fights for his life

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Brains are awesome. I wish I had one.

Weather: sunshine and little fluffy clouds

Mood: pretty good

Word of the day: loobily – clumsily, stupidly

Today I had a huge lawn to mow with the ride on mower. I love the ride on, so much more fun than driving a car, zipping around like I’m on a quad bike. The only problem is remembering everything with my faulty brain (take the handbrake OFF). Anyway, I’d done half of the grass by break and was feeling pretty smug. I switched off the engine (and handbrake ON), and then realised I hadn’t put the blades down, so I’d cut nothing, merely squashed the grass. Tragic.

In the afternoon I got a call from Mike who was laughing so hysterically he could hardly speak.

‘I’ve been attacked by an albatross!’ he said. And made squawking sounds down the phone to demonstrate how aggressive the albatross was.

‘What?’ I said.

‘In fact it was probably a fucking eagle! It shat all down my neck!’

By the end of the day, the story had grown, and a pterodactyl, probably from a Jurassic-Park-style experiment, had tried to carry him off, then spilt napalm on him. He fought the attacker off with a pruning saw. Luckily he seems to be ok.

Tackling the stench beast

What horrors lurk behind the fridge?

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Image from here: Monster jokes

Weather: drizzle, the kind that turns everything to mud

Mood: quite happy

Word of the day: Scurryfunge – frantically cleaning before company arrives

Today I decided to take control and find the cause of the disturbing smell in the fridge. The smell was a bit like rancid milk and vomit and I felt pretty disturbed imagining what kind of twisted creature would create a smell like that.

There were a few places the smell might be coming from: under the fridge; at the back of it; or from the big pipe at the side of the fridge that looks like it belongs to a tumble dryer, even though we have no such machine. I sniffed down the pipe, and Mike peered  out from behind the door to shout in horror,

‘Don’t bloody smell it! It’ll leap out at you!’ then he hid back behind the door.

I pulled the fridge out, looked underneath. Finally I pulled out the drip tray, and there it was, the nest of my rancid milk life-form. There were leaves, bits of plastic and goo. I didn’t poke too deep because some things are better left unknown, but I emptied what I could into a bin bag (I’m sure the whole construction was held together with chewing gum) and then left the tray to soak.

I haven’t quite got over it yet.

The perils of grunge

I don’t think my comfort zone is actually that comfortable.

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Word of the day: Grufted – dirty; begrimed

Weather: grufted sky

Mood: grufted in the head

Our messroom is disgusting. From the funky smell coming from the fridge, to the mice that run about the kitchen, to the rot in the windows. There has been talk of a new messroom, shiny and beautiful, but nobody believes it will happen.

‘They’ve been promising it for years,’ said Mike, kicking his locker door which had got jammed again. From the kitchen came the sound of Jessica using the pliers to switch off the hot tap. Our promised new messroom will have indoor toilets (no more dead squirrels!) and the chairs won’t stick to you. Our new messroom is the glowing oasis on the horizon, but is it all a mirage?

Then Dan screamed. Apparently he went to pick up his water bottle and found a rat wrapped around it, licking the water off the side of the bottle. I would think rats would have chased away the mice, but apparently the two can live in perfect harmony. How sweet.

Barry came to visit again he turned up loudly cheerful, singing Bring Me Sunshine as he danced around. Then he chatted about his sick mum. I did my best to be sympathetic, because it sounds tough to deal with. He said,

‘You always get my head sorted, you always make me feel better.’ Which was really nice to hear, but then he said to Mike,

‘You see? This is what women are for! This why they’re here. They sort you out, they listen!’

Good to know I have a purpose.