Return of the dream ghost

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“It is far more difficult to murder a phantom than a reality.”

Virginia Woolf

Word of the day: Alcherina – dream time

This afternoon I was playing the card game Shithead with Hamoudi and Jinjing. That game is known all over the world, turns out it’s even got a Wikipedia page. While we were playing (and I was winning, I want you to know) they started talking about their dreams again. About the sinister man who appeared in Jinjing’s dreams staring in through her window and then followed Hamoudi around the tube in real life. He is now ‘on the move.’

Rather than just being in her dreams, Jinjing has seen him in the street, on a roof and under her bed. Hamoudi saw him on the Central Line last night. While sitting in the bright kitchen playing cards and eating Bombay mix, they sounded to me like teenagers trying to scare each other with ghost stories. But now I’m back in my room sitting on my own and monsters from my own dreams have started scratching at the back of my memory. My dreams have been numerous and miserable recently, plagued with stress and sickness, but was there someone in them? A shadowy figure watching?

Nah, probably not. I suspect I’m just mixing it up with angry staring man from the train.

Angry Staring Man! The Encounter.

 

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‘There is a point at which you have to stop preparing to do something and just do it.’

Embrace the Soul Backwards – Emily Stardust

So after the success/not success of talking to fabulous woman yesterday (I got a nod!), I decided to try with angry staring man today. For anyone not keeping up (ie almost all of the world) angry staring man is the smart dressed man who sits on the train staring straight ahead. Since me and him were the only ones not looking at our phones or a book, I felt we had a connection. Since he looks like he’s involved in all sorts of dodgy corporate dealings, I have been curious about what I could learn from him. So today was the day.

So I sat opposite  him, trying to keep the expectant look off my face. Would he tell me about the secret shenaninagans going on at Bohemian Grove? Or the dirty deals between politicians and arms dealers? Would he explain where the tunnels lead underneath International banks?

My excitement lasted a happy moment as I looked across at him, prepared to demand his attention, and then…the happy moment wrinkled into one of sickness.

He stank! You know that sickly perfume they pump out in public toilets? Angry staring man smelt like somebody had poured a bucket of that over him. Or like that gross perfume they put on sanitary products for some twisted reason. I didn’t start a conversation, I was too busy trying not to breathe. And I don’t believe that anyone who  goes to Bohemian Grove would smell that bad.

Word of the day: Graveolent – rank-smelling; fetid

Boy meets tiger

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A fabulous tiger lived in an oak
The more she saw the less she spoke
The less she spoke the more she heard
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

Word of the day: zoanthropy – delusion that one is an animal

Somebody brought a small hyperactive boy onto this morning’s train. Now I know it can be unavoidable, and I felt sorry for the poor mum who looked worn ragged beyond sense, but a kid on the morning train is never a good idea. Everybody is grumpy, groggy and quiet as commuters try to cope with the start of a new day. Just think of the bad karma this kid is building up to work off later in life, all those angry thoughts heading in his direction as he squeals and thumps the seats. No child can properly understand how rush hour trains are, and this excitable boy was simply confused why no one wanted to play. He’d run up and down the aisle trying to start conversations, until finally he spotted fabulous woman. She was sitting opposite me, attention on her phone.

Today, along with the orange striped hair and claw rings, she was wearing orange eye shadow a stripy t-shirt. She looked especially fabulous. Excitable boy stopped and stared for a bit, then said,

‘Are you pretending to be a tiger?’

Fabulous woman gave him an intense glare, one that must have cut right through his hyperactivity and into his soul, and said,

‘No. I AM a tiger.’

Excitable boy slunk back to his seat and stayed quiet for the rest of the journey, occasionally looking over to where she sat. Not fearful, but in awe.

I waved my head about like a snake trying to catch her eye. Eventually she looked over and nodded. Then she stared out the window for the rest of the journey, constantly ready in case another desperate situation called for a tiger.

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.

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.’

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.

Have mystical forces kept me away?

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‘Oooh eerie mystical doom.’ Kurt Cobain

Word of the day: odology  –  science of the hypothetical mystical force of od (not heard of this before and there doesn’t seem to be much information online. Anybody know about it?)

I haven’t written for a really long time now (it may only be weeks) and I’ve not been sure why. Every time I’ve picked up my still-broken laptop, held together with tape and a rubber band, my mind has been a void. Until now, I put this down to general apathy. Stuff has happened, my life has been fine, but I couldn’t think of a single reason why anyone else would want to read about it.

Then today it came to me, someone must be out to stop me and has put a block on me communicating with you, a spell. There have been clues: odd looks in the street, strange dreams, and I shut my finger in the gate which made the nail turn purple. I’ve seen people in my town (by which I mean the bit of London I live in) handing out cards offering to put spells on people for a reasonable fee, so the means are there.

Not sure about motive though. Was I in danger of stumbling on a truth? Did my seemingly innocuous posts about mowing troubles and landlady drama leave clues to a deeper conspiracy? I agree it’s unlikely, but so many things that happen are unlikely, so let’s not dismiss anything yet.

Anyway, for now the spell appears to have lifted and I’m back.

Other events: Mike has been making demands that we find money for the drinks fund (we use it when we go out drinking together). Since we work around rich people, they often drop tenners in the shrubs without noticing. Until today all I’d found was an out of date fiver, but this morning I was able to present Mike with a crisp twenty rupee note. He didn’t seem pleased.

And management have proudly told us that in a few weeks we will be saying goodbye to the rats and grime and moving into a new messroom [Hooray!] with them in the same building [Shit]. I don’t dislike our management as individuals, but as a group they like to sit around in silence being clean, speaking only when they need to bitch at each other. Gardeners aren’t really like that and I can see there being a clash. Still, we’ll see.

Anyway, sorry for neglecting you all, I’m looking forward to catching up on your blogs…

You had one job!

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Word of the day: Bodewash – cow dung, bodge, piece of poor or clumsy workmanship

Weather: yep, there was some

Mood: yep, I had some

My title is kind of unfair, since it’s about the contractors my managers got in to lay a path, and it actually looked pretty complicated, but if the meme fits…

Over the last two weeks the builders brought about ten vehicles in, from diggers to tractors to trailers to some kind of Transformer-in-disguise. Today they arrived with a huge truck filled with grit that couldn’t fit through our gates (fascinating to watch them try for twenty minutes though) and a huge bucket on wheels that carried the grit from the huge truck to the path, and a machine that spread it, then one that flattened and rolled it. And there were ten guys who spread it out and tamped it down. The operation took all day, and was hugely impressive. We got to watch an hour of it over lunch, always enjoyable to watch other people working while you eat your sandwiches. Especially if they keep stopping to argue like these guys did. We couldn’t hear what they were saying, but there was pointing and one guy threw his rake down.

On a couple occasions Mateo wandered over to tell them they were doing it all wrong, but he chickened out at the last minute. It was a shame to go back to work, to our more familiar machines.

When we returned to base at the end of the day, we saw the path, beautifully laid, flat, sparkly black. Stretching all the way from the managers’ office through the trees to the other managers’ office. Except for the two-foot-wide gap where there wasn’t enough grit to reach the gate, apparently the huge grit truck wasn’t huge enough.

They were all booked up with other work after today, so we’re not sure if they’re coming back.  We’re told they left in quite a hurry, taking their many vehicles with them.

Turns out Judge Judy hasn’t taught us the law at all

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The landlady, Julie, turned up this morning, she brought her dog and a box of Cherry Bakewells and wore shoes she couldn’t properly walk in. We thought we were ready, we were not.

Weather: I’ve not been paying attention

Mood: ditto

Word of the day: Grimgribber – learned gibberish; legal jargon

After dispensing tea, some awkward politeness and staring, Jinjing launched in with our complaint, after all this has been building up for weeks.

‘We rent this flat, it’s ours, you can’t just come round when you feel like it,’ she said.

‘Have you looked at the contract?’ said Julie, and took a good long slurp from her cup. I wasn’t sure about that slurp, it seemed awfully confident for someone who’s been breaking the law.

‘Legally, you can’t come in without twenty four hours’ notice,’ said Jinjing, who’s been watching a lot of Judge Judy recently.

Julie pulled out a copy of the contract, licked her finger, turned the pages, then laid it on the coffee table, smoothing it out as she did so. She pointed at one paragraph with a red nail, and I wonder if she painted her nails for just that purpose.

We crowded around and read, we looked at each other, we looked at her, we looked at each other again, and then I said,

‘What does that mean?’ Really there is no need for contracts to be written in such weird language.

‘You don’t rent the flat,’ she said, ‘you each rent a room. You may use the facilities, but they aren’t in your rented space.’ She tried to stop herself from smiling and failed. ‘The flat is mine. I can visit it whenever I want,’ she finished with a small chuckle.

‘Oh bugger,’ I said. I was deflated. Jinjing wasn’t going down without a scrap.

‘But you still can’t come in our rooms, we do rent them. You need to give us notice, you can’t just come in.’

The landlady’s mouth snapped so tight shut that her painted red lips disappeared.

‘Fine,’ she says, ‘if that’s the way you want it. I was hoping we could be friends, but if you don’t want that…’

‘And you broke my laptop!’ I suddenly blurted out.

‘Oh I don’t think so!’ exclaimed Julie.

I go get the laptop, bring it out and show her. She could just have denied it, but weirdly, she said.

‘That’s just a cheap one though, you’d be getting a new one soon anyway.’

‘No, I wouldn’t!’ To be fair, it is a cheap one, because that’s what I can afford. ‘And you aren’t allowed to just break my stuff!’ She sighed, puffing out her cheeks, then waved her hand at me like I was an annoying fly.

‘Ok, how about I take £200 off this month’s rent?’

So, that is more than the laptop was worth, so suddenly I was happy and said ok! Jinjing gave me a look, but I didn’t care. Two hundred quid!

The rest of the conversation was boring and awkward. She’s promised to give us warning before she visits, but is under no obligation to do so and if she needs to turn up in an emergency, she will. I suspect this means nothing will change. She has promised not to go in our rooms, and we’ll have to see what happens with that.

It’s kind of a resolution. Two hundred quid!

 

For a day, let’s just be happy!

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Weather: pale blue skies filled with sun, alternating dark blue skies filled with rain

Mood: many piles of silly

Word of the day: mabsoot  (Arabic) happy

Things have been hectic and ridiculous recently, but today was proper lovely.  Everyone at work was in a good mood: smiley and chatting about any old bollocks. At one point, me and Jessica were laughing so much by the main gates that a policeman hurried in the garden saying,

‘Now what’s going on? Is that laughter or is somebody crying?’

‘That’s us laughing,’ I explained.

‘That’s alright then, nothing wrong with laughing! Carry on!’ and he left again.

Problems just shrivel up and fall off after a day like that.