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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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.

Back to the landlady drama

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The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

Lewis Carroll

Word of the day: Barbastelle – a hairy lipped bat

For anyone not keeping track of all my nonsense, myself and my three flatmates recently discovered that the landlady, Julie, has been paying us little visits while we were out.

Having made it clear with our rental contract that we can’t stop her, she’s started popping round every few evenings and using our flat like some kind of storage facility. So far we’ve acquired a broken toaster, a vacuum cleaner that smokes when you turn it on, a bag of plastic spoons and two packs of doilies. Then this evening, Jinjing and Hamoudi were in the kitchen making falafel and I was hanging about hoping to either get some leftovers or summon up the energy to go and get popcorn, when  Julie showed up again. She poked her head round the door and said,

‘Ohhh, are you having a party? Alright for some.’ Then went back out into the hall. Hamoudi  watched her through the slightly open door, and gave whispered updates to us as to what Julie was doing. Apparently she was checking the paintwork, looking in the toilet and then she took a pile of notebooks out of her back and put them up in the cupboard in the hallway. Thoughtfully she took out Hamoudi’s bicycle pump and my spare towel first, before adding the notebooks and putting a padlock on the cupboard. Then she left. Hamoudi has spent the evening in the hall with a paperclip and YouTube trying to work out how to pick the lock.

‘I just want to know what’s in those notebooks. I’ll bet it’s all information she’s collected about us.’

‘Why would she keep it here then?’

Hamoudi looked at me with ferocious wide-eyes, a man pushed to the edge, I’m not sure what by.

‘To taunt us!’ he said.

Something odd has happened in my street

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‘We broke open the grime and found the shiny. The coin, the chrome, the glint of the sun.’

Empty Poems of the Sun – Hector Banlet

 

Word of the day: smegmatic – like soap; cleansing (if, like me, you love Red Dwarf, this is an unexpected meaning of smegma)

So today Mike visited our messroom-to-be. He said it is too clean and the toilets are small and flimsy. Our boss is excited about it, buying new cutlery and crockery (what we use at the moment is whatever we’ve found in the gardens and cleaned up) and raving about the lack of spiders.

Then when I got home, I went up the road to buy milk, and noticed some POLICE DO NOT CROSS tape fluttering in the wind, attached to a fence. As I got closer, I realised that a large, two-panel section of the fence had been smashed through and the tape had covered this. Further along there was another gap, filled with rubble, and further still, two cars sitting in the drive way with both their back windows smashed out. Anyone have any ideas what could have happened? I assume a car smashed through the fence, but could a car drive through a wall too? And what happened to the two cars? Was it a robbery?

I’ll try to get a photo and a better look tomorrow. Today there were too many people hanging about and I didn’t want to seem nosy.

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.

How to be happy?

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Nothing’s happened for me to write about today, things are calm and quiet, but I have had one thought on what it takes to be happy:

I don’t believe there’s a universal secret to happiness, we’re too varied, one person’s blissful life is another’s miserable cage. So there is no rule book or map to follow, you just have to use trial and error to work out what’s right for you. Experiment, explore, ask questions. And then, when you’ve found the life that gives you peace and meaning, you have to develop the strength of mind to ignore all the people telling you you’re wrong about it.

Hopefully tomorrow there’ll be the usual ridiculousness to write about, I’m not much of a philosopher.

The image is a face sculpted in sand taken next to the Thames.

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!