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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From the sublime to the ridiculous

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Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.

Hans Christian Anderson

Mood: up and down

Weather: up

Word of the day: plenilune – time of the full moon

Couldn’t sleep so took a walk as the huge, full moon was hanging at the end of my street with a quizzical expression. While pigeons waddled in the gutter and foxes walked in the shadows at my side, all of us quiet. It was the glimpse of sanity that I needed.

Since then it’s been downhill.

At 10am, Neville cooked up a batch of pork chops while lecturing cheerfully at Jinjing about women’s rights through the ages. I went into the kitchen at one point and she was glowering at him over her cereal while he remained blissfully unaware, chattering without pause.

As soon as he went out, Jinjing  put tape over her door, sparkly sellotape so she knows if anyone has been inside. Neville had left some pork chops on the side, and she threw them in the bin. I tried not to yelp, that was a lot of food.

Does that count as an act of war? Are we at war now?

 

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.

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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It’s starting again!

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Take me to a place where the dead roam the Earth and the living float above them.

Word of the day: Aeriform – gaseous or unreal

Weather: wash out!

Mood: sun dried!

 

I got up this morning to find Hamoudi looking miserable in the kitchen. He was making a tower out of clothes pegs and sighing. The pegs kept pinging across the room.

‘What’s up, champ?’ I asked.

‘I think it’s starting again,’ he said.

My ears pricked up and I had to hide my eagerness behind a veil of concern.

‘Seeing ghosts?’ I whispered.

‘Maybe,’ he said, the peg tower shot a pink peg under the fridge and then collapsed. He started again.

‘What do you mean by maybe?’ I asked, trying to not get tetchy, because seriously, he likes to drag things out. He figured out a method with his building, creating a triangle with three pegs.

‘When I was at the station yesterday, I saw this movement out the corner of my eye. A red cap, and blue jeans. I think it was a small boy. Then he was gone, just vanished.’

‘Well, if it was busy…’

‘And last night, I woke up and he was standing at the end of my bed. The same clothes, red cap, blue jeans. But his eyes were hollow, staring at me.’

‘Did you recognise him? Did you speak to him?’

‘No.’ He puts another layer on the tower, and it stays upright, but this doesn’t make him happy.

‘I left Canada to get away from all this,’ he says. ‘What if they’ve followed me here?’

It would be cruel to point out that if there are dead people wandering around Canada, they are probably  everywhere. I pat his shoulder and the peg tower falls down again. Sympathetic though I am, I’m also pretty excited about this development. If there are ghosts in our flat, I wonder if I’ll be able to see them. Maybe Hamoudi can introduce us. That would change everything.

Meeting the pigeon lady

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Word of the day: Engastration – stuffing of one bird inside another (I’m not sure why this word exists, but it’s beautiful).

Weather: patchy

Mood: patchy

I went out for a wander around London today. I like to walk under the railway tracks. I was walking towards one archway, when I saw a cloud of pigeons rise up, flutter about for a bit, then land again. I stopped to watch and this happened a couple more times. Then I walked closer and saw a woman was feeding them, whole bags of seed tipped onto the pavement. She was a bit hostile at first, but when I bumped into her five minutes later doing the same thing in the park, we gave each other a nod of recognition. It was good, I like to feel I have points of contact around the city. That I know what’s going on, the important things.

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Barry the barrowman

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“Chanu spoke loudly, he weighed his words like gold and threw them about like a fool.”
― Monica Ali

Weather: frost, sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain, cold wind.

Mood: in search of calm

Word of the day: Callithump – boisterous and noisy parade

Most of the road sweepers at my work are mellow and friendly, but Barry the barrowman (as he’s not known to his face) is a little different. Today, I was trying to read my book on my lunch break when he walked up close and screamed ‘Oi! Oi!’ in my ear. Then he began to leap about in front of me, saying ‘What you reading for babe? What you want to read for?’

The problem is that quiet upsets him, he takes it as an insult. Me reading is an affront to his dignity. He needs constant noise and attention, which is tricky because he spends all day sweeping on his own. He has hours alone to think up paranoid reasons for everything: colleagues he thinks are avoiding him. Or spying on him. Plots to oust him from his job. How everybody hates him. By the time he gets to break he’s so wound up, so desperate for attention that he shouts his way around the room, scaring everyone away.

I try to calm him down by asking about his plans for the weekend. His mood drops, he drifts into melancholy and tells me about how his kids won’t talk to him anymore. Even the one who’s earning lots of money, but won’t give him any. His emotions are a roller-coaster.

 

All in a day’s work…

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A pretty Melianthus flower to offset the disturbing blog

Miss Marple probably was a murderer.

Word of the day: psychagogue – conductor of souls to the underworld

Weather: blue skies

Mood: pensive

Bit of a grim day at work today. Jessica found a cat’s head in the kid’s playground. It looked severed rather than eaten. She threw it in the bin, but it turns out the police want to see it in case it’s murder. So work has gone a bit Rosemary and Thyme, for those who don’t know that’s a detective duo who work as gardeners, but keep discovering dead bodies. (Why nobody ever pegs these amateur sleuths surrounded by murders as the ones responsible, I have no idea.) Anyway, I’m pretty sure Jessica wasn’t responsible for the decapitated cat, but I’ll keep an eye on her.

At home, tensions haven’t ended, with snapping and glares between Jinjing and Neville. Neville’s sudden painting of the hallway left a few green footprints on the stairs, and he half-painted the skirting board.

‘Why even do it if you’re not going to do it properly?’ Jinjing said. She is mortally offended by his ineptness. I’m used to ineptness, it doesn’t really bother me.