Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Science of Sleep

Listening to: El Pero Del Mar - El Pero Del Mar

Dialect Word of the day: Outwith (outside of)

I woke this morning unable to move my limbs.

My sleep addled mind instantly lept to the most logical conclusion: I'd had an horrific stroke and was incapable of movement below the neck. I sighed, accepted the cruel fate that had befallen me and drifted back into a blissful sleep. Given that I can spend all night worrying about the minutiae of my humdrum life, I think it's fair to say that I displayed hitherto unknown depths of stoicism.

When I awoke properly, some hours later I found that before leaving for work, Jess had lovingly tucked the quilt around me, but had done it with such vigor that I was swaddled like a big gormless Baby Jesus.

Having escaped from the jaws of lifelong paralysis, I decided to make the most of the day, finish the application for the Masters degree, clean the flat, do the recycling, cook something nice for tea and generally behave like a productive human being. Somehow my good intentions got blunted by a combination of the cold, apathy and the fact that the Archers omnibus was on the radio.

I really should loathe the Archers with a passion and spent many years doing exactly that. I used to spend all Sunday lunchtimes praying for a mass outbreak of BSE to hit Ambridge or for a communist coup to collectivise Brookfield farm, anything that would have seen the wretched show taken off the air. The Archers seems to exist in an alternative universe, the fictional county of Borsetshire is unaltered since feudal times, with the whole village being run in the interests of the insufferably smug Archer family. The working class characters, almost all forelock tugging yokel types, seem to exist only for casual labour and comic relief. However when I moved out of my parents' house, teatimes seemed strangely incomplete without it and the tyrannical silence my mother used to enforce from 7:03 to 7:14pm. I will try and keep all mention of The Archers to an absolute minimum, but they may well feature heavily in future blog entries.

After that I'm not quite sure what happened to the rest of the day. I cannot recall a single thing that happened until Jess came home, somewhat peeved to find me still in my dressing gown and the flat looking like a dosshouse. I tried to explain, to her that unemployment, robs the day of any purpose structure or meaning, so what she sees as hours of uninterrupted leisure is a sprawling mass of dead time. I know my degree in Sociology isn't worth much, but being able to trot out this sort of pseudo-academic psycho-babble, can come in useful. It certainly sounds a hell of a lot better than "I'm a shiftless, work shy, skiver."

Friday, 21 November 2008

Life, love and leaving

Listening to: Gram Parsons anthology

Dialect word of the day: Swally (alcoholic drink)

A fairly pleasant day today, one that makes me wish I'd spent my time 'inflation reducing' more productively and also makes me vaguely threatened by the prospect of starting work. I met Jess and her sister in Monster Mash before wandering over to the Library and spending the afternoon and much of the evening reading late Victorian newspaper articles. I feel I may have been over-immersed myself in Ripper research of late, upon leaving the library today I addressed a fellow reader as 'guv'nor' in a appalling Dick Van Dyke-esque accent. I was mildly surprised I didn't preface the remark with 'Cor Blimey' or 'Stone the bleedin crows.'

This week I've also found time to visit Carlton Hill, albeit in slightly unusual circumstances. After two and a bit years together, me and Jess decided that last Sunday would be an excellent time for our first row. We achieved this with consummate ease and in a fit of pique I flounced out of the flat. Being a rank amateur at the rowing and flouncing lark I soon realised that I had made a crucial error I had nowhere to flounce off too, not knowing anyone in Edinburgh well enough to inflict a few hours of low level pseudo-angst on them. So I was left standing on Easter Road feeling a bit pathetic. I soon realised that:

1. In the middle of a Scottish winter it is probably not a good idea to storm outside without first donning a scarf

2. or a hat

3. or gloves.

4. or money so you can sulk in a pub or cafe.

So despite these privations, I stuck it out and wandered off to Carlton Hill for a bit of a mooch and mope. Despite my black mood, I couldn't help but be overawed by the view from the top of the hill and the bleak beauty of the monuments, especially the half completed National Monument. It was an attempt to build a replica of the Parthenon in honour of the Scottish troops who'd died in the Napoleonic Wars even though they ran out of money after only 12 columns it's still a hugely imposing spectacle and I rather like it for being such an epic failure.

Having stuck it out for an hour and a half I rather pompously decided that I'd probably made my point and deigned returned to the flat, to find that Jess had fallen asleep and had no idea I'd even left the lounge ! Thankfully this took the wind out of my sales and We both found the whole scenario utterly absurd and had a good chortle about it. Especially when she revealed that Carlton Hill was a well known dogging hotspot.

Although can one go dogging on foot? Now there's a question to ponder!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The morning after the night before

Listening to: Jens Lekman Oh you're so silent Jens

Dialect word of the day: Jag (Injection)

The weather is starting to become wintry and given my scrooge like tendencies, I have begrudgingly switched the heating on. For once my fiscal self restraint is probably warranted, two months on the dole is really starting to bite.

Talking of the dole, my bi-monthly appointment with the good folk at High Riggs Job Centre, was marginally more awful than usual. My regular signing man was absent, which is a pity as for a dole office clerk he possesses uncommon amounts of humanity and intelligence (Christ knows how he slipped through the net, perhaps he has been sent on an intensive DSS course to systematically purge him of every trace of civility.) His replacement was every bit the archetype of the dole office drone, brusque to the point of rudeness, utterly lacking in imagination and a slavish devotion to a seemingly endless list of arcane rules and regulations. Well only a few more weeks and I'll be able to kiss them goodbye (fingers crossed!)

The rest of the afternoon was spent more pleasantly in the library, doing a bit of reading on the ol' Ripper murders. I'm beginning to get some more focused ideas for a dissertation topic, looking at the hoax letters received by the press and how by writing these, the public became actors actively shaping the course of events. I begin to worry that my reading matter on such occasions makes the library assistants think I'm some sort of weirdo, borrowing book after book on Jack the Ripper; I am increasingly convinced they have me down as a Fred West waiting to happen. This worries me to such a degree that I have been trying (and largely failing) to engage them in light hearted banter, in a futile attempt them I am actually a well adjusted human being and I won't be waiting for them outside wearing a leather mask and weilding a chainsaw.

The Halloween party at Leith ex-servicemen's club was pretty cool, the building is located in a surprisingly spiffy street of Georgian Terraces although the interior was pure 70s and fabulously cheap. I had been somewhat nervous walking down Leith Walk in my Rod Stewart costume, but with my leopardskin leggings and bleach blond feather cut wig I was an absolute dead ringer for a Leith Prostitute and escaped unmolested. I think the locals appreciated my efforts to pay homage to one of their heroes and I managed to win one of the awards for best costume, which pleased and embarrassed me in equal measure. I felt a bit sorry for Jess as she had gone to a great deal more effort with her Dusty costume. Whilst the drink flowed relatively freely, there wasn't much action on the dancefloor., I did have a a half hearted go at dancing at the end, but my leggings were chaffing a bit, who knew Rod suffered so much for his art?

In amongst the booze and general merriment was the world's longest raffle which, I kid you not, lasted for nearly 45 minutes. There was such a wide selection of prizes that literally everyone in the room won at least once. I managed to scoop a set of bath soaps (which will do as a Christmas present for my Gran and a meal for two at a hotel in the Grassmarket, which should see Valentine's day taken care of.

Tightfisted? Moi?