25 May, 2007

Good luck, Mr Brown.

So, Gordon Brown promises to take a tougher stance on bullying, huh?

Right. Let's see your best shot, then, tough guy.

I can't even remember how many times I've heard this now. It honestly makes me wonder if they have any idea what bullying is, or how it happens. From the way they talk about stopping it, you'd think bullying was a teacher formally witnessing one pupil punching another pupil squarely in the face. VOICE OF EXPERIENCE: Not how it happens.

This, just for the record, Mr Brown, is how it goes down:

It starts with one little thing. One teeny, tiny thing, that probably doesn't seem like a big deal at all. Perhaps you wear something odd; perhaps (God forbid!) you do well on a test, or get your homework in on time. Perhaps you are seen conversing with another kid who - GASP! - is not top rung on the popularity ladder. Perhaps you like books, or computers, or video games. Not an issue, you would think, young and naive as you are.


Because somebody notices. And somebody says something; one snidey little comment, one nickname, one quiet, mean-spirited little laugh. And you think, that's odd. They were probably joking. I'll just get on with it.


They weren't joking.

And before you know it, barely anyone calls you by your actual name. Not a single class passes without some kind of jibe; not a single walk through the corridor is unmarred by name-calling or tripping or hair-pulling. You simply would not believe the scarring power of the evil looks a group of fourteen year old girls caked in foundation and mascara will give you if you dare to intrude on their private gang time in the school toilets because you actually need to use the facilities. That's not what toilets are for, you idiot! Clearly they are for smoking and gossiping and vandalism. Jeez.

Balls thrown at you in PE. People pushing in front of you in queues. Getting pushed around so often that eventually, if someone told you it was actually possible to walk down a corridor in a straight line, you'd laugh at them. Constantly being laughed at. Constantly being subjected to a stream of criticism, regarding everything about you. You don't straighten your hair? What a freak. Not wearing make-up? Slob. Uniform doesn't even bend the regulations? What are you, retarded?

Of course, there's no point trying to change any of these things. Try to adapt yourself to their apparent idea of what you should be like, and you'll be met with even more scorn. You'll be a laughing stock by the middle of the day. Wearing eyeshadow? Oh look, she wants to be like us! Let's push her around.

And that's not even to start on the physical abuse, which, yes, you can probably do something about - but it'll be locking the door after the horse has bolted. It would be nice to see someone being punished for all the physical abuse they so generously dole out - but by the time they've received their punishment, well, you already got pushed over on the concrete, didn't you? You already had a full-size regulation basketball thrown at your face. You already got slapped for no reason with no warning. You already got your bra pinged (not to mention the insult regarding the size or apparent absence of your breasts). You already got a slice of pizza, fresh from Home Ec, rubbed into your hair on the bus.

There is only so much comfort that punishment of the offenders can offer the victims. They got a detention, or a warning, or a letter home. Brilliant. You know what that will do, though? That will make the whole affair personal. They were just having their fun; YOU got them in trouble. They didn't get themselves into it - let me reiterate that - it was YOU. This is YOUR fault, and now YOU are going to get punished. And if they think you'll get them in trouble again, they'll make it subtle, and you know what? Not quite being able to tell if it's you they're laughing at in the corridor; knowing that they're still calling you that name behind your back instead of to your face; that lasting, niggling feeling that perhaps, wow, they might be right about you being ugly; those things hurt one holy hell of a lot more than a quick basketball smash to the nose, I can tell you.

Complain to the teachers! you cry. Ok. Complain to the teacher, who will either tell you to ignore it, or organise the most horrific meeting you can imagine between you and the offender, who will claim they know nothing of it, and are sorry for any offence caused. As far as the teacher is concerned, there is no problem, they have done their job. Ok, well done. Now off you go home to work on your lesson plans while I head for the bus, knowing I'm going to get the biggest bollocking known to man the second they lay eyes on me. Cheers.

Fight back? Right. You know who gets punished?
The person who started it, right?
Besides, it doesn't seem to have crossed the minds of a lot of the 'teach your kids to hit them back' crowd that although in principle it's a good idea (let's face it, it kind of is), the majority of kids who are the type to get bullied are not the type of kids who relish the idea of physical violence - whether because they are just not that way inclined, or because they are afraid of receiving an incredibly savage beating in response to their attempts to defend themselves.

On the other hand, if you lose your temper and go off on one at them, you will most likely get a telling off for your language. Give yourself the satisfaction of thumping them one, see where that gets you. Exactly the same place. Loserville: population, you. Doesn't matter if the bully gets the same treatment; they will still consider it a victory to laugh at you, being punished for your efforts to be treated like a human being. What right do you have, after all? You are worthless. Nothing. A nobody. You are a laughing stock; a walking entertainment centre. You are a punching bag. A clown to be taunted. A puppet to be toyed with.

I just don't see how you think you're going to make that better by allowing teachers to give punishments - which they probably won't do for fear of a fabricated accusation of abuse, followed by a hefty lawsuit brought on by the parents of the little shit who thinks they have the right to make someone else's life a misery for no reason - and introducing community police support. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but can schools not already call the police if something worthy of the police's time is going on? Or are schools banned from contacting the emergency services in such cases? Do you think a headteacher is going to waste the precious time of policemen or women who, let's be honest, have other things to be getting on with, because someone pulled someone's hair, or 'accidentally' pushed them down a small flight of stairs, or called them a nasty name? I don't think so, somehow.

And yes, ok, very often it ends when your school career ends. But even if you're lucky, and it does, you'll find parts of yourself that you really don't like lingering for years afterwards. Do you know, I still laugh when people tell me I'm pretty? And I don't consider myself a mean-spirited person by any stretch of the imagination, but I cannot tell you how wonderful it is, how vindicated I feel, whenever I hear that one of the people who made my life so miserable at times is now a single mother of two, or addicted to drugs, or living in a hovel, or working as a stripper. And those are horrible things, no matter who they happen to. And I don't like myself for feeling glad they've happened to these people - but still, deep inside, there is that little voice that says, "Look at what they did to you. They deserve that, and worse."

It's not like I have any better ideas. I mean, you know, of course it wouldn't hurt for parents to at least TRY to raise their kids to understand that torturing people is not really a very nice thing to do - and no, I'm not saying it's all the parents' fault, but to some extent it's a perfectly reasonable explanation - I just think, fine, if you want to introduce these measures, I'm sure they will be at least some help in some cases. But please stop acting as if you can make a real difference without far and away more drastic action. Stop holding out false hope to kids who are really, truly miserable. You do know people kill themselves over non-physical bullying, don't you? These are people's lives at stake here, in a very real sense.

I know you're trying to help. But you could at least take a closer look at what you're trying to stamp out - and recognise that it goes a lot deeper, and is a lot harder to catch, than you seem to think.

24 May, 2007


This summer, I intend to:
  • Get something at least faintly resembling a tan in attempt to look healthy for possibly the first time in my life - and to be able to bare my skin next to Dave without feeling and looking like an ivory statue in comparison.
  • Not burn to a crisp while attempting the above.
  • Grow my nails long enough to justify getting an actual manicure. And not bite them afterwards. Ever again. I really am too old to be biting my nails now.
  • Finish my fnucking novel, already. Yes, yes, I know, some people take years or lifetimes to write a novel, and I only started in January. But I'm not a slow writer; I'm just chronically lazy so I need to get over it if I ever hope to write more than one decent thing.
  • Paint. Lots.
  • Sell some designs to art trading companies.
  • Keep Keith (my clinically insane goldfish) alive. This would be easier if he ate the food I put in his bowl, and if he didn't persist in trying to jump out of it all the time.
  • Speak another language to people for no apparent reason, just to confuse them. Heheh.
  • Take lots of pictures.
  • Have a brilliant holiday (although this is guaranteed; there is no way a week's camping in Cornwall could go bad)
  • Start dance lessons, at last! How long have we said we were going to do this for, Benny?
  • Keep up healthy eating - but learn how to make it interesting. There's only so long you can enjoy a diet of cereal, pasta and grilled chicken just because you know it's good for you. Sooner or later you need to actually TASTE something.
  • Start swimming again.
  • Listen to lots of music. Attempt to fill my mp3 player almost exclusively with happy songs.
So... it's going to be a busy summer, what with working full time as well.
I am looking forward to it immensely. Well, I say looking forward to it... I guess it's already started.

Better get on with that novel, then.

Oh, and one more thing:

I'm sure I can fit that in somewhere...

21 May, 2007

Camping extravaganza!

And so I return, victorious, from a two-and-a-bit-day camping extravaganza, with what can only be described as:
  • A 'healthy glow' (pink as a lobster)
  • A shopping basket.
  • A model windmill.
  • 'Camping hair'.
  • A small goldfish named Keith, in a sweet jar. Bonds' Nut Clusters, to be precise.
Observe! The empirical evidence of a brilliant weekend:

The weather, despite being forecast to be shit, was actually brilliant, as proved by this rather glorious picture of yours truly wearing some really rather ridiculous sunglasses:

During our epic scavenger hunt, we came across this:

The tiniest ice cream van in the world! In case you can't read it, the writing on the side says 'Minghella's'. My mum reliably informs me, the company is owned by relatives of the film director, Anthony Minghella. One can't help but think, then, that they could have afforded a slightly roomier van. But, islanders can't be choosers (dear anybody-from-the-island-who-might-be-reading: that was a joke) so I think the 'little van that could' should be applauded for its ice cream selling efforts.

The following picture is one of my favourites from the weekend: Dave, chilling out with Keith, our newly acquired fishy friend (who is sitting next to me as I type.)

I like to imagine the dialogue thus:
Dave: Yo Keith, how you doin'? You like the sunshine?
Keith: ... Fuck off.

Ben masters the new dance move that everybody's talking about - The Sprinkler.

Ben was on something of a roll with dancing, what with having invented 'Fish Raving' only hours before. Videos, hopefully, to follow.

I am the epitome of class.

This looks like some kind of rip-off of the promo shots for 'Skins'.

Some of the more memorable moments included Manley rolling around in the popup child's tent with his third beer at about 1pm on Saturday before we started to set up camp, yelling gleefully "This was thirteen quids worth of pure genius!"
(The tent later became Keith's tent. That's one well looked after bloody goldfish, I can tell you.)

Also, last night, after returning from our slightly (ha!) drunken bus quest to a rather piratey pub, Dave and I went to bed shortly after we got back, then Adam and Ellie went to their tent, and as Ben, Mark and Manley were still moving about getting ready we hear Ellie yell:
"Eugh, someone help me, I can't get out of the tent because Adam's being sick!"
The tent unzips and we hear Adam stumbling about.
Ben calls out, "Adam, are you ok?"
"I'm fine."
"Have you been sick?"
"I'm fine."
"Have you been sick?"
Followed very closely by *BLAAAAAARORGH*.


All in all, an absolutely bloody brilliant weekend.
Scavenger hunts FTW.

17 May, 2007


About a week ago, I decided to go on some kind of health kick. And here I am, a week later, looking really no different... but I feel pretty good, you know? It's nice not to wake up to an answering machine message in my brain from my body, saying "Right, you little bitch, the second your natural teenage metabolism crumbles, you are SO SCREWED."

So that's good.

Also I stopped biting my nails! Which is a major development for me. I do it every so often, but it usually fails. I am optimistic this time though.

In slightly less brilliant news I am having trouble sleeping, and unpleasant dreams. I know what they're about; I can relate them completely to the thoughts I am having whilst awake. I'm not worried about why they're happening, I know it's natural and common and all that other shit. But it's not helping. I think about it enough while I'm awake; I'd just like to be able to lay my head down on something soft, and close my eyes, and just for a while believe that I was somewhere where I don't have to worry about what happens when you die. Please. Is that so much to ask? I wouldn't have thought so, but who knows.
I'm sure it'll calm down, or at least, hopefully, get less vivid, harder to recall during the day, like most dreams.

I just wish - as anyone in this situation would - that this wasn't happening. In fact, possibly the worst dreams are the ones where it turns out to have been a mistake. And there are the tearful reunions and the soothing explanations and everything else. And then you wake up to a world that still has that hole in it. And you don't want to dwell on it but is it healthy not to? What do you do in this situation? Just grit your teeth through the days when your back just doesn't feel right, through the joint pains and the little niggles and aches, just try to let go and fall back asleep when you wake up at 2am for the third time in the night, sweating and shivering and aching all over? Just drag yourself out of bed through sheer force of will when you wake in the morning and have never felt more tired, when the sunlight streaming in through the curtains has never looked so cold, so clinical, despite the warmth you know in your logical mind is seeping through the room? Cold, all the time. Or too hot. Ravenously hungry or unable to look at food. And you're cheerful and happy through most of the day, and you can go to bed feeling perfectly fine, smiling and snuggling up to someone, but a couple of hours later you wake up and there's that tight feeling in your chest and that heat behind your eyes and you can't wake them up to tell them how you feel because you know the tight feeling will get tighter, shrinking until it becomes a little knot so tight and dense that it implodes into a little universe of worry and anger and fear, and you know that the heat behind your eyes will prickle and spread and before you know it you'll be there again, numb and silently crying and completely paralysed.

The last few nights have been hard. That's probably why I'm up so late. I don't want to go to sleep for fear of not being able to; for fear of the dreams I'll have.

They can hear me, but not see me. Or neither. And I suddenly see everything in my life that I'll never do - even things I don't want to do now. To never be able to fall in love, share a home with someone, get married, get a degree, hold your first child, buy your first house. To not be able to publish my book, be bridesmaid at my friends' weddings, be an aunt or godmother. To never be held by someone again, or kissed, or touched.

I don't know what I believe about the afterlife. Recent events have not encouraged me to make a decision regarding my beliefs or lack of. I just hope, in the mornings when I wake from these dreams and try to swallow the lump in my throat and anchor myself into a world where I am happy, that if there is something after this, it's not the way I dream it at the moment.

Apparently it takes a year for the body, let alone the mind, to recover from the death of a loved one.

If only it were as simple as not eating cheese before bedtime.

10 May, 2007


Next time Catherine says "Want to come out for an hour" I will know what I'm letting myself in for.

Go out 'for an hour' at seven.
Get in at two.

It was a great night though. So much dancing! So much... sweating, actually. It was very hot in there.
Rock and roll!

08 May, 2007

I regret nothing!

I am going to get shot for this.

"Yeah, kiss it bitch."
"Please... just let me die."

Ok, yes, it's childish (incredibly). Immature (extremely). And probably blasphemous (excruciatingly).

But it's the first thing that came to mind and, damn it, I thought it was pretty funny.

07 May, 2007

"Oh man, I just shot Marvin in the face."

Ok people, we have a lot of ground to cover here so please, try to keep up.

First on the agenda: Laughing at Scientology.

Disclaimer: I do not care if you think this is discrimination. I believe Marmite is nice; I believe Snakes On A Plane is a brilliant film; I believe boots and a dress is a viable fashion choice. You are free to laugh at these beliefs. I am free to laugh at the religious equivalent of a terrible 1950's sci-fi B-movie. Get over it.

So, if you don't have a great working knowledge of Scientology, this is a good place to start. Please at least skim the 'summary' section of this Wikipedia article, or what I'm saying won't make much sense. Not that I can guarantee it will make any sense having read the article, but it might help.

Now, I am not even going to start on Tom Cruise - except to say, if I had humiliated myself that badly on national television, I would honestly go and live out the rest of my life in a hole. On fire. Watching that must have been even more painful for Katie Holmes than giving birth IN SILENCE.

Moving on.

Right. If you've read the summary on the Xenu page, you should be with me on this.
Even as a science fiction script... it's a big steaming plate of poo. Plain and simple.

Ridiculously cliched names, a plane in space, the idea that the decor of modern cinemas harks back to some kind of racial memory of a giant screening room in which the first inhabitants of 'Teegeeack' (Earth, to the uninitiated) were shown a 3D film for 36 days which apparently made them into complete retards who couldn't distinguish between themselves and a thousand of themselves... and a plane in space. The artist's impression of which has the NASA logo on the back.

Sorry. No.

And also, this is only "Incident 2". "Incident 1" occurred, supposedly, four quadrillion years ago. This may not mean much until you consider that four quadrillion years is 300,000 times longer than current scientific thought holds the age of the universe to be.

Also, L Ron Hubbard was an alcoholic, and a drug addict. Would you devote your life to the indisctinct ramblings of such a person?

Zecharia Sitchin on acid would probably make more sense.

Second on the agenda: Life.

I know, I know. A broad net. But bear with me.

I was thinking the other day, it's strange how much tiny little things can affect your minute-to-minute perception of the world.

The fat bald guy in the football shirt who gives you the kind of look that makes you think "How dare you look at me like that, I'm somebody's little girl, somebody's childhood sweetheart" : shitty world.

A passer-by smiling at you and nodding towards the sky and saying "Lovely day, huh?" : wonderful world.

Two little girls dressed up like hookers, probably no older than twelve, sat on a bus stop bench, smoking : shitty world.

The dad in a shirt playing football with his two little daughters in the park : wonderful world.

Coming into your room while the house is empty and stopping dead and thinking "Fuck, something's missing" : shitty world.

Someone bringing you a DVD you lost because it was in your laptop when it got stolen : wonderful world.

A phone call and the words "Are you sitting down, I have some horrible news, I'm so sorry" : shitty world.

Waking up and the first thing you see is someone smiling at you : wonderful world.

Having someone to encourage you to paint and write even when you don't feel like it : wonderful world.

Hearing 'Raspberry Beret' on the radio : wonderful world.

I think you can see which one is winning over at the moment.

I was also thinking, whilst looking through all the saved messages on my phone, about all the things people do that are completely overlooked when people talk about the horrid things that happen in the world.

Do we even notice that people hold each others' hands? That people call just to say hello? That people give each other little cards for no reason, and buy each other little gifts on impulse? That people tell each other they love each other, every single day, just so they know? That people hug their friends when they say hello and when they say goodbye? That they have little nicknames for each other? That they say "You are lovely" or "You look so pretty today" or "I'm glad you are happy" or "You are my best friend" or "You matter"? That they sometimes look at each other at exactly the same time and laugh as if they just shared a thought about something funny?

Because all that stuff does happen. In among all the shootings and the insults and the mean little acts of spite, people are nice to each other for no particular reason, other than that they want to be.

And it's important. It's important that you do all those little things and that you tell the people you love, that you do love them, that they matter to you, that they are worth something. It may seem like you can tell them later. And maybe you will be able to. But please just do it now because you know what, you are never too young for it to be too late and if they don't know now, there is at least a chance that they never will.

So, to all those reading who do those little things for me - I love you. You matter. You are worth something.

Just thought you should know.

05 May, 2007

Halo memories

"Aha! Dr Turd, I presume."

I need to start having Halo DeathFests again. I miss the good old days.

Also, this may not have occurred to any of you, but the song 'Love Shack' is far, FAR more amusing when the word 'shack' is replaced with the word 'sack'. I'm just saying.

I'm sure there was a time when I wrote useful stuff in here.


For anyone who's ever had a run-in with the IT department.

(Disclaimer: yes, I know some IT helpdesk staff really are incompetent or ignorant or rude. I am generalising. Get over it.)

I remember once last year hearing someone at work spouting off about the IT department. I earwigged in because having worked in IT, I am of the opinion that IT helpdesk workers are misunderstood, underestimated, downtrodden creatures, who really deserve someone to stand up for them.

The colleague in question was ranting because of a server problem.

"They had this message before you even got through, saying 'if you are calling about the server issues, please hang up now, we are aware of the problem and are dealing with it accordingly, thanks for your call' and I thought oh no, you're not fobbing me off like that. So I stayed on hold for seven whole bloody minutes and when I got through and told her what my problem was she said exactly the same! So I went off on one at her about how it was slowing everyone down and it really wasn't on. She starts going well it's not our fault, we're working on it, so I said I wanted to speak to her managed, but he was conveniently on a call. The whole thing is a complete sham."

Right. For anyone who's ever wondered why really competent IT helpdesk staff are a rarity, I'm going to let you in on a little secret:

It's because intelligent, hardworking people who know their shit about computers quite rightly see no reward in sitting there squandering their talents getting shouted and sworm at by ignorant cockbites like you.

I mean seriously. Listen to yourself next time you call the IT desk. Chances are, you immediately come across as thinking you know better than the analyst. Let's remember, shall we, that you are the one calling a complete stranger for advice on what is more often than not an incredibly simple IT problem. And another little secret for you, the more of an asshole you are, the less likely you are to get your problem fixed in a timely manner. And the more likely they are to find your picture on the intranet, or in a database where you thought it was safe, and laugh at it. And do you really, honestly, seriously think that they need another call about a server problem which is affecting literally thousands of people? They know there is a server problem. They know you cannot do any work. They know this isn't terribly convenient for you. They don't need to be reminded. It is all they have heard about all day. They have barely had time to pour their substandard coffee-machine-produced lukewarm piss down their necks, their office is either too hot or too cold, and their manager is in a REALLY bad mood.

Speaking of their manager, your analyst is not just trying to save herself the trouble of a complaint. He really is on the phone, to the server team, in fact, and has been for the last two hours. He's getting shitty with them because this problem is seriously screwing up his service level statistics, and his attitude is hardly hurrying proceedings along. There are seventy two calls waiting, and most of them get dropped because his desk is so understaffed and the other service centre is offline because it was evacuated due to unsubstantiated flood warnings. Oh, and while we're on the subject of the server team, they're the team who - funny enough - deal with servers. If the problem is anyone's fault, it is theirs. The way you talk to the analysts, you'd think they were sitting around, smoking, gazing disinterestedly at the servers they just smashed up with a couple of monkey wrenches and an office chair. This is not the case (much as they may be tempted to smash up the servers and leave you to deal with the chaos alone.) Your analysts is a go-between, a newsreel, a ticker-tape. Stop shooting the fucking messenger, you stupid fucking fuck.

In conclusion: YOU are the reason the IT helpdesk is often so unhelpful. The people who were really good at their jobs quit long ago, because:
  1. You are a mouthy, self-important asshat, and
  2. Because most of your problems, which seemed like the end of the world, could be fixed with a quick reboot, and this drives them to near-suicidal depression.
The people who remain are trying their best to mediate between you (the aforementioned mouthy, self-important asshat) and an uncooperative resolving team who are more concerned with the spelling mistakes in the many angry emails heading their way than the server issue.

So please, shut up, sit down, and know that next time your account is locked out - they did that on purpose. They giggle about it on their lunch break. Even their manager thinks it's funny.

Have you tried turning it off and turning it on again?

02 May, 2007

I am bad at titles.

And not just blog titles, either. I am having even less luck naming my novel than I am writing it, and that's saying something at the moment. The most progress I've made with any aspect of it recently is wasting three rolls of Benny's film on pictures of me pratting about posing for the cover. Now this may sound vain, but I just don't know anyone else who fits the description of the main character even vaguely - short, slim with long blonde hair - so don't start on at me about vanity. I had to stand in. Yes, I could have waited to find another model. In fact I might still end up doing that. But I wanted to feel like I was making some kind of progress - and let's face it, pratting around in a little dress, in a park, in the sunshine, taking daft pictures, is a pretty fun way to make progress.

As is the compulsory glass of Ros
é wine in 'Spoons with your photographer afterwards. And the lasagne. And the cake.
Oh, the cake.

Anyway! In other, more Chuck-Norris-related news... today on my lunch break, with the aid of that wonderful invention known as Sky Television, I was able to actually watch a program containing Chuck Norris.
Walker Texas Ranger; I would come up with an opinion, perhaps even a review. Unfortunately, I didn't pay much attention to the actual program, what with being far too busy being amused merely by the presence of the Norris on my TV screen.
Such is my amusement threshold.

Also, I got to go in a hot tub the other night. It. Was. Awesome. I bet you are totally jealous. Go on. Admit it. You are.
Except Dave, because you were there too... but still. Everybody else! Haha.
Although spending an entire hour trying to detangle your hair, at midnight, is not so fun... it was totally worth it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and tidy my room, which currently resembles the bastard offspring of an Oxfam shop and that beached whale that they blew up.

That is all.