It means I have issues with my father

“Want a chocolate brownie?” calls The Sister from the kitchen.

“No, thanks,” I reply after the necessary moment of serious contemplation that the question requires.

The Sister appears in the living room and looks intently at me. “Are you OK?”

“Eh? Yes, I think so,” I say somewhat uncertainly, wondering if she knows something I don’t. There is a concerned expression on her face as she licks chocolate from a large knife in a very unsafe manner.

“You refused chocolate,” she says by way of explanation. “And I don’t know if you remember, but you did the exact same thing the day before yesterday. Are you sure you’re alright? Is there anything you want to talk about? Are you ill? Do you have any issues you need to discuss?”

She is beginning to scare me. I thought I was OK, but she paints an alarming picture. There are, perhaps, too many deeply insightful people in my life. Suddenly, the refusal of a chocolate brownie reveals layers of emotional trauma of which I was previously unaware.

And on a vaguely related note, I found this clip whilst browsing silly YouTube videos with Dirk the other night, and I fear that my resulting hysterical laughter may indicate severe mental issues. Perhaps, when all is said and done, I am as complicated as a cucumber.

6 Pigs on a Steam Train

Mum has purchased a Fireside Quiz.

It’s one of those numbers/letters ones (e.g. 49 N in TNL = 49 Numbers in The National Lottery), and after Sunday dinner today it provided us with entertainment of the “this family really isn’t normal, is it?” variety.

“240 Old People in a Picnic,” said The Sister, thoughtfully. “What about 21 D in a DR?”

“21 Dogs in a Dog Run,” I suggested. Mum looked quite irritated. “You’re not taking it seriously,” she complained, tapping her pen on her scrap paper and peering over her glasses at us as we sniggered in a very juvenile manner. “Course we are,” said Dad comfortingly, snatching the quiz sheet from The Sister. “Let me see that… 2 P on a B… hmm.”

“2 People on a Bike?” offered The Sister, trying to be helpful. Dad rolled his eyes. “Wait!” he exclaimed.  “To Pee… on a… Bridge!”

Disgusted, Mum tried to get the quiz sheet back. “If you’re not going to do it properly…” she said haughtily.

“2 Pigs on a Blanket!” I shouted excitedly. The Sister nodded enthusiastically, and The Parents looked suspiciously at us. “What?” I asked indignantly, “that’s a real thing!”. Dad stared accusingly at me. “Cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon,” said The Sister, defending me. “Like the ones we had with dinner.” Mum didn’t know whether or not to believe us. “Well,” she said dubiously, “why are there only two?”

“We ate them,” chorused Sister and I, happily.

“3 C of TL,” said Dad, studiously ignoring us. “3 Cans of… Tinned Lettuce,” replied The Sister.

 Silence descended upon the group as we came close to completing the quiz. “What else has dots, other than dice?” asked Mum, deep in thought.  “Hankerchief! Bikini!” I cried, getting slightly carried away, perhaps on a high from my “6 Sides on a Rubik’s Cube” stroke of genius.

“Err… that’s not quite what I meant,” said Mum, looking utterly bemused. “Are you just going to start naming every possible item of clothing that may or may not have spots in the design?”

Sister was in fits. Rather embarrassed, I tried to explain my thinking. “Well, but, you know – big spotty hankerchief… and the Timmy Mallett song…”

Dad returned from the bathroom to find The Sister and I performing an enthusiastic version of Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, with actions, in the middle of the living room.

“2 Total Lunatics in the House,” he grunted despairingly, turning to go outside for a smoke instead.

Telling Tails

I had an incredibly lazy day yesterday. I didn’t actually change out of my pyjamas - it’s a long time since I last spent an entire day lounging around and occasionally taking a break from nothingness in order to have a doze.

 Not that it’s helped, as it’s currently 3am and I feel like it’s maybe approaching lunch time or something.

 Anyway, such a day provides ample opportunity for predictably sensible conversation with The Sister, whose life continues to enthrall me. “I don’t know what this little bumpy thing on my hand is,” I was musing thoughtfully, rubbing the mark in question as we lay lazily draped over the sofas, regretting the quantity of food we had just consumed. “It’s been there all my life, and I still haven’t identified its purpose.”

Sister rearranged her cushions and wriggled around a bit. “Birth mark, probably,” she said with a dismissive yawn. “I’ve told a vast number of people that I was born with a tail, actually.”

“Pardon?” I asked, unable to form any other response.

“A little wiggly piggy tail,” she elaborated.

“You told people you were born with a tail,” I echoed, just for clarification.

She shrugged. “I was having a conversation about birth marks with some friends once, and I told them I was born with a tail, which I had to have surgically removed. I told them it was a very sensitive issue, and that I didn’t want anyone else to know.”

“Err, why?” I asked incredulously. She grinned lazily. “Why not?”

Indeed. So it turns out that the whole thing ended up spiralling out of control, and an alarming number of people now believe, and also have great sympathy for, the generally acknowledged fact that my little sister is part human, part piglet.

Sometimes I think I really need to get out there and start meeting less frightening people.

Troubled

I am slightly embarrassed to tell you that this particular blog post started out in life as a private email to K8 the Gr8. She never received it, as I realised halfway through that it’s a bit late now to be worrying about my fellow bloggers thinking I’m an eejit… might as well just publish it on the WWW, eh?

The thing is, I’m a bit nervous about the whole Blog Awards thing. Firstly, there is a conference on next weekend, which nearly all of my friends have paid £50 to attend. This means I still have nobody to accompany me to Dublin, and that’s a wee bit daunting in itself. However, I am a girl who moved to Glasgow all by herself at the tender age of 18, and travelled alone to New York a few years ago, so I’m pretty certain I’ll be able to cope with an overnight stay in Dee Sowt.

The real issue is that I have no idea what to expect, and that scares me a bit. I’ve seen photographs from other blog awards ceremonies, and they seem to be very posh affairs, with dashing gentlemen in tuxedos and lovely ladies in fine silk dresses. I have never been to a dressy-uppy event in my entire adult life (as I am not a dressy-uppy person), but I was willing to do so for the sake of meeting my favourite bloggers and seeing my name on a shortlist. I even spent time planning exactly what I can stop eating in order to be able to afford a dress. Then, however, I received my booking confirmation email, and it has thrown me into a panic by saying that there is no dress code.

Being a complicated person, I can’t take that to mean “there is no dress code,” and cheerfully turn up in my casual clothes. Instead, I am spending many happy hours obsessing about the number of different ways there now are for me to make a complete fool of myself.

Firstly, what if there is no dress code, but it’s generally accepted that everyone dresses up in ballgowns, pearls, diamond shoes etc., and I land in the middle of it all wearing trainers and a John Lennon t-shirt?

Secondly, what if I do make an effort but look positively shabby next to all the glamorous people who attend awards ceremonies as often as I dream about it?

Thirdly – and possibly most horrifying of all – what if there really is no dress code, and everyone’s dressed casually, and I have felt that there was in fact an implied dress code, and I turn up in a dress I’ve sold all my belongings (cat included) to pay for, and everyone in the entire building stops talking and turns to stare at me as I walk in, and they all start to laugh and point as I realise my error, until eventually the loud, mocking laughter becomes a deafening roar that will chase me as I flee from the building, only to trip on my new high heels and fall flat on my face in a water fountain, with my knickers showing?

So, you see, I have issues. The email I didn’t send to K8 was a few rambling, panicky sentences along these lines, broken in the middle by a short, unannounced “HELP ME”.

I now issue that plea to the world at large.

Being Open-Minded

Do you sometimes feel as if you have to like certain things because they’re ‘classics’ or ‘legendary’? Pulp Fiction, for example. Or, I don’t know… Mozart. Or yer man Thomas Hardy, who wrote ‘symbolically’ about fields and moors and brick houses. Sometimes I’ve caught myself nodding sagely and saying “Oh yes – a classic!” when, to be perfectly truthful, I think that the subject matter in hand is nothing but a steaming pile of pretentious artistic manure.

Now. Have you ever watched Being John Malkovich?

I bought it because (a) it was in the bargain bin at Video City for £2 and (b) I knew it was a much-hyped movie, nominated for Oscars, blah blah blah. I felt that I should probably watch it if only to add to my repertoire of ‘films I have watched just because everyone else has watched them’. Anyway, Sister and I found it loitering at the bottom of the DVD rack on Sunday night, and decided to give it a try. Film criticism is not really my niche, so this may not be the most eloquent review the movie has ever received, but here goes:

What, in the name of patience, sanity and reason, is all that about?

It’s like a group of stoned teenagers were bored one Saturday night and one of them said hey, you know what’d be, like, totally cool, man? If we just wrote down , like, all the crazy thoughts in our heads and just, like, y’know, film someone like acting them out! And all the other stoned teenagers looked mightily impressed and said Dude! What a totally awesome idea, man! And so Being John Malkovich came into existence. For the first time since my hippy-dippy student days, I really felt like I was missing out on something because of the absence of dope.

Halfway through, I said nervously, “I don’t understand the point of this,” and was relieved when Sister expressed her agreement. We couldn’t switch it off, because we were certain there had to be a point to the film, which would probably become clear in the next scene… or the next… or the next.

As the end credits rolled, we looked blankly at each other. “Do you feel,” asked Sister carefully, “as if you have just taken some hallucinogenic drugs?”

It really was that bad. A puppeteer gets a job in an office on the floor between the 7th and 8th floors. Where, incidentally, the ceilings are so low that everyone walks around stooped over, which makes the whole thing feel slightly insane for a start. Anyway, he falls obsessively in unrequited love with his work partner, and they discover a wee door in his office that leads to, erm, the mind of the actor John Malkovich, allowing you to sort of travel as a passenger in his mind for 15 minutes. No questions whatsoever are asked about this amazing discovery; instead, they decide to sell trips to Malkovich for $200 a pop. Of course, the puppeteer’s wife tries it and decides she prefers being in a man’s body – and then she falls madly in love with the same woman that her husband is obsessed with – and the two women have a love affair whereby the work partner schedules dates with Malkovich when she has arranged for the mad wife to visit his mind!! Naturally, the puppeteer goes berserk when he finds out, and, mad with jealousy, locks his wife in a cage with a gorilla. He enters into Malkovich’s mind for a rendez-vous with the work partner, who thinks the wife is still in there. Until, that is, the puppeteer realises that – being an exceptionally gifted puppeteer – he can actually take over Malkovich, control his movements, speech etc. It just keeps getting weirder and more alarming, and I felt much more disturbed than entertained by the time it was over.

Being John Malkovich

Going round the bend, more like.

The Importance Of Thinking It Through

It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity. I bet this kind of thing does not happen to heroin addicts. I bet that when serious heroin addicts go to purchase their heroin, they do not tolerate waiting in line while some dilettante in front of them orders a hazelnut smack-a-cino with cinnamon sprinkles. ~Dave Barry

Exactly.

Saw this quotation on Kettle and Cup and completely identified with it. Do you know, I was fidgeting restlessly in the queue at Starbucks the other week behind some girl who asked the question “What’s an Americano?” – she actually said those words.

It’s worse when it’s the staff. I was at a particular Caffeine Supply Stop yesterday morning buying some coffee beans for work (in a moment of sympathy and appreciation for He Who Brings The Coffee), and decided on a whim to purchase one of their “Heat and Eat” baguette things for my lunch.

The guy behind the counter put my coffee beans into a bag, then began to tear open the baguette’s wrapping to put it into the microwave. “Oh, excuse me,” I said politely, “could I just take that away and heat it myself?”

“Sure,” he said. He continued to remove the packaging as if I had never spoken, and I stared at him in confusion. Perhaps he was trying to get fired or something. Never do what the customer wants would probably be the right attitude to adopt, in that case.

His colleague also stared at him. “Umm, she asked if she could take it away and heat it herself,” she said, confirming – to my relief – that I had in fact said this. “Oh,” said the guy, shrugging, as he re-wrapped my lunch, “I understand. I thought you asked if you could take it way and eat it yourself.”

?    ?     ?   

I mean, why would I have asked that? Would he have eaten it for me if I hadn’t specifically requested to eat it myself?

I am not sure that I understand the world around me any more.

Oh where… is my chopping board?

 Young McGinger and her friends are big fans of a show called Veggie Tales, which seems to involve some kind of talking cucumber named Larry, who sings a lot of silly songs. One of those silly songs is entitled The Hairbrush Song. I have to confess – I like it. It is supremely awful, but it makes me giggle for some reason.

Unfortunately, and as I should probably have warned you before you watched that video, once you’ve heard it once it is impossible to remove it from your brain. It burrows in there like a determined tick, and starts worming its way into the centre of your very being. You’ll hum it all day. Then it’ll go to sleep for a little while, only to resurface all of a sudden when you’re looking for your keys or something.

And so it is that, quite often, I find myself running frantically around the house, searching madly and singing “Oh wherrrrrrre… are my car keys? Oh wherrrrrrrrrrrrrrre… are my car keys?” – which then of course means that once again I’m singing the stupid thing all day long.

It happened this morning, and now I swear I want to chop that cucumber’s head right off.

Baby Talk

Sister and I watched a documentary of sorts the other night. My Fake Baby, it was called. It was about dolls, but really, really lifelike ones. You can get them custom-made to your specifications. It’s weird. Like ordering a designer baby. The people who buy them actually push them around in prams and cuddle them and stuff!

One couple, who were completely barking mad  a little eccentric, decided they weren’t ready to make the necessary commitment towards having a child, but as they were quite broody they made do with these “Re-borns” instead. The woman went all the way to New York to collect her latest one (Sophie), and sat in the hotel room awaiting the courier in the manner of a dad-to-be waiting outside the delivery room. It was ridiculous. “People might think I’m strange when they see me,” she said at one point, “they say it’s weird just because I’m a grown woman pushing a doll around in a pram. But I don’t see why they should say that.”

Err, because of that reason right there, love. You’re a grown woman, pushing a doll around in a pram. You just said it.

One other lady kept coming on screen in tears, talking sadly about her little grandson, Harry. She told us how much she missed him and would give anything to have him back, showed us pictures, told us how one spot in the garden always reminds her of him, explained how it almost felt like he was her own because she used to look after him so much. As this information was gradually revealed to us throughout the programme, Sister and I began to feel compassion for the poor dear. “See, I can understand that, I suppose,” said Sister, referring to her reasons for wanting a custom-made “Harry” doll. I nodded in agreement. “Yeah… it’s a bit creepy, but if it helps her with her grief…” By the end of the show, we were very sympathetic towards her heartbreak, and couldn’t help but feel amazed and slightly deceived when she slipped in the sentence “My daughter and her husband decided to emigrate, and they took my Harry with them.”

Good grief.

She then went online to show Real Harry the Fake Harry via her webcam.

“Look, Harry,” she simpered, “look at my new Baby Harry. I’ve got a new Baby Harry.”

“Poor Harry!” cried Sister and I, fearing for the wee lad’s self-esteem and feelings. “Please tell him it’s just a doll,” added Sister, quite cross by this point.

“Is it a doll?” asked Real Harry, peering hard at his screen.

“No,” simpered Totally Deranged Woman, “It’s a real baby! It’s my new Baby Harry!”

Real Harry stared intently in silence for a moment. Sister and I shook our heads in disgust, feeling sad for the little guy. He then won our utmost respect by sitting back with a laugh.

“Don’t be silly, Grandma!” he grinned in amusement, “It’s a doll, you numpty!”

“Don’t call Grandma a numpty!” exclaimed Totally Deranged Woman, aghast.

“Ha ha ha!” Sister and I chorused in delight.

Honestly. The world is fast becoming one big farce. Something will have to be done before we all start taking pooper-scoopers along when we walk our toy dogs in the park.

“And so this is Christmas…”

Tonight was our annual Family Night Out.

The Parents, The Sister, The Boyfriend and myself went for dinner at a new place in town called Hussh. I’m pretty sure they’ve made a mistake with their phonetics and it should probably be spelt “Hushh”, but not to worry. It was a lovely meal. I had one of those pizzas that are so hot they make the skin underneath your eyes sweat. Fabulous.

We went on to the Blackstone afterwards. Sitting at the bar, I was slightly startled when a woman with very loud Belfast accent grabbed my handbag, threw it at me, flung herself across the bar and yelled “*£$%#  @***$£!£*!  *$%****!!”, or words to that effect. The gist of it was that her sister (whom she referred to as **%&$*  &**!!*  @~#!*) had taken her credit card to pay for a round of drinks, and it was my fault. And also the barman’s.

Bemused, I looked around nervously for an escape route. “‘$!&*@~#!” howled Angry Girl. I stayed put. “I am totally calm!” she announced to nobody in particular. Mum and The Sister were giggling into their drinks beside me, and made no effort to engage me in any form of fake conversation. “Excuse me!” added Angry Girl, her face suddenly appearing half an inch from my nose, “Did you – did anyone – my @*#&! sister!! – did anyone steal your money?” “Err, no” I replied politely. This appeared to be the wrong answer, because she glared at me and pounded the bar. “I’m so totally calm!” she yelled violently.

I twisted desperately in my seat. “Hello!” I said suddenly to a surprised-looking guy standing nearby. “Hi,” he replied uncertainly. “My @*&#! sister!” screamed Angry Girl. “What, now? Yes, of course!” I babbled insanely, leaping off the bar stool and diving towards the now-very-confused-looking man. “I’m totally calm,” mentioned Angry Girl in a ferocious roar. “Please just walk, please,” I hissed in Confused Guy’s ear, as Angry Girl began screaming her drinks order at the barman. Mum and Sister were in convulsions in their safe little huddle. Confused Guy scurried off in the opposite direction, and I followed him determinedly as if I’d been waiting for him all night. Crash! Fizz! @~#!$&!@! came the distant sounds of Angry Girl spilling drinks behind us.

“Thanks,” I said to Confused Guy, rummaging in my bag for my car keys. “Enjoy the rest of your night. Merry Christmas.”

I left him standing looking totally bewildered, and marched out of the pub. As I walked to where I’d parked the car, I phoned Mum. “Thanks for dinner, Mum!” I said cheerfully. “I’m away. Have to get up early for the radio show tomorrow, y’know.” Mum was laughing a lot. I could hear muffled squeals of @!$*%!!! in the background.

And that was the Christmas Night Out. Season of goodwill. Joy, peace and all that. It’s beautiful.