Burn, baby, burn.

I’ve just realised that I’ve managed to get my back and shoulders spectacularly sunburnt.

Please dismiss any images of lounging around soaking up the rays on a beach that that sentence might conjure up, for they would be wildly inaccurate. I’ve been working very hard today. On a Sunday, for shame. Tsk.

Of course, ‘work’ no longer means ‘sitting at a desk in a darkened room with no window for eight hours a day’. Thanks to the marvels of freelance writing, I can work where and when I choose to, which, it goes without saying, drastically transforms my attitude to it. I love my job!

Brief pause as I reflect upon exactly how many years I’ve spent longing to say that with a straight face.

And so it is that I got out of bed when I felt like it, made a nice big pot of coffee, and settled myself at the floor-to-ceiling windows of the appartment to tackle my work in the warmth of the sunlight. Feeling slightly like I was on show in a greenhouse, I threw the window wide open and enjoyed the cool breeze as I typed. As a result, a casual glance in the mirror when I stopped for lunch revealed, to my dismay, some upsettingly red portions of skin. That’s going to hurt.

I am no stranger to sunburn, being a girl of Very Little Brain who consistently fails to learn from some of life’s more painful lessons. Forever etched upon my mind is the fateful family holiday in Tenerife, where I spent at least one day (probably more – it’s all a bit blurry) in bed because of a severe case of sunstroke. It improved my Spanish slightly, as I could only move enough to switch on the TV, so I spent my time groaning feverishly and watching dubbed episodes of The X Files and Friends.

Fastforward to a few summers later, when I took a break from my A Level revision to have lunch in the back garden. Naturally, I fell asleep on the sun lounger, and with no one there to wake me up I found myself sitting some of my exams in a considerable amount of sunburnt pain. Putting on school socks over red-raw skin is not a pleasant task.

Yet still I did not learn. A camping trip to Tollymore Forest Park with a group of friends a few years ago saw me lying blissfully in the sun, uttering phrases like “Ahhh… this is the life!” before predictably falling asleep. That was dire – so badly burnt was I that I needed assistance to get up from my inflatable mattress the next morning. Poor Lollibelle had to half-carry me to the showers, where she threw me in and waited anxiously outside as I stood, swaying dangerously and propped up against the wall, underneath a lifesaving stream of cold water.

Still. Getting sunburnt whilst sitting at my ‘desk’ is such a novelty that I don’t think I can bring myself to complain.

This is the life!

Fresh Art

Upon closer inspection, it appears that the Drainpipe Art I mentioned the other day is actually more bizarre than any of us could have expected.

“Hang on,” I said as we walked past it again. Crossing the street to have a closer look at this architectural wonder, I peered closely at the ‘cups’. A feeling of utter bewilderment crept in over my mild bemusement. In silence, I crouched down to examine the display of pipes on the base of the ‘Art’.

Unable to do anything other than gape, I glanced up at Riho, who was no doubt anxiously awaiting my verdict. “These are… air fresheners,” I said slowly and carefully. I returned my gaze to the pipes in order to verify this. I nodded. “They are, in fact, air fresheners” I confirmed, unable to tear myself away from the ‘Art’.

Not only is it a model made of drainpipes, and not only is it bizarrely decorated with cups of some description, but it is also an exhibit of air fresheners. I do not know what to make of this, and there is no descriptive literature to be found. In a moment of desperation, I almost asked a girl standing nearby, until I realised that she was just an interested observer like myself and had nothing to do with the ‘Art’. I cannot cope with the Not Knowing; there is a deep, inexplicable need in me to find meaning. Other people may be able to walk past and say “Oh look, dear, a large object made of drainpipes and decorated with cups and two types of air freshener, how lovely!”, but I simply can’t do that. I had to leave eventually, as the fumes were giving me a headache and the lavender scent was making me sneeze, but I haven’t let it go.

I won’t.

Fluffy Backfire

When MonkeyMrs sent me a text tonight, inviting me round to theirs tomorrow night, it was immediately followed by a typically odd message from Billy, who was apparently with her at the time.

I dare you to send MonkeyMrs a psychotic reply it said, for no obvious reason. I shrugged, and replied to MonkeyMrs. I love my lips…. usta! said my reply. I continued with my dinner preparations, receiving an appreciative text from Billy, who, it seems, had been “thinking more ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ psychotic” but enjoyed my response nonetheless. She said I showed potential. I was pleased.

Then I got another text from Billy, which caused me to laugh so hard I started to choke, then cry (a knock-on effect of the choking), and burn my dinner in the process. MonkeyMrs just accidentally sent MonkeyMan a message saying ‘I ate Billy for tea’. You’ve been outdone – and she hadn’t even been dared!

I love it when people are thoughtful enough to share these little moments with me. Of course, it’s even better when they display them online for all the world to see, as MonkeyMrs has been known to do. One of my favourite amusing moments ever (and one which still makes me giggle out loud when I think about it) was when everyone around here started catching on to Facebook applications like Superpoke. You can read about all the interactions in the Superpoke feeds: Hails has hugged MonkeyMrs. Billy has hi-fived McBouncy. Then came the rather brilliant sheep-throwing feature. It appealed to my sense of humour to go online and see something like Bex has thrown a sheep at Hails. For at least a week, everyone just happily threw sheep at each other all day and all night, because it’s not often you get the chance to do that, unless you’re from Cullybackey or Broughshane, perhaps.

MonkeyMrs, struggling to keep up with all these new-fangled activities (i.e. throwing sheep at one’s friends), tried her utmost to join in the fun. Sadly, she failed to get it quite right, and so it was that I was treated to one of my favourite lines of all time when looking at the feed on her profile…

MonkeyMrs has thrown a sheep at herself.

Poor MonkeyMrs. I couldn’t tell anyone about it without giggling hysterically at the mental image, and for a long time she endured numerous immature jokes every time anyone saw a sheep. It’s also become a classic and generally approved method for stopping me in my tracks if I’m being gloomy or in the middle of a full-on rant about something. Many friends will simply say “MonkeyMrs has thrown a sheep at herself” and I’ll be totally incapable of doing anything other than laughing helplessly.

But we’re all quite normal once you get to know us…

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.