True(ish) Facts About London

In case you weren’t already aware, in January I became an inhabitant of That London. This is a very different living situation from the wilds of Herefordshire, but it’s generally proving pleasanter than I had expected. Cheap art and easily available friends are a good consolation for the constant lack of time and money, even if they don’t help much with the oversupply of diesel fumes.

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Fainter alert: My day as a side-effect statistic

Well hello there. It’s been a while since the Archers debacle, so I thought I’d risk peeping my head over the parapet of the internet. For now it’s just a quick cartoon-post, but if I’m not pounced upon by hordes of trolls this time, I might just attempt to get back to some kind of regular posting schedule. Stay tuned. 

Today, I spontaneously decided to give blood for only the second time in my life. I know, I’m a hero, but let’s not go on about that – no, really, there’s no need to applaud. Honestly, it was nothing! All I did was donate a whole pint of my life’s blood for the good of my fellow human… Oh very well, you’re right, I am basically an incredible person.

Anyhow, the whole mildly unpleasant process went quite smoothly at first; I passed the various forms, interviews and tests, and got through the stabby needle bit without wincing too conspicuously. After fifteen minutes of lounging in my reclining chair as the creepy swaying blood-bag filled up (by the way, does anyone know why they rock back and forth like that?), I was starting to feel quite complacent.

Unfortunately, my body had other ideas, and shortly after I’d been sat down and given a biscuit, I came over all woozy. Just as I was just starting to wonder if I should inform someone that my head had become a lot heavier than usual and the room had shrunk to half its usual height, I was swooped upon by a very observant nurse.

With terrifying efficiency, the other people in the recovery area were unceremoniously displaced so that I could lie across their seats. Despite my protestations, I was then propped up with wedges and cold-packs, given copious amounts of orange squash, and quite literally fanned by one of the nurses. My attempts to leave were firmly quashed for the next half hour, during which time I began to feel like more of a damsel than a hero.

Given that I felt fine as soon as I lay down, this all seemed a bit unnecessary, but I suppose it’s good PR to ensure that people don’t keel over on their way out of the donor centre. However, I’m pleased to announce that my release into the wild has been successful, thanks, no doubt, to my dutiful observance of the instructions in my slightly patronising ‘Feeling faint’ leaflet. Jane Austen would be proud.

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Nine things not to do in the Quiet Carriage

Shhhh… let’s just forget about my month-and-a-half absence and plunge straight into a brand shiny new rant-listicle-combo (a ranticle?).

I’m not a religious woman. I try, albeit in my fallible human way, to believe only things I have good evidence for, whilst being tolerant towards the other inhabitants of this deeply flawed little planet. However, there is one sacred place in which the tiniest misdemeanour can turn me into a furious rage-monster. (Anyone who’s seen me when I’m hungry may take issue with the idea that I don’t often become irrationally enraged, but that’s not the point.) Friends, let me introduce you to the Sanctity of the Quiet Carriage. Continue reading

Have YOU spotted these four omens of the impending Apocalypse?

Check out my exciting click-baity title – I thought I’d try doing a Buzzfeed, just to see if it makes any difference to my stats. Let me know if you found yourself inescapably drawn in by the potent gravitational pull of a *gasp* combined rhetorical question and listicle, with just a dash of hysteria thrown in for good measure. Now hold on to your hats for a quickly-penned, ranty one on the highly original topic of How Everything Has Gone To Sh*t Nowadays. 

Once again, I must apologise for being shockingly absent from your online airwaves for the last month or so. This is, as ever, due to a combination of factors, mainly being pretty busy and coming down with various things, including another bout of writer’s block. I think the latter is partly to do with how depressing the internet has got lately. The moment I open my laptop, I’m bombarded with articles confirming that the universe is literally coming to an end. If it’s not climate change, IS or the mass murder and displacement of millions, it’s dead celebrities, embarrassing politicians or the slightly disappointing new iPhone. Continue reading

Working with your hands: A risk assessment

 As promised, here’s the final version of one of the many semi-posts that was languishing in my Notes app until recently. This is about one of the three jobs I’ve been doing in my sort-of gap yah, and why it’s the perfect counterbalance to Oxford; similar ideas are discussed in this post. The other two jobs, by the way, are bar-tending and tutoring, both of which I might write about later. 

Over the last six months and many summers, I have worked as a carpenter’s assistant and general dogsbody at Hollow Ash Shepherds Huts. This involves odd bits of Actual Carpentry, with complicated measurements and the like, plus occasional on-the-hoof conferences about seemingly impossible problems such as how to get an 18-foot shepherd’s hut out from between two load-bearing poles that are around half that distance apart, with no manoeuvring space (hint: it involves an approx. million-point turn and quite a lot of swearing).

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And, occasionally, a tractor.

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Heroes: encounters with genius in the Netherlands

In a small act of defiance against TIME ITSELF disorganisation, I’m posting this a while after it stopped being really relevant. I won’t offer the usual apology, because the 12 Days of Christmas series massively increased my average posting frequency, thereby giving me  a free pass to be unproductive all January. Take that, self-imposed deadlines. But now, here are some post hoc cultural tidbits from my latest adventure.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Amsterdam with my mother. Before you decide that my family is weirdly liberal, it wasn’t that kind of trip – we were visiting my aunt, uncle and cousin, who live in a houseboat on the Amstel. This housing choice kills two birds with one stone: they’ve created a charmingly quirky home, and also cleverly circumvented the problem of What Will Happen to the Netherlands When The Oceans Rise Up. We spent much of our time looking at wildly varied objects of beauty in several museums, some of which I shall now expound upon for your reading pleasure.

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