Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Friday, April 28, 2006


No- not the all-inclusive resort- but the first outing (in both senses of the word) this year of my feet and bare legs. I gather I am supposed to buy a large range of products to exfoliate, depilate, burnish and bronze these, but I find a long skirt covers a multitude of neglects. A lick of improbably-coloured polish on toenails distracts attention and makes everything OK (Trinny and Suzanna ©).


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Telly night

Channel-hopping tonight, for once there was a surfeit of choice. Sky3 (freeview) showed the stagey western pilot for 'Deadwood', with Ian McShane, which I loved. Apparently it's now a HBO series. Freeview's fucking brilliant. This was up against a BBC4 docu about the lives and fates of five young people first interviewed in 1973.

Things went downhill when I became transfixed by the personal view of the 70s by David Aaronosonofavitch thereafter on BBC4- "Me and the three-day week" , in which his days of protest in the early 70s were presented as utopian, fuzzy and ill-informed. Comic VT of a young DA in varsity scarf. Of course he's much wiser now, as his closing cozy interview with fellow reformed revolutionary Charles Clarke implied.

Oh sweet irony that this came out on the day when three NuLab frontbenchers- Clarke, Hewitt and Prescott- had the decency to be embarrassed. Bliar's become blunted in that ability.

Has anyone else noticed that Aaronosonofavitch was separated at birth from Jeremy Beadle?


Monday, April 24, 2006


Astoundingly, the Botanics have again failed to interview me, which must surely be their loss. It hasn't prevented Nini altering our route to school to cross through an 18th C development with narrow streets, Georgian townhouses and well-kept front gardens to catch their botanical treasures. The hellebores are out there in force just now- green, white and purple varieties- and at least three Magnoliaciae variegates on the walk to school.

Strange primitive trees, which bear flower buds from bare branches. Leaves are only now starting to sprout, though the trees are already inflorescent. Last week, the bud-coverings were green and fuzzy- the only apparent photosynthetic organs available to fuel the development and growth of the magnificent waxy, perfumed blooms.

A bit of delving yields that magnolias along with water lilies are amongst the most primitive (i.e. least specialised/differentiated) and phylogenetically ancient of the flowering plants, the angiosperms. Angiosperms arose first with monocots (grasses- later the source of the neolithic revolution) in the mid-Cretaceous, and later dicots (more conventional flowering/fruiting/seeding plants) of which magnolia was amongst the first in the fossil record. In all angiosperms, investment in sexual reproduction is heavy, and marks a paradigm shift from previous vegetative (asexual/cloning) reproduction.

Magnolias evolved before bees, who like ants and termites are recent offshoots from wasps in Hymenoptera. Magnoliaceae are instead obligate on pollination by Coleopterid beetles traversing through their hermaphroditic flowers. One commentator who opines that "there are no specialized morphological adaptations to exploit pollinators" has obviously never seen the giant come-hither blooms of magnolia against an otherwise still-bare garden, nor smelled one up close.


Saturday, April 22, 2006


It was Neez's birthday yesterday, and she wasn't sounding so great for a birthday girl. There are a number of government agencies who are supposed to be helping her with support and re-housing for her and the babby (due June 17th). They've given her nothing but the runaround, grief and stress. They pass the buck from one to the other, no one writes the supporting letters they're supposed to, and last week a counsellor who'd fucked up starting crying in apology during Neez's session. Not what you want from your counsellor.

Still, Aunty Ion will be down to visit in a couple of weeks to help clean, paint and draughtproof the council house and do some shopping in preparation for babby Arran's arrival. I haven't seen Neez since her sister's appalling histrionic wedding last year, before she 'fell' (a wonderful term), and am very much looking forward to spending time with her. She and Dodo have a special bond, and he's very upset I'm not taking him down too. But there's not much room and the idea is to help Neez and not add social burdens.

I forced myself to go clothes shopping today, having bargained with myself that it would be limited to 1 hour and 3 shops. Just as you would bargain with a toddler. Moderately successful-
two pairs of loose linen trousers, a bias-cut brown skirt and a thin pink sweater for summer. I also impulse bought a new jacket, largely because my old one so badly offends R.. I suppose it is a bit old, smelly, scruffy and worn out, but I like it. It's been a year since I bought clothes (new or second-hand) although mum handed me down some useful trousers and jumpers this year.

The need for new clothes is as much a comfort as a fashion/smartness issue. I spent a most uncomfortable nightshift working in too-tight trousers (which used to fit), as my waistline has increased a size since I gave up the Job from Hell. A healthy weight gain. But that night I had to construct a rubber-band bridge between the buttonhole and the button of the trousers, luckily covered by my tunic, which was when I knew some shopping was required.

Another gorgeous day outside, making the walk into town and back a pleasure, especially the front gardens in Marchmont. I visited R. (now recuperating at home under her mother's supervision), whose flat is filled with well-wishers' flowers. Meeting her for the first time, I found her mother absolutely charming, speaking in beautiful Czech-accented English. We spoke once on the phone when R.'s father died last year, but she was grief-stricken then. Now I realise from where R. gets her poise and her green cat's eyes. We've arranged a tripartite trip to the Botanics on Tuesday for R.'s first outing.


Friday, April 21, 2006


Pulling two 12 hr nightshifts in 48 hrs lets you know the true meaning of tired. It's a metaphysical fact that the observation of sleep problems induces sleep deprivation and sleep problems in the observer. The fact of observing alters the observation- one of the reasons sleep records should be interpreted after the fact.

Nightshift fucks you up physiologically and psychologically, and longitudinal studies show nightshift workers die earlier. You start getting cold, muscle/bone aches, headache, thirst, tachycardia, hypotension, nausea and hunger through the shift. The hours between 4.00 and 6.30 am are the most painful, then you get a second wind after 6.30 am as a result of biorhythms and anticipation of the end of a long shift. This circadian 'lift' means you can't sleep when you get home. I couldn't sleep for 8 hrs after the first shift, and thus slept in for my second shift though I managed in late. My sleep and activity cycles were screwed up and free-running for the next few days.


Gianna's back

Apparently Gianna Jesson, not my favourite self-publicist, is running in the London Marathon for cerebral palsy charities (and probably anti-abortion bodies too). She was on BBC Breakfast this morning, which I thankfully missed.

I don't know if she raved on about her miraculous survival from late abortion this morning, but you can see the types of sponsors gained at her fundraising site. Some sponsors' comments:
"What a story. God bless you & give you strength & courage to speak out in defence of the weak. "
"~15yrs ago I made 2 horrible mistakes- 2 abortions. Run for you birth mother. Forgive her."
"I'm deeply touched by ur story in AFA Journal [American Family Association Journal]. May God be with u and help u spread the Word, always. "

I'm going to take up running and train to take part in next year's marathon as a pro-choice fundraiser. I'll be dressed up as a backstreet abortion victim, with a giant knitting needle through my abdomen, wearing a bleach douche-bag and dragging a chain of baby buggies filled with squalling, filthy infants.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Small worlds

For the third time in as many days, who should we see up at the hospital but Heather driving my ex-car. Heather is R.'s household technician as well as mine, and fond of R. Today she'd brought up at request Mrs Brady, an aged neighbour who keeps R.'s keys for tradespeople and therefore knows all comings and goings. Mrs Brady is sweet and getting quite dotty, but loves an outing. It was nice to meet finally her when we crossed over at visiting time today. Heather (ever the angel) took Mrs B to the Botanics after seeing R. , doubtless the most excitement Mrs. B'd had for years.

She doesn't know it, but an old word-stumble has R., H., and me all unconsciously calling her Mrs Bundy (after another serial killer) since some months back. It stuck and it's all we can do not to come out with it during visiting time.


Lady Bountiful

Apart from looking after Patient R., another friend in need of flying visit from Nurse Ion is Neez in London. N. ( aka Aunty Neez) is my oldest friend going back to schooldays, an 'Ackney ex-pat for 20+ years but still maintaining a impenetrable Edinburgh accent. My American friends and family all adore her, but can't make out a word she's saying.

N.'s been an diamond friend to me, inc. moving in with me for three months when I separated. N. was my witness both on my marriage and divorce certificates, and all we parties in this approved of the continuity. Now at age 42, she's unexpectedly but happily pregnant and growing a fine babby in her belly, due in early June. Nine weeks to go. The sonographer let his gender out when she said the babby was 'showing off' during a scan a few months ago.

It's a long and convoluted story, but N's indigent flatmate was only finally evicted (by her 6'2" skinheid partner) last week, leaving a morass of mess and filth in his/ the babby's room. She's been pushed to limit to get her extremely run-down council flat in a semblance of cleanliness and order before babby comes. I'm booking a train to go down with a sleeping bag, and give her and her man a hand with bleach, paint and draught-proofing tape. She's too big to do much in the way of physical things now, and her brain is mush with the hormones, so it's the least I can do.

I'm also trying to master enough crochet to make a blanket of afghan squares for babby. Heather gave me a demonstration, some wool oddments, a book and a hook to start me off. A babby should always have something hand-made.

PS I wasn't there to witness it, but apparently the run-up to flatmate's eviction incorporated a full-on EastEnders pub scene, when pregnant N. made a full-flown verbal assault on the flatmate in front of his mates, and flung his pint in his face. She's always looked like Kat, that N., or more like Kat's looked like her.


Busy, busy, busy

Nurse Ion is in her role, and busy making daily visits to Patient R. at the hospital. She will hate me for revealing this, but yesterday R. passed wind (!), a major milestone after GI surgery. Now she's successfully farted, she can gingerly start to eat. Nurse Ion's role will also include cooking some soft foods to take up to her. The hospital food here comes up cook-chilled from Wales and in my experience was inedible, so it's really important that significant others prevent malnutrition by bringing in proper, nutritious and home-cooked food. There's a thin lentil and tomato soup simmering for tomorrow, and today we're taking in a chicken noodle broth from a real dead chicken. She's central European, so there's no more heimische food.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Smiley's- an appreciation

Smiley's cornershop will now be open for fags, milk, baked goods and printed media. After one of those nights, such neighbourhood friends can be ... earthing. My favourite Smiley brother (the one with the biggest handlebar moustache, the least English and the cutest 5 yr old daughter) takes the early shifts. He has much better English than I Urdu, and my quest is to be able to read his Arabic-printed newsheet.

Last two Indie Quick Sodukos- 13 mins apiece, and not even practised. Quite good on an arbitrary scale for completing a late-week grid, even if I say so myself.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Spring is sprung

And dem boidies are singing their little hearts out. Mr. Blackbird (Turdus merula) in a cherry tree down the road gave me the most soaring, liquid arpeggios yesterday when I paused to chat. It's getting into rhododendron bloom season at the Botanics, a time R. and I particularly enjoy. Once she's back on her feet, one of our first duties will be to make the annual homage to them.

Delightfully, R. is making a robust recovery after her boxing match with a surgeon's knife. When I visited yesterday, her hospital bedspace looked like a florists' shop and was headily scented- this is a well-loved woman who's been entertaining a steady stream of visiting friends, colleagues and family. Her biological family are in Prague for the moment, but last night her adopted dad (a.k.a. my dad) visited for an hour or so.

My sisterly job is to help out with small practical errands, like topping up her phone yesterday and dealing with urgent emails. Today I'll go shopping for some new jammies for her on the way in to see her. I had time and notice to buy some decent sleepwear before I went into hospital to have the kids, but emergency surgery doesn't grant this privilege. Meanwhile, during visits and phone chats I make it my business to do my best, cruelly, to make R. laugh. It hurts her poor stitches, but it's getting less sore for her every day- a measure of recovery.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bad stuff

R. is in the post-surgical HDU, having undergone emergency GI surgery into the early hours last night. She's back, but will be hospitalised for about 10 days. She won't be eating at all for the next three days, so we can't even take her in treats. Heather's collected her an enormous bouquet of daffs for visiting time today, and I'm taking her a polished agate necklace bought for her at Xmas that I forgot to give her until now. Get well soon, R.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006



An eye on the camera, an eye on the panel,
I’ll wear the flared black skirt and the high-necked halter.
Professional, yet GMTV friendly,
Augmented by make-up, sound-bites, empathy.

According to Morris and Attenborough
Anthropoid signals of most importance are
Eyelids, a skirt with a satin lining,
To help in the job of soliciting.

I’ve rarely felt so much a whore as when
Flashing, showing off for financial gain.
Moll Flanders’ wares out on a plate
Calling loud in advertisement.



I like to fantasise about to where I'll retire on one-way ticket- a game I play with my honey. The Cooks, Solomons, Kawaii or Palau, or maybe the archipelagos created by the thousand lakes in Finland, Minnesota or the Isle of Lewis, or maybe a midsea caldera. Who quite knows, but water's my element. Follow the map and you can't go wrong.


Gary Glitter

Hello, Hello. It's good to be back, it's good to be back.

Did you miss me, Yeah, while I was away,
did you hang my picture on your wall
Did you kiss me, Yeah, every single day,
although you couldn't kiss me at all.

As posted at PoV, my fortnight's exile is over from when Dodo and I totalled my laptop with a cup of raspberry tea. I missed it for about 3 days, somewhat like nicotine withdrawal, then switched to the phone, which wasn't so bad.