Showing posts from May, 2009

Why I will now always prefer single seats on trains

So, I'm on the train to London, and this guy to the left of me is falling asleep. On me. And there's an hour and a quarter to go before we reach our destination, so he's going nowhere fast. He's obviously finding my pudgy little upper arm extremely comfortable, snuggling in with his equally pudgy little head as though his head and my arm were made for each other, sisters and brothers, la la la. These strategies to get him off my arm did not work: coughing and trying to pronounce it, 'I MIGHT have swine flu' turning the pages of my book in as dramatic and rustly a way as possible as though it were the Encyclopaedia Brittanica and not Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale' (oh, the irony!!!) leaning over to the left myself until he was vertical, then pulling away quickly taking a mega-sigh which involved my whole body (and his) wriggling as far as I could towards the window without his head actually falling into my lap and causing a

Why one should never tamper with dictionaries

Health Warning: You may be about to develop a phobia against words to do with phobias. I have a list of phobia words in a book (I don't suffer from bibliophobia: the fear of books). I have been looking through them for ideas (neither do I suffer from ideophobia: the fear of ideas). I now have a new idea (which means I can't have neophobia either: the fear of novelty). Are you fed up yet? (If so, you perhaps have all of the above-mentioned conditions and should see a doctor; that's quite a problem you have there.) I think some of the definitions of these phobia names are BORING, so I have redefined some. I am sure my new definitions will be appearing in a dictionary near you at some point soon. 1. barophobia - apparently this means 'fear of gravity'. How tedious is that? I think it's either: a condition affecting ex-ballet dancers a pathological reluctance to pay for the next round of drinks something intelligent children can claim to have when their

Why my Insulated Lidded Mug is now an Insulted Lidded Mug

Dear Insulated Lidded Mug I bid you now, goodbye. I thought you would be useful So I gave you quite a try. We're not allowed to carry cups Containing liquids hot Through corridors and classrooms; Acceptable, it's not. So The Husband went to Tesco And brought you home one night. I took you into school next day Ecstatic with delight. But four months on, I'm sorry, Mug; You're going in the bin. I have so many grievances. Oh, where shall I begin? You're insulated, yes, you are. I'll give you that for free. But insulated so damn well That when I make my tea, An hour later it's still hot, Yes, far too hot to drink So I either scald my mouth to bits Or chuck it down the sink. You're lidded, yes, you are indeed But lidded oh so tight That when I try unscrewing it It puts up such a fight. S'all very well to have a lid That fits on with a snap But not much fun to get a Pint of hot tea in your lap. There is a hole, oh yes, th

Why it's wiser to choose the peanuts

Definition of cheese straw for those Across the Pond: a long, thin, crunchy, savoury snack made of pastry with cheese in it. (Thanks, Retired One, for pointing out the need for a translation ...) I owe a lot to the mile-long cheese straw I was offered at a recent trying-to-impress social event. It taught me a lot about how to socialise while simultaneously wielding something the length of a basketballer's trainer, the width of a champion texter's thumb, and as crumbly as the toenails on an octagenarian. (And as cheesy....) These are the lessons I learned. 1. Don't point cheese straws at important people and say, 'Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet' just because it sounds funny to you. 2. Proffering a cheese straw when someone tries to shake hands with you and saying, 'Fingers this long don't half help when playing the piano' doesn't impress either. 3. Don't sneeze just after biting into a cheese straw; not all the stuff on the jacket of t

Reasons not to over-analyse events

Today, for me, has been about sound. It has been an underlying theme, and I like this. Underlying themes are good. They get double ticks in the margin and a few extra marks on the final grade. So I approve of them. And to find them running along nicely in my own life is somehow very gratifying, as though my existence is itself a Proust novel or a Mansfield story without me knowing it. Just think: I'm running around, teaching, writing, having meetings, and all the time, the theme of sound is bubbling underneath like a mountain stream, a forest brook, the gentle fall of a fountain in the market square, a burn in a Scottish landscape. Ah, what crap I give out. Let me tell you the facts. The theme can speak for its flipping self. I'm fed up of it now. 1. The sound of the answerphone . A few days ago, one of my daughters left a message on our answerphone. 'Oh, never mind, it's OK,' it went. 'I'll try your mobile.' I couldn't work out which daughte