Monthly Archives: June 2010

This kiss… this kiss… incredible…

I’ve just had two moments come together, where kisses and heroes are in my zeitgeist. The first is that I’ve just finished revising ‘The Great Gatsby’ with one of my A level students, and I found myself justifying why it’s a great novel, and what redeems it from just being a sordid tale. Superficially, Gatsby and Daisy’s affair is exactly that – an affair. Yet, it’s that kiss that makes it all worthwhile. It’s that kiss that can only ever happen once and can never be reclaimed, no matter how hard Gatsby tries, and the wonder of that kiss makes it all innocent again. Before that, everything has led up to that moment: after that, it can never be the same. The kiss redeems the book; the kiss redeems Gatsby, with his gangster connections; it redeems Daisy, an irritating ditz. It’s voyeuristic: it’s Nick’s imaginings of the kiss, and we revel in the description of it. As soon as it is there, the magic of it has disappeared, like the light at the end of the dock:

“Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.”

It’s stopped being marvellous simply because it’s now achievable. It goes from a magnificent dream back to the mundane, like every great love does when it becomes real.

“His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”

And then it’s over. I think it’s the most magnificent kiss in all literature, the most romantic and yet the most tragic. As soon as it blossoms, it fades, like the perfection of the cherry blossom. Mono no aware in action.

Those kisses can only happen once, and are perfect until time moves us on back into real life. All the anticipation, all the waiting, all now made mundane. After that, nothing is the same.

The second discussion revolved around a conversation my friend Elizabeth overheard… two ladies talking about how ‘Fredrick’ was the best hero from nineteenth century literature, and how the novel he comes from is a social commentary with every part of life represented.

I don’t know who the Fredrick in question is. We pondered this for a while. However, it raised some great questions about our favourite ‘heroes’. Elizabeth’s, like mine, I suppose, is Mr Darcy (or, rather more specifically, Colin Firth as Mr Darcy). I like the Heathcliff heroes, it must be said.

My top heroes, then, in a kind of order:

1. Jay Gatsby, because he’s a criminal, but the most profound romantic

2. Rhett Butler, because a man should always be in charge (how sexist of me!) and his words: “You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how!” are the words I’ve longed to hear from my own Rhett Butler.

3. Mr Darcy (Colin Firth’s interpretation…) because he’s such an English ‘man’ – all restraint and passion beneath the surface, and because Colin Firth made me see how you shouldn’t think someone is great if they’re playing Mr Darcy, until Elizabeth realises. He made me think he was unsuitable to be Darcy until he just was. Perfect

4. Kabir Durrani in ‘A Suitable Boy’ because Lata should have married him, she just should have, not the sensible boy in the smart shoes. And because men in cricket whites are just … so…. hmmmmm

5. Moritz Danieki in ‘Random Acts of Heroic Love’ because he walks thousands of miles for Lotte

6. Heathcliff in ‘Wuthering Heights’ – all that raw passion and so much better than Mr Rochester, the jail-keeper for Bertha. Far too gothic for me.

7. Gabriel Oak in “Far from the Madding Crowd” because he’s again a quintessential English man who waits for the love of his life with an eternal patience.

Design ideas for the buanderie #1

We have a little laundry kind of room which joins the main house to the bathroom. It’s big enough for a couple of chairs and a small table, but it’s decidedly shabby looking. It firstly needs a good paint. Half of it is breeze-block, so plastering and a bit of white paint will be great. It’s also home to the boiler. I think a new door would be in order from the veranda, but other than that, it’s structurally sound, if a little battered. It could do with some new glass, I guess, too. Plus, I can’t remember what the flooring is. It’s not wood, I know that much!

I’d like it to be a warm, dry place for when you come out of the bath. I think I want it filled with tropical plants, possibly a tangerine tree or something to cover up the boiler!

La buanderie

Looking at it, maybe you don’t have the same visions I do! The ceiling plastic panels need replacing with something more substantial. It definitely needs a coat of paint or two, but I think it’s workable and quite liveable. One of my dad’s neighbours made some derogatory joke about ‘French-habitable’, which it will be, but I won’t care. It’s habitable. No, it’s not a beautiful conservatory design with stone walls and floor, but it does the job!

The door

The best thing is that it’s south-facing and it’s a sun-trap. When I saw it in October, it was roasting warm. I think Mr. Basil will love it in there, in a comfortable basket chair, away from the dog, roasting in the sun.

I’m going to continue the pink/green theme from the dining room into here. Partly because the dining room looks out onto the buanderie and partly because pink is such a great colour with green if you’re going for the tropical look. White walls, maybe some blinds and swags in coordinating fabric and then a couple of bits of furniture. New shelves, lots of plants, and it will be a veritable hothouse.

I’m going for the kind of look here:

It’ll notch the mint green of the dining room up a little, brighten the pink up, and look AMAZING with cheap white furniture.

Coupe de Monde

I’m the first to admit, I’m not a football fan, but the World Cup brings out all that I find most odious in England. It’s the sunburnt, fat, alcohol-soaked middle-aged man in a too tight shirt, with his gut hanging out and a can of Special Brew in one hand. It’s the overweight, unwashed woman in an England shirt. It’s the lads with their shirts draped around their neck.

And this time, it’s the flags. Bloody everywhere.

I’m glad no-one on our street has succumbed. That’s partly because some of the street are gay and don’t care about football unless it’s Christiano Ronaldo in skimpy shorts. It’s partly because a big part of my neighbourhood is Asian and they care more for cricket. It’s partly because we’re not council estate knobheads who have nothing better to spend our dole money on than cheap plastic bunting from Aldi and cheap flags for our cars. They’re noticeably the same people who put tacky Christmas lights  outside.

BBC website

I’m such a snob, I know, but it’s soooo tacky and it makes me feel quite queasy to live in a country where yobs cover their houses in flags, just because they can get them cheap, not because they believe in it.

My brother-in-law is an avid fan. They have some flags. He will no doubt have a few beers and watch the match. But he won’t be part of those yobs that go out hammered onto the street to cause mayhem. The sunshine is bad enough – it brings all the worst dregs of drunken society out onto the street rather than huddling inside or in a pub. We already had a couple of men hanging out on the street at Steve’s yesterday, boorish and leery. They’ve no concept of how loud and uncouth they are and also how predictable. It’ll be worse tonight.

It wouldn’t be so bad if people would do it for other events, rather than just football, like for the Olympics, or for the rugby or cricket, but no: football appeals to the masses. I don’t know why. Often the scoreline is rubbish and there’s very little action. As I remember it, the World Cup final 1998 where Paris played Brazil was about as dull as football gets. I think even the Brazilian players were bored. At least rugby has nail-bitingly exciting moments.

I suspect England will go through the group stage – they seem to have terrible competition. It looks like a really easy group. I guess if we’re then up against the runner-up in group D, that’ll be Serbia. I bet we’ll either go out here or just scrape through. On paper, we should beat them. And then we’ll be up against France or Mexico and then we’ll go out ungraciously. I reckon France. In fact, that’d make my whole previous year played out in a battle of the football teams – a symbol of my internal struggle with national identity. And I bet France win : )

2nd July. I predict an England-France result of 2-1.

Now, if I don’t put a bet on, I’ll look like a right loser, so off I go!

More shoes that annoy me…

Those really cheap thin-heeled stilettos that are broken and worn down to the plastic or metal spike within the heel. I can’t stand listening to the plastic clicky-clack of broken heels. It’s not bad enough that the shoes are crap in the first place, but the fact that the owner lets the heels get really knackered. I most hate it when the heel actually splits, because the wearer has worn them right down as far as they can go. Urgh.

Knackered shoes

This picture makes me feel ill. I can imagine the nasty scraping sound on the floor, and I can imagine the person wearing them… they’re the kind of Brit that is ever unfashionable, a bit like Bridget Jones. She’d wear shoes like this and not care. Cheap doesn’t mean you have to be badly dressed: Primark is a case in point. On my friend Yasmin, she can make Primark look more Primarni. But these women can take a thousand pound suit and make it look like it came from a charity shop reject pile. Dowdy. They always seem to have uncontrollable hair, uncomfortable, unflattering trousers and a preference for bizarre chintz prints.

Picture thanks to

The Micawber Principle

Micawber’s quote:

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six. Result happiness.

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six. Result misery.”

How true this seems to be of the world right now. Japan has released a statement saying it is not far from the abyss of unmanageable debt, following Spain, Portugal and Greece (ad infinitum)

My query is: who do they owe this money to? And what happens when a country doesn’t repay its debt? I’m assuming some hard-line bankers who are responsible for global recession are the main lenders who are keeping many countries under the thumb of repayments and that they will not cancel interest repayment. So where does the money come from??! And who do we owe it to?! And what happens if we can’t pay?

Do they send in the bailiffs?

Can you imagine?!

“Come on Japan, open up. You’ve had a red bill 6 months ago, and we’ve sent several reminder letters since then.”

“Come on guys, be reasonable. We can’t pay you. Korea owes us, and I can’t pay you until they pay us. Plus, we thought we had a deal coming through with America, but they went back on the deal. We’ve got old people to support. Who would have thought we’d all live so long? We made a miscalculation with how much we needed to keep the oldies going. Plus, we had an earthquake, and that really set us on the back foot. It’s been nothing but misery.”

“Yeah, yeah. We’ve heard this story before. Everyone’s got a sob story. Now pay up.”

“But I haven’t anything to give you.”

So… you’ve got two options, borrow from some unscrupulous lender, like Zimbabwe or something, who’ll menace you and break your kneecaps if you don’t pay them back, or the lenders will send in the bailiffs to sell off your assets.

Maybe Japan could have a car-boot-style sale and sell off national treasures? I for one would buy Matsumoto Castle if it came onto the market. Perhaps they could start selling stuff on ebay to make up the cash?

I jest, slightly, but Bury Council sold off a Turner to make money. Desperate times call for desperate measures. The problem is, private companies then reap dividends from being able to buy up public property – and capitalism triumphs. Our national treasures are taken away from those who want to see them, and we’re all forced to pay-to-view. The poor man is the loser, as culture is lost to the wealthy.

Someone, somewhere, needs to make the Micawber Principle the global motto, for everyone.

On a sad note, I’m going to stop being a Times online viewer, since they’re now charging for the site’s comments. It’ll be a terrible diet of The Telegraph, FT and the BBC website. I hate this. I like the populist paper. I know I’m a left-wing liberal child, and reading The Telegraph is like a devout Christian reading the works of Aleister Crowley, but I can’t stand The Guardian. I’m just not that kind of left wing liberal.

Kathy Reich’s 206 Bones review

I generally like Kathy Reichs: Temperance Brennan’s stories are a lot more intricate, factual and detailed than the other ‘investigative forensics’ expert, Kay Scarpetta. Where Scarpetta ended up getting in more and more dramatic situations, and needed a military strength, Brennan needs none of that. Besides, I’m such a big fan of Bones, I can’t not be a fan of her namesake – although that seems to be the only link between the two characters.

I don’t know what it is about 206 Bones. It’s TOO complex. There’s too much going on. You know there’s something afoot at the lab as soon as a new recruit turns up some ‘missed’ bones, and you know what it is. You know that character will get their comeuppance. But apart from that, the plot was thin and overly complex – like 3 not very good stories woven together.

The other problem with it, I found, was its readability. I never really thought Kathy Reichs was a fan of the ‘chop and change’ paragraph, and to be honest, it made it impossible to follow. I know it’s supposed to make Brennan’s thoughts seem dramatic and disjointed, but it’s TOO disjointed. It’s like seeing into someone’s actual mind – and that isn’t always a good thing in mystery writing.

I’ve got a Karin Slaughter to start on, although I had promised I’d go for something a little bit more stimulating and non-fictiony, but with GCSE scripts looming over me to mark, I feel I’m due a little light relief!

J’en ai ras le bol #3

Subject of rant: Lloyds TSB collections department.

Before you read, I would like you to know I am up to date with all payments. Just to get that straight…

I’d rung up on Tuesday to report fraudulent use. Google checkout got on to it first, tagged it, sourced it and sorted it. Ijji followed suit. My bank? Couldn’t give a shit. When I phoned them, I was put forward to collections. At the time, I was too bothered by the fact my card had been compromised and then by the fact I needed a replacement, and then by the fact they were so… ‘meh’… about the whole fraud thing.

So… I’d gone in today to question a charge on my account. Basically, I had a charge, they took it out, then charged me again for making the charge. Easy to sort, and the branch are very good at sorting things. Loving the branch. Let’s make that clear. Lloyds TSB Bury and Daubhill, thumbs up.

Not so much the ‘invisible’ powers that be.

I’d gone in to Bury to sort it out. The (sorry, interrupted by a Brummie retard asking if I wanted my grass cutting. What? By a Black Country Smack Head? I think not! I wonder if he’s the one who stole my lawnmower in the first place??!) branch man was lovely, said he’d sort it out. Tried to sort it out. Then ‘referred to collections’ appeared and he was unable to do anything at all. He passed the phone over and called them for me.

1st grievance: entering my details THREE times and then telling them to the Indian Call Centre W-Irker (ICCWI from here on in) again.

ICCWI: Hello, collections. Can I possibly be helping you?

Me: Yes. I’ve been referred to collections and I don’t know why.

ICCWI: Why have you been referred to the collections department?

Me: I don’t know. That’s why I’m calling.

ICCWI: Have you got accounts we need to be collecting from?

Me: No. And why can’t you tell me why I’ve been referred to collections.

ICCWI: Do you know what account you have a collection from?

Me: NO!

ICCWI: Is it from your bank account?

Me: No. I have a good balance on that.

ICCWI: Can I have your card number please?

Me: No. It was used fraudulently and cancelled.

ICCWI: Is it on your credit card?

Me: I don’t have a credit card with you any more

ICCWI: The credit card starting 3770?


ICCWI: Is it the credit card starting 1224?


ICCWI: I can see it’s not on your bank accounts.


ICCWI: I shall refer you to credit card collections.

Me: For F&*k’s sake! I don’t have a credit card with you

ICCWI: Please hold whilst I am passing you on to the credit card collections team


Meanwhile, customers are starting to look at me as if I’m mental.

ICCWI: Please be holding for me whilst I put you through.

ICCWI2: Hello?

ICCWI2: How can I be helping you?

Me: Yes. I’ve been referred to collections and I don’t know why.

ICCWI2: Why have you been referred to the collections department?

Me: I don’t know. That’s why I’m calling.

ICCWI2: Have you got accounts we need to be collecting from?

Me: No. And why can’t you tell me why I’ve been referred to collections?

ICCWI2: Do you know what card you have a collection from?

Me: I don’t have a credit card with you any more

ICCWI2: The credit card starting 3770?


ICCWI2: Is it the credit card starting 1224?


ICCWI2: It says you have a credit card.

Me: I DON’T!

ICCWI2: It says that you do.

Me: What is the balance on the card?

ICCWI2: Nothing. You have no balance. It says the card balance is Nil. It says the card has been cancelled.

Me *starting to wonder if Carol Anne Duffy’s narrator in stealing was talking to an ICCW when s/he said ‘you don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?’*

Me: I know. So why have I been referred to collections?

ICCWI2: I don’t know. I shall make sure you aren’t referred to collections from now on.


Be clear: I’m not blaming this poor guy and his script/his woefully out-of-date computer – I’m blaming Lloyds TSB for outsourcing their collections department here/providing adequate language training/providing adequate computer facilities/providing common sense. This is what Durkheim means by anomie: a workforce unrelated to its products.

ICCWI2: Your account is now fine.

Me: Thank you.

I then re-join the queue in the branch (as it’s not fair to push in, really, is it? Even though I’ve been on the phone for 15 minutes. I kid you not. 8 minutes waiting. 7 minutes talking to imbeciles.

Me: hello, I’ve sorted out my issues with collections. Could you now sort out this double charging for me?

The man messes with his computer for a bit and then says, ‘no… your account has been blocked by collections’

ALL I have to say to this is……

For F$^K’S SAKE!

Design ideas for the bedroom #1

I’m sticking with my general orange theme for the bedroom. Orange, white and brown. I will make white muslin curtains for the windows for summer, then some lush brown curtains for winter, with a milky coffee voile panel. The ceiling is cheap wood panels, so I shall paint that white. Not sure if standard UK light fittings fit French lights, but I might take my little chandelier. It all needs rewiring anyway.

Where’s my brother when I need him??!

I will leave the floorboards, once they’ve been stripped and xylened, then polish them and put the stuff in. I’ve still not decided which way I want the bed to go – The room has a north-facing window which looks on to the secret garden *read ‘wilderness’* and is longer than it is wide. I think the bed will have to face west. No doubt we’ll have the ‘who sleeps where’ dilemma, since Steve likes to sleep on my right and he needs to sleep nearest the door. He won’t be able to do both unless I point the bed the other way. These things matter!!

I was going to have the wall behind the bed done in some B&Q paper in brown and orange, but having seen the following design in Ideal Home 2010, I think I’m going for a drape behind the bed in an orange/white fabric. I may even paint the whole room white and dispense with the brown wall. It’ll look lighter that way, especially with the north-facing window.

Ideal Home Magazine 2010

I know this is the obsession-of-late Tara Grove Garden fabric, which mine won’t be in (though how fantastic does this look??!)

Now I need some suitable fabric. I may even do the curtains in it too.

J’en ai ras le bol #2

It seems some days are just sent to try your patience. This was one of them.

My debit card has been used for a fraudulent purchase. It was used to buy game credits at ijji – so it’s some techno-hacker who likes playing retarded on-line games. I never went to this site before today, but I’m not a happy bunny.

I’m not happy google checkout is so lax. I’m not using them again! They have no protocol (like paypal) to protect buyers, only sellers, so I can’t report a fraudulent transaction directly for them to sort out, like you can with paypal, or set it up as a dispute. I phoned my bank and cancelled my card, grudgingly, since it took them 6 weeks to replace the last card and I was without funds for that time. It’s embarrassing.

In February, when I reported my cards and cancelled them, they told me 3-4 working days. One arrived straight away. The other still hadn’t arrived 14 days later, so I called them and got put through to ‘collections’ *(though they had nothing to collect!)* who then transferred me to the usual number. They said it hadn’t been ordered and they’d place it on order.

2 weeks later, it still wasn’t here. I called again. Apparently it still hadn’t been ordered. They placed it on order. Apparently the branch hadn’t authorised it. Twats.

It arrived after that. I had to cry on the phone to get them to do it though. I had to say I’d been wearing the same clothes for a month, couldn’t afford to wash and couldn’t fill my car up. Truly, I couldn’t MOT or tax my car, or sort out my car insurance. I was without car insurance for 28 days because Directline said they needed a card number, as did every single one of the 17 companies I called. No setting up of direct debits without a card number to start with. And that isn’t a falsehood. If my car had been nicked, I’d have not got a penny.

I put in a complaint. The complaint came back after 3 days to say it hadn’t been upheld because they had no record of either calls when I’d called up and it had been diverted through collections, despite them saying phone calls may be recorded for training purposes etc.

Today, when I called, it went via collections yet again. I have nothing to collect. They are such a bunch of twats.

So… Lloyds TSB, big BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO to you. If I don’t get my card, I’ll be royally pissed off.

Organisations who have pissed me off today:

1. Google checkout

2. Ijji

3. LloydsTSB

Oh, and they can’t give me the money back until it’s been taken, and they can’t stop the transaction. What??! I got a full on lecture about how debit cards have a promise to the seller to protect them and guarantee they’ll receive payment, but this ijji must be complete retards. No-one has my CVV and if they’d tried to use Visa secure payments, they would have found they didn’t know my bank password. Even I didn’t know it. So how are they so lax that they don’t ask for the CVV??!

Paypal don’t get my vote of confidence either, since they were royally hacked back in March. They denied it, but in a forum I go in, there were at least 30 people saying the same thing. The same ‘seller’, the same amounts. If that is a small forum, I hate to think how many other accounts were breached.

And this wasn’t a problem from my computer – I’m safe, I hope. Ish.

I don’t trust the internet for money any more. I don’t trust the banks. I’m going to have a Post Office basic account, and that’s it. I’m going to have a La Poste account, and if I can get by with cash, that’s how I’m going. In fact, I can totally understand why gold is at the highest price it’s ever been. People don’t trust the banks, obviously!

ridiculous killer heels

I am a fan of the high heel. I have, until plantar fasciitis kicked in, not spent a moment out of them since I was about 22. I didn’t ‘do’ flats until my podiatrist made me, and then pain in my knees and legs made me even more. Now they’re reserved for ‘best’. I love my Russell and Bromley Mary Janes the most, followed by my Karen Millen Pink Snakeskin Cowboy boots. Time and age, running and too much walking have left me a virtual cripple, who does what Steve calls ‘granny walking’ when I’ve been sitting down too long. Now I’m relegated to my converse, my kangaroos, my trainers… even flip-flops are hugely uncomfortable. Woe is me.

But I still can’t help ponder the ridiculous nature of some of the heels that are on the streets these days. This morning at precisely 10:42 a.m. I saw a woman wearing ridiculous shoes hobbling along. She looked like a strange reject from the night before.

My problems with these shoes are myriad. They are hugely uncomfortable, so any woman that wears them are doing the equivalent of corseting themselves. They’ve crossed the ‘bondage/bedroom’ line out onto the streets, and whilst actual bondage bedroom shoes and boots can be very alluring, these are clumpy and hideous.

Barratt high heel clog

These are an example of clumpy-totter-ridiculous shoes. They make women’s feet look horrible. I can only imagine they are designed by a man who absolutely hates women. He wants them to suffer and to look like they are pissed. Not only do they make you look drunk, because you can’t control them, but you also walk at a funny angle, not all ‘hips pushed forward’ like a true stiletto would do, but like you’re on stilts. They’re clownish.

I also hate the nasty gladiator/fancy-dressed-up spike favoured by Posh Spice. In fact, if Posh has worn them, I detest them. She favours ridiculous bondage type shoes, and her bunions show the cost.


They remind me of a woman I used to work with, in her middle ages, who wore the most hideous, clumsy, clunky unflattering shoes with a heel and peep-toe. Her toes were all crammed up like fat sausages. Urgh.

Miss KG

Urgh. Just Urgh. Even Cheryl Cole’s beautiful little feet couldn’t make this shoe look nice.


The colour is ugly, the wedge is ugly, the clunkiness is ugly. Just urgh.

And finally…


Maybe it’s a sign of my old age that I’m looking at the ASOS website and I can’t see a single pair of nice shoes? I’m six pages in and all I can think is ‘bleurgh’

Women’s heels? Wrinkly, unbuffed, unpedicured, scaly, covered in thick skin… Cover them up!

The shoes I’m talking about push your feet via gravity to the end of the shoe, where your toes, poor, little squashed up toes, are rammed to the very end as you hobble about. I think the whole idea of hobbling you means you are unable to walk, work, take part in life… you are ornamental. This is fine if the shoes are attractive – what my nana calls ‘sitting at a bar shoes’ – because you aren’t meant to walk. You need taxis, a man’s arm, a bar stool. You need help. It’s not fine if the shoes are pig ugly to boot.