Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The house by the pylon

I used to live in a house opposite an electricity pylon. Named the house by the pylon by all who knew her. Later affectionately renamed the flat that time forgot. Renamed as a consequence to the amount of hours lost huddled on the sofas during Greek nights, dancing in the loft on girls nights, and standing in the kitchen with half the customers of the local pub on Friday nights.
It was not a quiet place to live. If you were looking for a quiet life, the house by the pylon/the flat that time forgot was not the place for you.
Quite a few people have lived in the house by the pylon. My ex purchased the top floor of the house from The Neville family. The Neville family who hitch hiked from Greece to England - we think Mr Neville gambled his money away before he could bank it, or he was mugged, we’re not sure which. What I do know for sure is they sold their story to The Sun newspaper, for much needed cash and for their five minutes of fame. My ex and I used the newspaper clipping, which contained a photograph of the family, for a cloak and dagger type adventure along the Greek harbour. We pointed at Mr Nevilles toothless smile and asked, “Have you seen this man?”
Mr Neville had returned to Greece when his finances improved but he‘d failed to sign important documents for my ex. Hence, my ex, myself, and my ex's friend who was wheel chair bound as a result of a nasty motor bike accident (the same friend who insisted on accompanying us on our first date) searched the streets of Greece for Mr N. I needed a holiday and I’d always fancied visiting Athens. Mr Neville’s sister had reported her brother was in Greece once again, and my ex needed him to sign along the dotted line.
Unfortunately we didn’t find Mr Neville in Greece, it was a long shot, but we had a nice holiday. Luckily we bumped into him in the UK, and the top floor of the house by the plyon was legally my ex's home.
When I first moved into the house by the pylon my friend Claire was renting a room, along with our friend Kia. Well, she was our friend at the time. I introduced her to a guy from Brighton and we never saw her again. I think she was looking for any excuse to move out of T.H.B.T.P and that was a good enough one for her.
Scaggs was the next victim of the flat that time forgot. That’s not his real name, his real name doesn’t sound half as bad but he doesn't mind answering to Scaggs. Scaggs also lived with Amber. Amber was a dog, the puppy of Blaze, my ex's pet. Blaze had two very large litters and you can see most of her daughters and sons trotting around the local area.
Darren was another lodger. Darren who had a wooden leg. He fell out of a moving train when he was a youngster, and tragically lost one of his legs. Sadly Darren is no longer with us. He died in his sleep a couple of years ago. R.I.P. Darren.
My ex's daughter also moved in, briefly, to the house by the pylon. That was fun to have another female to share the house with, and we would drink wine and watch programmes on hair dressing and footballers wives. Very girly.
Lenny, who used to draw on toast and had a major operation to cure his epileptic fits, also lived with us. He’s a very talented artist and I recently read a story in OK magazine regarding Lenny and his art. It was accompanied with one of his toast pictures, this particular one was Simon Cowell's face. Apparently Si offered Lenny a very large sum of money, for the picture which bared an uncanny resemblance to him. Perhaps Lenny is living the high life these days? Perhaps he can afford all the toast in the world now?
Heartbreak hotel could also have been another name for the house by the pylon. It was a well known fact that when relationships broke down, the heartbroken partner would move in, to forget their troubles and lick their wounds, until their partner forgave them or they’d grown tired of the flat. Which ever came first.
Sometimes I even struggle to remember the names of some of the lodgers. There was Lesso, the bouncer/courier who all the girls lusted over. Johhny, the one who was convinced strangers stood in the garden watching him. Mad John, who was actually mad. Oh hold on, I don’t think he actually moved in, he was just permanently attached to the sofa for a very long time, with his poetry book and his stories of madness. Sometimes I would return home from work to discover another body in the lounge, with another disaster story, and a musical instrument in their hand.
There would be frequent jamming sessions in my humble home. Guitars, bongos, keyboards, and all sorts. It was lucky for us that the man who lived downstairs was deaf and our joining neighbours only complained once, and that was after I played George Michael at a ridiculously loud volume one night. (I don't think they were George fans.)
The house by the pylon was a very lively and unusual place to live. It was rather like a magnet, a magnet attracting chaos and disrupting any kind of normal life. Of course there were times I loved living there. I would enjoy playing the hostess with the mostess, I liked cooking for ten thousand people, and I was happy arranging Greek nights. I even became accustomed to the crazy people and some very strange senoras.
But sometimes I craved peace. Normality. Dullness even. This was not possible with the house by the pylon. Eventually, like all the others before me, I moved out. When you have a family living in your loft who are being attacked by hammers (incidentally the father is now serving time for murder) and a couple living in the spare room, a man with a glass eye and a woman full of constant tales of death, depression and diabetes, you do question what kind of life you are living.
Leaving the house was compared to saying goodbye to an old friend. But a friend who you know is not healthy for you. A friend you know you can’t be around any longer, for your own sanity. A friend you know you have to leave behind, and you wonder if they were really a friend in the first place?
So I packed my bags, shed a few tears of relief and sadness all mixed into one, and I shut the door behind to my old life and to the house by the pylon.
It was odd at the beginning. The calmness of my parents house was the parallel universe I’d craved for so long but it took a long while to adjust to.
I dreamt about the flat. I thought about the flat. I laughed about the flat. I despaired of the flat. Part of me even missed the flat. Other times I despised the flat and I blamed it for everything that had gone wrong in my life.
Then the funniest thing happened.
Four years later, when the flat was a distant memory in my hazy mind, the magnetic force was up to it's old tricks. The force was too strong to resist. To my astonishment, I found myself walking up the beige carpeted stairs again. Sitting on the brown leather sofa again. Staring out the window and looking at the electricity pylon again. How on earth did that happen?
The house by the pylon was back.
I danced in the flat's loft at the weekend. The familiar loft with the walk in wardrobe that isn’t a walk in wardrobe and the spiral stair case that isn’t a spiral stair case. (I now realise that not everyone who say they are a carpenter are in fact a carpenter.) A few of my friends were in the loft too, and we were all wearing wigs. Marge Simpson type wigs, afro wigs, bright pink wigs, and blond plaited wigs. We screamed with laughter and spun around to the rudeness of Lilly Allen lyrics, and placed balloons under our dresses/tops to impersonate my friend Eve who is 5 months pregnant.
It was as if I’d never been away!
I'd returned to the house. I was in a time warp. The magnet was stronger than ever. I remember shaking my head in bewilderment. Smiling at the newly painted terracotta coloured walls.
I'll be honest, I’d had a few glasses of Pino Gricio, but what happened next seemed real enough whilst I was dancing in the loft at the weekend. Whilst I was spinning around and laughing loudly, I'm sure I saw something out the corner of my Marge Simpson wig. If you promise not to laugh shall I tell you what I saw? I was convinced one of the terracotta walls winked at me. That's right, a big, cheeky, you're back in my life kind of wink. And guess what I did?
I winked right back.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Who am I?

I was born in England in 1809. Twas the era of widespread invention and discovery. Significant developments in the understanding and manipulation of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, electricity, and metallurgy. Arr, what an exciting century to be born into!
My father and his father before him were greatly respected physicians, and my mothers side of the family built a respectable estate on the basis of Josiah Wedgwood’s successful pottery business. A mere two centuries since my passing, I have drifted along many antique shops and gazed at many Wedgewood products. Products which have left me flabbergasted to their retail price. But it seems the keen collectors think nothing of parting with their hard earned cash for such beauties of the past.
I was a natural thinker and explorer. I traveled the fearious and the calm seas, I studied at Edinburgh University and I published books on my discoveries.
In my life time I presented the world with compelling evidence of evolution. My passion was natural science and my five year voyage on HMS Beagle established me as an eminent geologist, my observations and theories supporting Charles Lyell’s uniformitarian ideas.
I packed as much as I could into my life, hungry for knowledge and explanations, intrigued and fascinated to what this world had to offer me and those who would live after me.
Oh and how the world is constantly changing! Technology has succumbed any expectations that I could have possibly imagined during my studies, home and away.
My family home, the place of many of my discoveries, still stands proudly in the rambling Kent countryside. It is open to anyone who wishes to observe and absorb the atmosphere and information. It brings me remarkable joy to look around and see the enthusiasm of the young and the old who visit my dear and beloved home.

Have you guessed who I am yet?

My house.

My garden.

Inside my house.

My family tree.

Monday, 4 May 2009

My day trip to Belfast

Over the years I’ve experienced my fair share of day trips. Journeys have been meticulously planned via train/car, maps have been studied, places of interest have been thoroughly researched, and brightly coloured sweets, packed full of e numbers, have been bought.
I’ve traveled to different villages, towns, cities and counties for the day. But I must be honest, I have never visited a different country for the day – until last weekend!
Last weekend I took a mini adventure to Belfast, for the day. Mysterious man and I booked our plane tickets a few days beforehand, decided our agenda, and looked forward to our day trip.
On the day of our mini adventure we traveled by taxi to the airport, and chatted away merrily to the cab driver regarding his famous passengers, such as Steve Davis the snooker player, and we discussed his unfortunate and painful gout problem. (Not Steve Davis's gout problem, the taxi drivers. Although Steve Davis could have a gout problem for all I know?) And then we boarded our aeroplane to Ireland.
Once in Belfast we wondered around a farmers market, a shopping centre, admired the city hall and the architecture, and visited the famous murals. We dined in a nice restaurant, drank alcohol in a lively bar, and danced in a local night club, and then boarded our plane back to England. Oh and m.m. had his hair cut in an Irish barbers.
Phew, we packed a lot into one day, wouldn't you agree?

Belfast City.

Belfast architecture.

Belfast City Hall.

Belfast mural.

Belfast mural.

Friday, 1 May 2009

It's still me, but on a really good day!

Everything appears to be different. Well, almost everything. Okay, most things appear to be different.
Allow me to explain myself. I have not decided to have a sex change or a personality transplant, but recently there have been many changes in my life. Hence many things appear to be different.
Some of these changes I’ve embraced with welcoming arms. Other changes I’ve eyed with great suspicion. I’ll be honest with you, certain changes have terrified me. And I have faced changes which seemed insignificant when they took place, but as time passed by, these changes have altered my life and my way of thinking.
Before redundancy (also known as B.R.) I was plodding along nicely. Same job (for nearly ten years), same routine, same social life, same friends, same debts, same person. But who was I to rock the boat? I was comfortable with my life. It was safe. It was familiar. I liked it. There were high points and low points, as one would expect in this day and age. But I wasn’t counting on changing the world, or flying to the moon.
Dear readers, I still haven’t flown to the moon, I haven’t really expected to nor wanted to, but boy has my world changed!
For a start, my week days now begin at 5.30 in the morning. B.R. I was unaware there was a 5.30 in the morning? In my old life I would stagger out of my bed at the last possible moment, challenging myself with the speed I could leave my house and arrive at my desk, trying not to look too flustered in the process.
These days, I leisurely stroll around the house in the (very early) mornings, dressing in my new, smart clothes.
Thanks to my redundancy pay out I now have trousers which are not frayed at the bottom and boots which do not have fake leather peeling away. I allow plenty of time for my journey to the next county, avoiding the hustle and bustle of the London streets, the over crowded city streets which played a heavy part in my old life. I’m even one of the first employees to arrive at the office (as opposed to the B.R. last), ready to face my new procedures.
Have I mentioned that I love my new job? Consider it mentioned. It terrified me at first. It was a culture shock. A new boss, a new company, a new position. A new me. A whole different atmosphere and environment. However, it did not take long for me to grow to love my position, and appreciate the changes.
The fact that I am not constantly worrying about my finances is a huge relief, and a very welcome change. A change which seemed impossible at one time. I look back and shudder when I recall how I would struggle with my loans/store cards/visa/outgoings and general day to day life, desperately trying to stretch my money from one pay day to the next. Thank goodness my redundancy has allowed me to pay my debts and release me from my finance worries. It’s a glorious feeling, I recommend it to anyone!
My social life has altered too. It’s had to, to allow me not to walk around in a zombie like fashion, as a result of my early mornings.
Ahem, I’m not perfect, I’ve had a couple of blips. One evening I was screeching into a microphone in a karaoke bar at an undignified hour, when I should have been tucked up in bed. And another evening I met a B.R. colleague and we drank too much wine, ate too much pizza, and jumped around her front room to Wham! songs until it was too late. But on the whole, I am far more responsible and restrained during the week. I’ve even disregarded the sofa in my bedroom, the sofa I used to lounge on and watch rubbish television. I now have a desk and a comfortable chair to sit on. How sensible of me.
Crikey, even my bedroom is different.
I also have two new additions to my social life. One of the new additions is my friend Sarah, who I communicated with through facebook. Yep, I’m a facebook fan too, something that I never thought would happen in my old life. Once I would mock facebook, now I am peeping at it at every possible opportunity, still grateful that it played a starring role in reuniting Sarah and I. We are back in each others lives regularly. It’s great. And an added bonus regarding our reunited friendship is that I can see my old dog again.
In the dim and distant past, my partner and I shared a dog, Well, it was his dog really but I lived with him and his Stafford Bull Terrier for eight years, so as you can imagine I was rather attached to the dog. When we separated I missed the dog more than I missed him. Sad but true. Sarah has now extended her family and her house to accommodate my ex’s Stafford Bull Terrier. My ex partner now lives many miles away, in a different country, in his dog free life. Lucky for me, I can now visit Sarah and the dog. I adore seeing the dog again. She has grown very old, very white, and a little deaf. Oh, and her breath still smells like a swamp on a hot, sweaty day. But I love her all the same.
I am also back in touch with my ex’s daughter. This is the second unexpected, albiet it very welcome, addition to my social life. We always shared a close relationship but unfortunately it was tested and became rather strained when I spilt with her father. We both deeply regret letting far too many issues come between us. Fortunately we’re back on track now. We have regular nights out and I have even sat in The Flat again.
The flat I used to live in with her father!
My ex’s daughter lives in the flat at present, while my ex lives many miles away, in a different country, in his dog free life. I did not in a trillion years think I would ever step back into that flat. I thought it would be unnecessary, too painful, too out of the question to even contemplate. To my amazement, I have stepped back into it. I sat on the sofa eating hummus and pita bread and it was fine. I didn’t scream in protest, or clutch my head and my heart wailing, “I can’t take all the memories!” Nope, I didn’t collapse into an emotional mess or sob into the pita bread. I had a nice evening. And I expect there will be other nice evenings in that particular accommodation.
And last but not least, there is my love life. Love and romance have been non existent for a long time in the world according to me. Then along came the mysterious man - see last post if you are baffled by this reference.
I have an announcement to make on FPE. Brace yourself, take a deep breath, sit down comfortably, because I would like to state - the mysterious man is back in my life!
For how long he is back is anyone’s guess. Life and love hold no guarantees. Don’t worry, I am not under any false pretences when it comes to matters of the heart. I know how delicate/confusing/weird these situations can be.
I received an explanation from mysterious man - it moved too fast, he was freaked out with the speed and the expectancy, he’s been hurt before. Was that a good enough explanation? I’ll confess to still being hurt by the agonising, ignoring period. I tortured myself, convinced everything was my fault and there was something wrong with me. It was not a pleasant time.
However, I have accepted his explanation. We have agreed to take things at a slower pace, have fun and see where it all leads. Again, this is all very different for me. I normally spend so long becoming friends with a member of the opposite sex, that by the time we are dating I know them inside out and back to front, and our relationship moves at a very fast pace. Maybe it’s healthier this way? Maybe.
So you see, my life is pretty different now. You have my confirmation to these changes. My world is different. My future looks different.
As I have heard a certain energy drink advert announce (not the chewing gum one, and I’m not sure why I keep quoting advertisements):
It’s still me, but on a really good day!

PS Please accept my humble apologies for the lack of posts and comments. Another thing which has to change - I need to blog regularly again. I hope you're all well and I look forward to catching up with you all very soon...