Downsized and out in Bristol and Somerset

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


God, I really should have chosen a blog template that didn't have titles on each entry. Thinking up bloody headlines for my own bloody blog is like being at bloody work.
Oh, hang on, I am at work.
Well, you know what I mean.
Anyway. What I really wanted to mention was that I am on my first trip up to London to work for a few days and I am sleeping on Bessie's living room floor: she presented me with a futon to sleep on but it is woefully thin so I have augmented it with some of the generous sofa cushions with which her lounge is blessed and it's really quite comfy. Not sure what's going to happen after the generously-padded sofa is removed this weekend, though; it is leaving with one of Bessie's flatmates and another one is moving in, so maybe I will have to use her as a mattress instead.
It's nice to see Bessie and stuff but I'd rather be in Bristol with Prince Charming and Ringo. So I think I am going to have to galvanise myself pretty soon into getting some work down there or making a start on that book I'm always threatening to write - I'm reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the moment, and watched a thing on telly about a woman with multiple personalities last night, which has got me thinking about interesting narrators. Particularly as I am interested in magical realism anyway and I don't want it to be a book that's set within some limited attempt to recreate "real life", which seems to lend itself to having characters whose minds work in interesting ways.
I'm also thinking about having a disabled character in there because I'd like to explore the way life is experienced from different viewpoints, and also to use some of the experience I got from having a wheelchair-bound mum (this, and her death, is pretty much the only major Life Suffering I have as yet to base my Great Art upon, so it's bound to pop up somewhere, otherwise all I've got to write about is broken hearts and stuff that everyone already knows about.) But how to avoid going too Ben Elton? Tricky.
I've also been thinking about having some seriously dark stuff in there. But I'm not sure how much I want to let my imagination run that way. If I'm going to give myself nightmares while I'm writing the thing, I want a really fat advance first.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Everybody's talking at me/Cracked flaps

Yesterday in Ikea, me and Prince Charming were in the lift with our trolley, which contained two things that we'd come in for and of course the inevitable plethora of knick-knacks and houseplants that we didn't mean to buy but picked up anyway, and it wasn't working. Thus, we were treated to our first "people are friendlier around these parts" moment, as everyone in the lift engaged in a light-hearted discussion about whether the right button had been pressed/whether we were moving or not/how we should behave when we exited the lift and rejoined the queue. It was fun and our hearts were glad that we were no longer ina city where the only reaction any has to any situation is anger.
Then, later the same day, our next door neighbour came round to introduce himself and warn us that he was having a party. We had a long chat and found out all about him, and he asked about us, and we talked about dogs and council tax, and he was altogether a friendly and pleasant person.
This morning, a man came round to install our phone and cable TV/broadband, and we did have a nice chat. He recommended a good garden centre, advised me to go to Maplins rather than PC World for my wireless networking kit and said if we looking to buy a house we should definitely consider Portishead, where he lived, because the prices were the same as Bristol but you got a sea view. Well, I thought after he'd left, what a pleasant change from the uncommunicative tradespeople that we had encountered in London, where you're lucky to get a smile (although all the cable network employees that I encountered in my London flat were efficient and professional).
This afternoon, I was at the checkout in Homebase wondering whether to buy one of the very reasonably priced potted azaleas that were next to the till when the couple in front of me had to have a price check on one of their items, thus holding up the queue. They apologised to me for the holdup; no problem, I replied, I'm not in a rush. And it's raining, they said. And the sign in the garden centre definitely said 25% off all patio pots. Yak yak yak, said I, don't you bloody provincials ever shut the fuck up? I'm trying to get on with my life here, but it seems like I have to factor in an extra half hour into every task I do in my daily life, just to fit in the small talk that I seem to be expected to make with every Tom, Dick and Mary that I encounter. Can't I just spend my queueing time/lift time/whatever time thinking about stuff, like I always used to? I mean, I'm all for community, but when do people round here ever find the time to decide what they're going to cook for dinner or which picture they're going to hang on wall of the upstairs landing?
Still, tomorrow I'm back up to London for a few days' work, so that should make me appreciate it all again.
In other news: the cat keeps clawing our mattress while we're asleep, which is normally only mildly annoying, but at the moment we are sleeping on an inflatable mattress so you can see the danger. This morning I had to shut him in the kitchen so he couldn't do it any more, and then when we got up and went down to find him, we discovered that he'd managed to bust his way through the locked cat flap and make a break for it (he's not allowed out yet because he's still freaked enough by the new house and you're supposed to give thema week or two to get used to the new place before letting them out).
Cue major hysterics from me, running into pouring rain in slippers and jimjams calling his name in a quivering tone etc, while PC showed much more presence of mind and merely applied a firm shake to the box of Go-Cat which had a bedraggled and sulky, but visibly shaken, Ringo back in the kitchen in a matter of seconds.
The cracked flap is now secured with several tons of electrical insulation tape, and we are going to try covering the bed with a thick blanket to insulate it from Ringo's claws.

Should I go to my neighbour's party?

He's a nice bloke, and he came round yesterday to say that he was having a party (it's fancy dress with a bling/chav theme) and also to introduce himself. He's nice enough but we appear to have very little in common (unless he's just pretending to be an IT manager with sensible shoes and actually owns a rocking sound system and a hydroponic airing cupboard) (which I doubt because the party has now officially started and I can't hear a thing).
So, should we go? We decided he must have just been being polite becuase he said "I've come to tell you I'm having a party, which of course you're invited to as well" rather than "I've come to invite you to my party". But I don't want to seem unfriendly and also we're hardly in a position to pick and choose our friends. What do I say next time I see him? Argh.
Maybe will pop in for one drink later when they're all a bit pissed and conversation flows more easily. Would be good to have someone who could feed the cat when we're away. But then, will I get stuck in one of those things like at university when you have to be friends with the people you met in Freshers' Week even though you don't really have much to say to them?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

So, farewell then, London

Well. Here I am in a flat that's empty apart from a computer and some horrible furniture that belongs to the landlord. Prince Charming is already in Bristol, so is the cat; all that's left is a load of cleaning and to give the keys back the day after tomorrow. I don't even have a bed because Lord Benthal has just been round and helped me throw out the horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible futon that PC and I have been sleeping on for the last couple of years (I have managed to persuade him that because we are actually going to be living somewhere bigger than a fag packet, we should invest in a correspondingly large bed).
It's been quite a while since my last confession, and a fair bit has happened: I've been getting lots of freelance work and we have officially moved to a three-bedroom house in Bristol that costs £150 less a month to rent than this pokey little one-bedroom flat in Hackney. We also had a glorious and very messy send-off party at Benthal Towers with a Wild West theme.
So far, so good; it's all going to plan but you never know what's round the corner - I am still pretty freaked out about leaving all but 2 of my friends behind in London and having been within walking/cycling distance of them all for many years, it's going to be quite a shock to the system.
I hope it turns out OK.