Monday, June 30, 2008

Just because it's football doesn't make it OK

I arrived home yesterday evening from Salisbury to find Bristol in an uproar -- riots in the streets. There were dozens of people screaming, shouting, chanting, cars incessantly honking horns. I had no idea what was going on.

I arrived at my flat and phoned the police. The 999 operator said "is your life in immediate danger?"
"No" I said.
She hung up.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for phoning the police when one's life is not in immediate danger!

So I looked up the non-emergency number on the web and spoke with a constible. I explained that I was afraid to leave my flat again, and that from my window I could hear the shouting and chanting and horns and the noise was a significant disturbance of the peace, and asked them to intervene.

"It's just the football," he said. "They're just celebrating. We don't want to spoil their fun."


If I threw a party for some -- any -- reason and caused that kind of disturbance the police would surely have broken it up. How come it's acceptible if it's football?

*grumble grumble*

another fucking sleepless night.

I am SO sick of this bleeding city.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Target Practic

That's the third time in a month I've come home on my bike to find bird shit all over me - head, back, backpack - whatever. At least this time it was only a pigeon (small, purple, semi-solid poos). Last two times were seagulls -- big blogs of white and yellow, stinky sloppy crap.

Fucking shitehawks.

I think they're getting back at me for shooting them off my window ledge with a super-soaker.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weeeeeee are the Chaaaam-peeyons, my Frie-ends

I was waiting to get some photos to put up with this post, but I finally decided that some things you simply Need To Know, immidiately, and so you will have to visualize this for yourself.

Henley Women's Regatta this weekend was a cracking success, the best I've ever had.*

Sal and I arrived on Friday afternoon, set up camp, rigged the boat, and hit the water. It was good to do a practice run, become familiar with the course and the circulation pattern (it was my steering that killed us at Reading, if you recall) and calm the nerves. The night was grey, humid, and drizzling. Everyone was walking around ashen-faced and focused on their own little world. Dozens of people scooted about like doozers, busily, but not energetically, minding their own business, not talking to anyone.

It was quiet, almost eerie. From the bank I heard the soft, rythmic swish-chunk of crews going down the river, a few seagulls, and metal clanking against metal as people unwrapped riggers and dropped them on the grass. There wasn't even the shrill shout of an amplified dwarf (sorry, "coxwain") to break the tension. Most of the crews practicing were coxless crews (who were, naturally, more nervous about the steering and circulation).

Pirate arrived in The Big Car, despite the weather. I mean, what better place to show off a classic Aston than Henley-on-Toffs?

Saturday we awoke at stupid o'clock, it being the soltice and the sun having come up at 3 am or something rediculous, the busy old fool. Pirate insisted no sex before competition. Grrr. So i scarfed some Nutrigrain bars (blueberry, in case you're interested), woke Sal up, and proceeded to pace nervously. We had time to kill.

We went through the registration and final equipment check, and then set off. Pirate and Sal's hubby -- let's call him 'SalMan' -- dutifully took our wellies at the pontoon and promised to bring them back to us after the race.

After a light warm up in a light drizzle we heard our number and got attached to the stake boat.

"Are you ready? Attention... GO!"

And go we did. Our start was a bit untidy, but strong. We were against Tyne United Rowing Club, a new organization and complete unknown. We had no idea what to expect from them. By the time we reached the end of Temple Island we were already leaving them comfortably behind. After a couple hundred meters, when it bacame apparent they didn't stand a prayer of catching us, Sal called half pressure and we took the rate down to 27 to conserve energy for the next round. We kept TURC a comfortable 2 lengths off our stern, which would give us plenty of time to respond if they made a push, and basically paddled down the course.

It wasn't a satisfying victory of a race well-fought, but it gave us the confidence boost we needed. It was, after all, the first thing of any kind we've won all season. Not bad to get your first victory in a Henley heat, eh?

After some malt loaf and Lucozade and a short rest it was back in for the second round, in which karma bit us in the butts.

We got Durham.

Those fucking lilac lycras. They instill terror into the hearts of all who see them. (Except Leander, with their baby-ass pink lycras. They do not fear the lilac.)

And basically Durham did to us what we did to Tyne United. Except instead of sitting pretty and conserving energy, Durham thrashed themselves all the way to the line. So did we, to be fair, but their auto-thrashing was much more effective than ours, and when they crossed the finish line they were so far ahead of us we didn't even hear the horn go off. *weeps*

They did go on to win gold in the final, though, so fair enough. We clearly got beat by the best. The coach from Exeter with the tiny tent said that they were GB under-23's, which makes them insufferable little upstarts as well as very good scullers.

Despite all that we didn't feel bad at all. Actually, we rowed a good race. It was genuinely our best performace ever. Once it became obvious (after about 4 strokes) that they were gone and we were never going to catch them, the pressure was off and we just set out to race the clock and do our best as we went past the crowds. Our start was messy, to be sure. The water was really bouncy and choppy from all the motorboat action, but after we got through that we settled into a strong rhythm at 30 spm, kept the ratio good and the lenght long and never deviated for the rest of the course. We were genuinely please with how we rowed. Durham were just better. (Jesus suffering fuck were they fast.)

The advantage to being knocked out Saturday afternoon and not advancing to Sunday is that you can start drinking a day earlier.

I'm starting to sober up now. I went on a bit of a 3-day bender, and polished off, well, it doesn't really bear listing, does it? But there was mead in there somewhere. By god was there mead. Mmm. *licks lips*

Now I'm back at work, life has resumed to normal (whatever the fuck that means), and for once, I have really happy memory of Henley. Nice to end on a high note.

Sal and I will keep going through the summer, but with a bit less intensity. We'll traing a couple times a week, go to some smally little local regattas and come home with lots of pots and medals. We're big fish, now. We gonna clean up some small ponds.

* Unlike 4 years ago where I was sabotaged by my coach and caught a fatal crab on the 4th stroke, or 2 years ago when all the women on the team quit and I was forced to do a 4+ with some enthusiastic and well-meaning novices who just weren't up to the senior level of competition.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

We have a house!11!!

Pirate just phone from the office. He never phones from the office. This was the first time ever.

He wanted to tell me he'd just received the paperwork and we've been allocated a house. He couldn't wait until he got home to tell me. (All together now: "Awwww!")

We'll be living in Torpoint, just on the west side of the river from Plymouth.

View Larger Map
It's close to Pirate's work, a short walk to the ferry, and (and this is the really nice bit) it will be ...


No ambulances every 15 seconds, no screaming drunk people, no stepping over pools of vomit on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings. Few cars, more birds. Lovely.

A house. A home. Our home. My first home with another person. My first home with my Pirate. Yarr. I can't wait.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Seeing Ghosts

I don't believe in ghosts. I almost wish I did. If I could dismiss what I saw as ghost it would be easier. I would know that it was just a figment of my imagination, brought about by the unfortunate combination of memory and a bit of undigested cheese (as Ebenezer could no doubt tell you). But what I saw was made all the more petrifying for being absolutely 100% flesh and blood real.

My grandmother has been dead for 10 years.

(Is your skin crawling yet? Mine still is.)

I saw her again tonight. Her hair, her clothes, her manner, carriage, bearing, demeanor, mannerisms, gestures, lipstick, shoes, all of it exactly as I remember her from when I was a girl. Everything from the little flyaway hairs around her face that escaped her soft bun to the string of pearls around her neck, the tailoring of her skirts and the T-strap, high-heeled shoes: identical.

I was at the Theatre Royal in Bath watching Patricia Routledge star as Queen Mary in Crown Matrimonial. Darlene Johnson, who played the Countess of Airlie, is the spitting image of the woman I remember has having dominated my family for the first 2 decades of my life. I couldn't take my eyes off her, not even to focus on the stunning performances of the rest of the cast.

I am, quite literally, still shaking. I actually had the feeling, during the play, of wanting to go up and talk to her. I'm not sure why. Maybe I wanted to get close enough to smell if she wore the same perfume, too. Maybe I wanted to yell at her, or hug her, or ask her questions. Maybe all of that. (Warning: unresolved issues imminent.)

The thing is, I don't miss her. I wasn't that upset when she died, and I rarely think of her. When I do it's usually to thank my lucky stars that she won't be around to ruin another Christmas. You see, my gramma wasn't a very nice person. To put it less subtly, she was selfish cow.

Selfish really is the word. She wasn't evil, or belligerent, or malicious. But was extremely petty and bitter, had an immesurable sense of entitlement, and was above all the utter center of her universe. As far as she was concerned the entire world existed to cater to her whims. Basically, all her unsavory behaviors over the years can be traced back to this single, all-consuming need to constantly be the center of attention.

I'll give you an illustration. When my mother and father got married, my grandmother (mom's mom) wore head-to-toe white lace. I should tell you at this point that gramma was a looker. Stunning figure. Even when she died at the age of 82 she still had the best legs of any woman in the family. When she was young she could have been a movie star. Mom, as it happens, inherited grampa's looks, and while a lovely woman, she never had that silver screen elegance that gramma had. So when gramma showed up at her own daughter's wedding in a floor-length, fitted, white lace sheath dress you can bet your sweet bippy it was with the subconscious (if not outright deliberate) intent to steal her daughter's thunder on her own wedding day and out-shine the bride. Justifiable homicide if you ask me.

I suppose she was a kleptomania of sorts, spending her entire life stealing other people's thunder. This need to always be in the spotlight manifested itself in other ways, notably her morbid response to grandpa's terminal illness.

When I was about 4 my grandfather was diagnosed with liver cancer. Whether the diabetes came before or after that I don't know, but I've been told that at the time he was given 3 months to live. He finally died when I was almost 20.

In the intervening 15 years a lot of considerations were, by necessity, dictated by grandpa's needs. Housing, food, travel arrangements, time and location of family gatherings, that sort of thing. I know dealing with grandpa's illness was difficult for her, and it certainly wasn't made any easier by the fact that he was just as self-centered as she was.

In my entire life I don't recall ever having a single conversation with my grandfather. I'm not certain that he ever addressed me directly. He came to everything -- band concerts, graduations, all that -- but he never spoke to me. To him I was a complete non-entity. And I suspect he felt much the same about gramma. He probably took her completely for granted and never thanked her for a thing or apologized for making everything so tough for her. Instead he shouted at her (a lot) and peed in the kitchen sink when it was too much effort for him to go upstairs where the only toilet was located.

Her response to this was to try to skim off as much attention from the rest of us as possible, and she did it by insisting that she was the one who was dying. (Never mind that she had the constitution of a horse until 30 seconds before a sudden heart attack finished her off.) Every stinking year is was (as she placed the back of her hand wearily across her forehead like a melodramic victorian heroine) "Oh, I'm sure this my last Christmas! I won't live to see another one!" or "This is the last time I'll be at your birthday" or whatever. No matter the occasion, it was sure to be the last one. (I can remember mom muttering responses under he breath like "Thank god for that" and "promise?" and "you better be right this time." Even "I can arrange that."

This constant insistence that every event was the last she would live to witness came with an interesting corollary. Just to make sure that we knew she didn't want to die (god forbid she should get something she wanted, she wouldn't be able to complain any more!) she would constantly exclaim "Oh, if only I could live long enough to see Marley (my brother) _____!" The blank could be anything: get a girlfriend, graduate grade/middle/high school, college, grad school, get married, anything. The golden grandson was her only reason for living. I was, well, a non-entity. Not once did the words "I only hope I live to see CB ________" ever escape her red lips.

This was, I realized later, the major source of the sibling rivalry between me and my brother. I was convinced for the better part of my life that everyone liked him better, loved him more, and felt he was in every way superior in talent and more important to the future of humanity. It took me a long time to realize that, actually, it was only gramma and grandpa who thought that.

Gramma seemed to know this, too, and made a huge point of always emphasizing how she treated us equally (with a tone of voice that suggested it was against her better judgement). Every year at Christmas and birthdays she would hold my arm firmly and tell me in no uncertain terms that she spend exactly the same amount of money on my gifts as she had on Marley's.


Who does that? Why the need to point it out? For one thing, it never occured to me think otherwise. More importantly, if it was so obviously true, why state it at all? One doesn't spend a lifetime repeating obvious statements unless there is some reason to believe the contrary.

The thing was, I didn't care a whit how much she spent on my presents or Marley's. Even after her incessant reassurances I still didn't care. But I do wonder now how many times she was lying through her teeth. I mean, I was a kid. What the fuck did I know how much anything cost?

This obsession of proclaiming equal spending on us kids (the only 2 grandkids in the family, by the way, on either side) also speaks to my grandmother's deep-seated shallowness and materialism. Balanced material spending meant equality between grandkids because material goods were the most important thing in life, so if they were equal than any other discrepancies in treatment were inconsequential. I can't really blame her for that one, though. She grew up and got married during the great depression, and the fear of ever reverting to that way of life again really scared the crap out of her. When the old bat finally died we found over $10,000 in CASH squirreled away in shoe boxes throughout her house, hidden (really well in some cases) because she never did trust the banks after 1929. The Depression definitely scarred her, as it did many of her generation.

A bizarre twist in gramma's proclaimations of equality were the instances when she would lean over my shoulder and whisper in my ear "You're your grandpa's favorite, you know." She did this several times in my life, usually after I helped my grandfather up or down a flight of steps at church or out of the car when there was ice on the ground. He never spoke to me; I was a glorified walking stick, but my reward for my efforts was to be told I was the favorite.

Again, if it's true, there's no reason to say so out loud and plenty of good reasons not to. But I was just cynical enough to think at the time "Pfft. Whatever. I bet you said the same thing to Marley 15 seconds ago." Possibly the only astute observation I ever made of my grandparents in their lifetime. The rest of this stuff I didn't think about or realize until after they were dead.

But this is all the shit that came flooding back to me when I saw that actress on stage tonight. I suppose it's no wonder I was shaking. I don't have any photos my gramma to share with you (it was years after she died that I got my first digital camera, and all the old prints are in my parents' basement), but if you see Crown Matrimonial this week (and I highly recommend that you do), take a look at Lady Airlee, and you'll have a pretty fucking accurate picture of what she looked like.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hot Toddy

Here's how I make my hot toddies:

Juice of 1 entire lemon
Equal amount strong booze (at least 40% abv) such as brandy, cognac, scotch, or bourbon
Almost that much honey
Top up with hot (NOT boiling! you'll evaporate the alkyhaul) water.

There's enough acid and alcohol in that concoction to disinfect a front-line hospital. On Sunday night when I had a sore throat it worked a treat -- by Monday morn my throat was better. But at the same time my sinuses got worse.

Now, on here on Tuesday night, my sinuses are still plugged, my throat is hurting again, and it's moved south into my chest. That's the really worrying bit. I can race with a plugged nose (i breath through my mouth anyway) and i can cope with a sore throat, but chest congestion makes racing impossible. You just can't get enough oxygen in to power the muscles. I'm getting really worried. This is the same thing Sal had, and she was down with it for almost 2 weeks.

I've been to Henley twice before, and both times I've been fucked by my team. Once I was sabotaged by my coach (yes, I know that sounds paranoid, but I think he was getting me back for throwing up on him, unrepentantly, at training camp), and the second time all the senior women in the club quit and my only hope was in a coxed 4 (an inherently shit boat, as it has the worst power:weight ratio of any racing craft) with 3 keen but inexperienced and unfit novices. Then last year I lost the whole of the spring season to my back injury.

This was my year. This was the year for the glorious come-back. I got screwed by my club YET AGAIN (i'm not bitter, i swear), but managed to find a fantastic partner and get it together in a double scull.


Honestly, there does not exist in this world an angstometer of sufficient capacity to measure my frustration.

So today I bought a coloring book to color. Like you do.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Angst. With a headcold. And sunburn.

Why is that you only ever get sick at The Most Inconvenient Time Imaginable?

I'm sick. Henley is in less than a week and I'm sick. Shit bugger wank balls fuck damn arse shit fuck.

And because I'm sick, I feel like crap and therefore can't be bothered to give you a long, drawn-out, delightful narrative of the weekend's spankings. There were two. I shall sum up.


Competing in the double scull. Was so nervous I was nauseas for 3 days leading up. Got attached to the stake boat, nearly blew my cookies, had a really mess start (holy fuck that stream was strong!!!), and rowed a line like a fucking sine curve. I was all over the river. Even so we only lost by a length. I figure if you factor in all the extra distance we did on account of my fucking steering (or lack thereof) we actually went about 100m farther, and therefore won. Too bad the judges don't see it that way.

The Mother-in-law came as well, bless her M&S socks. All that way to watch us lose. (Twice.)
Had a nice picnic anyway. The weather was good. There was a lovely irish wolf hound who befriended me and got belly rubs out of the bargain. I got dog hairs on my wet lycra.


Racing in a quad scull with a seriously strong crew. Scratch crew. We'd only had 1 outing together prior to racing. It was just for a lark. But the Bristol women who swore up and down that they didn't want to race a quad scull and thereby effectively threw me out of the club (remember that?)... THEY ENTERED A QUAD AGAINST US.

Knife in back: TWIST.

Holy fuck were we out for blood. We wanted to win it. BAD. Rarely in my life have I wanted anything so badly. I wanted their heads on platters. With little bits of parsley garnish sticking out of their eyeballs. The cunts.

We had an awesome start. After a few strokes we were already clearly ahead. Poor Weybridge didn't stand a chance. (I should clarify here that we were actually racing Weybridge. The Bristol quad got knocked out in their first round, but we wanted to win the whole event just to demonstrate our obvious superiority. It would have been nice to meet them in the final, but they got eliminated by New South Wales.) We were going to decimate them and go on to the final.

Until Sal crabbed. Massively. And then, utter genius that she is, her reflex was to use both hands to try to recover her blade, and so she let go of the second one! Aaaaaahhhh!

So that was us done. We made a valiant effort and came back well, even managing to close the 4 lenghts of open water between us and come in contact with them again, but then we ran out of river and they crossed the line first. Had we had another 200m of water we'd have gone right through them, but it was a short course and there just wasn't time.

Weybridge were really friendly about the whole thing and we cheered them in the final. They lost to UL, poor dears.

But we decided the quad has sufficient potential that we will carry on racing it through the summer, because we're confident we can win shit. And the weather was perfect, so that was nice. And I got to pet a 12-week old beagle puppy named Donut, who was an absolute little doll. And there was chocolate cake in abundance, which also helped. But i'd gladly give all that up and more to have won that race in the quad.

Yeah, AND I got sunburn on the top of my head where my hair was parted.

And now I'm sick, one fucking week before Henley. Frustrating ain't the word.

I'm going back to bed now.


Friday, June 13, 2008


I had a very interesting day at the office yesterday. It stemmed from something which started out as a very minor and occasional nuissance but has since grown into a full-blown lingerie catastrophe.

Of course I'm talking about that annoying sensation when your underwear slices in to your bikini line and feels like cheese-wire that is on the verge of amputating your legs.

I have a couple pairs of knickers with inadequate leg elastic that tend to create this feeling. They annoy me and so I stopped wearing them (despite their being extremely cute and pretty). But lately ALL of my underwear has been doing this, even the old, saggy, stretched-out, cotton granny panties.

Yesterday it reached critical mass. They got so painful I had to take them off. In fact, so fed up was I with the whole dilemma that I got angry at the offending underwear and threw them away, right there in the office (well, in the sanitary disposal bin in the ladies' room) and went commando for the rest of the day.

Yes, I went commando at work.

(I was wearing a knee-lenght corduroy skirt, so it was ok. I didn't have any scary four-corners crotch seams in trousers to contend with, and the skirt was completely opaque, so there was no visible lack-of-panty line.)

It was quite nice, really.

Today I wore the most comfortable pair of knickers I could find, and they're driving me nuts. They're cutting it to my skin so badly it's like wearing pants made a dental floss. I don't know what to do. I can't spend the rest of my life commando, but right now the thought of having to wear underwear every day for the rest of my life is making me cringe. Surely there's a solution to this, and it probably involves replacing all my underwear with something more comfortable, but I can't imagine what that could be. Any suggestions?

ps. The current underwear is mostly low-rise bikini. I've worn them for decades without difficulty. I don't know why they're bothering me now.

pps. I've considered switching to high-leg bikini, but they ride up my ass and I spend my life attempting to subtly remove wedgies.

ppps. No, I haven't gained weight. Not an ounce. In fact I've lost a few pounds. So my legs haven't gotten any fatter if that's what you're thinking.

Monday, June 09, 2008


What a weekend!

This post is going to come out in one, giant, joyous explosion of wonderful things that I experienced this weekend.

Actually, that would be a little scary. Let's break it up into lots of little, tiny, joyous explosions, in bullet-format. Little popcorn blogasms, like the orgasms you have when you're super-saturated with horniness and you've already had 3 or 4 big, earth-shattering ones but you're still so hyper-sensitive that the slightest touch sends another little aftershock through your pelvis, over and over and over again.

Yeah, this post is going to be like that. (That was a metaphor, by the way. This post will not be about sex. Just in case you were wondering/dreading.)

Saturday morning:
  • Went sculling in a single (Sal is still sick). It was a beautiful, sunny day.
  • Saw the heron, fish leaping out of the water, a cormorant diving, said cormorant popping out of the river with aforementioned flappy fish in beak, little twinkly babble stream flowing into river.
  • Did an awesome 1k piece. Balance was perfect, rate was high, catches were quick and strong, and my boat sang to me, churning little bubbles along the bow that giggled and whispered to one another.
  • Got sunburn.

Saturday afternoon:

Cycled up through Ashton Court to watch Pirate's cricket game. There was a mountain bike race going on. I needed to get to where I was going, and there was no good alternate route, so I just slotted in with them on my own (heavy) mountain bike. The trail is a bitch: it's not gravelly but properly rocky, uphill, into a headwind. I didn't get passed by any of the competitors, not even the men. They may have already been at it a while, but I wasn't exactly fresh either, having already cycled 22 miles that morning and sculled 12k. And I was carrying cargo. I crossed the finish line and waved my arms in the air like they do on TV and lots of people clapped and cheered. A marshall shouted at me for not having a number and so I yelled back "I'm not racing! I'm just awesome!" And went to go watch the cricket. (They lost.)

Sunday morning:

I cycled from Bristol to Pirate's cricket game in Devizes along the National Cycle Route 4. This is the route I take to the boathouse, but I've only ever ridden it as far as Bath. I've wanted to try the bit east of Bath for a long time.
It was the most stunning bike ride I've ever taken. I saw:
  • Lovely, cool, shady old-growth hardwood forests dominated by 100-year-old beech trees, with their beautiful silver bark that makes you think you've stumbled into Lothlorian and start looking around for armed and paranoid Elves (which is pointless because you know bloody well that you won't see them until they decide to grant you the priveledge, but you do it all the same).
  • Cottages and gardens overflowering with rambling roses in June bloom that were so charming Miss Marple herself would vomit rainbows at the sight
  • A black, tuxedo-clad cat wearing white spats and sitting in a dignified manner beside a potted geranium. Like you do.
  • Amazing aquaducts! The Kennet-and-Avon Canal, constructed by the Victorians, is a highway for river barges. And is has bridges. Not bridges that go over it, but bridges that it uses to cross gorges and valleys. So you can be on a boat and float along a water-filled bridge hundreds of feet above another river! It's genius! I'd never seen anything like it. Extraordinary. I'm so pissed off I didn't have my camera.
  • The 29-lock sequence leading up to Devizes. I had no idea it was there, and certainly didn't expect to come across such an extraordinary sight. Honestly, the victorians kick our ASSES when it comes to daring building projects. It was awe-inspiring and beautiful at the same time.
  • By the time I got to the locks I had cyclecdabout 39 miles. Because of the huge lock-sequence the last mile was all uphill. It didn't bother me. I finished the ride as strongly as I started, and never slowed down along the way. No exhaustion, no lactic acid. I wasn't even tired. I impressed myself. (And believe me, given the high opinion/expectations I already have of myself, that actually takes some doing.)
  • A pair of neon blue and firey orange kingfishers, darting about in the sunlight over the pools beside the locks, more irridescent than dragonflies and swifter than swallows. It's easy to see why people believed in fairies. They were supernaturally incongruous inhabitants of a normally drab and dreary country.

Sunday afternoon: Pirate's cricket game

One of my favorite things about cricket is listening to the opposition discuss the Pirate while his team is fielding. They sit around and discuss the game and the players, and they have no idea who I am or that every one of their little words will make it back to Pirate's ears. I love being a fly on the wall of the enemy's locker room!
This week Pirate bowled and batted especially well, and the other team spent a good 90 minutes talking about him and him alone. Here are some of the juicier tidbits:
  • (about Pirate's bowling) He doesn't need those glasses to see. They must have some kind of digital display or targeting system on the inside of the lenses. Some sort of Batman-esque readout. Or cross-hairs. That's it! The fucker's got cross-hairs on his glasses!
  • I thought he'd have begun to slow down by now, but he's on his 10th over and he's as fast as his first. He's not human. It's like facing a bowling machine. That can think.
  • I need a lid to face this guy. And a chest-plate. Can I borrow your chest plate? Please, someone must have a chest-plate I can use. I don't want to face this guy without more armor!
  • (about his batting, uttered by the bowler who, despite his best efforts, gave away 22 runs in one over to the Pirate, one ball of which was a massive 6 that earned Pirate his half-ton) He made it look so easy! That's just talent, plain old raw talent. He bats as well as he bowls, just one after another, 4, 4, 4, 4, 6, as easy as you like. Honestly? I'm glad there are men like that in the world.
  • I hear he's a Pirate. I feel safer knowing that he's out on the high seas protecting us. It must suck for the drug runners who cross his path!
  • Which member of the Royal Family do you think he should marry? I dunno, none of the women are really good enough for him. I suppose maybe Princess Beatrice. Or Fergie herself even? (Yes, a bunch of 20 to 30-something guys sat around trying to decide which Royal the Pirate should marry. I couldn't make this up if I tried!)

So in the car on the way home I conveyed all of this to the Pirate who, after laughing hysterically for 30 minutes, declared "I'm going to need to get a bigger car! My ego won't fit in this one any more!"

Thursday, June 05, 2008


(It seems I'm not the only person eager to tie the knot. Go California!!! I just love the mental image of hordes of people madly in love storming the clerks' offices with shit-eating grins on their faces.)

I was talking with a friend the other night about what makes relationships work in general and what makes my relationship with the Pirate work in particular. It occurred to me that I approach my relationship in the same way that I approach the rest of my life. I have a simple motto by which I've lived for many years. It goes like this:

You do the best you can with what you got in the time allotted.

It reminds me that I'm not perfect, I'm not super-human, I can't do everything, and some times there are compromises to be made, but if I do the best I can with whatever I have to work with, than I'm doing OK. That's really all anyone can do. I can't bend the laws of physics to achieve my goals, but I can give my utter best effort to whatever I'm doing within the contstraints that the world imposes. And yes, the world does impose contstraints.

If you do that, it also makes it that much easier to be a forgiving person. It also makes it easier to accept forgiveness from others when you fuck up. (I have particular difficulty with this.) I know that I do my best for the Pirate. I'm not perfect, but I always make an effort. He knows this and so when I fall short he's never upset. Ditto the reverse. We're not perfect, but we do our best and are accommodating and flexible. There is a corollary to this motto which I learned from my high school chemistry teacher. It states

Live your life so as not to be an inconvenience to others.*

Sounds cheesy, but it's a good approach. If, in your day-to-day activities, you think "will doing this be a nuissance to someone?" or "How can I rearrange this to make it less inconvenient for X?" things seem to go OK. This doesn't mean being a doormat, it doesn't mean living your life for other people, but it does mean living your life in such a way that you don't force other people in to situations where they have to be a doormat for you. It means being independent, self-sufficient, and not being a burden to anyone.

We are all occassionally a burden to someone. That's human nature. Sometimes we all need looking after. But that goes back to the first statement. If you do your best to not be a pain-in-the-ass, people will recognize this and be forgiving and helpful those times when you are. And you can do the same for them.

That's all, really. Pretty straightforward stuff.

What are your favorite mottos/mantras?

*Thanks, Fr. Maclernan. I don't remember much about electron orbitals or covalent bonds, but this little gem stuck, and frankly, it's more useful anyway.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Getting Spanked

Never in my life have I had so much fun losing.

On Saturday of this past weekend I was at Metropolitan Regatta at Dorney Lake. Sal and I were entered in a double scull.

We got our asses handed to us on a very wet platter.

To be fair, it wasn't our fault. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but hear me out. Poor Sal was sick as a dog. When she picked me up in the morning she couldn't get any air through the gallons of snot and mucus filling her sinuses. Her breathing sounded like a kid blowing bubbles through a straw into a chocolate milkshake. So really, we never stood a chance.

The only reason she even got out of bed was because I had mentioned that my in-laws were driving all the way down from Preston to watch. 4 hours in the car just to watch me splashing about in a boat for a minute! (Pirate was playing cricket that day. They didn't drive 4 hours to see him play. Ha!) I thought it was rather heroic of her to even make the effort.
Here we are after our humiliating defeat. See what good losers we are?

We had a good start. We went off the blocks at 40 spm, our best start ever. But Sal couldn't get any air into her lungs and so couldn't get any power out of her muscles, so I basically pulled us down the course. We stayed well in the thick of it for about the first 500m, at which point we looked at the sign reading "500" and simultaneously (we established later) thought "Fuck, is that all?! I thought we were coming up on the 1000!"

At that point 4 of the 6 crews pulled away and we were left fighting with the crew in lane 3 to not finish last. We were neck and neck with our co-losers for the middle thousand, after which I got a massive cramp in my left forearm, a consequence of having a death-grip on the blade, and couldn't hold my oar. The harder I drove with my legs the harder it was to hang my weight on the oar. Without wanting to I found myself letting up on the pressure and the crew in lane 3 got the better of us. We limped across the finish line gasping, moaning, not moving at all together and looking very novicey indeed. Which was, naturally, the point at which my in-laws saw us. Wank.

So we drank some Lucozade, shrugged it off, declared that we'd done our best in impossible circumstances, and got on with the serious business of picnicking with the in-laws in the shade by the lake. And it was an utterly lovely afternoon.

An added bonus was bumping in to a good friend of mine from Manchester that I haven't seen in several years. I wasn't expecting him to be there and suddenly there he was in front of me. What a treat!

Eventually the in-laws dropped me off at the train station in Reading so I could make my way home, where the Pirate and I met up with the other Bristol rowers for a curry dinner, which was fun, and then went to see the new Indiana Jones movie. (I'll put up my review tomorrow.) A great day all around. Never mind the utterly spectacular, catastrophic defeat. *shrugs* Whatever.

Monday, June 02, 2008

12th (wo)man



Actually, I got thrown in to one of the Pirate's games on Sunday. One of their men never showed up and they couldn't get hold of him, so they threw me some borrowed kit and let me play. The conversation at lunch went something like this:

Skipper: "Bob" still isn't here.

Another player: No big deal, we can field with 10 men. We've got so many runs they don't stand a chance anyway.

Pirate: CB will play. (Keep in mind this is not a mixed-sex league/team/game.)

Me: I will?

Skipper (to me): Oh? Are you a cricketer?

Me: Nope! Never played in my life, but I'll give it a go.

Skipper: Can you catch?

Me: Not really. I'm afraid of the ball. I can't run for beans either and I throw like a girl. I make no promises whatsoever about my capabilities, only my enthusiasm.

Skipper: Do you have any whites with you.

Me: Nope!

Skipper: Sounds good to me. You can field at off-stump.

Me: Okey-dokey then! Where's that?

So I was handed some spare kit from a chap who's a lot shorter and skinnier than I am and sent out to field wearing what looked like skin-tight, cream-colored capri-style yoga pants. The look was further enhanced by my hair being up in pigtails. It was no end of comedy, I tell you.

It was my first time ever on a cricket pitch and the first time a woman had ever played for the Stragglers.

It was a friendly match and didn't count toward any kind of league, and the Stragglers were so far up that even if I made several catastrophic screw-ups it still wouldn't affect the outcome of the game, so they were happy to humor me.

The ball only came towards me 3 times in the whole innings. Twice it was so far over my head only Inspector Gadget would have stood a chance of grabbing it, and the third time it came rolling past me, so I stopped it with my foot and lobbed it back to the catcher, thereby holding what would have been 4 runs to only 1. So that was good. The rest of the game I just stood there, terrified that the ball would come near me. My fear was in vain, however, as the Pirate was bowling and didn't give the poor bastards batting many opportunities to do anything other than defend the stumps.

So I was heartily congratulated all around for being such a good sport and had a great time playing England's noble game with my Pirate.

(Also when the Pirate took his first wicket I got to smack him on the ass in a manly, athletic manner, which was fun.)