Uptight & Personal Diary Entry Sat Feb 13th

22 02 2010

Saturday 13th

Get up to catch the 8.41 into Cambridge which Lou is driving as we have arranged to catch up on her break. I put on smart Japanese tweed coat which proves inadequate for the snow flurries. Stand at stop wishing I had dressed in polar bear coat instead.

More snow flurries on reaching Cambridge and then Lou’s ticket machine broken and she has problems logging out but we finally solve that with the help of one of her co-drivers and can head for Giraffe for brekkie as both of us find ourselves truly starvacious.

Am gratified to find they have huevos rancheros on the menu which is my favourite. We fill each other in on our news – usually if I find myself on Lou’s bus we can only exchange brief greetings so it’s nice to have proper time together.

Lou’s tip for all of us: Do not get a Brazilian for an enemy. This is something that should be DONE to enemies. Good point.

Ride back to Exning with Lou. Day grim. Sleet follows the snow. Hate sleet. Lurk indoors. Manage to do some housework and then some work on the Hartung manuscript – an unpublishable and un-editable book. Decide after two hours I would rather drive needles into my eyeballs and fall asleep.

Sunday 14th

Valentine’s Day is a conspiracy between Hallmark, florists and the hospitality industry to hike up prices and part us from our money. Who needs a day to tell someone you love them anyway?

However, Valentine’s Day is actually nothing but an emotional minefield. Yes, by all means send that anonymous card to the person you have the hots for – that’s what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about. But be careful with the declaration of love – make sure you’ve had some indication that’s it’s reciprocated otherwise it’s just a painful and embarrassing experience for both when rejection is involved. Not sure? That’s what flirting was designed for. If the person flirts back chances are you suit may be welcomed. If not – stick to the anonymous card or else abstain completely. Sometimes Cupid fires those arrows and then sits back and has a good laugh at our expense!

Have highlights done. When she whips off the cap the contrast is so extreme I text Matt saying I look like a chav. However, when my hair is dried I can’t decide if it is Total Chav or Total Aniston. I do however quite like it.

Try to do more of the Hartung edit. Now I know why the Nazis lost the war. Not only were they grammatically challenged, they also spent the entire time in the bath having sex. I guess the Allies knew this and timed the D-Day invasion accordingly. At least the Nazis privates were clean and sated when they were overrun by the Allies intent on Saving Private Ryan. However, resign myself to the fact I should send it out to someone else to edit and fall asleep on the couch instead.

Think I am anaemic and should start drinking Bovril.

Monday 15th

More snow. Extremely dull day filled with dullness at work. Walk home in snow but it’s not settling. Get home and – voila! Surprise anonymous ‘Valentine’ gift. Something that was mentioned in my blog. All this after my bitching and moaning about Valentine’s Day. Now am faced with detective work to discover the sender of the item. It has to be someone who reads my blog AND it has to be someone who has my full postal address. The combination of the two results in an extremely short shortlist. Now begins process of elimination. One suspect happens to call me so I ask him if he is the sender but he reminds me he would own up to it. Spend rest of night crossing suspects off the list.

Cannot take any more of the Hartung edit so send grovelling email to Andrea begging her to take it off my hands for £350.00. Warn her that it will make root canal therapy without anaesthesia look pleasant by comparison and that she should get Tesco’s to deliver a case of vodka (obviously generic owing to the size of the edit fee which does not stretch to Grey Goose), that very afternoon in order to cushion the horror of it. She emails me back after receiving it that she has ‘never seen anything like it’. I point out I DID warn her and that she probably needs to increase the order from Tesco’s at which point she emails me that she already has. The problem now being whether the Stolichnaya factory can cope with the increased demand.

Determined to have more energy so have red meat for supper, plus an iron pill which I take with a half glass of red. Very good.

Tuesday 16th

Still on the trail of the phantom gift-giver. Am wearing the gift.

See that Catherine Zeta-Jones has been voted the world’s worst dressed celebrity owing to her penchant for wearing things that were once alive. Fur coats, that terrible lizard handbag. Oops – sorry – that scaly thing hanging off her arm turns out to be Michael Douglas. Easy mistake to make.

By mid-morning I have run through the list of usual suspects and the anonymous gift sender has been identified.

Bovril for mid-morning snack. Am determined to increase iron intake and to stop flopping around like some escapee from a convalescent home. It’s just that two things are jointly conspiring to drain the life-force from me. The first is the vacuuming which I haven’t done for a week now and the second is my morning glimpse of the Melrose building and the knowledge that I am trading away little pieces of my soul to be incarcerated there on a weekday basis. It’s going to take a hell of a lot of Bovril to counteract that effect.

Andrea and I have taken to referring to the Hartung MS as ‘Borat’. She has said she has had to put Sainsbury’s on stand-by as Tesco’s cannot cope.

If you really don’t believe how bad this book is – here is an extract which has to get it nominated for the Bad Sex Awards.

‘It is your turn to be raped.’

She sniggers, ‘Yes, and I don’t defend myself.’

By now, I know how she likes it and where the dangerous points are and I hear her laugh, moan and sigh all in one, with all the endearments. When I get on her lovely breasts and nibble on them she says in a whisper, ‘Bubi please come to me’. She winds her lovely legs around me and holds me till we both “explode” together.

Now imagine 300 pages in a similar vein. Is that a Stolichnaya that I see before me?

Speaking of Borat, Dawn reports there is no sign of Bob agreeing to give her her own plough as part of the pre-nup. Guess the marriage sack is on hold.

Wednesday 17th

Bovril for snack. Very good. Also had iron pill and red wine last night. Excellent nutrition!

I am going to hell. As if it’s not bad enough to be turned in Satan’s Little Helper and the person who talks old ladies out of their pensions on the Melrose Books side of things, I have now been conscripted into the Evil Legions of IBC to come up with more bogus awards.

What, I hear you ask is IBC? Well, you can go Wiki Melrose Press or the International Biographical Centre if you want. Or read on.

Are you an egomaniacal minor academic or underachieving scientist preferably either with a degree from and/or living in a Third World Country?

Fed up with constantly living in the shadow of your genius level colleagues? Does that Nobel Prize remain tantalizingly out of reach? If the answer to either of those questions is a ‘Yes’ then boy – do we have an offer for YOU! Deck your walls with certificates and your desk with pre-formed plastic awards from the IBC catalogue. Yes – admission to the ranks of ‘The Greatest Scientists of the 21st Century’ or ‘World’s Greatest Achievers 2010’ can be yours all for just £499.99. We even have a ‘Noble’ category for those prepared to accept homophone substitutions of the bogus certificate kind. Yes, that’s right. You’ve been NOMINATED to hand over your credit card details. Our operators are standing by and in addition to your wall plaque and framed certificate the next 50 callers will receive a complete set of Ginza steak knives absolutely free of charge!

The Nobel Foundation just can’t compete with that kind of offer!

It has therefore befallen me to come up with the next bogus award series. My answer ‘The Tesla Award for Outstanding Communications in the field of (insert here – Science, Medicine, Education, Stamp Collecting etc).

I am going to hell to spend eternity surrounded by the utter dross I helped to peddle. I feel so dirty. I’ll never be clean again!!!

Thursday 18th

Stagger to bus stop under weight of luggage. Get to work to discover I have forgotten to pack my lunch. This necessitates a visit to the snack truck for a sausage and bacon bap. Very bad.

Day drags. Finally liberate myself @ 4pm to go to the station. It’s sleeting. I hate sleet. Arrive at station soaked. Manage to sit next to heater on train and am dry by the time I get to Kings Cross. However, when I get out at Belsize Park it’s pissing down. Arrive at Annabel’s soaked once more and as I have made good time it transpires Annabel is not yet home. Need wees. Stash luggage in alcove next to front door and head back towards Rosslyn Hill in search of a pub but run into Annabel at the end of the street staggering under weight of grocery bags like some itinerant bag lady. Thoughtfully offer her 50p to go get a cup of tea. U-turn. Horrid night. Annabel has made some soup which is exactly what is needed in this weather. We then dispose of two bottles of wine whilst debating the signs of alcoholism. Go to bed. Unconscious within two minutes.

Friday 19th

Wake up with clear head – a miracle considering the amount of booze we put away the previous night. However, smoke alarm keeps on making annoying beeping sounds. There are snow flakes drifting past the skylights but by the time I have drunk two cups of coffee, had a bath, put my make-up on and got dressed day has transformed itself into something positively spring-like. Grab camera and head off out.

I’m on walking up Rosslyn Hill, my old haunt and reflecting on how for Annabel and myself, life has come full circle. In Hampstead not much has changed. The same over-priced shops stuffed with stock carefully selected to appeal to high disposable incomes still line the streets – only the storefront names have changed. Hard to believe this was once the centre of my London village life.

I drop into Designs which has not changed since I lived here and which sells pre-loved designer wear. I have set aside a sum with which to splurge should I discover some foolishly under-priced bargain on their rails. However, I don’t know if it is a reflection of the credit crunch and people are hanging onto their designer goodies or else preferring to dispose of them themselves on eBay, but on this visit I can find nothing to covet.

Further up the hill I stop and talk to a mounted police officer astride a large and useful looking grey gelding whose muzzle is peppered with freckles. His name I discover is Philip (the horse, not the officer). Who on earth calls their horse Philip? Someone in the Met is horsing around.

I do a large circuit, snapping as I go. Everyone looks so smart even if they are casually dressed but casually dressed in Hampstead terms means looking like you’ve just been styled for an Annie Liebowitz shoot at Audley End. I say a silent thanks that I am wearing my hideously expensive Ravel boots and don’t look too much the escapee from the Fens.

Heading towards the Royal Free I am distracted by charity shops which succeed in finally parting me from my holiday stipend where Designs failed. For twenty-five quid I get a new dress, a pair of leather shoes, a retro cardi, a retro cosmetics case and a top. What’s more the stock is far more varied and considerably cheaper than Designs. I have triumphed!

I need to pick up some ingredients for tonight’s supper plus some more coffee as we are running low so I head to Budgen’s where Annabel does not like to shop as she has told me she does not like the lighting in there. It probably is unflattering but I do not propose to linger – merely to conduct a surgical strike. Belsize Park Budgen’s not only has crappy lighting that is unflattering, but also they are seriously taking the piss as they are charging 140% more for basic items such as fetta and parmesan than Tesco’s. What one gains in the charity shop one loses in the supermarket.

Thought for the day: a cliché is a truism that has been overused. This does not make it any less true however.

My camera and I have had a lovely morning. It really feels as if I am on holiday. Back home however and the smoke alarm is now emitting a continuous shriek. Climb onto ladder but cannot get cover off. However, after a while it stops. Have lunch. Nap.

Woken from nap by the sound of a hammer drill demolishing the entrance to the house across the street. Hampstead domains fall into roughly two categories. Those which smugly slumber in grandiose Edwardian splendour and those who resemble a demolition site as they undergo yet another transformation like permanent re-runs of Changing Rooms. Now awake I go up to the tower and look out across London. I can see the City, the Gherkin, St. Pancras Station, St. Paul’s, the London Eye and beyond the line of the North Downs. I need a different perspective. Like much of Hampstead – my life needs a makeover. An extreme makeover at that.

Realise I have forgotten a key ingredient for tonight’s supper. Have to go back to Budgen’s. Bugger.

Sam comes over for supper which is pasta with leeks, roast sweet potatoes, fetta and rosemary. I hold forth about how I believe myself to be turning into the Scarlett Johanssen character in Vicki Cristina Barcelona owing to ulcer, photography, lack of direction and lesbian kiss incident. Am assured not turning into Scarlett Johanssen character and useless date(s) who provoked lesbian kiss incident had it coming. This is good as I was nursing residual guilt. At least snog was with model from Milan which scores points.

Drink too much again. Have willpower of a jellyfish.

Saturday 20th

Go to bed but am woken up at 2am but the smoke alarm going off. Then the one in my room and the one in Annabel’s room goes off as well. Then silence. We go back to sleep. Woken again at 4am by another chorus of electronic wails. And again at 6am. Annabel has spent entire night frantically texting and calling electricians around the globe for assistance but none is forthcoming. In the brief silence that descends we manage to go back to sleep for a couple of hours.

Wake up to sunshine. We set out for a coffee and a walk across Hampstead Heath. We are resolved not to drink today but this lasts as far as the return leg of our walk when we have to drop into a Hampstead watering hole for half of cider. Glad I am not the only one with the willpower of an invertebrate.

Return home to intermittent wails from the smoke alarm chorus. Fortunately Annabel has managed to find an electrician who will come around and fix them. It’s like having a visit from a superhero! Much relief. We can now watch The Hangover without fear of interruption. One glass of red wine with supper. Early night.

Sunday 21st

Annabel has decided to have an impromptu BAFTA’s party to cheer on Chaz who is nominated for the music for Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. Annabel has told everyone it’s pot luck and our own contribution to this entails a trip to Oddbins (most important) and then Waitrose. And no, Annabel does not have a hatch for Waitrose delivery guy to unload directly into before anybody thinks to ask.

Feel a bit odd on way back from Waitrose. Clearly a result of looking at upper class grocery items. The excitement being too much I collapse on the couch once we get back and am therefore useless for pre-party preparations. However, recover to check roast chooks and then eat the skin off one – the skin being my favourite thing. Yes, I know its bad for me and so is the G&T I have along with the champagne and wine which follows it.

Very nice party. Lots of fun people to talk to. Very happy about The Hurt Locker and Kathryn Bigelow winning – that will show her ex who is looking like he had a run-in with one of those big cat creatures on Pandora. Note his comment before the awards that if she won the Best Director instead of him it would be because she had ‘a good teacher’. That’s something my ex would say. Arrogant arse!

Upset Chaz did not win however. This not fair and also Andy Serkis didn’t get Best Actor – it went to Colin Firth who always plays – Colin Firth.

Monday 22nd

Snow.

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