I’ve recently discovered ‘flexing’. What is that, you ask? I’m not convinced that anyone really knows for sure but I think it’s very amusing. Flexing, or maybe I should call it ‘flexin’, isn’t the thing that happens when you tense your muscles – well, it is the thing that happens when you tense your muscles, but that’s not the kind of flexin’ that I’m talking about. What I’m talking about translates to ‘showing off’; flaunting your material wealth and using this as a barometer to demonstrate to others how worthy you are as a person. It’s not a new concept and the term ‘flexin’ has been around for ages, but I should state that the cutting edge of culture (especially American culture) doesn’t reach me at the rock under which I live until way after the event, so if you already know what I’m talking about you’re probably thinking “Pfff, gurl where you been?”(more…)
When I was little, I was excited about the prospect of adult life. I envisaged a whole world of adventure and possibility and no one around to tell you what to do. When you’re a kid, adults seem like they have their shit together and things make sense to them and they know about stuff and I wanted some of that for myself. Make no mistake: being a kid is tough. You have to do what people tell you and no one takes you seriously and you’re really small so there’s loads of stuff you can’t do by yourself. Plus you have to go to school, which is a cruel and confusing place.(more…)
[Read part one of this short story here]
Trostlose Frau – Two
Police Constable Atkinson drove her patrol car in no particular hurry along the ambling A457. The country road was popular with motorcyclists on dry days due to its sweeping cambered corners, technical chicanes, and many opportunities for full-throttle hair-raising recreation. She thought about her own bike, the mighty Ducati Monster, gathering dust in the garage. Now rare were the days when the stars aligned and she could get out for a ride and a Sunday half pint with the guys and gals of the East Wickington Motorcycle Club. Those were the good old days indeed. A sharp babble from the radio jerked her from her daydream. Emergency response required for traffic incident on the B6385 north of Marbury. Not her jurisdiction at the moment – she had been summoned for other purposes. When was the last time she had got on the bike? A year ago? Two? Steve would remember. She emerged from the deep shade of an alley of beech trees into dazzling summer sunshine and there, on the right, was the boundary wall of Worthing estate. At the entrance, some 800 metres of brick wall later, she slowed to a stop and waited for a gap in the oncoming traffic. Drivers raced round the bend far too quickly then braked hard upon seeing her latent vehicle. She wore her best stern police officer face, internally amused by their panicked faces and flimsy and obvious attempts to appear law-abiding. Eyes forward. Nothing to see here.
Her patrol car trundled along the never-ending driveway. Well-fenced green fields extended either side into infinity and tall, ancient trees towered above, patiently lining the gravel track. After minutes of driving a large stately home edged into view. It reminded her of the National Trust properties she and Steve had visited together, before they were married and work took over her life. Watson’s patrol car was already parked near the grand stone steps that led up to the main door. A navy blue Bentley rested nobly just beyond. Watson probably had things taken care of already. Presumably she was just there to be a friendly face. Reassurance. Don’t worry, sir, we have things under control. She shut off the engine and levered herself out of the car. The afternoon was quiet and her shoes on the deep gravel seemed disproportionately loud. She reached the door and tapped the golden door knocker. It was that loud, certain, police knock that became intuitive once she put on her uniform in the morning. Standing back a step or two, she looked up at the face of the house. Creeper plants crawled their way skyward, gripping the cream stone wall, green leaves bobbing and waving in the gentle breeze. A rattle and an unlatching from within; the heavy door opened a little and a woman peered through the gap.
“Good afternoon madam, my name’s PC Atkinson. I’m just here to assist with the ongoing investigation and ask a few questions of those who have given statements.”
It was the voice she used for such formal work situations; soothing yet self-assured, like a telesales pitch or a weather forecaster. The woman behind the door hesitated.
“Please come in.” She said in a distinctly Eastern European accent. Romanian perhaps. PC Atkinson stepped inside the grand house, blinking hard to clear the green tinge left in her vision from the bright day outside. It wasn’t as musty-smelling as the old National Trust houses she remembered and somewhere nearby was the faint chiming of clocks. The Eastern European maid led the way, through the entrance hall which contained a magnificent staircase and a great many closed doors. The dark wooden floor was scattered with ornate rugs and unnecessary furniture – a single chair and desk; a glass-fronted cabinet; a cushioned Chippendale sofa. They reached almost the end of the hall before stopping at an anonymous door and the woman opened it inwards. There stood Watson – all assertive, rugby player, six foot three of him – making notes. He looked up and nodded in acknowledgement. It was a library. She, of course, was expecting a library, from the statements and the notes, but seeing it in the flesh really was impressive. It had dark wooden shelves dominating, standing floor to ceiling and filled with burgundy and green cloth-bound volumes. There was a writing desk, a huge fireplace, and several paintings hanging, dignified, on patches of wall not filled with bookshelves.
“If you had any questions for Mr Berne, he will be awake from his sleep in a moment.” The maid explained to Atkinson, clearly to get her up to speed with the proceedings, hands politely folded at her stomach.
“Thank you, Mrs Serban, we’ll wait.” Watson replied, apparently in control of things. They waited for the maid to leave the room. All the staff at the estate had already given statements, Atkinson had learned in the briefing earlier that day. What sparse evidence remained at the scene had already been collected. The two officers looked at each other. Both knew this insurance claim thing had no legs, but they were there to probe. The truth was, that they had nothing.
Well the good news is that I won’t be having problems with rabbits eating the vegetables in the garden any more, thanks to my firm but fair method of pest control (see below).
The bad news is that I don’t think it’ll work for the squirrels because they’re crafty little buggers and I think they’re politically motivated because they systematically targeted all of the strawberries last year. Ate them all, before they were even ripe (have I complained about this before? I complain about this on a regular basis). They know that strawberries are my favourite fruit, you see; they’ve seen what joy I gain from growing and picking them. I think the squirrels are upset due to the time I chased little Jimmy around the garden (I don’t know if the squirrel’s name was Jimmy) and the fiasco with the bird seed. That’s when things turned sour, but, see, I don’t think it’s possible to reach a truce with squirrels like I have with, say, the spiders that live in my window or the little vole who resides in the flower bed. Squirrels are bastards, and they’re smart. While I think my friend’s suggestion of land mines might be a little counter-productive, I’ve got to start putting up anti-squirrel propaganda around the garden or spread some rumours about them to the other animals or something because that strawberry shit was too far. Squirrels are devil sympathisers, after all. No, really, they are, I’ve seen it.
It’s April Fool’s day tomorrow, so now seems like a good time to tell you about the running joke I’ve been playing on my Mum for the last couple of years. Like any sensible grown-up she writes food shopping lists and leaves them in the kitchen, adding to them whenever food inspiration strikes and eventually taking the list to the shop so as to remember what to buy. It’s a good idea. However, if you leave your shopping list lying around you leave it vulnerable to other people adding things to the list without you noticing. Like ‘snakes’. Other than the fact that writing ‘snakes’ on someone’s shopping list is hilarious, the funny thing was that the first time I did it she couldn’t read what it said and she thought it said ‘snacks’. The other funny thing was how, displeased, she would always cross it out as if, if she didn’t cross it out, she’d accidentally buy snakes in Sainsbury’s. Hopefully one day she’ll forget to cross it out, black out and unintentionally buy some snakes, which would be fun (until they get loose in the house, and then there’d be trouble).
It became a running joke in the house to the point that other people started joining in. And then it evolved from snakes to, well, anything. One time my partner Max and I added ‘crocodiles’ and ‘lemons’ to a list.
Eventually, though, my joke backfired and someone got one of my shopping lists. Touché.
Does anyone play pranks on April Fool’s day any more? I find the unnecessary number of rules confusing (you have to prank before noon, while wearing golf shoes and waving your left arm?) and most pranks are just mean. Don’t do mean pranks, folks, because if you like doing mean things to other people you SUCK.
Ha-HA! The penultimate day of 2016. I’m stoked on 2017 mainly because I’ve got a friggin’ amazing Lonely Planet 2017 calendar and the photo for January is totally sick! Move over, 2016, you’re so last year.
I mean, let’s not be ungrateful here because 2016 started off pretty OK. Admittedly it slid more and more downhill from late June, but, y’know, there were some good things to take away from the experience. For example, when I was trying to come up with some positive things to take away from the experience I had a look at my blog articles from the year and realised how much better my photography is now compared to the beginning of the year. Like, so much better! How very unexpected. Then I thought, with a reflective shrug, about how my skills in Illustrator are a thousand times better now than they were this time last year. I mean, seriously, way better. While we’re on the subject, my Photoshop and InDesign skills have also improved considerably. Also I noticed the other day that my proofreading is better. This I’ve actively been working on for the last few months and it’s paying off. Go me.
And, most importantly, my goddamn sewing skills are better! Not long ago I expressed my bitter disappointment surrounding the surfboard sock I made, and, I’m pleased to announce, things have improved. A little.
Sewing is still annoyingly hard. And annoying. And hard. But, let me demonstrate to you exhibit A; the advent calendar I made myself throughout December. I’m so pleasantly surprised that if I was more arrogant I might even photograph it against a shabby-chic whitewashed pallet with sprigs of Norwegian Spruce and put it on Pinterest. I was going to write ‘just kidding’ but I’m not kidding. Though I do love Pinterest… in all its preachy, arrogant glory.
Christmas is Christmassing here at Lucia HQ. And by that I mean it’s doing the best it can considering we’re all ill and unenthused and in bed by 9.30. I’ve been doing a terrible job of eating loads (even the beloved Lebkuchen isn’t going down very well) but I’ve done excellently at lounging around like a fat seal pup, though far less cute, and for the first time in ages I’ve had nothing to do. I may have simply forgotten all the things I was supposed to do, or am subconsciously ignoring them, or (most likely) forgot to write them down so now they’re lost forever. To be honest, I care more about Kim Kardashian’s latest stupid face painting ritual than I care about all the things I’ve forgotten I’m supposed to be doing. Which is not very much. About a fifth the size of a nanometre… 0.2 nanometres, if you prefer fractions expressed as decimals.
As is customary I took some photos to prove that it really is Christmas here at Lucia HQ, and thus I present to you a handful of blurry photos (damn you slow shutter speed shaky hands!). I was getting experimental over several evenings with a long exposure of Little Apple Tree in the garden that has fallen victim to Christmas decorations, and things got pretty weird out there. Weird to the point where I don’t know what looks right any more and where I don’t know if I’ve created a monster or if I’ve had a photographic breakthrough. Alas, we live and we learn. On a side note, I’ve been improving my sewing since my disappointing surfboard sock, as you can see by the little stocking chain I made. I also made the wreath, purely with stuff I found in the garden. Apart from the ribbon, of course, which is from the Neighbour’s garden. They have a ribbon tree.
Wishing you a super Christmas time, my friends, and I hope you’re all enjoying some well-deserved time off and you’ve managed to avoid the dreaded lurgy unlike me.
Well, we can’t deny it any longer; it’s now definitely autumn and that means time for my customary rant about how I don’t really like autumn but if I think about it I suppose there are a few things that are good about it and therefore life goes on because everything will be fine in the end. Why don’t I like autumn? Because I am never, ever, EVER ready to say goodbye to summer (oh, glorious long days and big skies and warmth) and I really don’t do well in cold weather. Plus my hair looks like a tumble weed from October onwards which I do not appreciate. Now, I know this about myself, so, to ease the pain a little I came up with some ‘fun’ stuff to do when the weather turns. Wholesome, indoorsy stuff… like sewing. I had visions of myself whiling away the hours, totally absorbed in the hypnotic endeavour of stitching fabric together, creating a beautiful masterpiece that I will love and wear forever. I pictured myself sitting with my vintage sewing machine (because I’m super hipster and cool and it was £20 off eBay) next to the roaring fire while the autumnal rain lashes at the window.
What I decided to make, with this romantic vision in mind, is a cover for my surfboard – a sock, as they’re humorously called in the industry. As I’m sure you’ll know, everything to do with surfing is eye-wateringly expensive, so I wanted to kill two birds with one stone by making my own sock and saving money, and having an enjoyable indoor activity as well. I bought a cheery yellow material because yellow is great, painstakingly measured out my board and made a newspaper blueprint. But, you see, the problem with sewing is that I get about a third of the way into a project and remember, with a slow dawning, that I’m awful at sewing and everything I make looks like an angry duck made it. No offence to the duck, of course, it’s just that sewing isn’t his strong point. Nor mine, apparently. My surfboard cover looks like a giant banana peel. Seriously, it’s terrible. I cursed myself: Why can’t I just buy one like everyone else? Why do I always have to try and make stuff?
Luckily, I don’t take surfing very seriously. Some people take surfing very seriously. I’ve seen people with boards and board bags monogrammed in fancy script writing – Richard Cluckington or whatever. While still a little upset about my lack of sewing talent, I’ve come to accept my terrible sock. I wanted to do my own monogram to really give it that edge – a rubbish one to match the rubbish sock. So here it is:
So, uh, see you down the beach, yeah? I’ll be the one with the stupid yellow banana board.