Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What's going on in the world?

Yahoo puts the current news headlines on my mail front page. This is what's happening at 11pm, Tuesday 25th September 2007.

Where was I?

Oh yes, lying on the floor in Waterloo. Well they scraped me up and put me in the car and I sweated out my fever (40 degrees when I finally made it to the doctor) for a couple of days. The walk-in centre had no idea what was wrong with me ('flu, I think') and sent me back to bed to lie on pools of my own perspiration ( I never said it was pretty) dressed in my mum's floor-length button-up nighties (they weren't pretty either) and moan feebly as my leg (remember the pulled muscle) swelled slowly and mysteriously. Eventually a doctor's appointment became available although thank God my normal GP was unavailable, possibly away at a Christian squash conventions popping vitamin supplements. His replacement sent me straight to Newham General, possibly the worst hospital in London (I haven't checked the league tables) with a strongly worded note. My dad drove me down and when I nearly fell over in the corridor (hey, I'm not making this shit up) pinched me a wheelchair from somewhere. We wheeled around the hospital for a considerable amount of time looking for the reception so we didn't have to go to A&E. Turns out there is no reception of any description in Newham General ( they do have a Costa Coffee) so we went to A&E. You would have to be feeling pretty healthy to be able to deal with Newham General A&E. An evil evil woman sat behind glass at the deserted reception. She was mindblowingly rude to my dad 'I was speaking to the patient' despite the fact that the patient was doubled up and unable to speak. I had to tell her all these secret passwords- address, date of birth, favourite pasta shape, length of third toe on right- in order for her to allow me to be treated. My god she was a horrible woman. I was in tears. My dad gave the wheelchair a shove in the direction of the locked double doors into the hospital and scarpered to take the car to the garage or something. Once inside, A&E made me think of pictures of hospitals in the Crimean War before Florence Nightingale turned up. I was there on my own for several hours. At some point a bloke wheeled me somewhere to put a needle into my arm in case they put me on a drip. Is this standard for all patients? What if you just broke your leg? I nearly fainted so he told me to lie down on some bed. Another nurse came by about an hour later expecting the bed to be unoccupied (perhaps it was time for her nap?) and they remembered they'd left me there. I couldn't lie on a bed, they were reserved for people who were actually dead already or something, so they put me back in my wheelchair. Then they wheeled me into one of those cubicles they have in A&E and left me there for a few hours. It was already occupied by two winos having a fight. One of them had called the other a wife-beater. Luckily some police officers turned up. Everybody at the party seemed to know each other except me. 'Why have you got to wait here with me?' whinged one of the drunks to a copper. 'Well, remember what you said in the van about the voices in your head telling you to do it?' explained the copper reasonably. 'If you say that we have to hang around until the hospital have some security guards spare. It's the rules.' Then all the police officers went outside with the other drunk (Wife-beater) to have a fag leaving me alone in a cubicle with Schizo, who immediately started trying to strike up a friendly conversation with me. 'You alright there darling? Feelin' okay?' I started trying to reach out of the cubicle and grab passing hospital staff by the edges of their coats. 'Um, excuse me? Excuse me? Do you think you could move me? To somewhere a bit more, um, comfortable?' My case mystified the doctors. The great thing about a teaching hospital is there's always loads more ranks of doctors to be mystified at you. Took 'em days to agree. Some of the intern-y people (whatever you call them- NQDs?) managed to examine me without even looking at my leg, which by now was one and half times its usual size and bright purple with a bluish tinge. They shoved me on an antibiotic drip, kept me on it for three days. At the end of the three days a guy came round and said 'We're sending you home! We're not allowed to keep giving you intravenous antibiotics for longer than three days, but thats alright because all you need now is pills!' An hour later he came back and said 'I've just found out we're allowed to give you intravenous for up to five days, which is good because I was worried pills wouldn't be enough. So you're not going home!' Then they decided to x-ray me and to ultrasound me in loads of different places. It didn't help them one bit but the ultrasound was well fun. The doctor was one of those lovely people who crop up in all areas of life, who are great at their job because they truly believe that whatever it is is the most interesting topic in the universe. The doctor show me how it all worked and we had a long discussion, he did cool stuff like poke his finger against my vein so I could see the blood spurt through the capillaries on the monitor. Then he scanned my kidneys for luck, and I found out an amazing fact about my inner organs. Actually it was so amazing I'm not even going to put it on the internet. Hospital was hell. I was in there for five days and two women in my ward died in that time. A ward of six beds. It was filthy dirty, I couldn't eat the food at all (and I'm not fussy at all usually, but I was ill and it smelt so terrible. There was no privacy and I was the only one in the room able to use the proper toilet (someone had to wheel me there so I held it in a lot). A lot of people in hospital are so old and lonely you just want to cry all the time. The nurses were nice but terribly busy and I was embarassed to bother them. I counted several of them doing 12-hour shifts. And a woman in the next ward cried out loud all night every night. The first morning I was chatting to a nurse and I said 'I didn't sleep much because of that baby crying,' and he told me it was a grown woman. How awful it must be to be in hospital longterm. Even in prisons they have libraries and chaplains and stuff for you to do some of the time. Here there were longterm longterm patients who just lay there all day waiting for the next terrible meal with no visitors and nothing to do except count the minutes. Thank God for my family and friends who rallied round with the essentials of life- nighties from Primark so I could change when I got too feverish, knickers because there was no was I could keep showing doctors my thigh in the holy rags my mum lent me, shower gel and deodorant and enough books to keep me going till Christmas and -go Jack!- a gameboy. He remembered to put the headphones in and I spent most of my time playing tetris to block out my surroundings. Only hiccup is if you play it for long enough you start playing it in your sleep as well, but I find dreams about tidying up falling shapes oddly comforting. Eventually they let me out, a bit better although that might not have been their doing and desperate to get home. I lay on the sofa for a week and only got up to limp to the toilet or the fridge. It was like heaven. Damn, I've written 1400 words. Practically an essay. Well, I find my life interesting. I have lots more to say but I don't want to alienate any slow readers. Ciao.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back Home

Yeah, yeah, I know everyone's stopped blogging. But they've just run out of stuff to say because they're less interesting than me. I could keep going for years... Anyway I'm back from France. For anyone who was anxiously following me and Dave's epic cycle from the Vendee home, we did not make it. We crossed the whole Pays de la Loire to Alencon before I started feeling a little dodge. And I thought I had pulled a muscle on my thigh. 'Don't Worry,' said kind, lovely Dave. 'We'll get the train to Paris and have some fun, then cycle home from there. Same fucking difference.' So we put the bikes on a train to Paris. (Incidentally there are two routes from Alencon to Paris by train. SNCF try to sell you tickets with a connection in Le Mans. These cost E36 single. I would have bought them but me and Dave had conceived an irrational hatred of Le Mans. It has a stupid name and seemed to take hours to cycle past on the map. So I asked if we could change at Surdon. This cost -surprise- E18 single. Very strange. Then Surdon had the added charm of not existing. We had two hours to kill and asked a girl where the centre ville was. She looked carefully around at the bleak countryside and said 'ah, the bar might be open.' It was- or it opened for us- but there was not another building in sight. An old woman carefully balanced the ice for our pastis on a fork (why not a spoon? Why not?) and as we left to get the Paris train, a dozen or so grisly and unappealing locals drove up to perform a black mass. Well worth avoiding Le Mans and saving E40 for, even though it did smell really funny (unhygienic sacrifices). Sorry, really long parenthetical digression about short train journey.) We got to Paris in the evening and I felt done in, but you know what Paris is like... cycling through the evening from the Gare de Montparnasse, dodging traffic cops and taxis and feeling the balmy Paris wind in our hair. The Seine- cycling along the Seine looking at the stars on the water. When we checked into our hostel I was doubled over but we had to go out- for a midnight risotto and then to a dark smoky jazz bar. As we walked back (took some fast talking to get us back into the hostel so late too) I said to Dave 'Nothing bad has ever happened to me in Paris.' Then I spent the night in an insane fever sweating and shivering in my three-season sleeping bag and in the morning we had to go back to Britain. Poor old Dave- I just told him and he had to abandon the trip. I was so bloody ill. I took a taxi to the Gare du Nord with the luggage, bought the tickets for the afternoon and passed the day sitting there rocking and shaking and muttering in my best crazy person manner while Dave ferried the bikes to the station. And we got on the train that afternoon at 4pm- nearly missed it in fact, just for kicks- and I called my sister to get her to meet me at Waterloo. 'Oh, you better get Mummy to bring the car. I'm a bit ill and I've got two bikes.' Dave got off at Kent -I miss Dave!- and a kind Kiwi woman with two pushchairs and about 19 pieces of luggage herself helped me off the train to collapse on the floor at arrivals. My leg hurt so darn bad I couldn't walk and I was covered with sweat. Obviously my mum was a hour late. I was just about to ring 999. I would have asked the guy in information but I recognised him- he used to work at the National Gallery and I didn't want him to see me in such a mess. God knows why not. This is a ridiculously long blog that was meant to explain that I'm out of hospital. I'll have to continue tomorrow. Bloody Alencon! Always complicates everything. Tbc...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Virtual Postcard

I have got some in my pocket but here's for all the unlucky ones I didn't have enough stamps for. Having a lovely time, wish you were here. It rained on and off all day today, I had to swim in the inside pool. 60 lengths, natch. Don't you guys wish you didn't live in the real world? (although it is only a 12m pool). I'll buy a phone tomorrow, my money came through. Until then, email me. G'wan, you know you want to. Oh, Gwen, tell your parents I'm alive if they ask. And Jack and Jo better forward me your addresses if you want cards. Love to all Francie xxx

Monday, May 21, 2007

More garlic is now consumed in the South of England than in the North of France. I really need to stop internet shopping and get a job. Every time I hear anything about any book ever I buy it on Amazon. I'm addicted. I now have two 'to do' lists because I lost the first one and then found it again. Some of the things are on it twice. It's extremely annoying. I can't decide whether to transfer one list over to the other one or if that would be a waste of time and compromise my 'to do' list efficiency. (Efficiency compromising is a great phrase I picked up while working at Tower Hamlets Council, the most efficiency-compromised organisation I have ever come across in my life). I guess I could write at the bottom of 'to do' list 1 "*Now see 'to do' list 2". It's a great responsibility having nothing to do with one's life. I can't wait to get to France now where I'll have nothing to do with my life but -Thank God- no internet. So proud of myself this weekend- I went to parties on Thursday and Friday, and could easily have gone to two more on Saturday and Sunday but stopped myself. Because I have self-control and my body is a temple. A temple which could barely stand up, enunciate any words or see properly out of either of its eyes. If my body is a temple, what God is being worshipped within it?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The men that don't fit in

There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't stay still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and they rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far; They are strong and brave and true; But they're always tired of the things that are, And they want the strange and new. They say: "Could I find my proper groove, What a deep mark I would make!" So they chop and change, and each fresh move Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs With a brilliant, fitful pace, It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones Who win in the lifelong race. And each forgets that his youth has fled, Forgets that his prime is past, Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead, In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance; He has just done things by half. Life's been a jolly good joke on him, And now is the time to laugh. Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost; He was never meant to win; He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone; He's a man who won't fit in.

Robert W. Service

Animal instinct

I just saw a fox with a piece of fried chicken in its mouth try three times to cross a road. Each time it tried to walk out between the parked vehicles a car would roar past and it would have to retreat discomfited to the pavement. Finally it gave up, walked down to the zebra crossing and crossed there. No one reads my blog anymore. Hardly anyone ever did, but now it's even fewer...

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Mr Blair said the "one big difference" in his thinking today was that he now recognised that measures such as Sure Start and the New Deal could not "cure" crime and bad behaviour.

Then, he said, he believed "the rising tide would lift all ships, including those families in a hopeless and often helpless situation, bringing up feckless and irresponsible children".

(from today's Yahoo news)

Actually I'm not sure I can even be bothered to comment on this naive and pathetic statement from the man whose mission for ten years has been to wow 'communities' (whatever they are) with a good strong dose of ASBO and a touch of SureStart on the side.

But what the fuck are 'feckless and irresponsible children'? Sounds like Euan Blair for one thing. Except middle-class children from privileged educational backgrounds aren't expected to be 'responsible' until after they graduate. 'Feckless and irresponsible' is what children are, Tony. Ask your au-pair! Why are we expecting children to be any more than that, and in particular children from the kinds of backgrounds and areas where ASBOs are being doled out like sweeties.

It must be difficult for many of the families in such situations, with such children to look after. But not because their children are 'feckless'! Because their situations are 'hopeless and often helpless', because they live in demeaning poverty! What the hell has the Labour Government done about that?

Outside Number 10 on the day after his victory, the PM said that 'respect' would play a big part in his third term agenda.

He said he wanted to bring back:

"A proper sense of respect in our schools, in our communities, in our towns and our villages." (downing street official biography)


Our local has to change its name. A chain of wine-bars has copyrighted the fabulous name 'eclipse' and is opening some kind of ghastly Yates-Wine-Lodge substitute down the road in Islington (where else? It wouldn't happen in Hackney) The land-lords, Steve and Joyce, have done all they can but they can't really afford a law-suit. So they're hunting for a new title. The Elipse is popular, Steve likes The Two Halves (oblique reference to eclipse apparently). My house are rooting for The Apocalypse.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Onomatopoeic means a word that sounds like its meaning (obvious example 'snake'). Is there a name for a word that is spelt/ reads like its meaning- such as 'awkward'?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Noooo! Not the polar bear cub!

53% of Germans are following this young bear's progress daily in the media. Now he has received a death-threat! Luckily Berlin zoo have responded by tripling his minders to 15 zoo-keepers. Lucky Knut. I keep revising and revising but it's becoming obvious that I'm only revising the interesting stuff. Sorry Shakespeare, it wasn't anything you said, it was the way they taught you. You're on my to-do list after 'change plug on sewing machine', 'clean the fridge' and 'get dressed'.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Three grand for WHAT?

And so the holidays have started. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to have achieved this year but it was awfully jolly. I seem to remember a good resolution to stop drinking when I got to university, but who cares? at least I'm not doing it at the George anymore.
Today, at least, I'm making some kind of study schedule. I'm going to work hard for the next six weeks and stop going out until I have some money and I'm completely familiar with everything Shakespeare ever wrote.

Things I have learned this year:
  1. It's not going to the pub every night that makes you depressed, it's going to the George.
  2. Education is over-priced and under-resourced (especially the French Department).
  3. You can't write an essay without a lot of coffee, mature cheddar in chunks, and for optimum performance, cold frankfurters out of the fridge.
  4. A cigarette every 200 words and a pint every 1000 structures your essay best.
  5. Eighteen-year-old are just like us, except they don't remember the hurricane, they know who the Zutons are, they still love Queen and they think 37p for a pack of chewing gum is reasonable.
  6. When you're stuck for something to write, try rabid polemic- if possible connect it back to your own life.
  7. Teachers are just like us, often even the same age, but they get worried when you say 'Shakespeare' and 'bollocks' in the same sentence, even in the pub.
  8. Don't cycle to school in a mini-skirt.
  9. Try to avoid Sundays of Shame, especially with your kid sister, your boyfriend and Ritchie Chambers.
  10. There is no connection whatsoever between what is said in lectures, what is discussed in seminars, what you write in your essay and what the answers are in the exam. Oh, and the text itself. And all academics works are written by academics in much the same way that you write an essay- drunken deadline panic, three hours left, think I'll cut myself a hunk of cheese from the fridge, damn, I have to write something.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Student life

Just had that terrible feeling of panic that you get when the day is coming to an end and you haven't achieved anything. Then I realised- I read the best part of a coursebook for English just because I was enjoying it. In the original French! I recommend it- Roland Barthes' Mythologies. It's well interesting. Then later I was avoiding work and so I started writing a story - in French. Ok, sometimes I do a bit of grammar and stuff, but at least half of my study seems to be things I would be doing for pleasure anyway. Went to a French film last night= work. Went to Paris last weekend= work. Go to the café and talk about Julius Caesar, go to the pub and talk about TS Eliot, get in the bath and think about Nieztsche (actually I hardly ever do that) = work work work. Soooo much better than filing and photocopying! Paris was so beautiful I can't find words to describe it. Which is a first for me.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Frida and Diego

I wish I could read faster in French. Its such a vicious circle- the only way to read faster is to read more, and I can't do that because I barely have enough time to read as much as I'm reading already. (Note to self- never read Bridget Jones diary again, even if suffering from v. v. bad hangover (or any more children's books until after I graduate. In fact, nothing but serious lit crit and French novels) but I digress.) Its a very interesting book by JMG Le Clezio (are so many initials really necessary when you already have a double-barreled surname?) about Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. I have learnt many things about Kahlo that my soppy GCSE art teacher neglected to tell me. Its great- but... thinking it would encourage me to read the 270-odd pages I had left (yes, out of 307) I volunteered last week to give a (graded) book presentation to my French class tomorrow. Zut! I've been reading away all week, but I'm only up to page 150. They've only just got bloody married, for God's sake! I've written a page of presentation, I gues I can either wing it or bunk the class. That class will cost me £36 when I actually have to pay my student loan back. (I just worked out its £18 per hour and not £13 as previously calculated). So the thought of wasting £36 of my future earnings is intolerable. Damn it, why am I blogging when I should be preparing? Goodbye, loyal readers (Jack). I may be gone some time.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lost Week

I've now given up on getting anywhere with this week. I learnt about articles today, it went a bit better than the subjunctive despite my constantly pressing control tab on my keyboard to flick over to more exciting things, ie the internet. But I did manage to stay in tonight, despite Sonia's best efforts (getting us on the guest list to some indie gig). I guess if we hadn't gone to the pub yesterday we might have gone to this -doubtlessly more fun than the Eclipse- event. I was knocked off my bike into a parked van coming up the hill by Homerton station this afternoon. Maybe the weather conditions really are adverse: Yahoo summed up the seriousness of the days events with one on its classic headlines-
'Storms and gusts of 99mph sweep across UK causing several deaths and damage to Lord's cricket ground.'
Thanks for putting it into perspective, Yahoo. Its not that I don't take monsoon weather and hurricane winds caused by global warming seriously, its that I can't stand this bloody blitz spirit induced by the media everytime anything goes remotely wrong in mainland Britain. Immediately every radio report and newspaper goes into panic mode, completely ignoring all world events and focusing on interviewing mad people who have found themselves delayed at Kings Cross and have therefore decided to bulk-buy bread, toilet paper and bottled water. Just bloody walk home to Swiss Cottage, folks. It'll take five hours but it might just blow your mind. Think of Thoreau.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

my generation?

My French teacher was talking about May 68 yesterday and made a comparison with the fall of the Berlin Wall. He said 'who remembers seeing it on television?' and everyone looked blank. So he asked 'How old were you guys in 1989' and someone went 'one'.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Zut alors, est-il possible qu'il soit le subjonctif?

I no longer have a life, it's official. The furthest I have got from my house this weekend is our friends' house in the next road. And they'll probably never invite us round again because I just told them they spookily resembled Captain Haddock and Tintin and they should recreate the homoeroticism of the aboves' relationship. And I've been to the pub on the corner of our road three times in the past three days. Its main attraction is that you don't have to change out of your slippers to go there. But it was all mostly Sonia's bad influence. At least I've learnt that bastard subjunctive. Il fallait que je le fasse.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Excuses for not working #87-145

Wow, the internet! How does anyone get anything done anymore? There's so much to look at- I can check my messages in myspace and my friends in facebook (i still don't actually know what facebook is, but I'm definitely on it), find out what's top of the singles charts in France (this was actually homework, and the results are not pretty) and distract myself with dozens of hilarious French movies about Zinedine Zidane on youtube (once French people find something funny, they stick to it. Screw Current events) and chat to people on msn messenger- not all of them people who live in the same house as me! some of them live in other cities! It's all so gloriously pointless, I can't help myself. On my shiny new laptop (thanks Gordon. I promise I'll spend the third installment wisely, if I live that long.) that doesn't have microsoft word. What, am I old-fashioned or something? Is no one using microsoft word anymore? It has some kind of shitty word processing programme, but that doesn't have a French dictionary. You cheap bastards, microsoft. If I fail my degree I'll sue you. (Actually I'm less likely to fail my degree now I'm not using spell-check to conjugate all my verbs for me, but Bill Gates doesn't have to know that) The other major distraction I have at the moment is my new petit Larousse. Yes, a dictionary that is more interesting that the whole of the world wide web! My dad kindly got me a cool, illustrated combination dictionary and encyclopaedia, so I can't look up a single word without finding something really exciting ( a brief history of bandes dessinées, a chart showing the different ways roots grow, an article on italian etymologies in French, pictures of how kidneys work- the list is endless!) with colour photographs! I was in the pub the other day, and someone said, quite seriously, 'I've always been passionate about bricks.' (I cried with laughter, but under the table so as not to be rude) That's how I feel about my dictionary. It's a guilty pleasure. I want to read a page every night before I go to sleep.

Monday, January 08, 2007

same shit, different qualification

I promised myself I wouldn't pull any of that up all night, write two thousand words of garbage at the last minute shit now that I'm paying a grand a semester for the benefit of learning... but what could I do? I had a fever! I went to hospital again on saturday and wrote the fucker last night. I'm sick. Actually I'm really sick, because what made me churn the bloody essay out was actually Sonia saying she would take me to the pub on the corner if I finished it. The barman there looks exactly like Captain Haddock and is in love with Sonia. I really really want him to say 'Billions of blistering blue barnacles' but I'm too shy to ask. We met our friend who lives round the corner there and took him home to our spooky basement (we're not allowed down there but luckily our landlord is back in Romania) to drink babycham. He is twenty-six and has never been in a relationship. We were fascinated but he seemed slightly offfended when we asked if he was a virgin. I cycled to college this morning, first exercise in three weeks, and it's blown my mind. The essay makes just a little bit less sense than the above passage. A grand a semester works out at £12.82 per hour of class.