Sunday, 26 September 2010

Nemesis

Here is something else you may not know about me today:-

I HATE BRITISH TELECOM WITH A PASSION!

We have lived in our new house for AGES now yet we still don’t have a landline or broadband.

“Why?” I hear you cry. “How can such a thing happen in this day and age?”. Well I’ll tell you shall I? BLOODY BT! THATS WHY!!!

They screwed up my last service with frequent regularity over the three years I spent at the last address so moving house was my chance to escape their evil clutches forever! I ordered my service from a different provider but because it comes through BT lines they STILL have the potential to eff up the service! And lo and behold they’ve effed it up again!

There’s no escape! BT have us all over a barrel with their prehistoric infrastructure and there’s absolutely no point moaning about it because their crappy internal procedures are so ridiculously confused we haven’t a hope of ever sorting it out!

Woody showed me an article once which had been written by a guy as he tried to arrange a service with BT. A particular phrase he used really stood out for me. I remember he described his experience with BT as “A bit like putting your head in a blender, only less fun”. I couldn’t have phrased it better myself.

I usually try very hard not to swear or say anything too offensive online but the situation is too frustrating to be able to hold back any longer.

Children/clients please avert your ears and eyes as I vent my spleen…

BRITISH TELECOM YOU UTTER, UTTER FECKING B*****DS! A CURSE ON EVERY INCOMPETENT, SLAPDASH PART OF YOUR CHAOTIC ORGANISATION YOU FECKING BUTT MUNCHING DICKWADS. MAY YOUR MOST PRECIOUS BODY PARTS TURN GREEN AND FALL OFF AS YOU SLEEP THEREBY REDUCING YOU TO SIMILAR LEVELS OF FRUSTRATION AND RAGE AS EXPERIENCED BY EVERY POOR SAP WHO HAS EVER HAD THE MISFORTUNE OF TRYING TO OBTAIN A PHONE SERVICE WITH YOU. YOU LOUSY MISERABLE FECKERS!!!!


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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Skiathos Cat Welfare Society (SCWS)

If you read my Tumblr post from last weekend you’ll know that I’ve been making friends and sharing my meals with the cats around the beachfront tavernas. Sadly, I’ve now come to realize that these cats roam the island in abundance, breeding like crazy and scavenging for food around restaurants and refuse areas.

They’re known as ‘bin cats’ (for obvious reasons) and they’re usually left to fend for themselves. There are no vets living here so accidents and illnesses go untreated and the poor little things are covered in fleas. I have the bites on my legs to prove it!

Without a decent neutering programme the cat population of Skiathos was obviously increasing year on year, as were the number of blind and disfigured little moglets requiring urgent vetenary care.

With no accessible services on the island, many locals seem reluctant to take on the responsibility for these cats, which I can understand as the cost implication alone must be quite daunting. I have my own pampered little ball of fur at home and I’m sure I’d feel ‘slightly’ put out if I had to pay for her to FLY to the vets for her annual jabs!

However there is one person who is clearly making a huge difference to the feline population of Skiathos. The lovely lady pictured here is Sharon Hewing who, along with her husband Peter, relocated to Skiathos from the UK a few years ago, lock, stock and barrel. They brought their own family pets along too (various cats and dogs) and have lived on the island ever since.

As a cat lover, Sharon obviously felt the need to do something about the ‘bin cat’ situation and started taking some of these furry little waifs and strays into her home to care for them. Over time, she’s created the SCWS and now takes in sick, injured and unwanted cats from all over the island.

She’s also started a neutering programme and she’s systematically targeting small areas of the island at a time, ‘befriending’ the stray cats there by feeding them regularly and then, when she’s gained their trust, she bundles them into her van and whisks them away to be neutered.

They get fussed up while they convalesce and then released back to their old haunts where they can practice ‘safe sex’ with feline abandon for evermore.

She really is doing a great job in what must be quite challenging circumstances. We went up to visit the cats today and almost every one of them had an eye, ear, leg or something else missing. Vetenary care is expensive but she’s been able to wangle help from vets who come over to the island for holidays and who tend to combine an offer to help out with the opportunity to enjoy some sunshine too.

It certainly seems to be working. She told us today that they’ve been able to neuter 2500 cats so far which really is quite an achievement.

The SCWS is a UK registered charity which is wholly dependent upon gifts, donations and the ‘sponsor a cat’ scheme where you basically pay for the upkeep of a cat throughout its life with her.







 Sharon with Rupert and Athina

We agreed to sponsor two cats today - Athina (on the right) and her brother Rupert. We’re looking forward to getting pictures and updates as they live out their little catty lives in comparable luxury with Sharon and the rest of her ‘family’.

I’ve included the link to the SCWS website below where you can find more information about the project.

Why not take a look? You might find yourself wanting to sponsor a kitty too. Or better still, if you ever visit Skiathos, make a point of calling up to see Sharon and her brood. I promise you’ll enjoy the experience ;)





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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Late Night Reflections...

It's 2.45am and I can't sleep again.  I realise this post probably won’t make much sense to anyone else but me but I’ve got a massively muddled head tonight and I often find that writing is a good way to clear some space and make sense of the swirling debris in there.

Like most people these days, I maintain accounts for Buzz/Twitter/Facebook etc., but I class my postings there as ‘surface nonsense’ as they largely tend to consist of shared banter and idle chit chat with fellow ‘Buzzers’ and ‘Tweeters’. Just to be clear, I am only referring to my own posts on those forums and I am fully aware that there are many people who post interesting, informative, educational articles and observations about the world in general. I am not one of those people.  I'm all about the laughs but there again, I'm also probably quite shallow ;)

I also maintain a mini blog in a kind of half arsed way and I post occasionally when I want to capture moments from my day or items of interest as I come across them.  I don't kid myself that my efforts on the blog, or indeed any of the social network sites I frequent, are likely to be of that much interest to anyone else and I certainly wouldn’t consider myself to be a creative person. I am however, very much aware of the benefits of writing for reflection and therapeutic purposes and over the years I have fallen back on this tool as a means of straightening out my thoughts when I am feeling particularly swamped by them, as is the case right now.

My better half blogs regularly (www.wobblyvirtue.com) and has kept a journal consistently for years now so I see the benefit he gets from doing it time and time again. I have tremendous admiration for his level of commitment but for myself, I'm more of a 'foulweather friend' in that I find it impossible to keep the momentum going and instead I tend to scribble frantically when my thoughts are muddled whilst neglecting it completely when I’m on an even keel.

There was once a time when I was constantly scribbling in my journal as my younger life seemed to lurch from one chaotic scene to another.  Thankfully, over the years, as I’ve matured and developed a modicum of common sense and control, I’m happy to say that I’m largely on an even keel most of the time and as such, my poor journal has been cast aside and has not seen the light of day for quite some time now. Until this evening, when I find I have the urge to write something down and hopefully purge myself of the 'buzzing' thoughts that feel as if they have been ricocheting around the inside of my skull for the last few weeks...

I suspect it may be a build up of a number of things rather than one isolated incident.  It has, after all, been a very strange year which has included some real life changing events.  For those who don't know me I refer to a serious accident I was involved in last year which may well have resulted in me losing a leg but instead, thankfully, only rendered me immobile for the majority of the last 12 months.  Frustrating in itself, my own situation was put into sharp perspective when my better half was then diagnosed with a brain tumour at the end of 2009.

After undergoing neuro surgery and a subsequent course of radiotherapy, we are hopeful that his condition has been arrested and will stay that way for a long time to come but we have to take each day as it comes for now, although we are actually very grateful to be in that position at all.

Mark's diagnosis was a real life changing event for us both and it had the effect of making us re-evaluate our lives and our priorities.  He just recently went back to work but we are both determined that work should not take over our lives as it often has at times throughout both of our careers.  We're moving house soon and we have plans to grow our own fruit and veg and possibly even keep a few chickens.  It's not a complete overhaul but there's a definite intention from both of us to reduce the importance of work in our lives and instead, to concentrate more on living, travelling, enjoying our friends and family and getting back to a certain level of health and fitness after the events of last year.

As part of this strategy, I was determined to be more selective in the situations I get involved with and the tasks I take on and in fairness I have been able to offload a number of things lately to free up my time.  However there are also one or two things I simply can't get out of, for example the property dispute currently ongoing amongst the neighbours on our shared site in relation to a forthcoming repair bill of £315,000! Yes, that's right; I really did say that amount! Sadly, you didn't imagine it.

There are also lots of family commitments and work issues that are small beans in isolation but in the combined 'pot' of angst, they become much more of a chore than usual.

And there is one major issue, we'll call it 'The Big Deal', which I can't discuss publicly but which has been sapping the energy from my very core for over a year now.  All of which leaves me wondering whether I am actually scaling down anything at all or if I am just letting my side down.

I have to watch out for bad behaviour in this kind of situation.  Much like a petulant child, if it's a small matter that I'm feeling ratty about I can convince myself to put it off until the last minute on the basis the 'I shouldn't have to do it anyway'.  On those occasions I will procrastinate and look for escapism in other areas - very often the aforementioned Buzz/Facebook/Twitter - or more usually my fantastically loyal friends who can ALWAYS be relied upon to support my stance in any given matter.

I eventually do the job in question in a big rush at the last minute, becoming even more annoyed at the weight of unwanted and seemingly unnecessary responsibility, at the time stealing crap which lands on my desk and particularly, at the individuals who cause it.

Perhaps more importantly I get annoyed at myself most of all.  I know I can get quite 'passionate' about certain issues.  I have a strong sense of fair play, try to behave ethically and responsibly wherever possible and usually manage to live by the 'Treat others the way I'd like to be treated myself' mantra.  Injustice and inequality drive me crazy and I despise all forms of sneaky, underhand behaviour. 

Sadly, our property dispute has brought out a lot of these negative human characteristics and 'The Big Deal' is completely riddled with them.  Under normal circumstances I'd relish the opportunity to wade through it all, like an ethical warrior, and I'd take great pleasure in combing through the finer details to find the flaws in arguments and supporting evidence to bring about 'justice' but strangely for me, I just can't summon the energy or enthusiasm for it at the moment.

I'm not sure if I'm getting older/wiser/lazier or whether it's the compounded effects of a hellish year which has used up my reserves but in any event, I simply don't have the 'oomph' for it all. The property dispute is in the process of being handed over to the solicitors and although I can't believe I'm about to say this, I am seriously considering just checking out of 'The Big Deal' altogether.

I had a few tears tonight; a sure sign that I'm overtired.  I'm also not sleeping properly, which may well be the result of an overactive, muddled brain.  I've allowed myself to get distracted by one or two things lately too and I'm generally not feeling very happy about my own behaviour so I talked it through with Woody before he went to bed.

He tells me I'm passionate (arsey), dedicated (obsessive) and tenacious (I don't know when to check out of things). I'm prepared to concede that he might have a point. Also, he knows me better than anyone and I trust his integrity and judgement implicitly.

So I'm sitting here, thinking about what I hope to achieve from seeing 'The Big Deal' through to the bitter end and I have come to the conclusion that the main objective is to achieve the satisfaction of knowing I'm right and that the fuggers in question won't get away with their shoddy behaviour.

When I see that written down in black and white it actually makes me laugh!

First of all, I already know I'm right.  Someone else telling me that I'm right is not going to make a jot of difference to what I already know.  So why do I care? 

Secondly, the fuggers involved are indeed that; fuggers.  Whether I'm right or not, win or lose, I very much doubt they will change their behaviour on my account.  They are much more interested in furthering their own mean, spiteful, piggy ends through ever greater acts of fuggery to give a toot about me. I'd like to think I'm 'David' to their Goliath proportions and resources but I suspect I'm more akin to a mildly annoying gnat buzzing around their oversized heads every now and again.

Thirdly, and more importantly, if I continue to pursue 'The Big Deal' there will be a court case and all of the associated preparation that entails.  The date has been set for the first three weeks in January but we move house next month so all of this preparatory stress and angst will be taking place in our new home, which we are determined will be a haven of happy vibes and positive chi!

Do I really want to taint our lovely new environment with those fuggers?  Do I not owe it to both of us to fully commit to our new regime? If so, I suspect I need to be quite ruthless about cutting out the crap from my life - much more ruthless than I've been so far but I suppose it's 'no pain, no gain' as they say.

I'm exhausted now so I'm off to bed to sleep on it (hopefully).  I'll make a decision over the next day or two when I've had time to reflect properly.  In the meantime, thanks for listening to the exhausted ramblings of a mad old woman.  I suspect it helped me more than it helped you dear reader ;)



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Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Outcome!

So I'm back home from the hairdressers and I thought you may like an update following todays events.






The Consultation!

Arrived at the salon at 10.30am. Had coffee and usual necessities re: colour, cut etc. Then for my 'consultation', requiring a swizzy wheel of mystical powers which promised to 'diagnose' my hair problems and provide the correct personalised MIRACLE for my hair (see below).






Swizzy Mystical Diagnostic Wheel

Consultation revealed my diagnosis to be 'Unruly, Out of Control, Normal to Dry' - although to be honest, if I'd been asked, I could have given that opinion myself before the consultation even started. Pushing these doubts aside, I decided to get into the spirit of the occasion and not wanting to burst the bubble of mystery before we'd even got started, I made the appropriate "Ooh! I'm impressed" sounds and eagerly awaited the next stage.

Next, some magical gunky goo was poured into a pot and then two junior stylists spent a LONG time separating out tiny sections of my hair and individually coating each section with the goo. I was left for ten minutes with a head full of gunky spirals which strangely reminded me of the Predator movies (the one that took place in the jungle rather than that rubbish follow up in the warehouse) so I used this time to practice my Predator moves until the lady next to me asked what on earth those clicking noises were :(

There then followed the most wonderful head and neck massage that I've ever had (thank you, thank you, thank you Kelsy). So good in fact that I fell asleep mid-blog with my head down onto my chest, a position which almost certainly guaranteed gentle snoring and possibly even allowed an occasional dribble of spit to make it's way down my front - nice!

I had the product washed off (requiring further scrummy rubbing of head) and then dried and I have to say that it seemed to dry a) much quicker and b) relatively straight without too much effort.

I have to guard against this kind of overly optimistic thinking as the hairdressers can usually dry my hair straight anyway and they also make it look so easy however, I have definitely noticed a difference and I am hopeful of a decent result.

Tracey has told me that the product won't guarantee poker straight hair but with regular use, it should allow me to be able to dry my own hair straight, a task I have never mastered in all the years I've been trying (around 30ish).

Finally, I was packed off home with a bag of hair straightening goodies and a bar of Galaxy Bubbles (not sure why this is connected with hair but very thoughtful gesture all the same). I will be trying out my products in two days time when it comes to washing my hair. This will be the true test of their success and I will report back at that time so keep checking for updates.

In the meantime I am having a grand time swishing my hair at Woody, faffing at it and generally admiring it's beautiful straightness (see below) in every miror I pass.

I'm driving Woody crackers!







Sleek Hair


For comparison - The 'before' picture.






Big Hair

UPDATE - Five days have gone by since my 'miracle' during which time I have been washed my hair twice using the products provided. I thought you'd like to know that my hair is as curly (if not more so) than it was before I started. I'm such a sucker...


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The Girl With The Curls

I was born with incredibly curly hair. From a mass of white/blonde ringlets in childhood, the curls remained as my hair gradually darkened throughout my teens until I started messing around with colours and lightened it again.

Ever since that daring first discovery of ‘Sun In’ at the tender age of fourteen, my hair has been the subject of much experimentation. I have sported various hues over the years including red, blue and green; although admittedly the early trials of blue and green were based on household food colourings (nb - does not react well with rainwater. Has potential to wipe out street cred in one short shower and reduce subject to embarrassing mass of stripey teenage mortification).

The curls however are a different matter altogether. You must bear in mind that I was a child in the late 70’s/early 80’s, a time when ultra cool, straight-locked Phil Oakey, he of Human League fame, beseeched us “Dont you want me baby?” A heartfelt plea which could only truly be answered by a female blessed with an equally glossy mane.

Alas I was not that female. Throughout my multicoloured history the curls have been a constant presence and no product or process has ever managed to cure the curse of ‘Big Hair’.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am no ‘curlophobe’ in general and indeed there are many curly haired ‘do’s’ that I admire a great deal. No, not at all, lovely reader. The ‘problem’ is entirely confined to my own personal birds nest which is constantly perched atop my unappreciative head.

I have literally tried every ‘cure’ over the years. It started around the age of ten when I stole my Gran's perm solution, covered my head in it and then forced two friends to spend almost four hours, stationed on either side of my head, relentlessly combing over and over until the product dried and my hair would be ‘permed’ straight. It didn’t work by the way (in case you’re thinking of trying it yourself).

Fast forward to the late teenage years and the discovery of nightclubs and you will find me doubled over the ironing board, patiently and methodically ironing my hair in anticipation of the ‘big night out’.

Fast forward again and as the years progressed and my jobs improved, so too did my my salary increase and I found within myself a daring aspect to my character which, once unleashed, spurred me onto ever more expensive ‘cures’. Some of these cures were so expensive that I daren’t write them down here for fear of reprisals from villages full of starving people, kennels filled with one legged dogs or other more deserving groups and projects.

My ‘moment of clarity’ occurred around the age of 35 when I found myself in a swanky hair salon with my hair laid out on plastic boards around the sides of my head and shoulders and a stylist on either side, relentlessly combing over and over for almost four hours until the product dried thereby allowing my hair to miraculously straighten of its own accord.

Ring any bells? That’s right! I looked at myself in the mirror and realised that I’d come full circle and could so easily have been ten years old all over again. Only this time, instead of stealing my Gran's perm solution, I was being fleeced to the tune of £250 smackers for the privilege!

From that point on, I vowed that I would learn to accept my mop and live with it. I still mess around with colour but generally, my hair is left to roam free, whatever the consequences. My life is full and I really don’t have the time or energy to mess around too much. I also prefer to save my money for more interesting activities these days. Perhaps I've matured? *cries of "surely not?!" heard from the back of the room*

Apart from one day every two months when I visit my long-suffering hairdresser, Tracey. Tracey has the unfortunate task of cutting my hair and sorting out my colour every two months but the bit I really enjoy is that she blow dries it poker straight after cutting it. A feat I could never manage alone and which I love as it allows me two whole days (unless it’s raining) of swishing around town like an overgroomed, incredibly vain thoroughbred horse.

It has to be enjoyed to the max as, by day three, it has to be washed again and the curls immediately jump back into action, their enthusiastic springiness in no way diminished by being forced to lie flat against their will for two days.

And so a routine of sorts has emerged over time. I spend two days out of every two months ‘swishing’ my glorious mane and pestering my better half to repeatedly confirm its beautifully straight fabulousness. The rest of the time I look like a crazed lunatic who had to crawl through many shrubs and bushes to escape the clutches of the asylum.

Until this week that is, when Tracey rang to tell me she’d found a ‘miracle’ product for chicks with massive hair. Notoriously cautious and cynical of miracle claims in general, she is the last person I would ever expect to make such a claim and I know you will understand how I therefore allowed the first flickers of excitement to develop into a fully blown frenzy as the week progressed. Until today. The day I may FINALLY get my miracle...


Big Hair

I'm at the haidressers as we speak and the fun has already commenced. I know you’ll want to see this for yourself dear reader so I have posted my ‘before’ picture and will offer updates as the process uncurls/unfurls.

Stay tuned!


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