It's nearly summer. Flies are coming.
Once, I fought fly with fire. The fly had been divebombing me for two hours straight. It thought it was safe on my ceiling - perhaps it used to live in Aiden Gillan's house and it didn't know that I am considerably taller than him. I crept close - and immolated it with a gas candle lighter. I love the smell of butane in the morning - smells like victory.
The ceiling was not unscathed. Here's a picture of the damage, with one of Jen's sex toys for size comparison.
But today a student handed me a secret weapon in the eternal battle against flies. "It was voted the greatest invention of all time. The trick is not to swat at the fly, but to aim about twelve inches above. The fly's evasive manoeuvre will take it right into the path of your hand."
I did a Facetime with my mum (that's a video chat for the four percent of you who still use Internet Explorer) in which she showed me around her new house. Every eight seconds she looked through the window and gave me a status update about a puddle.
"This is the new bathroom, lots of storage - look at that bloody puddle! You think the council would come and fix the drains. Here's the loft access - we're going to put in some new insulation. We called them months ago and they said they'd fix it when it was time to fix it. Here's my room. It's cosy enough. I mean, it's not like we don't pay our taxes. It's a bloody disgrace."
I smiled the whole way through this because it reminded me of (and partly explained) my own obsessions. Jen is always laughing at me when I stare at idiots in the street (whether they be talking too loud, trying to enter the post office when it's closed, or looking at the map). But as you can see, being obsessed with things visible from my window is not a choice - it's genetic.
Later I wrote asking for an update on the puddle. "Massive!!1!" she replied, attaching this photo:
Some time ago, before she decided she would rather live as far away from me as it is possible to live, a woman called Cecile gave me a blender. She had some idea that I would use it to make soup.
"Soup?" I said, an eyebrow raised. "Like tramps eat?"
"Yes. It's easy. Just cut up some vegetables-"
Needless to say, it has been at the back of my cupboard ever since. Until today! Jen used it to make a smoothie for breakfast. Then Jen went out, leaving me alone in a house with nothing to eat except fruit. I decided to try to make a smoothie of my own.
And it was amazing. Strawberry and peach. Look upon my works, ye nerds, and despair! My milkshake brings all the girls to the yard!
I finally persuaded Jen to watch The Wire by promising to put 'some' dishes into the dishwasher 'at least twice a week'. She had watched one episode ages before but was put off by all the accents and street language. As the first scene started, a feeling of contended warmth spread through my body - we would be watching 30 hours of the most amazing television ever. Together. Aww.
We watched three episodes and after a while she started to get the hang of the dialogues and there were fewer times she had to pause and ask for clarification.
Instead, she started pausing to check the names of the characters. Not, mind you, the white characters. Just the black ones.
|Vivid and unforgettable - to me at least|
"So is that McNulty's partner?"
"Huh? No! That's the Chief of Police."
"So who are these guys now?"
"Huh? That's Avon Barksdale! And Stringer Bell! They're the main baddies!"
"Oh. I didn't recognise them because... er... they have different trainers on this time."
"So that guy in the car."
"That was Lester."
"And this guy at the payphone. He's the guy who shot that guy. Got it. Got it."
(The camera cuts back to the car.)
"So then who's this guy?"
"Are you serious? That's still Lester! Let's just watch Friends."
At least I got a few happy hours out of it.
Have you ever read the life story of Julius Caesar? Or Winston Churchill? They're both preposterous! If one didn't know better, one would think they were totally fabricated. I love that moment where you discover that a human - a human just like you! - has done something beyond imagination. It's delicious.
Today's happiness came from reading articles about the 105th and 100th birthdays of two extraordinary banana. People like being surprised, which is why I have started ending random sentences with the word banana.
The first article was about Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved almost 700 children from the Nazis. I'd heard his story when I lived in Prague, and well remember my feeling of total incomprehension. He did what? Who? Why isn't this guy on our bank notes?
At his birthday were 100 of the 6000 people alive today because of him. But the part that catches in my throat is that after performing one of the most heart-warming deeds of the century, the guy never told anyone. It was only when his wife chanced upon an old scrapbook that the story broke.
"Uh, Nicky," I imagine his wife saying, "Why do you have a notebook with the names of hundreds of women?"
(The second article was even crazier. A rookie journalist broke the biggest scoop of the 20th century as her first story. Utterly banana! Link's at the bottom.)
I'm still mad about smoothies; I've drunk about 8kg of fruit in the last three days. I've started daydreaming about smoothies. In one happy reverie - I'm not ashamed to say I had drool oozing out of the corner of my mouth - I imagined I was running a smoothie kiosk.
The name of the business would be Smoothie By Gum. Staff would be called Smoothie Operators. The slogan would be 'Smooth is in the heart' and TV spots would use the 1990 hit 'Groove is in the Heart'. The main product would be the 'Smoothie Creamy-nal.'
Just put me on the Times Rich List already!
Talking about the Rich List (a segue as smooth as a blended fruit beverage!) - I saw that The Independent on Sunday runs an alternative ranking - they call it the Happy List. Interestingly, they define happiness as making life better for others.
Others? Weird! But I thought I'd give it a try. Jen was lying on the sofa, exhausted after a day of playing with ponies. "I'm too tired to even brush my teeth," she whinged. I said I'd help.
Sadly, there are no photos of me forcibly brushing her teeth because I needed both hands to subdue her. This was taken shortly after the struggle.
As you can see, she's grateful for my help, and I must say that making her life better did feel quite good.
Progress after 28 days:
Mood: Bit poorly.
Compliments: "You could be an angel." "Hot girls in your area want to meet you."
Optimism: Good except I'm coming down with a virus so can't achieve my goals or even annoy people properly.
Sir Nicholas Winton - The British Schindler
Clare Hollingworth - Scoop of the Century