Monday, 27 April 2009

Flailing of hands

As long as I can remember, I have waved my hands around too much.

- Cue montage of Lucy Fishwife at assorted ages gesticulating wildly and (a) smacking, or worse, innocent bystander in face* (b) knocking over glass of, inevitably, red wine on tablecloth/bride's white dress/small baby (c) accidentally bidding for a Rembrandt. Well, not the Rembrandt but you get the idea.
Shortly after I graduated I had a job working in the Royal Ear Hospital in Bloomsbury. I was "Clinic Supervisor", which actually translates as "temp who makes appointments/tea and fetches medical records". As you may well imagine, most of the patients had hearing problems, and after I'd been there about three days one of the speech therapists came to see me. "We've had a complaint from one of my clients," she said sternly. "He can't understand your signing". It turns out that while I had remembered to speak clearly so he (and other profoundly deaf patients) could lip-read, I had forgotten that my wildly flailing hands were a distraction to people used to looking at hands for meaning. My lips were saying "Yes, Tania is just finishing up with a client and can see you in five minutes", while my hands were saying "Cheese! Nailgun! Exterminate my beans and vote tapir!!!". I sat on my hands after that when anyone with a hearing aid approached me (although I couldn't help wondering - how DO deaf Italians manage? Surely it's a constant barrage of meaningless information?).
However. While idly Wiki-ing Hinduism the other day (I was reading Hindi cyberfiction and had forgotten what Ganesh rides on. A rat. Further reason to love rats!) - I came across the concept of mudras. In pictures of Hindu gods (also Buddha), the position of the hands (and, in the case of Shiva, feet) is vitally significant. I have decided, although luckily no longer in the ear trade, to adopt certain positions which are symbolic of something soothing - for example :

I will look slightly odd, but the likelihood of me poking someone in the eye with my biro or knocking coffee into the computer is greatly lessened.

*Aged 16, I was waving my hands around and poked a lit cigarette up the nose of Bronwen Roberts's boyfriend. Bronwen, if you ever read this, I'm still sorry!!!!

Saturday, 11 April 2009


It's awards season again and the marvellous Tania Kindersley of Backwards In High Heels has very kindly passed on a gong to this blog. The award exists to be passed on (as they all should) so below are the rules:

1. You have to pass it on to 5 other fabulous blogs in a post.

2. You have to list 5 of your fabulous addictions in the post.

3. You must copy and paste the rules and the instructions below in the post.

Instructions: On your post of receiving this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them. When you post your five winners, make sure you link them as well. To add the award to your post, simply right-click, save image, then “add image” it in your post as a picture so your winners can save it as well. To add it to your sidebar, add the “picture” widget. Also, don’t forget to let your winners know they won an award from you by emailing them or leaving a comment on their blog.

Alors – the 5 fabulous blogs.

If you have been left out, it’s only because there are so many of you whose blogs I enjoy and want to spread around.

1) The lovely Rol at Sunset Over Slawit. Rol is an astonishing fount of knowledge on music, (especially if it's Morrissey), and ways to cope with being unable to scratch your arm when it's in a cast. He also writes (novel on the way), and nobody seems able to explain how he fits a day job in.

2) The excellently red-haired Laura at The Poet Laura-eate. She is fab. The Wendy Cope of Blogger. Poetry, Oxford current affairs, and a lovely fleur-de-lis backdrop. Plus she knows how to do those Flickr slideshows.

3) The genius that is JRSM at Caustic Cover Critic, a blog whose raison d'etre is to celebrate (or, where necessary, ridicule) the art of the book jacket. An invaluable guide to the beautiful, the unimaginative, the unusual and the derivative. Just lovely, and always funny.

4) Usedbuyer2.0, at the blog of the same name. A bookseller of many years' standing, his blogs are a delight to read; in the last few alone I found references to Cavafy, Edward Lear, Auden, AND quotes, AND room for wonderful digressions on bookshop life in all its strange and peculiar splendour. Also many, many, wonderful clerihews, an artform that is unjustly neglected at the moment.
5) Last but not least, Jonathan at Bookseller Crow. What more can I say than - there is no intentional bias towards the booksellerish in my choices, but Jonathan always makes me laugh.

My Five Fabulous addictions:
It's not like I'm particularly secretive about my addictions, so you probably know all this already, but here are a few of the more socially acceptable ones (the Gitanes and their ilk will be glossed over).

1) Obviously books! Unable to leave a bookshop with fewer than three, usually more. My job and subsequent perks/discount mean I very rarely buy anywhere else, especially since I get free proof copies of many many things, and am on good enough terms with most of the publishers' reps that I can ask them for freebies; under most other circumstances (old, out of print, etc) I recommend Abebooks - worlds superior to Amazon and a bigger range - plus more of your money actually goes to the bookdealer than on Amazon.
2) Perfume. Sorry, I know I'm a bit nerdy on this point but I consider it as important as clothing - ie wearing different ones to suit your mood, the weather, the time of year etc. As a result I have rather a lot. I have nothing against people who have a "signature scent" - in fact I admire their tenacity. But I like the fact that the larger your range, the more you can make olfactory jokes with yourself (nobody else is likely to get it) - like wearing "Rain" by Marc Jacobs when it's raining, or "Rousse" by Serge Lutens because you have red hair. My absolute Mecca for this (apart from, in The Real World, Liberty's) is The Perfumed Court, who will sell you tiny tester-sized bottles of pretty much any perfume so you can try before you commit. Invaluable.
3) COFFEE. Enough said. In an ideal world espresso all the time, but sadly I'm over 25 and can't sleep if I drink it after lunchtime.
4) My/our thick quilted mattress-topper (John Lewis). I have never slept so soundly.
5) If I have an alcoholic addiction here, please note that while I would find life very drab without alcohol, I am by no means an alcoholic. Apparently considering the number of boozehounds and manic-depressives on both sides of my family, this makes me quite unusual. But I do like a nice Calvados.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

My Life, As Described By Elvis Costello.

It's Sunday and I'm still in pyjamas. I have stolen a meme from Rol because I'm a lazy sod but also because it appealed to my twin life-skills of "Doing things that don't require leaving the sofa" and "Minimal research that only requires going as far as the CD rack". My great love for Elvis Costello factored in as well...

Pick an artist, and using ONLY SONG TITLES from only that artist, answer these questions.

1. Are you a male or female: "Shabby Doll"

2. Describe yourself: "Indoor Fireworks"

3. How do you feel about yourself: "Brilliant Mistake"

4. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriends: "I Hope You're Happy Now", "Two Little Hitlers", "Goon Squad", "Boy With A Problem", and "I'm Not Angry", depending on who we're describing.

5. Describe your current boy/girl situation: "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding?" , also "Long Honeymoon"

6. Describe your current location: "Welcome To The Working Week"

7. Describe where you want to be: "Payday"

8. Your best friend(s) is/are: "The Loved Ones", "Miracle Man", "Sulky Girl", "Veronica", "Poisoned Rose", "New Lace Sleeves", "Our Little Angel", "You Little Fool", "Leave My Kitten Alone", and "King Of Confidence".

9. Your favourite colour is: "Blood And Chocolate" and "Almost Blue"

10. You know that: "Accidents Will Happen"

12. If your life was a television show what would it be called: "Every Day I Write The Book"

13. What is life to you: "Mystery Dance"

14. What is the best advice you have to give: "Imagination (Is A Powerful Deceiver)"

Hurrah! Quite enjoyed that. Go forth and run with it.